There is plenty to do in Amsterdam over winter. The climate in the capital city of The Netherlands is not always at its most welcoming but if you’re lucky the sun will come out, the crowds will have disappeared, and you’ll have the place virtually to yourself.
1. Ice Skating
Amsterdam’s Leidseplein and Museumplein are converted into ice rinks over the winter. Both are surrounded by bars, cafés, and food stalls, so take a turn on the ice and then sample warming Dutch erwtensoep (pea soup) and oliebollen (donuts), accompanied by zopie (mulled wine).
2. Museums without Crowds
The same great artworks but with quarter the crowds; grab the opportunity to explore the Van Gogh Museum – currently closed, with highlights transferred to the Hermitage – the Stedelijk, and the Rijksmuseum. The lines outside the Anne Frank Huis, one of Amsterdam’s foremost attractions, will also be much shorter.
The post-festive-season sales hit after New Year; sneak a bargain from the designer stores of PC Hoofstraat or maybe even buy a cut-price stone from Coster Diamonds. International fashion chains on found along Kalverstraat, Delftware and silverware are for sale in the antiques stores of Spiegelgracht.
4. Festival Time
Amsterdam sparkles prettily over Christmas and continues to do so until January 23, 2013, during the city’s first Festival of Lights. Chinese New Year falls on February 10, 2013, and sees the whole of Amsterdam’s Chinatown, centered around Nieuwmarkt, given over to dragon parades and firework displays, with firecrackers exploding on every street corner.
5. On your Bike
As the museums and galleries are quieter in Amsterdam over the winter, so are the streets. Hire a bike to keep warm and discover the tranquil byways of arty Jordaan or around the Vondelpark.
The annual Amsterdam Grachtenfestival hold concerts at the Waalse Kerk on January 10, 2013, and at the Oude Kerk on January 17. The Concertgebouw celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2013 with a series of classical concerts kicking off in January.
Contributed by Sasha Heseltine