A country that can be visited any time of year, the Netherlands is best explored in the spring. The weather is brighter and warmer, and those iconic tulip bulbs are blooming. Yet with more than 400 museums showcasing renowned artworks, there’s something to see in every season. Not to mention, a coastal holiday in the summer, a cycling excursion in the fall, or, if you're lucky, an ice-skating outing on a frozen canal in the winter.

Seasonal Planning for the Netherlands Travel

The Netherlands' maritime climate—as its weather is influenced by the North Sea—lends to mild year-round temperatures: it's never hot, nor is it ever bitterly cold. The low-lying (and very flat) country experiences cool summers and mild winters with plenty of annual cloud cover and rain, where yearly temperatures average between 41°F (5°C) and 58°F (14°C). And with little regional variation, the weather remains relatively consistent across the country, though windier along the coasts and marginally continental in the southern interior.

It's important to note that while it's never bitterly cold, the gale-force winds that develop can be biting. So be prepared for harsh winds that can spring up as well as consistently inconsistent weather: clear and sunny one moment, cloudy and drizzly the next. 

The Netherlands is a country that can be visited year-round. However, the best time to visit is between late spring and early fall (May to September). The weather is warm, the days are bright, with daylight increasing to 16.5 hours in the summer, and the humidity levels are low. That said, there is always rain to anticipate (though it's moderate), and there are crowds of like-minded tourists to contend with at popular attractions (book flights and accommodations in advance).

Come the winter, the days are short and cold, and the nights colder yet with the mercury occasionally dropping below freezing. October to March is the windiest and cloudiest time of year, where the northwest is the windiest and the northeast is the coldest. Yet the winter has its appeal: ice skating on frozen canals (if it's cold enough), sipping mulled wine at seasonal outdoor markets, and skipping the lines and crowds at popular venues that remain open during the off-season. 

Whichever month you plan your travel, it's always good to pack warm layers and a windproof coat and have that ever-trusty umbrella available. 

Seasons Pros Cons Best for Where to Visit
Spring (Mar-May) Fewer crowds than summer, tulips bloom, driest season, longer days, warming weather Crowded flower-related venues end of March, April Flower viewing, museums Anywhere, Keukenhof Gardens, Maastricht for TEFAF, Delft, Marken, Gouda
Summer (Jun-Aug) Mild temperatures of 68°F (20°C), warmest of the year (July and August) Accommodation and flights are highest; crowds in popular museums, galleries, and attractions Cycling, hiking, boating, beaching, parks, outdoor attractions Maastricht, The Hague, Hoge Veluwe National Park, Den Bosche, Wadden Sea, Texel, Middleburg
Fall (Sep-Nov) Moderate prices, smaller lines, most attractions remain open Cooler temperatures, shorter days, increase in rain, winds grow stronger Cultural and outdoor (weather permitting) attractions

Hoge Veluwe National Park, Marken, Giethoorn, Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht

Winter (Dec-Feb) Few tourists, inexpensive accommodations and flights Cold temperatures, less daylight, damp, and windy Indoor activities, Carnival Amsterdam for the museums and Anne Frank House; Rotterdam; outdoor winter markets;  Maastricht for Carnival

Spring in the Netherlands (March to May)

Colorful spring flowers in the beautiful landscaped gardens of Keukenhof, Netherlands
Colorful spring bulb flowers in the landscaped gardens of Keukenhof

The Netherlands is famous for its tulips and the spring months are when to take advantage of seeing the low-lying country in all its blooming glory. A transitional month, March is the gateway to spring. The temperatures gradually increase to a monthly daytime average of 42°F (6°C), and toward the end of the month, there's the possibility of blossoming flowers. Yet, April is the "it" month for catching sight of the famed bulbs, particularly in the world-class Keukenhof Gardens. However, you'll have to contend with local and tourist garden-thusiasts as they flock to parks and gardens. 

Check out this flower-themed cycling itinerary for one fun way to see Holland at its most colorful.  

As May rolls around, temperatures range from cool to warm (53°F/12°C to 64°F/18°C), continuing the month's popularity for getting out of doors and into the parks and gardens. Though the Netherlands' weather continues to be predictable in its unpredictability, it's always wise to plan plenty of indoor activities into your itinerary. A good place to start is Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum or The Hague's Mauritshuis, and if Carnival falls in March, the south of Holland is where you want to be. Make a point of visiting Maastricht to get in on the street revelry. See this tour of southern Holland for inspiration.

Events in Spring

Carnival, nationwide. This nominally religious festival occurs before Lent in the lead-up to Easter and falls in late February or early March (depending on the date of Easter in a given year). It's a time of celebration, street music and festivals, colorful costumes and dancing, and drinking.

The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF), Maastricht. Running for 10 days, TEFAF is Europe's largest and draws crowds of 75,000 visitors in the first half of March.

Keukenhof Flower Gardens, Lisse. Known as the "Garden of Europe" and one of the Netherlands' biggest attractions, expect to see seven million hand-planted flowers in bloom with up to 800 different tulips on show.

King's Day, nationwide. This national holiday on April 27 (observed on the 26 if the 27 is a Sunday) celebrates the birthday of King Willem Alexander. In true Dutch fashion, expect big public parties with a lot of music and drinking and plenty of orange-colored everything. Then there's the night before. Known as King's Night, the locals gather and hold even wilder parties.  

National Mill Day, nationwide. Nine hundred and fifty mills and watermills open their doors for two days in May, sharing with visitors the importance water has played in the Netherlands and across Europe. 

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The Netherlands in March
The Netherlands in April
The Netherlands in May

Plan your trip to The Netherlands
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Summer in the Netherlands (June to August)

The Netherlands - Texel - De Slufter Wadden Sea
Catch a summer sunset over De Slufter on the Wadden island of Texel

Of the summer months, June is likely the most ideal. It's the start of the warm summer season with a more comfortable temperature range of 50°F (9°C) to 71°F (22°C). The finer weather makes June a popular month for holidaymakers, but not too popular as June follows the flower-centric frenzy of spring, and it precedes the main summer European vacation months of July and August. Enjoy a variety of cultural attractions in Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam, all excellent hubs for other more outdoorsy pursuits. This cycling tour covers major cities and lesser ones like Gouda and Breukelen, as well as those outdoor excursions to Scheveningen Beach near The Hague and Kinderdijk, close to Rotterdam.

Moving further into the height of summer, the average high temperatures span between  68°F (20°C) and 77°F (25°C), with a few days greater than 85°F (29°C)—mostly in the southeast. Now is the time to explore the coastline. Take to the northern provinces of North Holland and Friesland. Discover some of the Netherlands' expansive coastline that's never far from many major cities, and plan a cycling tour of the coast like this one

Alternatively, if you have the kids in tow, check out this family-friendly itinerary that incorporates the top-visited cities plus covers diverse attractions from the Wadden Sea mudflats and the sandy campground of Den Hoorn on Texel to the freshwater delta of De Biesbosch National Park (in North Brabant). August is the best month for a dip in the North Sea as it is now at its warmest. 

Events in Summer

Holland Festival, Amsterdam. This annual festival runs the whole month of June and is the country's largest performing arts festival. See music, opera, theatre, and dance from around the Netherlands and the world.

Rotterdam Summer Carnival. Not to be confused with the (nominally) religious spring Carnival before Lent, Rotterdam's Summer Carnival puts on music, entertainment, and flamboyant costumes. It celebrates the cultures of the Dutch Caribbean, in particular.

Scheveningen International Fireworks Festival. Stay up late in the long Dutch summer nights and enjoy four nights of spectacular fireworks at the coastal town of Scheveningen, near The Hague.

Pride Amsterdam. The flamboyant Pride Amsterdam festival runs for about a week (sometimes starting in late July) and celebrates LGBTQ communities in the Netherlands.

Sneekweek Sailing Regatta, Sneek. The largest inland European waterway sailing event is held in the town of Sneek, northeast of Amsterdam and southwest of Groningen.

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The Netherlands in June
The Netherlands in July
The Netherlands in August

Fall in the Netherlands (September to November)

The Netherlands - Giethoorn - Scenic view on the canal in Giethoorn on a sunny morning, Netherlands
Idyllic thatched-roofed homes in Giethoorn on a sunny fall morning

The first half of September is warm and colorful, with daytime highs that can reach above 68°F (20°C). Yet as the month progresses and moves well into the shoulder season months of October and November, the days become noticeably shorter, cooler, and wetter. With that said, there are fewer tourists to contend with at popular cultural attractions like Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum and Anne Frank House, and costs for travel and accommodation are comparatively low. 

If your plans take you to the Netherlands in September, a unique option beyond Amsterdam and its treasures is to explore the Dutch coast around the Zeeland province. Read this article for options for exploring the history of water in the Netherlands' southwest. And if you arrive later than September, take to the waterways of Giethoorn, nicknamed the "Venice of the North," or see an impressive collection of artworks (the Van Gogh's!) at the Kröller-Müller Museum in Hoge Veluwe National Park in Otterlo.

See this article for an itinerary with Giethoorn or this everything-art one that includes the Kröller-Müller Museum.

Events in Fall

Netherlands Film Festival, Utrecht. Held over 10 days in September and/or October in the city of Utrecht, this film festival showcases Dutch films. Many films are subtitled in English for those who don't understand Dutch.

Sinterklaasintocht, nationwide. Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) is the Dutch Santa Claus, and the mythical figure arrives in the Netherlands (from Spain!) by boat on the first Saturday after November 11. Different towns have their own Sinterklaasintocht festivities and parades, but those in Amsterdam are especially festive. Children and adults alike enjoy celebrating the start of the Christmas season.

International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam. This 12-day film festival is the largest documentary film festival in the world.

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The Netherlands in September
The Netherlands in October
The Netherlands in November

Winter in the Netherlands (December to February)

People ice skating on frozen canal in city center of Gronigen in Netherlands
If it's cold enough, the Dutch take to the frozen canals in Groningen, Netherlands, in February

Planning a trip to the Netherlands in the winter sees cold, windy, dark days—the skies are mostly overcast with little sunshine throughout the day. The days are chilly, and the nights periodically drop below freezing. The season's average temperatures are fairly similar, ranging from 32°F (0°C) to 44°F (7°C) in most regions, while January is typically the coldest month of the year (particularly in the south and northeast). Rain still occurs, though there is snow and frost as well as frequent winter storms that bring strong winds.

Yet, winter has its benefits; it's low season. Besides the slight uptick in visitors and prices around Christmas, New Year, and Carnival, there are next to no crowds, and lodging prices are low. Stick to major cities to enjoy the art galleries and museums famously on offer, and know attractions outside of here are closed for the season. Some options include Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Rembrandt House Museum, Groningen's Groninger Museum, The Hague's Escher in the Palace and Mauritshuis, and Haarlem's Teylers Museum, to name a few out of the 400 plus museums found nationwide. 

And if you seek adventure and the weather is cold enough, the winter makes for an excellent time to partake in the Dutch pastime: skating on the frozen canals!

Events in Winter

Magical Maastricht, Maastricht. Maastricht hosts a winter festival with ice skating, fairground rides, and markets throughout most of December.

Amsterdam Winter Paradise, Amsterdam. Another December-long winter festival with music, fairground rides, markets, karaoke, and artificial snow (in case you don't see any real snow during your stay in the Netherlands!).

New Year's Dive, nationwide. If the cold doesn't scare you, join a New Year's Dive event somewhere across the country on January 1. 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 for 10 days, this long-running film festival (it was established in 1972) focuses on independent and experimental films.

Carnival, nationwide. This nominally religious festival occurs before Lent in the lead-up to Easter and falls in late February or early March (depending on the date of Easter in a given year). It's a time of celebration, street music and festivals, colorful costumes and dancing, and drinking.

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The Netherlands in December
The Netherlands in January
The Netherlands in February