Split skull in the Body Worlds Museum of Amsterdam
Europe, Review

The 5 Weirdest Museums in Amsterdam


Amsterdam is wild, man. And with one of the richest collections of museums in the world, it’ll keep you occupied sun up to sun down.

So, once you’ve done the mandatory Anne Frank House, find these oddities around the city. Because the entrance price is a small price to pay for the weirdest museums in Amsterdam.

Body Worlds

I, like most people, never heard the word “plastination” – until visiting Body Worlds, where a multi-floor display of 200 human specimens quickly brought the process into focus. Here, you’re getting as good a lesson in anatomy as the Magic School Bus kids did when they shrunk down to explore Ralphie’s body.

And you’ll see it all: embryos, ear bones, guts, and heads cut in half.

But what sounds gruesome is, in fact, a painstaking process requiring up to 1,500 hours of work. The plastination process (and the Body Worlds exhibit) is the brainchild of Gunther von Hagens (who looks exactly like how you think he would look). In the late 1970s, he developed a method which infuses plastic into human cadavers – creating a specimen that does not smell or decay and which retains most of the human body’s original characteristics.

In Amsterdam, the museum is divided into sections, including: circulation, respiration, digestion, filtration, reproduction, and prenatal development. Taking an elevator, you’ll start at the top of the building and work your way through these different areas.

The museum centers around human happiness – and how the mind and body are connected. By the end, you might be happy to leave. But you’ll also be happy you went.

Weirdest part: A penis chopped into slices.

Hours, Tickets, Location
Time Needed: 75-90 minutes

Inside the Micropia Museum of Amsterdam, one of the wierdest museums in Amsterdam.

Micropia Museum

Micropia is one of the best, weirdest museums in Amsterdam – if not the world. And if you’re a germophobe, this will be the most uncomfortable experience on the list.

In one hour, you can expect to see a dead baby giraffe decomposing, live bacterial growths, and dozens of jars filled with poop. All of which exposes the hidden world of microbes.

I found the whole thing exceedingly well done. Translations are in Dutch and English with plenty of information to keep you occupied. Plus, real-time views of bacteria through powerful electronic microscopes.

There’s nothing else quite like it – and if there’s any museum on the list you hit, make it this one.

Weirdest part: a wall of poop in jars.

Hours, Tickets, Location
Time Needed: 60 minutes

The backyard of the KattenCabinet cat museum in Amsterdam

KattenCabinet

This is a delightful chaser after the displays of Micropia and Body World.

KattenCabinet is an Amsterdam museum full of paintings, sculptures, and drawings devoted entirely to cats – plus some real-life cats (I counted four). It’s a quick stop of 30 minutes or so, but if you’re a reader (or want to pet cats) give yourself an extra 15 minutes.

And if it’s a Wednesday or Sunday hit up the nearby De Poozenboot – the world’s only floating cat sanctuary.

Weirdest part: nothing – and don’t you dare say otherwise.

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Hours, Tickets, Location
Time needed: 30-45 minutes

One of the weirdest museums in Amsterdam, Red Light Secrets

Red Light Secrets: Museum of Prostitution

Amsterdam is awash in sex-focused museums. Most will appeal to the adolescent in you, but some go deeper. At Red Light Secrets, you’ll get the inside look at sex work and the city – that is, if you haven’t already received a firsthand experience.

In particular, you’ll walk through full-scale replicas of the rooms used by Amsterdam’s sex workers while learning about the trade’s history. An audio guide is included with the cost of admission, adding much-needed context to what’s on display. The whole thing is a bit kitschy but worth your time.

A few facts that stuck out:

  • The average “appointment” lasts six minutes,
  • Around 900 sex workers are on duty a day
  • 70% of Amsterdam’s sex workers are married or in committed relationships
  • There are around 3,000 male sex workers in the city

Weirdest part: a virtual simulation of me as a sex worker.

Hours, Tickets, Location
Time needed: 45-60 minutes.

p.s. sex work is work.

The Amsterdam Dungeon

Highlighting 500 years of the city’s dark history, the Amsterdam Dungeon is half museum and half haunted house.

A notable departure from every other attraction on this list, the Amsterdam Dungeon features live actors across seven sets. But despite the gruesome subject matter (torture, plagues, witch burning), the experience is light-hearted – with the exception of a spooky mirror maze near the end.

This is a crowd-based experience where the actors pull you out of the crowd. So if you’re deathly afraid of being on the spot, skip the Amsterdam Dungeon. But if you’ve got a good sense of humor, you’ll be fine.

Weirdest part: SFX almost on par with Disney World.

Hours, Tickets, Location
Time needed: 45-60 minutes

A tour guide with Those Dam Boat Guys talks about Amsterdam

Other Weird Amsterdam Ideas

Absent from this list is Ripley’s Believe It or Not – which admittedly fits the idea of “weird”, but has enough locations around the world to not be very Amsterdam-specific.

$55 AirBnB Credit

For something more on the go, I recommend Those Dam Boat Guys. They’re a funny, irreverent, and smart (remind you of anyone?) boat tour on the canals – and a perfect compliment to the weirdest museums in Amsterdam. Lot’s of history and highlights to see, plus you can bring your cannabis and cocktails onboard.

Need a place to stay in Amsterdam? Read my review of the LLOYD – a hotel that perfectly matches the city’s quirky, history-dense vibe.