Considering visiting Amsterdam for New Year’s Eve? Amsterdam is one of the best European cities to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Europe in. Read insider tips by a resident on the best things to do on New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam, the best parties on NYE in Amsterdam, and where to buy fireworks in Amsterdam.
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Things to know about New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam before you come
- Most locals go on vacation for New Year’s Eve or celebrate it somewhere private with friends outside of the city
- Hotels and Airbnbs will be pricey
- You don’t need to plan to see the fireworks
- Amsterdam is COLD (See my packing list for Amsterdam.)
- Fireworks, food, alcohol, parties… plan ahead.
What’s the Weather in December in Amsterdam?
The average weather in Amsterdam in December is somewhere between 2.5 degrees C (33 degrees F) and 6 degrees C (42 degrees). However, the wind chill coming off the water and the rain can make it feel colder, so be sure to bundle up!
Regarding the new Airbnb rules (December 2016)
Airbnb is now strictly regulated by the city of Amsterdam, which is in the process of imposing tourist taxes on properties. It also bans more than four people from renting an apartment in an attempt to help with the housing crisis in Amsterdam. I heard from quite a few people that finding an Airbnb was very difficult for New Year’s Eve as many people are out of town, many required more than a couple days, and prices were high. Most Airbnbs strictly prohibit parties and under the new Airbnb terms set by the city of Amsterdam, both you and your Airbnb host can get in a lot of trouble if the neighbors complain.
I recommend staying close to Centre if you want to be close to the fireworks and parties.
The best things to do in Amsterdam on New Year’s Eve….
Wander the canals!
Although there’s plenty of parties to dance the night away at, I recommend being outside on the canals when it hits midnight. The city turns into a smoky, loud mess with everyone shooting off fireworks everywhere around you. We ended up meeting a bunch of groups just hanging out on one bridge and the two single American girls that I met up through the Girls Love Travel Group
found a friendly Dutch stranger to kiss at midnight thanks to our canal-side hangout. We also shot off fireworks and wandered around prior to hanging out in a park. If you’re after a more relaxing and inexpensive New Year’s Eve where you end up meeting a lot of friendly people, I recommend visiting Amsterdam on New Year’s Eve!
Food on New Year’s Eve
Finding open restaurants will be difficult as most are closed for New Year’s Eve as most of the Netherlands takes off. The few restaurants in Amsterdam open on New Year’s Eve will require reservations, otherwise call ahead–and stock up at the supermarket the morning of for all that you need for the day. The ubiquitous Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn has limited hours of New Year’s Eve, closing around 5-6pm.
You must try oliebollen, a fried Dutch snack that pops up around the holiday season. It’s warm, greasy, and ridiculously delicious. Look for the pop-up stands around the city although most will close prior the late night celebrations for New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam. It’s traditional to eat these oily balls of deliciousness (oliebollen) at midnight, but you’ll need to make your own at home if you want to do this (more complicated than I realized…)
Buying Drinks on NYE in Amsterdam
Although many bars will be open, most are not open to the public without tickets being bought ahead (or some fee) and you will not find many late night stores open. As a result, I recommend stocking up the day before on what you’ll want to drink on New Year’s Eve if you’re looking for a DIY New Year’s Eve. You can find your nearest Gall & Gall for purchasing liquor, champagne, wine, and beer although Albert Heijn also stocks beer and wine. Bring your own cups and bottle openers if you’ll be walking around. (Thank you random lady for opening our wine!)
How to buy fireworks in Amsterdam
Fireworks are illegal for the majority of the year in the Netherlands. However, in the days surrounding New Year’s Eve, they’re legal. You can purchase them at pop-up shops around Amsterdam. There aren’t many and most will sell out of the good fireworks if you don’t go ahead.
Most of the shops are temporary as fireworks are typically banned, so giving an address is a bit meaningless here, but plan to bring cash if you’re visiting Amsterdam for New Year’s Eve and go the day before if you want to avoid a massive line!
To find your nearest firework shop, type “vuurwerk winkel amsterdam” (literally firework store Amsterdam) into Google Maps. Last year, I went to a pop-up called Amsterdam Vuurwerk Lauts. I went on New Year’s Eve and got several rockets (about 2-3 euros a pop) after waiting for about 1 hour with them running out of the ones that I wanted… The sparklers were easier to find than fireworks, so check what a store has in stock before you head there. Although there’s an official fireworks show…you will find firework shows all over the city. 😉 Sleeping may be an issue depending on where you’re staying.
New Year’s Eve Parties in Amsterdam
There’s plenty of parties as well as nice hang-outs that are open on New Year’s Eve although many require tickets or reservations ahead. If you’re planning on going to any of these spots, I recommend planning ahead as you might not get in otherwise.
Notably, check Amsterdam Roest, de Marktkantine, W Amsterdam, and Pllek for their parties (with tickets) if you’re looking for an all night celebration with the works. Just be prepared to pay the prices inside!
Many bars have closed bar parties only for patrons with tickets, so do not expect most bars to be open to the public on New Year’s Eve. That said, you can visit my favorite dive bar in Amsterdam if you’re not much of a planner looking for fun night: Checkpoint Charlie has free oliebollen, free entry (no tickets), and live music.
Good to note: There aren’t that many taxis around the city and Uber isn’t that popular, so check the public transit schedule before you head home and please don’t drive if you’ve been drinking.
Best spots in Amsterdam to watch the fireworks
The main fireworks over the city can be seen from anywhere by the IJ, including Pllek or the free park across the water near Westerdoksdijk. That said, you can see plenty of fireworks …everywhere.
Similarly, a lot of people go out to the big squares, including Leidseplein and Dam Square, but they’ll be crowded and more security intense compared to the canals where it’s a bit more laid back. Nieuwmarkt is supposed to have some of the best firework shows, but I cannot speak to it at midnight beyond seeing way many while walking around this area as the sun set!
Some call New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam a warzone. (It can be so foggy due to the smoke that you can’t really see anything around you.) I call it a fun-zone, but it really depends on how noise and smoke sensitive you are. If you’re sensitive to smoke from fireworks, I do not recommend going out to the canals. If you’re noise sensitive, bring earplugs.
My favorite: the intersection of Prinsengracht and Brouwersgracht
I wish all of you a happy new year and I hope it’s a great one in Amsterdam!
Would you want to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam? Anything else you’re wondering?
Keep reading more insider tips for Amsterdam…