A comprehensive list of what to pack for Amsterdam in winter to stay warm, comfortable and feel like a local.
The time to pack has come: I am travelling to Amsterdam tomorrow and my Osprey Backpack is open on my bed, waiting to be filled with winter appropriate clothes.
Packing is usually easy for me: I always travel light and over the course of the years I have my tried and tested packing list for almost all trips. However, winter travel poses some challenges.
As my Instagram feed fills up with a images of a powdery white Amsterdam city centre I wonder: will I be able to pack a wardrobe that will allow me to feel warm, comfortable and look if not like a local (I am way to small and dark to pass for Dutch!) at least not totally out of place in Amsterdam’s cool restaurants and cafes?
Experience is helping me out with this one.
I spent long winters in the North of Europe and I have a close friend who lives in Amsterdam and can update me with real time information about the weather and sure enough local fashion!
This is what you need to know to decide what to pack for Amsterdam in winter.
You make also like: how to spend a perfect day in Amsterdam itinerary and my list of the best things to see and do in Amsterdam in December. Going later in the year? Check our packing list for Amsterdam in spring instead
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How cold is Amsterdam in December, January and February?
Winter in Amsterdam is cold but not freezing.
The months of December, January and February have temperatures around 0 degrees C and rain is frequent, meaning you often feel the cold a little more than what the thermometer seems to suggests.
Evening in particular can get very humid and the cold creeps into your bones.
Snow is frequent in winter but usually it is a small coat dusting the streets of Amsterdam, rather than full on, heavy snowfall.
This has seen some spectacular exceptions in the past so it may happen that very cold conditions hit the city and get it so cold to even freeze the canals but, overall, in Amsterdam you can expect the winter to be cold but not awfully so.
Style: What do people wear in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is known for being a relaxed city but this doesn’t mean it is not stylish.
The main vibe is chilled and casual but Amsterdam always strikes me as a pretty fashion conscious capital.
The main style here is hipster, casual, vintage chic and this is great for travelers since it means you can go from day to night without having to necessarily go back to your accommodation and get changed.
This may differ if you go to a super fancy restaurant but, in my experience, even places requiring a somewhat ‘elegant’ attire let us us with a nice pair of jeans and boots.
What to pack for Amsterdam in winter
This is my list of things to pack for Amsterdam in December, January and February. Please note: this post contains affiliate links.
Good winter boots
A good travel outfit starts with appropriate footwear and I believe a good pair of winter boots are a must have item for daring Amsterdam in the colder months.
Make sure your boots are waterproof, warm, comfortable and with a non-slippy sole.
Amsterdam gets wet and humid and its atmospheric cobblestones can get very slippery. I find hard soles are better avoided.
If you are travelling with children, rather than buying winter boots you might not need at home, a good alternative is welly boots and good quality, warm socks.
Packing for feet again, socks are another item I am obsessed with, in winter. Having warm, not sweaty feet is important to stay warm and comfortable and good quality socks help.
I am particularly fond of long one that can get as high as the knee or even above it: they are much nicer than a thermal under layer (unnecessary in Amsterdam, at least for your legs) and they go a long way to keep you warm especially if you are out after dark, when temperatures drop.
Jeans or warm legging
Amsterdam’s winter is cold but not so cold to require any special type of trousers. I find jeans go a long way and so do warm leggings should you prefer to wear a skirt.
For kids, I do find warm tights or lines leggings excellent for both boys and girls.
Keeping your core warm is important and I find thermal layers to be excellent for travel to colder climates.
I find the most versatile of all to be in merino wool: they keep you warm, prevent moisture build up and they can be worn for more than one day without immediate need for laundry.
For women, I am also fond of silk which feels lovely on the skin.
However, you do need to wash silk often so I only usually pack it for a weekend or a longer trip during which I foresee laundry ‘time’.
If you are thinking of buying a good thermal underlay, I have put some research into the best ones and this is my selection of the best thermal underwear for winter travel.
Long sleeve and short sleeve top
Living in Ireland I have learnt to layer up and a combination of long and short sleeve tops are my a faithful travel companion.
I like colourful things so I usually have a black underlay and a colourful short sleeved top to have a somewhat ‘together’ but weather appropriate look.
I always notice how nice and warms interiors are in Amsterdam so I think it is worth it to have a nice top since you are likely to unwrap once indoors.
Well, of course! I personally prefer woolen jumpers over sweaters when on a city break as I feel they are more dressy and more versatile for going day to night.
For kids, fleeces are a good alternative but make sure not to overdo the layers especially if your child is very active.
Warm waterproof jacket
One of the best purchases I ever made is my Patagonia coat.
It has a waterproof and windproof external layer with a hood, a warm insert and it is long enough to get almost to to my knees, a length that makes a huge difference from the short albeit warm puffy jackets I usually choose for the fall season. Oddly enough, keeping your thighs warm is important!
For kids, I am fond of Trespass clothing: i find they outer layers excellent,not bulky and I love their many bright colour options
Hat, scarf, gloves, umbrella
Hat scarf and gloves are not a surprise on a winter packing list but the umbrella is a slightly more controversial item.
While really useful in case of rain, it can be useless and a pain to carry around in case of strong wind so I recommend it with a caveat.
Bring a very small one you can carry in your bag in case of wind or invest in a good quality, sturdy, wind resistant one.
Other travel essentials for Amsterdam in winter
Other travel essentials for Amsterdam in winter include your usual travel basics (from underwear to toiletries) and of course travel documents.
Be advised that in Amsterdam, like in many other countries, having ID on you is compulsory so make sure to have some form of identification on you at all time.
If you ate traveling with a baby, find my baby packing list for winter here will all essentials for cold weather.
This is my tried and tested list of things to pack for a trip to Amsterdam in the winter. Do you have a favourite winter travel essential?