What to do in Amsterdam

Each season has its specific events which we cover on a different page and there are activities that can be done all year round. Like the world-known museums Amsterdam offers. However, this time we are focusing on recommended things to do in Amsterdam during winter, spring, summer and autumn.

To make your visit easier a cheaper in whichever season, you can use an
Amsterdam city card. There are more types on offer and they are a recommended buy.

What to do in Amsterdam in Winter

When the temperature drops

Amsterdam during winter

A way to escape the near zero temperatures and discover a new side of the city is to explore its lesser known attractions. Spend time in cozy restaurants and try the local beers in brown bars.

During the day

Hidden inside the main canals of the city and very close to the Anne Frank house you can find the Electric Ladyland, a quirky museum entirely dedicated to fluorescent lights. The place is small, so you will have time to explore the beautiful streets of the Jordaan neighborhood, which is a stone-throw away.

Just a few streets up and to the right and you are in Dam Square, where you can find the Royal Palace. Going inside, you will be entering the world of the Dutch Royalty, a great way to escape the cold.

On the other side of the city, in the East, you can explore microorganisms and how they act at Micropia. The place, next to Artis (the Amsterdam zoo) offers a comprehensive and interactive exhibition about the life of microorganisms.

During the winter Amsterdam opens its ice skating rinks. The most famous one is ICE Amsterdam, constructed in front of the Rijksmuseum, in the middle of Museumplein. All around the ring you can find bars that sell gluwine and hot chocolate. Another option is the rink in Rembrantplein, where there is also a Christmas market. Some of the stands serve Olieballen, a typical Dutch sweet, served specially during the winter. Is there a better way to recover from ice skating?

When the sun goes down

To lighten up the dark atmosphere the cold months bring, a good beer and a warm ambience is in place. The brown bars are a tradition in the city and some of them date from the 17th century the so called Dutch Golden Age. Choose one of these retreats, such as De Druif where Dutch Naval Hero Piet Hein used to party, Café Karpershoek, for its closeness to Central Station or Café int Aepjen in the Zeedijk, where, as legend goes sailors would trade their treasures for drinks and a place to sleep. In each of them try the Dutch local beer and the local snacks, such as the true Dutch delicacy, bitterballen.

The Dutch may not be known for their cousine, however, the hearty stamppot or the thick Erwtensoup are great options to warm up at the end of a winter day. There are many places that specialize in the Dutch culinary in Amsterdam, such as Moeders, a location covered in pictures of mothers that visited the place. Now, if you are looking for a fair-priced and comfortable feel, head to Hap-Hmm, the restaurant is relaxed, serves good food and it is just outside Vondelpark. For a fancy twist De Kas is a great choice. Located on a beautiful house inside Frankendael Park, their menu is locally sourced (they have a greenhouse just outside the restaurant) and focus on vegetables.

What to do in Amsterdam in Spring

When the flowers bloom

Amsterdam during spring

Holland is well-known for its tulips and they all bloom once the winter is done. So, a great activity for Spring is to follow the tulip route and see the flowers fields.

Things to do Outside Amsterdam

The most famous flower park Keukenhof opens its doors for only 6 weeks (from the end of March to the start of May) and it holds an impressive collection of flowers of all types. Especially tulips of all shapes, sizes and colors. Another way to enjoy the flowers is to follow its routes, which gives you the chance to explore the Amsterdam surroundings, such as Haarlem, Leiden and Dronten.

Finally, in the spirit of adventure, you can rent a bike and ride along the Vecht River. The way starts with Muiden Castle, a fortress from 1296 and passes trough beautiful villages and incredible nature.

Things to do Inside Amsterdam

Spring is also the season to get lost in the canals of grachtengordel (the golden bent) and the negen straatjes and discover the area protected by UNESCO as a cultural heritage. The four canals, Prisengracht, Keizergracht, Herengracht and Singel (the first one to be built), give a great background for pictures and the streets in between collect a variety of unique shops, from the Bril (Glasses) Museum to vintage little shops.

Another thing to do in Amsterdam during spring is to explore Vondelpark, with all the flowers blooming and the trees in a vibrant green, the park truly comes to life. Make sure to find the hidden statues (There is a Picasso in the park) and stop by the cafes on the park.

What to do in Amsterdam during Summer

When the terraces are in full swing

During the day

Amsterdam during summer

The Amsterdam high season fills the city with millions of tourists. So it is time to explore the surroundings. Get a train – it’s a 30 minutes ride - and discover Zandvoort and Bloemendal. The two beaches very close to the city. They both feature bars by the shore, white sand and a calm ocean.

Now if you don’t want to strand too far, exploring the outskirts of Amsterdam is a good call. Rent a bike and discover the beautiful Sloterplas lake in the new west, or go to the North east and discover Blijburg (check their agenda, as they have some pretty cool shows and festivals during summer) and Diemen Zuid, both great places to swim and enjoy the sun. Oeverlander in Amsterdam Zuid, Stenen Hooff at the IJ river and Gaasperplas in the South east are also fantastic options for swimming and an adventure.

Finally, renting a boat and discovering Amsterdam from the canals is something you shouldn’t miss on. There are three main ways to do that, you can rent a small boat and be a captain for a couple of hours. You can also rent a private boat with a captain and a hostess and let them take care of everything. Lastly, you can choose a canal cruise, which is offered by many different companies.

After six (since the light stays until 22:00)

When time for dinner arrives, it is the moment to hit the terraces and relax with some nice food and an ice cold beer (or whatever your favorite drink might be). Amsterdam is filled with places to enjoy the last rays of sun, be it near the water or in the park. If you are in the center and want to go fancy, Café de Jaren is the place to be. Towards the west in the Singel canal, you will find the huge terrace from Café van Zuylen. Close to Leidesplein you can eat delicious Indian food and try some lesser known beers at Waterkankt. A trip to the North (on the free ferry) and you can explore Pllek, Noordelicht and de Ceuvel. Close to Central Station there is Meneer Nieges and Hannekes Boom. Finally, in the east you will find Roest, Vida and DeBiertuin. The list is endless, but these are some good choices.

Activities for Autumn in Amsterdam

When the leaves fall

Amsterdam during autumn

After the high season buzz, the streets become calmer and the leaves start changing colors. The temperatures also start to drop, so be prepared for some cold days.

During the day

When the sun is up, walking along the Amstel river towards the Oud Zuid is a great activity. The river that named the city is full of fancy house boats and greenery.

Another way to appreciate Amsterdam in the Fall is to explore its less touristy parks and watch as the leaves descent from the trees. Amsterdam Bos, Amstel Park, Beatrix Park and Erasmus Park are fantastic options.

If the sun doesn’t shine, apple pie and hot chocolate are what you need. There are many places that sell the combo, however, Winkel 43 is the most celebrated one and an experience you do not want to miss. Two good alternatives are De Koffieschenkerij, inside the Oude Kerk (Old Church), and Café Papeneiland, where, as rumor goes, there is an underground escape tunnel for Catholics, from way back when they were persecuted in Amsterdam.

At Dusk

When September arrives the light changes and that is why heading to a rooftop to watch the sunset is a great idea. The science museum NEMO has a big, free, rooftop in the center of the city where you can enjoy the sunrays go down. Next to it you can find SkyLounge, another fantastic spot. In the Noord you can discover ADAM Lookout and Pllek, both incredible locations. Finally, a bit of the beaten route, Sumatrakade on Java Eiland is a good choice - sit by the deck and enjoy as the sun disappears.