January in the Netherlands is cold but not extreme: if you're from northern parts of North America, you might find the Dutch winter relatively mild. The average temperature is around 35° F (2° C) with little variation around the small country, although the south tends to be a bit colder and coastal areas windier. Snow and ice aren't uncommon and the days are short. Being a coastal country, the weather is rather unpredictable but in January you should expect to bundle up when outdoors and plan plenty of indoor activities.
Crowds & Costs
January is the low season in the Netherlands. Few tourists come in the winter so you won't have to jostle for space at Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, or the Anne Frank House. However, outside the major cities, many attractions will be closed for the winter, so January isn't the best time to plan an off-the-beaten-path tour of the Netherlands. You're likely to find some good flight and accommodation deals in January.
Where to Go
Head to the Netherlands' main cities in January for short or more extended city breaks: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Maastricht, and other cities are full of museums, historic sites, cafes and restaurants, and interesting shops that are great at any time of year (and especially when there aren't too many tourists around).
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What to Do
The Netherlands has a long and distinguished history of art production, and mid-winter is an ideal time to hit up the galleries in search of old and new masters (and mistresses, of course). In Amsterdam, check out the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Rembrandt House Museum, among others. In Rotterdam, learn about the city's important place in maritime history at the Maritime Museum. If you hit an art gallery overload, head to some of the many cozy cafes that are ubiquitous in the Netherlands.
A favorite Dutch pastime when it's cold out is ice skating, either on rinks set up in the city or on frozen canals and ponds when conditions are right. While the climate isn't as cold as it once was and skating au naturel on canals isn't possible every year, when temperatures dip the Dutch head outdoors to make the most of the conditions.
Events in January
New Year's Dive. If the cold doesn't scare you, join a New Year's Dive event somewhere across the country on January 1st. The largest such event is held at the beach at Scheveningen, outside The Hague, but you can jump in the sea or a lake at around 200 other locations.
International Film Festival Rotterdam. Held at the end of January, this long-running film festival (it was established in 1972) focuses on independent and experimental films.
National Tulip Day. Although the Netherlands' famous tulips don't start blooming until March (at least), the third Saturday of January marks the start of the tulip season.
Traveling to the Netherlands in January? Check out these great itineraries
Highlights of Holland & Flanders - 7 Days. There's no need to choose between the Netherlands and Flanders (the Dutch-speaking half of Belgium) on this weeklong itinerary that takes you to the highlights of both.
Highlights of Holland - 10 Days. From big cities to charming small villages, you’ll experience a perfect cross-section of what the Netherlands has to offer.
Art Tour of the Netherlands & Belgium - 14 Days. Learn about the lives and work of some of the most famous Dutch and Belgian artists: Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Peter Paul Rubens, and Jan van Eyck, to name a few.