5 reasons to visit Amsterdam in winter

15 December 2016

City of canals, free spirits and King’s Day in the spring. But did you know there are lots of fun things to do in winter as well? Check out our list of great things to do and reasons to visit Amsterdam this winter.

The perfect holiday with friends, a weekend away with your partner or a midweek break with the fam. And don't forget to bring your gloves, hat and warm coat: it’s cold, baby! The Netherlands is known for its cold winters; temperatures can drop to below freezing, so a scarf would definitely be no unnecessary luxury 🧣

1. Amsterdam Light Festival

From the 1st of December, the Dutch capital is illuminated once more during the Amsterdam Light Festival. For fifty days artists from the Netherlands and abroad will illuminate the city with their spectacles.

Don't hesitate and take one of the canal tour boats and be amazed by an illuminated Amsterdam – you've never seen the city like this before! The Water Colours route: as if you're sailing through an illuminated wonder world. Rather walk? Then follow the picturesque Illuminade walking route, which is inspired by nature this year. Watch the intriguing laser show that illuminates the Maritime Museum, cross the Rainbow Bridge and be amazed by the beautiful colours.

2. Ice Ice Baby

Ice skating: a must-do when you're in the Netherlands and it's freezing. It doesn't happen very often, but perhaps you'll be lucky this year and get to skate on the Amsterdam canals.

If it's not cold enough: no worries! Museum Square (in Dutch: Museumplein) has the most fun ice skating ring in the city: Ice*Amsterdam. Sweep below the illuminated drawbridge. If you want to take a rest after your workout, you can warm up with some hot cocoa.

3. Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry X-mas

The holiday season is amazing for Christmas lovers, as Amsterdam is its prettiest with lights! There's a huge Christmas tree at Dam Square, as well as dozens of stalls with the most kitsch Christmas decorations you could hope for – and hot mulled wine. And make sure to have a drink at Leidse Square, where you'll find all the best bars.

Want to visit more than just Amsterdam this winter? Check out our favourite Christmas markets in the Netherlands.

4. Dutch food

There are a couple of things that you simply have to taste before you go back home. Start your feast with a Dutch croquette, which you can get from a fast food wall – yes, you read that right! There are fast food walls full of delicious fried food all over the city. Eat your croquette on a bun or simply from your hand – there's no way you could skip this classic Dutch delicacy.

And do not forget to grab some deliciously greasy doughnut balls (called ‘oliebollen’)! You can buy these during the entire holiday period, and they're available with or without raisins. As a dessert, you can try ‘poffertjes’: tiny pancakes with a huge amount of powdered sugar. It makes our mouths water just thinking about it!

5. Have a wander

Okay, we know, Amsterdam in winter can get a bit grey and wet ☁️

But that doesn't make it any less beautiful. Even with a bit of rain it's a lively city to explore. There are plenty of free walking tours where you can learn all about the city and its history. Just don't forget to pack your umbrella.

Sweet dreams

If you're ready to come enjoy Amsterdam, join us in one of our three hostels, in the best parts of the city.