Dreaming about wandering the brickwork lanes and glittering canals of Amsterdam? This capital city draws in millions of visitors each year, but some seasons are far busier than others.
If you’re hoping to score the lowest hotel rates and avoid the crowds, you’ll want to spend a little time studying Amsterdam and its most popular tourist seasons. Doing so is a great way to ensure that your vacation in the Netherlands is relaxing, fulfilling, and tons of fun!
Fortunately, we’ve got the scoop on the best times of the year to visit Amsterdam. No matter your preferences and budget, this guide can help you select the best time of year for your vacation.
We’ll also address the worst times of the year to visit Amsterdam, helping you avoid potentially disastrous weather conditions and massive crowds. We’ll also offer a few helpful tips to consider before visiting Amsterdam. Let’s begin!
Why You Should Visit Amsterdam
Amsterdam (also called the Venice of the North) is the capital city of the Netherlands, and it’s probably best known for its concentric canals, bicycles, and coffee shops.
If you’re eager to enjoy one of the most picturesque cities in Europe, you’ll want to book a trip to Amsterdam right away. Though this city isn’t a tropical paradise, it enjoys mild summertime temperatures ideal for relaxing bike rides or picnics in the park.
But, of course, if you’d rather take it easy and soak up a little sunshine, you can opt for a cruise throughout the city’s many canals. This city is also an excellent destination for those hoping to absorb some European culture.
After all, Amsterdam is home to more than 50 museums and rows upon rows of Dutch Baroque buildings that date back to the 1600s.
Amsterdam also has an exceptionally diverse population of residents that consists of more than 150 distinct nationalities. A few days here could help you connect with people from all around the world.
The nightlife scene here is also a massive draw for visitors, particularly young adults. Registered coffee shops serving cannabis products, nightclubs that stay open until dawn, and a thriving red-light district are often attractive to travelers looking to party down while in Amsterdam.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to book a trip to Amsterdam. But when is the best time to go?
Overall Best Time to Visit Amsterdam
If you’re looking to make the most of your time in Amsterdam, you should visit during April or September. April offers visitors the chance to enjoy relatively rain-free weather, brisk temperatures with average highs of 54℉ (12.2℃), and mild crowds.
It’s also the ideal time of the year to experience Dutch culture, as the Tulip Festival and National Restaurant Week both occur in April. Unlike the winter months, the temperatures are warm enough for bike rides or comfy strolls through the many markets.
Visitors begin to arrive en masse between May and July, so April offers the chance to avoid the largest crowds. You might also want to visit during September.
Temperatures are slightly warmer during this month, so you might only need a light jacket when exploring the city. Additionally, the bulk of the summertime tourists have gone home by September.
However, September does tend to be rainier than April. So if you have your heart set on daily bike rides and trips to the nearby parks, you might want to plan a springtime vacation instead.
Cheapest Time to Visit Amsterdam
Those looking to stick to a tight budget might prefer to visit Amsterdam during November, January, and February. Tourists are comparatively rare during these months due to the cold temperatures, rain, and snow.
There are also relatively few events and holidays during these months, resulting in lower-than-average numbers of visitors. Because fewer travelers are making their way to and from Amsterdam during this time, hotels tend to offer stellar discounts on their rooms.
Airfare also hits its lowest point during these months, offering visitors the chance to get a great deal on airline tickets! Wintertime is also an excellent time to enjoy low-cost or free attractions.
For example, many of the canals freeze over in January. Residents tend to enjoy skating across these frozen channels, and you may be able to rent a pair of ice skates and participate.
Museums are also an excellent budget-friendly diversion during the colder months, and they’re a fantastic place to warm up after a chilly walk along the city’s cobblestone streets.
Least Busy Time to Visit Amsterdam
The least busy time to visit Amsterdam is September through November. Unfortunately, these months are some of the rainiest, and temperatures also tend to drop during this period.
The autumn season in Amsterdam also features a relatively low number of events and holidays. Though the Amsterdam Fringe Festival takes place during the first half of September and the Amsterdam Light Festival starts in November, there aren’t any significant events in October.
Due to the inclement weather and a low number of celebrations, most visitors choose to avoid Amsterdam during September, October, and November.
In response, many hotels throughout the city lower their rates during these months due to the decrease in tourism. So, if you’re looking for the best deal on hotel rooms and want to avoid bustling summertime crowds, you might want to visit Amsterdam during the fall season.
Of course, you may not be able to comfortably enjoy some of the city’s most beloved attractions, including afternoon bike rides and sunbathing in Vondelpark.
But if you don’t mind the cold rainy weather, visiting during this period could help you enjoy a quiet, relaxing vacation in Amsterdam.
Worst Time to Visit Amsterdam
The worst time to visit Amsterdam might be the mid-summer months (June and July) or the winter months (December through February).
After all, crowds are at their thickest and unruliest during the summer season, and hotel prices tend to peak during this time. The winter months can be equally challenging for travelers, as the temperature tends to drop dramatically.
Rain and snowfall are also common during the winter, making for a frigid experience. If you visit Amsterdam in the wintertime, you can expect average highs of 44℉ (6.6℃). Lows during December, January, and February average about 33℉ (0.5℃).
But if you’re willing to deal with cold weather, rain, and snow, you’ll likely enjoy more affordable accommodation and a notable absence of large crowds.
So, if you plan on spending most of your vacation indoors (enjoying the local restaurants, museums, and art galleries), visiting during the autumn or winter seasons might not be a bad idea.
However, if you’re determined to hop on a bicycle and explore the city’s outdoor landmarks and sights, you’ll likely want to visit during April, September, or October. After all, these months often have mild weather and fewer groups of tourists.
Things to Consider
Now you’re familiar with the best and worst times to visit Amsterdam. But knowing when to go isn’t the only thing you should consider when planning your vacation.
So, here are some helpful tips to help you prepare for a fantastic experience in Amsterdam!
- Prepare for any weather. Amsterdam weather has a reputation for being unpredictable. So before you leave home, you’ll want to ensure you’ve packed a variety of clothing to tackle any weather, including waterproof jackets and comfortable shorts. But, of course, if you’re visiting during the winter, you might want to focus on warm clothing instead.
- Consider renting a bicycle. Most of Amsterdam’s 2.5 million some-odd residents use bikes or public transportation to get around the city. So, if you’re eager to explore the canal-lined streets for yourself, you might want to rent a bicycle. Fortunately, most rental bikes only cost about €10 (about $10.50) per day!
- Unlock your phone before you go. When traveling abroad, there’s a good chance that your cellular service will fail. But Amsterdam can be a challenging city to navigate. So, have your service provider unlock your phone before your trip. When your phone is unlocked, you can use a prepaid Dutch SIM card to stay connected while on the go.
- Inform your bank about your upcoming vacation. Traveler’s cheques are no longer a widely accepted form of currency, and converting your cash into Euros can be costly. One of the best ways to pay for things while visiting Amsterdam is to use your debit or credit card. Just inform your bank about your travel destination and dates to ensure your payments aren’t declined.
- Invest in a travel adapter for electronics. You’ll likely want to keep your electronics charged while traveling, but you might be out of luck if you don’t own a travel adapter. That’s because European power outlets differ from those in the United States. So, before you board your plane, be sure that you have a multi-country travel adapter in your bag.
- Study a few Dutch phrases. Most people in Amsterdam are multi-lingual, with English as the second most common language. But learning simple Dutch phrases is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the culture and communicate with locals.
- Don’t forget about national holidays and events. Though the Netherlands only has two national holidays, it often hosts festivals and special events. Before you choose a month to visit, be sure to check if there might be any holidays occurring during your stay. Doing so can help you avoid massive crowds or experience an authentic Dutch celebration.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below you’ll find some of the most frequently asked questions regarding visiting Amsterdam. If you’re preparing for an upcoming vacation to the capital city of the Netherlands, you’ll want to keep reading to learn more!
How much should I budget for a trip to Amsterdam?
A week-long stay in Amsterdam costs between $1,300 and $2,000 per person, not including travel to and from Amsterdam. The average per-night hotel stay in Amsterdam (for a double bed or two twin beds) costs about $147 (€140).
If you’re traveling alone, you might be able to score a single room for about $80 (€77) per night or about $560 per week. An affordable meal might cost you about $18 (€17).
So food costs can quickly add up to about $54 per day, or $378 per week. Attractions, souvenirs, and bicycle rental costs are variable, but it’s best to set aside at least $300 for these.
How many days do you need in Amsterdam?
The ideal number of days you’ll want to spend in Amsterdam varies depending on your preferences and travel plans. However, many visitors find that they can see all the sights and soak up a little of the culture within about four days.
One of the best ways to determine the ideal vacation time is to list the attractions, landmarks, events, and restaurants you’d like to explore while in Amsterdam. You can then transform this list into a rudimentary schedule, giving you an approximate trip duration!
What should I avoid in Amsterdam?
One of the primary reasons people enjoy visiting Amsterdam is that it’s a progressive and passionate city. As a result, there aren’t many social faux pas you’ll want to avoid. But there are a few things to keep in mind when planning a trip to Amsterdam.
Firstly, bicycles are the primary mode of transport in Amsterdam. As such, the cycling lanes can be busy and dangerous to pedestrians.
These lanes are helpfully color coded to make it easier to navigate the city, and they’re typically located between the sidewalk and the road. You’ll want to avoid walking in these lanes, and you’ll also want to take extra care when crossing streets.
It’s also crucial to keep your wits about you while in Amsterdam, especially if you plan on visiting one of the city’s coffee shops. While marijuana consumption is legal inside some coffee shops, imbibing it while on the sidewalk or in a public area is illegal.
It’s also crucial to avoid streetside drug dealers, as these individuals aren’t reputable. In addition, they may sell you illegal, tainted, or even poisoned substances that are incredibly dangerous, so just say no!
Do they speak English in Amsterdam?
Dutch is the primary language spoken in the Netherlands. However, this capital city, Amsterdam, is an international destination. Consequently, residents tend to speak multiple languages. Even better, approximately 90% of Dutch people speak English!
So if you don’t have the time (or interest) to learn Dutch before your vacation, don’t worry—there’s a good chance that the people you meet in Amsterdam will be able to communicate with you in English.
What food is Amsterdam known for?
Amsterdam has a diverse population, and this multi-cultural quality is reflected in the city’s cuisine. There are several staples that locals and visitors tend to enjoy en masse, including:
- Cured herring bites (Haring)
- Deep-fried meatballs (Bitterballen)
- Fluffy mini pancakes (Poffertjes)
- Mashed potato soup with vegetables and butter (Stamppot)
- Sweet fresh-pressed waffles (Stroopwafel)
- Skewered meat covered in sauce (Satay)
- Flat savory pancakes (Pannekoeken)
Amsterdam cuisine is a blend of Nordic, South American, Indonesian, French, and Chinese meals. There’s also a tiny touch of American influence, especially throughout the Centrum borough.
So, What’s the Best Time To Visit Amsterdam?
Amsterdam’s gorgeous historic buildings and city-wide canals are enough to charm any traveler. But when is the best time to visit this thriving Dutch capital city? Generally, the best time to visit Amsterdam is either April or September (springtime or late summer).
Throughout April, there are several national holidays, and rainfall is at its lowest point. But crowds are thinner during September, making for more affordable hotel stays and a more relaxing experience.