How to buy tickets for the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, join guided tours, and avoid queues to see The Night Watch and Dutch Golden Age paintings and artworks without the crowds.
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is the top art museum in The Netherlands and deservedly very popular with visitors. In 2023, online tickets with time-slot reservations are essential to visit the Rijksmuseum — tickets are no longer sold at the museum itself. Even with time-slot admissions, it is best to arrive early morning or late afternoon. Rembrandt’s The Night Watch is the most famous painting and together with other Golden Age masterpieces – including four by Vermeer – the most popular artworks to see in the Rijksmuseum. Plan any visit around the period that the Eregalerij (Gallery of Honour) will be least busy. Guided tours are also a good way to see the highlights of the Rijksmuseum and enjoy priority skip-the-line admission.
Visit the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam in 2023: The museum is open daily from 9:00 to 17:00. Online time-slot reservation tickets are essential. (Small savings are possible if buying combination tickets with for example the Van Gogh Museum or a canal cruise.)
The largest-ever Vermeer Exhibition is unfortunately over but from 7 June to 10 October 2023, six paintings by Vermeer will be on display in the Gallery of Honour in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The Girl with the Red Hat (National Gallery of Art, Washington) and Young Woman Seated at a Virginal (The Leiden Collection, New York) will join the Rijksmuseum’s four Vermeer paintings. These may be seen on regular Rijksmuseum tickets.
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, North Holland
The Rijksmuseum (literally Imperial Museum) in Amsterdam is the best museum in the world to see Dutch art. The most famous painting – Rembrandt van Rijn’s The Night Watch (De Nachtwacht) – is also its top attraction. En route to this masterpiece, visitors may enjoy other Golden Age paintings including works by Vermeer, Steen, and Hals.
Although Dutch art from the seventeenth century is undoubtedly the main attraction at the Rijksmuseum – this period fills the complete second floor – the works on display range from around 1100 to the present. (Late 19th-century and modern art is mostly displayed in other museums on Museumplein such as the Van Gogh, Stedelijk, and MOCO museums.)
Some of these galleries with artworks of exceptional quality may be virtually empty even when the Golden Age rooms are unpleasantly crowded.
Tips on Enjoying Art in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
The Rijksmuseum is always popular – year-round visitors should expect large numbers but weekends and school vacations are of course even more crowded.
The number of visitors allowed into the museum is limited. In 2023, time-slot reservations tickets are obligatory but the popular halls are still very busy at peak times. Queues waiting in four directions from the entrances all the way out of the covered arcades into the open may be a thing of the past while the time-slot requirement remains in place.
Best Times to Visit the Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum is popular year-round but a few basic tips may help visitors to enjoy the art when the crowds are smaller. The best time to visit the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is early morning or late afternoon. Avoid weekends and holiday periods if possible.
The Rijksmuseum is usually the busiest between 11 am and 3 pm. The best strategy to enjoy the museum is thus to avoid the middle of the day by arriving early (the Rijksmuseum opens at 9 am) or late afternoon (after around 3 pm – last admission at 4:30 pm).
Tips on Avoiding Crowds at the Rijksmuseum
Following the three recommended routes through the museum is not obligatory but one-way systems are sometimes enforced in tight areas. (Circling, backtracking, and repeating halls are always possible.) When arriving early, go straight up to the second floor and go directly to see The Night Watch. Then retreat to the four Vermeers and other Golden Age paintings in the Eregalerij (Gallery of Honor). Only after seeing these top works start any planned tours or itinerary even if it requires a complete backtrack to the entrance. Of course, late afternoon see the Eregalerij last. (It is the last hall to close but in a dispute over the time, the guard always wins.)
De Nachtwacht is currently in the midst of a multi-year research and restoration project that is done in situ so most of the painting may be seen at all times. (The large glass box actually makes it a lot easier to appreciate The Nightwatch without seeing the backs of heads that need to press too close to paintings.) While crowds jostle for position in front of the Rembrandt, the huge similarly themed paintings on the sidewalls by Frans Hals and Bartholomeus van der Helst may often be enjoyed as if on a private tour.
After seeing these top works, the rest of the museum can be relatively peaceful. It is probably best to see the rest of the second floor (works from 1600 – 1700) first but after that many galleries may be much quieter. The art nouveau on the third floor and the Asian pavilion (well worth the detour) are often deserted even when other galleries are unpleasantly full.
Buying Skip-the-Line Tickets for the Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum is entered via the arcaded gallery that allows pedestrians and cyclists to move through the building, which was conceived as a historicist palatial town gate. Time-slot reservation tickets are essential so any queues here will be short and for security, or if there are still too many visitors inside. The endless queues in four directions may be a thing of the past, as many other museums in Amsterdam already successfully implemented online-only ticket systems.
While in the arcade, note the slit cut into the roof of the vaults of the arcade on the Museumplein side of the building – this was done to allow The Night Watch to be hoisted back into the building after restoration work without having to roll up the large painting.
- Tickets for the Rijksmuseum are €22.50 for adults and free for children under 18. The Museumkaart and iAmsterdam Card are accepted but free online time-slot reservations are essential.
Tickets are cheapest directly from the Rijksmuseum but online resellers such as GetYourGuide and Tiqets often have easier cancelation and refund options. Combinations with further tours may give small discounts, e.g. with the Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandt House, Artis Zoo, or a canal cruise.
If visiting a temporary exhibition in the Rijksmuseum, the admission time is usually for entry into the special exhibition. Enter the main museum freely directly afterwards.
Free Rijksmuseum Apps and Multimedia Tours
The Rijksmuseum has a wonderful website with 130,000 pieces currently on display online. Browsers are actively encouraged to download pictures and digitally play around with the artworks. Around 8,000 of the museum’s collection of nearly a million items are on display in the Rijksmuseum.
From the What’s On section, anyone may download for free the multimedia tours for iPhone or Android. (€5 for visitors turning up at the museum without their own smartphone.) Various tours are available including 45 or 90 minutes highlights or put together a personal tour. Free wifi is available throughout the museum.
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is open every day of the year from 9 am to 5 pm. The Rijksmuseum thus stays open even on vacation days including Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Popular sights near the Rijksmuseum include the Stedelijk Museum (modern art), Van Gogh Museum, MOCO with popular Banksy Exhibition, free Vondelpark, or for something completely different high-class shopping in P C Hoofstraat, swimming in the historic Zuiderbad swimming pool, or visit the very popular Heineken Experience.