The best time to visit Amsterdam is in spring, if you’re interested in the tulip season, or summer, when the city buzzes with outdoor life.
Amsterdam sits on the Ijsselmeer, a large bay opening off the North Sea. While it’s a glorious place in spring and summer, cold northwesterly winds from the Atlantic are a constant feature.
The city’s many scenic canals are also an influence on the climate. In summer, they bring a welcome coolness to hot days, but in fall they can add an extra feeling of dampness to already rainy days. Some would argue that this just adds to the atmosphere—and in any case, Amsterdam is packed with so much culture that it’s worth visiting even on cooler days.
Visiting Amsterdam By Season
If the Dutch are famous for one thing, it would have to be tulips. So spring, from March through May, is a special time of year when flowers bloom.
Temperatures warm up gradually from winter, reaching the region of 62°F (16°C) by mid-May. Nights also start warming, from around 35°F (1.6°C) in March to 46°F (7°C) by May.
The canals start to lose their bleakness as trees and window boxes burst into life. April is the city’s annual Tulip Festival, so bright displays fill Amsterdam’s center, and its parks.
For more tulips, you’ll want to visit the Keukenhof Gardens, open only in spring. The Aalsmeer Flower Auction is also in one of its busiest periods.
Other key events at this time of year include King’s Day on April 27, celebrated by dressing in orange, and partying. Locals also sell all their unwanted stuff, turning Amsterdam into a giant open-air market.
Summer is the best time to go to Amsterdam and is a season to celebrate outdoor living. From June through August, the days are bright and long, with temperatures averaging 64-71ºF (17-21°C).
Rain is always possible, but tends to come in short showers. At night, temperatures drop to the range of 50-55ºF (10-12°C), but that is comfortable with a jacket or jersey.
This is a time when the city tries to enjoy life outside. Canalside café terraces are packed, picnickers fill the Vondelpark, and events such as the annual Amsterdam Pride parade draw huge numbers onto the streets.
Numerous other music festivals include the lively neighborhood Jordaan Festival. With the city looking its best, canal-boat tours are a good way to take it all in while avoiding the sun.
The end of summer in September brings rain, winds, and a drop of temperatures into the low 40s. But it also brings the varied colors of autumn to the city’s 400,000 trees.
The weather sends people indoors to enjoy a wide choice of events. The Amsterdam Dance Event is perhaps the most popular, but others include the Amsterdam Art Weekend, and November’s Museum Night.
Winter brings a combination of cold, penetrating winds, and rain that can be unpleasant, especially at night. However, the North Sea is a moderating influence, keeping temperatures above freezing—even if it sometimes doesn’t feel like it.
This is the time to enjoy Amsterdam’s ”brown cafés”—neighborhood bars, some several centuries old. Here is where you’ll learn all about the Dutch concept of “gezellig”—that cozy feeling of enjoying life with friends.
The whole city can give off a “gezellig” vibe if you walk around—well bundled up—to enjoy the spectacular Amsterdam Light Festival. Lights, video art, and other visual effects brighten up the city’s canals, bridges and streets.
When Is Rainy Season?
While spring is the driest season of the year, fall is the wettest, and windiest. The wind makes a good raincoat a better choice than an umbrella.
However, Amsterdam is well prepared for its climate, and indoor entertainment ranges from warm cafés to fascinating European museums. Efficient public transport—trams, buses, and taxis—will also keep you out of the weather.
When Is High Season?
The blooming flowers of spring start a momentum that builds into summer’s high season. By August, visitor numbers peak, while the crowds—and hot weather—send locals off on holiday themselves.
The city is certainly looking its best, but you do need to prepare for the lines at venues such as the Anne Frank Huis, or some of the city’s major museums, especially if you’re only spending a few days in Amsterdam.
When Is Shoulder Season?
Spring is almost as popular as summer to visit Amsterdam. That leaves fall as the only real shoulder season, but with still a lot going on.
This is a great time to see the “real” Amsterdam. Enjoy its cafés, bars, and museums filled with locals.
When Is Low Season?
The winter weather puts many visitors off, and makes it the undoubted low season. But catch Amsterdam with a rare blanket of snow, or with its canals frozen (normally in February), and it’s a magical place.
If you can skate, you’ll love the way frozen canals can turn into open-air ice rinks —and there are also plenty of other skating rinks from December onward. The city’s many atmospheric bars are also a great escape from the weather.
Amsterdam is one of those great world cities that has something to offer at any time of the year. Browse Celebrity’s cruises to Amsterdam to find the perfect itinerary.