With its fairy-tale buildings, whimsical lights and occasional frozen canal to skate on, Amsterdam can be irresistible in the winter. Strolling around cobblestoned streets can take its toll when the temperatures drop, so locals have made gezelligheid (cosiness) an art form. You could hide away at old-school Café de Dokter, say, or tackle a towering slice of appeltaart at charming De Koffieschenkerij. But there’s more to winter in the city than whiling afternoons away in brown cafés. From cultural heavyweights to iconic party spots, here are five ways to keep toasty warm in Amsterdam.
Discover 800 years of Dutch art and history at this iconic museum, which reopened in 2013 after a ten-year renovation. Spot world-famous works by the likes of Rembrandt and Van Gogh alongside archaeological artefacts and 20th-century fashion. The building itself – designed by Pierre Cuypers and opened in 1885 – is a work of art in its own right.
After a heady afternoon hitting the boutiques and speciality stores of the ultra-hip Nine Streets, refuel somewhere equally big on personality. Discerning foodies flock to Jansz for the effortlessly chic atmosphere, sheltered courtyard and faultless bistro fare. Start with oysters and a glass of cava, say, or opt for a warming salmon with black rice.
There’s nothing like a little boogie to warm up – so dance the night away at Paradiso. The converted church has evolved from a squat in the mid 1960s to one of the city’s most beloved music venues. The main hall welcomes big-name acts: Adele, U2 and, the Rolling Stones have all performed here. Head upstairs to the smaller room for more intimate sets.
You’ll need to brave the crossing of the river IJ (just a few minutes on a free ferry) to explore one of Amsterdam’s most striking buildings. Watch thousands of films from around the world, peruse exhibitions of posters and multimedia art, and take part in family-friendly workshops. After an indie screening, grab a bite to eat at one of the city’s most scenic restaurants.
Cosy up in this historic canal house, restored with period furniture and artwork to its 17th-century glory days as Rembrandt’s residence. The museum regularly hosts exhibitions of the artist’s lesser-known paintings, as well as contemporary work inspired by him. Creative types can take inspiration from etching and pigment preparation demos.
Ice skating, art installations and hunger-busters to keep the whole family happy.
Stuck for New Year’s resolutions? Follow our guide to doing 2019 in Amsterdam.
Warm up this winter with a shopping spree at the Amsterdam sales.
Image credits: © Erik Smits; © Erik Smits; © Erik Smits; © Jansz; © Shawn Chin; © Ralph Richter; © Rembrandt House; © Amsterdam Light Festival; © NEMO Science Museum; © Getty