My favorite things to do in Amsterdam in winter

Many people might be discouraged to come to Amsterdam in winter due to the harsh weather conditions like rain and wind. Weather indeed is an important aspect, but when we talk about Amsterdam it becomes a secondary issue. Amsterdam has so much to offer regardless the weather. Visiting Amsterdam in fall and winter has so many benefits: less tourists, smaller queues to museums budget friendly accommodation options. All in all, sunny days in Amsterdam are not that uncommon in winter. Here is my favorite list of things to do in Amsterdam in winter.

Amsterdam Light Festival ⠀

Amsterdam Light Festival is a magical event of art and music installations taking place on Amsterdam canals. Many Dutch and international artists usually participate in the event. No surprise in the chosen period of time. November is one of the darkest months and it is a perfect time to light the city up. Both the walking route and boat route are possible. I attended Amsterdam Light Festival for the first time in November 2016 and I did a walking route myself. It was a truly special experience. This year Amsterdam Light Festival will take place from 28 November 2019 to 20 January 2020. The theme is Disrupt, hence the new route, including Oosterdok, Oudeschans, Amstel, Nieuwe Keizersgracht, Plantage Muidergracht, Entrepotdok. All in all, there will be 25 light works and 10 city stories.⠀


Best Oliebolen in Amsterdam

Oliebolen translate from Dutch as oil balls. In English they are known as Dutch doughnuts or dutchies. These famous Dutch treats are traditionally served for the New Year’s table. Around November oliebolen stands invade the city. Some bakeries also serve them. One of the best ranked places is the bakery Banketbakkerij Lanskroon (Single 385). I have popped in to this cafe lately to try the best ranked oliebolen and, unfortunately, it seemed a bit dry to my taste. However, the bakery is very authentic serving several traditional Dutch treats and a has nice interior. You can also try the famous oliebolen at few other locations:

Ice*Amsterdam & Ice*Village

Amsterdam Ice rink and Christmas market

In winter the area of Amsterdam’s Museum Quarter in front of the Rijksmuseum transforms into the unique winter experience with the ice-skate rink (Ice*Amsterdam) and the Christmas market (Ice*Village). You can enjoy the ice rink from now on to 2nd February. The Christmas Market with its stalls include fashion, lifestyle products and interior decorations takes place from 13th December to 26th December. On There is a copy of Magere Bruge (Magere Bridge) that makes it a perfect place to make great pics of the rink and the beautiful Rijksmuseum.  One of the magical times to visit these places is after 5 pm when it becomes dark.

Location: Museumplein 5, 1071 DJ Amsterdam

Cruise canal

Amsterdam Boat Cruise

A lovely way to experience the city is definitely from the water. In winter it would be cosy to choose a closed roof boat. Few cruise boat options come to my mind immediately. Reederij P. Kooij offers classic boat tours with audio guides for a budget price (12 eu for adult, 8 eu for child). This cruise boat company has a long boating history and in my opinion is more authentic. If you prefer a private boat experience, then my choice falls on Pure Boats that offer beautifully restored boats and all inclusive arrangements. Please note, that most of the boat companies offer special cruises during the Amsterdam Light Festival. ⠀

Location of Reederij P. Kooij boats: Oude Turfmarkt TO 125, 1012 GC Amsterdam


Although not a native to Dutch, this drink has became a symbol of Christmas also here in Amsterdam. During the holiday season Albert Cuyp market has some stands with gluhwein. However, one of the tastiest gluhwein is served in Cafe Onder De Oievaar in Amsterdam. This cafe also serves tasty Dutch snacks as bitterballen. I would definitely recommend trying their goat cheese with apple/pear chutney and walnuts. ⠀

Location: Cafe Onder De Oievaar, Utrechtsestraat 119

These were my favorite things to do in Amsterdam in winter. If you have other things you usually love doing in Amsterdam in winter, you are welcome to share them in the comment section. And eventually, if you are looking for a private off-beaten walking tour through the beautiful city Amsterdam or other Dutch towns, please drop me a line.

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