By Keith Jenkins
Famous for its gorgeous canals, historic buildings, museums and liberal attitude, Amsterdam has lots to offer any visitor. And, the best part is, the city is very compact, making it ideal to explore on foot. Amsterdam is also easily accessible from all corners of the world. Schiphol Airport, one of Europe’s busiest airports, is at Amsterdam’s doorstep whilst there are frequent train services from many parts of Europe. If you’re thinking about taking a ferry to Amsterdam, the closest ferry ports are Ijmuiden, Rotterdam, and Hoek van Holland all within a short drive or train ride of the city.
One of Amsterdam’s prime attractions is its world-class museums. The Netherlands has a long-standing artistic tradition, embodied in the likes of Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Vermeer and Van Gogh. Many works by these Dutch masters can be viewed in the city’s two most famous art museums, the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum. But there are other fascinating places that are real troves of unusual objects and information – from bags and purses to pipes and fluorescent art. Most of these museums are located in the historic city centre and can easily be included as part of a walking itinerary.
Amsterdam’s most popular museums
– Rijksmuseum (Stadhouderskade 42): Amsterdam’s most famous museum features impressive works by, amongst others, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh and Frans Hals.
– Van Gogh (Paulus Potterstraat 7): Another popular museum with a stunning collection of Van Goghs.
– Hermitage Amsterdam (Nieuwe Herengracht 14): The Hermitage is a branch of its world-famous sister in St. Petersburg. It’s currently hosting an exhibition of famous Flemish painters such as Rubens.
– Amsterdam City Museum (Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 357): This museum illustrates the history of Amsterdam through magnificent 17th century paintings, maps and photographs.
– Anne Frank House (Prinsengracht 267): The Anne Frank House is the place where Anne Frank wrote her famous diary during the Second World War.
– Scheepvaart Museum (Kattenburgerplein 1): The colourful maritime history of the Netherlands comes to life in this fun museum which also has a life-size replica of one of the most famous Dutch ships.
– Tropenmuseum – Tropical Museum (Linnaeusstraat 2): This fascinating museum focuses on the cultures in tropical countries around the world.
The colourful history of Amsterdam
- Het Grachtenhuis – Canal House Museum (Herengracht 386): Located in one of the most beautiful canal houses in Amsterdam, this museum provides visitors with wonderful insights to the 17th century canals of Amsterdam, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Houseboat Museum (Prinsengracht, opposite house no. 296): This modest museum is a great way to discover what it’s like to live in an Amsterdam houseboat.
- Museum van Loon (Prinsengracht 672): A stunning museum, located in a magnificent canal mansion, that provides a unique peek into the lives of one of Amsterdam’s wealthiest families.
– Rembrandt House (Jodenbreestraat 4): The house where Rembrandt lived now houses many of his etchings and you get to see the great master’s studio.
– Our Lord in the Attic (Oudezijds Voorburgwal 40): One of Amsterdam’s best-kept secrets. No, I’m not going to tell you why!
– Jewish Museum (Jonas Danielplein): this popular museum is dedicated to the history and culture of Jews in the Netherlands.
– Tassenmuseum – Museum of Bags and Purses (Herengracht 573): Likely to be a big hit with the ladies, this museum houses a vast collection of bags and purses throughout the ages – over 3000 of them!
– Pianola Museum (Westerstraat 106): A small museum that is home to a lovely collection of pianolas.
– Pijpenkabinet – Pipe Museum (Prinsengracht 488): Situated in a beautiful canal house, the Pipe Museum has one of Europe’s largest collection of pipes.
– Bril Museum – Museum of Spectacles (Gasthuismolensteeg 7): A unique museum that chronicles 700 years of spectacles!
– De Kattenkabinet – the Cat Cabinet (Herengracht 497): If you love cats, you’ll love this museum. It houses a grand collection of paintings, sculptures, books and posters featuring felines from around the world.
Not your every day museum
– Fluorescent Art Museum (Tweede Leliedwarsstraat 5): A quirky museum that exhibits all sorts of artwork created with fluorescent materials. It’s also often dubbed Electric Ladyland, in honour of Jimi Hendrix.
– Heineken Experience (Stadhouderskade 78): This museum traces the history of this world-famous beer brand. The highlight is the thrilling beer-ride!
– Torture Museum (Singel 449): It’s small, dark and freaky. The collection of instruments of torture is impressive and will make even the hardiest of souls cringe.
Whichever museum you choose, Amsterdam will keep you captivated. Before long, you’ll find yourself wanting to return to see more of the city. I’m sure of it!
About the Author: Keith Jenkins is a travel blogger based in Amsterdam. He has visited more than 60 countries across six continents and writes about his travels on his Velvet Escape luxury travel blog.