The Best Time to Visit the Netherlands

Tulips and Windmill
JacobH / Getty Images

Due to the fairly mild climate, there isn't a truly bad time to visit the Netherlands. However, best time to visit is mid-April, when there is less rain, more daylight, and the country's tulips are in full bloom. Throughout summer (June to August), you can explore the beautiful countryside by bike or take to the waters like a local on a boat. In the lead-up to the winter holidays, the country becomes beautifully festive. Whenever you decide to visit, use this guide to help plan your trip to the Netherlands so you can experience the best this beautiful country has to offer at just the right time.

 

Weather in the Netherlands

The weather is fairly moderate in the Netherlands, getting neither very hot or very cold. However, with its maritime climate and the unpredictability of the rain showers you should pack waterproof layers and an umbrella regardless of when you visit. The rainiest season is autumn (September to November), so if you want an outdoorsy trip, avoid visiting during that time.

For more information, check out our guide to the climate and weather conditions in the Netherlands.

Popular Events and Festivals

The Netherlands has various holidays and events throughout the year but the most notable is King’s Day on April 27, to celebrate the monarch’s birthday. If it falls during the week, workers are given the day off to celebrate, which typically involves dressing in orange (the national color) and heading out onto the streets, or onto a boat, to party from morning until night. If you plan to visit the country for King’s Day, it’s worth booking your flights and hotel early to secure a good deal. 

The Netherlands also has other various national holidays and events which you can find in the complete list by month below. 

January

January is the coldest and darkest month of the year in the Netherlands, however it does still feel quite festive in the cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam and, if you’re looking to prolong that holiday feeling, travel will be cheaper at this time of year. You may even see a sprinkling of snow.

Events to check out:

  • Every year, thousands of people take part in the New Year’s Day Dive.
  • From Jan. 10 to Feb. 5, 2020, an audio-visual art installation known as SKALAR will pop-up in Amsterdam at the Gashouder.
  • Every year the Eurosonic Noorderslag music festival is held in Groningen. It’s a music conference but you can buy tickets for evening performances to discover new talent.

February

There is usually a lot less rain in February compared to January and March. It’s still pretty chilly but if you wrap up in layers you should be able to explore the country just fine. 

Events to check out:

  • Just before Lent, the city of Maastricht enjoys a 3-day festival celebrating spring, life, and beer.
  • Escape the wet weather in Amsterdam with a free concert at The National Opera & Ballet every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. and the Royal Concertgebouw on Wednesdays at the same time

March

It’s still relatively cool and rainy during March, so if you’re heading to the Netherlands during early spring be sure to pack lots of layers and a waterproof jacket or umbrella.

Events to check out:

  • Every March, Keukenhof opens its gardens and unveils over 7 million blooms including the iconic tulips.

April

It starts to brighten up in April with, on average, 14 hours of daylight (compared with 17 hours during June) and usually the least rainfall of the entire year. The tulips are in season too, so accomodation and flight prices can be higher than the rest of the year.

Events to check out:

  • Each year, the World Press Photo’s traveling exhibition heads to Amsterdam. Over 200 of best works from those submitted by professional press photographers, photo agencies, newspapers and magazines are put on display.
  • Bright and playful floats adorned with flowers travel the 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Noordwijk to Haarlem for the Flower Parade.
  • King’s Day (April 27, or April 26 if the 27th is a Sunday) celebrates the monarch’s birthday and sees the whole country dress in the national color of orange and head out onto the streets (whatever the weather) to drink and party.

    May

    It's getting lighter still and with average temperatures of 54 degrees Fahrenheit (12 degrees Celsius), May can be a good time to visit if you want to avoid the crowds that descend on the country, especially the city of Amsterdam, in the height of summer.

    Events to check out:

    • Every second Saturday and Sunday in May, 950 of the Netherlands’ iconic watermills and windmills open their doors to visitors.
    • This is the month that the culinary festival, Rollende Keukens (Rolling Kitchens), pops-up in Amsterdam (the weekend changes each year). There are dozens of food trucks and entry is free.
    • Each May 5, the Dutch celebrate Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag), the freedom from Nazi Germany, with festivals taking place up and down the country.

    June

    June and September have the same average temperature of 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius) but June, typically, has slightly less rainfall and the most daylight hours (around 17 hours) making it a great time to visit.

    Events to check out:

    • Pinkpop Festival, the oldest annual festival in the world, takes place each year in Landgraaf. Over three days, the stages hosts artists like Pearl Jam and Mumford & Sons.
    • Flag Day in Scheveningen traditionally celebrates the arrival of Dutch herring into the harbor. Expect activities and music performances throughout the day.
    • Held each year in Amsterdam, the Holland Festival is the oldest and largest performing arts festival in the Netherlands. You can see, among other things, opera, modern dance and visual arts.

      July

      If you’re traveling to the Netherlands in July, visit early in the month to beat the crowds. The Dutch schools break up around the middle July and it is one of the warmest months of the year so popular attractions will be more crowded.

      Events to check out:

      • Like jazz? Then head to the North Sea Jazz festival which takes place for three days each July.
      • Milkshake Festival is an Amsterdam-based, multi-genre, immersive music festival that is open for everyone of all colors, creeds, genders, and sexual orientations. 
      • Mimicking the carnival that takes place in Latin America, Rotterdam Summer Carnival is bold, bright, and tons of fun.

      August

      August may be one of the warmest months of the year but it’s also the busiest. Expect crowds in the tourist areas, long lines at attractions and for flight and hotel prices to be steeper.

      Events to check out:

      • Amsterdam Pride sees dozens of floats sail down the Amstel river and along the Prinsengracht canal.
      • The Canal Festival is a 10-day music extravaganza that welcomes music of different genres at over 90 different locations in Amsterdam.

      September

      September can be one of the rainiest months of the year but, if you’re lucky, you can experience late summer sunshine and warmer temperatures. 

      Events to check out:

      October

      October is, on average, one of the rainiest months of the year and the festive countdown is yet to begin. If you plan on visiting the country’s many museums and you’re happy to bundle up then this is a good time to visit because it will be fairly inexpensive.

      Events to check out:

      • In early October, Keukenhof opens its doors for one weekend so you can sneak a peek at the bulbs being planted and take some home for your own garden.

      November

      The festive countdown begins in November, but it is particularly wet and blustery so be prepared to hop from bar to bar (known as brown cafes) to shelter from the rain.

      Events to check out:

      • Each year in mid-November, Sinterklaas (Dutch Santa Claus) arrives in to the Netherlands in a different city and then travels around the country to greet the children.
      • From November through to January, the Amsterdam Light Festival sees incredible pieces of light artwork dotted around the city.

      December

      While the Netherlands isn’t known for Christmas markets, it definitely feels festive with food stalls, twinkling lights and outdoor ice skating rinks in the bigger cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam for you to enjoy. If you want to get into the festive spirit, it’s a lovely time to visit.

      Events to check out:

      • For 35 years, the World Christmas Circus has put on a show at Amsterdam’s Carre Theatre.
      • On New Year’s Eve you can find fireworks displays hosted in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the Hague.
      Was this page helpful?