Due to its proximity to the North Sea, Amsterdam has an oceanic climate, which typically means warm summers and cool winters. However, some winter days in the capital of the Netherlands can be quite cold and summer days hot and humid. However, by following our guide, you can be assured you will choose the best time to visit Amsterdam.
The warmest month in Amsterdam is usually August, but even then the temperature doesn’t rise over 68 degrees that often. The coldest month is January when the average maximum temperature is around 39 degrees. According to Weather & Climate, November is the wettest month in Amsterdam, so if visiting then, expect rain. In winter, it can occasionally snow in Amsterdam, but if you’re lucky enough to be here when it does the “Venice of the North,” which Amsterdam is called because of its numerous canals, it can seem like you landed on a living Christmas card. And if the canals freeze, you can ice skate all over town.
Late spring and early fall are considered the best times to visit Amsterdam, not only because the weather is still optimal, but the crowds that characterize summer won’t be as intense. Keep in mind that in Amsterdam, summer can see short bursts of heavy rain as well as heat, mixed with literally thousands of tourists. But whatever you plan on doing while in Amsterdam, there is a perfect season in which to do it in this world-class city.
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January and February: Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh Museum is one of Amsterdam’s most visited attractions. In fact, in 2019 2.1 million people visited the museum, according to Statista. Because the Van Gogh Museum is open year-round and is an ideal indoor activity, the best time to see it is off-season, January or February, so as to avoid the long lines and crowds. Remember that more than 20 million people a year visit Amsterdam and even visitors here say there are too many tourists. In January and February, it can be wet, cold and windy, with average highs of just 48 degrees. However, if inclement weather doesn’t bother you, but crowds do, this is the time for you to visit, as the crowds will be nonexistent. You can literally spend the entire day inside at the warm Van Gogh Museum, which has the largest collection of paintings and drawings of Vincent van Gogh in the world. Here you will find some of Van Gogh’s most iconic work, including The Potato Eaters, Sunflowers, The Yellow House and his haunting Self-Portrait.
In Amsterdam, you will also find another one of Europe’s most-visited museums, the Rijksmuseum, which last year had even more visitors than the Van Gogh Museum with 2.67 million. Because this museum attracts so many people, March might be the best time to see it, as March sees the onset of spring and the weather is warming up a bit, but the crowds remain sparse. This museum holds more than 8,000 Dutch art and history objects, including the masterpieces by Rembrandt, Hals and Vermeer and more than 8,000 other works of art in 250 rooms.
April: Keukenhof Tulip Gardens
One of the things the Netherlands is most famous for its tulips and tulip season runs from the end of March until mid-May. However, the best time to see them is in mid-April, particularly at Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, where millions of flower bulbs bloom in spring. Keukenhof, also known as the “Garden of Europe,” is one of the world’s largest flower gardens. Furthermore, Keukenhof, located in the town of Lisse, is a mere 25 miles from Amsterdam and makes for an unforgettable day trip, and fortunately, the weather in April is phenomenal. April in the Amsterdam area is the driest month of the year, is often described as “delightfully pleasant” and the days are longer. April is also the shoulder season for tourism, meaning more visitors are starting to arrive but their numbers will not even come close to those of summer.
May: Canal Cruise
May is definitely one of the best times to visit Amsterdam. Spring and flowers are in full bloom, it is typically one of the sunniest months in Amsterdam, the average temperature is a comfortable 62 degrees and May is right before the high tourist season. All these factors combined also make May the ideal time to take a canal cruise. Amsterdam has an intricate network of canals that has secured them a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In fact, there are more than 160 canals that combined are more than 60 miles long, which makes it easy for you to tour the city peacefully in the comfort of a boat. Cruising the canals enables you to take in Amsterdam’s awe-inspiring architecture that lies along tree-lined waterways. You can opt between cruising in the day when you will be lulled by gentle spring breezes, or in the early evening when the lights of this romantic city come alive.
June is in the peak season of travel to Amsterdam, so you will definitely experience large crowds, but you will also be blessed with blissful mid-60’s temperatures and consecutive sunny days. In June, the days are also longer and it is the start of the summer festival season in Amsterdam, some of which take place at Vondelpark, including music, theatre and dance at its outstanding open-air theatre. Vondelpark, the largest park in Amsterdam at 120 acres, also features tranquil ponds, tree-lined paths, large grass areas, a rose garden, statues and cafes. Vondelpark is the perfect retreat from the tourist hordes and a cool, shady refuge in the middle of the bustling city. Despite the number of visitors, Vondelpark is big enough for you to always find a space of your own. It is also ideal for riding a bike, one of the most popular pastimes in Amsterdam where there are more bikes than permanent residents.
July: Dam Square
By July, the tourists have pretty much taken over the city. So where do you go? Dam Square, the heart of Amsterdam. The average temperature in July will be around 72 degrees, but you might experience the odd heatwave when the temperature can rise above 90 degrees. July is, in fact, the warmest month of the year in Amsterdam, and the perfect time of year to chill out outside in Dam Square. This 13th-century square is one of the most popular places for people to congregate in Amsterdam, both tourists and locals alike, as it is overflowing with cafes, restaurants and bars, most of which have outdoor seating, as well as shops. Dam Square is also home to some of Amsterdam's most historic buildings, such as the Royal Palace, which is the official reception palace of King Willem-Alexander and open to the public. Other must-see sights in Dam Square that are great for beating the heat in July, if it’s hot, include the Gothic New Church (Nieuwe Kerk), which is anything but new as it was built in the 15th century, located next to the Royal Palace; De Bijenkorf, founded in 1870 and today still one of the best department stores in the Netherlands; and world-famous Madame Tussauds wax museum, where you can stand shoulder to shoulder with your favourite celebrities, such as Beyonce, George Clooney, Johnny Depp and more. And in the middle of Dam Square is the National Monument, which is dedicated to Dutch soldiers who died in WWII.
August: Heineken Experience
Like many other Europeans on the Continent, a lot of Dutch people take August off, so some restaurants and bars, and other businesses, will be shut down. However, unlike many southern European cities in August, the weather in Amsterdam most likely will not be unbearably hot and humid, but rather warm with an average high of about 72 degrees. While many of the bars are closed, this is the ideal time to sip a cold Heineken and fully embrace the Heineken Experience at the brewery itself. Heineken, one of the world’s most beloved beers, was founded in Amsterdam in 1864. The Heineken Experience allows you to take an interactive tour through Heineken’s history in its oldest brewery, with a tasting room finale. Visitors who take the tour will learn the brewing process, Heineken’s innovations and the best way to taste and enjoy Heineken beer.
September: Anne Frank House
In September, the crowds in Amsterdam will start to dissipate and the weather begins to become milder, with average highs of 66 degrees. This means lines at Amsterdam’s most visited sights, such as the Anne Frank House, will be shorter than they are in peak season. Amsterdam is the proud home of the Anne Frank House, one of the most historically significant sights in Europe, which is also a museum. For over 2 years Anne and her family, and other Jewish people, lived in the secret annexe of the building, hiding from the Nazis until they were discovered in 1944 and sent to concentration camps. Anne’s original diary, which became an international bestseller, is also on display in the museum. The building is located on a canal called the Prinsengracht. The Anne Frank House is located in Jordaan, Amsterdam’s most popular neighbourhood, which is overflowing with canals, open-air markets, restaurants, boutiques and cafes.
October and November: Rembrandt House Museum and More
In October and November, when the average high will be around 58 and 48 degrees, respectively, most of the people will be gone, so it’s the best time to visit Amsterdam. However, October and November are also some of the wettest months of the year and the best time to go back inside, and the best place to do this is at the cosy Rembrandt House Museum. This house on the Jodenbreestraat in the Jewish Quarter is where Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and his wife lived for almost 20 years. From here Rembrandt found models for his Biblical themes and where he painted the canals and buildings of the area. Today, the house and museum honour the Dutch Master in his former domicile, which has been restored to its 17th-century glory to look like it did in the artist’s day and contains original Rembrandt etchings. In the modern museum wing, you will find exhibitions that delve deeper into Rembrandt’s works, as well as his predecessors and contemporaries. The Rembrandt House Museum also has a gift shop that sells Rembrandt prints, books, brush sets and much more. These months are also good for visiting some of Amsterdam’s other, almost 75, museums, such as the NEMO Science Museum for kids, the Tropical Museum and the Jewish Museum.
December: Christmas Markets and Kerk
If you’re still wondering when to visit Amsterdam, why not December? The city and its canals will be festooned with lights, thanks to the annual Amsterdam Light Festival when Dutch and international artists transform the city into a spectacle of light. You can also take advantage of one of Amsterdam’s magnificent Christmas markets, particularly the one at the Museumplein in front of the Rijksmuseum. Amsterdam will be rather cold in December, with average temperatures between 35 to 44 degrees, and can be rather rainy. However, this just adds to the quintessential Christmas feeling, which is further enhanced at the Museumplein Christmas village, where you will find market stalls full of Christmas goods, festive food, live entertainment and even an ice rink. In keeping with the Christmas spirit, December is also an optimal month to visit one of Amsterdam’s revered and historic churches, such as the Old Church (Oude Kerk), which is the city’s oldest building, founded in 1213; and the New Church (Nieuwe Kerk), the 15th-century church in Dam Square.