January in Amsterdam is imbued with an unmistakable post-holiday calm. Visitors are free to alternate between the outdoor chill and the cozy, climate-controlled indoors; brisk walks around town are a treat on clear days, and when the wintry climate loses its appeal, travelers can find respite from the cold in museums, cafes, restaurants and more. The city is as tourist-free as ever this month, but even in the off-peak season, Amsterdam still offers a full calendar of fantastic events and activities, from yearly events to memorable one-offs.
Seasonal perks, from ice rinks to koek-en-zopie stands, the catch-all term for rink-side refreshments, are also in full supply; don’t miss cold-weather staples such as stamppot, oliebollen and more before the warmer months roll around.
Amsterdam’s semi-annual fashion week is the top event on the capital’s fashion calendar, and its “off-schedule” events ensure plenty to see and do beyond the catwalk. While official Fashion Week events are for industry insiders only, Fashion Week DOWNTOWN puts on exhibitions, shows, launches, parties and more for the broader public.
A great way to spend a chilly afternoon is to take a tour of the Royal Palace, which is still used by the Dutch Royal family but is open to visitors on days when there aren’t any official functions. Check out the oil paintings lining the marble galleries, the 20-foot-tall marble statue of Atlas holding a massive globe covered in stars, and the beautifully decorated rooms still filled with furniture from the early 19th century. Make sure to check the website for the most up-to-date schedule, but it looks like it’s open to visitors on most weekdays throughout the month.
Sure, the sun may set around 4:30 p.m. at this time of year, but this yearly tradition makes those long, dark nights seem a little less long and dark. It started in November and runs until January 20, with 29 different light-based artworks on display in ten different locations throughout the city—in popular squares, between buildings, and underneath bridges—that are best seen from the canals. If it’s on the warmer side, try booking a boat tour. But if the temperature stays solidly below freezing for four consecutive nights, the canals are closed off and left to freeze over, so you can ice skate across town.
How to enjoy Amsterdam at its best? Of course, by using the comfortable and luxurious vehicles and taking advantage of the deep knowledge of the specialised guides which will make you enjoy each and every corner of the Dutch capital.