Are you thinking of doing some sightseeing in Amsterdam in winter? Good choice! Amsterdam is filled with attractions, no matter what time of year you’re visiting. But when you are travelling here in the colder season, then this article on things to do in Amsterdam in winter will definitely help you out.
Not only will you learn Amsterdam and the winter temperature, but also what Amsterdam winter festival to visit and what Amsterdam looks like in winter with the help of photos. Whether you’re looking for things to add you your one, two or three day itinerary for Amsterdam, or am simply brainstorming, here you will discover sites and nice places to visit in Amsterdam. It also includes what things to see and do in specific months in Amsterdam, Noord- Holland, The Netherlands.
Enjoy your 24, 48 or even 72 hours in Amsterdam with these things to do in Amsterdam during winter. And learn the best tours to do in Amsterdam and find the few tourist attractions in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, you must visit. It also includes many special and different things to do in Amsterdam, that you won’t see anywhere else.
Last updated: 24th of September 2022
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The things you have to do in Amsterdam in winter: Your ultimate winter travel and city blog for Amsterdam, Noord- Holland, The Netherlands
Winter in The Netherlands, and thus Amsterdam as its capital, begins around the 21st of December and finishes around the 20th of March every year. The start and end of the winter sometimes differ, as a Dutch winter can also start at the 20th or 22nd of December and finishing a bit later. However, this doesn’t mean that winter events in The Netherlands only start when it’s ‘officially winter’, because quite a few winter festivals in The Netherlands start in November. Anyway, you may forget all of this straight away.
You will find the general things to do in Amsterdam during winter below. And after that you will discover the winter events in Amsterdam that take place in specific months. No matter what part of the winter season you’re visiting Amsterdam is great. In December, January, February and March.
What to do in Amsterdam in winter: The things you have to do and see in winter in Amsterdam
When you’re thinking of visiting Amsterdam in winter I suppose you have quite a few questions. Think of ‘Is January a good time to visit Amsterdam’, or ‘How cold is The Netherlands in the winter’ and ‘What clothes to take to Amsterdam in January’. For these questions I will recommend you to visit two of the following articles I’ve written below. You will learn how people dress in The Netherlands in winter, but also whether Amsterdam gets cold or not. One thing I do have to say in advanced, is that it’s winter in The Netherlands, so please don’t think that it will be hot in Amsterdam in January. Because it won’t be hot.
Here you will discover everything from ‘what is the coldest month in Amsterdam’ to ‘what is the weather like in The Netherlands in January’.
Keep on reading below to discover whether Amsterdam is actually fun in the winter and things to do in Amsterdam in winter.
1. Sit in front of a fireplace in Amsterdam to warm up
Dutch winter weather is confusing. Sometimes the weather is very mild and the next day you will have to wear an extra sweater because otherwise bodyparts will freeze off. There can be a strong, chilly wind that goes straight through your bones or there’s a warm gust of wind that will make you wonder when winter will arrive.
If it’s one of the cold winter days in Amsterdam then I would recommend you to go visit a cafe with a fireplace. Grab a drink, sit in front of the fireplace and enjoy the cosy atmosphere.
My favourite cafes with a fireplace in Amsterdam are De Vergulden Eenhoorn, Cafe de Wetering, Cafe Zurich and Lion Noir.
2. Visit the best Dutch brown cafes
The way the British feeling about their pubs and we do in The Netherlands about our brown cafes. These traditional, old Dutch brown cafes have an atmosphere like no other. Everyone is welcome to sit down for a drink, whether its a coffee or a beer. And when the evening slowly arrives they become more bustling with every minute that passes by.
My favourite Dutch brown cafes in Amsterdam are Cafe in ‘t Aepjen, Cafe de Druif, Cafe Chris and Cafe Brandon.
3. Enjoy a cheese fondue in Amsterdam
While cheese fonue isn’t a traditional Dutch thing to do, it is a perfect way to get warm when you’re visiting Amsterdam in winter. The melted cheese makes a perfect dinner after a long day of exploring Amsterdam and its most beautiful, idyllic streets. The all time local favourite is Cafe Bern.
4. Visit the Foodhallen
Sometimes you want to be comfortable, while at the same time having plenty of food around you. And the Foodhallen in Amsterdam are the perfect location to stay warm and fill your empty stomach at the same time. Also, there’s a cinema located in the same building. So if you’re planning on relaxing one day in Amsterdam, then visit the Foodhallen and you’re settled.
5. Enjoy an icehockey match in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is home to an icehockey club called Amstel Tigers. And while icehockey isn’t a very popular sport in The Netherlands, it’s definitely fun to witness people crashing into each other while they magically stay on their iceskates. The home matches take place in the Jaap Eden icerink in Amsterdam and take place on either a Saturday or Sunday.
The English version of the website doesn’t seem to work for me, so you can find some useful Dutch words to order ticket for the Amstel Tigers Amsterdam below.
Useful Dutch words
Zondag = Sunday
Zaterdag = Saturday
Koop meteen je tickets = Buy your tickets now
6. Watch the best films in cinemas in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is filled with amazing filmhouses, theatres and cinemas. From small cinemas with art house films to theatres that house the most popular movies. There’s truly something for everyone in Amsterdam. The oldest filmhouse in Amsterdam is Filmtheater de Uitkijk, here you can see both popular and art house films. Another great and most popular cinema in Amsterdam is Tuschinski. The building itself is already spectacular and you will not mind spending a few hours there.
7. Go on a delicious food tour through Amsterdam
I know, I know. The Netherlands is not known for the best Dutch food, however we do have a staple of traditional Dutch food that you must try in Amsterdam. Think of poffertjes (small pancakes), stroopwafels (cookies with a layer of caramel), kroketten (FRIED deliciousness) and stamppot (tasty mashed winter food).
But Amsterdam has more to offer than just typical Dutch food. Amsterdam is one of the cities that houses the most nationalities in the world and everyone brings their food and culture with them. So another great option is to go on a multicultural food tour through Amsterdam, which I also very much recommend.
8. Ice skate in Amsterdam
One of the things you have to do in Amsterdam in winter is ice skating. I mean, have you had the real Dutch winter experience in Amsterdam if you didn’t fall on your butt on the ice, looked like bambi or twirled around like a superstar?
Bring a few coins of 50 cents and 1 euro with you if you are not a confident skater. At ice rinks you have chairs or something else to hold on to. The coins have to be placed in the objects, but you get that back after you return the object.
Don’t worry about not having ice skates with you, I kind of understand that they’re not a part of everyones typical winter outfit. You can rent ice skates at every icerink, but be sure to bring your id or passport. You often need to give an id and the price for the skates in exchange for the ice skates. You will always get your id back after you give the skates back. If you want to ice skate always bring gloves as you aren’t allowed to enter the ice on most ice rinks in The Netherlands without them.
The best ice rink in Amsterdam is:
- Amsterdam: Jaap Eden Baan
9. Be a winner in a pub quiz in Amsterdam
When it’s one of those rainy winter evenings in Amsterdam, there’s nothing better than to relax. Or so you might think. I have something better for you. Take part in a pubquiz in Amsterdam and bring a trophee back home! At Cafe Thijssen there’s a pub quiz from 20:00 -23:00 every Monday.
Imagine a cosy bar, fun questions, cool people and Dutch snacks. While the rain is pouring its soul out, you’re in this cafe in Amsterdam chasing after your prize. Go get ’em tiger! The questions are asked in both Dutch and English and it costs 2,50 to participate in this pub quiz in Amsterdam.
10. Walk through Amsterdam in winter
Amsterdam is The Netherlands most visited, popular and famous city. Millions of people travel to Amsterdam every, single year. But the high season starts in April, during tulip season in The Netherlands, until the end of August. And the low season? Well, mainly in winter. Although Amsterdam is still visited often in winter, there are noticeably less tourists to bump into when exploring Amsterdam. That’s why one of the things you have to do in Amsterdam in winter is to simply visit and explore. Walk to the courtyards such as the Begijnhof, explore the Weesperarea and De Pijp neighbourhood in Amsterdam.
11. Watch a show of the Dutch National Opera & Ballet
There’s something magical about watching people dance and sing. One of the best things to do in Amsterdam in winter is to witness a show of the Dutch National Opera & Ballet. Get inspired, relax and enjoy. That’s everything you need to do in order to truly enjoy their performances, because they are spectacular.
12. Visit small and lesser known museums in Amsterdam
Museums are everywhere in Amsterdam. But most people visit the most famous and visited museums in Amsterdam, such as the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank Huis. While those are truly wonderful to visit, there are plenty of more unpopular and less visited small museums to visit in Amsterdam that are worth it. Take a look below at some of my favourite interesting and cool museums in Amsterdam.
13. Eat the best traditional Dutch winter food
If you don’t enjoy food tours and simply want to try some traditional Dutch winter food, then I would recommend you to go to a few authentic Dutch restaurants in Amsterdam. You will discover dishes such as pea soup, stamppot and plenty of other tasty and hearty dishes. My to go to Dutch restaurant in Amsterdam is Moeders.
14. Enjoy a karaoke in Amsterdam
Sometimes all you want to do is to sing your heart out and enjoy a fun atmosphere. And karaoke bars in Amsterdam are the perfect location to do so. Whether you can actually sing, or not (like me), it’s one of those things that you simply have do in Amsterdam in the evening and at night. And when the weather is cold outside, it will be a perfect place to warm up. Some of the best karaoke bars in Amsterdam are Ginger Karaoke and The End.
15. Play games in an indoor game hall in Amsterdam
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Amsterdam then Tonton club is a great place to visit. This indoor game hall in Amsterdam is where you can play all the retro arcade games and board games that you want. There are two locations in Amsterdam. One is heavily inspired by Japanese food and game culture and the other houses more common arcade games. But it’s definitely a great place to visit in Amsterdam, during winter and all the other seasons.
16. Drink the best craft beers in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is one of the best places in the world to discover some great Dutch craft beer. The city is filled with microbreweries, so I you’d thought that I would sent you to get a Heineken or Amstel, then you’re wrong. Get a great craft beer at one of my four favourite breweries in Amsterdam and enjoy your winter day. Because honestly, the season is never bad enough to not go for a drink.
17. Play Dutch games at the Spelletjes, or Games, cafe in Amsterdam
One of the perfect ways to spend one cold or chilly day in Amsterdam is with playing board games. And the perfect location to do so is the game cafe Spelletjes Cafe – 2 Klaveren in Amsterdam. You can play every board game here, from Monopoly to Risk and Backgammon.
2 Klaveren is very popular in Amsterdam for having the perfect combination of good food, board games and a cosy atmosphere. And trust me when I say that you don’t mind spending a couple hours here.
18. Feel the warmth in one of the oldest botanical gardens in The Netherlands
Visiting a botanical garden in The Netherlands is especially nice when the weather is shit. Whether it’s raining, snowing or if there’s a storm I prefer to spend some hours in a warm and comfortable botanical garden. The Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam is a perfect way to recharge your battery as well as the perfect place in Amsterdam to get warm.
And while the temperature is pretty nice inside the greenhouse, there are plenty of things to discover. Find rare plants, flowers and trees while you’re exploring the garden. This is a must-do activity when you’re looking for what to do in Amsterdam in winter.
19. Flea markets galore in Amsterdam
Throughout the entire year there are flea markets to be found in Amsterdam, but they’re especially nice to visit when you want to stay try and away from the freezing wind. While it’s not the warmest area in Amsterdam, as the Ij Hallen are pretty big, it’s also not the coldest. Plus you will be able to get everything you’ve ever dreamt at the biggest flea market in Europe. From second hand clothing to paintings. And from furniture to vintage items. The perfect souvenir from Amsterdam can be found here.
What things to do in Amsterdam in December
Whether you’re looking for places to visit in Amsterdam, or activities to do in December, here you will discover fun things you have to do. You will see top sites in Amsterdam, but also other things to do in Amsterdam during winter and even at Christmas and on New Years Eve. Amsterdam is filled with things to do, and December is a month that is especially fun to visit.
Ice Amsterdam on the Museum square
Ice Amsterdam is a yearly winter event in Amsterdam that is located on the Museumsquare. There’s hot chocolate, traditional Dutch winter food, an icerink (plus rental iceskates) and plenty of more to enjoy. Ice Amsterdam can be visited in Amsterdam during half of the winter and it’s one of the things to do in December.
Amsterdam Light Festival
A must do activity in Amsterdam during winter has to be the Amsterdam Light Festival. This yearly festival in Amsterdam takes place from November until January. Every year there is a different theme where countless of national and international artists work together to create unique light sculptures in the canals. When you’re in Amsterdam in December, then this is one of the things to do. This is even one of the things you can do in Amsterdam at Christmas.
While visiting the festival itself is free, the best way to truly experience the Amsterdam Light Festival is by a canal cruise. And trust me when I say that it’s completely worth the payment.
Or go on a regular canal cruise in Amsterdam and discover the Amsterdam Light Festival by boat
Explore the best Dutch Christmas markets
There are plenty of Christmas markets to visit in The Netherlands, and it would only be weird if Amsterdam wasn’t home to a few of them. The Amsterdam Christmas markets are fun to visit and usually take place in the month of December. There are several Christmas markets in Amsterdam, but my two favourites can be found in the link below.
Discover why kruidnoten are everyone’s favourite small cookie
Kruidnoten are small, round and crispy cookies that are part of the Sinterklaas festivities in The Netherlands. These delicious Dutch cookies are made of flour, butter, brown sugar, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg.
Extra tip: Buy the kruidnoten after the 5th of December, as that’s when Sinterklaas leaves again. The kruidnoten will be on sale at every supermarket by that time. Buy the kruidnoten from the brand called ‘Bolletje’, as those are the best in The Netherlands.
Hortus by night
Another beautiful event in Amsterdam is the well-known Hortus by night. And with well-known I mean, famous in Amsterdam with the locals. During specific dates in the month of December, the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam opens its doors in the evening. While the beautiful botanical garden in Amsterdam is already spectacular to visit during the day, you can only imagine the way it looks in the evening when the garden is lit, there is a campfire and even gluhwein to enjoy. It’s definitely one of the fun things to do in Amsterdam in December.
Celebrate Christmas in Amsterdam
Amsterdam during Christmas time is great to visit. While many towns completely shut down during Christmas in The Netherlands, Amsterdam shuts down a little less than most. There are Christmas parties to attend, bars to visit and plenty of other things to do in Amsterdam at Christmas. So when you are thinking of visiting Amsterdam at Christmas, I would recommend you to do so.
Visit Amsterdam at New Year’s Eve
Amsterdam and New Year’s Eve go hand in hand. Whether there’s a central firework show or not, the street parties by itself are already a reason to visit. And if you’re looking for what to see in Amsterdam in December, then those street parties are definitely something else. Party your way into the new year with one of the hundreds of parties that are celebrated and trust me that you won’t forget this New Year’s.
Eat the best Oliebollen
One of the Dutch winter snacks you have to try is the oliebol. This is my favourite winter treat in The Netherlands and a is a ball of dough that is fried in vegetable oil until it has a crispy outer layer. Oliebollen dough is made from flour, yeast, milk, eggs and sometimes raisins.
You can find oliebollen in The Netherlands at funfairs during the entire year, but you they’re a typical winter snack in The Netherlands. During the winter months, starting in December, oliebollen stalls will be everywhere in the country. And yes, also in Amsterdam.
What things to do in Amsterdam in January
When you’re looking at travelling to Amsterdam in January, then discovering things to do is the first thing that must be on your to do list. Below you will discover places to visit in Amsterdam, activities and more things to do in January. As well as unique things to do in Amsterdam.
Ice Amsterdam on the Museum square
Ice Amsterdam is a yearly winter event in Amsterdam that is located on the Museumsquare. There’s hot chocolate, traditional Dutch winter food, an icerink (plus rental iceskates) and plenty of more to enjoy. It Ice Amsterdam can be visited in Amsterdam during half of the winter.
Amsterdam Light Festival
As I told you in the things to do in Amsterdam in December part, the Amsterdam Light Festival stretches from November until the middle of January. This means that if you’re looking for what to do in Amsterdam in January, that this is also a great activity. Enjoy the light sculptures, get mesmerized by the beautiful decorated canals and enjoy a once in a life time experience in Amsterdam. It is simply one of the best things to do in Amsterdam in winter.
The best way to see the sculptures in the canals in Amsterdam is by canal tour. Even when you’re visiting Amsterdam on a budget it’s a great thing to do.
Or just go on a regular canal cruise in Amsterdam and discover the Amsterdam Light Festival by boat
Find tulips during National tulip day in Amsterdam
Tulips and Amsterdam might seem like a logical combination to you, but it is anything but. While you will be able to see flower pots filled with tulips in Amsterdam during tulip season, you won’t see any tulip fields in the capital city of The Netherlands.
The only time that there is something even remotely similar to a tulip field in Amsterdam is during National Tulip Day in The Netherlands. On the 21st of January 2023 you have to visit Dam square. There will be a tulip picking garden with over 200.000 tulips that opens at 13:00.
If you want to see endless tulip fields in The Netherlands, without tourists, during tulip season (mid- April until 1st of May), I recommend you to check out the link below.
Amsterdam: What things to do and see in Amsterdam in February
There are many cool things to do in Amsterdam, including in February. Discover places to visit in Amsterdam in February, which includes some very fun events. If you were still wondering what there is to do in Amsterdam, then you will find some of the best events and things to do in February.
Ice Amsterdam on the Museum square
Ice Amsterdam is a yearly winter event in Amsterdam that is located on the Museumsquare. There’s hot chocolate, traditional Dutch winter food, an ice rink (plus rental ice skates) and plenty of more to enjoy. It Ice Amsterdam can be visited in Amsterdam during half of the winter.
Stukafest is a very interesting festival in The Netherlands and takes place all throughout the country in student cities. Amsterdam is one of those cities. During Stukafest you will discover student chambers that are transformed into minitheatres. Who would’ve thought that you will discover your new favourite upcoming artist in a student room? The entire atmosphere is so incredibly special, that I can guarantee you don’t want to miss out on a chance to witness this event. It’s one of Amsterdam’s most fun activities in February.
Sonic Acts Academy
This three-day festival in Amsterdam takes place at the end of February. During this festival you will discover audio-visual and performative art in combination with critical thinking. If you’re looking to get inspired and learn then this is the perfect place to do so. Discover though-provoking live showcases of many different art forms. From live cinema to concerts and other art forms.
What things to do in Amsterdam in March
‘What’s there to do in Amsterdam in March’, you might ask. Well, Amsterdam is not that filled with special things to do in March as the other months. However, Amsterdam in March still has some great things to do. Discover the best Amsterdam winter activities in March and other things to do below. As well as places to visit in Amsterdam in March.
I’m a big fan of dance, and if you are too, then Cinedans Festival will be great for you to visit. At the beginning of March, you will discover everything that has something to do with dance in the Eye Filmmuseum. From National and international dance movies to documentaries. And from VR dance projects to workshops, readings and debates.
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Day trips from Amsterdam in winter & things to do outside Amsterdam
I hope that you have found enough things to do in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in winter and that you have found good places to visit in Amsterdam, Noord- Holland. And even things to do in Amsterdam on a Sunday. Enjoy your Amsterdam one day trip, or stay longer and enjoy places to visit in and around Amsterdam. Now you know that Amsterdam has plenty of things to do, even in winter. Share this post!!
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