It does happen to rain quite often in Amsterdam – this is northern Europe after all. The Netherlands has a temperate, oceanic climate with over 200 wet days a year and an average annual rainfall of about 760mm. So do expect the chance of some rain on a visit to Amsterdam!
Apart from packing your umbrella and raincoat, here are a few things to do in Amsterdam if you get caught out by the wet weather…
1. Hang out in Amsterdam’s central library
The OBA is Amsterdam’s central library located at Oosterdokskade, a few minutes walk east of Central station. Spread over 10 levels there are plenty of things to do for free. You can browse international newspapers and magazines at the mezzanine level. Grab a book and lounge on one of the easy chairs.
Or head up to the top floor Babel café/restaurant and enjoy some good views of Amsterdam.
There are exhibition areas and the bottom floor is reserved for kids. WiFi is available for free on your own device although you have to register via a ‘Publicroam’ account.
The OBA is open daily, 0800-2200 (Mon-Fri), 1000-2000 (Sat-Sun).
2. Visit an immersive indoor attraction
Amsterdam has a number of new immersive-type attractions using cutting-edge technology which can help you forget about the weather.
Amaze Amsterdam offers an immersive audio-visual experience with 7 different stages which vary from intense, interactive to relaxing. It is located in an old industrial nightclub in Amsterdam’s West Port district. Book Amaze Amsterdam tickets here
Fabrique des Lumières at Westergas hosts exhibitions of classical, modern and contemporary artists using impressive light projections and music. Book Fabrique des Lumières (Salvador Dali exhibition) tickets here
Our House is a new museum of electronic music culture in the centre of Amsterdam. Take a 75 minute digital storytelling journey and explore the evolution of dance music via interactive installations. Book Our House tickets here
3. Go to the cinema
Cinemas in Amsterdam tend to show films in their original language with added Dutch subtitles. There are some lovely cinemas in the city including the stunning art nouveau Pathé Tuschinski (Reguliersbreestraat 26-34, near Rembrandtplein).
The nearby Pathé De Munt (round the corner on Vijzelstraat) is a 13 screen multiplex with all the latest releases.
The Movies is an old cinema located near the end of Haarlemmerdijk, west from Central station. With 4 screens it shows a mix of commercial and art-house films.
4. Take a canal cruise
Taking an Amsterdam canal cruise is a must-do activity, especially for first-time visitors. You can still enjoy a cruise during bad weather as the boats are covered and heated.
Lovers runs 60 minute classic Amsterdam canal cruise – book here – which depart regularly in the day and evening and have audio guides in 19 languages.
Or perhaps combine your dinner with a cruise by taking the 2 hour 3-course evening dinner cruise – check availability here – these run every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 1930.
5. See a show in Amsterdam
There are regular comedy and improvisation shows in English at Boom Chicago – an international theatre company based on Rozengracht in Amsterdam which has been running nearly 30 years.
Alternatively, if you like the classical arts scene, there is international jazz at Bimhuis, classical concerts at Concertgebouw and high caliber performances at the National Opera Ballet.
6. Browse an Amsterdam bookstore
Amsterdam has 3 large bookstores located in the centre. The Spui square is home to both ABC and Waterstones.
The 3 storey independent ABC (American Book Center) claims to be the best stocked English language bookstore in continental Europe – it has a small cafe with a few seats on the 1st floor.
Waterstones is a major UK book chain and its Amsterdam branch has 4 floors with a few seats.
A short walk away (on Rokin, close to Dam Square) is Scheltema, the largest bookstore in the Netherlands with 5 levels. It has a good number of English language titles, lots of seating and a café.
7. Visit one of Amsterdam’s social media attractions
Whilst the rain can dampen your quest for the perfect Instagram shot in Amsterdam, the city does have a number of indoor social media experiences.
The Upside Down Museum Amsterdam is a large interactive museum which includes 25 ‘mind-bending’ rooms. It is located near RAI Amsterdam. Book Upside Down Museum tickets here
WONDR is a colourlful immersive experience in Amsterdam Noord – book WONDR Amsterdam tickets here.
WONDR also offers Roller Dreams, an 80s Roller Skating rink experience.
8. Drink with an Amsterdam view
Amsterdam has a number of cafés and restaurants which offer panoramic views. Blue Amsterdam café is a glass structure at the top of the Kalvatoren shopping centre near Muntplein/Flower Market. It is a good value place for lunch and has decent views of the centre.
Alternatively the A’DAM Lookout on the north bank of the IJ river has superb 360° views of the city. It’s 20th floor panorama deck has a bar; it also has a fine dining revolving restaurant on the 19th floor. Get there by free ferry from the back of Amsterdam Central station.
9. Visit the Amsterdam City Archives
The Stadsarchief is housed in a historic former bank building called De Bazel at Vijzelstraat 32 in the city centre. Open to the public (closed Mondays) there are often photos and displays about Amsterdam on show in the impressive glass-roofed main hall.
It also hosts regular city-themed exhibitions and has a permanent display in its underground vault room.
There is a café at the front of the building, an interesting bookshop and an exhibit on all UNESCO sites in the Netherlands.
Just around the corner on the Keizersgracht canal you will also find the renowned FOAM Photography Museum and the Museum Van Loon, a 17th century canal house. Both are open daily.
10. Discover street art in a shipyard warehouse
STRAAT Museum is a spectacular and unique museum at NDSM-wharf in Amsterdam which exhibits street art and graffiti in a former shipyard warehouse.
The indoor exhibition hosts over 150 large-scale pieces of artwork made by artists on-site. Book your STRAAT Museum tickets here
To get there take the free GVB ferry from Amsterdam Central to NDSM-werf.
11. Learn about history at Amsterdam’s Maritime Museum
Find out about the country’s rich maritime history with a visit to the magnificent Scheepvaartmuseum (Dutch National Maritime Museum).
It is housed in het Zeemagazijn (the Arsenal), a former Admiralty of Amsterdam storehouse whose inner courtyard has a spectacular glass roof. Book your Scheepvaartmuseum tickets here
Last updated 7 April 2023, first published in 2013.