If you only have a short period to explore the country, you’ll be asking yourself, “what is the best time to visit the Netherlands?”. Known for its cooler temperatures and grey, rainy days, you’ll want to ensure you align your trip with suitable weather. The great thing is that whether it is beautiful, warm and sunny, or drizzly and cold, there is always something to do in the Netherlands. I’ve spent a few years in the Netherlands now, and I’ll share everything you need to know to ensure you arrive at a time that perfectly matches your plans.
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Best time to visit the Netherlands
The high season in the Netherlands is in the summer. The temperatures are warm, usually between 20 and 30 degrees, and it’s pretty dry (for the Netherlands!). It’s a great time to be outside, whether sitting on a terrace and having a drink, wandering the streets of some of the country’s oldest towns, or visiting the beaches or national parks.
That being said, the summer in the Netherlands is BUSY. The bars and restaurants are packed throughout the cities, the beaches are complete, and the old towns are abuzz with people. If this is what you’re after, the summer is perfect. However, if you want to slow down a little, Spring and Autumn are the best times to visit the Netherlands.
Seasons in the Netherlands
While the Dutch seasons follow the usual winter, spring, summer, and autumn routine, there are a few things to be aware of before planning a trip. Firstly, the weather in the Netherlands is incredibly variable. Just because it is summer does not mean it will be warm. The fact that it is winter doesn’t mean you’ll get snow.
Secondly, the climate and weather vary considerably across the country, despite its tiny, tiny size. You may have substantial snow or ice in one part, only to have mildish temperatures a couple of hours away.
And lastly, there is wind. A lot of wind. There is a good reason why they have all those windmills. Whether it’s winter or summer there is almost always a cool breeze.
Spring – March, April, May
Summer – June, July, August
Autumn – September, October, November
Winter – December, January, February
Visiting the Netherlands in spring
I would say that the very best time to visit the Netherlands would have to be spring, ideally any time between March and April.
Everything begins to come alive during spring after the long cold winter months. The temperatures start to warm up, and although you have some grey rainy days, there is plenty of blue skies. Bars and restaurant terraces will get busier as it’s the perfect time of year to sit outside in the sun with a cold drink.
The spring is the best time to see tulips in the Netherlands, and if you’re into flowers, Keukenhof is in April. April 27th in the Netherlands is Koningsdag or Kings Day. A day to celebrate the Dutch royal family. If you’re in Amsterdam around this time, you’re in for a party.
Visiting the Netherlands in March
As mentioned, spring is the best time to see tulips in the Netherlands, and march is when it all begins. Keukenhof, for example, will open late in March. Tourism is still relatively low at this time of year, so there won’t be long lines or extensive delays for entry to attractions, Keukenhof being the exemption.
Weather in the Netherlands in March
Coming out of winter, March is one of the cooler spring months, with temperatures between 2 and 9 degrees Celsius in Amsterdam. Usually, during the wettest of the spring months, there will be rain. In the northern region of Groningen, the average high is around 9 degrees Celcius, with a low of 1 degree. In Maastricht, the capital of the Limburg province in the country’s southwest, the average temperature is 11 degrees Celsius with a minimum of 3 degrees.
Visiting the Netherlands in April
By April, the temperatures have begun to pick up, and so has the number of tourists as Keukenhof is in full swing. Though technically April is part of the shoulder season, it’s often included as part of the high season because of the tourism that Keukenhof and tulip attractions bring, so expect to see an increase in tourist numbers.
Amsterdam is one of the best places to celebrate Konings Dag, an authentic Dutch celebration and a great experience if you’re in the Netherlands on this day. Bloemen corso, a festival where giant floats are covered in flowers and paraded through the streets, leaves from Noordwijk, and travels to Haarlem, is in April. While Bloemen corso occurs in different areas on different dates, this one is an easy trip from Amsterdam.
By April, the days are also notably longer at 12 hours. This means plenty more time to explore each day.
Weather in the Netherlands in April
The average daytime temperature in Amsterdam is around 12 degrees Celsius; although there is definite rain, it is less than in March. In Groningen in the North, the average temperature is around 13 degrees Celsius, with a low of 3 degrees. Maastricht sees a high of 14 degrees Celsius and a low of 5 degrees.
Visiting the Netherlands in May
While the height of the tulip bloom is over, you can still see some tulips during May. You’ll find, however, that by the end of May, the tourist boom is in full swing. By the last half of May, we’re definitely in high season. Prices will have also started to increase by this point.
In May, festivals and outdoor concerts begin.
Weather in the Netherlands in May
The weather in May is warm but not quite hot. An average high of 17 degrees Celsius makes it an ideal temperature for exploring the cities but unsuitable for the beach. There are still quite a few days when it rains; however, it is usually not more than light showers. The days in Groningen average about 17 degrees Celsius and lows of 7 degrees. Maastricht is warm by may, with temperatures in this south-eastern city reaching 19 degrees Celsius with lows of 9 degrees.
Visiting the Netherlands in Summer
As we’ve said above, the warmer, dryer weather makes the summer high season one of the most popular times to visit the Netherlands for many people. As long as you’re prepared for the crowds in the cities such as Amsterdam and the lines to many of the sites like museums, we aren’t trying and tell you that the summer is not a good time to travel to the Netherlands. It is, but if you keep reading, you’ll realize that “the best time” to explore is pretty open.
Hotels and accommodation options are booked out during the summer, so you’re often paying more for accommodation. If you’re trying to plan a last-minute trip, you’ll have difficulty finding anything decent for good money in the main cities.
One of the advantages of travelling to the Netherlands in the summer is that there is a vast array of evening concerts and outdoor festivals, food festivals, and sports competitions that you can attend.
Of course, summer is one of the best times to visit the Netherlands if you want to go to the beach or spend a lot of time exploring the outdoors.
Visiting the Netherlands in June
The summer festivals and outdoor activities are usually in full swing, so there are plenty of enjoyable ways to spend an evening. Around Amsterdam, for example, the Holland Festival is a fantastic display of music, theatre, dance, and film from all the major Dutch performance companies. International artists also perform. You can enjoy the Holland Festival in Amsterdam, Den Haag, Rotterdam and Utrecht.
June and July have the most prolonged hours of sunlight over the year. The sun often rises close to 5 am and setting around 11 pm. This gives you plenty of time to explore and see everything you want.
Weather in the Netherlands in June
The average temperature in Amsterdam in June is about 19 degrees Celsius, although that will drop quite a bit at night, with nights around 10 degrees Celsius on average. Overall the day’s skies are blue, and June is one of the driest months of the year. Groningen in the north sees highs of 20 degrees Celsius and lows of 9 degrees, while in Maastricht in the southeast, temperatures are between 22 degrees Celsius and 12 degrees Celsius.
Visiting the Netherlands in July
By July, tourism in the Netherlands is at its peak. It’s not just foreign tourists who are filling the cities; it’s also local tourists. The Netherlands divides its summer vacation time between the North, Middle, and Southern regions, each able to take a summer vacation at different weeks to spread it out across the season. This means that the locals are also enjoying the summer weather from the start of July until the beginning of September.
One of the best festivals to see in the Netherlands in July is the Rotterdam Summer Festival, the Netherlands’ answer to Brazil’s Carnival.
Weather in the Netherlands in July
The average temperature for July in Amsterdam is around 22 degrees, and with few rainy days, it’s easy to get out and explore the country. In Groningen, the high temperature is around 22 degrees Celsius. The average temperatures are between 24 degrees Celsius and 14 degrees in Maastricht.
Visiting the Netherlands in August
Not much different to travelling in July, travelling in August will be busy and a little more expensive, but the weather is good.
Some grand festivities occur in Amsterdam in August, for example, the Amsterdam Gay Pride parade at the beginning of the month and the Amsterdam Canal Festival, or Grachtenfestival, which is a classical music festival, but it’s played at some of Amsterdam’s most unique cultural and historical venues. The International Fireworks festival around the middle of the month is not far from Amsterdam in Scheveningen.
Weather in the Netherlands in August
The weather in August is pretty much the same as that of July, although it may be slightly wetter. Average temperatures are around 22 degrees in Amsterdam, with highs of 22 degrees Celsius in Groningen. In Maastricht, temperatures are between 23 degrees Celsius and 13 degrees.
Visiting the Netherlands in Autumn
As with spring, Autumn is one of the best times seasons in the Netherlands to visit. As the tourist numbers begin to dwindle, attractions become less busy, lines and cues are shortened, and prices will fall towards the middle of Autumn. The temperatures will begin to fall, as will the rain, with Autumn being wetter than the summer months; the days also begin to shorten.
Visiting the Netherlands in September
Although crowds begin to fall, September is still quite a busy month in the Netherlands. There are a few significant events around Amsterdam, including the Amsterdam City Swim, a charity event where swimmers swim along the canals through the city centre, and the Amsterdam Wine Festival, where you can sample plenty of wine, discover new pairings, and generally celebrate the Northern Hemisphere’s wine harvest.
Weather in the Netherlands in September
Temperatures average around 18 degrees during the day in September; however, nighttime temperatures are going down to11 degrees. The weather will be better at the start of the month, but there will be more rain towards the end. In Groningen, the average high temperature is around 19 degrees. Temperatures in Maastricht are between 20 and 11 degrees Celsius.
Visiting the Netherlands in October
By October, most tourists have left the cities, and Dutch have returned to work during the holidays, so the country is winding down. Low season pricing has kicked in, so it’s much cheaper to travel the country. You’ll find that many outdoor events are finished, and outdoor terraces are empty; however, there is still plenty to do and see.
If you plan on spending time in nature, October is the best time to visit the Netherlands for autumn leaves as they are a sight unto themselves and the national parks are particularly beautiful.
Two grand festivities during October are the Amsterdam Dance Event, a world-class electronic dance festival where the city hosts over 500 hundred parties, and the Relief of Leiden, commemorating the end of the Spanish Siege in 1574. Not far from Amsterdam, this festival is a celebration of Dutch traditions.
Weather in the Netherlands in October
You’ll feel a change in the weather in the Netherlands in October, particularly near the end of the month when it starts to feel more like winter. Nights are colder and the average high in Amsterdam during the day is around 14 degrees Celsius. That is still perfectly comfortable weather if you have a jacket with you. Rainfall is increasing, so if you plan on spending time outside, take an umbrella too. The average high temperature in Groningen in the North is 14 degrees Celsius and the low is about 6 degrees, while in Maastricht, the temperatures are between 15 and 7 degrees Celsius.
Visiting the Netherlands in November
You’ll have Amsterdam and other major tourist cities to yourself in November; however, that doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. Christmas celebrations begin around the middle of November with the arrival of Sinterklaas, the Dutch Santa Clause. You’ll find plenty of markets, activities, and festivals to keep you busy.
A great November festival is the Glow Festival in Eindhoven, where a 6km stretch of streets and buildings in the city’s centre is lit up with light art and colourful projections.
Weather in the Netherlands in November.
With an average daily temperature of 10 degrees Celsius and only 4 degrees Celsius at night in Amsterdam, November weather is starting to feel wintery. The weather in Maastricht is the same as in Amsterdam in November. Temperatures higher up the country in Groningen are slightly cooler at an average daily temperature of 9 degrees Celsius. November is also one of the country’s wettest months of the year.
Visiting the Netherlands in winter
While not many tourists travel in winter, it can be a great time to visit the Netherlands, if you don’t mind the cold and rain. Across the board, the weather can be pretty chilly and unpredictable, with that Dutch wind blowing changes over very quickly. If you have little intention of being outdoors, this is a great time to explore indoor options like museums, art galleries, restaurants, and cafes.
While it does snow in the Netherlands, I wouldn’t personally recommend travelling to see it. It may snow, it may not. It may snow a little or a lot. If you happen to be in the Netherlands when it snows, make sure you get out to one of the National Parks, it’s here that the snow is at its most beautiful.
The main outdoor activity of interest to outdoor enthusiasts during winter is the ability to skate on some of the Netherlands’ frozen rivers and lakes. This is a tightly controlled and regulated activity for obvious safety reasons, but it’s a great activity when available. The best time to visit the Netherlands for skating can be hard to pin down as many factors are involved in determining if it’s safe.
The other thing to consider when travelling to the Netherland in the winter is the length of the days. During the shortest days, the sun will set before 5 pm and won’t rise again until around 9 am the following morning. In contrast to the 16-hour days of summer, the height of winter sees 9-hour days.
Visiting the Netherlands in December
December is quiet and cold in the Netherlands however as with most European countries, the Christmas vibe abounds. Rug up and explore empty city streets or sit inside with a hot drink before exploring indoor, empty attractions such as museums.
Scheveningen, near The Hague, has a free fireworks festival during December and countless Christmas markets throughout the country.
Weather in the Netherlands in December
The average high temperature in Amsterdam and the city of Maastricht during December is 7 degrees Celsius. With a low of about 2 degrees Celsius. Further north in Groningen, the average daily high is around 6 degrees with a low of 1 degree Celsius.
Visiting the Netherlands in January
With January and February in the Netherlands being the coldest months, indoor activities are recommended unless you can ice skate. You can get out and about, but an oversized winter jacket is necessary.
One great tradition on January 1st is the New Years Day Dive, where you can join thousands of others at over 200 locations diving into the cold ocean before warming up with pea soup (erwtensoep in Dutch)
Weather in the Netherlands in January
January is the coldest month in Amsterdam, with an average high temperature of 4.5 degrees Celsius, with most days sitting around 2.5 degrees Celsius. Maastricht is a little warmer, with an average high of 6 degrees Celsius and a low of 1. In Groningen, the average high is 5 degrees Celsius and a low of -1 degrees.
Visiting the Netherlands in February
February is the drier of the winter months, so if you are prepared with the right clothes, it’s not the wrong time to get out and explore. The days begin to get longer, and you’ll find more people out and about during February.
Weather in the Netherlands in February
Temperatures in Amsterdam in February range between 6 degrees Celsius and 0 degrees. It is the driest of the winter months. Groningen temperatures are pretty consistent throughout January and February, with an average high of 5 and an average low of -1 degrees Celsius. Maastricht is slightly warmer in February, with an average high of 7 degrees Celsius and a low of 1 degree.
In conclusion, the best time to visit the Netherlands is..
… dependent on your plans! However, for the best weather, prices, and general busyness and waiting times, early spring or mid-autumn are the best times to visit the Netherlands.