Top 5

Underrated alternatives to busy museums in Amsterdam

Stedelijk museum
Museum Van Loon
Private tour in the Rijksmuseum

Although Amsterdam has more museums than Paris, most visitors only flock to the 5 busiest ones.

There they often find themselves annoyed with all the other people around them, while neglecting scores of wonderful museums that are just a stone’s throw away. Places where you have the space and time for yourself to enjoy art and get a grasp of the city. We have made a selection of the top 5 underrated alternatives to busy museums:

Stedelijk museum

Van Gogh museum >>

Stedelijk museum of modern art

This is a no-brainer. Right next door to the popular Van Gogh museum resides the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art. A gigantic white bathtub, housing a collection of art and design, roughly from the 1870’s onwards. 

Besides the usual suspects like Chagall, Cezanne, Picasso, Monet, Pollock and Warhol, the Stedelijk has a nice accent on the ‘modern Dutch Masters’, like Karel Appel, Gerrit Rietveld, George Breitner, Piet Mondriaan, Jan Veth, Willem de Kooning and yes, also Vincent van Gogh. As an art historian, Edgar is your ideal guide in the Stedelijk Museum.


Anne Frank house >>

Jewish Cultural Quarter

The smallest museum on this list, yet most mentioned as places to visit when in Amsterdam. The result: massive queues and time slots online that are increasingly hard to book. There is a great alternative for those who didn’t manage to get a ticket for the Anne Frank: The Jewish Cultural Quarter.

A very complete view of the Jewish History of Amsterdam and the horrors of WWII is offered by the combination of the Jewish Historical Museum, Portuguese Synagogue, Holocaust Museum and National Holocaust Memorial. These four institutions have joined hands and are available with a single ticket.

The four museums are located within walking distance from each other in the surprisingly peaceful eastern part of the center of Amsterdam. Do mind that the Portuguese Synagogue is closed on Sabbath Saturday. Check our Jewish District tour for guiding services.

Amsterdam Museum

Rijksmuseum >>

Amsterdam Museum

The country’s largest museum and national pride can be a bit overwhelming. Where to start and how to avoid the crowds? Our personal favorite alternative for the Rijksmuseum would be the Amsterdam Museum. A bit hidden away behind the Kalverstraat shopping street and the Beguinage, the Amsterdam Museum meticulously tells the story of Amsterdam, with countless artifacts, sculptures, paintings and installations.

The complex in which the museum houses it an important historical site itself: once a monastery, later an orphanage and now a maze of corridors and exhibition rooms leading you from the early muckrakers in the middle ages via the glory of the Golden Age and the magic of the 1960s to modern Amsterdam. This is where tour guides go to brush up their knowledge on Amsterdam. So why wouldn’t you?

Museum Van Loon

Hermitage Amsterdam >>

Museum Van Loon

The Hermitage on the Amstel – as a humble counterpart of the Saint Petersburg mega museum – does not have an own collection. They however regularly organize popular blockbuster exhibitions with (Dutch) art from the Russia Hermitage.

We’d suggest a more intimate, perhaps even cozy, alternative, one of the finest merchants houses ever built on the canals of Amsterdam: Museum van Loon. This marvelous merchant’s house, once inhabited by Rembrandt’s pupil Ferdinand Bol, now houses the family collection of the illustrious Van Loon family. The Van Loon museum offers an abundant showcase of 1700s, 1800s and early 1900s style rooms. The garden and stables behind the house are a pleasant surprise.

Brouwerij t ij

Heineken experience >>

Brouwerij 't IJ

You may not believe it, but after a tour we tend to appreciate a glass of beer. Across the globe Heineken is a famous premium beer. In Amsterdam however, it’s one of the many regular lager beers surpassed by a number of local craft beers with a smaller marketing budget.

Craft beer pioneer IJbier began brewing in the 1980s, way before the tattooed, bearded and skinny jeans wearing army of todays micro-brewers was even born. Currently the iconic IJ beer brewery has its own tasting facility and a cozy terrace on a beautiful spot in the east of the city, right under an ancient windmill. The brewery offers guided tours inside the mill.

Honourable mentions:

Maritime Amsterdam walk

Maritime Museum

About a kilometer to the east of Central Station one is confronted with an impressive building that looks like a gigantic white cube. In here you can find an unparalleled display of Dutch Maritime history. The building itself – a navy warehouse, built in the second half of the 17th century – is a striking piece of Dutch classical architecture. Inside a world of sails, ropes, storms, compasses, maps and scale models unfolds.

Outside there is a replica of the 18th century Dutch East India ship ‘the Amsterdam’, which is opened for visitors. This is as close you can get to the illustrious admirals and privateers that once discovered and conquered the seven seas.

Museum of the Tropics

A bit further east, in the landscape styled Oosterpark, the Amsterdam ethnographic museum takes its visitor to warmer climate zones. Originally this building served as a warehouse for colonial goods.

In a way it still does, as its collection mostly consists of artifacts from former Dutch colonies : Suriname, The Dutch Antilles, Indonesia, South Africa, (parts of) Brazil. The room full of objects from New Guinea is fabulous and probably one of Amsterdam’s most obscure, yet spectacular hidden treasures.

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Private Guide in Amsterdam

Why a Private tour guide?

Are you planning a trip to Amsterdam and wondering how to make the most of your time in the city? One option to consider is booking a private guide.

Historical Amsterdam Tours

Private guided walks with local experts on art, history and cultural Amsterdam

Historical Amsterdam Tours

Private guided walks with local experts on art, history and cultural Amsterdam