It's fair to say that the climate in northern Europe can, on occasion, leave a lot to be desired. That basically means that when you're planning on visiting the capital of the Netherlands, you need to be prepared to have at least one rainy day in Amsterdam while you're there. If it doesn't rain during your stay, consider buying a lottery ticket as your luck is certainly in.
If you do fall foul of a rainy day when you visit Amsterdam, don't worry, it won't put a dampener on your Amsterdam visit at all. In fact, it can work out to be a bonus as you'll do things you may well have otherwise passed on doing in the Dutch capital if it was a sunny day.
Canal cruises may be one of the favorite things to do in Amsterdam but they're not much fun in the rain as the barge windows steam up. Just to set the record straight, no-one is suggesting that you head straight for the nearest licensed cafe for a brownie that will put a smile on your face no matter the weather. While it might seem like a good idea, and one way of dealing with rainy day blues, you'd be missing out on some of the best things to do in Amsterdam when it rains if you did.
The last thing you'll want to be doing on a rainy day in Amsterdam is to be lugging your bags around with you. They'll get soaked and possibly mud-splattered as well as make holding that vital piece of rainy day equipment called an umbrella pretty awkward.
You can store your bags safely and in a dry place, by using a Bounce luggage storage in Amsterdam. Do that and you'll save yourself from turning into a bag juggler, plus still have a hand free when you feel the inclination to swing around a lampost and sing, Gene Kelly-style, in the rain.
What To Do In Amsterdam On A Rainy Day
So you've woken up to the pitter-patter of rain hitting the pavement; don't despair! Read through this ultimate guide to rainy day activities in Amsterdam and you'll soon have a smile on your face.
After you've spent part of the morning lazing in bed while counting the raindrops running down the window of your hotel room, hunger will probably spur you into action. If all you had to eat was a couple of soggy biscuits you'll be more than ready to get up and go out for the best brunch in Amsterdam while planning how to spend the rest of the day.
Omelegg is a popular Amsterdam brunch spot with two locations right in the city center. One is on the Ferdinand Bolstraat in the De Pijp district of the city which is near Museum Quarter. The other is on Nieuwebrugsteeg which is just a few minutes' dash through the rain from the Amsterdam Sex Museum, the Nemo Science Museum, and the Magna Plaza shopping center.
Omelegg are, as they like to proudly boast, eggsperts and have been serving all-day breakfasts since 2013. Here you choose your brunch omelet from a menu of over twenty variations or go for a huge plate of scrambled eggs with lots of extra toppings. There's no rush to get there as both Omelegg locations stay open until four in the afternoon.
If you had brunch at the Omelegg in the De Pijp district, the best place to head for when you start to feel guilty for occupying the table for too long is the Museum Quarter. Head out of the restaurant door, put your umbrella up and make a run for it to Museum Square and you'll be able to take your pick from three of the best museums in Amsterdam to spend a couple of hours in. If the wet weather doesn't let up, do all three.
Van Gogh Museum – If you choose to drop into the Van Gogh Museum as your first port of call in the Museum Quarter, you can expect it to take anywhere up to two hours to browse around the entire collection of the artist's works that are housed here.
The collections are dispersed through two buildings, the Rietveld which is the main gallery where the permanent exhibitions are on display, and the Kurukowa wing which is used for temporary exhibitions.
Standard opening hours at the museum, which is one of the most famous museums in the city, are from nine until five from Monday to Thursday, from nine until nine on Fridays, and from nine until six on weekends. Opening times are often extended on public holidays
Rijksmuseum – If you want more varied viewing than the works of one artist, you'll find the Rijksmuseum fascinating. This museum as well as exhibiting paintings by Dutch grand masters also houses extensive collections of artifacts, sculptures, and photographs related to Dutch history. The Rijksmuseum opens daily from nine until five.
Stedelijk Museum – If works by the grand masters don't really interest you, try taking a look around the Stedelijk Museum instead. The Stedelijk Museum is another of Amsterdam's famous museums. It's dedicated to contemporary art and displays both permanent and temporary exhibitions from leading Dutch and international modern artists in multiple formats. The Stedelijk opens seven days of the week from ten in the morning until six in the evening.
If you had brunch in the Omelegg on Nieuwebrugsteeg and the rain still hasn't let up enough to take a stroll along the city's canal, you'll be in the perfect place to go shopping in Amsterdam and in one of the biggest indoor commercial centers too.
The imposing building housing the Magna Plaza shopping center on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal looks more like a royal palace than a mall from the outside, but you'll soon lose that impression once you're inside and see the shops. The center is still architecturally interesting internally though as there are lots of arches, columns, and intricate stonework which are just as worthy of taking a quick glance at as the store windows are.
In the Magna Plaza there are two entire floors of independent shops to wander around including a couple that specialize in Dutch products. If you still haven't purchased gifts or souvenirs to take home with you, this could well be the time and place to do it. The Magna Plaza opens every day from ten in the morning to nine at night. There's also a food hall in the center so you can get a snack, some lunch, or even an early dinner without having to go out into the rain.
The Cat Boat
If the inclement weather is making you feel lonely or you're missing your pets, while it might not have featured on your original Amsterdam bucket list, a visit to the Cat Boat will soon solve that.
The Cat Boat, de Poezenboot in Dutch, is a cat rescue center housed on a barge moored on the Singel just two streets walk from the Magna Plaza shopping center. It's all inside so you can sit and stroke as many cats as you want, but you do need to contact the boat or make an appointment to go via the official website.
There's no charge for stroking the cats on the barge, but any donations are always gratefully received.
NEMO Science Museum
Okay, so just because it's a rainy day when you're visiting Amsterdam doesn't mean you want to spend it going from one museum to another. If you're looking for things to do with kids in Amsterdam they probably won't be very interested in the museums in the Museum Quarter, but they'll love the NEMO Science Museum. If you brunched at the Omelegg on Nieuwebrugsteeg, forget trying to get over to Museum Square, this museum is a few minutes' walk away and has enough interesting exhibits to keep even Albert Einstein mentally occupied for a good few hours.
You could easily spend a whole wet day exploring the five floors of the NEMO Science Museum. You'll forget all about the drab drizzle outdoors in this museum's colorful environment. The endless interactive museum will give you a good brain flex too and are definitely a more interesting way of spending the day than sitting in your hotel room playing games on your phone.
The museum opens six days of the week from Tuesday to Sunday between ten and five-thirty. It does open on Mondays during school holidays and when major national holidays fall on a Monday.
Sometimes it's nice to pass a rainy day in a social atmosphere with other travelers and locals with the same mindset. You can do that at the Foodhallen which is on the Bellamyplein in the city center.
The Foodhallen is in a refurbished tram depot where there are over twenty different pop-up restaurants and craft brewery and distillery stalls. The central hall space is crammed with high tables and stools so while there's not a great deal of elbow room, it's easy enough to get chatting with the folks sitting next to you.
What sort of food is available? There's an incredible variety of food being served by the pop-ups at the Foodhallen. You'll find stands specializing in pimped-up Dutch classics like meatballs, others offering Asian street food, several dedicated to vegetarian and vegan dishes, some Spanish tapas, Indian curries, Mexican dishes, and even Nordic seafood so you're not going to go hungry no matter how finicky you are.
Foodhallen opens at midday and closes at midnight so you can spend all afternoon and evening eating, drinking, and socializing in a great, rainfree atmosphere. Is there any better way to spend a rainy day in Amsterdam than that?
If you're backpacking with friends and are starting to get on each other’s nerves stuck in your shared hostel room on a rainy afternoon, make being together even more testing by going to Escape World. It's a fun way of letting off steam, discovering who is the smartest in the group and who's a team player you can rely on.
Escape World is an escape room entertainment complex on the Houtkopersdwarsstraat. If you're going there in a taxi, have the address on your phone ready to show the driver because the minute you try to pronounce that tongue twister of a street name you'll be in real trouble.
There are five different escape rooms at Escape World to choose from and although some are rated suitable for children, they all look pretty scary and testing to work your way through, especially the Cabin in the Woods.
Escape World opens at one in the afternoon and can get busy on damp days so reserve your spot on the internet in advance of arriving.
Aloha Amsterdam is a must-do for avid game players when it's raining. This entertainment complex is centrally located on De Ruijterkade, near Central Station, and will really bring out your competitive nature. It'll make you forget about the rain too as the entire place is decorated in a tropical Hawaii theme.
At Aloha you can finish off your friends in a game of laser tag then try beating them at bowling or mini golf. This is no ordinary bowling or mini-golf though as it's all glow-in-the-dark. After an hour or two here, you'll have forgotten the outside world even exists. That's even more likely to happen if you indulge in a Hawaii-style cocktail in the tiki bar between games.
Aloha Amsterdam has various different opening times. At weekends it opens at eleven in the morning, but during the week, you'll have to wait to play until two in the afternoon.
Now you know all about some of the amazing and fun things there are to do in Amsterdam when it's raining, being there on a rainy day probably no longer seems as dismal as it did before. When you can head indoors to browse artworks created by grand or modern day masters, spend all afternoon in a friendly food hall, pit your wits against your friends in an escape room, or stroke rescued felines on a canal barge, the day suddenly becomes a lot brighter even if the weather doesn't.
There are lots more indoor activities beside these so if you're unlucky enough to experience a couple of rainy days, there's always the Anne Frank House, Rembrandt's House, the Heineken Brewery, and the MOCO Museum to keep you busy. It's best to skip a stroll through the red light district or around Dam Square until the weather gets better. Rain in Amsterdam is part of the Dutch way of the life. You can't avoid a rainy day in Amsterdam so the best thing to do is enjoy it and if all else fails, head to the closest pancake house for a sweet treat.