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10 Things to Do in Amsterdam in November

From welcoming Christmas to indulging in a few beers, Amsterdam in November is full of possibilities. Treat yourself to a well-deserved vacation in the Dutch capital.

Matteo Gramegna

Matteo Gramegna

8 min read

10 Things to Do in Amsterdam in November

Amsterdam Bridge | ©Marko Zirdum

November is an underrated month but there is no shortage of plans to enjoy the charms of Amsterdam. If you're traveling with your little ones, you've picked a good time because the Netherlands has a unique custom: the local Santa Claus, Sinterklaas, comes to town in November.

1. Spend a different night

Van Gogh Museum at night| ©Michael Shoop
Van Gogh Museum at night| ©Michael Shoop

Have you seen the movie "Night at the Museum"? Like Ben Stiller, in November you can spend a night at Amsterdam's cultural institutions. You won't see Theodore Roosevelt or Attila in the flesh, but you can admire iconic works and other attractions. The event is held on the first Saturday of the month and involves the main museums of the Dutch capital:

  • NEMO: inside you can discover the secrets of DNA, perform experiments in the laboratories or take part in the interactive exhibits (Oosterdok 2).
  • Nieuwe Kerk: Amsterdam's New Church houses interesting photographic exhibitions (De Dam).
  • Van Gogh Museum: the cultural institution holds works such as "The Yellow House" and "The Potato Eaters" (Museumplein 6)
  • Rijksmuseum: inside you will be able to see the best works of the Dutch Golden Age (Museumstraat 1)
  • Hermitage: the branch of the famous St. Petersburg museum where the jewels of Russian art travel to the Dutch capital (Amstel 51).

This list lists only a few of Amsterdam's cultural institutions. To see the full series, I recommend you check the official website of the event. Please note that museums open at 19:00 and close their doors at 2:00.

Book a private tour of the Van Gogh Museum

2. Take a bike ride

Bicycles are the most widely used means of transportation in the Netherlands.| ©Anneke Vermeulen
Bicycles are the most widely used means of transportation in the Netherlands.| ©Anneke Vermeulen

Want to feel like a local? Then you have to cross the city by bike - it doesn't get more Dutch than that! The capital of the Netherlands has an extensive network of bike paths that will take you everywhere. November is the last month of the year that allows this activity although the locals don't get out of the saddle even on the coldest nights. To discover the routes and find out useful information, I recommend you to consult the Biking Amsterdam website.

Book a bike tour in Amsterdam

3. Get out of the city and take part in the Crossing Border Festival

Crossing Border Festival| ©Borja
Crossing Border Festival| ©Borja

A little more than 30 minutes by train from Amsterdam is The Hague, internationally known for the International Court of Justice. What many don't know is that this city of half a million people hosts a unique kermesse: the :::link|text=Crossing Border Festival|url=https://www.crossingborder.nl/en. As the name suggests, this event held in November overcomes cultural barriers by proposing a space where literature mixes with music, film and visual arts.

The main stage is at the Korzo Theater (Prinsestraat 42) but it is not the only one. Shows and talks can take place in other venues such as the Royal Theater (Koninklijke Schouwburg) or the Onze Ambassade, the old US embassy converted into a cultural center (Lange Voorhout 102). If you have more days and want to explore other locations around Amsterdam, I recommend you to read the post about excursions to Zaanse Schans.

Book a tour to Zaanse Schans

4. Taste some seasonal beers

Texels Bock beer,| ©José D
Texels Bock beer,| ©José D

When summer gives way to autumn, breweries in the Netherlands brew a different brew: herfstbocks, dark, top-fermented beers. Their history dates back to the 14th century when the Dutch began brewing their own dark brew inspired by Hamburg beers. Herfstboks have an alcohol percentage ranging between six and eight degrees and are well adapted to a Tulip glass. Among the most outstanding productions, we can name the following:

  • Texels Bock, ruby-colored and caramel-flavored. The added yeast gives it a rich and creamy mouthfeel.
  • Grolsch Rijke Herfstbok, a product that is available in Amsterdam from September. When you taste it, you will appreciate its caramel fragrance and notes of cinnamon, raisins and blueberries.
  • Hertog Jan Bockbier, with a fresh, sweet and sour taste. Unlike German bock beers, it is characterized by top fermentation.
  • Jopen's Vier Granen Bock, a brew from Haarlem. The brewmasters have achieved its pleasant roasted aroma by blending four cereals: rye, wheat, oats and barley.

If you are interested in the world of beer, I recommend you get your ticket for the Heineken Experience, where you can learn all about the brewing of this drink, and you can also taste it.

Book your ticket for Heineken Experience

5. Say hello to the city from a panoramic viewpoint

A-DAM Lookout Tower| ©Bootuitjes
A-DAM Lookout Tower| ©Bootuitjes

According to tourists and locals, the best view of Amsterdam is from the A'DAM Tower, a 22-story building in the north of the city. Designed by Arthur Staal, it was the headquarters of the Shell oil company until 2009 and its silhouette is easily spotted from the central station. Here you will enjoy 360º views and, if you don't suffer from vertigo, you can climb on the roof swings. They are called "Over the Edge" and are the highest in the world. The entrance to the A'Dam Lookout is included in the "I Amsterdam City Card"

For more information, I recommend you to read the post about the best tourist passes in the Dutch capital.

Get your Amsterdam City Card

6. Participate in the world's largest documentary film festival

International Documentary Film Festival| ©Naval S
International Documentary Film Festival| ©Naval S

The International Documentary Film Festival (ADFA) attracts a large number of enthusiasts in the Dutch capital. Its aim is to approach reality from a different perspective by proposing films with relevant social themes and capable of reflecting the zeitgeist of the present day.

The screenings take place in the month of November in various areas of the city. The most important ones are usually hosted at the Tuschinski Theater (Reguliersbreestraat 26-34) or at the EYE Film Institute, the museum dedicated to the preservation of Dutch and foreign films (IJpromenade 1).

7. Welcome the Dutch Santa Claus

Dutch Santa Claus| ©Door Berkh
Dutch Santa Claus| ©Door Berkh

If you've visited the Dutch capital during the winter, you may have noticed dolls, dessert boxes and souvenirs with the figures of an elderly man with a long white beard accompanied by dark-skinned, gaudily dressed helpers. They are Sinterklaas and the Zwarte Piet, i.e. St. Nicholas and his Moorish helpers. Sinterklaas is the Dutch Santa Claus and, unlike his cousin from Lapland, he rides on the back of a white horse, Ozosnel, and carries a big book with the names of the children who have been good.

In mid-November, Sinterklaas arrives in the capital of the Netherlands on a steamship and brings with him gifts, sweets, chocolate letters and tangerines. On this day, children dress up in costumes, prepare crafts and sing traditional carols: the sinterklaasliedjes. Take advantage of the occasion to try the typical cookies: pepernoten (with rye flour, honey and aniseed), speculaas (dark-colored Christmas biscuits) and kruidnoten (with wheat flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom and white pepper).

8. Take home a souvenir with a difference

RAI Convention Center| ©Solodam J
RAI Convention Center| ©Solodam J

Are you passionate about art? Then you should visit Amsterdam in November. This is the month when PAN, the most important art, antiques and design fair in the Netherlands, takes place. The cultural event was born in 1987 and since then it is an unmissable event for lovers of antiques, photography, contemporary art, designer furniture and decorative objects.

The event is held at the RAI Convention Center on the outskirts of the city. Getting to the venue is very easy, just take the subway. The Europaplein stop (blue line) is just a few meters from the entrance. For more info about mobility, I recommend you to read the post about how to move around Amsterdam.

9. Relax on the ice rinks

Museumplein Ice Rink| ©R Boed
Museumplein Ice Rink| ©R Boed

With the arrival of cold weather, the Venice of the North inaugurates some very typical attractions of Northern Europe: the ice rinks. The main one is located on the Museumplein, the large square that hosts the main museums of the city. It is called Ice Amsterdam and its rectangle of ice is located a few meters from the Rijksmuseum. The circuit is open daily from 10:00 to 21:00. To maintain a smooth and flawless surface, the rink needs to be swept twice a day, usually between 11:30 and 12:30 and 17:30 and 18:30.

Alternatively, you can head to Park De Meer, a former working-class neighborhood where the legendary Johan Cruyff was born. Here you can glide over the surface of Jaap Eden, Amsterdam's largest ice ring (Radioweg 64). If temperatures reach (at least) -4º, you can experience something very dutch: skating on the canals. In this case, I recommend buying some skates in the second-hand stores.

10. Meet the most playful mammals

Cruise to the Wadden Sea| ©JJ Thomsom
Cruise to the Wadden Sea| ©JJ Thomsom

Who said that low temperatures can not be reconciled with some outdoor excursions? If you travel to Amsterdam in November and stay about five days in Amsterdam, you can take advantage of the long stay to explore the surroundings.

One of the most interesting excursions will take you to the Waddensea, a shallow stretch of sea in the north of the country. Its cold waters are home to two species of seal: the common seal (Phoca vitulina) and the grey seal (Halichoerus grypus).

Most tours pick you up at a central location in Amsterdam and escort you to the coastline. Once there, you will take a boat out to sea to meet these cute mammals. As usual, you can choose between a half-day or a full-day excursion. Often these daily trips include a visit to a typical village, for example Twisk, one of the most beautiful villages in West Friesland.

What is the temperature in November?

Amsterdam in Autumn| ©Jan van der Wolf
Amsterdam in Autumn| ©Jan van der Wolf

The change of season and the geographical location of Amsterdam influence its climate. If at the beginning of the month you can enjoy the aftermath of autumn, the last weeks are usually characterized by stiff temperatures and overcast skies. Generally, the average daytime temperature hovers around 10° while at night it drops to 4°. Occasionally, the wind chill can be different because of wind and frequent rain. If you travel at this time, don't forget to pack a raincoat in your suitcase.

Is it worth visiting Amsterdam in November?

Exterior of Anne Frank's house| ©Daryl Mitchell
Exterior of Anne Frank's house| ©Daryl Mitchell

In my opinion, November is ideal for a long weekend in the capital of the Netherlands. This month coincides with the low season and this translates into two benefits: fewer tourists and more affordable prices in all accommodations. In addition, you can take the opportunity to visit the city's most popular attractions such as the Amsterdam Wax Museum or the Anne Frank Museum. If you see a good deal, don't hesitate for a second!