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Visiting the Rijksmuseum with Kids by a local

Visiting the Rijksmuseum with Kids by a local

Are you thinking of visiting the Rijksmuseum with kids? As someone who lived in Amsterdam with kids, I have been to the Rijksmuseum with kids many times. In this guide I share our best tips for making the Rijksmuseum fun for kids as well as tell you what the highlights are. 

But first what is the Rijksmuseum? 

A bit about the Rijksmuseum

The facade of the Rijksmuseum

Making the Rijksmuseum for Kids

Well the Rijksmuseum is one of Amsterdam’s, if not the Netherlands premier art museums and houses many works by Dutch Masters from the Dutch Golden Age such as Vermeer and Reuben. 

However although there are many beautiful artworks on display it is not the easiest place to visit with kids.

Challenges about visiting the Rijksmuseum with kids. 

Although home to amazing pieces, the Rijksmuseum has not been designed or interpreted with kids in mind. As a trained curator and one who has worked at amazing science centers and children’s museums, I can tell you that the Rijksmuseum isn’t a place you can just turn up and enjoy with kids. 

However we have tips for making the experience more palatable for visiting with kids. But it is worth noting that although the displays are not particularly child orientated, the museum itself has lots of family friendly amenities like: 

  • some free strollers for renting for use in the museum, 
  • baby changing facilities, 
  • a feeding / breastfeeding room
  • a children’s menu in the museum cafe. 

Making the Rijksmuseum for Kids  

Visiting the Rijksmuseum with kids including Rijksmuseum highlights

Visiting the Rijksmuseum with kids including Rijksmuseum highlights

So now you know a little bit about what to expect from the Rijksmuseum, I will tell you from my experience as a curator how tou can make the experience more enjoyable for kids.

Visit a local art museum first 

When I first went to the Rijksmuseum with my daughter it was her first experience of a traditional art museum only having been to the Amsterdam Maritime Museum and NEMO science centre, some of the most toddler friendly museums in Amsterdam. So to say my daughter was a little disappointed with the Rijksmuseum is an understatement. 

It is always good to manage expectations whenever you visit a museum with little ones, and there is definitely a need to manage expectations at the Rijksmuseum. If your kids are old enough have a chat about what you can expect or if you can we recommend visiting a local art museum first to get them used to the surroundings first.  

Visit the Visitors Desk 

Whenever you visit an art museum with kids I recommend first heading to the visitor information point. This is where you can find out about facilities, special events and trails they have for children. 

When we once visited the Rijksmuseum there was a special crafting art session going on in an education room, (we were there during the school holidays) however at other times we have purchased for a nominal fee the Rijksmuseum scavenger hunt which children of school age enjoy. 

They also have a digital game that costs 2.5 euros per device. This is suitable for children aged 7 and up. And for those travelling with teenagers there is also a Rijksmuseum escape room but prebooking us required.  

Bring pencil and paper

Although crayons, felt tip pens and other pens are a big no no in museums, pencil and paper is fine. We recommend bringing some in your backpack so your little ones can sketch the artworks while you enjoy them. 

Create a scavenger hunt

Although you can buy a scavenger hunt from the visitors information desk, you can also create one yourself. You can do this by buying some postcards at the museum shop for your kids to find on your walk, otherwise you can print some photos off the museum website in advance and use them. 

Take a Family Friendly Tour

If you are visiting with children aged between 6 -12 then you may want to take one of the museum’s daily family friendly tours.

Pick your must-sees

Visiting the Rijksmuseum with kids including Rijksmuseum highlights

Visiting the Rijksmuseum with kids including Rijksmuseum highlights

Even without children it would be hard to look at every artwork in the Rijksmuseum in a single visitor. However it is near impossible with kids. 

For this reason we recommend selecting your must sees in advance and knowing the route for seeing them all in the quickest time possible.

For us the must sees in the Rijksmuseum are: 

  • The Nightswatch by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
  • The Milkmaid by Vermeer
  • The Threaten Swan by Jan Asselijn and
  • Self Portrait by Vincent Van Gogh, 

Spend time in the gardens

Garden at the Rijksmuseum - one of the best things to do in Amsterdam

Garden at the Rijksmuseum – one of the best things to do in Amsterdam

One of the things I love about the Rijksmuseum is the beautiful grounds they are set in. There are some sculptures in the garden as well as fountains in the summer that your little ones will enjoy cooling off in – just remember to bring them a fresh set of clothes. 

If you are visiting Amsterdam in December you may also want to check out the ice rink that is usually (though not 2023) erected in front of the museum. 

Visit the gift shop

My kids love museum gift shops at any museum we visit. However the Rijksmuseum has a particularly good one. My little ones love Nijntje aka Miffy to the English speaking world and there are lots of Miffy books in the shop. But my little one absolutely adored the Playmobil sets of the artworks on display. 

Other Rijksmuseum Tips and Tricks

Buy Your Tickets in Advance

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. 

You can buy your tickets in advance here! 

Note: Children go free.

Visit the Nightwatchmen first

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 especially toddlers. 

Look out for Seasonal events at the Rijksmuseum

Icerink in front of Rijksmuseum 0 visiting Amsterdam in December

Icerink in front of Rijksmuseum 0 visiting Amsterdam in December

The Rijksmuseum has many seasonal events in its grounds including: 

  • Tulip Festival where the grounds will be filled with colour in April.
  • The Ice rink in the grounds in December 

Once we went through we also found there were options for additional purchases of family packs. These include 

  • 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. 

Overall opinion of visiting the Rijksmuseum

The art on 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 however with our tips it can be a more family friendly place to visit. 


Saturday 3rd of August 2019

I like the fact you mentioned that families on a tight budget can take their own food in. Dorothy

Wandermust Mummy

Saturday 3rd of August 2019

Yes it is always useful To know we didn’t but I would next time

Saturday 3rd of August 2019

I like the fact you mentioned that families on a tight budget can take their own food in. Dorothy