Amsterdam in December - a city wrapped in twinkling lights and a festive spirit that's contagious! If you're pondering whether to add this Dutch capital to your winter travel list, you're in for a treat. This article is your go-to guide, revealing why this city is a must-visit during the chilly embrace of December and unveiling the top 10 things that will make your trip unforgettable.
Amsterdam in December: why is it worth visiting?
Picture this: cozy canals, historic streets dusted with a light frost, and the warm glow of street lamps reflecting off the water. Amsterdam in December is nothing short of magical. It's a time when the city transforms into a winter wonderland, complete with festive markets, ice rinks, and an undeniable charm that fills the air. The chill in the air is the perfect excuse to hop into one of the city's many cafés for a warm drink, making it an ideal time for those who love to blend exploration with cozy relaxation.
But it's not just the ambiance that makes Amsterdam in December worth the visit. The city's cultural calendar is bustling with events, from mesmerizing light festivals to captivating exhibitions in world-renowned museums. Plus, with fewer tourists compared to the peak seasons, you'll get a more authentic feel of Amsterdam's vibrant life. Ready to dive into the festive cheer and discover what makes Amsterdam in December a bucket-list-worthy destination? Let's unveil the top activities that will make your winter getaway truly special.
More things to do in Amsterdam
Amsterdam in December: TOP-10 things to do
Amsterdam Light Festival
Embark on a magical evening boat tour or stroll along the canals to witness spectacular light installations by artists from around the world, transforming the city into an open-air gallery.
Glide across the ice at the iconic Ice*Amsterdam rink set against the picturesque backdrop of the Rijksmuseum, a quintessential winter experience.
Immerse yourself in the festive spirit at one of Amsterdam's cozy Christmas markets. The Haarlem Christmas Market and the Funky Xmas Market are local favorites for unique gifts and delicious treats.
Avoid the queues and enjoy the tranquility of Amsterdam's top museums, such as the Van Gogh Museum or the Anne Frank House, offering a deep dive into history and art.
Self-Guided Audio Tour
Treasures of the Rijksmuseum: The History of Dutch Art
Warm up with traditional Dutch winter foods like oliebollen (deep-fried sweet dumplings), stamppot (mashed potatoes with vegetables), and erwtensoep (pea soup).
Experience the city from its iconic waterways with a canal cruise, offering a unique perspective of Amsterdam's illuminated bridges and historic houses.
Wander through the charming streets of Jordaan, adorned with Christmas lights and decorations, perfect for those Instagram-worthy shots.
New Year's Eve Fireworks
Join the locals in welcoming the New Year with dazzling fireworks displays, especially along the Amstel River or at the Nieuwmarkt.
Concerts and Performances
Check out the Royal Concertgebouw or other local venues for special December performances, ranging from classical music to modern theater.
Escape the winter chill with a relaxing day at one of Amsterdam's luxurious spas, such as the Spa Zuiver, offering a serene environment to rejuvenate.
Amsterdam in December offers a blend of festive joy, cultural richness, and serene beauty, making it an unparalleled destination for those seeking a memorable winter getaway. From the twinkling lights of the Amsterdam Light Festival to the cozy corners of its cafés, every moment in this city during December promises to be enchanting. So, pack your warmest clothes, and get ready to explore the winter charm of Amsterdam!
When the December chill sets in, Amsterdam's streets come alive with a different kind of warmth, making walking tours a delightful way to soak in the city's festive atmosphere. Here are the top 5 walking tours that'll give you a taste of Amsterdam's winter charm:
1 - Historic City Center Tour
Meander through the cobblestone streets of Amsterdam's historic heart, where tales of the city's Golden Age come to life. This tour is perfect for history buffs wanting to see iconic landmarks like the Royal Palace and the Old Church under the soft winter light.
Discover the picturesque Jordaan, known for its narrow lanes, quaint boutiques, and art galleries. This tour is a feast for the senses, especially with the district's holiday decorations and the aroma of fresh stroopwafels in the air.
3 - Red Light District by Night
Experience the famous Red Light District with a guided night tour. The area's vibrant neon lights and unique history make for an intriguing stroll, offering insights into one of Amsterdam's most talked-about neighborhoods.
Self-Guided Audio Tour
Mystery of the Red Light District – In-App Audio Horror Walk
As evening falls, join a guided walk around the UNESCO-listed Canal Belt to see the city's waterways in all their illuminated glory. It's a romantic and serene way to view the Amsterdam Light Festival's installations reflecting off the canal waters.
5 - Cultural Food Tour
Combine your love for walking and Dutch cuisine with a cultural food tour. Taste your way through local delicacies like herring, bitterballen, and poffertjes, making stops at traditional eateries and learning about the city's culinary heritage.
Amsterdam in December: TOP-5 best kids activities
Amsterdam in December is a wonderland for children, with activities that spark imagination and bring joy to the little ones. Here are the top 5 kid-friendly activities that promise fun for the whole family:
Visit to Sinterklaas
Experience the Dutch holiday tradition by visiting Sinterklaas and his helpers. Check out special events at places like the Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot, where families can meet the jolly old man and enjoy festive activities.
Science Center NEMO
Stimulate young minds at NEMO, the largest science museum in the Netherlands. Its hands-on exhibits and interactive experiments are perfect for curious kids, making learning about science and technology an absolute blast.
Artis Amsterdam Royal Zoo
Even in December, the Artis Zoo is a magical place, with its enchanting holiday decorations and indoor exhibits. The Butterfly Pavilion and the Aquarium offer warm escapes where kids can marvel at exotic creatures.
Winter Wonderland at Rembrandtplein
This festive square transforms into a Winter Wonderland, complete with a charming carousel, ice sculpture displays, and a variety of funfair games, making it a dreamy stop for children.
Children's Cooking Workshop
Let the kids don their chef hats with holiday-themed cooking workshops. Various venues across Amsterdam host these tasty adventures, where children can bake Dutch treats and make their own edible Christmas decorations.
Amsterdam in December is a playground for children, with activities that not only entertain but also educate and inspire. From meeting Sinterklaas to exploring the wonders of science at NEMO, the city is filled with magical experiences that will make your family holiday truly unforgettable.
More things to do in Amsterdam
Weather in Amsterdam in December
Bracing for Amsterdam in December means preparing for the quintessential winter chill, with a picturesque dusting of frost or the occasional snowflake adding to the city's charm. Temperatures hover around a crisp 1°C to 7°C (34°F to 45°F), with the possibility of dipping slightly below freezing during cold snaps. While daylight is shorter, with the sun setting early in the afternoon, the city's festive lights and cozy ambiances make the evenings truly enchanting.
Layering is key when packing for Amsterdam this time of year. Think warm coats, scarves, gloves, and comfortable waterproof footwear, as December can also bring its share of rain and icy winds. But don't let the cold deter you; the brisk weather is perfect for enjoying a hot stroopwafel or warming up in one of the city's many snug cafés after a day of exploration.
Amsterdam in December: 3-day itinerary
Day 1: Dive into Dutch Culture and History
Morning: Start your day with a visit to the Anne Frank House. It's essential to book tickets in advance to avoid long waits. Then, take a leisurely stroll through the Jordaan neighborhood, capturing the essence of Amsterdam's historic charm.
Afternoon: Head to the Museumplein, where you can visit one or two of Amsterdam's most renowned museums, such as the Van Gogh Museum or the Rijksmuseum. After soaking in some art and history, enjoy ice skating at the Ice*Amsterdam rink right in front of the Rijksmuseum.
Evening: Explore the Leidseplein or Rembrandtplein areas for a delightful dinner, followed by a nighttime stroll to see the city's illuminations, especially the Amsterdam Light Festival displays along the canals.
Day 2: Embrace the Festive Spirit
Morning: Begin with a leisurely canal cruise to see Amsterdam from its iconic waterways, offering a unique perspective of the city's architecture and light installations.
Afternoon: Visit one of Amsterdam's Christmas markets, like the one at Museumplein, to indulge in holiday shopping and treats. Then, head to the De Pijp neighborhood for a late lunch and a wander through the Albert Cuyp Market.
Evening: Join a guided walking tour of the Canal Belt or the Red Light District to learn more about these unique areas. Cap off the night with a warm drink in a cozy café or a traditional Dutch pub.
Day 3: Enjoy Leisure and Luxury
Morning: Start with a relaxed breakfast in the Jordaan, followed by a visit to the Westerkerk Tower for panoramic views of the city. If you're traveling with kids, consider a morning at the Science Center NEMO instead.
Afternoon: Treat yourself to a leisurely afternoon at a spa like Spa Zuiver, or if you prefer more exploration, take a short trip to the nearby Zaanse Schans to see the iconic Dutch windmills and traditional crafts.
Evening: For your final night, book a special dinner at one of Amsterdam's Michelin-starred restaurants or unique dining experiences, celebrating the end of a memorable trip.
This 3-day itinerary blends cultural immersion, festive joy, and relaxation, offering a comprehensive experience of Amsterdam in December. Each day brings a new adventure, ensuring your visit is filled with unforgettable moments amidst the city's winter wonderland.
What to wear for a walk around Amsterdam in December?
When you're strolling through the enchanting streets of Amsterdam in December, dressing appropriately is key to enjoying everything the city has to offer, without the chill getting to you. Here's your go-to guide for what to wear:
Layer Up: Start with a thermal base layer to keep your core warm. Add a fleece or wool sweater for insulation, and top it off with a waterproof and windproof outer layer to shield against the unpredictable Dutch weather.
Stay Dry: Waterproof boots are a must, ideally with a good grip for those frosty cobblestone paths. Amsterdam can be quite damp in December, so keeping your feet dry will make your walks much more enjoyable.
Accessorize for Warmth: Don't forget a cozy hat, scarf, and gloves. These essentials not only keep you warm but also add a touch of personal style to your winter attire.
Comfort is Key: Opt for comfortable, warm socks and consider layers that can be easily added or removed as you transition from the chilly outdoors to the warmth of indoor attractions.
Embrace the Umbrella: A compact, sturdy umbrella is your best friend during Amsterdam's December showers. Choose one that can withstand a gusty wind.
Dressing smartly means you can comfortably explore Amsterdam's outdoor marvels and indoor treasures without the weather putting a damper on your adventures.
TOP-5 Tips to visit Amsterdam in December
Visiting Amsterdam in December is a delightful experience, but a few insider tips can make your trip even more magical. Here are the top 5 tips to enhance your Amsterdam adventure:
Book Attractions in Advance
Popular sites like the Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum can have long queues, even in December. Book your tickets online in advance to secure your spot and avoid waiting in the cold.
Embrace the Dutch Cosiness
Known as "gezelligheid" in Dutch, the cozy, convivial spirit of Amsterdam is most palpable in its cafés and pubs. Take time to unwind with a hot chocolate or mulled wine, soaking in the local ambiance.
Choose accommodation in the city center or close to major attractions. This not only saves time but also allows you to experience the city's vibrant life right at your doorstep.
Use Public Transport Wisely
Amsterdam's public transport system is efficient and bike-friendly, but the cold weather might make walking or cycling less appealing. Familiarize yourself with tram routes, which can be a warmer and more scenic way to explore.
Pack for the Weather
As mentioned earlier, the right clothing and accessories are crucial. Ensure your suitcase includes waterproof gear, thermal layers, and comfortable walking shoes to tackle the December weather.