With cobblestone lanes wrapped around arched bridges and canals, Amsterdam makes for a charming vacation at any time of year.

All the romantic scenery, coupled with mild weather, makes it hard to decide when you should go. Every travel season in Amsterdam has pros and cons, whether it's sniffing fields of fresh tulips or waiting in a queue to catch a glimpse of a Rembrandt. Here’s all the insider info you need to help you decide the best time to visit Amsterdam.

Amsterdam architecture with rows of tulips in the foreground
Spring is the best time to visit Amsterdam for tulips and flower markets © Vladislav Zolotov/Getty Images

March to May is the best time to see the tulips

Tulips bloom in March and bring ecstatic vibes. Despite this, the weather can be unreliable – waterproof clothes are a must. The three-day techno and house festival DGTL takes place over Easter, christening the season for open-air dancing.

Longer days, higher temperatures, fewer crowds, and full blooms – April is an Amsterdammer’s favorite month for good reason. King’s Day, the biggest street party of the year, is an extravaganza of orange outfits, flea market shopping and beer. This is also prime time for visiting flower markets like the famous Bloemenmarkt, which explodes with fresh-cut stems and kaleidoscopic petals.

Terraces and cobblestone streets get busier in May. This month, you can enjoy mild weather and observe the last tulips bloom.

During National Mill Day in the second week of May, you can peek clamber around inside windmills and watermills (look for the ones with a blue pennant). Accommodation and flight prices start to creep up during April and May but still aren't at the peak summer level yet.

A girl riding bicycle during summer in Amsterdam
Summer is the best time to visit Amsterdam for outdoor events, canalside fun, plus beautiful parks and gardens © Paulo Amorim / Getty Images

June to September is best for great weather and festivals

With warm weather, lots of daylight and amazing outdoor events, summer is one of the best times to visit Amsterdam. Open-air events are in full swing come June, such as the performing arts extravaganza at the Holland Festival and the calmer but no less beautiful Open Garden Days

Take advantage of the longest days of the year in July and swap packed museums for bike rides and sunset drinks on tiny canal-side terraces.

Open-air electronic music festivals are popular with the locals and draw international crowds, most notably the techno-heavy Awakenings Festival (in July) and the progressive- and percussive-minded Dekmantel (in early August in 2024).

This is the peak season for Amsterdam, so queues for attractions and prices for accommodation are at their highest.

Book seats at your must-eat restaurants at least two weeks before travel, and time slots at popular sights like the Anne Frank Huis and Van Gogh Museum at least six weeks prior. 

Amsterdam’s temperatures are a bit milder than other European capitals in August, and the city experiences few summer closures in comparison. Pride Festival also comes to the city in August, bringing a party atmosphere to the streets.

September is one of the best months to visit Amsterdam. Summer is essentially over, but the good weather tends to linger for a few weeks yet. There are many good festivals on the go, such as Amsterdam International Fashion Week and Jordaan Festival, with the bonus of fewer crowds.

Packing tip: Pack layers of clothing – Dutch weather is notoriously fickle, and there can be chilly spells even in summer. A light jacket and small umbrella will mean you're prepared for the weather but won't stand out like a tourist.

Skaters on the iced-over canals of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
One of the highlights of visiting Amsterdam in the winter is the chance to skate the canals © Victor Lacken / Alamy Stock Photo

October to February is best for budget travelers

Wallet-friendly accommodations make the low season a great time to travel. You won’t freeze thanks to mild temperatures – usually around 37°F (3°C) – although expect some gray and dreary conditions. 

October in Amsterdam is a whole cozy mood. Warm, autumn colors erupt across the city’s parks and gardens. Low-season prices start to kick in, and queues begin to dwindle.

Shorter waits for restaurant tables and emptier museums make up for the lack of events – and sunlight – in November. In November's second half, the festive season begins with St. Nicholas’s arrival by boat (Sinterklaas Intocht). 

December is a magical time in Amsterdam, even if snow is usually nonexistent or turns to slush shortly after arriving. Ice-skating rinks are popular hangouts, and the city goes a-twinkle with fairy lights in the run up to Christmas.

January might be cold and dark, but museum queues are sparse, and downtown areas actually have elbow room. On the third Saturday in January, the Dutch celebrate Tulpendag, a kickoff celebration preluding tulip season with thousands-strong tulip displays along the Dam.

Typically, February – right before tulip season – is the cheapest time of year to visit Amsterdam. With some luck, canals might freeze over and fill up with ice skaters – thinning out the already-low traffic in Amsterdam's incredible museums even more.
After marveling at Dutch Golden Age paintings or bundling up for a canal cruise, bruin cafés (brown cafes) are the perfect way to warm up with hearty food and cozy candlelight. Amsterdam celebrates Chinese New Year (falling between January 21 and February 20) with a parade from the Kuan Yin Shrine Buddhist temple in Chinatown to Dam Square.

This article was first published Sep 17, 2021 and updated Feb 28, 2024.

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