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Museumplein highlights

October 29th, 2007

 Museumplein highlightsOutside Museum Square

The Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum are, essentially, Museum Square’s raisson d’etre. They house the largest collections of Dutch art and perhaps 17th century art. The Rijksmuseum is undergoing a 5-year renovation, inside & out. A fraction of its collection is on display in a wing that adjoins the main, historical-architecture museum. Much of the collection then is on loan to other museums throughout Amsterdam (and the world). Otherwise, this section of Amsterdam is a residential and tourist hotel area. That being the case, you can find a nice restaurant just off the park (across the south bordering street, Van Baerlestrasse). A few blocks north you’ll find Amsterdam’s grandest park, Vondelpark. If you’re lucky enough to have booked a hotel room or hostel bed in this area, you’ll find the streets quiet, shopping okay, and transportation convenient into the canal district. Several tram lines stop at the park.

Amsterdam’s water taxi service has two stops on the canal in front of the Rijksmuseum (Museumplein is actually behind the Rijksmuseum). This might be the third time I’m writing this, but no matter: the water taxi is a good deal for the two-day visitor. You have all-day hop-on/hop-off privileges that last, actually, until 12 the following day. Each stop is near a major tourist attraction and museum: Anne Frank House, Stadhuis and Opera, Tropenmuseum, Scheepvaart Museum, Rembrandt House, Jewish Historical Museum, and the Red Light District, for example. The water taxi is not cheaper than trams, but it is faster and a great scenic tour, too. (In fact, each route has an automated guide in different languages to point out the architectural and historical treats along the way.)

One attraction within an easy walk from Museum Square is the Heineken Brewery, where you can tour the brewery through the interactive “Heineken Experience.” This is a fun tour that doesn’t bother with all the technical points of brewing (they want you to enjoy a beer, not become a brewmaster).  Museumplein highlightsYou get to learn about the company’s history (lots of brothers!), have a few beers in two bars along the route, and go on “rides” just like at an amusement park (don’t miss the “you are the bottle” interactive video). For €10, you get the tour, 3 beers, and a gift as you leave. Even if you don’t love beer, this is the cheapest tourist site in Northern Europe!

Directions to Museum Square
The water taxi Green & Red lines stop at the front of the Rijksmuseum. Museum Square is around the block. Tram lines #s
2, 3, 5, 12, 16 or 24 run on Van Baerlestrasse south of the park.

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