Amsterdam is a vibrant city with a gorgeous historic center, year-round flower markets, delectable cuisine, annual festivals, and lots of fun. There’s something in Amsterdam for everyone, whether you’re going on a romantic getaway, having a bachelorette party, or wanting to learn about art, history, and culture.
The city offers so much to do, whether you’re looking for some risque fun in the Red Light District, a thrilling culinary experience, or the sight of some of the most gorgeous tulips you’ve ever seen. Whatever your reason for visiting Amsterdam, you will have an incredible time.
But when is the best time to visit Amsterdam? Whether you want to plan a budget-friendly trip, avoid cold Amsterdam weather, bypass throngs of tourists, or experience one of the popular summer concerts, we’ve got it all laid out for you. Every season has pros and cons, but hopefully, our guide will help you decide the best time to go to Amsterdam!
The Best Time to Go to Amsterdam – A Month-by-Month & Seasonal Breakdown
January to March: Low Season
January, February, and March are the low season, meaning fewer tourists during these winter months. These are the coldest months in Amsterdam, often snowing, making thermal underwear and snow boots necessary. The snowy nights blanket the ground giving tourists the option of snowball fights.
January and February are cold and dark, but it is the cheapest time to visit Amsterdam. You can often score deals on flights and hotels during this time. The best deals are usually booked in January for February travel.
If the weather is cold enough and the canals freeze, you’ll see residents ice skating along the canals instead of boats. If you don’t want to join in on the ice skating fun, you can visit one of the many world-class museums, like the Van Gogh Museum or the MOCO Museum (one word: Banksy).
There aren’t many large events in January, giving tourists extra space and shorter lines around town. However, there are a few notable items of interest in these winter months.
The Amsterdam Light Festival begins in December and continues through most of January. This popular winter event is a free art installation involving light in Amsterdam’s city center. Every evening the lights are turned on at 5 pm for free viewing. This 1.5-hour bike tour is one of the most fun (yet chilly) ways to see the lights!
The start of Amsterdam’s tulip season begins on the third Saturday in January, which is National Tulip Day. Amsterdam’s Dam Square is overflowing with tulips, specially designed to make a giant garden. This tulip garden is open to the public for free flower picking!
Pros of visiting Amsterdam in January:
- Enjoy the Amsterdam Light Festival
- National Tulip Day starts the tulip season
- There are cheaper accommodations and airfare
- Attractions are less crowded
The Chinese New Year parade from Chinatown to Dam Square happens sometime between late January to early-February (on the second new moon after the winter solstice). The mighty dragons and lions represented in the parade are believed to scare away any evil spirits. It’s a fun experience with fireworks, food, and music.
While February is fairly dark and cold, it’s a great time to visit Amsterdam with great deals on hotel prices and the ability to attend indoor attractions like the Icebar Amsterdam (although it’s cold in there, too!) or the very-Instagrammable Upside Down Museum. Or, bring out your inner child with a trip to WONDR, with a pool of marshmallows, giant teddy bears, and karaoke.
It’s also a great time to relax in one of Amsterdam’s brown cafes and chill. There can be snow like I’ve shown above, but don’t let the pictures fool you, the snow here last maybe a day or two. The photo above the snow was basically gone the same day.
Pros of visiting Amsterdam in February:
- Enjoy the Chinese New Year Parade
- Fewer tourists, meaning shorter lines at attractions
- Cheapest time to visit Amsterdam
See Related: 2 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary
March to May: Shoulder Season
Mid-March begins what is considered shoulder season, which means the weather is often unpredictable. March can bring cold snaps and light rain, often requiring a light jacket.
Around mid-March, visitors to Amsterdam will have the opportunity to visit the Cherry Blossom Festival. These blooming trees signify the beginning of spring (along with blooming tulips), although the cherry blossoms usually only last until mid-April.
Despite the weather, the spring tulip season begins in late March with the opening of the Keukenhof garden, giving the city a bit of brightness, although a bit chilly. This guided tour and a skip-the-line ticket at Keukenhof Garden is the way to go! This gorgeous garden is open until mid-May and is just one of over 85 Tulip Festival locations in Amsterdam.
Also held in March is Open Tower Day, where visitors can go inside buildings (often historic and modern towers) usually closed to the public. Previous towers on display include De Bijenkorf, UP Office Building, and Blue Amsterdam.
One of the best ways to experience fine dining in Amsterdam is to visit during Restaurant Week in March. This special week happens twice a year, allowing guests to dine at some of the best restaurants in Amsterdam for a fraction of the usual cost (among them Restaurant Le Garage and Brasserie La Camelia). Don’t fret, however, as plenty of fantastic walking tours give you a taste of Dutch cuisine (like this small group foodie tour in the Jordaan District).
Pros of visiting Amsterdam in March:
- Enjoy the beautiful trees at the Cherry Blossom Festival
- Tulip Festival begins
- Visit many historical sites on Open Tower Day
- Dine at fine-dining restaurants during Restaurant Week
- Accommodations are still less expensive than high season
April brings higher temperatures, and the tulips are in full bloom, so it’s a great time to visit Amsterdam! April is also the perfect time to visit flower markets like the popular Bloemenmarkt, with colorful blooms everywhere. It’s relatively rain-free in April, but the average temperature is still in the 50s.
Young people often flock to Amsterdam for the three-day music festival DGTL which takes place at NDSM Docklands and the ever-popular Awakenings at Gashouder.
One of April’s most significant celebrations is King’s Day, where visitors and locals celebrate the King by wearing orange, eating exotic food, and drinking beer. The festival celebrates King Willem-Alexander’s birthday on April 27th.
If you want to visit Amsterdam when the tulips peak, you’ll want to see during the last two weeks of April and the first two weeks of May. Just know that because of the increase in tourism during this time, prices for flights and hotels tend to increase.
Pros of visiting Amsterdam in April:
- Mild weather
- Tulips are in full bloom
- Enjoy King’s Day celebrations
- Listen to electronic music at the DGTL Music Festival
See Related: Best Day Trips from Amsterdam, Netherlands
The lines at restaurants, museums, and local attractions get noticeably longer in May, with mild weather, the height of the beautiful tulips in tulip season, Remembrance and Liberation Day, and National Mill Day.
May is the last month of the Tulip Festival, with most locations across Amsterdam closing in mid to late May. As you can imagine, May brings many tourists to see the tulips before they’re gone.
Remembrance Day, held on May 4th every year, is when Dutch citizens pay their respects to the fallen soldiers of World War II and other military conflicts. The following day May 5th, is a grand party celebrating the country’s freedom from Nazi occupation. This small group tour to National Memorial Camp Vught is one of many ways to reflect and remember the many Jewish lives lost during WWII.
The second weekend in May is National Mill Day, an opportunity to climb inside watermills and windmills! Almost all Dutch windmills operate on this holiday, with roughly 1,000 open to the public! If you can’t make it on National Mill Day, there are plenty of other opportunities, like this 3-hour guided tour of the Zaanse Schans Windmills.
Pros of visiting Amsterdam in May:
- Remembrance Day and Liberation Day
- Final month of the Tulip Festival
- Explore the windmills on National Mill Day
- Mild temperatures
See Related: Best Hostels in Amsterdam
June to August: High Season
June begins the high season in Amsterdam, with sunny skies, long lines, and large crowds. With average highs in the upper 60s and low 70s during summer, it is a perfect time to visit Amsterdam! While the weather is warmer, it can be chilly in the evenings. So, pack a light rain jacket for any unexpected drizzle and a little warmth.
With the fantastic weather in the summer months, it’s no surprise that tourism is at an all-time high. Booking your accommodations early is important, but you will likely pay a premium.
Because it’s the peak time to visit, it’s also important to book time slots at popular attractions at least six weeks prior, including the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum (reserve a timeslot here to skip the line and enjoy a guided tour), and the Anne Frank House. It’s also a good idea to arrive early at local attractions during this high season. (Note: booking a private tour of the Van Gogh is recommended during peak times!)
June is the month for outdoor summer events, including the Holland Festival, Open Garden Days, and the Roots Festival. These open-air festivals and events draw huge crowds to the city. With tourism in full swing, you can expect thick crowds wherever you go.
The Open Air Theater at the Vondelpark opens in June with performances ranging from pop performers to children’s acts. This outdoor theater has performances every weekend during the summer.
The Holland Festival is a June staple as the Netherlands’ largest (and oldest) performing arts festival. The festival roster includes film, visual arts, architecture, modern dance, opera, theater, and music. Performances occur across town at various venues, such as the Westergas factory, Concertgebouw, the opera, and the city theater.
In mid-June is Open Garden Days, a chance to visit some of the private gardens of Amsterdam’s canal homes. You can see over 30 canal house gardens during this special weekend!
The Roots Festival occurs at the end of June (sometimes into the beginning of July), which draws locals and tourists alike. This multidisciplinary festival is more than just music; it includes dance, circus, theater, and art. Its goal is to raise awareness through multiple forms of storytelling.
Pros of visiting Amsterdam in June:
- Perfect weather
- See the private gardens of canal homes on Open Garden Days
- Relish in the music and dance at the Roots Festival
See Related: Non-Touristy Things to do in Amsterdam: Top Hidden Gems
July brings sunny skies, warm weather, and plenty of outdoor events to Amsterdam. It’s the best time to visit Amsterdam if you don’t mind crowds. However, there are a lot of outdoor events, such as the Awakenings Festival, the Over het IJ Festival, and the Red Light Jazz Festival.
The Awakenings Festival, an electronic music festival, draws locals and tourists. This July music festival is outdoors and very techno-heavy. July also brings the Over het IJ Festival, a ten-day art festival spread across various locations in Amsterdam, including the NDSM wharf, venues in Amsterdam North, and on the banks of the IJ.
Jazz lovers flock to Amsterdam for the Red Light Jazz Festival, which takes place in various venues in the Red Light District. The area has a rich jazz history, beginning in the 1930s with Cafe Casablanca as the “mecca for jazz lovers.” This three-day festival is held in the summer months, with 2023 dates to be announced soon.
While the weather is gorgeous in July, it’s a great time to take a canal tour, enjoy the sights around town, and be outdoors. The young and hip may enjoy the Amsterdam Canal Booze Boat tour, but those preferring a more upscale boat tour would enjoy this guided Luxury Boat Tour.
Pros of visiting Amsterdam in July:
- Perfect weather
- Enjoy music festivals like the Red Light Jazz Festival and the Awakenings Festival
- Appreciate art at the Over het IJ Festival
August is the final month in the high season, with more events this month than in the rest of the year. Because Amsterdam weather is often milder than other European capitals, tourists flock to the Dutch capital to avoid the scorching heat.
Key events include the Dekmantel festival, Uitmark, Pride Amsterdam, Grachtenfestival, and the Amsterdam International Art Fair. There is no shortage of fun in August!
The Dekmantel festival has been a part of the Amsterdam music scene for 9 years, showcasing electronic and techno music. While the Awakenings Festival brings larger crowds, the also-popular Dekmantel festival is often the favorite for DJs. There is also a 10-day classical music festival Grachtenfestival on the city’s canals in August.
Uitmarkt is a chance to experience concerts, theater performances, exhibitions, and musicals. It highlights what’s to come in the next cultural season. While every year is different, you can count on the most important cultural centers opening their doors, street performances, and more.
If you visit Amsterdam in early August, you can’t miss Amsterdam Pride. This city-wide festival attracts hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists every August.
Pride Amsterdam celebrates LGBTQIA+, and is a fun time for everyone. If you have time, this guided Gay Bar Pub Crawl is a hit! Art lovers will appreciate the Amsterdam International Art Fair, with over 150 exhibitors from around the world! This August art show is for art connoisseurs, collectors, or art lovers.
While you can spend your days visiting these festivals and events, you can also take one of the many tours around Amsterdam to learn about the city’s rich history. This City Canal Cruise lets you see the city’s sights from a boat!
Pros of visiting Amsterdam in August:
- Final month of perfect weather
- Enjoy the music at the Dekmantel festival or Uitmarkt
- Appreciate art at the Amsterdam International Art Fair
- Attend Pride Amsterdam with other LGBTQIA+ people and allies
See Related: Best Cities in the Netherlands to Visit
September to October: Shoulder Season
September is one of the most popular months to visit Amsterdam, with fewer crowds and shorter lines at many museums and local attractions. Many people say that September is the best time to visit! However, there are sometimes brief showers, so bring a light rain jacket, like these options from Patagonia.
One major benefit to traveling in September – you can often get more reasonably-priced accommodations than in the peak season of the summer months.
Open Monument Day is in mid-September when visitors can freely explore about 4,000 historical buildings across the Netherlands. Many of these historical monuments also have special exhibitions or presentations during this time.
Every September, the city also puts on its famous street party, the Jordaan Festival. This event takes place in the fashionable Jordaan District with traditional Dutch music and fun.
While the three-day festival is more popular with residents, anyone is welcome. If you miss the festival, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the area, including this awesome food tour in Jordaan.
If you’re not feeling like large crowds, visit the windmills in Zaanse Schans on a guided e-bike tour or learn more about Anne Frank’s legacy with this Anne Frank and World War II Walking Tour.
Pros of visiting Amsterdam in September:
- You may still encounter mild weather
- Visit historical monuments for free on Open Monument Day
- Sing along with the Dutch music at the Jordaan Festival
October is a fantastic time to visit Amsterdam, as long as you don’t mind rain showers and some cooler weather. However, you may find that the cooler and wetter Amsterdam weather is worth the lower prices on accommodations and airfare! You’ll also find fewer crowds at popular attractions and restaurants, a major plus for many travelers.
If you travel to Amsterdam in October, you’ll find the leaves changing color, providing a beautiful backdrop along the canal. You can also visit Vondelpark, the largest park in Amsterdam, to enjoy the beautiful trees along the walking trails and bike paths.
If it’s not raining, you can enjoy a bike ride through the park! This guided bike tour through Vondelpark is an awesome way to learn about Amsterdam’s history!
The rainy weather often makes tourists head indoors, whether you want to stop at a traditional brown cafe for a dark beer or a coffee shop for a Latte and something a little stronger (note: it’s legal for coffee shops to sell marijuana in Amsterdam). If your curiosity is piqued, this Coffee Shop Tour in the Red Light District is a fantastic time (whether you choose to partake or not).
Because there are fewer tourists, it’s the best time to head to the Rijksmuseum, where you can see Rembrandt’s Night Watch and other masterpieces. Amsterdam offers many world-class museums, including the Van Gogh Museum, Willet-Holthuysen Museum, and the Rembrandt House Museum. Buying tickets in advance is always a good idea, even during the slower months.
One of the more unique things to do in October is to visit the hofjes of Amsterdam. These secret and obscure courtyards are scattered throughout the city. With the fall foliage at play, the courtyards are just beautiful! If the weather is nice, this 3-hour bike tour will show you all of Amsterdam’s hidden gems and courtyards!
While Halloween is not an official Dutch holiday, many people celebrate it just the same, with costumes, parties, and even ghost hunting. You can also do fun things like visit the Cat Cafe (I mean, cats are a witch’s best friend!), play an interactive spooky game on your phone listening to the haunted stories of Amsterdam, or take a moonlit walk down Prinsengracht.
Pros of visiting Amsterdam in October:
- Weather is cooler
- Beautiful fall leaves are changing color
- Accommodations and airfare are much less than in the summer months
- Halloween activities across the city
- Museums are much less crowded
See Related: Tips for Riding a Bike in Amsterdam
November and December: Low Season
November is one of the best times to visit Amsterdam if you’re looking for budget-friendly airfare and accommodations. While it’s the beginning of the colder months, many indoor attractions will keep you warm and cozy. Dark and freezing days can make November fairly unpleasant, but if you’re willing to brave the cold, this is a great time to visit.
While you may not think of taking a cruise when it’s cold, there are many boats that are geared for cold weather. Seeing the sights from the canals of Amsterdam is a beautiful experience, especially when the Amsterdam Light Festival begins.
It’s also the beginning of the festive season, with St. Nickolas’ arrival by boat marking the start of the Christmas season. Sinterklaas travels to Amsterdam from his home in Spain in mid-November, bringing treats and presents for the Dutch children. The next day there is usually a parade through the city.
You can also take a guided tour of the Heineken Factory in Amsterdam to learn the secrets of this world-famous brand (and enjoy a pint or two while you’re there). If you want to experience three local breweries, this Craft Beer & Brewery Tour will be right up your alley!
November is also home to PAN Amsterdam, the premier art and antique show. You can find everything from antiques to contemporary works of art here. The fair attracts roughly 50,000 visitors annually.
Pros of visiting Amsterdam in November:
- Amsterdam Light Festival begins
- City has a cozy (gezelling) atmosphere
- Watch for Saint Nickolas’ arrival at Sinterklaas Intocht
- Great time to score deals on hotel rooms and airfare
- Shorter lines and fewer crowds
- Shop for antiques and other works of art at PAN Amsterdam
While December is a cold month in Amsterdam, it doesn’t usually snow. As long as you’re okay with brisk and dreary weather (usually in the 30s), you’ll find December a great time to travel!
With the Christmas holidays approaching, there are many Christmas markets to enjoy, such as the Funky Xmas Market, Pure Market Winter Market, and Ice Village. These markets are the perfect place to shop for presents but also warm up with mulled wine (glühwein) and Dutch doughnuts (oliebollen). If you don’t know where to start, this private and customized Christmas tour will show your group all of the city’s best Christmas events!
The Amsterdam Light Festival is all over town, and you can take a guided tour of all the lights or walk around to see how many installations you can spot.
Kids and adults will love ice skating at Rembrandtplein since it’s not cold enough in December to go ice skating on the canals (that often happens in February!). Then enjoy festive Dutch treats, such as a windmill cookie (speculaas) or fruit bread (kerstol).
Families will also love the Christmas Tree lighting in Dam Square with the Royal Palace as a backdrop. New Year’s Eve is also a fun tradition with celebrations across town, including Nieuwmarkt, Rembrandtplein, Dam Square, and Leidseplein.
Pros of visiting Amsterdam in December:
- Budget-friendly accommodations and airfare
- Few crowds at the museums and other attractions
- Beautiful scenery with twinkling lights at the Amsterdam Light Festival
- Shopping at the Amsterdam Christmas markets
- New Year’s Eve celebrations
- Famous Buildings in Amsterdam to Visit
- How Many Days Do You Need in Amsterdam?
- Where to Stay in Amsterdam: Best Areas & Places to Stay
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