Skate the lakes, canals and ice rinks
When the cold has lasted long enough for the ice to harden, the Dutch take to the frozen waters and enjoy a season of skating. And if you’re here over the winter, you should join them. There are plenty of places to get on the ice, and safe areas are often announced on the news. But unless you’re in one of the handful of serviced ice rinks that pop up in the winter, it’s best to follow the locals’ lead and only skate in the places they are. Keep in mind that renting skates is often extremely difficult, so you might want to bring yours along or invest in a pair.
See the Amsterdam Light Festival
You have not seen night-time Amsterdam until you’ve seen it during the Amsterdam Light Festival
. The festival is one of the highlights of the winter season, and includes beautiful light installations across the canals as well as an open neon art exhibition. The best way to enjoy these is to book a canal cruise, but you could also just walk the streets and stare at the stunning lights.
Spend the holidays in the markets
Christmas is a big deal in Amsterdam; streets and buildings light up, decorations appear everywhere and a great big Christmas tree pops up in Dam Square
. The holiday season has a packed cultural schedule, but if you’d rather spend your day exploring the streets, then the Christmas markets
should be your first destination. There are enough gifts, goodies and bakes to kick the Grinch out of anyone. And if you’re lucky,might even catch some snow, too.
Take in the winter culture season
For those who feel that winter is best appreciated through the window of a toasty room, you’ll be glad to hear that the season has some of the most anticipated cultural events of the year. Christmas time in particular boasts amazing operas, ballets and other events – all of which you can discover in the I amsterdam cultural agenda
. And don’t forget the city’s many museums and exhibitions
, all guaranteed to both inspire you and keep you warm.
Sample true Dutch cuisine
The Dutch love the summer sun, but with that season being as fleeting as it is, locals have learned to thrive in the winter. You’ll notice this when you try Dutch cuisine: warm, hearty meals you can slow-cook, and heavy, deliciously sweet bakes that are easily worth their weight in calories. We have a few suggestions
on where you should start, but you could just as easily walk into any brown café
and order the most complex-sounding food on the menu. As the Dutch say: eet smakelijk