Last Updated on 1st October 2019 by Sophie Nadeau
Fall tones, cosy cafés, and the opportunity to hide away from the ever-changing weather in one of Amsterdam’s many museums: Amsterdam in October is one of the best times to visit the city, and not just because the golden leaves provide picture-perfect photo opportunities of the city!
Instead, there are fewer crowds and hotel prices are significantly cheaper than in the summer. Here’s your go-to guide for the best things to do in Amsterdam in autumn! One of my first ever visits to Amsterdam was actually in October, when the leaves were changing and the evenings were crisp.
This long weekend in the city allowed me to develop a new-found love for the Dutch capital; one where cultural institutions were inviting and where long evenings in the many historic bars around the city were spent chatting and drinking beer together with friends. If it’s your first time in the Venice of the North, then check out my best Amsterdam travel tips to help you make the most of your visit.
Amsterdam weather in October
Like much of Northern and Western Europe, the weather in Amsterdam during October is very changeable and showers are frequent. As such, I’d highly recommend bringing an umbrella and some semi-waterproof shoes in case you get caught out in the rain! Otherwise, you should know that the average temperatures are highs of 15 degrees and lows of 7 degrees.
And if you’re visiting the Dutch capital with the hope of enjoying the best of fall colours, then you should know that the exact time when the leaves change and drop depends entirely from year to year. Typically, the leaves begin changing colour towards the end of September, carrying on through October, and finally falling from the trees during the beginning of November. As such, for the best of autumn leaves in Amsterdam, plan your visit for mid-October.
What to wear in Amsterdam in October
As a result of the less than easy to predict weather, the best way to pack for Amsterdam come early fall is to bring along plenty of layers. What this means is bringing along cute ankle boots like these ones, warm jackets, cardigans, easy-to-layer dresses, and plenty of warm tights. I particularly love this company for purchasing pretty dresses that blend in perfectly in Europe.
You should know before you go that Amsterdam uses the same plug sockets as much of continental Europe, which will be different from what you typically use if you’re from North America or the UK. Bring along a universal travel adapter like this one to help you get by. And while English is widely spoken, it’s only polite to learn a few words of the local language; in this case Dutch. Bring a simple phrasebook like this one with you.
Things to do in Amsterdam in October
Snap photos of the fall foliage
Amsterdam is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in Europe in the fall thanks to the abundance of beautiful fall foliage reflected against the calm canals. For the very best photo snaps, I particularly recommend heading to the Jordaan district as this is where the most historic canalside houses are to be seen. In total, there are over 400,000 streets lining the streets of Amsterdam, meaning that fall foliage is never too far away!
For those who wish to see beautiful fall foliage in the context of parkland, it’s worth noting that the biggest park in Amsterdam is that of Vondelpark. Expansive and enormous, the green space is home to a plethora of walking trails, cycle paths (hands down, the best way to enjoy the city), and even an open-air theatre.
Cosy up in a cute café or bar
Whether you’re in search of a speciality coffee or wish to sample a local beer, Amsterdam has no shortage of wonderful bars and cafés (a coffee shop is an entirely different thing!) where you can hang out with friends, study, or meet new people!
During my most recent visit to the Venice of the North, I particularly enjoyed frequenting Cafe de Sluyswacht. Housed against the backdrop of De Oude Schans canal and is set within a former 17th-century built canal keeper cottage. They even serve vegan Bitterballen for those who wish to sample a local delicacy with a meat-free twist!
For those who are fans of history and don’t feel like veering too far away from central Amsterdam, Int’Aepjen is a quintessentially Dutch wooden bar where local beers are served in a traditional setting. Reasonably priced drinks can be purchased against the backdrop of a historic drinking establishment where sailors once traded monkeys for drinks!
Discover hidden gems of Amsterdam
Hidden, secret, and oh-so-quirky, there are plenty of unusual things to do in Amsterdam. From miniature canal houses hidden between two brick buildings to the oldest café in the city, and even a museum dedicated entirely to cats, there’s something offbeat to discover for even the most discerning of travellers.
Come October, you’ll be even more delighted to discover that the crowds of the summer dissipate, leaving behind a much emptier city where you can snap photos and explore to your heart’s content. Personal favourite hidden gems include purchasing the best cookie in Amsterdam from Van Stapele and discovering De Waag, the oldest non-religious building in Amsterdam.
Enjoy the best of Amsterdam museums
When the leaves start dropping and the evenings become colder, there’s no better excuse than to head inside and explore the many cultural hubs and institutions that the city has to offer. If it’s your first time in Amsterdam, then you should head to the Rijksmuseum, which is home to many Dutch Masterpieces (book your tickets here in advance).
For those who have seen the city before, there are more hidden gems and unusual museums on offer. For example, the Rembrandt House Museum (buy the tickets here) offers the chance to visit the former artist’s home, while the beautifully appointed Willet-Holthuysen Museum (buy the tickets here) shows a glimpse into canalside houses of times gone by.
Explore the forgotten hofjes of Amsterdam
Secluded, off the beaten tourist track, and away from the crowds of the rest of the city, truth be told, the most famous of the Amsterdam hofjes is that of Begijnhof. However, what many visitors to Amsterdam don’t know is that there is a wealth of hidden courtyards and corners worth discovering, especially during the autumn when the fall foliage frames the passageways beautifully!
Take a day trip from Amsterdam in the autumn
Thanks to its position in the Netherlands with easy transport links to the rest of the country, Amsterdam provides a great base from which to explore the wider Holland region. Some of the best fall day trips from the Dutch capital for seeing fall foliage include the beautiful city of Leiden (so historic that it’s often filmed to stand in for 17th-century ‘authentic’ Amsterdam) and the beautiful modern city of Rotterdam.
Celebrate Halloween in Amsterdam
Of course, the last day of October, i.e. the 31st of the month, heralds Halloween. Each year, there are a plethora of Halloween events around the end of the month. Check the full guide for this year here.