Amsterdam in winter: A surprisingly good time to visit
If you are on the fence as to whether or not you should visit Amsterdam in the winter, the answer is almost certainly yes. To quickly sum things up, the winter weather is far milder than in, say, Berlin or Prague, and on top of that, prices and crowds are at their lowest levels of the year. Amsterdam is mostly an indoor city anyway, but unless you get particularly unlucky with the temperatures, you’ll still be able to walk about and do just about everything you can do in summer.
If your timing is already sorted out, you might be interested in some specific information that can be found elsewhere on this site. Here’s a rundown:
- Christmas in Amsterdam
- New Years Eve in Amsterdam
- December in Amsterdam
- January in Amsterdam
- February in Amsterdam
- March in Amsterdam
Winter weather in Amsterdam
There are weather averages for each month on those articles linked just above, but to sum it up, February is the coldest month, with the average low temperature being 32F/0C and the average high being 42F/5C. Those low temperatures usually occur in the early morning when you’ll probably be in bed, so it’s very likely that you’ll never feel the full chill anyway.
It can be windy
The thing that can make Amsterdam feel weirdly cold at times is, of course, the wind chill. It’s a flat country and city near the coast, so it’s not uncommon for strong winds to blow through. As long as you bring gloves and a hat you’ll probably be fine, and you should also have a pretty easy time avoiding the wide-open spaces like along the Amstel River. Almost all the streets in the city curve, so if the wind chill is getting to you it’s usually simple to get around a corner where it doesn’t affect you much.
It sometimes snows
February also happens to be the driest month of the year, so if you add all of that up you can see that the chances of getting snow are quite low. But when it happens you’ll probably actually be thrilled. It’s almost always just a light dusting rather than anything you’d have to dig yourself out of, and the city can be ridiculously beautiful with a fresh white coat. The public transportation never gets shut down, so as long as you dress properly you can do just about anything you’d like to.
Winter events in Amsterdam
Just like most other big cities on the planet, the Amsterdam cultural scene takes a break during summer and is going full guns in winter. You’ll have plenty of chances to see a concert in Amsterdam, or hit one of the nightclubs.
See those monthly posts near the top for specific events for each month. Generally speaking, the city is really alive during winter and locals continue to go out shopping and dining and drinking and everything else. The famous Amsterdam coffee shops are all cozy during the cold months, and all the crazy stuff in the world famous Red Light District is going on normally as well. All the museums are open normal hours as well, so if you get bored it’s your own fault.
Cheap hotels are easy to find
For Amsterdam hotels and hostels, the “off season” really only consists of December (except for the holidays), January, and February. The hostels in Amsterdam only move their rates down by a bit, but some hotels become really cheap this time of year. A room that might cost €100 per night the rest of the year could be only around €60 per night during winter. It all works by supply and demand, so if you look around and are flexible with your hotel you can usually find a great bargain.
The days are short though
This is something that ends up surprising quite a few visitors this time of year. Due to the fact that Amsterdam is almost at the western edge of the main Europe time zone (1 hour ahead of London), the sun doesn’t actually come up until almost 9am in last December. It gets dark before 5pm as well, so it’s a good idea to plan your days realizing that the days are quite short.
Snow photo by Giorgio Baresi on Flickr