Are you hesitant about visiting Amsterdam during the winter-time? Don’t be! Despite the cold, there is plenty to do and see. I visited Amsterdam in the beginning of January, and had a blast! I must admit, I did have a pretty good local tour guide, but nevertheless, you won’t have to deal with crazy tourist lines or crowded streets. Still not convinced? Well, I have some recommendations for you!
Take in the impressive sites of the Royal Palace, the New Church (15th century church despite its name), the Beehive ( shopping center), and the Amsterdam National Monument (an obelisk in memory of World War II soldiers) from the busy center of Amsterdam. Feed the pigeons…. if you dare.
Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt)
Enjoy Amsterdam’s famous floating flower market. It is the perfect place to take a scenic stroll or find some souvenirs. If you can’t take seeds or flower bulbs back home with you, no worries! The souvenir shops at the flower market sell key-chains, post cards, tulip and clog-themed souvenirs, etc. You can also try a variety of Dutch cheeses!
Amsterdam Light Festival (Seasonal)
The Amsterdam Light Festival was the highlight of my trip (pun intended). If you are visiting Amsterdam between the beginning of December and the end of January, the Light Festival is a must-see! Artists create beautiful light-up pieces to display around the canals of Amsterdam . You can purchase a walking map online for this 6.5 km route. The virtual map gives you details about each artist and their work. Start the route at any point in the map! Just make sure you give yourself enough time, as the lights shut off at 11 o’clock and the walk takes around two hours to complete.
Tuschinski Movie Theater
Cold got you down? Warm up by seeing a movie at the Tuschkinski theater, dating back to 1919. The Tuschinski has quite an interesting history as its name and ownership changed during the Nazi-occupation. During this time, a British and Dutch Flag were flown from the theatre window as an act of resistance. The founders, Tuschinski and Gerschtanowitz (his brother-in-law) were sent to Aushwitz where they were killed. It was later restored by family members who had survived the war. In 1967, the theater was declared a national monument due to its blended architectural style. Nowadays, the lamp-lit, love seat-laden theaters provide a comfy cozy movie-watching experience inside a beautiful building with rich history.
Channel your inner-child and let your competitive side out at the Ton-Ton club. With two locations (Centre & Westergras), this is the perfect date-night spot. At this arcade-bar, you can compete in classic games like Mario Kart, Pac-Man, Dance Dance Revolution, air hockey, pinball, and more. Take a break from the games and enjoy ramen, burgers, boozy milkshakes, and other childhood favorites with a grown-up twist.
The Cradam, which looks like an old church, was actually once a pumping station, developed during Europe’s second Industrial Revolution, to provide fresh drinking water. In 1940, the pumping station went electric, and the engine room (now the restaurant part of the building) became well-known in Europe. Many visitors traveled to see it each year. Now, a cafe-restaurant, you can stop in to try traditional Dutch drinks and snacks or treat yourself to a meal.
Fabrique des Lumières
When researching Amsterdam, I knew I must visit this place, and for good reason! Walk around and enjoy the wall to wall projections of famous artwork or sit on the floor, and let the art and music engulf you. I went specifically to see the Gustav Klimt, ‘Gold in Motion’ exhibit, but I was even more impressed by the second act from fellow Austrian artist, Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Following the show, we wandered into the adjacent rooms to see video art creations, “Memories” and “Journey.”
Obviously, the Rijksmuseum makes the list. See famous paintings such as Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, one of Van-Gogh’s self portraits, and of course, the crowning-jewel, Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. (Fun fact: There is a secret escape hatch below the painting designed to evacuate The Night Watch in case of emergency). In 2022, the museum began a restoration of this 400 year old painting which is still going on today. However, it remains on display. When we visited, the museum had a special exhibit about Clara the Indian rhino who rose to fame in the mid-18th century as the first ever rhinoceros in Europe. Imagine the shock the European people must have had seeing a rhino for the first time!
Anne Frank House and museum
Expand your knowledge on the devastating and inspiring story of Anne Frank and those who lived with her in the secret annex. Learn more about WWII, the Nazi occupation, and read excerpts from Anne’s diaries. I recommend visiting the Anne Frank House at night to avoid crowds. We went on a Friday night, and there was plenty of room to walk around, read everything, and take in the environment. I definitely think this is a place that is better observed with less people around.
Coffee-shops are not actually “Coffee-shops” in Amsterdam… if you know what I mean. If you are into the greener-side of life, Boerejongens is the place for you. It may be lesser known than the famous, Bull Dog Coffee shop, but according to my local guide, this place is where it’s at 😉
Still not convinced Amsterdam in the winter-time is for you? That’s alright… less lines for me 🙂 I have heard Amsterdam is quite beautiful in the spring as well, especially when the tulips are in full bloom. Good thing most of these attractions can be enjoyed in all seasons.
Un abrazo fuerte,
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