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  13. Netherlands: Amsterdam – The...

Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum is one of the Worlds leading museums and is dedicated to over 8 centuries of Dutch art

The Rijksmuseum, which in English means – The State Museum, has been around for more than two hundred years and in that time it has risen to be one of the most renowned and breathtaking museums in the world.

The Rijksmuseum is large – well sort of huge – and you could easily spend a day or more fully exploring its galleries. The museum houses 8,000 artistic and historical objects that tell the story of 800 years of Dutch history, from the year 1200 right up to the present. Unfortunately, we are not quite that committed to the study of art so we decided that we’d focus on the highlights.

The Rijksmuseum facade - Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The backside of the Rijksmuseum
Outside art at the Rijksmuseum
A tree is used to hang art from in the Rijksmuseum grounds
A fountain at the Rijksmuseum
Strange blobby sculptures in the Rijksmuseum main atrium

We decided to start our time in the galleries housing the 19th Century exhibits, including some of the works of Vincent Van Gogh – if you are a big fan there is a whole other museum dedicated to his work a short distance away from the Rijksmuseum..

Van Gogh self-portraint
The Singel Bridge at the Paleisstraat in Amsterdam, George Hendrik Breitner, 1898

The other main draw to the museum is its extensive collection of works from the great Dutch artist Rembrandt, which are found in a gallery with the works of other famous artists such as Vermeer. There is an interesting project underway to restore one of Rembrandt’s finest works “The Night Watch”. This restoration work is happening in real-time in a specially designed space behind plexiglass walls so the public can see what is happening.

The Milkmaid, Johannes Vermeer, c. 1660
A Mother Delousing her Child’s Hair, Known as ‘A Mother’s Duty’, Pieter de Hooch, c. 1660 - c. 1661
In the Rembrandt Gallery
The seating is most welcome
Wedding painting of Maerten Soolmans by Rembrandt
Exqusitie detail of Maerten Soolmans lace shoe decoration - Rembrandt
Under public view - restoration work on the 'Nightwatch'
Restoration of Rembrandt's 'Nightwatch'

Beyond these galleries, we just strolled through many others. There is just too much to see and eventually, we ended up with sensory overload. The works of art range from the 1200s to the present day so there is something to suit everyone’s tastes.

Portraits of Giuliano and Francesco Giamberti da Sangallo, Piero di Cosimo, 1482 - 1485
Shiva Nataraja in the Asia Pavillion
Kimono in the Asia Pavillion
Furniture collections
An amazing painted bureau

I have a great love for grand old libraries and book collections. Sad I know but there is something very mystical and alluring about libraries – especially the older variety. Think Hogwarts! Anyway, the Rijksmuseum has its own, the Cuypers Library is the largest and oldest art historical library in the Netherlands. Visitors are welcome to use the library – how cool is that!

The Cuypers Library at the Rijksmuseum

 

After 3 hours of treading the floors of the Rijksmuseum, we were about done. We had probably walked about 25% of the galleries – so to do the whole museum justice you would have to make several trips. Perhaps another time. Whether you are a big fan of art the Rijksmuseum should be on your list of must-see places during a trip to Amsterdam. Just wear some comfortable shoes and be patient when moving through the crowds, especially around some of the more popular exhibits.

In summary …

  • The Rijksmuseum is huge be prepared to spend quite some time here & bring comfortable shoes
  • Either join a tour or get an audio guide it will navigate you through the collections and provide great background info on the works of art
  • Photography is allowed inside the main galleries of the museum – but flash photography is not allowed

Planning your visit to the Rijksmuseum

By far the best way to get to the museum is to use public transport, in fact, the best way to get around Amsterdam is by using public transport! Several tram routes stop directly outside the museum. Check the tram route options here.

You can get into the main lobby area of the museum for free and use the cafe – which is actually a very nice place to spend a few minutes relaxing and chilling out before, after or during your time at the Rijksmuseum.

We do like to try and avoid the crowds, so as always it is good to get there early as it can get busy as the day goes on.

The cost of entry is relatively inexpensive at €20 for adults, and children under are free. Another thing we recommend is to use the audio-guided tour. You can rent a unit at the museum for a few euros or alternatively, you can download the app on your phone and use your own headphones. You can of course book a guided tour – the most popular of which is the highlights tours which costs you only €5.

Address:Rijksmuseum, Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam
Telephone:+31 (0) 20 6747 000
Websitehttps://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en
Opening hours:9:00 to 17:00 daily (including holidays such as Christmas and New Years Day)
Admission fees:Adults: € 20.00. Children under the age of 18 are free

Best time to visit Amsterdam

The Dutch capital is fascinating and full of energy all year long, but if you are set on sightseeing as much as possible, spring and early fall are the best times to visit Amsterdam. The weather is mild, you’re more likely to see sun than rain, and the crowds are down to manageable sizes. This is the best time to score deals outside of winter, and even if you have to wait in line to enter or board your favourite attraction, at least the weather outside is likely to be nice.

Vegan friendly dining in Amsterdam

1. VEGAN JUNK FOOD BAR

The Vegan Junk Food Bar is a small chain of restaurants, with four locations in Amsterdam and one in Rotterdam. During our couple of days stay in Amsterdam we tried two locations, one on Staringplein and the other on Marie Heinekenplein. Both were excellent and very busy, with mainly young people – which is great to see and makes me hopeful for the future.

2. MR BLOU I LOVE YOU

‘Mr. Blou’ started his street food stall in October 2017, at the kiosk on the other side of the police station at Marnixstraat. He started cooking twelve years ago and worked in several restaurants in Paris, and Michelin star restaurants Bridges and at The Okura in Amsterdam. After developing burnout and quitting his job, he did a fair bit of travelling. It was in Singapore where he discovered a street food stall so good, it actually had a Michelin star!

Back in Amsterdam he voluntarily cooked for a while for Syrian refugees. From all the things he made, they loved his falafel the most. That’s how the idea for the street food stall got shape, and in the tradition of French chefs, he named it after himself. And the falafel became his signature dish.

Where to stay?

1. HOTEL NOT HOTEL

In my exploration of unusual places to stay, I was delighted to find, when scouring the hospitality websites, the Hotel Not Hotel. This is a very unique place with just a few rooms but they are all somewhat quirky, ranging from rooms hidden behind bookcases to a VW camper and tramcar

2. SWEETS HOTEL

Having spent two nights in a tramcar at the Hotel Not Hotel in Amsterdam I decided to switch to somewhere else for a night. Truth be known I could only get two nights at the Hotel Not Hotel, so the change was pretty much enforced – but I was glad to try a different place. I had been thinking about stopping on a houseboat – a must-do thing when staying in Amsterdam, but it was really, really expensive. Yet I found the next best thing, which sounded really cool – a bridge house on the canal.

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