Amsterdam in winter | 2019/2020 essentials

Amsterdam in winter: ice skating on the canals

Planning a trip to Amsterdam in winter 2019/2020?
You will want to put these events on your bucket list

Visiting Amsterdam this winter? Great idea! We tend to say: ‘there’s no bad weather – just bad clothing’. Make sure you dress warm, waterproof and windproof and you will enjoy the fairy tale scenery of Amsterdam.

In this blog:
Art & culture
Events & activities
Family-friendly Amsterdam
Food & drinks

Amsterdam in winter: Art & culture

Whole season | Canal house museums | Several locations
Amsterdam has got dozens of larger and smaller museums. A perfect day in Amsterdam in winter? Alternate strolls and indoor visits. As you can see on the map, many smaller museums are concentrated in the center. You can take a beautiful walk through the medieval center and the canals, including several indoor stops along the route.

Our lord in the attic is almost literally a hidden gem. A hidden Catholic church, to be more specific, tucked away in the attic of a 17th century canal house. Here you will learn everything about religious freedom and tolerance.

The Rembrandthuis is the house where Rembrandt lived in the 1640’s and 1650’s. Besides a small collection of his work, you can see here how the famous painter lived in the best years of his life.

Willet-Holthuysen is a 17th canal house which you can visit to experience Amsterdam’s 18th and 19th century wealth. The last residents, the Willet-Holthuysen couple, bequeathed their house and art collection to the municipality of Amsterdam.

The Museum of bags and purses is exactly what the name implies. In a canal house you find the largest bags and purses collection of the world. About 4500 items show the history of bags from the late Middle Ages till today.
The richly decorated interior of Museum van Loon

Museum Van Loon is named after the Van Loon family, the last residents of the house and founders of the museum. Like at the Willet-Holthuysen museum, you can see how the rich of flourishing Amsterdam lived their life.

The Kattenkabinet or cat cabinet is a perfect example of the rule that everything can be combined. A man, Bob Meijer, and his cat, John Piermont Morgan, moved into a classic canal house in the second half of the 20th century. Bob started to collect cat items and dedicated the collection to J.P. after his death in 1983. Strolling through the house, you will find cats of Rembrandt, Picasso, Corneille and many more famous and less famous artists.

The Bijbels museum (Biblical museum) houses in a part of the Cromhout houses. The Cromhout houses are a row of canal houses, built by one of the wealthiest families of 17th century Amsterdam. Parts of the original interior have been reconstructed. The Biblical museum has got a historical collection, as well as temporary art and culture exhibitions.

The richly decorated facade of the Bartolotti house
The Bartolotti house is a 17th century canal house built by the nephew of the Bartolotti couple. As they themselves didn’t have children, their nephew Willem inherited their Golden Age wealth if he would keep the name Bartolotti visible. This promise resulted in one of the most decorated facades of Amsterdam’s canal ring. Inside the house, you find impressively decorated rooms.

The Houseboat museum is located in a former cargo ship which has been turned into a house. Experience what it’s like to be inside a houseboat and ask all you ever wanted to know – well, about the topic – to the residents.

Whole season | History Wonderland |
Customized indoor and outdoor tour
We regularly tour hours through the city, out on the streets. We completely understand if this seems less appealing to you during the cold winter months. Therefore we came up with a simple yet perfect solution. We combine a 1,5 – 2 hours city walk with a 1,5 – 2 hours museum visit. You get to experience some highlights of Amsterdam’s beauty. And before you freeze, we continue indoors with one of our highly valued museum tours. You can choose to focus either on the 17th century/ Rembrandt or the 19th century/ van Gogh.

17th century / Rembrandt
Discover the neighborhood where Rembrandt lived and see where he painted some of his most famous works, like the Nightwatch, Syndics of the Draper’s Guild an Anatomy Lesson of dr. Tulp. Additional option: a visit to the Rembrandt house. In the Rijksmuseum, we will visit the Honor Galery of the Golden Age, to see Rembrandt’s and other works from the heydays of Dutch painting. 

19th century / van Gogh
Discover the Amsterdam that dates from van Vincent van Gogh’s decades. After a historical city stroll we visit the Van Gogh museum to learn all about his life and works.  

Amsterdam in winter: Events & activities

28 Nov – 19 Jan | Amsterdam Light Festival | East side of the center
The Amsterdam Light Festival has become a well known tradition, adding some extra activity to the quiet winter months. While the days get shorter, the east side of Amsterdam’s center gets lighted by art works. This year’s theme is ‘disrupt’. Twenty artists, both established and upcoming, from 16 countries, have all interpreted this theme in their own way. You may simply bump into one or more of the art works while you move around the city, or prepare a proper route to see as many of them as possible. The art works are visible by boat tour or by foot.

4-8 December | International Queer and Migrant Film Festival |  De Balie
This year, the International Queer and Migrant Film Festival celebrates its 5th edition. The festival looks at sexual diversity in migrant populations around the world. There are world premieres and special film events, as well as presentations and discussions around the theme of sociology and the LGBTI scene.

26 Dec – 1 Jan | TangoTrain | several locations
TangoTrain brings together tango styles and tango fans from around the world. Whether you wish to participate or simply watch, there is plenty to do and see. Amsterdam is considered one of the major tango cities. During the last week of the year, you can indulge in performances, workshops and more by some of the best tango and milonga dancers of the world.

18 January | National tulip day | Dam
Tulips: who doesn’t love them? One Saturday in January, the Dam turns into one big tulip garden. Everybody is invited to drop by and pick their own tulip – for free, that is. The garden opens at 13:00 and closes when all tulips have been picked.

7 – 9 February | Little Italy | Westergasfabriek 
We are aware that you most probably read this blog as you are interested in visiting Amsterdam. Why would we tell you about a ‘visit Italy‘ event then? Well, besides travel tips, you can also find delicious Italian food and products here! And actually the whole area is worth a visit: combine a taste of Italy with one or more of the other great cafe restaurants of the Westergasterrein.

 22 & 23 February | Chocoa | Beurs van Berlage
This chocolate festival covers all aspects of the cacao chain – from bean to bar. Amsterdam has got a centuries old connection with cacao. It was one of the luxury trade items from the Golden Age on. Still today, the Amsterdam harbor is the biggest cacao portal of the world. At Chocoa you can learn everything about the process, tastes, sustainability and fair trade. And of course there are plenty of options to taste.

Amsterdam in winter: Family-friendly Amsterdam

Are you planning a city trip to Amsterdam with your family in winter? Nice! You might like to limit your outdoor time. Make sure the whole family dresses warm and you will certainly enjoy the fairy tale vibe of Amsterdam’s winter picturesqueness. Best recipe for all generations is to combine outdoor with indoor. Amsterdam has very high quality children’s museums. Here are some options.

Nemo is the science museum. From historical artifacts to futuristic inventions: here you can learn and try everything in the range of energy, technology and more. It’s a colorful and active place, inviting children as well as adults to discover marvels of science. 

the Royal Palace
The Royal Palace was built in the 17th century as city hall, depicting the wealth of those days. In the early 1800’s, when the Netherlands became a monarchy, the building was appointed as royal palace. The royal family only uses it for official receptions and events. Take the children’s audio tour and be guided through centuries of grandeur as if a 17th century child is taking you by the hand.

Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum
Whether your kids like art, or not that much, they will enjoy a museum tour with one of our highly appreciated family-friendly guides! A tour through one museum takes about 2 hours. A combined visit of both museums takes about 3 hours. We assure you that the whole family will enjoy this special experience!

Children’s museum of the Jewish history museum
This children’s museum is set up as if you are visiting the home of a Jewish family. Learn some Hebrew in the study room, bake bread rolls in the kitchen and try more ‘typical Jewish’ things throughout the house. The children’s museum is part of the Jewish Cultural Quarter. The entrance ticket also gives you access to the neighboring Portuguese synagogue. It’s definitely worth having a look inside this building as well!

East from Amsterdam you find the Muiderslot. This defense castle is over 700 years old and still stands impressively strong. For children, there’s a ‘discover and explore’ quest. By completing tasks, they may even turn into a knight!
                         Inside Nemo      Muiderslot

Amsterdam in winter: Food & drinks

Cold and dark days ask for warm comfort food. Most of these places have a fire place as well. All of them serve organic, mainly local produce and have lots of vegetarian/ vegan options.

From the outside, you don’t expect this amount of coziness at all! Pllek houses in old sea containers. Inside, you find a great vibe, great food & drinks, and a marvelous view over the river IJ. The way to get there is also cool: from the back side of Centraal Station, you take the ferry to NDSM. The ferry ride is free and takes 20 minutes.
Inside bar restaurant Pllek NDSM Amsterdam

Meneer Nieges
Meneer Nieges is also along the IJ, almost right across Pllek. It’s a 1,5 km stroll along the river from Centraal Station. Additional fun: the swing couch at the fire place.

Italian food lovers: make sure you reserve in time! Toscanini is: the purest ingredients, home made bread and pasta, and following the principles of slow food. It’s located in the middle of the Jordaan, so great to combine with an afternoon stroll through this picturesque neighborhood!

You find Pacific on the Westergasterrein, in one of the former gas factory buildings. They managed to combine the old industrial vibe with a good amount of coziness. Fridays and Saturdays the cafe restaurant turns into a club from 23:00 on.

Candlelit restaurant Pompstation houses in a former water-pumping station. Here you can enjoy life’s luxuries like wagyu burgers, lobster and fine wines. Thursdays to Sundays, your dinner’s being accompanied by live background music.

‘t Badhuis
Badhuis means bathhouse – which was the original function of this building. Today cafe restaurant ‘t Badhuis is divided into cozy sections. Especially the fire place suits the season well. Our suggestion: combine with a stroll through the Javastraat. This lively street has a nice mix of multicultural and hip shops.

Mr. & Mrs. Watson
This vegan restaurant truly knows about tasteful comfort food. Mr. & Mrs. Watson is famous for their vegan cheese fondue and cheese platter. It’s wise to reserve up front!

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