Amsterdam is a beautiful, historical city that I would recommend everybody to visit. But honestly, the weather can be a bit of a downside in The Netherlands. Rain, snow, hail, wind, anything can happen. Just don’t let the weather ruin your Amsterdam trip. I know how depressing it can feel when it rains on a city trip, especially since you will be there only shortly. Here are my tips of things you can do on a rainy or cold day in Amsterdam, at random order, an ultimate guide!
Basically my advice is: just do what the locals do. Isn’t that usually what we want to experience when traveling, get a taste of the lives of the locals? Go out and enjoy all the wonderful things that Amsterdam has to offer, regardless the weather. There are so many things that can be done on a rainy day in Amsterdam, you will be sorry it did not last any longer. So grab that umbrella, hop on a tram and have a great time!
Visit a museum
This might sound cliché, but on a rainy day in Amsterdam you should really visit the fantastic museums. Or on any given day actually. I am not a museum type myself really, but in Amsterdam even I visited many of the museums. Simply because they are top class! Grab a Museum Card to visit almost every museum for the price that you would pay to enter four museums. There are so many to choose from. My personal top 10:
- Anne Frank House
- Van Gogh Museum
- MOCO Museum
- Hermitage Amsterdam
- Tropen Museum
- Stedelijk Museum
- National Maritime Museum
- NEMO Science Museum
- Rembrandt House Museum
And there are 40+ other museums in Amsterdam! Tassenmuseum (handbag museum), Jewish Historical Museum, Dutch Costume Museum, Street Art Museum, Verzetsmuseum, Museum van Loon, Cromhouthuis, Grachtenmuseum, Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder, Museum Willet-Holthuysen, Diamond Museum, etc. Those might be less known yet some offer very interesting collections and stories. If you want to learn more about the art works, consider taking a private tour.
And yes, you may have expected this, but there are even a Sex Museum and a Red Light Secrets Museum in Amsterdam. Should you be interested… So I guess you get the point here: no problem to fill your rainy days in Amsterdam with museums. Unfortunately the Anne Frank Museum is so popular that it will be difficult to get a ticket on the day itself, or even weeks before. But you may want to try online in the morning, sometimes there are last minute tickets available.
Due to COVID-19 measures you will have to get museum tickets in advance. This can often even be done on your smartphone while standing in front of the museum. Even for the Anne Frank House the tickets are currently often available a few days later (instead of weeks or months like usually).
Shop ‘til you drop
OK possibly not 100% ideal, to go shopping in Amsterdam on a rainy day. But as long as you stay inside the shops, or pick an indoor mall or warehouse, you should be fine. The Kalverstraat and the Nieuwe Dijk are two main shopping streets in the heart of Amsterdam city center, but they contain mostly the main chains only so that is not the best. It may also be crowded and they’re open air. On an average Saturday, 40K people visit the Kalverstraat! One shop you will have to check out is Hema, they also sell affordable and foldable umbrellas, but you can find Hema shops all over the city.
Department store De Bijenkorf (Dam Square), the Kalvertoren and the Magna Plaza are all indoor, so ideal for rainy days in Amsterdam. The so-called Nine Streets (‘Negen Straatjes’) and the Haarlemmerstraat have some lovely boutiques, but if it rains hard you’ll have to run from one shop to another (open air). Same story for the Albert Cuyp Market. The most fancy shops can be found at the P.C. Hooftstraat, like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel, etc. Otherwise, check Baerlestraat or the Beethovenstraat for example.
Do something different
Amsterdam has several not-every-day attractions and activities that can be a lot of fun, for teenagers and adults. Just to get a bit excited, do something weird, creative, crazy or cool, maybe even scream?! If you’re up for something different then check these out – all indoors! Lots of fun guaranteed, even on a rainy day in Amsterdam!
- Madame Tussauds
- The Amsterdam Dungeon
- Ripley’s Believe It Or Not
- Body Worlds Amsterdam
- Escape Room Amsterdam
- Xtra Cold Icebar
- Dutch Art Photo Shoot
- Delft Blue Tile Painting
Hide in a church
The rich and long history of Amsterdam is clearly visible in its gorgeous churches (‘kerk’). Some of the best examples include the Westerkerk, De Nieuwe Kerk, De Oude Kerk and the Saint Nicolas Church. You may also appreciate a visit to the Portuguese Synagogue, where you can discover a part of the Golden Age. Churches in Amsterdam are beautiful places to hide from the rain and for a moment of reflection.
High tea at posh hotel
After walking outside for a bunch of hours, you need to warm up and/or hide from the rain. Simply make an appointment for a luxury brunch, lunch, afternoon tea of high tea at a luxury hotel. Best to arrange that at least few hours in advance but professional places will definitely also be able to accommodate on the last-minute. It’s also great to do something like that for a friend’s birthday for example.
Contrary to what some people think, you do not need to spend the night at such luxury hotel to be a guest at the hotel’s restaurant services. In my earlier article Amsterdam: 6 luxury hotels where you may bump into pop stars and other celebrities at breakfast some suggestions of luxury hotels in Amsterdam that will offer such delicious brunch, high tea or alike on their menu. Check out the Amstel Hotel for example. Amsterdam may not have The Ritz (London) or The Plaza (NYC), but I love these kind of experiences. Every girl deserves a bit of glitter and glamour in her life…. and sweetness.
I don’t know about you, but I love music, especially live at concerts. I have a broad taste in music styles but prefer pop music mostly. Amsterdam has something to offer for almost anyone’s style. So no need to hang around your hotel room on a rainy afternoon or evening, go out and enjoy some music – indoors that would be. For live concerts by bands, singers, etc. the main places in Amsterdam are:
- Melkweg (closed till Sep 1, 2020 due to Corona)
- AFAS Live (6.000 people)
- Ziggodome (17.000 people)
- Johan Cruijff Arena (55.000 people)
The first two mentioned above are close to Leidse Square (center) and small scale. The last three listed are close to Bijlmer Station (South East). The Arena is home of the AJAX soccer team, you can also do a stadium tour there. It strongly depends on who you would like to see perform, whether or not this is something you can decide spontaneously, for example when it rains. But who knows you might be lucky, often there are last minute tickets for sale at Ticketswap of people who cannot go after all.
In addition, Amsterdam also has several theaters and concert halls, usually aimed at more classical shows, jazz, etc. For the latest classical music events check out this page or the website of each specific venue.
- Koninklijk Theater Carré
- De Kleine Komedie
- Koninklijk Concertgebouw Amsterdam
- Conservatorium Amsterdam
- Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ
The Concertgebouw for example normally has this Sunday morning concert. Due to Corona (COVID-19), the current number of shows, concerts, etc. is limited. Some are currently held online instead of live, but things are crawling back up again. On an average, normal year there are more than 16K performances in Amsterdam. That’s 40+ shows per day, 365 days a year.
Traveling on a tight budget? Wander at one of the old-fashioned, charming record stores in Amsterdam. Ask staff if you can listen to a record (for free). My favorite place to do that would be Concerto, where you can also get a nice cup of coffee, sandwich, etc. More suitable for solo travelers than a group.
Dance till dawn
Just listening to music and remain to sit still will be difficult for some people. Music makes you move! There are numerous places where you can go dancing in Amsterdam – indoors, so the only wetness on your body will be sweat from dancing, not the rain outside! The earlier mentioned Paradiso and Melkweg for example are nice places to go dancing, or a so-called ‘brown café’, night clubs, join a Pub Crawl, etc.
Cafes can be found on pretty much every street in Amsterdam, but I’d suggest to check those in the Jordaan neighborhood. I really like this place called Bourbon Street live music club near the Leidse Square. Even on a Tuesday night you can have a great night with dancing and music there. Something pretty special is this Silent Disco. Ideal if you have different music taste than your friend(s) as you can choose different music styles, so you do not necessarily need to dance/listen to the same music.
For those who like house music, Amsterdam will make your heart skip a beat. Recurring club nights are Techno Tuesday at the Melkweg, East Techno at Panama (Thu) and Brainwash at the Escape. For the latest clubbing agenda check out this page. As you can also read in my earlier article Top destinations for people who love music and rhythm, there are normally hundreds of outdoor dance festivals in and around Amsterdam. This summer all are cancelled due to COVID-19. But don’t be sad, in autumn and winter there are many indoor dance music festivals too, like ADE (Oct), AMF, Welcome to the Future Indoor (Nov), Valhalla (Dec), etc. Get tickets beforehand and in time!
The whole going out thing, dancing, etc. starts rather late in Amsterdam, usually around mid-night. So you may need a Red Bull or strong coffee to stay awake LOL Even better: go to a nice (cocktail) bar first, for some pre-drinks, chatting, snacking, flirting, etc. and start the night right after dinner to avoid a big energy dip. Better not eat too heavy either. Some ‘bottom’ is needed, but too much food can make you feel tired and sleepy. And that’s not what you’ll need if you want to party and dance till late in Amsterdam! Nice cocktail bars are for example Basquiat and Rum Barrel. Or check out the bars of luxury hotels, some do not only offer delicious cocktails but also great views! For more suggestions see this page.
Relax at the spa
On the contrary, if you feel like you need a day of relaxing, you may want to consider going to the spa. I love going to the sauna, especially on a rainy day! Nearby Amsterdam I would suggest to go to Fort Resort Beemster, SpaSereen or Sauna van Egmond and spend a day of pampering there. Spa Zuiver in Amsterdam is the closest but to be honest not my favorite. Read all about these places in the earlier article Relax at my favorite saunas in The Netherlands. And yes, you will have to go naked. Yikes!
If you feel a day at the spa would cost you too much time on your city trip to Amsterdam, or you have a problem with nude with others, consider taking at least a massage. Some luxurious hotels in the center offer spa treatments too. That foot massage is well-deserved after the hours of walking!
Did you know that Amsterdam has more bicycles than inhabitants? 881K vs. 838K!
Get a drink (or two, three…)
Honestly, I do not want to encourage anyone to get drunk or become an alcoholic. But I do know that alcohol may help to make people a bit happier sometimes. Like when it rains in the afternoon. You could start with for example visiting the House of Bols, a famous Dutch gin (Dutch: jenever) brand. With a Bols premium ticket one cocktail is included. To discover the secrets behind the best cocktail consider taking their Cocktail Workshop. If you like cocktails but prefer rum over gin, you may want to try this Rum Distillery Class. A wonderful activity on a rainy day in Amsterdam, and also a fun idea for bachelorette parties I’d say!
Beer lovers may want to visit the Heineken Experience, where you can learn more about the history and production process of the famous Dutch beer brand. Although the real beer lovers may rather want to visit a more cozy, small scale brewery on a rainy day in Amsterdam, such as Brouwerij ‘t IJ, Brouwerij Troost, Homeland, De Bier Fabriek, Brouwerij De Bekeerde Suster, etc. Cheers fellas!
Get active indoors
There are plenty of indoor sports (related) activities that you can do indoors. Watch a sports game such as soccer by AJAX in the Amsterdam Arena, go swimming at the indoor pool the Mirandabad, play squash, go bowling, cart racing, laser gaming, roller skating or sing karaoke at Race Planet, etc. So even on a rainy day in Amsterdam, you can do a lot of fun, healthy and (mainly) indoor activities, no worries.
See a movie
During any city trip, when it rains, it’s cold outside, you have soar feet or a combination of those, going to the movies is a great idea. It might be good for you to know that in the Dutch cinemas, all Hollywood blockbusters are in English with Dutch subtitles. So no voice-over in the local language like in many other European countries such as France. The biggest big movie theater (‘bioscoop’) chain in Amsterdam is Pathé with five locations, with the Tuschinski Theater location being the most central, oldest and famous cinema.
Read a book and chill
Sit somewhere inside where it’s warm and cozy, watch the raindrops sliding down the window, grab a cup of tea or coffee and read a good book. Reading is a great way to relax. One of those things locals do on a rainy day in Amsterdam. Find yourself a nice spot at a cozy café, lunch/coffee place or hang out at the Central Library (nice view). If you did not bring a book or e-reader, get one at the American Book Center or grab a magazine at a hotel lobby or kiosk for example.
Amsterdam can definitely be a lot of fun in winter time, snow or no snow. From mid-November up to the first week of February there are several outdoor ice skating rinks throughout the city, like the big one at Museum Square. And not just ice skating or skating lessons, there are lots of other activities too, such as curling, ice carving, Christmas market, music on Sunday afternoons, fireworks at NYE, watching ice hockey, etc. And of course food and hot drinks stalls.
Did you know that Amsterdam has a lot more bridges than Venice? >3 times more!
Although it does not snow very often in The Netherlands (as we are close to the sea and it’s not that freezing cold in winter), you might be lucky because some snow would make such winter activity look perfect, right?! OK ice skating is not unique; this can be done in many cities around the world, but it is fun and romantic anyway. A great way to make the best out of a cold day in Amsterdam in winter I think. But yes, it may also rain instead of snow in winter, when it is not that cold yet, frequently drizzle.
Eat Dutch food
You got to love Dutch pancakes! Wider and less tick than American pancakes, not as thin as French crepes, and sooo good! We also love sugar syrup (stroop) and powder sugar on it, bacon, apple, etc. The Pancake Bakery serves the Dutch classics and offers many different toppings, but also international styles (English, Belgian, Greek, etc.). Madam Pancake serves Instagramable and healthy pancakes. Same story at Pluk, which is also a cute interior shop. You can even learn how to make your own Dutch pancakes at this lady’s house.
OK we should not forget to mention ‘poffertjes’. These are mostly popular with children and tourists LOL I understand why because they are super delicious. Poffertjes are Dutch mini pancakes covered with melted butter and powder sugar hmmm. At least a gazillion calories, but who cares, you will walk for miles and miles in Amsterdam anyway!
Another thing not to miss when in Amsterdam on a rainy day: Dutch apple pie! My favorite place to eat apple pie in Amsterdam is Winkel. One day we accidently ran into it. Apparently it’s a hit on Instagram! A wonderful treat with a cup of tea or coffee.
Something else you will have to try are Dutch stroop waffles, preferably fresh and still warm from the plate. Stroop waffles are large cookies with caramel in between. You see them now at Starbucks too, the copy cats! You can get those fresh ones at the Albert Cuyp Market for example. Finger licking good! But not so funny to walk there on a rainy or terribly cold day. Then you’d better do this Stroop waffle Workshop and make your own, cozy inside.
OMG the fried stuff
Alright, so I honestly could write a whole article about the Dutch food you will have to try while being in Amsterdam, but let’s stick to the essentials for now. We Dutch people loooove deep fried stuff. Dutch potato fries (‘patat’ or ‘friet’) are thinner than the thick Belgian fries yet thicker than the super thin French fries. We eat our fries with mayonnaise, peanut sauce or as a so-called Patatje Oorlog with sauce and raw unions.
“You know what they put on French Fries in Holland instead of ketchup? Mayonnaise. I have seen them do it, man. They fuckin’ drown them in that shit.”Pulp Fiction
The other deep fried snacks we eat a lot in The Netherlands are for example a kroket, frikandel, bitterballen and kaassoufflé. The first two are not rarely eaten like a burger in a bun with sauce. Kaassoufflé is like deep fried cheese with a crust. And bitter balls are mostly eaten as a ‘borrel’ snack next to a glass of beer or wine at a terrace or at birthday parties for example. My favorite! Besides bitter balls you can get these (and more) out of the wall at Febo, or check the ‘kinder menu’ section in most restaurants.
A variety of ‘stamppot’ (hotchpot or stew) with a meat ball or Hema rookworst (sausage) is a typical winter family dish. Perfect for a rainy day in Amsterdam, although stamppot is not offered a lot in the local restaurants. Learn how to make some typical Dutch dishes during this Dutch Cooking Class. You may also enjoy this Jordaan Food Tour (which will include walking from one place to another but you can use an umbrella of course to avoid getting soaked). Oh and don’t forget to eat that ‘broodje hagelslag’ (sandwich with butter and chocolate sprinkles) for breakfast, I’m pretty sure your hotel with offer it.
Candy, cheese & chocolate
Besides there are a number of other typical Dutch food items, like drop (liquorish candy), herring (raw fish) and softijs for example. Softijs is a very tasty type of fresh ice cream with vanilla taste. You can get disco dip or fluid chocolate dip on top! For rookworst, softijs, liquorish and other old-fashioned Dutch candy I would refer to either Hema or Jamin. Softijs is also available at Febo or any other Dutch snack bar.
For herring it needs to be the right season (from mid-June). Best is a fish stall at the market or in the harbor like in Volendam (40 min northeast of Amsterdam Dan Square by public transport). Personally I prefer ‘kibbeling’ or a ‘lekkerbek’, which are both basically deep fried cod with a crust and garlic sauce dip.
Rainy day or not, you definitely need to try some Dutch cheese. Believe me, the Gouda you have at home is really not the same quality. Do a Cheese Tasting or take a Cheese Cruise with wine. I personally love cheese with a mustard dip and a glass of wine… Yum! We also like sliced cheese on our bread. However, should you not be into cheese or lactose intolerant, you better go for Chocolate Tasting instead? And by the way, did you know there is Dutch wine too? It can be pretty good actually, but it will be very difficult to find in Amsterdam.
Again, I could write a whole article (or maybe even a book) about all the lovely restaurants in Amsterdam, but let’s just mention a small selection here.
- De laatste kruimel or Bagel & Beans for brunch or lunch
- The Avocado Show guess what you can eat there?
- Foodhallen to eat your heart out…indoors!
- Mediamatic Serres Séparées eat inside a tiny glass house
- Mama Kelly Amsterdam the most stylish pink restaurant ever
- Madam Amsterdam for food, drinks and music with a view
- Hummus Bistro D&A or Hummus & Zo if you love hummus like I do
- Hard Rock Café or Burgers & Dogs Cruise for juicy burgers & alike
Smoke a joint*
Did she really just say that? Yes I did. I’m Dutch and I’m OK if an adult would like to try to smoke a joint while in Amsterdam – but only if you really want to*? The fact is, every year about 1.5 million tourists visit a so-called coffee shop in Amsterdam. Smoking pot is legal here from the age of 18, I am not judging anybody. Just make sure you have nothing else planned that day, stick to one joint per person, surround yourself with reliable friends or a family member, and at least one person needs to stay sober.
The Grasshopper and The Bulldog (Leidse Sq. location is a former police station) are two major ones. But obviously there are lots (160+) of other coffee shops in Amsterdam. Bring an ID. Or join this guided group tour. Take care of yourself and double-o behave! And don’t blame me if you get nauseous afterwards, or something like that.
It rarely rains everywhere in The Netherlands at the same time. Should a rainy day be predicted for Amsterdam on a certain day of your trip, you may want to consider taking a day trip outside of Amsterdam. There are lots of things to do and see. Consider visiting Alkmaar, Haarlem, Zaanse Schans, Veluwe, Utrecht, Delft, The Hague, Rotterdam, etc. Simply grab the train or take a guided group day tour, which you can easily book online with Get Your Guide or Viator. Staying longer in Amsterdam and wish to see more of the country? Then check out my earlier article My top 5 trips for a relaxed long weekend in The Netherlands.
The Dutch weather
On average, it rains 125 out of 365 days per year in The Netherlands. That’s 35%! That may sound worse than it really is. It rarely happens that it rains all day long. Most often there will be some showers here and there. The great thing with rainy weather and the late autumn, winter and early spring season is that there will be less crowds and no waiting lines! Yah! The weather app Buienradar will help you to predict when it will be dry, the best time to go from A to B, although not always 100% accurate. Bring or buy an umbrella, your most useful souvenir ever 😉
When planning a city trip to Amsterdam, just count on at least a rainy day. Who knows you might be pleasantly surprised?!
There is this Dutch hobby called complaining about the weather. Even expats participate! I guess at least it gives people something to talk about. The thing is that the Dutch weather is a bit unpredictable. So in the morning it may seem sunny, but in the afternoon it may rain. But that’s in a lot of places I think, especially when located close to the sea. But honestly, it is really not that bad. You won’t melt. It may also rain when you come in July, you know. And as you can read in this article, there are, even if it rains, still plenty of fun things to do in Amsterdam! Don’t let the rain ruin your trip.
How to get around
The hardcore locals will just grab their bicycles, even when it is raining cats and dogs. You, as a decent tourist who needs to take some photos every now and then, would be better off grabbing a tram, train, bus or walking around with an umbrella, depending on the location, distance and your physical condition. There are lots of options to get around Amsterdam, it’s not so big. The best ways to get around in Amsterdam on a rainy day (or on any day besides riding a bicycle) would be:
- Check the 9292 app or website or use Google Maps to sort out how to get from A to B.
- If you’re staying in Amsterdam for three days or more, I’d suggest to get an anonymous OV-chip card for public transport; the card costs EUR 7.50 + money to use for the rides (start with EUR 20 for example).
- You can buy an anonymous OV-chip card from a NS train station ticket machine, kiosks such as AKO, Primera and Bruna, Albert Heijn (supermarket), GVB service point, etc.
- Or get yourself an Iamsterdam card for 24-120 hours, which covers public transport, a canal boat ride, entrance to museums and attractions, discounts at a bunch of restaurants, etc.
- Or get a GVB day or multi day ticket to use the GVB municipal public transportation (tram, metro, bus, ferry).
- Hop on the red Hop-On- Hop-Off sightseeing bus for a day (or two) around the city.
Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam city center
From Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS) you can easily take a train to Amsterdam Central Station. Just make sure you switch trains at Amsterdam Sloterdijk! The trains do not ride 24/7 so if you have a very early or late flight, you may end up needing to either a taxi or maybe a night bus, depending on your location, budget and the weather I guess. Unfortunately Uber is illegal in The Netherlands. Never accept a ride with a taxi driver that approaches you in the arrivals hall of Schiphol airport, they will rip you off! Better arrange a taxi pick up via your accommodation.
Canal boat ride
OK not ideal on a rainy day but should you be that one unlucky tourist that has rain every day during your stay in Amsterdam, or you are simply in the mood to just sit down and give your feet a bit of rest after all the walking, taking a canal boat ride might be a good option. Otherwise I would pick a sunny day for this activity. The main boarding platforms of the various shipping companies are in front of Amsterdam Central Station, both on the left and right side, but it is also possible to board elsewhere on the main canals. My favorite is Lovers. Most canal boats have hard top covers to protect guests from the rain. And there are also evening dinner possibilities on these boats.
Did you know that the Amsterdam canals are listed as UNESCO World Heritage? Yep, since 2010.
Where to stay in Amsterdam
There are lots of places to stay in Amsterdam, very challenging to find something cheap. But maybe you do not want something cheap anyway? I prefer good quality for a fair price. There is a high demand for hotel rooms in Amsterdam, so better book your accommodation in time. I have written two earlier articles about hotels in Amsterdam that I really like and I would recommend staying at (if available and if you can afford):
- Cool & affordable hotel: Inn Hotel Amsterdam Zaandam
- Amsterdam: 6 luxury hotels where you may bump into pop stars and other celebrities at breakfast
Should you be looking for a studio or apartment for 2 up to 8 people in Amsterdam, consider staying at the fabulous new Cityden West. Contact me for a special discount offer, latest check-in possibility Feb 28, 2021.
This article is dedicated to my dear friend Joyce from Hong Kong. Unfortunately she was not able to travel to Amsterdam this week due to the Corona (COVID-19) travel ban. I am hoping that she will be able to come over early 2021. Sure, the weather will be different than in June, but winter days in Amsterdam certainly have their charm. And who knows you will be lucky? Some winter days are bright and sunny, crocuses coming out, perhaps some snowflakes? With this article I wanted to show that a trip to Amsterdam can be fun anytime, regardless the weather conditions.
I hope you will enjoy the wonderful city Amsterdam regardless the weather. The city where I studied and where part of my friends and family live. Obviously, most of the things mentioned in this article can be done with sunny weather too. Sure, you could also decide to stay in bed and get room service all day. Up to you! Should you have any further questions or remarks, let me know by filling out below form.
Read more articles about The Netherlands in the Netherlands Blog Archives.
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