Amsterdam’s Best Museums: Sex, Drugs, Beer & Cocktails!

Amsterdam. A town referenced by it’s red light district and legal cannabis, it’s safe to to say that it’s stereotypical visitor is looking for something a little different to traditional tourist activities. Yes, there are cruises along the canals, and world class museums to explore, but a lot of people are looking for the salacious.Β  From trying a space cake in one of Amsterdam’s famous coffee shops, to a stroll past scantily clad women in windows lit up along the canal each night, Amsterdam offers people a peek into an erotic sex-fueled world whilst leaving it entirely up to the individual to decide how far down the rabbit hole to go. Join me for a tour of the best museums in Amsterdam that celebrate sex, drugs, beer & cocktails!


Amsterdam’s Best Museums: Sex, Drugs, Beer & Cocktails!

The Sex

Let’s jump right in. Amsterdam is the erotic capital of the world – and they have a fair few ways of showing it. From the souvenir shops selling kiss-me-quick memorabilia and the sex shops selling lingerie and toys to the windows along the canal selling peep shows and the darkened doorways leading to people selling, well, everything else. There are two ‘museums’ however, that try to take the taboo out of all of these: The Sex Museum & Casa Rosso – also known as The Pink Elephant.

the SEX Museum

The Sex Museum declares it is the world’s first and oldest sex museum and is a “leading museum on the theme of sensual love with an extensive collection of erotic pictures, paintings, objects, recordings, photographs and even attractions”

Let me tell you that if you are in any way a prude, the sex museum is not for you. But for those that don’t mind a bit of a giggle, spend a few Euros and walk through a ‘museum’ that displays photographs and sex toys throughout the ages, along with some interesting mannequins, a few giant penis statuesΒ  and is accompanied by a soundtrack of muffled sex noises. I guarantee – you’ll have never been in a museum like it!

the Pink Elephant (casa rosso)


Not for everyone, but a live sex show can be considered the epitome of a visit to Amsterdam. After taking an obligatory walk around the red light district during the evening, the Pink Elephant is the safe option of experiencing the sex industry without it being too seedy.

Set in a 180 seat theater there are various ‘performances’ throughout the show ranging from lighthearted audience participation with individual performers to full sex on a revolving bed.

Don’t expect romance! It’s a mechanical, co-ordinated affair and to be honest at some points, comical – although I don’t think that’s what the performers are going for…


The Drugs

The Hash, Marijuana & Hemp Museum


As out there as it sounds, this museum is well presented and well informed. It is one of the most important museums dedicated to Cannabis in the world and houses unique exhibits around hemp, including the history of hemp and explaining exactly what marijuana is. One of the most interesting exhibits is the one that catalogues the ‘war on drugs’ against marijuana over the past 80 years and illustrates prohibition across the world. In addition to these exhibits it functions as a knowledge center and facilitates scientific research.Β  Take an audio tour and you’ll understand the importance of hemp in modern society and why Amsterdam has embraced it with open arms.


The Beer

Heineken Museum


Beer lovers unite and enjoy the Heineken Experience!

Housed in the original brewery building built in 1867, it remained operational to 1988 when a larger facility was built.

The museum is over four levels taking you through the process of brewing beer, offering product samples in the tasting room – which my partner particularly enjoyed as he got double serves as I’m not a beer drinker – and a high tech multimedia area where you can make your own music or star in your own video! The tour is informative, fun and reflects the history of the brand through old marketing memorabilia and brewing techniques.


The Cocktails

House of Bols – The cocktail & genever experience


The House of Bols is possibly my favorite museum in the dam.

Its classy and oozes cool – from the minute you walk into the old building to sampling a cocktail at their mirrored bar at the end of the tour – every exhibit you visit tests your senses in the most wonderful way. Telling the story of Lucas Bols, the museum is interactive, engaging and a winner of the Dutch Design Award for the Best Exhibit & Experience – you’d be crazy not to love it!

So there you have it, a tour of the best museums in Amsterdam celebrating all things sex, drugs & beer & cocktails. Did you have fun?

Let me know if the comments if you have been to any of these museums – or if you have found their equivalent anywhere else in the world. Would you recommend them?

related: This post is part of my EUROPE BY RAIL IN 25 DAYS series. want to know where else we go? check out my 48 hour guides for Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Krakow, Budapest or Vienna!

oh, and, don’t forget.. pin & share of you liked this post πŸ™‚



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74 thoughts on “Amsterdam’s Best Museums: Sex, Drugs, Beer & Cocktails!

  1. Erin Klema | The Epicurean Traveler says:

    I went to the Heineken Experience when I was in Amsterdam 10 years ago. The museum aspect was nice, but our favorite part was sampling the beer, of course. I don’t know that I’d go to the museum again, but it was definitely a fun experience.

    I think we also went to a sex museum in Berlin. It sounds very similar to the museum in Amsterdam. Mostly I remember it including a lot of erotic art. It was definitely a change of pace from all the cathedrals, art museums, and historic sights you visit throughout Europe as a tourist.

  2. Amanda says:

    I love the symmetry and colour of the liqueur bottles in the last photo. I think I’ll visit House of Bols just to see that perfection up close!

  3. MariaAbroad says:

    Haha, I am not sure Amsterdam in general is the right town for the overly prudish πŸ˜‰ Sex seems to be everywhere there. While I am not a fan of Heineken (honestly, Belgium wins the beer battle of the Benelux states by far), I sure would love to check out the House of Bols.

    • Vicki says:

      I know what you mean Maria – sex is everywhere! It was a really a bit of culture shock to my British upbringing! But the House of Bols was easily one of my highlights of the trip – I couldn’t recommend it enough!

  4. Erica says:

    You know, having lived in Las Vegas for years, I didn’t think anything else can surprise. Clearly after reading this, I was wrong. I’m no prude, so I think I’ll fit right in. Haha.

  5. Meg Jerrard says:

    Trip down memory lane πŸ˜€ We had some great weekends in Amsterdam while I was studying in the Netherlands, and took in pretty much all of the above. I also loved this place called the Grasshopper which had really good cocktails, I think from memory it was like 5 floors and each floor was dedicated to a different vice.

    Had a great time!

    • Vicki says:

      The Grasshopper place sounds interesting – and definitely somewhere to add to this list! Thanks for sharing the knowledge!

    • Vicki says:

      I haven’t been to the IceBar in Amsterdam – but I have been to the one in London – they’re pretty cool!

  6. Joanna says:

    I think Amsterdam is a bit like the “bad boy” of Europe. If you want a crazy weekend away, where will you go? Amsterdam, of course. I have never been there myself yet but all my friends that have visited loved it. I would definitely go to the Heineken museum and to the House of Bols.

    • Vicki says:

      I’m sure you will have an awesome time when you visit – and you’ll love the House if Bols – it’s awesome! (I’m biased tho – I prefer cocktails over beer πŸ˜‰ )

    • Vicki says:

      It’s definitely a place to laugh – probably not what the owners were going for – but it is absolutely hilarious!

  7. Jessica Lim says:

    I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t visit any of these museums on my last visit to Amsterdam (although in my defence everything was closed for Kings Day). I’ve head a lot of hilarious things about the sex museum.

  8. Monica says:

    Amsterdam is interesting in some way, and I’m not sure I’m a fan or not πŸ˜› When the day come and we go there we’ll see what my opinion is. Amsterdam sure looks beautiful. Think I skip the sex museum (not a prude, but ugh). Will definitively check out the House of Bols though! It’s eye-catching and sounds like fun.

  9. Katie says:

    Never been to Amsterdam! I know when I do go one day I am definitely interested in exploring this side of the city. The heineken museum looks the most interesting to me! And those sex museums…hilarious! Here in South Korea, there is a museum called Loveland dedicated to all things sex. It is hilarious and slightly strange!

  10. Hannah says:

    I’ve gone to the house of Bols twice now- kind of a random spot but a lot of fun. Who doesn’t want to go somewhere where you get a free cocktail and shots? haha. I loved the rainbow colours in some of the rooms as well- so pretty!

  11. Alice Teacake says:

    I’m a big fan of the weird and wonderful and would love to go to Amsterdam to walk around and just people watch. The museums sound really fun and yes…I would go and watch that revolving bed.

  12. Hugo Cura says:

    I’ve been to a few places in the Netherlands but never to Amsterdam. I have a hard time trying to make it a priority over anything else. These are cool ideas if I try to visit soon but I won’t be doing all of them!

  13. Corinne says:

    Vicki, I have visited the marijuana museum, but never the sex one and I’ve never even heard of the Pink Elephant. I’m not sure I’ll put them on my list, either…maybe I am too much of a prude. However, I can’t wait, now, to go to the Bols…that looks very cool. Great post. And thanks for linking up with Weekend Travel Inspiration!

    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Corinne – the sex shows/museum are certainly not for everyone! But you’ll LOVE House of Bols – it is and absolutely amazing attraction/experience!

  14. Mansoureh says:

    I went to Amsterdam last year, and I found it amazing. haha. I haven’t tried any of these you mentioned. I love the city because of the cyclist lane. I also found Belguim more popular for beer

    • Vicki says:

      Belgium has been mentioned a few times in terms of being better for beer – but glad you enjoyed the cycleways – they really are a great way to get around!

    • Vicki says:

      I agree – it’s really isn’t something that fits within the stereotypical British persona! But it is completely normal in Amsterdam!

  15. mark wyld says:

    We have been to Amsterdam twice. I really liked the city found it to be very laid back and have experienced most of what you have mentioned. Loved Heineken what a great attraction really good value for money, you get a few free beers and a free souvenir to book.

    • Vicki says:

      Great that you enjoyed Amsterdam Mark! Both Heineken and House of Bols offer a great interactive experience – and with free drinks and samples included – it’s a win-win for everyone πŸ™‚

  16. Darlene says:

    Interesting. Definitely intriguing. You have just bumped up Amsterdam in my travel list. Hehehe. But seriously, Amsterdam reminds me of some areas in Thailand. And Japan too based on my friend’s posts in facebook. Hehe.

  17. Rosemary Kimani says:

    Visited the sex museum in Amsterdam about 5 years ago. I found the experience a little off-putting and the area was really questionable. Not doing that again. On the other hand, the House of Bols looks like a place worth checking out. Adding that to my list of places to visit.

    • Vicki says:

      Hi Rosemary – not sure if it was a different sex museum you went to, but this one is on the main street in the center of tourist town – but you’re right, one visit would be enough!!

  18. Ash says:

    Oh man, I talked myself out of going to Amsterdam last year. This makes it seems so exciting, wish I’d have gone now. At least I can bribe my husband with the Heineken Experience now!

  19. Natasha says:

    OK, so I have yet to go to Amsterdam. I am planning a trip to Europe within the next year and I feel like I HAVE to visit Amsterdam…. because!! πŸ™‚ I may just have to check out something in this list hehe

  20. Shobha says:

    I’ve never done these but have seen the Marijuana museum and Heineken Museum in passing the times I’ve been to Amsterdam. Think I’ll give the sex museum a pass. way too voyeuristic/seedy even if it is the least seedy of the lot.

  21. Andrea Leblang says:

    This post took me back to my first Amsterdam experience… and I’ll never forget my visit to the Pink Elephant. You are so right about it being comical at times. I couldn’t stop giggling! Thanks for the walk down memory lane πŸ™‚

  22. Kathrin says:

    Haven’t been to Amsterdam yet, but ooh, the stories you hear! I’m planning a trip to the Netherlands at the beginning of next year, so I’d definitely have to include Amsterdam on my itinerary. Looking forward to an interesting experience!

  23. Ajaya Kumar Rout says:

    It seems i need to plan my Amsterdam visit so soon.There are so much on the list to explore in this beautiful European city.

  24. Lotte says:

    Haha these places are definitely one side of Amsterdam. Luckily for more prude people there is so much more to see;-). I love the Pink Elephant picture with the swans!

  25. Janna says:

    Seems like a fun place to visit! Not for me though. But I know a few people that will definitely enjoy touring the museums! haha

  26. Mar Pages says:

    I’ve been to the Heineken museum and enjoyed it more than I thought I would! They were really innovative with their storytelling- much more creative than I expected.

  27. Andreja Jernejčič says:

    I think Amsterdam is the best in terms of interesting museums, I have visited all from your list except for a Heinkehen museum, it was closed πŸ™ If you are ver in Croatia, Zagreb there is interesting museum called Museum of lost loves!

  28. Aimee says:

    I can’t believe I’ve never even to Amsterdam, there’s so much to explore there. Full of the wonderfully wacky, thanks for this post.

  29. Kate says:

    I didn’t go to the House of Bols but would have loved to do that. It looks really cool. I love Museumplein and went to quite a few art galleries and loved that area. Amsterdam is very quirky and you have to embrace it!

  30. Ashley Hubbard says:

    I’ve been to Amsterdam once but it was with family about 10 years ago and I didn’t get to do all the fun stuff πŸ™ Can’t wait to go back one day! Thanks for linking up to #WeekendWanderlust!

  31. Jen Joslin says:

    I haven’t been to Amsterdam yet and had never heard of any of these museums, but they all sound worth checking out! I’ve heard there are many sides to the city, so all of these would certainly encapsulate the ‘scandalous’ side. πŸ™‚

  32. Danielle Des says:

    I walked by the Red Light District during the day and I wish I had a chance to experience it at night. There is also a church nearby, did you get a chance to visit?

    • Vicki says:

      Hi Danielle – I think I saved visiting churches for the rest of Europe – it didn’t really fit with my Amsterdam visit!

  33. Pinay Flying High says:

    This is a great list and very interesting museums they have in Amsterdam. I’m not particularly sure if I’d be comfortable with the live sex show though, I’m afraid of what my reaction would be like. Lol.

  34. Alouise says:

    I did a Contiki tour that stopped in Amsterdam and we saw a show at Casa Rosso. Definitely not nearly as sexy as someone might think. I definitely would love to head back to Amsterdam and see some of these other spots that I missed out on (during my one very hazy night in the city).

    • Vicki says:

      Ah, there was a Contiki tour at Casa Rosso when we visited – they sat right at the front and made some of the group ‘participate’! Highly entertaining for everyone! πŸ˜‰ But Amsterdam is really worth a return visit if you’re ever in the area again!

  35. Adrienn Takacs says:

    Nice list! These are truly some of the highlights of real Amsterdam, haha! Hope to see them all on our next trip!

  36. Tess Andrade says:

    I loved the photographs with the swans! I’ve been to Amsterdam when I was 17 but somehow I can vaguely remember the trip. Can’t wait to go back one day and experience those wild & whacky things that Amsterdam is known for πŸ™‚

    • Vicki says:

      Hi Tess – I think teenage weekends in Amsterdam often result in a hazy memory! I hope you are able to go back and visit one day!

  37. Ticker Eats The World says:

    Cute post and tackles some of the more lively aspects of the city. Have been going to Amsterdam for decades now because of work and only if I had a penny for everytime someone walked up to me and asked for directions to the red light area. lol

  38. Stuart Forster says:

    I love visiting Amsterdam. It’s the tolerant attitude of the Dutch and fact that there is such an array of attractions that make it, in my view, a great travel destination.

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