Travel Tips

Amsterdam in January 2022: all you need to know to plan a trip

All you need to know to plan a trip to Amsterdam in January: the best things to see, where to stay, Amsterdam Christmas activities and travel tips.

January is the heart of the winter in Amsterdam. The days tend to be short, cold and grey and the festive cheer slowly leaves the city, bringing it back to a slow and local pace.

Cold weather, however, doesn’t take away Amsterdam’s charm and there are many reasons why visiting Amsterdam in January is a great idea.

The key to a successful trip to Amsterdam in January is to know what to expect and plan accordingly.

This travel guide has all you need to know to plan a January trip to Amsterdam: as well as our recommended top Amsterdam attractions for visitors, it includes our tips on the best hotels in Amsterdam for winter, the best things to do in January in Amsterdam and travel tips.

Need to know! In 2022, restrictions are in place that will impact your stay and will limit your ability to enjoy the city. Please check the Dutch Government website for official updates. .

Therefore, I recommend you do not travel at this time; however, I recommend you plan a visit in January in Amsterdam when safe to do so again.

Please note: check official travel rules and restrictions on the Dutch Government Website here. Also, check websites of individual attractions (provided below, when available) for the dates of your travel to monitor sudden closures.

This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through them, we might make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

The weather in Amsterdam in January: what to expect

January is winter in Amsterdam.

In January, you should expect short daylight hours, grey sky, some rainy days, and a dusting of snow.

However, you should also expect dreamy atmospheres: the canals in the snow are magical!

Official temperatures and precipitation data are:

Temperature Max / MinAverage Rainy Days
6C/43F – 1C/34F12

In practice, to visit Amsterdam in January, you need to wrap up with an excellent rainproof coat, scarf, gloves and hat. You also want to wear warm shoes that can take the rain.

If you are not used to cold weather, an urban thermal top layer can come in handy; however, Amsterdam doesn’t get temperatures as rigid as other parts of continental Europe so you don’t need technical gear – a good woolen sweater and a proper jacket tend to suffice.

You usually do not need full-on snow gear. However, if you have urban snow boots, they can be handy.

What to pack to visit Amsterdam in January

To visit Amsterdam in January, you want to have with you:

• Rain resistant winter coat
• Scarf, gloves and hat
• Thermal top for urban sightseeing
• Rainproof boots
• Warm pajamas for the night

You can find here >>>> my complete packing list for Amsterdam in January.

Where to stay in Amsterdam in January

The best place to stay in Amsterdam in January is the city center, within the Canal Ring.

I recommend you pick a cozy hotel with a good lobby bar, so you can have a drink in the evening even if you don’t feel like going out or an apartment with self-catering facilities.

Addresses you may like are:
Pulitzer Amsterdam – Stunning, five-star hotel hosted in historical canal houses in the heart of Amsterdam Canal District. One of the best high-end hotels in the city.
Hoxton Amsterdam – Hip and modern four-star hotel in the heart of Amsterdam, with a grand lobby bar.
Hilton Amsterdam Centraal – Great, four-star Hilton property close to Central Station, offering interconnecting rooms and an excellent rooftop terrace.
Zoku Amsterdam is an excellent hotel with apartment-style rooms with a private kitchen, reception desk, and coworking space.
Hotel Dwarf – pleasant three-star hotel in Amsterdam City center, with modern, hip decor, close to shops and restaurants
Mr. Jordaan – a beautiful three-star hotel with quirky and cozy decor in the elegant Jordaan area, close to the Anne Frank House

The best things to do in Amsterdam in January

The best things to do in Amsterdam in January are a mix of classic sightseeing, seasonal activities and shopping!

Marvel at the works of art of the Amsterdam lights festival – canceled for 2022

Amsterdam in January hosts a fantastic lights festival.

The festival takes place every year during the darkest weeks of the winter and lasts from early December to the third week in January.

The festival is a public display of light art installations in outdoor locations around Amsterdam.

Artists from all over the world participate in the festival, and their installations, literally brighten up Amsterdam’s nights!

The best way to admire the displays is by an evening canal cruise. Many of the installations are on bridges, and the cruise gives you a natural vantage point to see them in all their splendor and reflecting on the water.

This is an attractive way to visit Amsterdam in winter since it allows you to make the most of hours of darkness that would otherwise likely go to waste.

It is also a great way to learn about Amsterdam: the guides are fun and very informative.

Find info and prices of the light festival canal cruise here.

This activity is kid-friendly

Canal in Amsterdam about to freeze
Canal in Amsterdam about to freeze

Go ice skating in Amsterdam city center.

Amsterdam has several seasonal ice rinks perfect for a fun afternoon outdoors.

The most scenic one is probably on Museum Plein, just in front of the Rijks Museum: here, you have an outdoor skating area open day and evening, when colorful lights light up the ice. This ice skating rink is up until 30 January 2022.

Other ice skating rinks in Amsterdam city center are on Rembrandtplein (Until January 9th) and Amsterdam Winter Paradise (until January 3rd).

This activity is kid-friendly

Need to know! Occasionally, Amsterdam canals freeze up in winter and people go ice skating on them. This is not a regular occurrence and there are risks associated with it: caution is paramount! The recommendation is to skate in designated ice rinks only.

Go shopping and window shopping

Amsterdam is fabulous for shopping and January can be a great time to enjoy them since you won’t be competing with excessive crowds, like in the Christmas period.

Amsterdam shop with festive decorations
Amsterdam shop with festive decorations

Shopping in Amsterdam comes in all shapes and sizes. In the city center, you find big department stores and international high street brands; however, what makes the city unique are its concept stores and markets.

Concept stores are sometimes pricey but they are lovely, especially in winter: if you are shopping in Amsterdam in January, you can peruse them and often even be able to defrost with a cup of coffee in the shop itself.

If you prefer markets, I love Albert Cuypt Market, which is central and varied. This is an outdoor market but you have several hot food stands that make it pleasant even in January!

This is also a great place for bargains and souvenirs, with stalls and shops selling fro clothing to household items to food and novelty items.

Warm-up with afternoon tea at the elegant Duchess

Afternoon tea in Amsterdam is a bit of a treat. However, if budget allows, high tea at the Duchess in The W is one of the most pleasant ways to enjoy a January afternoon in Amsterdam.

High tea cup in Amsterdam with flute of champagne
Close up of elegant china during high tea in Amsterdam

Book a table, dress up and enjoy their delightful china and tea cakes with canal views!

Book a table here.

Visit the Rijksmuseum

A visit to the Rijksmuseum and its Dutch Masters Wing is always worth it and this January 2022 is special as you can also visit the beautiful exhibition ‘Remember me’.

The show focuses on portrait art and how the depiction of people developed and changed over the years, following the changes in how people wanted to be remembered.

This is a fantastic exhibition for art lovers and if you are interested in sociology and history especially.

Another fascinating exhibition is that about the Rijks Museum and slavery, which casts a light on items in the museum and their connection with slavery and Dutch colonialism.

The Rijks Museums also has a pleasant café and an excellent museum gift shop that are perfect for escaping January’s cold weather.

Book your RijksMuseums tickets/ tour following the links below:

Rijksmuseum Entrance Ticket – excellent, free cancellation entry ticket

Rijksmuseum Entrance Ticket and guided art tour

Rijksmuseum + Van Gogh Museum combined tour ticket – excellent if you are short on time and want a deep dive into two of the major Amsterdam’s museums in one afternoon, with a guide.

Good to know! This museum is kid-friendly.

Visit the Van Gogh Museum

Another stunning museum to visit in Amsterdam in January is the Van Gogh Museum.

At this time, booking well in advance is mandatory as the demand is enormous.

You can choose between several types of tickets:

Van Gogh Museum permanent and temporary exhibition entry ticket

Van Gogh Museum Private Tour

Van Gogh Museum + Rijksmuseum combined tour ticket – excellent if you are short on time and want a deep dive into two of the major Amsterdam’s museums in one afternoon, with a guide.

If you want to get to know more about the relationship between Van Gogh and Amsterdam, you shouldn’t miss the free Van Gogh City Walk organized by the museum: this is a self-guided walk with an audio guide you can also follow from home.

Good to know! This museum is kid-friendly.

Have a private photoshoot in Amsterdam city center

If you are looking for a fun memory of your trip to Amsterdam, you should consider a private photoshoot in Amsterdam’s city center.

The photoshoot doesn’t take more than twenty minutes, so it won’t disrupt your sightseeing and the photos make for an unusual souvenir!

January is a good time for it because you will be wrapped up in your winter clothes but will have fewer crowds around and can really have fun designing the best frame! Find info here.

Visit the Anne Frank House

The Anne Frank house is one of the most significant places to visit in Amsterdam in January as much as in any other season.

The house and the annex offer an unparalleled opportunity to try and understand what life must have been like at the time and reflect more in general about discrimination and regimes.

Booking is mandatory, info on the official site are here

If you want to learn even more about Anne Frank and her area, you can also join an Anne Frank walking tour of Jordaan, a unique way to explore this interesting and beautiful Amsterdam’s neighborhood.

Take a closed top canal boat cruise

One of the most pleasant things to do in Amsterdam in January is to enjoy the canals with a canal cruise in a cozy boat.

Amsterdam canal houses
Amsterdam canal houses

In winter, many Amsterdam canal cruises operate from boats with a glass top that keeps you warm while allowing you to see the beautify of the city – the glass is treated in such a way not to steam up so you get lovely views even when it is cold outside!

If you prefer a more ventilated option, several tours operate open/semi-open boat tours and offer blankets for a cozy outdoor experience.

You can choose between several types of cruises:

Amsterdam City Highlights canal cruise

Amsterdam City Canal Cruise from Anne Frank House (1h)

Evening Canal Cruise with bar service

Amsterdam Canal belt 100 highlights cruise

Amsterdam canals evening cruise with pizza

This activity is kid-friendly

Go to the opera

Amsterdam has a beautiful opera house with a great program of classic and not so classic shows.

The theatre is beautiful and well organized: you can prebook your drink for the interval and you’ll find it in a cubby hole with your name as you leave the main hall for the break!

The theatre has no strict dress code (some exceptions on gala nights), so you can participate even if all you have are your touristy comfy clothes!

Do not miss the statue of the violinist in the main hall, one of the quirkiest attractions in Amsterdam.

Warm-up in a brown bar

Dutch brown bars are the Amsterdam equivalent of a London pub, and they are lovely and welcoming in January.

They owe their name to their brown, wooden interior and they are fantastic if you want to defrost in a casual, traditional pub-like environment.

They are perfect if you like craft beer in particular or if you want to taste classic Dutch gin jenever. Bring cash as you cannot always pay by card.

Visit Dam Square

Dam square is a must-see n all seasons and this includes the winter.

Things to see here include the Amsterdam Royal Palace, the iconic NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, a city institution, Amsterdam monument and the elegant shops overlooking the square, perfect to get out of the cold.

This activity is kid-friendly

Admire Amsterdam’s Gingerbread houses

Amsterdam has many houses that fit the description ‘gingerbread house’; however, the most iconic ones of all are on Damrak and make for one of the most famous photo spots in the city!

In winter, they are exceptionally pretty, with their lights giving them an even more distinctive fairy tale appearance.

This activity is kid-friendly

Amsterdam gingerbread houses
Amsterdam gingerbread houses

Visit Amsterdam’s House Boat Museum

Amsterdam’s houseboat museum is a traditional houseboat now turned museum. The house is moored on Prinsengracht Canal and you can visit in a matter of minutes. I

love visiting it in the winter as it gives a great sense of what life really is like on a houseboat, once you cannot rely on beautiful summer weather!)

Info and address here

This activity is kid-friendly

Go cheese tasting

Amsterdam is a paradise for cheese lovers and one of the best ways to enjoy Dutch cheese is to go cheese tasting.

There are several places that offer cheese tasting in Amsterdam and many cheese shops and museums. One you may enjoy is this Cheese tasting experience at Henri Willig Cheese Shop which you can book in advance.

Good to know! On occasion, they can also deliver cheese to your accommodation!

This activity is kid-friendly

Taste bitterballen

Bitterballen are a delicious traditional Dutch croquette and you find them almost everywhere in Amsterdam.

dutch bitterballen croquettes

However, if you want to make your bitterballen tasting special, you can book a session at 1e Klas Coroquette, where you can taste them in the grand surrounding of the old waiting hall of the central station!

This can be a fun thing to do in Amsterdam in January, for a bit of old-world nostalgia. Info here.

This activity is child-friendly.

Visit one of Amsterdam’s quirky museums

Amsterdam is full of unique museums that are perfect for an interesting afternoon indoors.

Some you may enjoy are the unique Katten Kabinet, the church/museum Our Lord in the Attic, Museum Willet-Holthuysen, Rembrandt House, Amsterdam Museum, Amsterdam Tulip Museum.

Warm up with a bowl of ramen

Ramen are, obviously, not a Dutch tradition but they are wonderful and warm in winter and some places in Amsterdam make them so well, I add them to my list of best things to do in Amsterdam in January.

I am sure you’ll thank me!

My personal favorite is Vattenramen on Zeedijk 18 – their broth is simply spectacular!

Indulge in luscious hot chocolate

Winter comfort is made of chocolate, right? For chocolate lovers, the best places for hot chocolate in Amsterdam are:

Puccini – a fabulous chocolatier in Amsterdam

Pompadour, which is also a lovely tea room

This activity is kid-friendly.

The best things to do in Amsterdam with kids in January

If you are in Amsterdam in January with your kids, there are several more child-friendly activities you can pursue.

Amsterdam shop with Miffy in the window
Amsterdam shop with Miffy in the window

On top of the activities we marked at child friendly above, fun Amsterdam kids activities are:

A visit to Nemo, Amsterdam’s stunning science museum – one of the very best places in Amsterdam for kids!

An afternoon in Amsterdam’s library for reading, playing and admiring the Mouse Mansion – this is one of our favorite activities in Amsterdam for toddlers

Warm-up on a canal cruise – some serve all-you-can-eat pancakes or pizza!

Escape the cold in one of Amsterdam’s child-friendly museums – our selection included some that are just for kids but also traditional museums with fantastic activities studies just for their smaller visitors.

Seek out Miffy’s shops – a great way to motivate your small child to walk a little farther is the promise of a stop in a Miffy shop! You will find several in town but the biggest is De Winkel van Nijntje, a paradise for bunny lovers!

Take an Italian cooking class (yes, really!) at cucinadelsole, offering Italian cooking classes in English.

Find here >>> more things to do in Amsterdam with kids

I hope you enjoyed this quick overview of the best things to do in Amsterdam in January, and it helped you plan your trip. Safe travel planning!

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Image of Amsterdam canal with snow and text: Amsterdam in January, trip planning guide
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