Halfway 2019 we wrote the following: ‘In 2020 Amsterdam will be busier than ever before’. We wrote that sentence before COVID-19 stopped tourists from coming to the Dutch capital. While we expected massive crowds on popular days like Kingsday, Amsterdam’s streets were empty for months and large crowds will stay clear from the city for the forseeable future. When you read this article, please be aware that this blog is a scenario without COVID-19.
In 2020 Amsterdam will be busier than ever before. We recommend to completely avoid peak season in the Dutch capital. Amsterdam has become too busy. The best time to visit the city is late spring or early fall. To avoid crazy crowds while still enjoying good weather, we recommend visiting Amsterdam in April, May, September or even as late in the year as early October. Although you have to be lucky with the weather, crowds in Amsterdam are much more bearable outside peak season. If you want to avoid cold, wet and windy weather avoid the period from November to February. Check our daily crowd predictions for the best dates in 2020.
Be aware that Amsterdam is getting busier every year. So busy that the local government is taking measures to preserve the livability of the city. The city council has famously introduced a tax on cruise ship passengers, a campaign targeted at more noisy tourists as well as a tax on tour groups. Meanwhile, the city wants tourists also to visit other parts of the Netherlands.
How busy is Amsterdam in January?
January weather is a good reason to skip Amsterdam. It can be wet, cold and windy. During colder years the canal freeze and you can skate through the city. Unfortunately, global warming is making this less likely each year. In terms of crowds, January is perfect if you want to avoid crowds. You can even get lucky with the weather. Except for some British stag parties in the weekends, crowds are not to be found in the city during the first month of the year. If you can deal with the possible adverse weather, a January trip to Amsterdam is a great idea. If you can’t stand the cold, we advise you to pick another quiet(er) month like March.
February crowds in Amsterdam
February can still be cold, wet and windy in Amsterdam. But ‘thanks’ to global warming, we have witnessed spring(ish) days as early as February. At the end of the month you can get lucky and get acceptable weather with sporadic sunshine on Amsterdam’s canals. But honestly, the weather is a bit of a gamble. In terms of crowds, you have to keep an eye on winter vacations throughout the European continent. School vacations and low hotel prices will make for some busy days in Amsterdam. School vacations in some parts of the Netherlands will make some days busier than others. Our daily crowd predictions take all these school vacations into consideration.
Tourism in Amsterdam starts to pick up in Amsterdam
March is a good month to visit Amsterdam. Although, tourism starts to pick up, the weather is improving quickly while the summer crowds are not yet to be found in the Dutch capital. With spring kicking in, the first cruise ships and larger tour groups can be found in the city. However, with no school vacations on the European continent and almost no public holidays, March is one of our favourite months to visit the Dutch capital. The weather can still be unpredictable so we recommend bringing an umbrella.
April in Amsterdam has some extremely busy days
April brings better weather but also bigger crowds. Although the month isn’t busy overall, it has the busiest day of the year: King’s Day (Koningsdag). Celebrated on April 27, the Dutch dress up in orange to celebrate the birthday of its monarch: King Willem-Alexander. If you are in the city on this special day, expect the biggest crowds you have ever seen. New Year’s Eve crowds on Times Square are not more than ‘cute’ compared to Kingsday in the Dutch capital. Apart from Koningsdag, early April or very late April is the best time to visit with good weather and lower crowds. Also good to know: April is flower season with Holland’s famous Keukenhof Park opening its doors to tourists from around the globe. Also be aware of the days around Easter where the entire continent has a long weekend off from work and school.
Is May a good month to visit Amsterdam?
May is arguably the best month to visit Amsterdam in 2020. Although the weather is still a bit unpredictable, you can expect more sunshine and less rain as the month progresses. There are some days in May where it can be busy. For example, on May 1 when most of Europe, including neighbouring Europe, celebrate Labor Day. Although not a public holiday in the Netherlands, the public holiday will make Amsterdam more crowded than other days. Two other potential busy days can be May 4 (Remembrance Day) and May 5 (Liberation Day). At the end of the month there are also some public holidays in Europe you need to keep your eye on. Check our daily crowd predictions to know which days are busier than others.
In June Amsterdam gets busier
Thinking about crowds, June is not great, not terrible in Amsterdam. Crowds really start to grow in June. Although the first weeks of June are still not crazy busy it will start to get very busy at the end of the month. School vacations in the Netherlands as well as in most neighbouring countries are the main reason for the growing crowds. June weather in Amsterdam is great. There is always the risk of an occasional rain shower but the sun will shine more often and the average temperature is rising quickly.
July is peak season in Amsterdam with big crowds
Peak season in Amsterdam starts early July and lasts until the end of August. We recommend getting out of the city if you can. School vacations in most of Europe combined with some cruise ships visiting the Amsterdam Passenger Terminal, will make sure people fill the streets. It is advisable to plan ahead by buying tickets to the places you want to visit. For example by booking a skip the line ticket from an authorized ticket seller of the Rijksmuseum. Also think about a day trip to one of Holland’s other highlights. Weather in the Netherlands is at its best but you should still check the weather forecast for possible rain showers.
August in Amsterdam is best to avoid.
Amsterdam’s peak season continues in August. In fact, August in Amsterdam is so busy that we advise tourists to completely avoid the city. With tourists coming to the Dutch capital from all around the world, the city can be extremely crowded. The city’s centre gets suffocated by tourists blocking alleys and causing annoyances well beyond the most touristic areas. If you are able to travel to Amsterdam during another month, it will be much more enjoyable. If you still want to go, it is wise to plan ahead and also consider leaving the city for other great highlights the Netherlands has to offer.
Is September a good month to visit Amsterdam?
September is a great month to visit Amsterdam! In September, Amsterdam will slowly return to normal. Although some European countries still have school vacations during the beginning of the month, most European children will head back to school this month and families will stop arriving in the city. Weekends can still be crowded, but the city is getting less busy as the month goes by. The weather has changed over the last years as a result of global warming. You can now enjoy the ‘late zomerdagen’ (warm late summer days) in Amsterdam all throughout September
October in Amsterdam is mostly not crowded
Overall October is not so crowded in the Dutch capital. But be aware of public holidays in other European countries. For example on October 3 when Germany celebrates a national holiday. Some other weeks are potentially busy because of Autumn vacations in some European countries. The weather by now has become unpredictable. It can be good, it can be bad.
November is not busy in Amsterdam but the weather isn’t great
November is a quiet month in Amsterdam. The weather unfortunately isn’t that quiet. Autumn storms can make the city cold, windy and wet. But if you are lucky with the weather, you can enjoy a city that is relatively quiet. The city will slowly get into holiday spirit. There are no public holidays or school vacations in the Netherlands and also in other cities, it is relatively quiet. Overall, November is the best month to travel throughout Europe with low hotel prices, low air fares and smaller crowds. But remember, that is probably due to weather conditions being very unpredictable.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) is currently generating headlines across the world. We are now keeping track of all tourist attractions closing down or taking measures.
December in Amsterdam
Without major well known Christmas markets, Amsterdam is not a typical Christmas time tourist destination. Even though Amsterdam is not a holiday season favourite, tourism does pick up a little through the month. Also local events, like Sinterklaas, do attract lots of (mostly Dutch) people. In general, December in Amsterdamis not as busy as cities like Amsterdam or Paris. Except if you try shopping in the Beijenkorf department store on Dam Square the days before Christmas. That would be a bad decision as the store will be super crowded.
Amsterdam weather throughout the year
Due to its geographical location near the sea, The Netherlands has a mild sea climate. Weather throughout the year is not extreme with relatively warm winters and bearable summer temperatures. Also due to the sea, the country, and Amsterdam in particular, does experience lots of wind and rain. If wind and rain are a combined force, the mild temperatures do not really matter anymore: it will feel really cold.
December to February are winter months in Amsterdam
The calendar year in the Netherlands starts off with cold and wet winter weather. Although pictures of frozen canals in Amsterdam are world famous, it is very unusual for the city to get so cold. The average temperature drops to an average of just above freezing point. However, temperature is not what makes Amsterdam feel so cold during these winter months. It is a combination of wind and rain. On average it rains on 12 out of 30 days in January. February is slightly less wet with rain on 10 days on average. Only if the rain turns into snow and the wind calms down, the lower temperatures become bearable.
Spring (March to May) in Amsterdam
Spring weather in the Netherlands is best described as unpredictable. Some days it can be cold while on other days can be sunny. Rain is also a factor. On average it will rain on one third of all days during spring in Amsterdam. There will be lots of amazing sunny days and the temperature will rise every week. While spring starts of cold with average maximum temperatures of 10 degrees Celsius (50 Fahrenheit) in March the temperature does rise to 14C (57F) in April and 17C (63F) in May.
Summer (June to August) in Amsterdam
Summers in Amsterdam are gorgeous. Due to the mild sea climate, the Netherlands experiences relatively cold summers. But that makes summer only more enjoyable! It means that it is very unusual for temperatures to rise above 27 degrees Celsius (80.6 F). Unfortunately, it also means that showers could ruin some summer days. In the last years, as an effect of global warming, the Netherlands has been experiencing long stretches of warm and dry weather during the summer months.
Autumn weather in Amsterdam (September to November)
During autumn, the Netherlands gets colder and wetter. That means that wind chill becomes a major factor. Each week, the risk of an autumn storm or local weather depression gets bigger. October is the wettest months of the year with an average precipitation of 90 millimetres (3.5 inches). November, tied with August, is second with 85 mm (3.3 inch).