Whether you’re keen to experience the city’s nightlife, go on museum hopping, wander Dam Square, or just enjoy Dutch cuisine, Amsterdam has a way with visitors.
Some seasons are better for exploring the great outdoors; others beg you to focus on indoor activities instead — this is why the best time to visit Amsterdam depends on your expectations for the trip.
With that being said, whatever it is you’ve set your mind on, we can help.
In this guide, you’ll not only understand what each season in Amsterdam has to offer but also learn how to make the most of it, how to save money, when to go if you want to avoid the peak season crowds, and so on.
The Best Time to Visit Amsterdam
The overall best time to visit Amsterdam is in summer (June—August). These months see the best weather Amsterdam has to offer — expect temperatures between 50°F and 70°F.
Also, outdoor activities and festivals are in full swing. Having a drink on the canal terraces is a must, and biking is the most enjoyable. Everything is in bloom and just waiting for visitors to make the most out of the longest days of the year mid-summer.
Popular events around this time include:
- Holland Festival (June-July), both the oldest and largest performing arts festival in the country featuring theatre, music, opera and modern dance, visual arts, and film;
- Taste of Amsterdam (June), a true foodie experience;
- Awakenings Festival (July), an open-air electronic music festival drawing in techno lovers;
- Amsterdam Gay Pride (August), a multiple-day event filled with street parties, and one of the busiest periods of the year in Amsterdam;
- Grachtenfestival (August), which is all about music.
Finally, we encourage you to book your stay in advance if you visit Amsterdam during this time, as this is its busiest season. Also be sure to read our guide on the overall best time to visit Europe (the shoulder seasons)!
Cheapest Time to Visit Amsterdam
If you’re on a budget, yet you’re keen to pay Amsterdam a visit, consider going in anytime from November through mid-December and mid-January through February.
It’s said to be the most affordable period to visit Amsterdam on account of the cheaper accommodation and low-priced plane tickets you can find.
Unfortunately, however, the cheapest time to visit Amsterdam coincides with the “seemingly” worst time to find yourself in the city (at least weather-wise).
For more information, details, and popular events around this time, check out what we share in our section on the worst time to visit Amsterdam below.
Least Busy Time to Visit Amsterdam
Amsterdam is always busy, however, the least busy time to visit it is either in spring (April—May) or in the fall (September—November).
These two seasons are ideal for visitors who want to take advantage of the shorter queues in front of galleries and museums, smoothly secure restaurant reservations, and, in general, enjoy a slightly emptier Amsterdam (although, let’s face it, the city is so popular that it’s always crowded in a way).
Both spring and fall are when you can experience lovely colors and changes in the nature in this city. For instance, spring visitors can enjoy the beauty of the freshly blossomed tulips the city is famous for; while those going to Amsterdam in the fall will love the changing colors.
For the former, head to Amsterdam in the last two weeks in April and the initial two weeks in May, and don’t forget to pay the Keukenhof Flower Garden a visit; for the latter, note that the peak time to watch the leaves is the first week of November.
If you head to Amsterdam in spring, get ready for average lows of 39°F and highs of 61°F. If you end up visiting in the fall, however, expect average temperatures between 39°F and 64°F.
Popular events in spring include:
- National Restaurant Week (April), where you can try different fine dining options;
- King’s Day (April), where people dress in orange and get to join the festivities;
- Tulip Festival (April), the perfect way to welcome the new spring season;
- Liberation Day (May), to commemorate the liberation of the country during World War II.
If you visit Amsterdam in the fall, check out the following events:
- UNESCO World Heritage Weekend (September), a joint initiative between the ten UNESCO World Heritage sites in the country;
- Amsterdam Fringe Festival (September), an artistic mixture of theatre, dance, and performance;
- TCS Amsterdam Marathon (October), a World Athletics Platinum Label Road Race where you can pick among the full marathon, half marathon, or 8K;
- Amsterdam Light Festival (November-January), a true light extravaganza.
Worst Time to Visit Amsterdam
The worst time to head to Amsterdam is in winter (December—March). It’s cold, as the temperatures vary between 39°F and 44°F, the sky is grey, and the vibe can get dreary at times.
Outdoor activities are mostly off the table (although residents bike around the city year-round). But it’s the best time for ice skating and museum hopping.
That said, winters in Amsterdam can be magical if you’re there for the festivities, the Christmas markets, or New Year’s celebration.
If the Christmas markets catch your attention, here are the ones worth checking out in and around Amsterdam: Amsterdam Winter Paradise, Funky Xmas Market, Pure Markt Wintermarkt, The Sustainable Christmas Market, and Lichtjesavond Edam.
Whether you’re looking for some last-minute Christmas gifts or simply wish to soak in the festive atmosphere, these Christmas markets have you covered.
Other interesting events are:
- Valhalla Festival (December), a cirque animale featuring electronic music such as deep house and techno mix combined with acrobatics, clowning, freak, and peep shows;
- New Year’s Dive (January), a yearly Dutch tradition of jumping into the North Sea on the 1st of January – are you brave enough to join the Dutch?;
- New Year’s Dance (January), a party tradition continuing New Year’s celebrations;
- Tulpendag (January), a celebration preceding the tulip season, with thousands of tulip displays along the Dam;
- Amsterdam International Fashion Week (January), the place to be if you’re a fashion enthusiast.
Things to Consider
Here are some extra travel tips to help you organize your trip to Amsterdam even better:
- Although Dutch is the official language, almost everyone speaks English.
- The country’s official currency is the Euro.
- Expect any type of weather — with its bad weather reputation, Amsterdam can be more unpredictable than you may initially realize. It rains more than 200 days in the year, so chances are you’ll experience wet weather at some point during your stay. Make sure you pack clothes for any type of weather regardless of which season you’re visiting.
- Purchase The I Amsterdam City Card and save big. Pre-purchase tickets if possible, especially for popular museums or art galleries.
- Beware of pickpocekts.
- Prostitution is legal, and the Red Light District is the area where you can come across prostitutes standing behind glass windows. Note that taking photos is not allowed — not only is it considered disrespectful, but it may also get you in trouble with the authorities.
- If you want to eat out, yet want to go easy on your wallet, don’t just go to restaurants — check out street food sellers and food trucks instead. Some even have tastier food than most restaurants, and are locals’ favorites.
- If you rent a bike, make sure to lock it twice — most rental bikes come with two locks, as stealing bikes is a big problem in the city. Also, bikers dominate the city, so avoid getting in their lane — tourists struggle with this, and accidents are more than common.
- We suggest buying the OV-chipkaart for public transport — it’s easily reloadable and much more practical than single tickets.
- It’s fine to haggle at flea markets.
- If you wish to bring tulip bulbs back home, you’ll need an official certificate stating “To the Plant Protection Service of the United States and Canada.”
- Parking in the city costs a fortune, so if you’re driving, consider leaving your car outside the city center to save some money.
- Get travel insurance before your trip.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many days in Amsterdam is enough?
In general, people spend between two and four days in Amsterdam to see most major attractions, sample Dutch dishes, and enjoy the city. If you plan on taking day trips, however, make sure to stay longer.
How much should I budget for Amsterdam?
If you go on a three-day trip to Amsterdam, you’ll need $220 if you’re going on your own, $2070 if you’re going as a couple, and $2680 if you’re traveling as a family of four. Hotel prices in the city center range between $370 and $950 (the average being $475 per night).
It’s recommended that you budget $135 per day per person for eating out and transportation.
Finally, keep in mind that your expenses will vary depending on the accommodation you book, the length of your stay, and in general, how you spend your money once there. The above-mentioned budget figures come from previous visitors’ experiences and are only here to help you get a general understanding of your potential expenses.
Do you tip in Amsterdam?
While there’s no official rule that says you should leave a tip, it’s recommended that you do leave a small tip (5-10% of the entire bill) if you’re happy with the service. If the service was somewhat average, feel free to round up the bill.
Do you need cash in Amsterdam or a card?
We advise you to bring both, however, considering that The Netherlands is a really modern country, you can pretty much pay using your card everywhere. Many people also pay with their smartphones through Google Wallet, NFC, or Apple Pay. Tikkie is a pretty popular payment app as well.
Can you do a day trip from Amsterdam to Paris?
Yes, it’s possible to do a day trip from Amsterdam to Paris. It’s around three hours by train. That said, although it’s physically manageable to reach Paris, you won’t be able to experience the city in a single day. As it’s a huge city, Paris visitors can easily stay for an entire week and have something different to do each day.
When Will You Visit Amsterdam?
|👍 Best Time to Visit||June to August|
|💲 Cheapest Time to Visit||November through Mid-December and Mid-January through February|
|🗓️ Least Busy Time to Visit||September to November|
|👎 Worst Time to Visit||December to March|
Ultimately, Amsterdam is a city one can never get tired of — if you’ve already visited, you know what we’re talking about; if not, you’re in for a wild Dutch ride. Happy travels!