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Amsterdam during Winter 10 things you should do!

In case you are still wondering whether it’s worth visiting Amsterdam in winter, the answer is yes! There are many unique events during the winter months. Spending Christmas in Amsterdam is a dream! The glow of festive holiday lights illuminates narrow lanes while the scent of freshly baked treats fills the air. Nearly every Amsterdam neighborhood flaunts decorated trees and there is an undeniable sense of cheer felt throughout the city.

Amsterdam Canals during Christmas

If you are wondering what to do in Amsterdam in December, we can assure you there is plenty going on in the city! From the many museums to classic cozy ‘brown pubs’, there is a long list of places to visit in Amsterdam in December. Add in the full lineup of Amsterdam December events, and visitors are spoiled with a choice of fun activities.

Amsterdam winter nights

The cozy winter morning, the iced lakes, and the tranquility of white fog along with the buzzing pubs, cultural festivals and astonishing architecture at night is what Amsterdam in December feels like. The unbearably chilled weather has a lot to offer for you to wonder about. Amsterdam is magic in winter and the festive season makes it more vibrant. The winters in Amsterdam in early December start with the snowfall, and the differentiating light all along the city streets, and end with the Christmas bells ringing and arousing the festive vibes of the people. With the experience of walking on the streets and the thrill of skating in frozen canals, Amsterdam has its own way of making even the simplest things very unique. From the warm restaurants to savoring delicious cuisines to the astonishing lights along the streets, this enchanting city is the perfect spot to spend your winter vacation.

Walk along the canals

A visit to Amsterdam is not complete without a pleasant stroll along the canals. Amsterdam’s canals are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. So, this should be at the top of your bucket list!

Bundle up and enjoy the magical canals during wintertime.

Amsterdam canals

Go ice skating

If you are looking for a truly unique thing to do in Amsterdam during winter, ice skate on the frozen canals! Every winter, when the temperatures drop, excitement builds and when the ice is thick enough, visitors and locals venture outside for many activities on the ice, from ice hockey to hiking. But stay safe!

Should the ice not be thick enough on the canals, visit the ice rink at ICEAmsterdam as well. ICE Amsterdam will be the most beautiful ice rink you have ever skated on.

Ice Rink Amsterdam

Museumplein Christmas Market and Ice Festival Amsterdam

Two of the city’s best holiday events take place in one square that together creates the quintessential Dutch winter market. The Museumplein Amsterdam Christmas Market and Ice Amsterdam Festival are two overlapping events that shouldn’t be missed.

The atmospheric market which features traditional holiday chalets, fire pits, and cauldrons of mulled wine is open in the weeks running up to Christmas through the day after Xmas.

The Amsterdam Ice Festival is the ideal place to go ice skating in Amsterdam at Christmas. The rink is backdropped by the striking Rijksmuseum and features a replica of Magere Brug (the city’s iconic ‘Skinny Bridge’) and a cozy bistro. The Amsterdam ice skating rink opens in mid-November and stays open until the beginning of February.

Magere Brug

Rembrandtplein Christmas Market

The Winterland Market in Rembrandtplein is one of the only Amsterdam Central Christmas Markets. Complete with an ice-skating rink and numerous Christmas houses doling our classic treats, the Christmas Market at Rembrandtplein is the perfect place to warm up with a cup of mulled wine.

people ice skating at the frozen canals in AMsterdam

Amsterdam Winter Paradise

The Het Amsterdamse Winterparadijs is a wintertime amusement park. At the Christmas fair in Amsterdam, participants can take part in activities like ice racing, curling, and snowball throwing. In the Winterplein, visitors can roast marshmallows, ride the Ferris Wheel or slide down the Tube Jump. During the day, the event is family-friendly, but at night there are DJs, live musicians, and plenty of places to imbibe. Note: This is not a free market; tickets are required for entry.

Amsterdam Light Festival

One of the biggest December events in Amsterdam is the annual Festival of Lights. Illuminated artworks are displayed along the canals so that they can be seen by boat or on foot. Each year there is a different theme and artists from around the world compete to be included in the festival.

Amsterdam light festival

Go to Amsterdam Christmas Markets

Of course, one of the best things to do in December in Amsterdam is to go to the Christmas Markets! With mulled wine, ice skating rinks, and iconic backdrops, the Amsterdam Christmas Markets are a must-see. We detail the top Christmas Markets in Amsterdam further along in the article.

Visiting Amsterdam during Christmas is fabulous! In fact, we think it is one of the best times of year to see the city. There are fewer crowds, special events, and heaps of merriment. Our list of the best things to do in Amsterdam at Christmas is certain to get you in the holiday spirit.

Frozen canals in Amsterdam

Christmas Shopping Amsterdam

For many people, one of the highlights of being in Amsterdam for the December holiday is the shopping. Both brand-name stores and boutique shops are found throughout the city and the Christmas markets in Amsterdam are a good place to pick up unique gifts, as well.

Nieuwendijk is the famous Amsterdam shopping street that extends north from Dam Square to Central Station. The city’s most atmospheric shops, however, are centrally located in an area dubbed The Nine Streets (or Negen Straatjes).

Shopping street in Amsterdam during Christmas

Amsterdam Christmas Lights

The Light Festival in Amsterdam certainly brightens the dark nights, but they aren’t the only lights in the city! Visitors will find twinkling Christmas lights in Amsterdam draped along streets and decorating trees, and simply walking down the illuminated lanes is one of the fun things to do in Amsterdam in winter.

It should be noted that Christmas decorations in Amsterdam tend to be simple and understated, rather than flashy or gaudy. Some of our favorite Amsterdam Christmas decorations were modest wreaths hung on doors and sparsely decorated trees in quaint neighborhood squares.

Amsterdam canals during winter

Christmas Tree Amsterdam

The largest Amsterdam Christmas tree stands in Dam Square in the heart of the city. The Dam Square Christmas Tree reaches a height of 20 meters and is covered in more than 40,000 lights. The tree is usually lit in mid-December in a fun Amsterdam Christmas-time celebration.

Stroopwafel a local cookie in the Netherlands

Try local winter dishes

When temperatures fall and the Christmas lights are set, we all crave warm comfort food. There is no shortage of feel-good winter dishes in Amsterdam.

Why not try something new, visit one of the many cafés that line the streets of Amsterdam. Try a bowl of Snert (a pea soup served with bread) or Stamppot (mashed potatoes, vegetables, and meat).

If you are looking for something sweet, Oliebollen is the perfect treat for you. Oliebollen are little donut balls covered in powdered sugar. They are the most famous winter dessert and are only available at this time of year.

Visit the Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam is a national art museum in the city of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Located in the Museumplein a public square that is similarly home to the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum it has a vast collection of paintings of the Gouden Eeuw, the Dutch Golden Age (1584-1702).


Amsterdam Weather: Christmas and Winter Climate

It is tough to prepare for Amsterdam's Christmas weather, it can vary drastically from day to day…Typically, winter temperatures are cold often dipping below freezing overnight, but warming up slightly during the day.

That said, the weather in Amsterdam at Christmas time can get so cold that the canals freeze when the ice is thick enough, brave locals even go ice skating in Amsterdam Central canals. Precipitation either snow or rain, depending on the temperature is common during the winter, but is rarely heavy.

Amsterdam Canals

Where To Stay for an Amsterdam Winter Holiday

Regardless of the season, we think the best place to stay in Amsterdam is in or close to the city center. Amsterdam accommodations tend to be on the pricey side year-round, so you will need to consider your budget when searching for a place to stay.

Also, keep in mind that many restaurants will be closed on Christmas Day

Hotel Notting Hill

a 4-star boutique design hotel, in which you will feel right at home. This stylish luxury hotel is the key address for cosmopolitan and international travelers. Boutique Hotel Notting Hill Amsterdam offers attractive accommodation close to AH Stadhouderskade Supermarket. Van Gogh Museum is a few minutes from the venue, while Museum Square is 1.7 km away.

The hotel is set in a shopping area of Amsterdam. The night Air Club is also 1.3 km away from this property. De Duif Church is also located near the venue. Rooms are around 100 Eur a night Book Now

Eden Hotel Amsterdam

Amstel river views and rooms are so beautiful you might never want to leave. Staying at the 2021 renovated 4-star superior Eden Hotel Amsterdam is a feel-good guarantee. In the direct neighborhood of the hotel, you will find all the highlights you came to visit Amsterdam for. Although with the excellent variety in restaurants, a 24/7 food market, and an actual Tokyo-style listen-to bar, you would not even have to leave the hotel to experience the buzzing city life of Amsterdam. Rooms are around 100 Eur a night Book Now

NH Collection Amsterdam Flower Market

Formerly known as NH Carlton Amsterdam, is right in the city center, next to its namesake, the flower market, and the Munt Tower. The hotel is also within walking distance of all major attractions – including Rembrandt Square and nearby shopping areas.

  • views across the city

  • short walk to the Museum Quarter

  • 15-minute tram to Centraal Station

The 233 rooms are a true reflection of the city of Amsterdam; industrial, cosmopolitan and diverse. Family rooms are available for those exploring the city with kids, and the rooms on the top 3 floors are the perfect spot to look out across the Munt Square and the Munt Tower. Others are designed especially for business with a sitting area and desk. Rooms around 150 Eur a night

Hotel CC

Hotel CC Amsterdam is a canal-side boutique hotel situated in the heart of the City Center at a stone’s throw distance from the central station and Red-Light District. Major tourist attractions; the Dam Square-the Royal Palace, Anne Frank House, Madame Tussauds, Flower Market, and Shopping District Nieuwendijk-Kalverstraat are within a short walk distance. Furthermore, in the surroundings, there are a variety of restaurants, cafes, bars, and coffee shops.

Built-in a picturesque historical and monumental Amsterdam canal house, Hotel CC features modern rooms with air conditioning. Many rooms and hotel areas still feature its historical characteristics such as wooden beams or old windows. All rooms are en-suite and furnished with modern room amenities. Some rooms offer canal views. Rooms are around 120 Eur a night

Mai Amsterdam

Centrally located in one of the most vibrant and storytelling neighborhoods of the city, surrounded by canals and with many must-see sights around the corner, MAI Amsterdam is the ideal home base for fortune travelers.

The boutique hotel features a dreamy combination of Asian-influenced mid-century furniture and eclectic interior design, that serves as a homage to the cultural history of the property. The harmonious composed décor is adorned with artistic masterpieces, handsomely appointed rooms, breathtaking canal views (every local would love to wake up to), and other extraordinary eye-catchers, assuring a one-of-a-kind hotel experience.

An original destination for crafting memories, right in the heart of Amsterdam.

Rooms are around 120 Eur a night, Book Now

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