Amsterdam has more museums per capita than anywhere else in the world, making it one of Europe’s must-see destinations. Of course, it’s home to numerous art museums showcasing works by famous artists like Rembrandt and Johannes Vermeer, but there are also some niche museums in Amsterdam that may tickle your fancy.
Most Amsterdam tourists go to one of the big three museums, but if you don’t have much time in the city, you might want to prioritize museums with closer ties to your interests or more interactive exhibits. That’s where we at Road Affair can lighten your load! We’ve carefully curated a list of the best museums in Amsterdam for people of all interests to visit.
Best Way to See Amsterdam’s Museums
Before we dive into history, art, and everything else on display in the museums of Amsterdam, we want to tell you how to get the most bang for your buck. Several tourist package passes can admit you to multiple popular museums and attractions for one price. We recommend narrowing down the museums and attractions to the ones most important to you before choosing a pass.
- Netherlands Museum Pass: This is the ultimate museum pass, offering free access to over 500 museums across the Netherlands. The pass costs around €60 (about $64.25) and is valid for one year.
- I Amsterdam City Card: This card gives you access to over 70 museums and attractions in Amsterdam, plus a 24-hour bike rental, a canal cruise, and free transport on GVB.
- Go City Explorer Pass or All-Inclusive Pass: You can pick and choose which attractions to group with the Explorer Pass or get access to everything with the All-Inclusive Pass.
The Rijksmuseum is probably the most popular museum in Amsterdam along with the Van Gogh Museum and it’s recommended to buy tickets well in advance, especially during high season. The museum is located at the Museumplein (Museum Square) in a gorgeous Gothic- and Renaissance-style building designed by Pierre Cuypers.
Here you can learn about 800 years of the Netherlands’ history and admire works of famous Dutch artists. Some of the most notable artworks on display are “The Night Watch” by Rembrandt, “Self-Portrait” by Vincent van Gogh, and “The Happy Family” by Jan Steen. The Rijksmuseum isn’t just home to Dutch paintings, though. It also has a large collection of Delftware, weapons and arms, Asian artworks, ship models, and 20th-century art pieces.
Van Gogh Museum
Every year, millions of tourists come to the museum that centers on Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries. It’s so popular that you almost always have to book your ticket and time slot weeks in advance.
In this museum, you’ll find over 1,000 paintings, drawings, and letters by Van Gogh, including “Self-Portrait With Grey Felt Hat” and “The Sower.” You’ll not only see his works, but also get insights into his life, mental illness, and creative process that fueled his art and made him one of the most famous artists in history.
The Van Gogh Museum is included in the Netherlands Museum Pass.
Are you or one of your travel companions not a big museum fan? This next museum might change that.
The Nxt Museum, located in Amsterdam-Noord near the A’dam Toren, is the Netherlands’ first new media art museum. This means its entire display is digitally made art with the goal of creating a sensory experience. As you walk through the exhibits, you’ll be immersed in a world of color, light, and emotion that’s sure to take your breath away. Admission is not sold at the door, so you have to purchase tickets in advance.
The I Amsterdam City Card offers a 25% discount on Nxt Museum tickets.
National Maritime Museum
Did you know the Dutch East India Co. was the most valuable company ever to exist? There are many reasons why this company was so successful, but part of the equation is how good the Dutch were at building boats and sailing.
The National Maritime Museum is a fascinating place to visit for families as well as adults. It’s home to thousands of artifacts, including maps, navigational tools, ship decorations, and ship models to explore. You can board and explore a full-scale replica of the famed Dutch East Indiaman ship Amsterdam, or travel back in time through an old Dutch harbor with a virtual reality experience. Kids will love the exhibition where they can walk into a whale’s mouth!
The National Maritime Museum is included in the Netherlands Museum Pass and I Amsterdam City Card.
Anne Frank House
Nazi Germany occupied the Netherlands during World War II, and out of this horrible time in history rose the story of Anne Frank, a German-born Jewish girl who documented her experiences as she and her family hid from the Nazis for two years. Tragically, Anne and her family were discovered and sent to concentration camps in 1944, but her diaries remain one of the most eye-opening writings about this time period.
The Anne Frank Museum is easily the most famous museum in Amsterdam. As you explore the home and secret annex where the Franks hid, you can discover what life was like for Anne and her sister, Margot, during the Amsterdam occupation through the collection of personal objects, videos, and Anne’s original diaries.
The Anne Frank Museum is included in the Netherlands Museum Pass.
NEMO Science Museum
NEMO Science Museum is one of the best Amsterdam museums for families. Kids can enjoy interactive exhibits on water, space, energy, humankind, and much more. There are even activity areas like the chemistry lab, where little ones can do hands-on experiments, and the Maker Space, where they can try shadow painting.
After playing and learning inside, make your way to the rooftop cafe to enjoy the food and panoramic views. You don’t need a ticket to go to the cafe, so even if you skip the museum experience, you can score a great view of the city!
NEMO Science Museum is included in the Netherlands Museum Pass and I Amsterdam City Card.
Calling all movie buffs! Get your geek on at this incredible museum in Amsterdam-Noord.
The Eye Filmmuseum boasts a large collection of Dutch and international films, along with a permanent collection of filming tools from every era. You can watch movies in the pods, enjoy interactive exhibits, or wander through the movie poster collection. This is a great museum for all ages.
The Eye Filmmuseum is included in the Netherlands Museum Pass and I Amsterdam City Card.
If you’re looking for a modern art museum in Amsterdam, the Moco is the place for you.
Like its sister museum in Spain, Amsterdam’s Moco Museum displays contemporary, modern, and street art with a unique perspective on modern society. You’ll find moving works by notable artists such as Banksy, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Yayoi Kusama.
Another fantastic place to see contemporary and modern art is the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam at the Museumplein.
The museum displays over 100,000 eye-catching sculptures, paintings, posters, photographs, and installations from artists like Wassily Kandinsky, Van Gogh, and Warhol. You can browse 19th- and 20th-century works that speak volumes about society, values, and human nature.
The Stedelijk is included in the I Amsterdam City Card.
Rembrandt House Museum
You’d be hard-pressed to find a Dutch painter more famous than Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. This Leiden native is known not only for his mastery of light and shade as a painter, but also for his printmaking and draftsman skills during the Dutch Golden Age.
While you can see some of his notable work at the Rijksmuseum, this is the only museum in the world dedicated to Rembrandt. As you tour the museum, which was Rembrandt’s home for 19 years, you can view etchings, drawings, paintings, and other artworks by the Dutch master. A collection of works by his teacher and pupils is also on display.
Red Light Secrets Museum
Amsterdam’s open-minded prostitution laws are its biggest draw for some tourists. Even if you don’t plan on visiting the sex workers, the history behind sex work in the Netherlands is interesting to learn about.
At the Red Light Secrets Museum, you can learn about the history of prostitution and hear stories from those who have worked in one of the oldest professions out there. As the world’s first prostitution museum, it’s chock-full of quirky displays, costumes, and BDSM tools. You can even snap a picture of yourself in a red-lit window!
Learn about all things Amsterdam at the Amsterdam Museum! This fantastic attraction highlights Amsterdam life in the past, present, and future.
You’ll find hundreds of artifacts, artworks, and stories that speak to the complexity of Amsterdam’s urban issues, such as climate change, housing, and welfare, along with ideas on how they were (or can be) rectified. Notable artifacts include wedding rings from the first legal gay marriage in the world, which happened in Amsterdam, and photographs from the city’s 2020 Black Lives Matter march.
The Amsterdam Museum is included in the Netherlands Museum Pass and I Amsterdam City Card.
Verzets Resistance Museum
This is easily one of the top museums in Amsterdam for those interested in World War II history.
Verzets Resistance Museum, is dedicated to the Dutch civilians who rose up against the Nazi regime during the occupation. You can roam the exhibits to learn the big and small ways the Dutch fought back against oppression, including underground newspapers, forged documents, and armed resistance. Hear and read about the stories of those who lived through this segregated and unnerving time.
Verzets Resistance Museum is included in the Netherlands Museum Pass and I Amsterdam City Card.
A particularly interesting museum for fans of Bridgerton and other period pieces, the Willet-Holthuysen House is one of the UNESCO World Heritage buildings along the Herengracht. The homes along this canal are where the richest Amsterdam citizens used to live, so they’re massive houses by the city’s standards.
Once a double mansion, the museum was home to a wealthy 19th-century couple – Louisa Holthuysen and Abraham Willet – who collected art and decorated the home in an eclectic, romantic style. When Holthuysen died in 1895, she left the house and art collection to the city, requesting it become a museum. Today, you can admire the paintings and historic interior, including its neo-Louis Seize lounges, and roam the French gardens outside.
The Willet-Holthuysen House is included in the Netherlands Museum Pass and I Amsterdam City Card.
Our Lord in the Attic Museum
Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder, or Our Lord in the Attic, is one of the more unique museums you can visit in Amsterdam.
While many countries (including the Netherlands) now enjoy religious freedom, that wasn’t the case in 17th-century Europe. In Amsterdam, Catholics were not allowed to practice their religion the way they wanted, so they built a secret church in a canal house’s attic in 1664.
The entire building is now a museum, and you can walk through the well-preserved, decorated rooms and corridors of what was once a wealthy merchant’s home. The displays include artifacts, paintings, and Delft tile work.
While this isn’t one of the free museums in Amsterdam, the church does welcome visitors to attend its Sunday services for free. So, if you want to go inside the building without paying, all you have to do is go to church!
Our Lord in the Attic Museum is included in the I Amsterdam City Card.
The Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, or Foam, is hands-down the best photography museum in the city.
Foam is a space where artists can be open about the world around us in hopes of sparking conversation and ideas. The collection boasts pieces from over 200 international artists, making this a great museum for anybody interested in photography or art with something to say about society.
Foam is included in the Netherlands Museum Pass and I Amsterdam City Card.
Body Worlds Amsterdam
Body Worlds is another fascinating museum to visit in Amsterdam, but be warned – this is not an attraction for the squeamish.
The exhibits explore both animal and human anatomy, displaying preserved human remains. You’ll learn all about the human body and how everyday choices affect our health. There’s even a body scanner machine that can show you how healthy you are, what you’re made of, and areas you should focus on to improve your health. We have to give props to the marketing team for the museum’s slogan: “It’s what’s on the inside that matters.”
Museum of the Canals
The Amsterdam canals are world-famous for their beauty and ingenuity, and there’s no better place to learn about them than the Museum of the Canals (Grachtenmuseum Amsterdam).
You can learn about 400 years of Amsterdam’s history through multimedia exhibits and rooms dedicated to different time periods. A small replica of Amsterdam is accompanied by an audiovisual presentation that walks you through the city’s many iterations over the years, from a small fishing village to a bustling metropolis. The newest addition to the museum is the Canal Garden, which features stunning statues carved from Italian marble, a large fountain, and plenty of lush flowers and trees.
The Museum of the Canals is included in the Netherlands Museum Pass and I Amsterdam City Card.
Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum
Many tourists come to Amsterdam to make a date with Mary Jane. But did you know marijuana actually isn’t legal in the Netherlands? It’s decriminalized, yes, but not legal. However, Amsterdam is still a great place to learn all about the plant.
The Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum shares information about the plant’s cultural and historical significance. Owner Ben Dronkers has collected seeds from all over the world to display here. As you explore the exhibits, you can learn about the role of hemp and marijuana in fashion, ancient rituals, and modern medicine.
As the only museum in the Netherlands dedicated to Jewish culture and history, this is a must-see for anyone with an interest in the subject.
As the Netherlands entered the 17th century, a more tolerant attitude toward different religions developed in Amsterdam, and many Jewish communities started to pop up in the city. At the Joods (Jewish) Museum, you can see how Amsterdam and the Jewish community influenced each other. You’ll also learn a lot about Judaism and the Jewish culture through video clips and artifacts across the museum’s three permanent collections: “Religion,” “Jewish Life Between 1600 and 1900,” and “Jewish Life After 1900.”
The Jewish Museum is included in the Netherlands Museum Pass and I Amsterdam City Card.
Electric Ladyland – Museum of Fluorescent Art
If you’re looking for a truly one-of-a-kind museum to visit in Amsterdam, Electric Ladyland is the one for you.
This is the only museum in the world dedicated to the fluorescence of mineral rocks and how they interact with different light wavelengths. The result of the changing wavelengths is a beautiful glowing room filled with dazzling rocks. What makes this museum truly unique is its focus on participatory art, meaning you’re not just a viewer but an active part of the art here.
Do you enjoy street art and graffiti? If so, don’t worry; we won’t send you down some dark alley. We’ll just send you to the STRAAT Museum!
With over 160 works by over 150 artists from around the world, STRAAT is a can’t-miss experience. What makes this museum different is that it doesn’t seek to purchase certain pieces. Instead, STRAAT seeks out artists with incredible talent to create pieces specifically for the museum. All of the artworks are grouped by theme, taking you on a journey through the movement of street art.
Looking to get the perfect Instagram picture to show off your Dutch holiday? Then make your way to Youseum Amsterdam.
We all know the various categories of traditional museums – history, modern art, photography, etc. But a new category has arrived: social media museums. Each room in Youseum Amsterdam has a playful, colorful motif to give you the perfect picture. Snap a selfie at a bar in the middle of a ball pit or perched on top of a neon bathtub. A fully charged phone or camera is a must for this museum!
OK, hear us out! You might think a museum about flowers probably isn’t your thing, but the Amsterdam Tulip Museum is about more than just a flower.
Technically, yes, it is about tulips, but tulips have played some important roles in Dutch history – specifically in the stock market. The first stock market was actually in the Netherlands, and the first stock bubble came from tulips. You’ll learn all about the history of the tulip and how it even came to the Netherlands, seeing as it doesn’t naturally grow there.
The museum also showcases tulips as an art medium and demonstrates how to grow this vibrant flower in your own garden. It’s a cool, quirky museum, and we’re here for it.
Embassy of the Free Mind
Last on our list of museums to visit in Amsterdam is the Embassy of the Free Mind, located around the corner from the Anne Frank House.
This unique museum is inspired by 2,000 years of writings and photos from people who did not let the church or governing body tell them how to think and act. Many of the images and texts are rooted in the idea of free thinking, with subjects like Freemasonry, mysticism, magic, philosophy, and Taoism.
You can browse the photos on the walls and read more about the hidden symbolism on your tour of the museum. On the second floor, the UNESCO Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica offers a spot to sit down and read one of the many books on the collection’s subjects. With more texts than artifacts inside, this museum is ideal for people who enjoy reading.
The Embassy of the Free Mind is included in the Netherlands Museum Pass and I Amsterdam City Card.
Now that you know the best museums Amsterdam has to offer, you just have to figure out how many you can fit into your Amsterdam itinerary.