If you’re looking for a unique and festive winter vacation, Amsterdam is the perfect destination. With its charming canals, lively markets, and abundance of museums, there’s something for everyone in this Dutch city. And thanks to its central location in Europe, getting there is easy and convenient.
We’re going to give you all the tips you need to plan a trip to Amsterdam in the winter. From what to do and see, to where to stay and what to eat and drink, we’ve got you covered. So whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family-friendly vacation, read on for everything you need to know about planning a trip to Amsterdam in the winter.
Why Visit Amsterdam in the Winter?
The Netherlands is known for its mild winters, so you can expect temperatures in Amsterdam to hover around freezing from December to February. Even though it may be cold, the city is still beautiful with its canals and bridges covered in a layer of frost. And, if you’re lucky, you might even get to see the famous Dutch windmills covered in snow!
How to Get There?
The Netherlands’ main airport is Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS), located just outside the city. It’s one of Europe’s busiest airports and serves as a hub for many international airlines, including KLM, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic. There are direct flights to AMS from major cities all over the world.
To get into the city from the airport, you can take a train, bus, or taxi. The journey takes about 20 minutes and costs around €8.00. You can also rent a car at the airport, but keep in mind that parking in Amsterdam can be expensive and difficult to find. Taxis are usually not cheap either, so it might be best to take a train from Schipol to the city center; it only takes roughly 20 minutes.
If you’re coming from another European city, chances are you can take the train to Amsterdam. The Dutch rail network is extensive and efficient, making it a convenient way to travel between cities. You can check schedules and purchase tickets on the website of Dutch Railways (NS). It’s also possible to take a train from the UK to Amsterdam. You depart from St. Pancras International in London and take the Eurostar through France and Belgium before eventually reaching the Dutch capital.
Once you arrive at Amsterdam Central Station, you’ll be in the heart of the city center. From there, you can walk or take public transportation to your final destination. There’s also a tram system that operates throughout Amsterdam and the suburbs outside the city center. So if you’re looking to get around the city in an easy, accessible and affordable way, you can make use of the tram system.
If you’re coming from England or Ireland, you may want to consider taking a ferry to Amsterdam instead of flying or taking the train. Ferries depart from ports in Hull and Harwich (UK) and Dublin and Rosslare (Ireland). The journey takes anywhere from 12-24 hours, depending on which route you take.
Where to Stay?
When it comes to choosing where to stay in Amsterdam, there’s no shortage of great options that you might want to consider. There’s something for just about every need and priority you might have too. For those looking for a luxurious stay, the Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky or the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam are both excellent choices.
If you’re looking for something more affordable, but still central and comfortable, consider the NH Collection Amsterdam Barbizon Palace or the citizenM Hotel Amsterdam City. There are also many Airbnbs and other vacation rentals available throughout the city.
Hostels are a great option for budget-minded travelers or those who want to meet other travelers from all over the world. Some of the best hostels in Amsterdam include The Bulldog Hostel, which is located right in the heart of the city center, or St Christopher’s at The Winston, which has great reviews and is located near many of the city’s best bars and clubs.
There are also several hostels located near Vondelpark, if you’re looking for a quieter location.
What to Do?
There are many museums worth visiting in Amsterdam, such as the Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House, and Van Gogh Museum. The Rijksmuseum is a must-see for art lovers, as it houses over 8,000 objects of art from the Dutch Golden Age.
The Anne Frank House is a sobering reminder of the Holocaust, and also provides an excellent introduction to Amsterdam’s history. The Van Gogh Museum is unsurprisingly dedicated to the works of Vincent van Gogh and contains the largest collection of his paintings in the world.
Amsterdam has several great markets worth visiting, such as the Albert Cuyp Market, Floating Flower Market, and Noordermarkt. The Albert Cuyp Market is the city’s most famous market, and sells everything from fresh produce to clothes to souvenirs.
The Floating Flower Market is located on the Singel canal, and sells a wide variety of flowers and plants. The Noordermarkt is a weekly organic market that also sells artisanal cheeses, breads, and other food items.
A bike tour is a great way to see Amsterdam’s sights while getting some exercise. There are many different companies that offer tours, so it’s easy to find one that suits your interests and fitness level. Some popular tours include visits to Amsterdam’s parks and gardens, or a tour of the city’s canals.
You’ll notice as soon as you arrive in Amsterdam that the Dutch don’t stop cycling just because it’s winter, and you should adopt the same attitude when you’re there!
Amsterdam Canal Cruise
An Amsterdam canal cruise is a great way to see the city from a different perspective. There are many different companies that offer cruises, so you can choose one that fits your schedule and budget.
Most cruises last about an hour and include commentary about Amsterdam’s history and culture. It’s a pleasant and relaxing way to see the city, and they operate all year round.
What to Eat and Drink?
Traditional Dutch Food
The Netherlands is famous for a few traditional dishes, many of which are available in Amsterdam. If you’re visiting the Netherlands for the first time, you should definitely take the opportunity to familiarize yourself with some of the local delicacies. You might be surprised by some of the popular national dishes and treats you find there. Some of the most popular are:
- Stamppot: a hearty stew made with potatoes, vegetables, and often sausage or bacon. It’s a great option during the winter when you’re looking for something warm and filling. It’s classic Dutch comfort food.
- Erwtensoep: a thick pea soup, traditionally served with smoked sausage. Many describe it as an acquired taste, but it’s another warm and filling option that’s great for the winter months.
- Hutspot: a stew made with potatoes, carrots, and onions. Another example of Dutch comfort food at its finest. If you get the chance to order hotspot in a restaurant, you should make the most of it.
- Zuurvlees: a sour beef dish usually served with potatoes and vegetables. Sour meat might sound like a strange one, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. You might be surprised at just how enjoyable it is.
Local Bars and Cafes
In addition to traditional Dutch fare, Amsterdam has no shortage of bars and cafes serving up international cuisine and delicious drinks. Some of these line the canals of Amsterdam, and if you can brave the cold during winter, it’s nice to sit outside and watch the boats pass by. Otherwise, you can sit inside and stay warm. Some local favorites include:
- Cafe Hoppe: a historic bar located on the Spui square in the city center, serving beer, wine, and spirits since 1670. If you’re looking for something with a little history and prestige, Cafe Hoppe is the place for you.
- De Prael Brewery: a local brewery known for its unique flavor combinations and seasonal brews. It’s a relatively small brewery but it offers a nice atmosphere.
- Brouwerij ‘t IJ: another local brewery located in an old windmill on the edge of the city center. They offer tours of the facility as well as tastings of their various beers. It’s a highlight of the city if you’re a beer lover (it’s much better than the Heineken brewery).
- The Old Sailor’s Home: a bar located in the Red Light District that has been serving sailors since 1780. It’s now a popular spot for both locals and tourists alike.
If you’re looking for a festive and unique winter vacation, Amsterdam is the perfect place to go. With its charming canals, lively markets and abundance of things to see and do, you’ll never be bored.
And with so many transportation options and accommodation choices, it’s easy to plan a trip that fits your budget and your specific needs and priorities. So now is the perfect time to start thinking about planning your trip to Amsterdam this winter.