Since moving to Amsterdam we have been slowly going round all of the amazing museums that Amsterdam has on offer! One of the big ones on my list is was to visit the famed art museum – the Rijksmuseum – the premier art museum in the whole of the Netherlands. In this guide we round up the best Rijksmuseum tips from the best places to buy Rijksmuseum tickets, a guide to the Rijksmuseum highlights and how to visit the Rijksmuseum with kids.
A bit about the Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum is perhaps the most famous museum in all of Amsterdam even if it isn’t the most visited. Most people will recognise the Rijksmuseum as the famous IAmsterdam sign used to be in front of the building however the sign has recently been removed due to over tourism.
In you are visiting Amsterdam in April be sure to check out the tulip installations that appear during the Tulip Festival.
The museum was first opened in 1800 so it is definitely an art museum with impressive pedigree so if you want to add the Rijksmuseum to your Amsterdam itinerary we have all the top tips for you including what to do if your want to be visiting the Rijksmuseum with kids?
Visiting the Rijksmuseum Tips and Tricks
My number one tip for visiting the Rijksmuseum is buy your tickets in advance! The queues here especially in peak season can get crazy so be sure to have your ticket in advance as this allows you to skip the queue and go straight into the museum without having to stand in line.
The great thing about the tickets for the Rijksmuseum is that once you have purchased your tickets they are valid for a year so you can pick your day of visit. I would recommend picking the most rainy day on your Amsterdam itinerary to visit the Rijksmuseum.
Note: Children go free.
If you are looking to visit other Amsterdam tourist attractions then you may be better purchasing a combination ticket such as
- Rijksmuseum and 1 hour canal cruise
- Hop on Hop Off cruise and Rijksmuseum skip the line ticket
- Private Rijksmuseum Tour
However if you are have a few days in the city and are planning to visit more than one museum and other Amsterdam attractions you may want to purchase the I Amsterdam City Card. This can be valid from 24 hours to 120 hours depending on how long you are in the city and gets you free or discounted access to museums and other Amsterdam attractions as well as being valid on pubic transport. You can buy your I Amsterdam City Card online HERE!
If you are travelling with a rucksack you will have to use the lockers on site to store luggage. They are refundable but do require a 50 cent piece to operate so be sure you have change with you.
The crowds at the Rijksmuseum get larger as the day goes on so I would recommend getting to the museum at opening and making a beeline to see the Nights Watchmen – one of the Rijksmuseum highlights. This tends to be the painting that gets the most crowded so be sure to go early to get the best view.
If you can’t make it to the Rijksmuseum first thing in the morning I would recommend going after 3pm as the crowds start to ebb off towards the end of the day.
How long do I need at the Rijksmuseum?
It is really difficult to answer a question how long do I need at the Rijksmuseum because it really depends on your interest level and who you are travelling with.
There are several routes through the Rijksmuseum including both a one hour and a two hour highlight route! If you have a high level of interest then you could definitely extend your trip here to make it a half day activity however I think a couple of hours is sufficient especially if you travelling with kids.
What are the Rijksmuseum Highlights?
For me there is definitely a top contender for the Rijksmuseum highlights and that is of course the famous Nights Watch by Rembrandt. This is such an important piece in the Rijksmuseum collection and the Nights Watch actually takes centre stage in The Gallery of Honour. The thing that amazed me about this painting was its scale – it is Rembrandt’s largest painting at 379.5cm x 453.5cm wide.
Please note: if you are visiting the Rijksmuseum in 2019 the Nights Watch is undergoing conservation so the painting is actually protected by a large glass room while the work is being undertaken. Although this might be a disappointment to some I would say it is very interesting to see the conservation work being undertaken and also the painting is currently out of its frame which is also interesting to see.
Other highlights include
- Vermeer’s Milk Maid (there are two other Vermeer’s also on display in the Rijksmuseum also in the Gallery of Honour). If you are looking for a fun souvenir to take back from the Rijksmuseum for kids then head to the Museum gift shop where you can buy Playmobil versions of some of the museums greatest hits.
- Dolls House Collection
- Threatened Swan Painting
- Three Van Gogh Paintings include a Van Gogh self portrait.
- Waterloo – literally the largest painting I’ve ever seen at 5m wide
- The Rijksmuseum library – a hidden gem. This beautiful library is stunning but please note that this is a working research library so when you look down you will see academic researchers so you need to be quiet here. I tagged teamed going in here as I didn’t want my toddler making too much noise in there.
Visiting the Rijksmuseum with kids – what is there for families at the Rijksmuseum
Now after having visited the NEMO Museum and the Maritime Museum in Amsterdam I knew that the Rijksmuseum wouldn’t be as equipped for younger visitors but what does the Rijksmuseum have for kids?
When we arrived we found very little information about what there is to do for families at the museum. There is a kids pack available but we had to go over to the information desk and ask for this. It isn’t immediately obvious or available so do be sure to ask for one.
This small pack apparently will take you on a 1km tour of the museum which is quite a lot for little people and I would say that this pack was definitely aimed at later primary and secondary school kids only. Activities in the booklet include drawing exercises based off the highlights of the Rijksmuseum.
Once we went through we also found there were options for additional purchases of family packs. These include
- a digital game that costs 2.5 euros per device. This is suitable for children aged 7 and up.
- Family tour which can be purchased at the same time as your Rijksmuseum ticket. There are daily and private tour options – run daily during school holidays and last for an hour. This tour is recommended for children ages 6 and upwards.
- In the picnic lunch room there are also activities for children in holidays and weekends. Again we didn’t find these to be well advertised on entry to the museum so be sure to ask about activities that are on during your visit.
- For those travelling with teenagers there is also a Rijksmuseum escape room – prebooking required. I’ll admit this is now high on my Amsterdam bucket list
I would say if you are visiting the Rijksmuseum with kids there aren’t any amenities for children under the age of 6 however realistically I would say that the activities we saw were more aimed at the 9 and above.
If you do decide to go to the Rijksmuseum with kids, whatever age it is worth allocating time to visit museumplein at the back where there is a large playground and fountains for children to play in.
For a complete guide tovisiting Amsterdam with toddlers check out this post!
Onsite Facilities at the Rijksmuseum
There is a cafe on site in the lobby of the museum. It has a limited children menu but is a good place to take a break.
There is also a coffee shop on the first floor for those that want coffee and cake. However if you are on a budget you can bring in your own food and eat in the picnic room.
Other Rijksmuseum Tips
- Rijksmuseum Amsterdam is a great place to visit in April during the Tulip Festival where the grounds will be filled with colour.
- If you are looking for something free to do in Amsterdam you can always visit the Rijksmuseum Garden or the Airport Rijksmuseum which are both completely free.
Overall opinion of visiting the Rijksmuseum
The art of display at the Rijksmuseum is truly world class and I think the Rijksmuseum is worthy of being on any Amsterdam itinerary however if you are travelling with younger children then there are a lot of other Amsterdam museums which would probably have more for the whole family.