Amsterdam in Winter
As we draw closer to the winter season, if like me you are already eyeing up winter getaways. So this guide on things to do in Amsterdam in winter will hopefully tempt you to add this city on your list of winter breaks. The winter cold most especially in December are the perfect time to visit the Dutch capital. During this period, when nights are cold and cozy, food is fresh and hearty, and the city brightens up in fairy Christmas lights.
I have had the pleasure of visiting Amsterdam a number of times which I have shared on the blog. From exploring Amsterdam through food tours to a dining experience by way of a High Wine at the Dylan. Amsterdam in winter is just as magical! If you need additional tips on romantic things to do in Amsterdam then be sure you check out my other post.
Top Things To Do In Amsterdam | Places Not To Miss In Amsterdam
Before we get into the things to do in Amsterdam in winter, below are some of the unmissable things to do in Amsterdam whatever season you happen to be in Amsterdam. If you happen to visit Amsterdam when it’s raining there are plenty of tours in Amsterdam to escape the rain.
Catch A Movie
Amsterdam has the prettiest and the most cutting-edge movie theatres in The Netherlands. There’s, of course, the Art Deco splendour of Tuschinski in the centre of town where all the blockbusters can be viewed. Of you can hop on a (free!) ferry behind Central Station and visit the fantastic looking EYE which shows more Art House like films. Just make sure you come in hand with the IAmsterdam Card to take advantage of the price details on museums and other attractions in Amsterdam.
Anne Frank House
The house has played host to a lot of historical event in the post –Nazi era leading to the 2nd world war. It has a secret annex which serve as a hiding place for young Anne and her parent and some few friends during the Nazi reign of terror in Amsterdam. Most notably of the museum-like house is “Anne’s Diary” which she wrote in the secret annex of the house before the hiding place was discovered by the Nazi. The diary became a world-famous historical book and has since being translated into at least 70 language, with many movie plot to its credit.
It is worthy to note that Anne Frank House can only be visited with a ticket bought online, this is aimed mainly at controlling the crowd of tourists who rush to visit the house. An adult will pay close to 10 EUR while a child can visit for less than 6 EUR. In addition to visiting the home there are also a wide range of Anne Frank tours in Amsterdam, check the linked tours for more details. Among many of the famous places in The Netherlands you cannot miss out on.
Van Gogh Museum
Whether you are a lover of art and creative works or not, a visit to this museum is a most. It is known to house one of the largest collection of the artistic work of Vincent Van Gogh and other artwork during his time. Van Gogh is undoubtedly the most famous and influential figures in western art and the museum is one of the most popular attractions in Amsterdam. The museum exhibit all the masterpiece painting, the techniques adopted in the painting and a detailed story of the life of the famous painter. However, don’t forget to book your ticket online before visiting, that way you can also keep the lines.
Shop At The 9 Streets Neighborhood Boutiques
Beautiful decorations, a festive mood, and quality wares is all you will find in this neighborhood: you will find them in the 9 Streets area. From art to clothes, food to drinks, this neighborhood is full of surprises. The festive trade fair here is breathtaking, as no two shopping sprees are alike! Take the opportunity to explore the area around Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, and Herengracht: the shops here are quaint and once you walk in, chances are that you will be greeted by its owners instead of a sales representative. There is a big variety of design, concept stores, and amazing vintage and second-hand boutiques next to premium lingerie and discounted luxury bed linens. Keep your mind and your purse open, as you will definitely find anything you need here. Wondering which store you should check first? The Amsterdam shopping guide will surely guide you in that regard.
Take A Tour Of The Red Light District And City Centre
If you’re in Amsterdam for the very first time, you will most likely want to take a stroll through the Red Light District to satisfy your curiosity. De Wallen street area bubble with various activity after dark and this attracts a lot of tourist traffic so be prepared: you will not be the only person interested in exploring this neighborhood. But remember that while there is so much to discover and be surprised by, there are still locals living in that very area so please keep respectful and enjoy walking through the wild sex shops, exploring the museums, cafes and the neighborhood.
Take A Day Trip From Amsterdam To Zaanse Schans Windmills
Netherland is known all over the world for the numerous well-preserved historic Windmills. This has made the location of this windmill “Zaanse Schans” on of the major tourist attractions in Amsterdam and Netherland as a country. Some of the windmills present in the Zaanse date as far back as 1574 and the building housing the mills have gone through series of modification and reinforcement.
The entire Zaanse Schans neighbourhood is a major tourist attraction as it also play host to eight (8) museum. This has lead to the overcrowding of the area with visitors and tourist from different part of the word. It is noted to attract over 14 million visitors annually.
The outdoor portion of the Zaanse Schans is open to view without payment, but opening times and entrance fee are applicable at each of the museums, workshops and windmills. Make sure you book tickets on the ever-popular Zaanse Schans tours before they sell out.
Experience Your First Taste Of A “Jenever” At Amsterdam’s Amsterdam’s Oldest Pub
You are likely to have heard of the House of Bols which was the first and biggest Dutch manufacturer of jenever. It now runs a cocktail & jenever tasting experience. Jenever is a juniper-flavored traditional Dutch liquor from which gin eventually evolved. While you’re in town, take the opportunity to go for a real jenever tasting and discover the liquor that is a big part of the local culture.
De Drie Fleschjes is one of the so-called brown cafes: those are traditional Dutch bars that have wooden interiors, a cozy feel, and a local audience. Once you walk into the small pub you will notice the many caskets of spirits. You can buy one in which case you will receive a key and will be able to bring your friends and family to sample liquor from that particular cask, but I hear the waitlist for those is really long.
Things To Do In Amsterdam In Winter
Amsterdam Christmas Shopping
When in Amsterdam I highly recommend you visit Amsterdam Noord, and during the holiday season that’s where you visit a large Amsterdam Christmas market. The week before Christmas you can shop the best Christmas gifts at Kromhouthal and taste some glühwein. If you’re after something less traditional the Funky Xmas Market at Westergas fabriek is your best bet. Designers, artists and other creatives sell their awesome creations to the public. The little Ice Village stalls have plenty of warm drinks, snacks, and food to warm you up after a funfilled tour.
Winter Ice Skating In Amsterdam
When cruising the canals in Amsterdam by tour is not possible then take to the ice rinks. The ancient city of Amsterdam is Blessed with a good number of ice skating rinks, which attract lots of tourist and visitors every winter. The skating rinks in the city open between 10am to 10pm, while a skate ticket cost 4-10 EUR depending on the rink in question. Skate of different sizes can be rented at various rinks at the cost of 5 EUR for a 2 hour ride. Most notable of these skating rinks are;
- Ice skating in Amsterdam Canal; As winter sets in on Amsterdam, the surface of the carnals is converted into an ice skating rink. A little wooden bridge is raised over it. Once you ascend it, you will enjoy the amazing view of the Rijksmuseum in all its festive glory. It also offers a lovely spot for taking those pictures with friends. Tourist have to ascertain from the city authority if the canals are iced enough for skating, this is to avoid situations like falling through the thin ice.
Amsterdam canals offer a great and fun-filled place for ice skating. The winters bring along enough frosty ice to freeze the canals, thereby making it a lovely spot for a skating rink. Some winters in the past have not produced enough frosty-cold for the canals to freeze. This should not dampen your mind as you can be rest assured that every winter in Amsterdam is definitely a skating season as lot of ice rinks pop up around the city.
- The historical Olympic Stadium, which was used for the Amsterdam Olympic, is also transformed into an ice rink over the winter months and gives you the perfect and beautiful skating rinks in the city.
- Go for ice skating on Museumplein: If you love ice skating, then Museumplein is the place to be during the winter season in Amsterdam. It is the best rink, where you can ice skate with the Rijks museum as a backdrop. The Ice Amsterdam period begins on 17th of November and stays until 3rd of February (dates here may vary slightly from year to year). It is Most prominent of the ice skating rink, and it is right in front of the famous iAmsterdam sign
Winter Parade Art Performance & Feast
The Winter Parade here might sound a bit weird, but it’s a thrilling weird experience. It is a mix of performance with food where diners/guest are seated across the length of a 120 meter long dining table. These diners are then served by waiters, who are actually walking (cat-walking) on that very same table. There are artists, singers, and musicians accompanied by food. Before I forget, it’s also set in a church. Sure you will agree that it an unusual but exciting experience. Participating in one of the activity may cost you close to 45 EUR.
Get Yourself Some Free Tulips
When Dutchies take down the Christmas decoration and put our Christmas tree on the curb to be collected, we cheer up our sad-looking houses with tulips. Most of you think tulips and The Netherlands go together in April and early May, when you can spot the amazing tulip fields, but the fields are meant for bulb production. The tulips for decoration are available roughly half of December until the end of February.
And if you visit Amsterdam in the 3rd weekend of January, you can even get a free bouquet of tulips on Dam Square during National Tulip Day. Everyone is allowed to pick a couple of tulips for a bouquet from a specially designed ‘garden’. If you are a lover of tuplips make sure you book yourself a place on the Keukenhof Garden tour to visit the tulip gardens. For additional tips on where to find tulips in Amsterdam, check out the post by Sam Meets World.
Try Dutch Winter Dishes
Oliebollen are a typical dutch meal during winter, most especially during New Year’s Eve. Oliebollen are deep fried dough balls with a nice layer of powdered sugar. Oliebollen are sometimes taken with apple and raisins. You can simply buy oliebollen at any stalls all over the city or at bakeries. A bottle of champagne and a bag of oliebollen is the best way to usher in the new year
Dutch winter isn’t complete to me without having home cooked split pea soup. When you leave it overnight (preferably outside when it freezes) we call split pea soup ‘snert’ and it tastes even better. It tastes like proper winter.
Fondue is not typically Dutch, but we do have loads of fondue during the holiday season. It’s just perfect comfort food. And it goes without saying that you should go order some at Fondue & Fondue.
Amsterdam Light Festival
The Amsterdam Light Festival is one of the most prominent highlights of the winter months in Amsterdam. This seasonal festival is held every year, mostly starting on 29th November and stretches into 20th January of the following year. The spectacular light installations along and on the canals is extremely beautiful and amazing that its bright and colorful lights is said to beam life into the city and leaves a lasting memory in the minds of tourist.
There are two common ways of enjoying a good view of the lightning works; a boat tour in the waterways around the light festival would give one a panoramic view of the light installations from the slow-moving boat, or you can talk a walk around the city center where the light are on display for a closer perspective of the festival.
While the boat view will give you a more immersive and thrilling view, walking around the light-up city centre will give you a more personal effect to your view. During the walk you have the opportunity to meet people. It is a romantic and light-filled experience that will make you appreciate the historically rich city center. The artwork on display are uniquely picked annually by a strong committee of a talented artist.
Wheather In Amsterdam In Winter And Festive Period
The weather during the winter is cold and frosty. It gets so frosty that the Amsterdam canal gets fully iced. So Amsterdam looks like a fairy tale city, with snow on every roof and every space available. In December, the temperature is a little above the freezing point weather stands between 2-7 degrees Celsius, with about 12-13 rainy days. As the city proceeds into the new year, the weather temperature in January fluctuates between 1-6 degrees. It is imperative for visitors keep warm during winter in Amsterdam, so don’t forget your gloves and a warm headcover. I share tips on what to pack for Amsterdam with tips on what to wear when visiting Amsterdam during winter. For additional tips make sure you pack a handy guide book for Amsterdam.
There are no two ways about it; Amsterdam glow in festive activities, stunning in white snow and bubbling with premium fun and historical activities during winter.
Where To Stay In Amsterdam
Amsterdam is such an amazing city and the canals really come alive in the evening when they are all lit up. Where you turn down is just as important to make the most of the city whether visiting Amsterdam for a weekend, one week or longer. There are plenty of amazing hotels in Amsterdam to choose from. I have also shared tips on the best areas to stay in Amsterdam which includes all the various areas in Amsterdam to help you decide where to stay in Amsterdam during your winter visit.
How To Get To Amsterdam
One of my favorite ways to check travel deals these days in addition to Expedia flight deals is looking at Omio. Omio shows trains, buses, taxis and flight details for a chosen destination from your city of origin. For example if I was leaving from London, Omio would show me options for travel to Amsterdam with options for EuroStar, coach services from Victoria in London to Flights from London airport on various flights leaving on the day I have chosen. Leaving me to choose the cheapest or best time option for when I want to travel.
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