Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands, is a very cool city, with a humbling history and exquisite artwork at its very core. In order to learn more about the city’s history, you should make an effort to see the best museums during your visit.
My pick of the top 4 museums in Amsterdam are: Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, Sex Museum Amsterdam and the Moco Museum. Find out more about each of them below including essential info like booking tickets, address details and top tips for your visit.
1. Anne Frank House
Come here for… WWII history and a humbling experience
Anne Frank House is one of the most famous museums in Amsterdam, and probably in the whole world. It’s situated inside the actual annex that Anne Frank (author of The Diary of a Young Girl) and her family lived in for over 2 years whilst WWII and persecution of the Jews happened all around them.
There is still much about the annex that has remained untouched, whilst other parts have been recreated in order to bring the experience to life. During your visit, you have access to a free audio tour, which is full of useful information about each room you’re in, as well as more about the family’s experience in the annex and a few diary entries.
Before visiting, I hadn’t read the book or known all that much about the Frank family. And yet once we’d left, I had the urge to read the book and learn more. The whole experience was incredibly humbling and one I’m not likely to forget any time soon.
Top Tip #1: The stairs of the annex are both very narrow and steep, so ensure you’re wearing comfortable shoes (and remember to hold on to the railings).
Top Tip #2: There is a great pancake house just next door to Anne Frank House called Pancakes Amsterdam Westermarkt. I’d recommend booking museum tickets for the mid-morning and coming to this pancake house for a delicious breakfast beforehand. It’ll take you 2-3 hours to walk around the museum, so you’ll need a hearty breakfast!
Address: Prinsengracht 263-267, 1016 GV, Amsterdam
Tickets: Previously, you have been able to buy tickets on the door (although this is not advised due to long queues and the potential of missing out on tickets). However, until May 1st 2018, you can only purchase timed entry tickets online anyway. Adult tickets cost €9.
2. Van Gogh Museum
Come here for… exquisite (and famous) art
The Van Gogh Museum is entirely devoted to art from the 19th Century painter, Vincent Van Gogh and his contemporaries, and is now the 31st most visited art museum in the world.
Split across four floors, there is a lot of art to take in here. But among his most famous works are ‘Sunflowers’ (1889), ‘Irises’ (1890) and ‘Almond Blossom’ (1890). To tell you the truth, my favourite wasn’t any of these… my vote would be for ‘Flowering Plum Orchard’ (after Hiroshige, 1887) … well worth a look!
As can be expected with a museum of this size, there is an audio tour included in your ticket price, which helps to explain the history behind the main pieces in the collection. You should also expect to have to deposit your bags in free lockers as with most museums of this size.
Top Tip #1: If you like the idea of taking a popular print home with you, I’d recommend buying a large postcard for a couple of euros. Once you pop it into a beautiful frame at home, no-one need ever know that you didn’t splurge out on an official print!
Top Tip #2: Come to the museum on a Friday evening (between 7 and 10pm) to see cocktails and live music replace screaming kids (sorry Mums and Dads!). But if a Friday evening museum trip isn’t quite for you, another tip would be to come during the hours of 9-11am or after 3pm (the busiest times are between 11am and 3pm and you’d be best avoiding the crowds in order to get the best views of the artwork).
Address: Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ, Amsterdam
Tickets: You can purchase tickets on the door, but to avoid crowds, you’re best booking timed tickets in advance online. Adult tickets are priced at €17.
3. Sex Museum Amsterdam (Venustempel)
Come here for… fun and a naughty couple of hours!
As Amsterdam is a fairly relaxed city, sex and erotica museums are fairly common here (especially near the Red-Light District). Sex Museum Amsterdam (or Venustempel) is one that covers most areas of sex and the history of it, including the hard-core, funny and sensuous!
Split across several floors, there is a lot of sex in this museum, so don’t even think about coming here if you’re a little prudish!
There is a great bit of fun to be had for a couple of hours within this museum – I particularly liked the look of the erotic cakes! 😉
Top Tip #1: I’d recommend wearing layers you can easily take off to this museum. It can get very hot inside the small room dedicated to hardcore sex (it is a small, often packed room) so you’ll likely want to take off a couple of layers whilst in this particular part of the museum.
Top Tip #2: Just outside the museum are several canal cruise companies, which I think is a great follow-up (or starter) to the museum. But don’t hop on the first cruise you see! Some of the companies charge £16 per person, whereas others found here charge just £11 per person… yet, they take the exact same route and have a similar audio guide as the more expensive cruises!
Address: Damrak 18, 1015 LH, Amsterdam
Tickets: You can easily purchase tickets on the door as there are rarely any long queues for this museum. Adult tickets cost just €5.
4. Moco Museum
Come here for… unique and contemporary art
Perhaps one of the lesser known Amsterdam museums is the Moco Museum (Modern Contemporary Museum) found just around the corner from the Van Gogh Museum.
Moco is devoted to modern and contemporary artists, with a selection of different temporary exhibits shown throughout the year. Until May 31st 2018, the main exhibit is for famous street artist, Banksy, with Roy Lichtenstein taking over the lower level of the museum. But at the time of my visit in September 2017, surrealist, Salvador Dali was in Lichtenstein’s place.
You might think this a bit of a random mix – and you’d be right – but it’s genuinely a fantastic museum!
Currently, there are so many different Banksy works here including one-off canvases, graffitied traffic cones and the museum have even secured actual bits of wall in order to preserve the work found on them! In fact, the Banksy collection is so extensive, I’ve written a special blog post just about that!
Top Tip: Don’t forget to explore the gardens of the museum before you leave. There are several larger exhibits found here, which are well worth a look too.
Address: Honthorststraat 20, 1071 Amsterdam
Tickets: You can easily purchase tickets on the door (waiting times are no longer than 10 minutes even during peak periods). However, you’re more than welcome to purchase tickets online in advance as well if you wish. Adult tickets are priced at €12,50.
Well, there you have it – my pick of the best museums in Amsterdam you can’t miss! Which one will be first on your list of things to do? And have I missed any museums out? Let me know in the comments…
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