Amsterdam isn’t one of those places you imagine walking through like in a vintage Christmas card. It is famous for canals, bicycles, tulips, and museums, snowfalls and wintertime charms are not just Amsterdam-ish things. However, is there any time during the year you can enjoy lovely white snow there? Not really.
It doesn’t often snow in Amsterdam. If it does, it’s usually in December and January. And the snow melts almost immediately after it touches the ground. December is also the darkest month of the year – the sun only shines 40-45 hours. The average temperature in the winter is around 3.5°C.
In Amsterdam the climate is sub-oceanic. As it’s influenced by the North Sea and also the Atlantic Ocean, it has cold winters and quite pleasant summers. In the article, you will find some more info on how often snowfalls are in Amsterdam, as well as average temperatures and weather during the year.
Amsterdam’s Winter Weather
Winter in Amsterdam starts in December and ends in February. Months between December and February are definitely the coldest months here. If you’re lucky, you may see some snow then. A great minus of visiting the city in the winter is that the days are really short – the sun rises around 9 am and the sun usually sets before 5 pm. On average, you can expect around two hours of sunshine per day which might be a bit depressing. For many, staying inside is the only option during Amsterdam’s winter.
Also, because of the strong winds (it’s always so windy in Amsterdam!), a normal winter day of around 4-5°C can make it feel like -5C. Amsterdammers call this ‘gevoelstemperatuur’ which can be translated as ‘feel temperature’. When the winds from the North East are exceptionally strong, it can get extremely cold out there. The average high during the winter season is between 8.4°C and 5.4°C. On average, it rains 6-10 times a month. The table below shows the average high and low temperatures in Amsterdam (the table counts all the months throughout the year).
|Month||Min (°C)||Max (°C)|
The coldest months are January and February and the hottest are July and August. The wettest month is November (on average 90mm of rain).
December in Amsterdam is rather cold, but it’s not the coldest month of the year. You won’t experience freezing temperatures. The average temperature high is 6°C and the average low is 2°C. However, December is one of the rainiest months, it usually rains even 15 times a month so one might say that half of the month is rainy. The days are short, and the city is very cloudy. The only advantage of visiting Amsterdam in December is obviously the magic of the Christmas time. There are also many events held during December. Check, what awaits you in Amsterdam at the end of the year in the article Is Amsterdam Worth Visiting in December?
January is the coldest month in Amsterdam. The average temperature high is 5-6°C and the average low is 0-1°C. The city is much calmer in January than in December, as New Year’s Day celebrations are over. January is one of the least busy times for tourism. The cold might be a bit discouraging but it’s not as rainy as in November and December so staying outside is actually quite pleasant. On average, there are around 8 rainy days during the month so January is considered to be quite a dry month.
February is one the coldest month in Amsterdam but I would actually call it ‘chilly’. Temperatures rarely drop below freezing. The average temperature high is 5-6°C and the average low is 0°C. You will not find much snow on Amsterdam then. February is quite dry, it ‘only’ rains around 10 days in the whole month. The sky is usually cloudy though.
Snowfall in Amsterdam
Snow happens occasionally in Amsterdam. In fact, you need to be quite lucky to see a serious snowfall in the city. Unfortunately, the chance of having a white Christmas is small. This is why snow usually makes Amsterdammers really excited, especially during the Christmas time. As far as I’ve noticed, even if the snow finally gets to Amsterdam, it doesn’t stay long there. It’s actually quite the opposite – the snow just melts away immediately after it touches the ground.
Is Sledging an Option Then?
Sometimes, in January and February, when the soil is colder, there is a chance the snow will stay a bit longer but in general serious sledging is rarely an option in Amsterdam. Personally, I have never been this lucky to go sledging there. Same with skiing and other winter sports. Also, I haven’t seen Amsterdam covered with a thick layer of white wet stuff yet. This has much to do with the city’s location. If there is any snowfall, it comes from the North and East of the country (from the North Sea). And the air from the North and East is usually warmer than air from Eastern and Central Europe.
What About the Rest of the Country?
On average, it snows around 20-30 days per year in the whole country. Usually, it means that the coldest time is coming to an end and the temperature starts rising. The cool air enters a warmer air. Unfortunately, nowadays a ‘snow deck’ isn’t very often in the Netherlands.
Snow deck – it’s called snow deck if half of the scanned area is covered with 1cm of snow (or more) for at least 3 hours.
Holland has snow deck for 24 days a year on average. A serious deck, when there are around 50 days of snow, happens once per 25 years.
When Does It Snow in Amsterdam?
The table below shows the average snow depth in Amsterdam during the year.
|Month||Average Snow Depth (cm)|
Weather stations in Amsterdam report large amounts of snow in early December only. Between November and December the snow is the deepest. The value of 0 in the table means that there is usually no snow or that snow is unreported.
The second table shows the average of snowfall days in Amsterdam throughout the whole year.
|Month||Snowfall days in Amsterdam|
The table is based on data found on the Weather Atlas website.
Snowfall in Amsterdam – Annual Data
It’s not easy to collect such data for Amsterdam, as snow has been rare over past years. In the past, there were years with exciting snow deck but it doesn’t happen anymore. The table below shows how many snowfall days Amsterdammers have enjoyed since 2009 each year. Yearly data includes the time period between November and April.
|Year||Snowfall days in Amsterdam|
|2019 (January and February, 2019)||8|
If we want to consider the number of snowfall days in particular winter months, the following months had the most snowfall days in these years:
- 2009: February – 6 days;
- 2010: January and February – 11 days each;
- 2011: December – 11 days;
- 2012: February – 2 days;
- 2013: February – 11 days;
- 2014: November – 1 day;
- 2015: January – 4 days;
- 2016: February and March – 1 day each;
- 2017: February – 4 days;
- 2018: December and February – 5 days each;
- 2019: January – 6 days.
And the table below shows the exact amount of snow (the highest level during the wintertime) between the years 2009 and 2019. The snowiest years were 2011, 2013 and 2016. On the opposite, no snowfall was registered in 2014.
|Year||Snowfall – the highest amount in cm|
As you can see, we cannot even mention about snow deck in Amsterdam. During these 11 years, the following months brought the highest level of snowfall:
- 2009: February;
- 2010: January;
- 2011: December;
- 2012: February;
- 2013: February;
- 2015: January;
- 2016: February;
- 2017: February;
- 2018: December;
- 2019: January.
The data used in both tables comes from the World Weather Online website.
Visiting Amsterdam in the Winter
Even if the days are short, you can still enjoy wintertime in the city. There are many events and festivals held this time, e.g. Amsterdam’s annual light festival – it makes evening darkness looks just amazing. The festival takes place each year, throughout December and January. I absolutely love all those illuminated art installations! For those who prefer staying inside, there are also famous Amsterdam’s museums. Even if Amsterdam is not freezing in the winter, you should still be prepared if you’re planning to come here for a few days. In order to stay warm and dry you should be equipped with a heavy winter coat, insulated shoes and socks and glover. Umbrella might be helpful, too. If you are planning to visit Amsterdam check our favorite hotels!
If you’re planning to sled, to ski, Amsterdam might not be your best option to spend your winter holidays. It barely snows, Amsterdam never gets a ton of snow and usually, it’s not freezing. Even if it’s snowing for a while, it’s more a bit of the white stuff than a snow deck. However, I think the city is still worth visiting during the winter. The Christmas atmosphere is just lovely here and some winter festivals are amazing. If you are curious about how the Christmas time looks like in Amsterdam, don’t miss out on ‘What to Do for Christmas in Amsterdam?‘.