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Amsterdam-See Rijksmuseum or Van Gogh Museum first?

I will be in Amsterdam end of July for 2 full days; Sunday & Monday. I want to visit both the Rijksmuseum (9am-5pm) and Van Gogh Museum (9am-7pm) on the same day with a picnic lunch in-between in Park. Following Rick's self-guided tours for each, I figure 1.5-2 hrs in each museum and buying tickets online (Van Gogh only takes online time-entry tickets now). With my experience with London's museums in July, they get very warm and uncomfortable to visit since there is no AC, fans, or open windows. So I need help, from those of you who have visited both museums in the summer months, which one should I visit first in the AM and which one in the afternoon and why is that your recommendation? Thanks, Fran

Posted by
256 posts

When my wife and I visited in summer a few years ago we did the Rijksmuseum in the morning and we did the Van Gogh Museum just after that, much the way you are suggesting. In short, I don't think there's a compelling reason to do one before the other or vice-versa.The weather was cool (in June) so AC was not an issue the day we visited so I can't speak to whether one or the other seems more likely to be comfortable on a warm day. Both are clearly worth visiting. Both will get busier as the day goes on. The Rijksmuseum is much bigger. But I found some of the exhibits in the Van Gogh Museum (e.g., letters between Vincent and his brother) particularly easy to linger over, and we enjoyed being able to really slow down a bit in the afternoon visit and spend time in those exhibits. Not sure any of this helps, but again I don't think this is a case where it makes it clearly easier/better in any particular order.

Posted by
306 posts

You might consider signing up for one of the one-hour guided tours at the Rijks.
The group was small and our guide was very knowledgeable. I learned more in that hour about the art at the Rijks than I did wandering around by myself. I am not really into art but the guide made me appreciate the fine works to a higher degree.

Posted by
14245 posts

I can't imagine spending only 2 hours at the Rijksmuseum. The Van Gogh is much smaller, but probably crowded so it may take longer to jockey for position to see the paintings. A quick google search tells me that both have AC.

Posted by
897 posts

A lot of it depends on what you like. I had read and heard the RijksMuseum was a must, but neither myself nor my husband found it particularly interesting. It’s a lot of dark Dutch art and a lot of blue Willow type pottery. We did, on the other hand, love the van Gogh Museum. I would spend some time on each museum’s website to see what they offer and then visit the one that you find most interesting first. That way, just in case something happens or you get too tired you will have seen the main one you wanted to see if you don’t make it to the second one.

Posted by
2151 posts

It's all a matter of what you love the most--for me, hands down first choice was the Van Gogh, and there is always a special exhibit that is fascinating--I got to see a wonderful collection of early 1900s French posters. Missing it would have been very disappointing, whereas the Rijksmuseum was full of art that is not at all my favorite, though I did move swiftly through the Dutch Masters hall and was delighted to see the doll's house cabinet that belonged to Petronella Oortmann and inspired the novel and Masterpiece production The Miniaturist.

Posted by
40 posts

Thanks everyone for your views, it does help. I especially liked hearing they both have AC !! Fran

Posted by
1016 posts

I would go to the Van Gogh first. It is smaller and gets crowded. I went at opening (9a) and it was very un-crowded. When I left two hours later it was very crowded. My daughter and I high-fived bc we had timed it so well. The Rijks is so big its hard to get crowded. Ive been there several times and never timed it for anything and its not been crowded. Plus, you will likely want more than 2 hours there, and if you go in the afternoon, you can stay as long as you want (rather than feeling squeezed by some time-limit you have set up to fit in lunch and make your Van Gogh time)
The park is urban. There are a lot of people hanging out, playing frisbee, sitting around the fountain. A great place to be, and to people watch, but not bucolic (for that you would want Vondelpark; crowded but more of a park-like setting)

Posted by
61 posts

I think the Van Gogh Museum is one of the best museums I have visited. Borghese is a close second. The audio guide and the way the museum is configured make it a worthy experience. It's crowded. Make time there to see "story". I think it took us a good 2 hours or longer. It was raining out so we lingered and soaked it up.

Rijksmuseum is HUGE. We did the "Top 25" and took us a good 2 hrs. It was a worthy Top 25, especially Vermeer's Milkmaid.


Posted by
6377 posts

Seeing the Rijksmuseum newly restored building is another reason to visit, beautifully done. “The Night Watch” in it’s own alcove is breathtaking. I happen to live the Dutch masters who used secular subjects instead of religious ones.