Making the most out of your European vacation
Whether you spend the day tiptoeing through the tulips, bike riding along the canals or simply soaking up the sun at Vondelpark, Amsterdam caters to travelers who love the great outdoors. If the weather takes a turn for the worse, head indoors to see Rembrandt’s talents on display at the Rijksmuseum or seek a moment of quiet reflection at the Anne Frank House. While you’ll enjoy pleasant weather and great travel deals during certain times of the year, the Netherlands’ capital city also offers a variety of seasonal events to pique your interest.
Preparing for Amsterdam’s fickle weather
Amsterdam features finicky weather throughout the year, even in the summer, so make sure you pack plenty of layers. With much of the city sitting below sea level, fog and dampness are common occurrences. Although it’s sometimes humid, summers in Amsterdam don’t get particularly hot, with temperatures rarely exceeding 75 degrees F. Summer also brings long days as the sun doesn’t set until about 10:00 p.m. in July and August. At the start of fall, temps dip into the mid-60s, but by October and November, they may dip into the high 50s and 40s. Fall also sees the most rainfall all year, with more than 3 inches each month. Conditions are very cold in the winter, as short, dark days linger in the low 40s and 30s. Winters also bring ice and snow to the city if it gets cold enough. By spring, mild daytime temperatures hover around the mid-50s and 60s, and the rain slows down in the season’s later months.
Spring into the city
Coming right before the peak tourist summer season, April and May are two of the best months for visiting Amsterdam. Tulip fields start to bloom right outside the city during the last two weeks of April and the first two weeks of May. Spring festivities also begin in April with King’s Day parades, street fairs and street entertainment. May celebrations throughout the city include Liberation Day, which commemorates the end of World War II with huge concerts, and National Windmill Days, during which hundreds of working windmills are open to the public.
Seasonal travel opportunities
If you’re visiting Amsterdam in the summer, book months in advance as the city and its most popular attractions are packed, particularly in July and August. Excellent weather makes it a good time for biking and sunbathing in Vondelpark. Summer cultural events include the Holland Festival, which showcases musical, theatrical and dance performances at various venues, and the Canal Festival, a 10-day classical music celebration with performances along the city’s famed waterways.
The city experiences fewer tourists and slightly cheaper hotel rates in the fall than during the summer. Autumn also means it’s time for such popular events as the TCS Amsterdam Marathon and the Amsterdam Fringe Festival, which stages avant-garde theatrical productions.
Winter travelers can find great hotel and airfare deals plus city streets almost completely devoid of crowds. Ornate light installations and canal boat parades showcase the city’s holiday spirit during the Amsterdam Light Festival.
Getting around town
Explore Amsterdam on foot or by renting a bike from one of the numerous rental companies throughout the city. You need a car only if you’re venturing into the countryside; otherwise, Amsterdam’s streets are too narrow and cramped for automobiles. You’ll find the occasional taxi throughout the city, but ride-sharing businesses are popular. Many tour companies in the city center offer narrated boat rides down the city’s canals.
GVB, Amsterdam’s public transportation system, operates the city’s trams, buses and metro. Purchase a reloadable, one-day or multi-day OV-chipkaart for use on all public transport. Ferries are free and provide service from the city center to Amsterdam-Noord.