The Best Tulips and Interesting Museums in Amsterdam

In our last article, we described how Amsterdam felt to us. Our impressions, if you will. Now I want to describe the specific sights we visited. Most are filled with tulips and paintings by the Dutch Masters. While I could look at tulips all day, my tolerance for the paintings was far less than Mike’s. Note who is writing this article.

Hop-on Hop-off Bus

Our latest approach to sightseeing when we get to a new city is to take the Hop on Hop Off Bus. It probably isn’t worth the 20 dollars a piece that it usually costs but it gets us oriented and provides some history. This introductory information is really helpful as we plan the rest of our stay.

In Amsterdam, because the city is in a half-circle with lots of pedestrian areas and canals in the middle, the bus just goes around the outside. This tour was considerably shorter than others we’ve taken but it gave us a good orientation.


Before we visit a city, we try to make sure we get tickets to any timed events. Since we would be in Holland, I wanted to see TULIPS. When I looked online, I discovered that we would be arriving on the last day of the tulip show at the Keukenhof Botanical Garden (the premiere tulip growers in Holland). I bought tickets more than a month in advance and I was so excited the day of the show. I have never seen most of the tulip varieties on display, it was breathtaking. Judge for yourself, we spent hours in the park and it was sad to leave.

Warning, lots of gratuitous tulip pictures follow.


It turned out that we were staying in the museum district. It was pretty hard to miss the enormous Rijksmuseum with a road through the middle. I was almost dreading how long we would have to be in the museum to see everything.

The reality wasn’t far off, the place is huge with floors of “Dutch Masters” paintings. The most interesting thing was the restoration of Rembrandt’s Night Watch. The enormous painting has been removed from its stretcher and frame. You can see how much of the color has darkened over time. Nearby is a smaller copy of the painting made about 100 years after the original and you can see the more vibrant colors. This will be used by the restorers as they work on the painting. You can also see that the original painting was cut down, apparently to make it fit in the city hall. Wow!

We tried to be strategic but after about three hours, we needed a break. Let’s hear it for nice museum cafes in Europe. After our break, we made an effort to continue our visit for another hour and a half, until they kicked us out. I’m not much for trying to tell you about all of the paintings but if you are interested, leave plenty of time or go more than once.

Van Gogh Museum

We needed advanced tickets for the Van Gogh Museum so it was actually the first one we visited. The museum focused on Van Gogh’s life as seen through his paintings. The history and context were really interesting. We also saw examples of how many of the colors had faded, especially the reds.

In other areas, there were detailed descriptions of Vincent’s relationship with his brother and his voluntary commitment to an asylum. The paintings he made during that time are displayed together and the differences are described. We left the museum being very impressed with the perspective presented. I would highly recommend a visit to this museum.

Anne Frank House

The tickets for the Anne Frank House were actually the hardest ones to get. They go on sale two months in advance. The museum is in the building she and her family hid in during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. It was actually behind the place where her father worked. Most of us know a little bit about Anne’s life but seeing her hiding place and learning the history of how they lived for two years was really interesting. Unfortunately, no pictures are allowed but there are some on the website.

The entire visit took about two hours and was very moving. I had no idea about the history of the house, which was made possible because Anne’s father survived the war and returned. One of his housemates had found her diary and gave it to him. He published it a few years after the war. One of the most poignant things is that she always wanted to be a writer and found great success after her death.

Jewish Historical Museum of Amsterdam

The Jewish Historical Museum of Amsterdam, located in the Great Synagogue, houses Torah scrolls, textiles, and the silver Torah dressings used in the Synagogue over the last few hundred years. The Synagogue itself was built by the Ashkenazi Jews that settled in Amsterdam during the 1800s. The style of the building itself is much newer and more Dutch than the Portuguese Synagogue across the street.

The Portuguese Synagogue is quite a bit older and built a bit like a fort. In 1492, when the Jews were expelled from the Iberian peninsula, many of the Sephardic Jews resettled in Amsterdam. Their customs and culture were somewhat different from the Ashkenazi Jews who came to Amsterdam later. Hence, two different Synagogues are right across the street from one another.

Leaving Amsterdam

We had heard that the lines at Schiphol, the main airport in Amsterdam, were really long. So we left the hotel quite early only to find short lines. So we waited in the lounge for a long time before our flight.

A few days later, we heard that people were missing flights out of Schiphol due to five-hour lines at the airport. We are happy we left extra time.

We had a great time in Amsterdam and we would gladly visit again.

What museum would you like to visit?

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  1. Awesome pictures. We want to visit Amsterdam to see the Tulips there. Earlier in April we visited Washington for the Tulips festival, we visited one farm in RoozenGaarde & saw an amazing variety of Tulips….

  2. I never understood all the ‘fuss’ about Vincent van Gogh, until I organised a business trip for clients to the Van Gogh Museum. The paintings and vibrant colour made a huge impression, and I’ve gone back several times. This museum never bores me. There’s also a digital event going around the world, which is really worthwhile. It’s so sad Vincent only sold 1 painting in his life and was bullied. And now he’s so famous. Even in Vegas there was a digital Van Gogh event!

    The road in the middle of the Rijksmuseum used to be for horse carriages. It’s a gorgeous building. In the museum I love the antique doll house the most.

    Did you read Anne Frank’s diary? Really worthwhile, she was a good writer. And also described her feelings, describing the other persons hiding so well. A grumpy man, her sister, and the boy she was secretly in love with.

    So happy you managed to see Keukenhof on its very last day. I went as well, so happy it opened again this year.

  3. The Keukenhof show was great. I would recommend visiting before end of April. By mid-May, some beds that had already bloomed and been cut down. Enjoy!

  4. We saw one (there are at least two) digital Van Gogh show in San Francisco. I really enjoyed it and it made the real paintings a bit more engaging, I thought.

  5. Loved the tulips photos! I also could walk around and stare at those all day! How awesome the way your timing worked out. Both the Dutch tulips and the fields in Washington are on my list!

    Do I recall correctly you saw Immersive van Gogh? How did that compare to the museum experience?

  6. We enjoyed immersive Van Gogh in SF. The museum experience puts his work in context intellectually, the multi-media experience is more sensual and emotional.

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