In general the Netherlands has a maritime climate of cool winters and mild summers. Wind and rain are year-round factors; March is the driest month, July and August the wettest (and hottest), and wind invariably comes from the southwest, although it always seems to be head-on when you’re cycling.
When to go
The Netherlands has a typical maritime climate, with cool winters and mild summers, so any time is a good time to visit. Be prepared for blustery and changeable weather, however, and only a handful of sunny days in summer –although global warming may be changing that. Precipitation (79cm a year) is spread rather evenly over the calendar, and spring is marked by short, violent showers.
Like much of Europe, the high season runs from June to August, which is known for its hot, sticky spells but isn’t quite the Riviera shown in some tourist brochures. Hordes of tourists pulse through the Netherlands at this time, but these are the best months to sit on the canals drinking and chatting. Many Dutch take a summer holiday, and the last July weekend is deadly for traffic. You may be surrounded by other foreigners in August, but the month is crammed with events.
Mid-March to May and September to mid-October are the shoulder seasons. Spring is wonderful, as the bulbs are in bloom – April for daffodils, May for tulips. Easter is busy in Amsterdam, but if you can visit during Koninginnedag (30 April) it’s worth fighting the crowds. Early October with its Indian summer can be an excellent time to come.
As the temperature drops, so does the number of tourists – things are calmest from mid-October to mid-March. Museums are quiet and you can mingle with the ‘real’ Dutch in cosy pubs around this time. Accommodation is also relatively cheap (except around New Year), though some hotels might be closed. The winter months (December to February) see periods of slushy snow and temperatures close to freezing.
School holidays are staggered according to region but fall around mid-February, early May, July and August, and the end of October.