One Of Amsterdam's Most Popular Destinations Is A Tourist Trap. Here's Where To Go Instead

Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is a scenic city with canal-lined streets and grandiose Dutch Baroque architecture. In fact, Gallup previously named Amsterdam one of the world's happiest places, per the THNK School of Leadership. But things weren't always as dreamy. World War II ravaged the city after the Nazis invaded the Netherlands in May 1940. This led to the deportation and killing of the Netherlands Jewish population as well as the formation of the Dutch Resistance. With that said, one of Amsterdam's top attractions is the Anne Frank House.

The museum allows visitors to tour the house and secret annex, where Frank and seven other Jewish individuals hid from the Nazis for two years. Unfortunately, the Anne Frank House has been lambasted by Trip Advisor reviewers, who say visitors must purchase tickets months in advance and wait in long lines to get in.

Nevertheless, there is another option that is just as informative but more lowkey: the Verzetsmuseum. It opened in 1985 and has been housed in the historic Plancius Building since 1999. The building, constructed in the 1870s, was once a cultural hub for Amsterdam's local Jewish population.

Also known as the Dutch Resistance Museum, it's one of the best museums in Amsterdam. It aims to educate visitors about the organization, which suppressed the Nazi regime by forming a covert network that hid Jews. The Verzetsmuseum exhibits, however, have been laden with controversy.

The Verzetsmuseum's profound exhibits

The Verzetsmuseum is one way to discover Amsterdam's WWII history. One of its permanent exhibits, The Netherlands in World War II, documents the lives of 100 Dutch citizens and those in the Dutch Resistance during the 1940-1945 Nazi invasion. Luckily, videos, photos, anecdotes, and artifacts aid in telling their accounts. However, the Verzetsmuseum came under fire in late 2022 when the then-recently renovated institution decided to include Dutch individuals in this exhibit who were for and worked for the Nazi regime.

According to The New York Times, this troubled former resistance members who voiced their disapproval. Despite this, the Verzetsmuseum's director, Liesbeth van der Horst, shook off their objections, telling the publication in 2023, "We wanted to tell the story of all the Dutch people." Likewise, she emphasized that this provides a well-rounded account of the Nazi occupation.

The Verzetsmuseum wants individuals of all ages to understand this horrific time in the Netherlands' history. Thus, they have a kid-friendly exhibit called The Resistance Museum Junior (pictured), intended for those nine years old and up.

Similarly to its adult counterpart, the exhibit demonstrates how Dutch children were affected by the war through the eyes of Eva, Henk, Jan, and Nelly, four youngsters who lived through it. The Verzetsmuseum also has revolving temporary exhibits. Resistance Through Their Eyes, an exhibit on the resistance movement against the Nazis throughout Europe, will be on display starting in February 2024.

Know before you go to the Verzetsmuseum

The Verzetsmuseum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are available online, and guests must choose the date they plan to visit at the time of purchase. At the time of this publication, an adult ticket is under $20, and children under seven can enter the museum for free. Those between the ages of 7 and 17 have a discounted admission that costs less than $10. All tickets come with an English audio tour.

Alternatively, you could purchase an I Amsterdam City Card, which grants free admission to a variety of Amsterdam's attractions for one price, including the Verzetsmuseum. The card can be purchased online for use from 24 hours to 120 hours (five days), and prices at the time of this writing range from around $66 to $138.

Take note that if you purchase the I Amsterdam City Card, you still have to make a reservation to visit. In addition, you must bring the card to the museum to be scanned. The Verzetsmuseum is located directly across from the ARTIS zoo. Admission to the zoo, which has been around since 1838, is also included with the Amsterdam City Card.

If you plan on visiting Amsterdam in the summer of 2024, the Verzetsmuseum will offer tram rides that take tourists to historical WW2 sites in Amsterdam starting in July. Tickets for this experience are under $30.