Best Time to Visit - 13 min read

Best Time to Visit Amsterdam (Weather, Festivals & Culture)

Kathy Brown

Kathy Brown, Updated October 18, 2022

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Amsterdam is a treasure trove of scenic delights. From cobblestone lanes to arched bridges, it’s no surprise that the Dutch capital enjoys massive tourists yearly. The breathtaking sights and favorable weather make it challenging to decide when to pay a visit. 

The best time to visit Amsterdam is between April and early June. During this time, temperatures sit between 60 and 65 F on average. However, this is the time Amsterdam is also less crowded. This means you can visit museums and other attractions with ease. You can also visit Amsterdam from mid-June to August, but that’s the peak travel season.

Whether sniffing fields of tulips or catching a glimpse of a Rembrandt, Amsterdam offers a truckload of fantastic sights to see. And if there’s one thing the city is remembered for, it’s elaborate parties. 

Follow us as we explore some of the best times to visit the city with accompanying events.

When Should You Not Go To Amsterdam

The least favorable time to visit the city is the mid-summer months (June and July). It’s the city’s peak season, and crowds are at their thickest. Hotels prices tend to spike up during this time. You won’t experience some of the city’s beauties this time. 

The winter months (December to February) also pose as one of the worse times to visit. Weather challenges such as rainfall and snow are pretty common during this time. You can expect temperatures as low as 6.6°C (44°F), making for a frigid time. 

Cheapest Time to Travel to Amsterdam

If you’re on a tight budget, you should visit Amsterdam between November to February. Except for the Christmas weekend. Prices typically go down during this time and pick up around March. 

The beautiful city is less crowded due to the cold temperatures. But the underlying reason is fewer events than in the other months. You are bound to expect rainfall and snow during this time. 

Hotels and public attractions offer discounts on their services due to less patronage. More so, airfare also hit the lowest during this time. So, you’d get a great deal with exploring the city on a budget. 

Most of the famous museums offer a discount during wintertime in Amsterdam. They also provide a comfortable warm-up space after touring the chilly city. You’d experience shorter lines in places like Anne Frank’s House and the Van Gogh museum. 

The canals freeze during winter, providing massive ice surfaces for people to skate. You can also spend a reasonable amount of time outdoors in the city. A host of cafes and restaurants offer outdoor heating tables and lamps. 

If winter is not your thing, you can also visit between March and September. Prices are still considerably low during this time. The bigger crowds from summer have also lessened. So, you’d have some of your best experiences during this time. Outdoor activities and road trips across the city are also welcome as the weather is mild. 

Related Read: Best Time to Visit Sweden

When to Avoid Crowds in Amsterdam

September to November is the least busy time to explore Amsterdam. However, rainfall is typically the highest during this autumn season. Temperatures also drop, and the city offers fewer events and holidays this fall season. 

However, two significant events stand out during this time. The Amsterdam Fringe Festival occurs in the first half of September. Keep your eyes peeled out for the Amsterdam Light Festival in November.

Most tourists avoid visiting the city during this time due to the weather and fewer events. Hotels across the city also offer discounts on accommodation. So, if you’re looking for the best deals and want to avoid bustling crowds, you can visit during this time.

However, you may be unable to explore some of the best attractions during fall. Outdoor activities such as sunbathing in Vondelpark and afternoon bike rides aren’t available. 

Monthly Breakdown of the Weather in Amsterdam

Below is a monthly guide on what to expect throughout the year in Amsterdam. Also, take note of the special events lined up throughout the year.

January: Visit Museums

January in Amsterdam is the coldest month, with frosty temperatures lingering around 3°C (37.4°F). Outdoors, you’d experience frigid winds blowing across the canals.

There may be a few instances of rain and snow throughout the month. But that shouldn’t deter you.

Pack warm clothes, sweaters, winter coats, and boots. You should also pack thermal underwear, gloves, and a scarf for those evenings. Dress in layers, so you can easily peel off some clothing in warm indoor spaces. 

Activities in January kick off with New Year’s Day. You will find several cafes and restaurants open. You can take a trip to Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House and explore their collections.

Outdoor activities include diving on the beach of Scheveningen with over 10,000. Or you can sit and enjoy the fun from the shorelines. 

National Tulip Day holds on the third Saturday of January. This event brings 200,000 tulips to Amsterdam’s Dam Square. The opening show starts at 1 pm, be sure to arrive on time. 

Other key events in January include: 

  • Amsterdam Light Festival
  • L&B Whisky Weekend Amsterdam. 

February: Great Time for Festivals

February is considerably warmer than January. You can expect fog and occasional frosty winds with an average temperature of 8°C (46.4°F). The month is considerably drier, with less rainfall and shorter days. 

You should pack warm clothes and dress in layers if you visit this month. While the month is shy of sunshine, you can get cozy with the bruin cafes scattered across the city. There are some key events you should consider this month.

The Chinese New Year takes place with a colorful parade. It stretches from Chinatown’s Kuan Yin Shrine Buddhist temple to Dam Square. Accompanying events include fireworks, workshops, tea ceremonies, and dragon dances. 

Amsterdam Salsa Festival is also held in mid-February. Here, you can learn to salsa from different workshops. Or enjoy the performances from some of the world’s best salsa dancers.

Lovers can also explore the city on Valentine’s Day. Book a horse and carriage ride across the cobblestone streets. Or enjoy a romantic dinner in one of the restaurants serving special menus. A canal ride across the scenic waterways is just as exciting.  

Related Read: Best Time to Visit Belgium

March: HISWA Boat Show

The weather in Amsterdam is gradually warming up in March. You can expect a little sunshine with a max temperature of 9°C (48.2°F). The sun sets around 8 pm, so there’s enough time to explore the city. However, cold snaps, rainfall, and snow are considerably at their minimum. 

Plan on packing warm clothing and thermal gear if you intend to visit in March. Events in March include a 3-day techno and house festival, marked by open-air dancing during Easter. 

Be on the lookout for Pink Film Days – the largest LGBTQ film festival in the Netherlands. Pink Film Days includes screenings at the Ketelhuis cinema located in Wetergasfabriek Cultuurpark.

The HISWA Amsterdam Boat Show kicks off in March as well. This expo features a boat cruise, wakeboarding, kitesurfing, windsurfing, and other water activities.

St. Patrick’s Festival is also around the corner on the 17th. The Irish culture comes alive with a strong focus on music, food, and dances. 

Related Read: The Best Time to Visit the Netherlands

April: Tulip Festival

April comes with spring in Amsterdam. With temperatures reaching 12°C (55°F), you can expect sufficient sunshine to explore the city. You can take off your winter jacket and choose a sweater and scarf.

Tulip Festival is celebrated throughout the month. You’d find the colorful and rare tulips in museum gardens, private homes, and public infrastructures.

The International PopArts Festival – a 10-day event – holds across selected outdoor locations in the city. You’d get to see performances from some of the best musicians in the country and abroad. 

Cherry Blossom Festival also marks the return of spring in the city. It’s pretty popular amongst the Japanese community in the city. The locals and tourists can enjoy traditional Japanese food and drinks in a tent. 

King’s Day holds at the end of the month. It’s the most prominent street event of the year. Outdoor parades, entertainment, and fairs are some things to expect. 

May: Liberation Day

Like April, May brings warm weather all over Amsterdam. It is regarded as one of the sunniest months of the year. With temperatures hitting 17°C (62.6°F), you can expect almost 10 hours of sunshine daily. On some days, sundown happens at 10 pm. 

You should pack a light jacket for the evening walks. Shorts, dresses, and short-sleeved shirts are just perfect during the day. 

Notable events in May include Remembrance and Liberation Day. It’s a day to honor soldiers and civilians who fought and lost their lives in WWII. While most of the shops stay open, you can join the commemoration at Dam Square. Queen Maxima Zorreguieta Cerruti will be there to place the wreath. 

Foodies will love the Rolling Kitchens festival. It’s an annual celebration of street food. Hundreds of food trucks and mobile kitchens are scattered across the city and enjoy different meals. 

Other events in May include: 

  • 909 Festival
  • National Mill Day. 

June: Amsterdam Roots Festival

Summer is starting to spread across Amsterdam in June. Pack your summer shirts and shorts before traveling into the city. The average temperature in Amsterdam this month is around 19°C (66.2°F). You can expect some rainfall or chilly winds. So, pack a light jacket or sweater for the evening strolls. 

Special events this month include the Taste of Amsterdam. It’s a 4-day event that hosts some of the best chefs in the city to sample their special meals. Wine tasting, cooking workshops, and kids’ activities are part of the fanfare.

If you love performing arts, keep your eyes peeled for the Holland Festival. It is held at selected locations across the city throughout the month. You will experience music, opera, film, dance, and visual arts like never before.

Other events in the month include: 

  • Open Garden Day.
  • Amsterdam Roots Festival.

July: Music Festival

July is also one of the hottest months of the year in Amsterdam. You can expect temperatures to hit 32°C (89.6°F). You can join the locals to hit the beaches and engage in water sports. While you should expect some rain, it’s light and short-lived. 

Key events include the Over Het IJ Festival. A 10-day event featuring music, dance, and avant-garde theater in Amsterdam-Noord. The Comedytrain International Festival holds in July. Some of the best comedians in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Holland will perform at the Toomler Club. 

July is particularly significant for the LGBTQ community in the city. The annual Amsterdam Gay Pride will span for two weeks. The event has a strong focus on equality and fairness for the community. Side attractions include dance parties, movie screenings, and exhibitions. 

August: Grachtenfestival

August is quite similar to July in terms of bright weather. With temperatures hitting 21°C (69.8°F), you can enjoy warm, sunny days. You can also expect light rainfall on some days. 

Special events include Canal Festival (Grachtenfestival). It’s a 10-day event featuring classical music across scenic canals across the city. The World Cinema Amsterdam brings film critics and enthusiasts to enjoy open-air screenings. Locations include Marie Heinekenplien and Rialto Cinema. 

The Applesap Festival is also held in August. You get a chance to enjoy refreshing drinks with elevating music at Flevopark throughout the month. Other events include: 

  • Amsterdam International Art Fair.
  • Sail Amsterdam.
  • Uitmark.

September: Unseen Photo Fair

September comes with a change of weather in Amsterdam. It’s one of the wettest months of the year. With temperatures reaching 18°C (64.4°F), you get less sunshine than in August. Pack a light jacket if you plan on strolling in the evenings. 

Key events include the Jordaan Festival, a celebration of local history and music in the Jordaan neighborhood. Amsterdam Fringe Festival is also held at selected locations in the city in September. It features local and international performers who deliver electrifying music, comedy, dance, and many more. 

The Open Monuments Day happens this month if you’re an art lover. The doors of private homes, significant buildings, and landmarks will be open to the public. You can explore the country and city’s rich culture free of charge. 

Other events include Unseen Photo Fair. Here, the world’s best photographers come to the city to display their unseen works. 

October: Dance Event

The weather in Amsterdam in October can be pretty irregular. It can be sunny one minute and rainy the next. Winter has almost kicked in with a max temperature of 15°C (59°F). However, you shouldn’t altogether ditch your summer clothes.

Events to keep you hooked this month include Amsterdam Dance Event. It’s a 5-day electronic and music event featuring 2000+ performances. It will be held at 120 selected venues across the city, so be on the lookout. 

The TCS Amsterdam Marathon brings over 40,000 participants to the city. It kicks off at the Olympic Stadium and stretches across several landmarks in the city. 

Other events include the CineKid Festival, the biggest film event for kids. Halloween faithful can stick around for the Amsterdam Spook. It’s an extravaganza of Halloween-themed movies, parties, and dinners. 

November: Rainy Season

November is the wettest month of the year in Amsterdam. Expect heavy rainfall, drizzles, and instances of snow. Temperatures drop to 9°C (48.2°F), so pack warm clothes and waterproof jackets. 

Despite the weather, Amsterdam boasts of several key events. The Amsterdam Light Festival illuminates the canals and city hub with sparkling lights. Join other tourists and locals at the canals – as the event kicks off with a boat parade. 

November also marks the arrival of Sinterklass – the Dutch Santa Claus. Throughout mid-November, boats, and floats glide across the waters in central Amsterdam. You can join others to catch the spectacle from the banks. 

The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam also happens this month. The event brings filmmakers, producers, journalists, and fans worldwide. Workshops, discussions, and lectures are some of its side attractions. 

December: Christmas Markets

It’s going to be cold in December. So, pack your winter coat, scarf, gloves, and thermal underwear. Temperatures linger around 4°C (39.2°F), so it will be frigid all day. 

Special events include Christmas Markets. Dozens of traditional markets open to selling trendy and seasonal delights to customers.

Children in Amsterdam especially look out for Sinterklaas on December 4th. The city also lights up with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebrations. Many museums and restaurants will stay open during this time. 

On New Year’s Eve, several parties would celebrate the incoming year. Be on the lookout for firework displays at the Oosterdok – the city’s central event location. 

Related Read: Best Time To Visit Scandinavia

Best Time to Visit the Museums in Amsterdam

If touring the museums is on your to-do list, visit Amsterdam during winter. The lines are shorter, and you will have more time to explore the facilities. 

If you visit during summer, you may be stuck in lines for over 3 hours. However, if you wait outside before the museums open, you may be inside within the hour.

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