Every good city should have a thriving green heart, an outdoor space were people can gather and frolic and maybe even pretend for a moment that they’re surrounded by trees. Amsterdam, to its immense credit, has these in spades. East Park and West Park and the Amsterdam Forest and seemingly a hundred more. One of the most iconic, though? The Museumplein.
Not only is it an big beautiful open green space, but on every side the museumplein is bordered by an amazing cultural center. The Rijksmuseum (Dutch National Museum) and Concertgebouw compete with one another for historic beauty while the Van Gogh and Stedelijk Museums shine with a more modern sort of splendor.
The fringe between Rijksmuseum and Museumplein may be one of the most ‘iconic’ spots in town, with the “I amsterdam” sign. To my pride and amusement, Cici (a friend from college who happened to be in town) and I managed to convince a group of total strangers to line up and make the letters for an impromptu photo opportunity. I only regret that the sky wasn’t nicer that day!
Though I never made it inside the ConcertGebouw, Jonny (another friend, whom I’d met in Tajikistan and kindly offered to host me in AMS, and who blogs at http://backpackingman.com/) and I did manage to stumble across an open-air concert one afternoon. The house orchestra was in Rio playing live to a simulcast on the Museumplein lawn… a very cool moment that made me appreciate Amsterdam a little bit more. (Traveler’s tip: every Wednesday the Concertgebouw hosts a free Lunch Concert!)
Being pretty busy during my stay in Amsterdam, the only one of these museums I did actually make it to was the Rijksmuseum; even that was on a flying 2 hour run before I headed to the airport on my last morning in town.
It really is a beautiful place, though, and think kind of museum I could happily spend a couple of days in a row browsing. Tickets are a bit on the expensive side at 15 Euro, but I felt like I would be amiss if I left town without at least seeing this one.
It was a little crowded, I spent way too little time, and didn’t even get a glimpse of all the wings. Next time I pass through Amsterdam I’ll certainly be back there. For now, a brief look at a few of things I did see:
I was in Amsterdam primarily to take photos for GetYourGuide. This museumplein itself is free and easy to get to. If you’re planning on visiting the Van Gogh Museum or Rijksmuseum, though, consider buying your tickets beforehand to skip the line. And don’t forget, Free Lunch Concerts!