Amsterdam in the rain? Sadly no one has the power to control the weather. What should you do when it rains during your visit? Rain shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your trip. Luckily big cities like Amsterdam have plenty of things to do on good or bad days.
My sister and I had a planned out a great itinerary to see most of the best attractions and sites, but it didn’t turn out the way we wanted. It rained a lot, but mostly it was windy. Very windy.
Things to do in Amsterdam when it rains
Since this trip was the first time for my sister and me, I wanted to make sure that we had the best time. I checked the weather forecast a few days before the trip and knew the chances of rain. I had not anticipated the wind though. We planned to wander along the canalside as soon as possible, but the rain and wind weren’t on our side. We had to head straight indoors. With that in mind, here are the things to do in Amsterdam when it rains.
Hang out in Amsterdam’s library
Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (OBA) is Amsterdam’s public library and the biggest library in the country. Located just a few minutes away from Centraal Station and right by our hotel, we decided to check it out. The library is a big building on nine levels. As well as Dutch books, newspapers and magazines, you can also browse international versions too. What we liked the most in the library is now open and light it was. The ground floor is the kids’ section and is without a doubt one of the best kids sections I have ever seen! There are cosy spaces where you can sit back and lose yourself in a travel book for example. Or if you are a little hungry, you can grab something to eat at the Babe cafe located on the 2nd floor. The design of the building gives it a modern art museum feel rather than a library. It reminded me of the one in Birmingham, UK.
Enjoy a canalside walk – with an umbrella
Well, the reason we came to Amsterdam was to explore right? Yes, it is raining, super windy, the sky is grey. A little rain should not prevent you from appreciating the architectural beauty of Amsterdam, as she is like no other European capital city. Wandering in the city centre, you feel like every corner is the same, but they have a uniqueness to them: dancing houses, canal boats, mansions, cats perched on the roof of a boat, bikes parked to a bridge railing etc. All of these are the picture perfect side of Amsterdam. The good thing is that you don’t have the visit a particular area or place to see, the centre is full of all these little things that make Amsterdam, Amsterdam. So take your umbrella and explore away.
Walk along the Bloemenmarkt
Tulips are one of the most recognisable icons of the Netherlands. If you time your trip well, you can enjoy the beauty of the flower. We visited early March, so there were no tulip fields for us but lots of beautiful bouquets, tulip seeds and bulbs at Bloemenmarkt. It’s a pretty little flower market floating along the canal. It’s a lovely place to visit, an area that gives a colourful vibe to the city especially on a rainy day.
Get into Dutch culture
One of the best choices you can make when the weather isn’t right is to hit the museums. Amsterdam has a large number of great eclectic museums (there are a whopping 75 of them!). They even have the Museumkwartier, an area with a significant concentration of museums. From the Anne Frank Museum where you can learn a bit more about the atrocities of WWII to contemplating the beautiful paintings of resident artists Rembrandt (Rijksmuseum & Rembrandt House Museum) and Van Gogh (Van Gogh Museum). If modern art is more to your liking, then Moco with arts from Salvador Dali, Banksy and Andy Warhol will keep you interested and dry.
We wanted to visit the Anne Frank House but hadn’t booked the ticket in advance, so we decided to join the long queue. However, we had to change our plans as it started raining heavily once again. So we decided to find somewhere cosy.
Warm up with a Cup of Coffee
There is nothing better on a rainy day than sipping a cup of coffee to warm your body and soul. Coffee is a big institution in Amsterdam. Whether you like big chains or independent coffee shops, you won’t have any problem finding just the right place. CoffeeCompany and Café de Jaren were places we stopped by. A few other places to check out are Vegabond, Ivy & Bros and Lot Sixty One Coffee Roasters.
Get on a canal cruise
With about 165 canals in Amsterdam, taking a canal cruise is an experience to enjoy. It helps not only to rest a bit from the extensive walking but also to discover unique points of view of the expanded canal networks. Our cruise with Lovers took an hour, and we were lucky that we timed it well as the rain stopped just before our journey started. Covered boats are great, but when it rains heavily, it is kind of difficult to see anything through the fogged windows! There are several cruise companies you can choose from like Blue Boat and Stromma.
On the last day of our trip, we had planned to go to A’DAM Lookout but had to change our mind because of the wind and cold. I wanted to take my sister there because it’s something that she would have loved doing. A’DAM Lookout is an observation deck with a magnificent panoramic view over Amsterdam. Maybe another time!
Where to eat in Amsterdam?
Oddly during our short trip to Amsterdam, we found ourselves filling our bellies with Italian food rather than Dutch. The food scene in Amsterdam is very international anyway. The first place we ate at was Vapiano, a pizza/pasta restaurant located next door to OBA. On the last day of our trip, while in Jordaan, we were trying to find a nice place to eat and thought about Foodhallen. However, the prospect of walking more than 15 minutes on a cold and windy day wasn’t particularly appealing. We walked around and found a very nice Italian restaurant. La Perla has two sites located opposite each other. Our pizzas were delicious according to my sister (a self-proclaimed pizza connaisseur).
Where we stayed
Amsterdam is a great city, but it’s not a cheap destination, especially in terms of accommodation. So I had to be a little creative to pay less. Since I managed to accumulate points with a few hotels, I used them to reduce the cost of the pricey hotels. This meant that we stayed in different hotels. We stayed in at Holiday Inn Express City Hall and the Park Plaza Victoria Amsterdam. The first hotel, Holiday Inn has nicely located close the several museums. It’s clean, and the staff are friendly and helpful and is an excellent and economical choice. The other hotel, Park Plaza is located less than 5 minutes from Central Station. The hotel is stunning and extremely well situated with professional and accommodating staff. Our room was terrific with mood lighting. If you are looking for a great hotel in the centre, this is the one.
How to get there to Amsterdam
There are several ways to get to Amsterdam. I travelled from London, therefore, opted for the train. Eurostar runs two direct trains from London St Pancras to Amsterdam Centraal via Brussels Zuid/Midi and Rotterdam. My sister got there from Paris Gare du Nord via Thalys. Flying is a great option too since Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) is only 20 minutes from Centraal Station.
As you can see, Amsterdam is full of great activities. I hope you enjoyed reading these selections of things to do in Amsterdam in the rain. Amsterdam is enjoyable, rainy or not!