December is winter in the Netherlands, and while this means it's low season earlier in the month, visitors are attracted by Christmas festivities later. The weather may be cold, damp, and dark, but there's always a cozy cafe to retreat to, and art galleries to shelter in. Read on to find out more about traveling to the Netherlands in December.


December is winter in the Netherlands, and daylight hours are short this far north in Europe. While Dutch winters are generally less cold than those of northern North America, you should still expect rain, ice, fog, wind, and even a bit of snow. Average daytime temperatures sit around 40°F (4°C), with slightly colder temperatures in inland places and chilling winds along the coast. All in all, the conditions in the Netherlands in December are best suited to retreating indoors, except when you come across a great outdoor market. 

Crowds & Costs

Earlier in December is low-season for tourism in the Netherlands, although later in the month there's a spike in visitors around Christmas and New Year. Christmas markets and New Year's Eve parties in the cities make accommodation prices a bit higher in mid-to-late December.

In general, December is a good time to enjoy art galleries and museums in the cities without long lines and a throng of other visitors (as in summer), but many attractions outside the main cities will be shut for the winter.

Where to Go

Head to the Netherlands' main cities in December for art galleries, museums, Christmas markets, and New Year's Eve parties. Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Maastricht, and other places are full of museums, historic sites, cafés and restaurants, and interesting shops that are great even when the weather isn't. 

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What to Do

The Dutch love to ice skate, either on a frozen canal (when the winter is cold enough) or a special open-air rink set up in the city. Warm up when it's cold out by putting on some gloves and a hat and practicing your skating.

Many European cities come alive in the midst of winter with Christmas markets, and the cities of the Netherlands are no exception. Shop for local souvenirs and gifts and sample local food and drink at a Christmas market in many parts of the country. The markets in Valkenburg, the Royal Christmas Fair in The Hague, and the winter market in Utrecht are among the most famous and popular.

Events in December

Pakjesavond. Dutch Santa Claus, called Sinterklaas, brings children presents on the evening of 5th December (rather than the 25th). If you know or are staying with a Dutch family with young kids, this will be a big deal and a lovely traditional event to be part of.

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

Amsterdam Winter Paradise. Another month-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 Eve. You can ring in the new year in a quiet or grand fashion anywhere in the Netherlands, but a great firework display is held in Amsterdam.

Traveling to the Netherlands in December? Check out these great itineraries

Art Tour of the Netherlands & Belgium - 14 Days. Ride an e-bike through landscapes that inspired the Dutch Masters, tour Rembrandt's studio, view priceless masterpieces in world-class museums, view the famed Ghent Altarpiece in St. Bavo's Cathedral, and more.

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.

Highlights of Holland- 7 Days. See the famous canals and art museums of Amsterdam, the vibrant harbor city of Rotterdam, historic monuments in The Hague, the windmills and cheese markets of Leiden and Haarlem, and more. 

More Helpful Information

The Netherlands in November
The Netherlands in January