Since the country's largest national museum completed its extensive ten-year renovation, the Rijksmuseum has been better than ever - it's no wonder that visitor numbers have soared since its 2013 completion. For a decade, visitors were limited to an abbreviated exhibit of 17th- and 18th-century Dutch art (confined to just one wing of the massive Neo-Gothic building); now, the museum has re-occupied its full premises for a series of exhibits that befit the scope of its massive collection. Highlights of the collection include the works of the Dutch Golden Age, a time when the Netherlands' colonization and trade efforts made it the world's richest country. The collection features stunning samples of Delftware, silver and other artifacts, as well as paintings by Dutch masters Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Frans Hals. The museum's imposing exterior architecture alone is a sight worth seeing.
A favorite Amsterdam attraction for all ages, the Van Gogh Museum allows visitors to get up close and personal with the dotted-and-dashed brush strokes and somewhat troubled life of one of the world's most-loved European artists. The Van Gogh Museum contains the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world, and also houses works by other 19th-century artists -- including Cézanne, Gauguin, Monet, Seurat, Sisley, and Toulouse-Lautrec -- in its permanent collection. Temporary exhibitions in the modern annex are also impressive.
Anne Frankhuis (Anne Frank House)
Don't miss the chance to see where Anne Frank penned her now world-famous diary, which tells the story of a young Jewish girl in hiding with her family during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam in World War II. Viewing the secret annex and many other rooms in this restored canal house is a deeply moving experience and well-worth enduring the ever-present crowds. Avoid lines by visiting early or late in the day, or by purchasing special-access evening tickets in advance.
Museums in the Netherlands are pricey. If you plan to visit more than two or three, consider one of the city's tourist discount passes. Note that the "i amsterdam" card only entitled visitors to a €2.50 discount on admission to the Rijksmuseum; the other two museums are free for cardholders. The cost for all three museums is €47 at the time of publication, while the pass—which includes free public transit, a canal tour, free entry to 40-odd city museums, and other perks—starts at €55 for 24 hours.
The Museumkaart, on the other hand, costs €59.90 and is valid for a year's worth of museum visits across the entire country; since it's primarily aimed at Dutch residents, however, it doesn't include tourist-specific perks such as free public transit and a canal tour.
Visitor Tip: Where to Eat Near the Museumplein
There is a lot to do in the immediate vicinity of the Museumplein. Don't miss out on these recommended restaurants near the Museumplein, for starters. If you need a breather from room after climate-controlled room of priceless artworks, head to the Vondelpark for a breath of fresh air.
Another option is to take a leisurely walk across the Ruysdaelkade (10 minutes by foot) to explore the district of De Pijp and the fantastic multi-cultural restaurants centered around Marie Heinekenplein. The city south of the Canal District is one of the best areas to stroll leisurely, with new spots to discover every season, so be sure to coordinate your museum visits to allow some free time for exploration!
Edited by Kristen de Joseph.