Amsterdam Winter

Winter in Amsterdam: 11 must do’s

Christmas market Amsterdam, winter in Amsterdam: top things to do | Your Dutch Guide

Amsterdam doesn’t get closer to her Golden Age glorie than she does in winter. When snow (hopefully) falls, canals freeze, life slows down and wandering along Waterlooplein you can just imagine bumping into a warmly wrapped up Rembrandt on his way to his home at Jodenbreestraat. Winter in Amsterdam is about snuggling up, enjoying the lights and getting in some culture. Visit a Christmas market in Amsterdam, join some typical winter festivals or enjoy one of these amazing things to do in winter in Amsterdam.

About winter in Amsterdam

Christmas market Amsterdam, winter in Amsterdam: top things to do | Your Dutch Guide

December, January and February aren’t the most inspirational months, maybe, to visit Amsterdam. But visiting the Dutch capital during the coldest months of the year has its advantages. Most tourist will prefer warmer destinations, so you finally won’t have to share Van Gogh’s and Rembrandt’s masterpieces with tons of others. And it’s really the perfect time of year to experience Holland at its best. Visit the Christmas market in Amsterdam, enjoy some ice skating. taste the best Dutch seasonal food and buy the first (!) tulips over the year. 

Winter in Amsterdam: plan your trip

Winter in Amsterdam: 11x top things to do

Christmas market Amsterdam

Christmas market Amsterdam (photo: Ice*Amsterdam) | Your Dutch Guide

Christmas market Amsterdam (photo: Ice*Amsterdam) | Your Dutch Guide

From the second week of November until the first week of January, Museumplein turns into a very cute Christmas market in Amsterdam, Ice*Amsterdam. The square in front of the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum is filled with chalets selling drinks and typical Dutch winter food. Rent a pair of ice skates and twirl around in the ice rink taking in the most stunning view of the Dutch capital. 

Funky Xmas Market

Christmas market Amsterdam, Funky Xmas Market (photo by Westergas) | Your Dutch Guide

The Funky Xmas Market is an anual alternative Christmas market in Amsterdam and the best place to buy colourful, fair trade, hand made and funny Christmas presents. Plus, you’ll be able to buy some amazing food from one of the many stalls. The atmosphere will be local and relaxed. This Christmas market in Amsterdam takes place on the third Sunday in December at Westergas.

Het Amsterdamse Winterterras

Christmas Market Amsterdam (photo: Amsterdamse Winterterras Festival) | Your Dutch Guide

Okay, so Amsterdamse Winterterras Festival isn’t a Christmas market. But it’s such a fun and wintery festival that I definiely think it does count as a Christmas market in Amsterdam. From the first weekend of November until the first weekend of December, Thursdays til Sundays, you’ll find Amsterdamse Winterterras Festival at in ‘de Gashouder’. You’ll have to buy tickets in advance and then you’ll be able to sample food from the finest restaurants in Amsterdam for very reasonable prices, enjoy live music and dance until your feet hurt. 

Het Amsterdamse Winterparadijs

Christmas market Amsterdam (photo: Het Amsterdamse Winterparadijs) | Your Dutch Guide

Het Amsterdamse Winterparadijs is both an indoor as outdoor Christmas market in Amsterdam, which you can visit the last three weeks of December in Amsterdam RAI. You’ll have to buy tickets in advance. It’s actually a great Christmas market in Amsterdam for the whole family to enjoy. There are numerous rides and attractions, like a big ferris wheel and a retro carrousel. Kids can enjoy crafts or a ride on the Christmas train. But there is also loads to do for their parents, who can enjoy nice food and live music by well-known Dutch artists. 

Christmas market Zaandam

Christmas Market Netherlands: foto by Zaanse Dickets Market

Zaandam is just a short trainride outside of Amsterdam and it’s one of those typical Dutch town that you simply have to visit. And the Christmas market in Zaandam is just the perfect excuse. During Zaanse Dickens Market A Christmas Carrol comes to life during the second and third week of December. Take a ride on the ferris wheel and enjoy some traditional Dutch food at one of the many stalls. You can combine this Christmas market in Amsterdam with a visit to Zaanse Schans

Amsterdam Light Festival

Winter in Amsterdam, photo by Amsterdam Light Festival

Winter in Amsterdam, photo by Amsterdam Light Festival

What I love most about winter in The Netherlands are the many light festivals. GLOW Eindhoven is probably the best light festival to visit. But Amsterdam Light Festival is definitely one of the top things to do in winter in Amsterdam. Every edition of the Amsterdam Light Festival has its own theme and runs for 6 or 7 kilometers along the canals of the city. You can simply walk the art trail, but it’s more fun to book a Light Festival canal cruise. Amsterdam Light Festival runs from the first week of December until te last week of January.

Fabrique des Lumières

Photo by Fabrique des Lumières

One top thing to do in winter in Amsterdam is to visit Fabrique des Lumières. In this theater at Westergas the greatest artist come to life in a beautiful audiovisual way, you’ll be experiencing their art works like never before. 

Spot street art (indoors)

Street art Amsterdam, STRAAT Museum Amsterdam | Your Dutch Guide

Street art Amsterdam, STRAAT Museum Amsterdam | Your Dutch Guide

Spotting street art is one of my favourite things to do when I visit a city and Amsterdam has some amazing street art. But when it’s winter in Amsterdam, you’ll rather not be outside for too long. And visiting street art museum STRAAT will give you the opportunity to see the works of world famous street artists, but indoors. STRAAT is Amsterdam’s street art museum located on quirky, alternative NDSM island and will show you over 50 amazing works by wold famous artists. 

Try some oliebollen

Winter in Amsterdam: try oliebollen | Your Dutch Guide

Winter in Amsterdam is not complete without trying the typically Dutch oliebollen. During the winter months, especially in November, December and January, you will find oliebollen stands all over Amsterdam. Oliebollen are a typical Dutch new year’s treat and the Dutch eat them on New Year’s eve. They’re a bit similar to doughtnuts and come plain or filled with raisins. Oliebollen taste best with some powedered sugar on top.


Winter in Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum | Your Dutch Guide

Winter in Amsterdam calls for visiting some of its top museums. Of course, you can’ts kip Rijksmuseum where you will find the absolute best paintings of all the great Dutch masters. Come face to face with the famous paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer, but let yourself be surprised by some Dutch Golden Age painters you haven’t heard of yet. 

Van Gogh Museum

Winter in Amsterdam: Van Gogh Museum (photo by Jan Kees Steenman) | Your Dutch Guide

A huge number of the works of Vincent van Gogh are to be admired at the Van Gogh Museum. Visiting the museum is like stepping into Van Gogh’s turbulent life and seeing his work evolve alongside his mental state of mind. It’s both intriguing and a little heart breaking. I found that taking a guided tour in the Van Gogh Museum made me understand the artist and his works a lot better. 

National Tulip Day

Winter in Amsterdam: National Tulip Day | Your Dutch Guide

When the Dutch take down the Christmas tree, tulips are brought into the house to give it some colour again. 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’. A great way to celebrate the tulip. Read more about tulips in my article Tulips fields Netherlands: 10 things you want to know

Winter in Amsterdam &
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Christmas market Amsterdam & Winter festvals in Amsterdam | Your Dutch Guide
Christmas market Amsterdam & Winter festvals in Amsterdam | Your Dutch Guide

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  • Reply
    Deborah Regen
    December 22, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    Your post just goes to show that off-season travel can have many benefits. I would thoroughly enjoy ice skating on frozen canals, visiting the less crowded museums, and taking advantage of lower hotel room rates in Amsterdam during the winter months.

  • Reply
    December 22, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    The frozen canals are lovely! And the ice skating looks so fun. I had not thought of Amsterdam as a winter Christmas market destination, but it is utterly charming!

  • Reply
    December 27, 2018 at 10:40 am

    I’d love to go ice skating on the canals but it’s so crazy to think that it gets that cold there! I didn’t know there was also a light festival! Will have to consider a future visit during the winter!

  • Reply
    January 2, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    I loved this post! You have described ‘winter’ Amsterdam so beautifully! I am also a big fan of the Light festivals (we have one here in Jerusalem). Those deep fried dough balls sound amazing. Oh, and now I understand why the flower market was so disappointing when I visited Amsterdam in August. We were sad to just find bulbs. I had no idea the tulip season was in the winter!

  • Reply
    January 2, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    The first time I visited Amsterdam was late in December and it was so sad looking and grey, but then I started visiting and could really tell the energy of the city! And it was great, as you said, to take advantage of the short queues! We barely waited to get into Anne Frank’s house!

  • Reply
    January 3, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    That first photo is so beautiful! Amsterdam seems like one of those cities that is great in every season, is it true? I would love to visit in the winter – a teensy bit jealous of a friend of mine who spent Christmas there. Pinning for a future trip 😉

  • Reply
    Nicole Garaham
    February 10, 2019 at 9:44 am

    Hi, very good article. I really appreciate it. Now you got one regular visitor to your website for new topics. Keep up the good work, Nicole Graham

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