Are you curious about the best time to visit Rijksmuseum?
Then you’re in the right place. As a friend of the Rijksmuseum, I visit the museum more than once a month.
Sometimes to stroll. Sometimes, for a specific time or era, or to see a special exhibition or to learn something new at a special event.
I also take people on a guided tour of the museum.
You can find more information about my private tours here if you’re interested.
From all of these visits, I have a solid understanding of when and where it is busy, and I have developed tactics to avoid the crowds.
Today, I am going to share those with you in the article.
After reading them, you’ll know precisely the best time to book, the best time of the day to visit, and how not to follow the crowd but find your own way (and relative peace) in the Museum.
Table of Contents
The Best Hour To Visit The Rijksmuseum
The absolute best time to visit the Rijksmuseum (the main museum in the country, to see Dutch art and learn about Dutch history), no matter when you visit is right when the museum opens at 9:00 am.
Your magic window is within the next 30 minutes. Don’t think 10:00 is also early, and sleep in. The crowds arrive fast.
Once tour buses and river cruise crowds start to arrive, you’ll be fighting for a spot to see a painting.
Especially the River Cruise crowds are overwhelming. There are hundreds of people on one ship, and dozens of ships dock every day, meaning thousands of people join a tour every day.
But that first hour, especially the first 30 minutes, is magical.
If the main reason for your visit to Amsterdam is to see the Rijksmuseum, you should get up early, be at breakfast when it opens, and head to the Rijksmuseum so you can get there a few minutes before 9 a.m.
The Rijksmuseum works with timeslots, so to buy tickets well in advance is equally important. Grab that 9 a.m. slot like you’ve won a precious prize.
I see advice elsewhere to visit at the end of the day for a quieter experience, to visit at 3 pm or late afternoon, for example.
That is not my experience. It is less crowded at 4 p.m. than at 2 p.m., but that doesn’t mean it feels quiet, on the contrary. Plus, you’ll feel hurried.
The museum closes at 5 pm sharp, and they start making announcements to return at 4:30 pm and many more afterward. Art should be enjoyed in peace, not while a voice tells you it’s time to get out.
The Best Day Of The Week To Visit The Rijksmuseum
Again, I go against the standard advice. Google the best time to visit the Rijksmuseum, and you’ll see 10 out of 10 this advice: weekdays are better than weekends.
But it’s not that simple.
I wonder if these people who wrote that tested and visited the museum every day of the week or if they’re using common sense and hope their advice holds.
I have visited this museum every single day of the week. And my advice is different.
Sunday mornings are fantastic. People like to sleep in on a Sunday. Everything starts just a little bit later. So Sunday might be the best day if you arrive at 9:00 a.m. That is a weekend day, not a weekday.
Then Tuesday and Wednesday mornings are also great. Thursday crowds have already picked up, and Mondays and Fridays are still part of the weekend for me.
Many Dutch people (and Northern European people generally) work only four days a week. Friday or Monday are still part of their weekend.
Also, many tourists take Friday and Monday off for a 4-day trip for half the time off. Thus, I don’t count those days as weekdays.
But remember that the tours and cruises arrive every day, seven days a week.
There is no quiet day or moment at the Rijks during the middle of the day between 11 am and 3 pm —no matter the day of the week.
These are the peak hours of the day. But on Fridays and Saturdays, when also weekend visitors arrive, it can feel unbearable.
The issue with peak times during weekdays is school classes. Those kids hate being there. And what do kids do when they’re bored? Being noisy.
In other words, the day of the week is less critical to a quiet experience. The time of your visit is.
Actual holidays are also great days to go. People usually have different plans, crowds are thin on those days, and no schools.
Best Months to Visit The Rijksmuseum
Actually, the month of the year you visit can also make an enormous difference.
Amsterdam is most popular from April to September.
But March (People arriving too early for flower season) and October (usually people waiting for prices to come down a little bit) are pretty busy, too.
The quietest months are November, December (except for the week of Christmas and New Year), January, and February.
With the sidenote that quiet is relative in Amsterdam. Tourists outnumber locals by 8 to 1. Still, winter is the best season to enjoy the museum.
When I say arriving at the museum at 9:00 a.m. is magical. That means sharing the Gallery of Honour with a few dozen people in August, while you can have it for yourself in January.
I had that experience visiting on a Christmas Eve morning at 9 a.m. It was the most unreal feeling.
I was alone with four Vermeer paintings, completely alone! Except for security. It felt like an out-of-world experience.
Best Way To Tour the Rijksmuseum
Now we have the best time to visit the Rijksmuseum out of the way. There is also the best way to tour the museum.
First, download the Rijksmuseum App for free; it’s fantastic (search Rijksmuseum in your favorite App Store).
Then, bring your headphones to the museum. When you arrive without them, renting an audio tour costs €6.50, and it’s precisely the same as the free app you can download, but you must use it with headphones!
Second, most people have no idea what they’re doing once they arrive. And I don’t blame them. There are over 80 rooms at the museum.
More than 7000 items are on display spanning four floors, and the museum is divided by a road that goes right through it—no wonder it can feel like people run around entirely at a loss.
People Don’t Know Where To Go
So what do most people do? They dive into the first rooms they see. And that is right next to the lockers and toilets.
The early medieval art is on one side, and the special collections are on the other. Both are great, but it is best to save for later. Or skip entirely if you have different interests.
Suppose you follow my advice and get to the museum early, head straight for the Gallery of Honor, where you’ll find the best masterpieces. It’s up the stairs on the second floor. Ask for directions if needed.
Finding the Night Watch
The most famous painting at the museum is the Night Watch, which Rembrandt van Rijn painted during the Dutch Golden Age. This is the painting everybody comes to see. It’s worth beating the crowds for. You’ll find it in the back of the Gallery of Honor. Your eyes get pulled towards it.
After seeing the Nachtwacht (Night Watch), go back to the Gallery of Honor and explore the great of the great. Vermeer, Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Rembrandt and others. Every painting here has been chosen in this gallery for a particular reason.
Regarding crowds here, see Vermeer and Rembrandt’s paintings first. They attract the most people. There is a different business level, even within the Gallery of Honour.
Now It’s Time to Make Choices
Once you’ve seen this, it’s time to make choices.
If you want to see the famous doll house, the large wooden ship, or the Harry Potter-like library, make a right at the Nightwatch. The Doll House and the library are fantastic to have to yourself.
Or make a left for the famous Avercamp winter painting.
Go down one level to see Van Gogh and his contemporaries (1800s-1900s). This is one of my favorite rooms with Breitner, Gabriël, Mauve, and Van Looy.
You’ll love the “Special Collections” area near the lockers if you enjoy sparkling objects.
And if you’re into religious art, there is no better place than the medieval rooms from the 1100s to the 1600s. Yes, there is art here that is 800 years old! Amazing right?
What is most important is to choose. Crowds continue to swell, and it’s hard to see everything and enjoy it during one visit. Don’t. You can get more out of your visit if you choose deliberately where you want to go and equally important where not.
Follow Some of the Self-Guides Tours Offered In the App
When you download the app, it comes with various tours, all self-guided tours and free of charge.
The museum does a great job putting them together; the stories are entertaining.
These different tours of the Rijksmuseum are a great way to segment what you want to see.
Guided Tours At The Rijksmuseum
Guided tours of the Rijksmuseum are available throughout the day, lasting for about an hour. These cost just €7.50 a person. They don’t go very deep but show you the highlights of the Rijksmuseum.
Every museum’s tour guide is highly knowledgeable. Ask at the information desk about availability.
Private Tours At the Rights Museum
For a more personal experience, it’s best to book a private tour. The museum offers one-hour tours, and you can focus on a specific topic if you want.
Or book a longer tour with a private tour guide from outside the museum. These tours are usually two hours in length.
We will explore the building and focus on the stories. You can also book with a tour guide who is an art historian, for example, if you like more in-depth information about an artist or a specific work.
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is open daily. Its opening hours are between 9 am to 5 pm.
Daily means 365 days a year. It never closes. So yes, the museum is also open over Christmas and during New Year, including December 25th and January 1.
When you want to avoid crowds, visit early in the day. The best time slot is when the Rijksmuseum opens at 9.
Visiting during actual holidays is like a golden ticket for beating the crowds. Especially Christmas, most people have different plans, and you can benefit from that.
Once the Museum closes at 5, the shop and the cafe remain open for another hour.
If you plan an afternoon visit, wait for the cafe until 5 pm. At 3 pm, the cafe can be busy, but not at 5. You can easily score yourself a comfy (but low) chair on the balcony overlooking the museum entrance—the best seats in the house.
Enjoy a glass of wine, Dutch beer, a typical Dutch snack platter, or the famous Bitterballen, which is good here. The cafe is excellent in general!
Then do your shopping in the final 20 minutes when most people have left. The cafe is quiet at 5, but the shop will be at its busiest. So what you do first matters here. Just like seeing the art itself.
Do you know you can enter for free after 5 pm just for the shop and the cafe? You don’t need museum tickets between 5 and 6 to get original gifts and enjoy a Dutch snack platter (bittergarnituur).
Easiest Way to Get to The Rijksmuseum
Most people arrive by tram lines 2 or 12 from Central Station. It stops at the Van Gogh Museum and is a short stroll back to the Rijksmuseum.
This route is okay, but the trams are incredibly crowded. This route connects the most important tourist centers in the city.
My secret Hidden Holland tip is to take Metro line 52 instead. It’s just two stops from Central Station to the Vijzelsgracht station, you get there within 5 minutes.
The tram takes about 20 minutes. From the metro stop, it’s just a 5-minute walk to the Rijksmuseum main entrance. Much better if you ask me.
From the Airport you can travel to the museum directly by bus. The 397 bus is a fast service between Amsterdam Airport and the Marnixstraat regional bus station. There is a Rijksmuseum bus stop at Museum Square. Ask the driver when in doubt.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Time to Visit
How long to spend at Rijksmuseum?
I like to set aside three hours to explore Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum at leisure. Sure, you can see the highlights in one hour if you rush through, but your camera lens will see more than you.
I suggest taking the first hour to see the Gallery of Honor and two more things you enjoy elsewhere in the Museum. Maybe Oortman’s Doll House and the Library.
Then it can be nice to take 30 minutes to see the following significant period like the 1800-1900s rooms with Van Gogh and his contemporaries.
After that, you’ve seen a lot. It’s time for a break at the cafe. I like to take a longer break, maybe 30 minutes. Chat about what you’ve seen. Take in the people. Don’t rush it.
I promise you’ll feel recharged again, and then you can spend another hour in the rest of the museum, in a less popular but equally exciting area.
Your three hours are up before you know it!
If you would like to have an early lunch too, the cafe has some excellent dishes, but from 12:30 pm onwards, a (long) line starts to form.
But at around noon, you should still be ok! They try to add dishes that are inspired by the art inside. Sometimes, that can lead to some very special items on the menu.
With lunch included, you can easily spend 4 to 5 hours at the museum. Five hours sounds like a lot. But this museum is enormous, and you can’t remember what you’ve seen if you rush it.
When and where to buy rijksmuseum tickets?
You can best buy tickets for the Rijksmuseum online. Make sure to buy your tickets online as early as possible since you need to make a time slot reservation.
And remember you want that 9 a.m. slot for the best experience.
I would not buy your ticket from the official website. It’s a little cheaper, but if you use a ticket company like Get Your Guide or Tiqets (which I prefer), you’ll have a much more lenient cancellation policy.
If you get online tickets directly via the official website, you can change a date and time subject to availability if you email the museum. But you have to wait for a human to respond, which is not instant. And they will never cancel for a full refund.
If you book with a ticket website, you can cancel up to 24 hours before your visit for a full refund, which can be done automatically.
I read advice to get tickets online to avoid a 20-30-minute wait at the ticket desk. That is bullocks.
For years, there has been no ticket desk any longer. Every ticket has to be bought online, no matter what, even on the day itself.
Booking tickets in advance is better because the museum sells out, and you want a timeslot that suits you.
Do I have to enter the museum at the time of my time slot?
You have 15 minutes to enter before or after your timeslot. Once you’re inside, you can stay as long as you want.
You can not enter multiple times a day. So you can’t visit in the morning and then come again later in the day.
Your ticket allows you one entrance.
Is there a line to get into the Rijksmuseum?
All tickets for the Rijksmuseum are called skip-the-line tickets. Don’t let this term fool you. All tickets are “skip-the-line.”
At busy times, there can still be a waiting time. Don’t think you can skip ahead. Everybody else also has a “skip-the-line” ticket.
Usually, the wait should be no more than a few minutes. However, during busy peak moments, the waiting times can increase.
Another reason why to book a time slot early in the day.
what time does Rijksmuseum open?
The Rijksmusuem opens at 9 am. Every day of the week, 365 days a year. It’s also the best time to visit. To beat most of the crowds.
Final Thoughts For The Best Times To Visit The Rijks
As you can see, there are many ways to influence what kind of experience you’ll have at the Rijksmuseum.
The most important thing is to plan your visit to the Rijksmuseum well.
My main advice is to choose the right time and where to go once inside. And not try to do it all.
I hope you’ll enjoy exploring the museum and learning more about the art and history of the Netherlands.
Popular things to do near the Rijksmuseum include the 2nd most famous museum in Amsterdam: The Van Gogh Museum. Or go to the Stedelijk Museum if you enjoy modern art.
MOCO displays genuine Banksy paintings, and then there is the Bols Experience (Dutch Jenever distillery)
The Rijksmuseum, the van Gogh, and the other attractions mentioned are all around Museum Square (Museumplein).
You can also visit the Vondelpark, go high-class shopping in PC Hoofstraat with expensive stores, or visit the popular Heineken Experience if you enjoy Heineken Beer.
I would advise you NOT to visit two large museums on the same day, even though they’re nearby. It’s too much for your brain to process and becomes less enjoyable.
Stroll along the beautiful Spiegelgracht and Spiegelstraat, or go to the Heineken Experience if that’s your thing. Or explore the cozy “De Pijp” neighborhood behind it instead. It will make your overall day better.
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Have a wonderful time in Amsterdam.
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