Amsterdam in winter is a great time to experience this unique city and if you are looking for a winter guide to Amsterdam, this post will help you plan your trip

Known for its rich heritage and booming arts scene it is one of the coolest cities in Europe (and not only because of the coffee shops) which makes it easy for visitors to fall in love and enjoy the vibe of the city. Many of the buildings date all the way back to the 17th century, leaving plenty of historical areas to be explored. These are made even more captivating under the winter sun. 

If you visit Europe in December or in general in winter then add Amsterdam to your bucket list! Why? Because winter is a great time to visit Amsterdam.

  • Winter in Amsterdam lasts from mid-December to mid-March, with an average daily high temperature below 48°F (8.9°C). The coldest month of the year in Amsterdam is January, with an average low of 34°F (1.1°C) and a high of 42°F (5.6°C). So while the average temperature is low, make sure to pack and dress accordingly.
  • So, while Amsterdam is not a winter wonderland – nor the best city to visit if you are into Christmas Markets – it has plenty to offer.

While I had visited Amsterdam mostly in the summer months, it was my first trip to Amsterdam in the winter – and it was a fun city because it is also so different from other cities I have visited in winter like London, Vienna, or Zurich.

  • If you are wondering what to pack for Europe in winter, check my guide so you know what to wear and how to dress in the cold winter months.

Arzo Travels in December in Amsterdam

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December is the month of good food, so check out the best restaurants in Amsterdam that have amazing vegan food! Anyhow, here are some of the top things to do in Amsterdam in the winter.

The Canals Of Amsterdam

One of the best things to see are the famous canals of Amsterdam.

The city is known for its beautiful canals that flow through the city. Every once in a while the canals freeze over and are cleared to allow people to ice skate across the once-flowing waters.

If, however, the canals do not freeze while you’re in Amsterdam (it really does not get as cold as it used to get back in the days), there’s another great way to experience the canals. Cruising the canals!

Christmas illumination in Amsterdam in winter

Winter in Amsterdam

Taking a canal cruise allows you to see the beautiful city from the perspective of the water. It’s also an opportunity to see the historic district and learn about its fascinating history. You can see Amsterdam’s top attractions, including the Skinny Bridge and the Golden Bend. All from the comfort of a boat.


Skating in Amsterdam

Get ready to lace up your ice skates and hit the ice in the heart of Amsterdam! IceAmsterdam, the beloved winter tradition, has been a must-visit destination for locals and tourists alike.

winter ice skating rink in front of the Rijksmuseum,

ICE Amsterdam is located on the Museumplein and is an outdoor skating rink that is open every winter. Grab a warm cup of cocoa and skate around the rink in a cozy manner.

! No ice rink on Museumplein in 2023. This news has come as a disappointment to all the fans of IceAmsterdam but hopefully, it will be hopefully be possible to enjoy some ice skating in 2024.

Anne Frank House

Anyone with a fair knowledge of World War II will have heard of Anne Frank. Anne Frank House is the former residence of the famed writer, whose diary was published shortly after WWII.

 Anne Frank house and holocaust museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

A visit to the historic site is a must for anyone traveling to Amsterdam. You’ll learn about the events that took place in the city during this tragic time in history, as well as about the writer herself. 

Amsterdam Ice Bar

Visiting the Amsterdam Ice Bar is by far one of the ‘coolest’ experiences you can have in Amsterdam. Dress warmly for this experience, as it can get quite chilly. Although extra coats are provided at the door to make sure you stay warm.

Icebar Amsterdam

At this bar, you’ll get the chance to sip on cocktails out of a glass made of ice. But that’s not the most interesting thing about the experience. The bar is actually made from 35 tons of natural ice and kept at a temperature of 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 degrees Celsius).

If you’re looking for a ‘chilled’ experience with your travel buddies, this is it. You may not be escaping the cold of wintery Amsterdam, but you’ll surely be getting the full winter experience.

The Royal Palace

Explore the majestic Royal Palace of Amsterdam – one of the Netherlands’ three palaces reserved exclusively for the monarch. Located on the west side of Dam Square in the heart of Amsterdam, this architectural masterpiece is a must-visit destination for history and culture enthusiasts.

Spend an afternoon walking in the footsteps of queens and kings of years gone by in the Royal Palace. Take in the magnificent architecture, the grandeur of the space, and the well-preserved furniture that was used by the Netherlands Royalty. 

Dam Square in Amsterdam, Niederlande

You’ll see paintings by the famed artists of the Dutch Golden Age. As well as chandeliers and ornaments from Napoleon’s time. 

It’s a great way to get a glimpse of the past. The audio guide that you’ll receive at the entrance allows you to learn a great deal about the royals from the history books and the way they lived. It is not only the perfect place to learn about the Netherlands´ history but also to warm up and enjoy some time indoors.


Christmas Markets

If you happen to visit Amsterdam before Christmas Time, then make sure to add this activity to your itinerary: Strolling Christmas Markets.

While Amsterdam may not be the hub of Christmas markets in Europe, it does have a few worth visiting.

The main Christmas market that takes place in Amsterdam is the Ice Village in Museumplein.  It takes place around the ice rink and provides a fairly magical atmosphere. It should be noted that it’s not nearly as extravagant as many of the other Christmas markets in Europe.

That being said, it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in Amsterdam over the Christmas season.

Christmas lights and tree in Amsterdam


  • Ice Village from 13th December to 26th December
  • Funky XMas Market on 17th December
  • Pure Winter Market on 17th December
  • Museum Market Festive Edition on 17th December

Light Festivals

The enchanting Amsterdam Light Festival for 2023 – 2024 is set to illuminate the city starting from 30th November until 21st January! In its 12th edition, this renowned Festival of Light in Amsterdam has meticulously curated a selection of novel light art pieces.

This year’s festival promises an even richer experience for attendees. The beloved water route, a highlight of the event, returns to guide visitors along the city’s picturesque canals, which hold the esteemed status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This annual celebration not only brightens Amsterdam’s winter nights but also showcases the fusion of art, technology, and culture.

Moco Museum

Art fanatic? There’s no better way to escape the cold of Amsterdam in winter, than heading into the Moco Museum. As most people know, the Netherlands has been an artistic hub for hundreds of years, producing some of the world’s most famed artists.

Moco Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands

With the rise of contemporary art, Amsterdam has continued to be a hub for creatives. You’ll find incredible artwork from artists all over the world like Banksy, Arsham, Basquiat, Haring, KAWS, Hirst, JR, Koons, Kusama, and more.



Oliebollen is a traditional Christmas/New Year’s Eve snack in Amsterdam. During the winter months, you’ll find oliebollen stalls popping up all over the city. These scrumptious snacks are fried balls of dough, similar to doughnuts, that are served with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Oliebollen traditional Dutch New Year's Eve pastry dusted with powder sugar served with champagne

Be sure to eat the deep-fried dough balls while they’re still warm as this is when they’re most delicious!

Stroll Along the Canals

Even though it does get a little chilly during the winter months, that shouldn’t stop you from heading into the great outdoors. In fact, some of the most beautiful sights await you during the colder months.

Flower markets in Amsterdam in winter

Take a stroll next to the canals, and be sure to take your camera with for the excursion. You’re sure to come across some of the most picture-perfect scenes. The inner canals are often quite busy with pedestrians. If you head to the outer canals such as Herengracht you’ll get the chance to walk in peace and quiet.

If you’re in Amsterdam between the beginning of December and mid-January, you’ll get the chance to take part in the Amsterdam Lights Festival. Beautiful light shows are artfully hung over the canals making for a breathtaking sight, especially at night. 


The Rijkmuseum is the biggest museum in the country. So you can easily spend an entire day exploring its many pieces. The museum is dedicated to art as well as history. You’ll not only see artworks by famed artists like Rembrandt but also historical artifacts dating back hundreds of years. 

Rijkmuseum Fassade in Amsterdam in winter

Another bonus is that there are two other great museums nearby. The Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam are in close proximity, making for some great rainy-day activities.


Ons’ Lieve Heer Op Solder

Ons’ Lieve Heer Op Solder has got to be one of the most fascinating museums in Amsterdam. It’s located inside a 17th-century canal house. What makes it so interesting is the top three floors of this canal house were converted into a Catholic Church. 

It was a secret church as the only religion that was allowed to practice in the Netherlands during the 17th century was the Dutch Reformed Church. 

It’s now been turned into a museum that gives you insight into how people lived in the 17th century, as well as the secrecy of practicing their own religion. 

Final Thoughts On Things To Do In Amsterdam During Winter

Winter is a magical time of year in Europe, and Amsterdam is no different. Although winter can get very cold in Europe, Amsterdam’s winters tend to be a lot milder than many of the other major European cities. So you’ll be able to get out and about even in the middle of winter.

And luckily for you, there are plenty of indoor activities to indulge in during the wintertime in Amsterdam. Museums, cultural attractions, and ice bars await you at this exciting destination – so add Amsterdam in winter to your bucket list.

Amsterdam canal cruise


Safe Travels, Arzo

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