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How to Spend a Rainy Day in Amsterdam (and still have fun!)

If there’s one thing you should know before visiting Amsterdam it’s that bad weather days are common. The Netherlands in general experiences rain throughout the year, even in the summer months. Here’s your guide on how to spend a rainy day in Amsterdam (and still have fun!)

If you’re thinking about seeing a lot of attractions and monuments while in Amsterdam, Consider purchasing the I Amsterdam City Card, which includes free access  free admission to 70 museums and attractions in Amsterdam and region and access to public transportation. To work out whether or not the pass is worth it for you or not, add up the cost of the individual attractions you wish to visit and see if you’ll save money. Find more details here.

amsterdam canal cruise

How often does it rain in Amsterdam?

Typically, there are around 200 days of rain in Amsterdam in a year, meaning that, if you’re not planning to visit the Dutch capital during the summer, it will probably rain at least once or twice during your visit. The rainiest months in Amsterdam are between October and February.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Best rainy day activities in Amsterdam 

Head to a small museum 

If there’s one thing I absolutely adore about Amsterdam, it’s the number of quirky and small museums on offer. From a museum dedicated to tulips to a cultural hub that’s all about cats, there really is something for everyone when it comes to the Dutch capital.

One of my personal favourites when it comes to off the beaten path museums is Our Lord in the Attic. One of the oldest museums in Amsterdam, Our Lord in the Attic (known in Dutch as ‘Museum Amstelkring Ons Lieve Heer op Solder’), is a fairly substantial church, located in the attic of a 17th-Century house. For more inspiration, check out our guide to the best small museums in Amsterdam. 

Best small museums in Amsterdam You'll Love: House museums, quirky sites and little museums to visit in Amsterdam, the Netherlands: our lord in the attic

Warm up with a cookie from Van Stapele

This may sound like a bit of a weird activity and not something that merits a place in a rainy day guide all on its own but I’m being completely serious when I say that the cookies from Van Stapele are some of the best sweets I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Crumbly, warm, and still fresh from the oven: “the best cookies in Amsterdam” are often said to be those from Van Stapele Koekmakerij. Located down a little cobbled alley off Spui and close to Amsterdam’s main Begijnhof, you’ll smell this nostalgic sweet shop before you even see it.

Often with a long line out the door and decorated in traditional wooden furniture, this is one bakery you won’t want to miss off your Amsterdam bucket list… I highly recommend visiting the site earlier in the day if possible so as to avoid queuing up too much outside in the rain!

Looking for the best sweet in Amsterdam? Here's where to find the Best Cookie in Amsterdam at Van Stapele Koekmakerij

Go shopping for rare and vintage books

Located in a narrow walkway that runs between quintessential Dutch canal houses, Oudemanhuispoort can literally be translated as ‘Old Man’s House Passage’. If it happens to be raining during your Amsterdam visit, then it’s also worth noting that the passage is covered!

During the mid-18th-century, the passageway that once led to the almshouses was repurposed for selling goods. Sellers would then vend their wares like jewels and goods, right up until the point where the City of Amsterdam relocated the daily book market from Rembrandtplein to Oudemanhuispoort.

A guide to the best second hand book market in Amsterdam. Oudemanhuispoort: a secret covered passage in the heart of the Dutch capital, the Netherlands

Visit a traditional bar 

Drink beer in a quintessentially Dutch brown bar is a must when in the Dutch capital. One of my personal favourite bars is Cafe de Sluyswacht, which can be found along the De Oude Schans canal and is the perfect spot to enjoy Bitterballen and a beer following a day of sightseeing…

Another hidden gem of Amsterdam is a bar where broke sailors once traded monkeys in exchange for drinks! In ‘t Aepjen can be found on the fringes of the Red Light District close to Amsterdam Centraal Station and is one of the oldest bars in Amsterdam.

Drink a beer in In 't Aepjen

Take an Amsterdam food tour

One of the best ways to discover any new city or culture is to discover the place by mouth. If it’s raining during your stay in the city, the one of the cosiest ways to relax is by enjoying a food tasting or tour.

Explore the city through its food scene on this guided visit of Amsterdam. Highlights of this Dutch foodie tour include the chance to taste seven local specialities, including the ever-so-famous Stroopwafel. Otherwise, visit the largest market in Europe and discover the Pijp district of the city. Check prices and availability here.

Henri Willig cheese shop interior

Visit the Rijksmuseum 

Of course, you can’t visit Amsterdam and miss out on the most famous museum of all, that of Rijksmuseum. And what better excuse to go inside and discover the treasures of the museum (such as the iconic Night Watchman painting) than a rainy day in Amsterdam?

One of the more fun facts about Amsterdam is that the Rijksmuseum was originally founded in the Hague and then only later moved to Amsterdam. If you want to visit the museum yourself and save some of your precious time in Amsterdam, then I highly recommend buying your entrance ticket in advance.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Rijksmuseum

Head to a café

One of the most important Amsterdam tips to know before visiting is that there is an important distinction between a cafe and a coffee shop. A café is where you can go to enjoy a coffee, cake, and light snack. 

Some of the most adorable cafés in Amsterdam include Coffee and Coconuts (in the trendy de Pijp neighbourhood of Amsterdam), Benjis ( in the Oost neighbourhood), and Koffie Academie (there are two locations of this popular café).

amsterdam cafe

Go on a canal cruise

If there’s one thing that many people aren’t actually aware of prior to their visit to Amsterdam, it’s that due to just how frequently it rains in the Dutch capital city, almost all cruise boats are covered by a roof.

While you may not have the best views ever due to poor weather, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the beautiful views and ambiance of a gentle boat ride. Consider booking a classic boat cruise with a cheese and wine option like this one.

Take a day trip 

Thanks to Amsterdam’s well connected positon to the rest of the Netherlands and beyond, it’s the perfect destination from which to explore other cities. The Netherlands close position to the sea means that while it might be raining in one city, just a few cities over might be enjoying clear skies and a sunny day.

As such, if it’s raining in Amsterdam, be sure to check other destinations nearby that you may wish to visit (and to escape the rain!). Some of the best day trips from Amsterdam include visiting the politically-focused city of the Hague, enjoying the quirky architecture of Rotterdam, or soaking up the history of Leiden.

The Best Day Trips from Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Here are the very best excursions from Rotterdam, Holland. UNESCO windmills, culinary experiences (Gouda), boating harbours, and more!.

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