Visiting a museum is always a unique experience, as each one has its own distinct characteristics, style, and of course, content. Museum subjects vary greatly from city to city, and can range from firefighter's museums to fine art, to sports. If you need help making a selection, our 10Best list highlights the top spots to visit in Amsterdam.


According to the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions, the country produces 650 million kilos of cheese a year, and two-thirds is exported. Every corner of the country, from Gouda to Amsterdam and Edam to Leiden, brings a little something to the table. Each type of cheese is delicious and flavorful in its own way. This is precisely why the Dutch are notorious for their cheese. Stop by the Amsterdam Cheese Museum in the Jordaan for an all-around experience; you can taste different types of cheese, as well as have a look at various cheese-making tools. When you're ready to head home, be sure to take some cheese with you. The staff can package your purchase, regardless if you arrived by plane, train or automobile.

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Old Center / Red Light District
Sexmuseum Amsterdam

All right, you're in Amsterdam, so you might as well bite the bullet and visit one of its sex museums. This place isn't incredibly obvious from the outside, but once inside, you'll discover a variety of displays documenting the carnal act and our perceptions of physical pleasure throughout history. Erotic art and pornography are both represented, and the place has a tendency to elicit nervous titters from some visitors. Still, the open attitude with which the museum addresses its subject is enlightening to many.

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Eastern Canal Ring

This relative newcomer on the museum scene devotes itself entirely to one of the most essential fashion accessories for women: the bag. Its specialized collection (the largest of its kind in the world) extends to around 2500 items – including alms purses, thigh bags and vanity-cases – as it traces the history of the bag in Western culture from the 16th century to the present day. Alongside some absolutely fascinating and exquisite pieces – and of course iconic offerings from Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Dior – there are many unique exhibits including a Chanel bag in the shape of a luxury liner and a bag that took its name from the Clinton family's cat. Bag-aholics however are warned to hold onto their purses when entering the gift shop: It sells a compelling assortment of bags by contemporary international and Dutch designers.

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Old Center / Red Light District

Exploring various aspects of human sexuality, this museum is a curious amalgam of dioramas, exhibits, and art from our era and from ages past. Strewn across five floors are displays that articulate different fetishes (including bondage scenarios), that play pornographic animation, and that illustrate how sexuality and erotica are communicated through drawings, postcards, photographs, and the like. Note that admission is strictly for those over the age of 16.

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Central Canal Ring

Horrible devices designed to elicit confessions from long-ago prisoners comprise the displays in this small, dark museum. The physical pain created by straps, spikes, weights and blades seems unimaginable to modern folks, and the frequency with which these means of punishment and death were employed is enough to give visitors uneasy pause. Formerly government- and church-sanctioned, the instruments of torture also draw forth sighs of relief from museum-goers, who are simply thankful that times have changed.

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Old Center / Red Light District
World of Vodka

This sleek and stylish museum is located in a former townhouse in a bustling part of the city. A knowledgeable personal guide will show you through the 3-story building and then you're on your own to experience the beautifully illuminated bar and lounge area. Sample the vodka for free, mix and mingle and even have a movie made to send to your friends. And if you want to take a bottle home, there are 112 varieties to pick from. Also, don't miss out on the Vodka Museum Tour & Cocktail Workshop, which begins with a tour and ends at their famous Vodka Bar!

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Old Center / Red Light District

Equated with England's Westminster Abbey since Dutch monarchs are inaugurated here, the Nieuwe Kerk had its foundations laid in the 14th century. Built as a Catholic sanctuary, it survived the nation's change to Protestantism, although it lost much of its original decoration. Even so, subsequent building efforts provided the church with beautiful ornamentation, including an amazing pulpit, intricate woodcarvings, stained glass windows, detailed altar, and a venerable pipe organ. These days, however, its use is of a more cultural nature: throughout the year it stages impressive large-scale exhibitions viewed by thousands of folk. Admission may vary for exhibitions.

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Amsterdam - North

As you stand at Amsterdam Centraal Station, look across the IJ River to the north. You'll notice a beautiful white building that boasts a sleek, line-driven design. This structure is home to the EYE Film Institute, a museum dedicated to all things film. Check out the agenda ahead of time and select a screening that sparks your interest. Admire the EYE's extensive collection; they offer special rotating exhibits, in addition to its permanent collection. Make sure to also stop by the restaurant and bar. Grab a bite to eat or share a drink with friends. The view is absolutely stunning, especially at night. When the weather is warm, sit on the terrace and relax. Please note the EYE does not accept cash payments, so make sure you have a credit or debit card handy.

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Given Amsterdam's proximity to the water, it's not surprising that boats have a long history of being adapted into living quarters. This museum illustrates just how that's possible. The circa-1914 barge, "Hendrika Maria," moored in one of the city's canals, was transformed into an 1125-square-foot home for a skipper and his family. Although no one occupies the boat now, exhibits with photos, slides and models provide insight into how the feat was accomplished, how central heat and running water were installed, and how the vessel is maintained yet today.

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