You might be surprised to learn that Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most festive Christmas cities. The Amsterdam Christmas Market isn’t just one market; there are actually more than 12 Christmas markets in the Amsterdam region.
This guide will help you plan your trip to Amsterdam with details on where to go, confirmed 2023 dates, locations and what to expect.
Amsterdam, renowned as one of Europe’s top city break destinations, offers a unique blend of culture, history, and entertainment that appeals to travellers throughout the year.
However, the festive season of Christmas and the holidays bring a special charm to this vibrant city, transforming it into an even more warm and welcoming destination.
With its pretty canals, charming architecture, and many activities and events, Amsterdam during the holidays is a magical experience that should not be missed.
Amsterdam Christmas Market 2023
Amsterdam has several winter markets, with some neighbourhoods putting on their own events and celebrations. I’ve listed these in order of the best for visitors to Amsterdam.
1. Ice Village at Museumplein
The Ice Village is one of the most traditional Christmas markets in Amsterdam. It’s in the beautiful Museumplein, near the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum and other smaller museums.
Around 45 Christmas chalets surround an outdoor ice skating rink (closed this year), and trees in the park are adorned with beautiful fairy lights. There is great food and traditional drinks like poffertjes, raclette, smoked fish, cheese fondue, mulled wine, hot cider and hot chocolate.
Note: The Ice Amsterdam ice skating rink will not take place in 2023, but the Christmas chalets will remain as usual.
Dates and Location
Ice Village dates: 13th to 26th December 2023.
Opening times: 12pm to 9pm.
Christmas Eve: 11am to 9pm.
Christmas Day: 11am to 9pm.
Bosing Day: 11am to 9pm.
Ice skating: The ice skating event is cancelled in 2023.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, dogs are allowed on a lead.
Reason to visit:
For the huge ice skating rink at Museumplein.Beautiful location and traditional stalls.
Recommended tour: This walking tour is ideal for first-time visitors to Amsterdam.
Specialities: Oliebollen, proffertjes, stroopwafels, frites and bitterballen.
Where to stay: Hotel V Nesplein is a highly-rated hotel, in the centre of Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is a compact, walkable city made up of distinct districts that are ringed by several canals. If you find walking difficult, cycling is accessible for many people and the city has an excellent, affordable public transport system.
Staying in one of these central districts, from Amsterdam Centraal Station to the Jordaan district and across to the Museum Quarter (Museumkwartier), would be convenient.
I suggest staying at Hotel V Nesplein, a boutique hotel close to Dam Square and the Royal Palace. It’s halfway between Amsterdam Central Station and the Museum Quarter.
Alternatively, my guide to hotels near Amsterdam Christmas Market lists several other hotels that cover all budgets.
A city tour of Amsterdam is an excellent introduction to the city’s history and diverse culture. With its canals, picturesque old town, and remarkable architecture, Amsterdam has something for everyone.
I recommend this city tour of Amsterdam as it allows you to explore all the city’s highlights.
Alternatively, you might consider a food tour of the cool Jordaan district, where you can discover the local culture through its unique cuisine.
On a city tour, you’ll visit or pass by some of the city’s most iconic landmarks and attractions, including the historic Anne Frank House, the stunning Rijksmuseum, and the vibrant flower market, Bloemenmarkt.
Location of Ice Village
2. Amsterdam Winter Paradise
Winter Paradise stands out as one of the area’s most prominent regional events. Sometimes referred to as a ‘Winter Wonderland,’ this festive event is hosted at RAI Amsterdam, the city’s expansive exhibition centre.
Featuring a huge range of attractions, entertainment, and seasonal shopping opportunities, Winter Paradise transforms the exhibition centre into a holiday-themed event that captivates visitors and locals alike, making it an essential Christmas stop in Amsterdam.
Activities and attractions include indoor and outdoor ice skating, a Ferris wheel, curling, a winter cinema, beer tables and plenty more.
New this year is the Paradise of Lights, where you’ll find a light trail and sculptures.
Amsterdam Winter Paradise dates: 14th to 30th December 2023.
Location: RAI Amsterdam Exhibition Centre.
Opening times: 9am to 11pm.
Christmas Day: Open.
Tickets: Booked for a specfic time slot. Prices start from €17.50. Book online.
Public transport: Station Amsterdam RAI.
Reason to visit: The indoor and outdoor ice skating and the giant Ferris wheel.
Travel tips: This is a little further out from the city centre so you would need to the the metro to RAI station.
3. Funky Xmas Market
The Funky Xmas Market is a one-day Christmas market held as a special edition of the weekly Sunday Market at Westergas.
My full guide to the Funky Xmas Market has more details and what to expect with a funky winter experience.
Funky Xmas Market dates: 17th December 2023.
Opening times: 12pm to 6pm.
Reason to visit: A special event popular with locals. There are lots of cultural events, food trucks and handmade Christmas presents.
Christmas in Amsterdam
These traditional Dutch Christmas foods offer diverse flavours and cater to both meat eaters and vegetarians, making the holiday season a time for everyone to enjoy.
Kerststol: A Dutch Christmas fruitcake filled with almond paste, dried fruits, and nuts, dusted with powdered sugar.
Pepernoten: Small spiced cookies that are crunchy and typically enjoyed during the Sinterklaas season.
Speculaas: Thin, crisp, spiced cookies often featuring windmill or Sinterklaas designs, made using a traditional wooden mould.
Gourmetten: A popular Dutch holiday dining experience where guests cook their choice of meats, vegetables, and cheeses on a tabletop grill, offering numerous vegetarian options.
Erwtensoep: A hearty split pea soup often served with rye bread, which can be made vegetarian by excluding the traditional pork ingredients.
Stamppot: A classic Dutch dish made from mashed potatoes mixed with various vegetables, like kale or sauerkraut, and served with smoked sausage. Vegetarian sausages can be used as a meat-free alternative.
Food at the Market
In Amsterdam, you can expect to find a variety of street foods that cater to diverse tastes. Some typical offerings include:
Oliebollen: Deep-fried dough balls filled with raisins or currants, dusted with powdered sugar, and similar to doughnuts.
Poffertjes: Small, fluffy Dutch pancakes made with yeast and buckwheat flour, served with a dusting of powdered sugar and a dollop of butter.
Stroopwafels: Thin waffles made from two layers of baked dough with a caramel syrup filling, often served warm and freshly made at the market.
Kibbeling: Deep-fried fish bites, typically made from cod, served with a tangy mayonnaise-based sauce.
Bitterballen: Deep-fried, breaded meatballs filled with a creamy meat ragout, usually served with mustard for dipping.
Grilled sausages: Various types of grilled sausages, including the traditional Dutch smoked sausage called “rookworst.”
Roasted Chestnuts: A seasonal treat, these chestnuts are often roasted over an open fire or in the oven, giving them a smoky flavour.
Frites (Dutch fries): Thick-cut fries served in a paper cone with a choice of dipping sauces, such as mayonnaise, ketchup, or curry sauce.
Warm drinks: Hot chocolate, mulled wine (glühwein), and spiced apple cider are popular choices for keeping warm while browsing the market.
What to Buy
Handmade crafts: Artisan-made ceramics, wood carvings, ornaments, and other unique handmade items that make perfect gifts.
Dutch souvenirs: Wooden shoes (clogs), Delftware pottery, and windmill-themed items to remind you of your time in the Netherlands.
Local delicacies: Dutch cheeses, such as Gouda and Edam, as well as traditional sweets like stroopwafels, chocolate, and licorice.
Festive food: Jams, preserves, and specialty condiments, perfect for creating a memorable holiday feast or giving as gifts.
Dutch art: Reproductions of famous Dutch paintings and prints by artists like Van Gogh and Vermeer.
Knitwear: Warm and cosy scarves, gloves, hats, and socks to keep you snug during the winter season.
Christmas decorations: Unique and festive ornaments, tree toppers, and holiday-themed decorations that bring a touch of Amsterdam to your home.
Eco-friendly and sustainable products: Locally sourced or upcycled items that promote environmental consciousness while offering attractive and functional gifts.
Jewellery and accessories: Handcrafted jewellery, bags, and other fashion accessories that make thoughtful presents.
Toys and games: Traditional Dutch toys, puzzles, and board games for children and adults alike.
If you’re interested in exploring other places in the Netherlands, several options are easily accessible on a day trip from Amsterdam.
Alternatively, if time allows, spend a couple of nights discovering these destinations:
- The Royal Christmas Fair at The Hague: Only an hour by train from Amsterdam Central, this festive fair is at Lange Voorhout. The Hague Dates are 7th to 23rd December 2023. Open daily from 12pm to 9pm.
- Amstelveen Winter Village: Situated just south of Amsterdam, this winter market can be found at Winkelcentrum Stadshart. Amstelveen dates: 2nd December to 7th January 2024.
- Vreeland: This market is located 90 minutes by train from Amsterdam towards Utrecht and will return on the 9th December 2023.
- Castle Christmas Fair at Heemskerk: In North Holland, this fair occurs at Slot Assumburg, Beeckestijn Estate, 90 minutes northeast of Amsterdam. This event is cancelled in 2023 but will return in 2024.
- Haarlem: Just an hour from Amsterdam, this is one of the largest winter markets in the Netherlands. Located at Grote Markt, Haarlem dates are: 8th to 10th December 2023.
- Country & Christmas Fair – Kasteel de Haar, Utrecht: This picturesque market is in a castle setting.
- Light Night Edam: Edam’s winter event is a must-visit, with its festive atmosphere and stunning light displays.
- Alkmaar: A market that showcases Alkmaar’s festive spirit and offers various shopping and entertainment options.
- Leiden – Winter Wonder Weken: Visit the House of Sinterklaas and the Floating Ice Rink at this festive market in Leiden, which is a unique blend of holiday activities and attractions.
The latest information for locals and travellers is published by iAmsterdam, the city’s official tourism board.
Responsible Travel Tips
As travellers, our choices have environmental and social impacts on the places we visit. When exploring Amsterdam, it’s important to consider sustainability and make conscientious decisions.
To create a positive impact on the city and its residents, consider implementing some or all of these simple measures:
- Shop mindfully: Focus on purchasing items you genuinely need or making meaningful gifts, supporting local artisans and businesses.
- Opt for eco-friendly transportation: Walk, cycle, or use public transport to get around Amsterdam, reducing your carbon footprint.
- Choose a sustainable hotel: Stay in places powered by renewable energy and follow sustainable practices.
- Support local housing: Opt for hotels over short-stay apartments to avoid contributing to locals’ lack of affordable housing.
- Minimise plastic use: Avoid using single-use plastics and avoid purchasing items made or packaged with plastic.
- Savour local, organic cuisine: Whenever possible, choose to eat locally sourced and organic food, supporting Amsterdam’s sustainable food scene.
- Limit meat and dairy consumption: Enjoy plant-based or vegetarian meals, reducing the environmental impact of your diet.
- Embrace cultural diversity: Be open to experiencing Amsterdam’s diverse cultures, traditions, and customs.
- Venture beyond tourist hotspots: Explore more than just the main attractions, discovering hidden gems and local neighbourhoods like the Jordaan district.
- Support the arts: Attend local events, performances, and exhibitions, fostering Amsterdam’s vibrant artistic community.
- Focus on quality over quantity: Instead of rushing from one destination to another, visit fewer places but spend more time at each, enabling deeper connections and understanding.
By adopting these responsible travel practices, you can contribute to a more sustainable and enjoyable experience for yourself, other visitors, and the people of Amsterdam.
As you embark on your winter trip to Amsterdam, prepare to experience the city’s fun atmosphere, illuminated by twinkling lights and holiday spirit.
Don’t miss the opportunity to explore different events and locations where you can indulge in mouthwatering street food and find unique gifts for loved ones.
Remember to bundle up and stroll along the picturesque canals, admiring the stunning architecture adorned with festive decorations.
Consider attending local events, live performances, or exhibitions to experience Amsterdam’s artistic scene further.
Amsterdam’s Ice Village Christmas Market starts on the 13th to 26th December 2023.
Amsterdam’s Ice Village Christmas Market is held at Museumplein, while other events are held at Westergas and RAI Amsterdam.
I was fortunate to spend one Christmas in Amsterdam when it snowed and the canals froze. It was an incredible festive experience I’ll never forget. I highly recommend visiting at Christmas if you can.
If you have any questions or comments about visiting Amsterdam in winter or specifically visiting the Amsterdam Xmas market in 2023, please leave a comment or review below.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Amsterdam, Netherlands. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.