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Amsterdam weather in December

December weather in Amsterdam: usually cold; usually no snow

If you see any sunshine in Amsterdam during December, take a picture.

If you see any snow, take a picture as well.

In this darkest month of the year the sun shows up only 40-45 hours, and you can expect at least half of the days to pass without any sunshine to speak of.1

In Holland December is a winter month, after all. The shortest day of the year — in terms of the amount of daylight — falls on December 21st, and that’s when the winter season starts.

Prinsengracht canal Amsterdam

Prinsengracht, in the center of Amsterdam, on a beautiful day in December

Tourists from countries closer to the equator are often amazed at how short Amsterdam days really are in December, with sunrise on average at about 8:30 am, and sunset around 4:30 pm.

For those Amsterdammers who have a regular 9-5 job it’s no fun going to and from work in the dark, let alone when there’s rain or frost.

Mind you, this is not the rainiest month, nor the coldest. But Amsterdam weather in December includes a fair amount of precipitation — usually in the form of rain or wet snow.

Weather Forecast

Updated, December 4, 2018

Keep in mind that the feels-like temperature (windchill factor) tends to be 3-5 degrees lower than the values listed.

Sunday, December 16, 2018 Snow is expected overnight “with almost 100% certainty,” so we may wake up to 4-8 cm (1.5-3.1 inches) of the stuff. Most of it may have melted by noon, though. Incidentally, more snow is expected in the suburbs than in the center of town — simply because it usually is a few degrees warmer in the inner city. No rain. Mid-afternoon high temperature about 6° Celsius (42.8° Fahrenheit). The windchill factor will make it feel a few degrees colder.

Monday, December 17, 2018 Soms light rain during the night and in the early afternoon. Overcast or cloudy in the morning, giving way to sunny intervals from late morning through late afternoon. Mid-day high 6° Celsius (42.8° Fahrenheit).

Tuesday, December 18, 2018 Mostly cloudy or overcast, but possibly some sunny spells in the late afternoon. No rain. Afternoon high temperature around 7° Celsius (44.6° Fahrenheit).

Wednesday, December 19, 2018 Mostly cloudy, with some sunny intervals in the afternoon. No rain. Early afternoon high 9° Celsius (48.2° Fahrenheit).

Thursday, December 20, 2018 Overcast all day. A light rain shower in the early evening. Afternoon high around 7° Celsius (44.6° Fahrenheit).

Friday, December 21, 2018 Cloudy or overcast all day, with scattered light rain showers from mid-morning through well past midnight. Late afternoon high temperature: 9° Celsius (48.2° Fahrenheit).

Long Term Forecast

Saturday December 22, 2018 through Saturday December 29, 2018: High chance (80%) that we will have a changeable weather pattern with temperatures around or above normal for this time of the year. Later in the period 20% chance of cold and dry weather.

Where our weather information comes from

Our weather information is based on long-term averages as reported by various meteorological services, including the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI).

Average Low and High Temperatures in December

Normal Average Low and High Temperatures in December in Amsterdam
Date Minimum Maximum
December 1-10 2° Celsius (35.6° Fahrenheit) 6.8° Celsius (44.24° Fahrenheit)
December 11-20 1.1° Celsius (33.98° Fahrenheit) 5.9° Celsius (42.62.74° Fahrenheit)
December 21-31 1.1° Celsius (33.98° Fahrenheit) 5.5° Celsius (41.9° Fahrenheit)

Average amount of rain

December is tied with October for the second highest amount of precipitation: 66 mm (2.59 inch). Mind you, its mostly rain in October, whereas December precipitation can also include snow (wet, most of the time).

Things to do in Amsterdam in December

Be prepared for indoor or outdoor activities depending on the weather. Rainy days call for museum visits, lounging in cafés, going to the movies (usually shown in their original languages and subtitled in Dutch), or even exploring the public library.

Dry days are perfect for exploring the city on foot, and/or touring the canals by boat. Speaking of which:

In December it gets dark early in Amsterdam, with sunset occurring around 4:30 pm! Perfect for the Amsterdam Light Festival — or, rather, for the alternatives we suggest.

Tickets, Museums, Tours, Activities

Even though it is not the high season in Amsterdam, tourism picks up during the month of December. Get tickets for museums, tours, public transport ahead of time.

Hotels

Amsterdam hotels are in high demand throughout the year. For the best rates (and to make sure you can even get a room) Book your hotel as early as possible.

Don’t take previous years as a guide

As always, keep in mind that the weather in Holland is notoriously unpredictable. Other than the general observations on this page, what happens in one year cannot be taken as a template for the next.

For instance:

December 2015 — with an average temperature of 9.6° Celsius (49.28° Fahrenheit) — was an unusually warm month. How unusual? Well, according to the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), it was the mildest December since the Dutch started keeping track of the weather, in 1706.

December 2016 was unusual as well, with an average temperature of 4.7° Celsius (40.46° Fahrenheit). It was mild, very dry, and very sunny for the time of year. 72 hours of sun during the month, versus the long-term average of 49 hours. And just 22 mm of precipitation vs the usual 80 mm.

December 2017 is not even half gone at the time I’m writing this, but it will long be remembered for the December 10-11 snow storms that, on Monday, brought the city — and most of the country — to a standstill. All in all Amsterdam saw 20 centimeter (7.87 inch) of snow. Schiphol Airport was forced to cancel 600 flights — 50% of a normal day’s take-offs and landings. Train traffic between the airport, and in and out of Central Station, came to a standstill. Trams ran on a reduced schedule with lots of delays, while buses were grounded.

Snow: White Christmas in Amsterdam?

Measured over the whole country, on average some form of weather drops from the sky on 22 days, for a total of 72mm (2.8 inches). Still speaking in averages, 3 of those days will see hail, 5 wet snow and 6-10 days fog.

It may snow from time to time, but seldom a lot. And a white Christmas in Amsterdam is a rare occurrence.

That said, if you’ve followed our weather write-ups for a while, you know we always point out how unpredictable Dutch weather is.

When snow does fall — the good stuff, not the wet slurry — Amsterdam looks like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gT_cwJ3bTOs

And in case you’re wondering: the end of the month is 1 to 1.5 degrees colder than the beginning. We’re gearing up for January.

Westerkerk, Amsterdam

In December expect cloudy, dark, wet weather — with an occasional hint, or burst, of sunshine

What to wear in Amsterdam in December

December can be bone-chillingly cold, especially when it’s windy.

You’ll definitely want to bring warm clothes, along with a winter-proof, waterproof coat or jacket.

A windproof hat or cap — especially one that keeps the ears warm — will be very welcome. You’ll also want a scarf and gloves.

Bring sweaters and warm socks. Long underwear may come in handy as well.

That said, make sure you dress in layers. Pubs, restaurants and private homes can be quite warm.

Snow at Beguinage, Amsterdam

December snow at Begijnhof (Beguinage) in Amsterdam

Amsterdam weather facts: December

Temperatures
• Average lows: 0.5° C (33° F)
• Average highs: 5.5° C (42° F)

Sunrise & Sunset
• December 1 – 8:27 a.m. / 4:32 p.m.
• December 31 – 8:51 a.m. / 4:37 p.m.

Rainfall
• Average 72mm (2.8 inches) in 72 hours

Amsterdam Current Weather & Month-by-Month

More about the weather in Amsterdam, including current temperatures, expected precipitation, 4-day forecast and average rainfall figures. Also: the weather from month-to-month.

Disclaimer

This weather information is curated by Amsterdammer Anton Hein. He is not a meteorologist, and since he works from home he usually doesn’t have to brave the elements if he chooses not to do so. He reminds you that the only thing truly predictable about Dutch weather is that it is very changeable, and notoriously hard to predict.

Notes:

  1. When the sun does shine, owing to the crispy temperatures it is often combined with deep-blue skies. That makes for great photos. Added benefit: with most trees bare the architectural features of the great canal houses are easier to see.
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This post was last updated: Dec. 15, 2018