As a low-lying coastal country in Northern Europe, the Netherlands generally experiences mild, damp, and changeable weather in all seasons. If you've come from North America, you will likely find the Dutch weather comfortable in May, as it's not too warm or too cold. There's not much geographical variation around the small country, but the inland south tends to be a bit colder and the coast windier than elsewhere.
May is late spring and temperatures can range from cool to warm: expect average daytime temperatures of between 53° F (12° C) and 64° F (18° C). The weather may be wet or it may be sunny, so build a combination of indoor and outdoor activities into your itinerary.
Crowds & Costs
May is a popular time to visit the Netherlands (although it's not as busy as summer) and with the blooming tulips and other flowers, you can also expect to see many locals out and about at popular attractions. Book accommodation and flights as far in advance as possible, especially if you plan on spending time in ever-popular Amsterdam. You'll encounter big crowds at the most popular flower-viewing spots, such as the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, but the sight of seven million flowers in bloom might be tempting anyway.
Where to Go
Flower and gardening enthusiasts shouldn't miss the Keukenhof Gardens, irrespective of the crowds. These are among the largest gardens in the world. There are other places to see flowers, too: Amsterdam, Noordoostpolder, and Noordwijkerhout among them.
During the two-day National Mill Day (see more below), almost 1,000 windmills and watermills across the Netherlands open to visitors. These are scattered all over the place, but head to Kinderdijk, southeast of Rotterdam, to see some of the most iconic 18th-century Dutch windmills. The Werelderfgoed Kinderdijk is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
With increasingly warm weather, May is a good time to get outdoors in the Netherlands. Get out and about in the countryside on a bike: you can't have a much more quintessentially Dutch experience than cycling along flat, well-maintained cycle paths to windmills and flower gardens.
If (and when) the weather doesn't play nice, retreat to a cozy cafe or one of the country's many excellent art galleries or museums. The Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Rembrandt House Museum, and the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam are just a few highlights.
Events in May
National Mill Day. During the second weekend (Saturday and Sunday) in May, around 1,000 mills and watermills open to visitors. As well as being attractive, these mills have played an important part in the history of the Netherlands, which you can learn all about.
World Press Photo Exhibition. This annual press photography contest begins in April and runs until June, and is held in Amsterdam. Admire some of the best press photos from around the world.
Traveling to the Netherlands in May? Check out these great itineraries
Art Tour of the Netherlands - 10 Days. Learn more about Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Vincent Van Gogh, Hieronymus Bosch, and many more on this art-focused tour.
Grand Tour of the Netherlands - 14 Days. Fields of tulips, antique windmills, paintings by Vincent van Gogh, boat rides on the canals of Amsterdam: visit many of Holland's top highlights on this two-week trip.
Cycle Tour of North Holland - 5 Days. Windmills, tulips, cheese, clogs: these and other Dutch classics await you on a self-guided cycling tour of a region famous for its flower fields and coastline.