The Ultimate Packing List for Amsterdam
By Destination

The Ultimate Amsterdam Packing List

The Netherland’s modern, yet historic, capital of Amsterdam is ripe for exploration. Priceless collections from Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Vermeer coexist alongside coffee shops (legal marijuana dispensaries). Houseboats bob gently in a canal network 60 miles long. And the Red Light District piques curiosities with neon-lit bars and brothels. Culture vultures and history junkies will also enjoy the Rijksmuseum and Anne Frank House. While you can certainly walk or take public transportation to get around, do as the locals do and bike. Amsterdam is the world’s most cycle-friendly city, so you’ll join thousands of other cyclists on your exploratory route. Before you hop a train or plane bound for Amsterdam, read through our exhaustive packing guide. From the best luggage options to what to wear each season, you’ll walk (or bike) away with a better understanding of what you’ll need in Amsterdam.

 

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THE PERFECT LUGGAGE

There are a lot of things to consider when packing for Amsterdam, but your first concern should be finding the right bag. Depending on the length of your trip, you’ll want to invest in either a quality weekender bag, a 22- to 24-inch spinner, or an XL checked bag. If your trip is four days or fewer, you can definitely get away with an expandable duffel like Longchamp’s Le Pilage. The 21-inch nylon and leather-trimmed bag was designed with a zip inset so you can expand it as needed. It’s also water-resistant (ideal as Amsterdam’s weather is quite unpredictable), comes with a shoulder strap, and can be completely folded flat should you want to pack it in your checked bag as a backup for souvenirs. If your trip is a little longer, you should be able to accommodate up to a week’s worth of clothes with Samsonite’s Freeform 24-Inch Hardside Spinner. Of course, you’ll need to pack layers, and the roomy, lightweight checked bag offers multiple pockets and a divider for easy organization. We recommend the Calpax x Jen Atkin 29-Inch Suitcase for extended stays. The sleek mega-bag features eight 360-degree swivel wheels and a sturdy telescoping handle means you’ll have no trouble maneuvering it. The bag’s polycarbonate and aluminum design ensures it’ll last for years to come and an included sticker pack—with fun options like googly eyes and letters for monogramming—means you’ll be able to customize. Whichever bag you go with, keep in mind you’ll have to lug it over old cobblestone streets and up unwieldy staircases (many historic buildings don’t have elevators), so the lighter, the better.

THE 3 PAIRS OF SHOES YOU’LL NEED FOR EXPLORING AMSTERDAM

When considering what shoes to pack for your trip remember that like most historic European cities, Amsterdam is a maze of largely cobblestone streets. That means you should forgo stilettos in favor of comfortable walking sneakers and sensible flats and boots. Ladies and gents alike should pack for three occasions: sightseeing (via bicycle), going out at night (maybe the Red Light District), and more cultured outings like museum-hopping. While one sharp shoe could likely take you through all three activities, we suggest sneakers, block heels, and flats for gals, and sporty sneakers, smart leather sneakers, and a chic Chelsea boot for men.

Women’s Shoes

Men’s Shoes

AMSTERDAM FASHION

Men & Women's Amsterdam Fashion
Without a doubt, the Dutch know how to dress. While it’s impossible to condense a city down to one style, Amsterdam generally follows the same Euro-chic dress code as many of its neighboring capitals. Locals favor quality denim, stylish sneakers, and chunky sweaters, but they also lean into edgier looks punctuated by leather boots, designer purses, and scarves. Some popular Dutch brands have infiltrated American cities, so if you need inspiration, you can look to Scotch & Soda, G-Star RAW, and Suitsupply. When considering outfits, just answer the question: Could I bike in this? If you need more direction, peek our picks below.

FIVE FOOLPROOF OUTFITS FOR AMSTERDAM

1. WHAT TO WEAR ON A BIKE TOUR IN AMSTERDAM

Follow the locals’ lead and ditch the yoga pants when it comes time for a bike ride around town. Instead of getting decked out in workout gear, the Dutch just wear whatever their day calls for, so you can totally pull off a casual-chic outfit with fashion sneaks, a midi coat, and a bold crossbody bag—plus jeans with a little stretch.

Think sporty—but not too sporty. In Amsterdam, Nikes and the like are quite popular, so pair your Air Max 90s with a simple cotton tee and slim fit jeans for a pulled together but exceedingly comfortable look.

2. WHAT TO WEAR AT THE MUSEUMS IN AMSTERDAM

Popular institutions like the Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum, and Van Gogh Museum don’t have hard and fast dress codes, but you’ll find other museum-goers are dressed to impress. Join their ranks with a smart loafer, cropped pants, and a tucked in turtleneck.

Museums are a smart casual affair in Amsterdam, so you can’t go wrong with black jeans, a quality crewneck sweatshirt, and desert boots. If it’s chilly, throw a shirt jacket into the mix. A stylish watch keeps you looking good and on schedule.

3. WHAT TO WEAR AT THE COFFEE SHOPS IN AMSTERDAM

There’s no real dress code for Amsterdam’s coffee shops, but casual is the way to go. Emulate the Dutch’s edgy-cool aesthetic with a faux leather moto jacket, booties, and skinny black jeans.

First thing’s first: ditch any gimmicky pot leaf motif shirts and socks. Coffee shops (not to be confused with koffiehuizen—cafes that actually serve coffee) are legal and a part of everyday life here, so dress casually and you’ll fit right in.

4. WHAT TO WEAR ON A CANAL CRUISE IN AMSTERDAM

Amsterdam canal cruises come in all shapes and sizes, but assuming you’re going for an afternoon ride that’s accompanied by a sit-down dinner, step things up a little in the outfit department. This midi shirtdress is polished, but comfy, and can easily be dressed up with a maxi coat and heeled leather booties.

A well-fit pair of dark jeans can take you through just about everything on your Amsterdam itinerary, but a canal dinner cruise is the perfect excuse to dress up. Opt for slim fit chinos, a fun button-up shirt, and some sharp oxford shoes.

5. WHAT TO WEAR FOR AMSTERDAM’S TULIPS AND FLOWER MARKET

Comfortable jeans, a chunky sweater, and a rainproof anorak will treat you well on any tulip-inspired outings. Just be sure to bring a tote—like the versatile Duck Bag from Baggu—for all of your flower market finds.

Headed out to Amsterdam’s iconic tulip fields? It’s probably best to leave your fresh white sneakers back at the hotel and go for a leather boot that won’t pick up grass or soil stains. Other than that, you can wear whatever is most comfortable.

WHAT NOT TO PACK FOR AMSTERDAM 

Fashion and function go hand in hand in Amsterdam. Though the Dutch undoubtedly appreciate design and style, they know that sensibility matters most. Accordingly, your first defense against looking like a tourist will be leaving your sky-high heels at home—and also ditch the college sweatshirts and logoed sports apparel. Take an edgier approach to layering, and you’ll fit right in. When it comes to extras beyond your outfits, don’t be too heavy handed. Hotels will most certainly have toiletries and if you decide you need a box of granola bars or some Band-Aids to patch up a blister, you can easily run (or bike) to a pharmacy.

THE *ONE THING* WTP EDITORS ALWAYS BRING TO AMSTERDAM

We love how easy it is to be active in Amsterdam. Navigating the picturesque tulip-and-canal-lined city on foot, bikes, and boats is part of the appeal—all year-round. But all that outdoor exercise means you have to come to Amsterdam prepared for occasional rain. The Rains rain jacket, made by a Scandinavian label, is equal parts chic and functional. It comes in an array of colors and lengths; we like the longer version for extra rain protection on a bike. Pop the jacket over a lightweight puffer for chilly days or wear it on its own in warmer rainy weather. Either way, the jacket is stylish enough to sport anywhere in the city. Don’t forget to stop and smell the tulips, rain or shine. —WTP Editors

$170 at Shopbop


AMSTERDAM’S WEATHER AND SEASONS

Amsterdam Weather and Seasons
Amsterdam has four clearly defined seasons, but all in all, the city’s weather is pretty mild. Thanks to an oceanic climate, and the fact that the city is considered an urban heat island (a metropolitan area that’s much warmer than surrounding rural areas due to a large population), summers are warm, but not too hot; and winters are slightly cold, but without much snow. Even nightfall is largely immune to temperature drops, with nights rarely clocking in below the low 20s. June to August is considered peak travel season; temperatures hover in the 70s and 80s, and days average 15 hours of sunlight. The main weather element travelers have to contend with—no matter the season they touch down in—is rain. Amsterdam’s annual rainfall totals roughly 33 inches, just a few shy of Seattle’s famous rainy numbers. Take a page out of the Dutch’s lookbook by packing lots of layers, including waterproof outerwear and a travel umbrella. Read on for a month-by-month look at weather and precipitation, as well as our recommendations on what to pack for Amsterdam.

Note: Below is a packing forecast, not a traditional forecast. A packing forecast focuses on how cold it’s likely to be in the early mornings and evenings based on historical data. We recommend using this together with a traditional forecast as you get closer to your departure date. This data comes from our friends at Weather Underground.

JANUARY

  • Plan for day temps between 28° F and 38° F
  • Temps will drop near 19° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.03 inches of precipitation in January

What to Wear in Amsterdam in January: The first month of the year is generally the Netherland’s coldest. That said, temps generally don’t fall below the low 30s. To contend with wind and occasional rain, pack waterproof footwear and outerwear, a handful of sweaters, and gloves, hats, and scarfs.

Recommendations: Waterproof boots, warm waterproof jacket, cozy scarf

FEBRUARY

  • Plan for day temps between 32° F and 34° F
  • Temps will drop near 26° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.03 inches of precipitation in February

What to Wear in Amsterdam in February: Weather this month is much like January; prep for wind, fog, and nights that are much chillier than the rest of the day with a variety of layers including sweaters, long sleeve tees, and winter accessories. One positive: February is a super dry month, so you likely won’t have to contend with rain.

Recommendations: Cashmere beanie, men’s ski sweater, men’s quilted jacket

MARCH

  • Plan for day temps between 23° F and 40° F
  • Temps will drop near 16° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.04 inches of precipitation in March

What to Wear in Amsterdam in March: The weather is known to be a bit erratic in March. You could encounter brief but fierce showers or the year’s first warm spell, so pack a lot of layers that can easily be added and subtracted as necessary.

Recommendations: Travel umbrella, women’s knotted blouse, gauzy scarf

APRIL

  • Plan for day temps between 41° F and 53° F
  • Temps will drop near 34°F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.03 inches of precipitation in April

What to Wear in Amsterdam in April: This month is a fantastic time to visit Amsterdam: temperatures rise to the 50s, crowds are delightfully thin as peak tourist season hasn’t yet hit, and tulips are out in all their glory. Rain is pretty rare, but like March, the weather can be a little unpredictable, so pack layers (and stow them in an easy-to-carry backpack or tote) in preparation for an occasional cold bout.

Recommendations: Men’s long-sleeved shirt, mini-backpack, men’s light down jacket

MAY

  • Plan for day temps between 48° F and 61° F
  • Temps will drop near 39° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.04 inches of precipitation in May

What to Wear in Amsterdam in May: If you favor off-season travel, you’ll find Amsterdam in May is a real treat. Temperatures rise pleasantly into the 60s and you can get away with short sleeve tees, cropped jeans, and light coats.

Recommendations: Women’s soft t-shirt, cropped jacket, boyfriend jeans 

JUNE

  • Plan for day temps between 54° F and 62° F
  • Temps will drop near 47° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.01 inches of precipitation in June

What to Wear in Amsterdam in June: Come June, tourists descend on Amsterdam en masse, and for good reason: temperatures rise into the 60s and sunny blue skies are the norm. By now, you can pack midi skirts and light tops, just be sure to throw in a sweater or two for post-nightfall use.

Recommendations: Midi skirt, classic mules, playful blouse

JULY

  • Plan for day temps between 62° F and 70° F
  • Temps will drop near 50° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.00 inches of precipitation in July

What to Wear in Amsterdam in July: Visits during Amsterdam’s second warmest month call for lots of breathable cotton layers. Tanks, tees, linen pants, lightweight jeans, shorts, skirts, and sandals will all be able to contend with daytime temps in the 70s and up.

Recommendations: Men’s floral t-shirt, men’s chino shorts, stylish sneakers

AUGUST

  • Plan for day temps between 55° F and 75° F
  • Temps will drop near 44° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.05 inches of precipitation in August

What to Wear in Amsterdam in August: Weather-wise, August is the official hottest month in Amsterdam, but you’ll still be fine with regular summer wear like tees, shorts, and dresses.

Recommendations: Minimalist slides, belted skirt, cheerful dress

SEPTEMBER

  • Plan for day temps between 49° F and 59° F
  • Temps will drop near 39° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.10 inches of precipitation in September

What to Wear in Amsterdam in September: Summer may be fleeting in Amsterdam, but the season’s favorable weather still continues into September. While temperatures generally stay in the 50s and 60s, it’s rain that throws a wrench in plans and outfits. Prepare for the month’s average 10 days of precipitation with an umbrella and other waterproof accessories.

Recommendations: Men’s parka, packable umbrella, women’s waterproof sneakers

OCTOBER

  • Plan for day temps between 40° F and 54° F
  • Temps will drop near 36° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.02 inches of precipitation in October

What to Wear in Amsterdam in October: With mild days in the 50s and 60s, autumn is an extremely pleasant time to visit Amsterdam. Pack a light coat for early morning and late night activities, and be sure to carry layers (a cardigan, shirt jacket, or thin scarf) while you’re out and about.

Recommendations: Floral scarf, women’s oversize blazer, thermal sweater

NOVEMBER

  • Plan for day temps between 36° F and 44° F
  • Temps will drop near 28° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.02 inches of precipitation in November

What to Wear in Amsterdam in November: November weather can be a bit gray; the month is quite rainy and short on daylight, but temperatures still don’t drop much below the 30s, so it’s not freezing by any means. Pack rain-appropriate options that can easily be layered and you’ll have no problem being outside all day.

Recommendations: Travel umbrella, water-repellent Nikes, men’s hooded parka

DECEMBER  

  •  Plan for day temps between 32° F and 43° F
  • Temps will drop near 28° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.05 inches of precipitation in December

What to Wear in Amsterdam in December: If you were expecting polar conditions, think again. Amsterdam is surprisingly mild in December, with temperatures that generally hover in the mid 30s and 40s. That said, about half the days of the month see rain, so come prepared with a variety of waterproof shoes and outerwear.

Recommendations: Waterproof boots, waterproof duster, cuffed beanie

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT PACKING FOR AMSTERDAM

Frequently Asked Questions for Amsterdam
I’m visiting Amsterdam in the summer, what should I wear sightseeing?

Amsterdam has a mild climate, which means summer temps rarely climb past the 80s. You’ll be comfortable in typical summer wear, including lightweight pants, skirts, tees, dresses, breathable sneakers, and sandals. When packing, make sure whatever you bring is compatible for biking and walking. Leave behind shoes that are known to cause blisters and jeans that are just a smidge too tight. You’ll thank us after a long day of pedaling.

What should I wear for a night out in Amsterdam?

Whether you’re hitting the Red Light District (also known as De Wallen) or just visiting the bars, clubs, and music venues in neighborhoods like Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein, you’d do to follow a dressy casual code of attire. That means no trainers, caps, hoodies, or oversized bags. Women will do just fine with an LBD or jumpsuit, while men should go for button-ups, blazers, and black or grey chinos. Pro tip: If you’re wandering through de Wallen ogling the neon-lit venues, do not take photos of any occupied windows (or photos at all). If you’re caught, you could get your camera or phone confiscated.

If I’m going to be bicycling around Amsterdam, do I need to consider sportswear? Or can I get by with “regular” clothes? What do locals wear for this?

While two pedals are the preferred method of transportation in Amsterdam, locals just wear whatever their day calls for, be it a boardroom-appropriate pencil skirt or a casual pair of jeans that will blend into the coffee shop crowd. While you can definitely steer clear of too much workout wear, you’ll also notice the Dutch largely don’t wear helmets. While motorists pay close attention to cyclists here, you should definitely consider sporting one since you’re not familiar with the roads.

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