Little ginger houses covered by snow and beautiful canals. Christmas markets, Christmas carols. It sounds like a dream. That’s how the Netherlands looks during these short winter days. But, is Amsterdam Worth Visiting in December?
Amsterdam is definitely worth visiting in December. There are lights and Christmas decorations everywhere. There are no crowds, less waiting in the lines and lower prices of accommodation. December is a time of Amsterdam Light Festival, Oliebollen, and Gluhwijn.
In this article, I will give a more in-depth overview of how Amsterdam looks in December and if it’s worth visiting. I will share with you my favorite things that I like to do, festivals which take place in Amsterdam. Is It Expensive to visit Amsterdam in December? Is There a Christmas market in Amsterdam? You will learn that and much more in this article, so stay tuned!
Things To Do in Amsterdam in December
Warm Up With Jenever
Jenever is a Dutch Gin, formerly sold in pharmacies as a medicine. In Wynand Fockink (my favorite Gin bar in Amsterdam) you can try a wide range of liquors. I can bet that they have alcohols you’ve never tried in your life before. This place is truly unique. Sometimes it can be crowdy but December is a perfect time to go there. You can expect fewer crowds and the warming-up shot is a great addition to the winter walk around the city. You can find Wynand Fickink on the Pijlsteeg, an alley behind the National Monument, just next to the Dam Square.
This tavern is opened since 1679 and still, after that long time, they follow traditional craft methods. They serve over 70 different kinds of liquors and jenevers. I recommend you to try a mint liquor and an apple pie liquor 🙂 They will also teach you their traditional method of drinking, it’s quite funny, but let’s keep this as a secret, so you have the motivation to go there! 🙂
Wynand Fockink is opened daily from 2 pm to 9 pm.
Anne Frank Museum
Anne Frank Museum is probably the most popular Amsterdam attraction. For sure it’s the most difficult to get tickets. These winter months give you a chance to see that holocaust memorial. If you are already in Amsterdam forget to enter Anne Frank House. You must get tickets in advance and it’s not easy. You can get tickets for the Anne Frank Museum on their website – Link Here.
Ice skating on Museumplein
Every year there is an ice rink just next to the Rijksmuseum. Ice skating is very popular in the Netherlands and there are few ice rinks around the city but I recommend this one. Maybe you are lucky and temperatures are low for a few days and canals freeze. That happens rarely but when it does it’s great fun 😉 I can recommend you also an ice rink in Haarlem. Haarlem is also a beautiful city, especially in the winter time.
That’s one of my favorite Dutch foods, especially with raisins. You can get oliebollen all over the year, but during christmas time and new years eve, they take-over the streets of the Netherlands. Oliebollen are traditional Dutch sweets, and I think that you may be familiar with them because some variations are popular in other European countries.
Is There a Christmas Market in Amsterdam?
Every year there is a Christmas market in Amsterdam. It starts on the Dam square and goes all the way to the central station. It’s beautiful, especially in the evening. You can buy there a lot of handmade stuff, typical Dutch food, and gorgeous Christmas gifts.
I recommend you also to visit a Haarlem Christmas market. It’s one of the biggest and most beautiful markets in the Netherlands. It’s better to go there quite early. It finishes quickly, and it’s big so you need some time to see everything there.
Amsterdam Light Festival
During Amsterdam Light Festival you can find light artworks in the whole city. There are about 25 artworks and 10 city stories. ALF is a quite long event and you can enjoy it for 53 days. It takes place from 28.11.2019 until 19.01.2020 in the city center of Amsterdam. The best way to experience this festival is to go on a boat tour. There are some specific themed boat tours. You can find cool guided tours here.
If you want to experience a festival on your own I recommend you to search for some more information on their official website. You can also buy in advance a 24-hour Amsterdam Public Transport Ticket. With this ticket, you can travel with all trams, buses, ferries and the metro for 24 hours. You pay for it only 8 euro and if you compare it to 5,50 euro for an hour public transport ticket that you can buy on trams it’s a great deal.
Is It Expensive to visit Amsterdam in December?
Prices, in general, are lower during the wintertime. But, during Christmas and new years eve hotels are packed and prices skyrocket. For new years eve, you must reserve a hotel in advance. I work in a hotel and already a few weeks before the new years eve, our hotel is full. If you would like to book a room in Amsterdam you should definitely read one of my articles. I recommend only good hotels, and trust me there are many, not worth recommendations. You can find Where To Stay section here. I’ve been working in multiple hotels in Amsterdam and some of them were dirty, there were bed bugs or they have very low-quality service.
What Should You Take With You?
It’s always the best to check the weather forecast the day before you travel, but in general you must be ready for cold and rain. The weather might be great, but it’s better to be prepared for the worst. For sure you need a raincoat. The Netherlands is quite humid and even medium temperatures may feel freezing, especially when it is windy. Pack something warm, gloves, sweater, long sleeve, warm waterproof shoes, and socks. Temperatures rarely fall under 0*C but you never know.
Weather in Amsterdam in December
Temperatures vary from 2 *C to 7*C. Weather is unpredictable, there can be 10*C, dry and sun or it can be windy and snowy. From my experience, the weather is mostly fine. During the last two years, the weather in November and December was great. You should take a raincoat with you and some warm clothes. If you plan to rent a bike I would recommend wearing gloves and some sort of scarf.
Cycling in Amsterdam in the Winter
As you will see cycling even when there is snow, it’s not a problem for Dutch. If you decide to join Amsterdammers on cycling path just be aware that it can be a little bit slippery. Even when temperatures are above 0*C you should slow down and follow the rules. Remember that bike in Amsterdam is a mean of transport and most people cycle to get around the city, so there are certain rules which allow everyone safely get to destination point.
But in my opinion, the best way to get around the city in Winter is to use public transport. A 24-hour ticket cost as little as 8 Euros. If you come to Amsterdam with your car, don’t drive to the city center. Prices of the parking are very high. In some places in the city center, it cost even 7,5 euro per hour. Prices are that high because the municipality tries to make Amsterdam Co2 free. Let’s come back to public transport for a minute. It’s very well organized. There are trams, buses, metro, and train. You can get almost anywhere with public transport. It’s comfortable, quick and reliable.
Fewer crowds in December mean no waiting in the lines for the most popular and famous attractions. It’s a good time to get an I Amsterdam card and visit famous museums. During winter months there are fewer people visiting museums, so it means you won’t have to wait that long in queues. If you would like to learn more about I Amsterdam card there is an article written by Micaela where she compares I Amsterdam card, Holland Pass and Museumkaart. You can read it here.
I hope that this content is helpful for you and now you know if December is a good time to visit Amsterdam. Personally, I think that Amsterdam is an amazing city and it changes its vibe during each season. It’s not like Spain or Greece that you want to visit during the summertime. November and December are actually a great time to visit this city. Read also other articles on my blog. If you plan to come to Amsterdam you may be interested in Where To Stay In Amsterdam section on this blog. You can find it here.