May in Amsterdam: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Bicycles by a canal in Amsterdam

 John Harper / Photodisc / Getty Images

May is a superb month to visit Amsterdam. The temperate climate means you'll be able to spend more quality time outdoors in Amsterdam's wonderful squares and parks such as Dam Square, the Vondelpark, and Keukenhof, the seasonal tulip and bulb park. Although April is usually when the bulbs are at their peak, the park is open for most of the month of May and delivers plenty of late-season blooming beauties. 

However, it's not all flowers and sunshine. The city draws nearer to its peak summer tourist season in May—particularly towards the end of the month—and airlines and accommodations commonly hike up their prices. You may also find that many of Amsterdam's top attractions can become crowded, especially on weekends, and the end of the college school year (from mid to late May) means an influx of backpackers to add to the masses.

As a result, many tourists choose to attend one of the many festivals dedicated to a wide range of musical genres that take place this month instead of flocking to typical attractions. There are also a number of annual holidays and special events that happen each year that offer a look into the culture of Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Weather in May

Expect warm, but not hot, weather in Amsterdam this month, with an average monthly temperature of a cool 54 degrees Fahrenheit (12 degrees Celsius). However, nighttime lows can drop to the mid-40s, so you'll need to pack clothing you can layer to stay warm while going out in the evening.

  • Average high temperature: 63 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Celsius)
  • Average low temperature: 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7.2 degrees Celsius)
  • Average precipitation: 2.4 inches

Amsterdam experiences an average of 12 days of precipitation in May but only accumulates a little over two inches of rain over the month. Most rain falls in light, short showers as opposed to long stretches of overcast. As a result, you'll have plenty of sunshine opportunities to enjoy the bustling streets and gorgeous city parks.

What to Pack

Long pants and a light jacket will suffice during the day, but bring a heavier coat for the chilly evenings. You may also want to pack an umbrella or a waterproof coat for rainy days. Otherwise, most Amsterdam locals wear casual clothing so you should be fine with bringing along jeans, shorts, t-shirts, and sweaters. However, you may want to bring nicer clothes if you want to get into some of the city's more exclusive venues, and you'll definitely want to bring comfortable shoes for walking through Amsterdam's winding streets.

May Events in Amsterdam

There is no shortage of events happening throughout the city this month and many are held outside in order to enjoy the late spring weather. From national holidays honoring the history of the Netherlands to music festivals and sporting events, you're sure to find something to do on your May trip to Amsterdam.

  • The Dutch Memorial Day (Dodenherdenking): A national holiday on May 4 each year that commemorates the soldiers and civilians who perished in World War II, subsequent wars, and peace missions. Hundreds participate in a "silent tour" (Stille Tocht) from Museumplein to Dam Square, where the King places a wreath on the National Monument. At 8 p.m., two minutes of silence is observed by all Dutch citizens.
  • Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag): Another nationwide celebration held on May 5 of the Netherlands' emancipation from Nazi Germany by Allied troops in 1945. In contrast to the mourning on May 4, this holiday is celebrated instead with concerts, art exhibits, and more taking place throughout the city.
  • Liberation Pop (Bevrijdingspop): This free "Liberation Pop" festival takes place in nearby Haarlem on May 5, where the pristine Frederikspark is taken over by musicians, music lovers, and stalls selling wares from visual artists, local restaurants, and artisans.
  • London Calling: A semi-annual music festival that showcases the best new alternative rock artists from the United Kingdom. The May event is held at the venue Paradiso in Amsterdam. any past headliners who were unknown at the time have risen to global fame, such as Florence + The Machine, Tame Impala, and Franz Ferdinand.
  • Moulin Blues International Blues & Roots Festival: One of the Netherlands' premier blues festival for over 30 years. Held in the southeastern town of Ospel (about one and a half hours from Amsterdam) since 1986, this weekend of concerts is one of the biggest blues events in Northern Europe.

May Travel Tips

  • With all of the concerts happening in May, if you're a fan of independent music and saving money you should invest in the ​Indiestad for just 25 euros, roughly $27. This pass grants you access to 52 concerts throughout the year. Even if you are only visiting for a few days, at this price, seeing just two shows is worth the cost and you will get to experience new, exciting artists.
  • When visiting Amsterdam, you must have identification on you at all times, which will mean you'll need to carry your passport with you wherever you go.
  • It's a good idea to book your accommodations and airfare early, especially if you plan on traveling later in the month when the tourist season starts.
  • May is a great time to ride a bike in Amsterdam and there are a number of bike rental shops across the city offering reasonable rental rates.