Wondering what to do in Amsterdam in January, February or March? Winters in Amsterdam are considered mild. Temperatures can drop, but the city is near the sea, so temperatures in winter don’t go that far below zero. Icy winds and a humid air can make a winter in Amsterdam feel much colder however. A day of walking around the Amsterdam canals get you very, very chilled. On a holiday to Amsterdam in winter, it’s important to find activities in Amsterdam that can warm you.
Here are some ideas what to do in Amsterdam in winter:
1. Eat Dutch pea soup and stamppot
Dutch food is known mostly for it nutritious quality. No culinary art, but simple food, rich in calories for the necessary energy that will give your body that little bit of extra to help you handle the humid and cold air sweeping through the streets and your bones.
It’s in winter time, that Dutch food shows its value: lots of potatoes, fatty meats and local vegetables with high levels of vitamin C and iron. Many typical Dutch vegetables are actually harvested in winter time, such as ‘winter carrots’, zuurkool (sauerkraut) and boerenkool (kale, a cabbage like plant).
Hutspot and boerenkool
Most common Dutch winter dishes are soups, like Dutch peasoup (erwtensoep) and stamppot. Stamppot consists of boiled potatoes mashed with vegetables and sausage. Most famous are hutspot (potatoes, carrots and onion) and boerenkool stamppot (potatoes and kale).
These dishes are typically home cooked and not served in restaurants. The quality depends on the freshness and quality of the used vegetables. Some tourist restaurants in the centre serve ‘Dutch food’ including stamppot, but if it tastes much like a home cooked Dutch meal is doubtful.
Dutch pea soup
Be sure to grab some Dutch pea soup in winter in Amsterdam. It’s easy to find and definitely recommended. You can find pea soup in winter and in autumn in Amsterdam in restaurants and smaller eateries in Amsterdam. Look for signs that say: erwtensoep. It’s delicious and wonderfully filling.
2. Take a tram ride
When the city of Amsterdam is covered in a blanket of snow, it’s difficult and chilly to walk around. And when the temperatures start falling below zero, riding a bicycle can be very dangerous. Every year, many people end up in hospital after biking accidents due to slippery road.
So why no try out the Amsterdam trams? The trams give you access to areas of Amsterdam tourists don’t usually frequent but are certainly worthwhile. Just pick a seat near the heating and watch ‘normal Dutch’ people get in and out the tram in their normal daily live. Don’t forget to watch the scenery outside.
Tram to the Amsterdam East
The Amsterdam East is a beautiful area, with broad streets, lots of trees, water and characteristic buildings. Take tram 3,7,9, or 14. You can either just stay put in the tram and and take the same tram back again or get out and wander around the area you’re in.
3. Explore Amsterdam Southeast by metro
If you are more adventurous, take the metro to Amsterdam South East. The South East (called Amsterdam Zuidoost or Bijlmer) is a rather separate borough of Amsterdam and is considered the multicultural heart of Amsterdam. The people who live here originate from countries all over the world.
One of the biggest communities is from the African nation of Ghana. Also, there are many people with a Caribbean background. They come from old Dutch colonies in the West: Surinam (also many hindoe) and the Dutch Antilles (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao). This rich diversity makes Amsterdam Zuidoost a special place, with wonderfully rich cuisine.
Take metro 54 and get out at Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena. Here you have two options: turn left to find a large open square with a mega cinema Pathé and megastores like Decathlon, Esprit and Media Markt. Or turn right and head towards Amsterdamse Poort Shopping Centre.
Shopping and Ajax stadium Arena
With over 230 shops, Shopping Centre Amsterdamse Poort (partly open air) is the largest shopping centre of Amsterdam. Enough to keep you busy for an afternoon and try some of the fantastic restaurants and food bars. You can combine a walk around Amsterdamse Poort with a visit to the Ajax Arena, the football stadium of Amsterdam football club Ajax.
4. Visit a sauna
Really need to warm after walking all those canals? Great thing to do in winter in Amsterdam is to visit a sauna. A well known sauna is Sauna Decor, centrally located on Herengracht. In the woods of Amsterdamse Bos lies a more luxurious Spa: Spa Amsterdam Zuiver. Here you will find wide variety of pools, hot tubs, saunas, hamams and lounge areas inside and outside.
Treat yourself to a nice massage or beauty treatment. To get to Spa Amsterdam Zuiver, take bus 170 or 172 and get out at Koenenkade. You can combine the visit to the Spa with a nice long walk in the beautiful park of Amsterdamse Bos beforehand.
5. Enjoy the night life
Or just stay in bed in winter in Amsterdam and enjoy the Amsterdam night life. The Amsterdam night life is only to be explored during the weekend. Combine a visit to a restaurant with a night of Amsterdam clubbing.