Thinking about visiting Amsterdam and not sure when to visit to get the most out of the city? Discover the best time to visit Amsterdam and plan the perfect trip.
It’s hard to beat Amsterdam when it comes to a relaxing city break. The city has the perfect mix of urban gems, attractions, shopping, and sightseeing, Amsterdam is an ideal destination throughout the year.
With cobblestone lanes, cute arched bridges, and slow-flowing canals, Amsterdam is one of those places that’s instantly recognizable and a place you simply must visit at least once. But when is the best time to go?
Whether you’re looking to avoid the crowds, get the best shopping deals or see the tulips at full bloom, here’s our guide to the best time to visit Amsterdam.
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The Best Time to Visit Amsterdam
The overall best time to visit Amsterdam is in the spring. The month of April and early May are the best months to visit the Dutch capital for several reasons. Generally, the weather is warm and dry and it’s also peak tulip season during this time. April and May are also a little less crowded than the peak summer season.
Another great option is early autumn/fall when the summer crowds have gone, days are still long, and the weather can be warm and pleasant. However, during this time there are no tulips or flowers. It’s perfect for travelers who aren’t too bothered by seeing the tulips on day trips from Amsterdam.
Best Season to Visit Amsterdam
The best season to visit Amsterdam is the spring or early autumn/fall. In the spring the days are at their longest, summer crowds haven’t yet arrived (however, tulip season tends to bring its own crowds) and the weather is good. Spring is also the best season to see the tulips and make the most of your Amsterdam itinerary.
During spring you might also be able to grab some great deals on hotel prices, especially if you visit in late March/early April, but prices generally begin to increase at this time.
High Season in Amsterdam: April-August and Christmas and New Year
Shoulder Season in Amsterdam: March and September
Low Season: November to Mid-December, January and February
Note that the weather in Northern Europe is pretty fickle and Amsterdam weather can be pretty unstable, especially in spring and fall. It’s not uncommon to experience all four seasons in a day, so make sure to pack good rain boots, a light jacket, and an umbrella.
Best Time to Visit to Avoid the Crowds
If you’re looking to get the best out of your trip to Amsterdam with fewer crowds the best time to visit is outside the major holidays including Christmas, Easter, and any local holidays as well as outside the summer peak season.
During summer and on major holidays the city fills up with both tourists and locals making the most of their free time.
The best time to visit Amsterdam for the least amount of crowds is the winter months (minus Christmas and New Year) as this sees the least amount of travelers. For those that don’t want to explore Amsterdam in the wind and rain, early spring is also a good option as well as autumn/fall. It’s a good time to visit for a nice balance between crowds and weather.
In general, the least crowded months to visit Amsterdam are January, February, March, October, November, and December (with the exception of the holidays).
Best Time to Visit to See Tulips
If visiting the tulips in the Netherlands has been on your bucket list, then you’ll want to time your visit for peak bloom. The best time to visit Amsterdam for the magnificent rows of colorful tulips and the tulip festivals is from late March until the beginning of May.
In general, the peak bloom happens around mid-April, however, this depends strongly on the weather so it varies every year. There are a number of websites online, the Keukenhof Garden, for example, that can help you to predict the peak bloom and therefore when to plan your trip.
At this time you can expect it to be quite crowded and for accommodation prices to increase.
Note that to visit the tulips you’ll need to head outside Amsterdam on a day trip as there aren’t really any tulip fields in Amsterdam. One of the best places to visit is Lisse, particularly Keukenhof Garden where you’ll be able to see rows and even fields of tulips.
Use our Amsterdam itinerary to plan your trip to include a visit to Lisse.
Best Time to Visit Amsterdam for Sightseeing
In general, the best time for sightseeing in Amsterdam is during winter, spring, and autumn. Amsterdam has some world-class sights and museums and as you might imagine, they fill up fast.
The lines for museums such as the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum can be horrendously long. (You can avoid most of these by booking your entrance ticket in advance, however).
For a more peaceful experience and virtually no crowds, winter is the ideal time to visit but museums tend to also have reduced hours. Spring and autumn are another great suggestion especially if you don’t want the rain, cold weather and short days.
If you are visiting Amsterdam in April-September, I highly recommend getting to attractions early. When arriving as they open, or also just before they close, you’ll miss most of the long lines.
I also highly recommend buying your ticket in advance to guarantee entry and avoid the queues. This is most fundamental for Anne Frank’s House where you can book your entry ticket here.
Best Time to Visit Amsterdam for Shopping
Amsterdam is a brilliant city for shopping and is a great thing to do at any time of the year. Even in the darkest and coldest days of the winter, the stores give a respite from the rain and cold temperatures.
If you’re after the best discounts and sales, generally the best times for these are January and June/July. At these times you can expect to see clearances in many stores as brands prepare to switch collections. Sometimes you’ll be able to find bargains for as much as 70% off.
It’s difficult to say when exactly each store might have its sale, however, it might be worth checking online with the brands you’re particularly interested in.
The Cheapest Time of Year to Visit Amsterdam
Amsterdam is not a cheap city to visit – comparable to London and Paris. The cheapest time of year to visit Amsterdam coincides with the low season aka winter. If you’re a budget traveler or want to save a pretty penny when visiting, winter is the season to do it.
At this time you can expect the lowest prices on accommodation and you’ll be able to find many great deals. You might also be able to get a good deal on flights to Amsterdam too at this time.
If winter seems just too cold but you do want to make the most of the cheaper prices, try booking your trip for early March or the end of September/beginning of November. At these times you might also manage to grab some flight and accommodation deals.
Best Time to Visit Amsterdam by Month
Find out what’s going on in Amsterdam month by month and plan when to visit based on the best festivals and activities. Keep reading to find out the best time of year to visit Amsterdam for you.
Januarys are cold and dark in Amsterdam. The canals might freeze cover and days are short but you’ll feel like you have the city to yourself. It’s also one of the best months to spend at Amsterdam’s museums- queues are virtually non-existent and galleries are crowd-free.
Average highs in January are about 5°C or 40°F which are reasonable compared to other parts of Europe at this time.
National Tulip Day is celebrated in January, a day that kicks off the tulip growing season. Dam Square sees a temporary tulip garden where visitors can come along and pick their own tulip- for free.
January also sees Amsterdam’s Light Festival where you’ll have to chance to catch the city taken over by art installations and creative light displays.
Still very much low season in Amsterdam, it’s the time for ice skating on frozen canals or sipping on hot cocoa in a cozy cafe.
One of the best celebrations in Amsterdam in February is the Chinese New Year. It’s a great time to visit Chinatown and indulge in everything Chinese. You can also catch the New Years’ parade that goes from Kuan Yin Shrine to Dam Square.
The tulips start to bloom in March and the first crowds of the year begin trickling in. For those eager to get a glimpse at the first blooms of tulips and to beat the crowds, March might be a great idea to visit Lisse, for rows of flower fields.
If you’re in Amsterdam make sure to visit Bloemenmarkt– Amsterdam’s historic flower market for displays of the first blooms.
April is one of the best months in Amsterdam. The tulips are blooming, it’s not too crowded yet, and the seasons begin to turn and become more spring-like. The days are longer and more and more locals start coming out after a long winter.
April is also the month of King’s Day, celebrated on the 27th April, one of the Netherlands’ biggest holidays. Residents take to the streets, dressed in orange and you’ll see many street parties, party canal boats, and events throughout the city. If you like celebrating local holidays then this might be another reason to visit Amsterdam in April.
Click here to find out more about King’s Day and how to celebrate in Amsterdam
There’s still a chance to see the last of the tulips in May and things start to get busier in Amsterdam in preparation for high season.
In the second week of May, there’s National Mill Day when many windmills and watermills open their doors and allow you to peek inside- perfect for the history and culture buffs visiting Amsterdam.
May 4th is Remembrance Day, a day to commemorate those lost during the Second World War.
I personally visited Amsterdam at the end of May, and it was perfect- mostly sunny and long days and not too many crowds.
The longest days of the year have arrived when you can experience almost 18 hours of daylight each day. It’s a great time of the year to visit for those that love slow days of just walking around the city and exploring.
You will, however, have to share the streets with quite a few other people as the crowds really begin to descend on the city. Accommodation prices start to increase dramatically making it the most expensive time of year to visit.
You will however be able to see Amsterdam at its finest with many waterside patios, outdoor activities, and open-air events around the city center. Many different music festivals and performing arts festivals also take place during this month. Holland Festival is one of the best in the country.
July & August
The summer season is in full swing with many outdoor events all over the city. It’s the best time for simply exploring the canals, biking around, and having lazy picnics in the park.
These summer months are some of the most crowded and if you’re planning on doing sightseeing you need to reserve your entrance ticket online with time slot months in advance. (This is especially true for Anne Frank House).
The average temperature in the summer months is 16°C or 61°F but the temperature can often hit the twenties or even the thirties. There are many bright and sunny days so it’s the perfect time to spend outside or on a slow, evening canal cruise. July and August are the hottest months to visit Amsterdam.
Some of the best events during July & August are Amsterdam Roots Festival, Amsterdam Pride, and the Amsterdam International Art Fair.
After all the summer fun, things start to calm down a little in September. The streets become much calmer, prices start falling yet the city still sees some glorious summer weather.
If you’re a foodie, you’ll want to visit in September and make the most of National Restaurant Week where you can eat fantastic 3-course menus in the best restaurants in Amsterdam for only €30.
In September, the beautiful Jordaan neighborhood also hosts the Jordaan Festival, a lovely event of local songs and live music.
October is a fantastic month to visit Amsterdam. The weather turns cool and crisp and the days start to get shorter but you’ll be able to shop and sightsee with few crowds and get the most out of cheaper flights and hotel rooms.
The leaves on the trees in the city start to turn and drown the parks and canals into deep ochres, reds, and yellows. To photograph Amsterdam in floods of fall foliage color, October is the best time to visit.
November is a quiet month in Amsterdam with not much happening. Days a shorter and colder but you can certainly make the most of the museums, galleries, and indoor events at this time.
Winter and Christmas time is a wonderful time of year in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most festive cities and if visiting in December you’ll see the city decked in lights and Christmas decorations. It’s a great time to explore its Christmas markets as well as go ice skating outside the Rijksmuseum.
Christmas is one of the busiest times in Amsterdam as people make the most of the holiday break. Shopping at this time can be quite chaotic too. If visiting museums and cultural sites you’ll need to check their opening hours as many places close for the holidays or have limited hours.
Key Holidays in Amsterdam to Savour or Avoid
Whether you love traveling to experience holidays in new places or you avoid them because of the hassle they can bring, here are the major holidays in the Netherlands. Feel free to plan your trip around them or avoid them altogether when planning your Amsterdam itinerary.
1st Jan- New Years’ Day
March/April- Easter (varies each year)
27th April – King’s Day
18th May – Ascension Day
28th-29th May- Whit Sunday and Whit Monday
25th December- Christmas Day
26th December- Second Day of Christmas
31st December – New Year’s Eve
Each season or month in Amsterdam comes with its own positives and negatives. To plan your perfect itinerary it helps to be clear about what you want to prioritize when visiting Amsterdam.
If it’s the tulip blooms then visit Amsterdam in April, if it’s the buzzing atmosphere and festivals visit Amsterdam in July or August and if it’s the museums then visit in January or February.
Are you ready to discover Amsterdam? What’s the best time to visit Amsterdam for you? Let me know your comments and questions in the box, below, I’d love to hear from you.
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