Winter in the Netherlands can be a bit gloomy, with short days and cold temperatures. However, March is a relatively dry month, the days are getting longer, and if you're traveling from northern North America the cooler temperatures are unlikely to be too uncomfortable for you. Being a low-lying coastal country, the weather in the Netherlands is unpredictable in every month and there isn't much regional variation (although the south tends to be a bit colder and the coast windier). In March, expect average daytime temperatures of around 42° F (6° C).
Crowds & Costs
March is the low season for travel to the Netherlands, so you can generally expect light crowds at tourist attractions and the possibility of deals on accommodation and flights. Some attractions outside the main cities will be closed for the winter, so it's better to stay on the beaten path when traveling to the Netherlands in March.
However, the period around Carnival sees an influx of domestic and foreign travelers. Carnival usually falls in late February but is sometimes in early March. It's the time of celebration before Lent, leading up to Easter, and a time of street parties, dancing, music, fabulous costumes, and drinking. Carnival is a particularly big deal in the southern, more Catholic parts of the Netherlands, such as Maastricht.
The Netherlands' famous tulips can also begin blooming in late March (depending on the weather). The main flower-viewing activities take place in April, but if you'd love to see the tulips and can only travel in March, this could be a good time to see them without the crowds April typically brings.
Where to Go
For the Carnival fun (if the festival falls in March in the year you're traveling), head to Maastricht. This southern town is in a predominantly Catholic part of the country and has a large student population, so always puts on a good party.
To see beautiful tulips in bloom later in March but without the crowds of popular April, head to the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, one of the largest flower gardens in the world.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
Because March weather in the Netherlands can be cold, it's best to add plenty of indoor activities to your itinerary. Luckily, there are many art galleries and museums that stay open year-round, and that can be considered some of the best in the world. In Amsterdam check out the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Rembrandt House Museum, and the Anne Frank House. Elsewhere, visit the Groninger Museum in Groningen, Escher in The Palace in The Hague, the Mondrian House in Amsterfoort, or Rotterdam's Maritime Museum.
Most cities in the Netherlands have interesting old and new architecture, so when the weather's fine, strolling around the city center, through parks, and along canals is always worthwhile. If you get cold or wet, head inside to a cafe.
Events in March
Carnival. 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). It's a time of celebration, street music and festivals, colorful costumes and dancing, and drinking.
TEFAF: European Fine Art Foundation Show. This art show, which is Europe's largest, runs for ten days in the first half of March in Maastricht.
Traveling to the Netherlands in March? Check out these great itineraries
Grand Tour of the Netherlands & Belgium - 14 Days. Castles, cathedrals, windmills, canals: this two-week itinerary takes you through highlights of the Netherlands and Belgium. It starts in the vibrant Dutch capital of Amsterdam and ends in the cosmopolitan Belgian capital of Brussels.
Flower Tour of Holland - 5 Days. Cycle through Dutch tulip fields on an e-bike, learn how tulips are grown, and see how they're sold at auction and at floating flower markets.
Family Tour of the Netherlands - 7 Days. Cruise around the canals of Amsterdam on a private boat, cycle to the beaches of the North Sea, and learn how Dutch windmills work in Kinderdijk. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities on the agenda.