Things to do in Amsterdam: Winter

When in Amsterdam...winter is a special time to explore. Here is a list of wonderful activities for you to do when in the winter wonderland that is Amsterdam.

Explore the city

In Winter the trees have lost their leaves and the architecture is exposed for you to admire. The 17th century canal district that is World Heritage listed and the Old City Centre are beautiful. The streets and canals lined with hundreds of historic listed buildings lay still under the hue of winter.

Go off the beaten path and explore the neighborhoods of North Amsterdam, de Pijp and Oud West. North Amsterdam is a burgeoning area filled with new bars, cafes and art spaces. The Eye Film museum is great for a coffee to look back and enjoy the panoramic view of Amsterdam.

De Pijp is the area to the east of the Musemplein. A short walk from the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. Pop into local family owned businesses and stroll the famous Albert Cuyp market that is open even on cold winter days.

Oud West has lifted in status over the last year. The opening of the new indoor food market Food Hallen is very popular and especially during the colder months.

If you wish to make the most of your time take a walking tour. A few companies operate in Winter. For comfort Omy Amsterdam Tours only does groups of up to 4 people. This allows you to get out of the weather periodically. For those on a budget try a free walking tour but be sure to dress for the weather as you will spend most of your time outside. An extra layer never hurts.

Visit Museums

Winter is a great time to visit Amsterdam's numerous museums. The most popular museums are the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House.

Don't forget the smaller museums of Amsterdam. These museums have fewer crowds and are great to enjoy the quieter side to Amsterdam. Two of our favorites are the Rembrandt House Museum and the Van Loon House. Jump back in time to see how and where wealthy Amsterdammers lived.

Visiting the museums can be affordable with the IAmsterdam city card or our preferred favorite the Museumkaart (Museum Card).
Ice Skating in Amsterdam in an exceptional winter
(Photo by David Cenzer)

Ice Skate

One of the major outdoor winter sports in the Netherlands is ice skating. Pull on the skates and have a slide around the ice one way or another. Warm up after with a Mulled wine(spiced warm red wine) or Chocomel (hot chocolate)

Central locations for a social skate are at Leidseplein and Museumplein. For those a little more adventurous head to the Jaap Eden Ice Rink an Olympic sized long track. Talking of Olympics the Drag Queen Winter Olympics are always great to watch. Dates are always announced on the Drag Queen Olympics website.

Neighborfood Market, Amsterdam


Winter is a time to visit the markets. Not as grand as the markets in our big neighbor, Germany, Amsterdam markets fill their purpose. Rembrandtplein, Museumplein and Leidseplein all have Dutch winter treats for purchase to warm you through late November to early January.

There are also a range of smaller specialised markets that run up to Christmas. Visit these markets for delicacies from local and small producers.

Kerst Fair Sunday Market 6 December
Pure Market: 13 and 20 December 2015
Funky Xmas Market 13 December 2015
Amsterdamshe kerstmarket NDSM 18,19,20 December
Neighborfood Market 19-20 December 2015
Museum Market: 20 December 2015, 17 January, 21 February 2016
FoodHallen: new indoor food market open 7 days.

Cafe de Wetering
(photo by Jeniece Primus)

Cozy Bars

Amsterdam's small local bars change character in the winter. Locals strike up conversation as the tourist numbers thin. The small bars are insulated from the cold and a good conversation and a local Jenever (Dutch spirit) will warm you to your core. The smaller the bar the better.

Try Bar Jones just meters from the Dam Square or Cafe de Wetering. If you want to bar hop with a local take a Beer Tour. This Amsterdam Afternoon Beers Tour has a group limit of 4 people and very good reviews on Tripadvisor.

A night of Culture

Visit the Ballet, Opera, or Concert Hall  while in Amsterdam. The experience is not that expensive in Amsterdam compared to other Western European capitals.

If contemporary entertainment is more to your liking visit the live music institutions of Amsterdam. The Paridiso and the Melkweg always have an interesting lineup of touring international and national performers. Be sure to check well in advance as tickets to do sell out frequently.

If you are unsure, visit the Last Minute Ticket Office on Leidseplein and take a lucky dip. Last day unsold tickets are re-sold here at a huge discount sometimes 80% off. Whatever your experience you will be sure to have saved off the ticket price.

When in Amsterdam....enjoy!

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