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Why You Should Visit Amsterdam in Winter

Why You Should Visit Amsterdam in Winter

I adore travelling in Europe in the winter, but there are so many places I haven’t had the chance to visit yet!  Amsterdam is one of those cities that is high on my must-visit list, but until I get to go myself, I asked Dymphe from Dymabroad to share her top tips for visiting Amsterdam in winter.

Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands and it’s mostly famous for the canals, the history and a large number of bikes. If you’re looking for a place in Europe to travel to in winter, then you should definitely consider winter in Amsterdam!

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Why Winter is the Best Time to Visit Amsterdam

Even though Amsterdam is always very beautiful, in winter the city is even more magical than usual. It doesn’t get as cold as some other parts of Europe during wintertime, but the winter weather makes the city very special. The winter vibes make it even more romantic to walk along the canals or sit in a cosy cafe while having a look at the historic centre.

Furthermore, in winter there are fewer tourists in Amsterdam, and you can actually enjoy the city a bit more by yourself. In other seasons, especially in summer, it gets very busy in Amsterdam. Since there are so many crowds in summer it’s hard to get an authentic experience. However, in winter you will feel more like a local.

Another great thing about winter in Amsterdam, is that there are several very exciting events in these months! For example, the Amsterdam Light Festival takes place in winter. During the Amsterdam Light Festival, many parts of the city light up with many beautiful displays.

Moreover, winter is also an affordable time to travel to Amsterdam. The hotels are cheaper and getting to Amsterdam is also less expensive than in other periods.

Winter in Amsterdam is just as Beautiful as Summer
Winter in Amsterdam is just as Beautiful as Summer

Winter Weather in Amsterdam

The average temperature in Amsterdam during winter is 3.4 °C. However, it’s not unusual for the temperature to drop below freezing. During wintertime, on average there’s rain 11 days per month, however, there is not often snow in Amsterdam. Usually, when it’s snowing, the snow does not last, but, when it does, it looks so stunning in Amsterdam!

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What to Wear in Amsterdam in Winter

Since it’s about 3.4 °C in Amsterdam in winter, it’s a good idea to bring a warm winter jacket with you. A hat, scarf and gloves can also be very convenient. Especially when you’re planning on spending a lot of time outside, it’s highly recommended to take a warm outfit with you.

If you’re lucky and it’s going to snow and the canals are freezing, warm clothes are even more important! Furthermore, there is a high chance of rain, so you could also bring rainwear and an umbrella with you. However, you can buy umbrellas everywhere in Amsterdam, so it’s not a must to pack it.

Christmas in Amsterdam
Christmas in Amsterdam | Credit: Dymabroad

Things to do in Amsterdam in Winter

Although you can find plenty of things to do in Amsterdam all year round, there are several amazing things to do in Amsterdam in winter. Here are the top 6 most fun things to do in the city when it’s winter!

Go Ice Skating

In Amsterdam, there are many places where you can go ice skating! In December, on Museum Square and on Rembrandtplein, there are small ice-skating rinks where you can also hire ice skates.

If you want to go to a larger place for ice skating, then you should go to the Jaap Eden Ice Rink. This is a huge place for ice skating with an indoor and outdoor rink that is open all winter. You can also hire ice skates there. Although it doesn’t happen very often, sometimes you might be able to go ice skating on the canals in Amsterdam. This is really the best ice-skating experience in the city.

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Eat Some Oliebollen

A very typical Dutch treat that you can eat during the winter months in Amsterdam are oliebollen, which are a kind of round doughnut. They are very delicious, and you can find stands selling them everywhere. They come in two variants: one with raisins and one without. Top it with powdered sugar, and you are ready to eat them!

Delicious Oliebollen - a Traditional Treat in the Netherlands in Winter
Delicious Oliebollen – a Traditional Treat in the Netherlands in Winter

Amsterdam Light Festival

The Amsterdam Light Festival happens throughout the city of Amsterdam from November till January. There are light artworks everywhere. For example, there are many bridges that are lit up and there are light projections on many objects and buildings, such as the Maritime Museum. It is truly spectacular to see all the beautiful artworks everywhere you go!

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Christmas Markets in Amsterdam

There are many winter markets within Amsterdam where you can go to experience the true Christmas feeling in Amsterdam. One of the best ones is located at Museum Square (where you also find many museums). Here they set up a large ice rink, all kinds of stalls selling a variety of items, food and drinks, and music.

Furthermore, the Amsterdam Winter Paradise (located at RAI Amsterdam) is another one you should definitely see when you are in the city. There are so many winter activities to do here! You can participate in a snowball fight, ski, curl, ride a Ferris wheel, and do a lot of other wintery things.

The Dam Square Tree at Christmastime in Amsterdam
The Dam Square Tree at Christmastime in Amsterdam

Go to the Museums

One of the best things to do when it’s cold outside is to get inside a museum and discover new things. In Amsterdam there are many outstanding museums.

Go to the Rijksmuseum to discover extraordinary paintings and other old art. Visit the Van Gogh Museum for the largest collection of works by Van Gogh! Or learn a lot about the second world war and the story of Anne Frank at the Anne Frank House. There is a lot to discover in Amsterdam while being cosy inside.

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Stroll Along the Canals and Streets in Amsterdam

One of the most fun activities to do in the city is to stroll along the canals and streets. The canals are very typical for Amsterdam, so it’s really fun to see it in real life. Especially when it’s snowing, the city of Amsterdam turns into a picturesque Christmas world. However, even when it’s not snowing, it looks very beautiful in winter.

If you want to know more about how to move around in the city, then you can check out this article about public transport in Amsterdam.

Ice Skating on the Canals is a fun winter activity in Amsterdam
Ice Skating on the Canals is a fun winter activity in Amsterdam

Day trips from Amsterdam in Winter

If you have enough time in Amsterdam, it would also be fun to do a day trip to another place in the Netherlands! These are two of the most fun day trips from Amsterdam in the winter.

Muiden Castle

Another amazing day trip from Amsterdam in winter is to the Muiden Castle. This is a medieval castle that was built in the 13th century and is located only 15 kilometres from Amsterdam. Walk through the gardens or go inside the castle and be amazed by how it looks like and learn more about the history of the place.

During winter, especially when it is snowing, Muiden looks even more like a fairytale castle. Also, the castle is themed ‘Winter Castle’ and you’ll be able to experience how life in a castle during winter was like in the past. Take an audio tour, see beautiful decorations inside, see lights that lighten up the castle, and ice skate on the moat of the castle (if it is cold enough)!

Muiden Castle - A Great Day Trip from Amsterdam in Winter or Any Time of Year
Muiden Castle – A Great Day Trip from Amsterdam in Winter or Any Time of Year

Winter Market in Maastricht

During the winter season, there are several winter markets in the Netherlands that you can visit. They are an incredible place to experience the Christmas spirit while you are in the country. One of the best of these is in the city of Maastricht, located in the south of the country, which is very easy to reach from Amsterdam by direct train.

You’ll find here a lot of beautifully decorated stalls selling all kinds of winter items, such as oliebollen and glühwein (hot mulled wine). Furthermore, there are many stalls selling the loveliest Christmas gifts! Also, there is a Ferris wheel, where you can have fun and get a view over the city, and there is a large ice rink to ice skate on.

Christmas in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is lovely during Christmas time. In the city centre, you will see beautiful Christmas decorations everywhere! Also, there are some great places to go to during Christmas time. For example, there is a huge Christmas tree at Magna Plaza, which is a shopping mall. Also, you will find a large Christmas tree on Dam Square. It’s definitely a great city to go to get the Christmas spirit!

Damrak in Amsterdam
Damrak in Amsterdam | Credit: Dymabroad

New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam

In the Netherlands, everyone is allowed to use fireworks during New Year’s Eve. Therefore, you can see fireworks everywhere when you’re in Amsterdam. If you want to have a great view over the fireworks in the city, head to a rooftop and look at the sky. It’s truly magnificent!

Also, you could light up fireworks yourself as well as there are many shops in the Netherlands where you can buy them. However, be careful and do it safely!

Furthermore, during New Year’s Eve, there are many clubs and cafes open and there are many parties. So, if you like partying, then you’ll love New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam.

Another tradition in the Netherlands is to start the year with a swim in the ice-cold water of the sea – if you are brave enough! The most popular place to do this is in Zandvoort, which is a city close to Amsterdam. There, thousands of people run into the sea at the same time on January 1st.

So there you have it; everything you need to visit Amsterdam in winter.  Have we missed anything?  Do you have any more tips?  Please feel free to share them in the comments below.

About the Author

Dymphe is the creator of Dymabroad and she is a travel influencer and blogger. She loves to share her journeys. Her goal is to inspire others to find the most beautiful destinations and to help them to get the most out of their travels.  You can also find her on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

If you’re looking for travel insurance for your trip to the Netherlands, get a quote now from World Nomads.

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Last updated: September 12, 2020

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