The climate of the Netherlands is influenced by the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, so it’s cool, cloudy and humid for most of the year. The rains are not so abundant, ranging between 750/850 millimetres (29/33 inches) per year, but they are frequent throughout the year.
The wind is another characteristic of the Dutch climate, and blows frequently, especially in autumn and winter, when there may even be storms.
Being a small and flat country, the Netherlands has a quite uniform climate, although there’s a slightly greater continentality in inland areas (but we are talking about 1-2 degrees Celsius less in winter and more in summer) compared with coastal areas, which in turn are windier. For this reason, it can be said that the various Dutch cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, Eindhoven, etc…) have essentially the same climate.
Winter, from December to February, is cold but not freezing, with daily average temperatures around 3 °C (37 °F), that is, around freezing (0 °C or 32 °F) at night and around 6 °C (43 °F) during the day.
There are periods when Atlantic currents prevail, and the weather is mild, with highs above 10 °C (50 °F), but windy and rainy as well; in other periods, when the country is reached by a high-pressure system, the weather can be dull and foggy.
On the other hand, cold air masses from Eastern Europe may sometimes reach the country, bringing cold spells, and in these cases, the temperatures can remain below freezing even during the day. This kind of frosty weather typically lasts a few days and is followed by the return of the westerlies, which may initially bring snowfalls; for this reason, snow is generally not abundant and is often followed by rain.
A winter landscape covered with snow, with frozen canals, which can be seen in the paintings of Flemish artists, refer to a period (the so-called Little Ice Age, roughly 1450 to 1850) when Europe’s climate was colder than today. In recent times, situations of this type occur once every few years and have a shorter duration. However, when this happens, the Dutch are happy to play their national sport, ice skating, outdoors.
Spring, from March to May, is a cool-season, characterized by a slow increase in temperature. In April, cold days are still frequent, with highs around 10 °C (50 °F), but this kind of weather can occur until the first half of May. In May, the average maximum temperature is still around 17 °C (63 °F). However, starting from this month, the expansion of the Azores High can bring the first sunny and relatively warm days, especially in the second half.
In summer, from June to August, the temperatures are generally pleasant, but the sun does not shine very often. Cool and rainy days are quite frequent, with maximum temperatures below 20 °C (68 °F), however, they alternate with warmer days, with the sun peeping through the clouds and the temperature exceeding 25 °C (77 °F) in the early afternoon. In short, the Dutch summer is similar to that of London. On average, the maximum temperature hovers around 22/23 °C (72/73 °F) in much of the country and around 21 °C (70 °F) on the coast, and it normally reaches 30/32 °C (86/90 °F) only two or three days per month. However, during the brief hot air invasions, the hottest area is the south-east (see Eindhoven).
Autumn, from September to November, is initially pleasant in September, especially in the first half, while later, it becomes gradually colder, cloudy, and rainy, with frequent winds.
Here are the average temperatures in The Hague, located on the coast to the southwest of Amsterdam.
In The Hague, rainfall amounts to 840 mm (33 in) per year. The least rainy season is spring, while the wettest is autumn.
The sun in the Netherlands is rarely seen from November to February, but it does not shine very often even in summer, however, from May to August, there are around 6.5/7 sunshine hours per day. Here are the average sunshine hours per day in The Hague.
The brave who wish to swim in the sea must know that the North Sea is very cool even in summer: the water temperature reaches 16 °C (61 °F) in July and 17 °C (63 °F) in August. In addition, a cool breeze blows along the coast, often too cool, at least for those who are not accustomed to it or who don’t come from Nordic countries.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit the Netherlands runs from mid-May to mid-September: in this period, the temperature is usually mild or pleasantly warm, the rains are quite frequent, but sometimes, the sun comes out. May and June are a bit cooler than July and August, but at this time, the country is in bloom; in the first half of May, which can still be a bit cold, you can admire expanses of tulips, which bloom between mid-April and mid-May.
In the first half of September, the maximum temperatures are still around 20 °C (68 °F).
What to pack
In winter: bring warm clothing, a sweater, a coat, a wind jacket, an umbrella, and possibly a warm hat and gloves for colder periods.
In summer: bring spring/autumn clothes, T-shirts for warm days, but also a shirt, a jacket, a sweatshirt or sweater, and a raincoat or umbrella.
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