Are you thinking about visiting the Netherlands? If so, it’s a beautiful, diverse country with much to offer tourists. Doing a little research before finalizing your travel plans can ensure you visit at the perfect time. You’ll enjoy the beautiful weather and all the sites without too many crowds.
Below, read about the best time to visit Holland. We’ll also discuss the worst times for a vacation to this northern European country, traveler tips, answers to frequently asked questions, and more. Let us be your guide!
Why You Should Visit the Netherlands in 2023
There are so many reasons to plan a trip to the Netherlands. Let’s look at some of them.
The Netherlands, also called Holland, is a relatively small country located on the European mainland north of Belgium and west of Germany. It’s situated on the North Sea across from Great Britain.
The largest city in the Netherlands is Amsterdam, followed by Rotterdam and The Hague (home of the United Nations’ court and justice systems).
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Holland is one of the happiest countries on earth, according to CNN. You’ll notice it right away when you visit. While the Dutch aren’t always outgoing people, their contentedness shows, and it’s contagious. The Dutch express their happiness in several annual celebrations and festivals.
But it’s also evident in the way they live in the moment. Even though the Dutch are notoriously industrious and productive, they never seem to be in a hurry or too busy to stop for pleasure.
The Netherlands is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Best of all, the Dutch government actively protects it and encourages residents and visitors to enjoy it.
The cities – particularly Amsterdam – are pedestrian and especially bike-friendly. There are national parks, lakes and canals, North Sea beaches, and incredible cloud coverage.
Arts, Culture, and Cities
The Netherlands is incredibly rich in culture, history, art, and more. The country has produced some of Europe’s greatest artists. You can see treasures from Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh, Mondrian, and others on display in museums.
Visit the world’s largest flower market, participate in one of the dozens of festivals, and marvel at the historic architecture. Finally, the party scene in Amsterdam is worthy of its legendary status. If you like to explore the more exotic or erotic side of life, don’t miss a trip to Amsterdam.
Get Into the Countryside
Besides the cities, there are dozens of beautiful towns and open spaces in the countryside. See the famous Dutch windmills in incredibly pastoral settings. You’ll discover cultural, historical, and artistic secrets along the way.
The Best Time to Visit the Netherlands
The best time to visit the Netherlands is in the spring and fall, from late April to early May and September to November.
During this time, you’ll experience a burst of tulip blooms and comfortable temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees F, perfect for exploring outdoor attractions like the renowned Keukenhof Gardens.
In contrast, fall (September to November) offers a quieter and more contemplative experience. With temperatures ranging from 50 to 60 F, the crisp air is accompanied by the mesmerizing transformation of foliage.
Parks such as Hoge Veluwe National Park are adorned with trees ablaze in hues of red, orange, and gold, providing a serene backdrop for leisurely walks.
Cities like Utrecht exude a historic charm, and the pace of life slows down, allowing visitors to savor the tranquility and authenticity of Dutch culture without the hustle of the busier seasons.
Whether reveling in the vibrant tulip fields and outdoor activities during spring or embracing the serene landscapes and cultural richness of fall, each season presents a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the captivating beauty of this European gem.
Cheapest Time to Visit the Netherlands
The cheapest time to visit the Netherlands is in the wintertime after the holidays, from January-March.
Tourism slows down in the winter in Holland, much like in many parts of Europe. The lack of demand drives prices down, especially for hotels. January is also often the cheapest month to fly from North America to Europe.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t still a lot to do in the Netherlands in wintertime, though. The Amsterdam Light Festival, which begins in December, continues through most of January and keeps the city active and vibrant long after most places have ended the holiday celebrations.
It isn’t as cold and dreary as you might assume, either. Despite being on the North Sea, the Netherlands has a temperate climate.
Temperatures stay above freezing most of the winter, and the country sees much less snowfall than other popular European destinations like France and Germany. Tulip season, a massive deal across Holland, also kicks off in January.
National Tulip Day is the third Saturday, often coinciding with the end of the Light Festival. You can also catch Mardi Gras celebrations in some places in February or March.
Least Busy Time to Visit the Netherlands
Winter is typically the least busy time to visit the Netherlands, particularly January-March. That is for several reasons, some of which we’ve already discussed.
Many of the country’s major holidays and festivals happen outside of winter. Europeans generally travel and get out more when it’s warmer, and service businesses cater to the busier crowds.
Restaurants set up tables on the sidewalks, stores have specials, and museums and other institutions have a lot of events. Finally, the weather is undoubtedly a factor. Still, you can absolutely enjoy your time in the Netherlands. Let’s look at how.
How to Enjoy the Netherlands in Wintertime
Truthfully, there isn’t a wrong time to visit the Netherlands. If the weather isn’t suited to strolling and biking, head to one of the country’s more than 450 museums to learn about Dutch and global culture, history, science, and more.
The Netherlands also has a thriving gastronomic scene. Munch on stroopwafel while you enjoy coffee in a cafe; sample locally-made beers from old breweries; and languish over a long, multi-course meal.
You can still enjoy canal cruises since many boats have indoor compartments where you can see the beautiful sites around the cities. And don’t forget about ice skating, which you can only do when it’s cold.
Worst Time to Visit the Netherlands
The worst time to visit the Netherlands is likely the winter. As we pointed out above, it doesn’t get frigid and snowy like in other European places. Still, temperatures in the 40s make it hard to enjoy a bike ride in the countryside.
Many outdoor activities are unavailable, and there are fewer events. In addition, the colder weather drives life indoors, changing the overall atmosphere. Still, as discussed above, there’s plenty to do in the Netherlands in winter.
In some people’s opinion, the worst time to visit the Netherlands is during peak tourist season, which occurs from late June to early August. That’s because the crowds are high. The number of people sometimes makes it hard to get tables in restaurants or access the best places.
Still, there are some fun events worth checking out. What’s more, if you’re visiting to experience the livelier side of Holland (especially in Amsterdam), you might prefer more people and parties.
Visiting the Netherlands During the Busy Season
We’re not necessarily saying that late June-early August is the worst time to visit the Netherlands. Still, crowds create issues that can detract from your overall experience.
Besides the obvious reasons, are there other draws for the Netherlands during peak season? Yes, and one of them is all the festivals and holidays. We’ve included a complete list below for you to check out.
As long as you adequately prepare, you can manage the crowds. Buy tickets for popular museums and sites ahead of time, and reserve your visit if possible. Plan where you want to eat, and be flexible with backup plans.
Things to Consider
Annual Festivals and Major Dutch Holidays
Some people love to visit countries and cities during their liveliest season, while others prefer to avoid them. Whichever category you fall into, use this guide to help you plan your visit:
- January 1. New Year’s Day. Participate in or watch a traditional cold-water swim.
- Third Saturday of January. National Tulip Day
- Late March-early May. Keukenhof Flower Show
- Spring. Easter, Pentecost, and Passover, which are all official holidays in the Netherlands
- Late April. Bloemencorso, a 25-mile flower parade from Noordwijk to Haarlem
- April 27. Kingsday
- May 4 and 5. Dodenherdenking, or World War II Rembrance Day, and Bevrijdingsdag, or WWII Liberation Day
- June. Holland Arts Festival
- July. Amsterdam Roots Festival
- The first week of August. Amsterdam Pride
- Early or mid-September. Open Monumentendag, when historical sites and museums that are usually closed or charge fees are open and free.
- Mid-November. Sinterklaas Procession, the unofficial start to the winter holiday season in the Netherlands.
- Early December-late January. Amsterdam Light Festival
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s answer some common questions about visiting the Netherlands:
Is the Netherlands safe to visit?
Yes, the Netherlands is considered very safe. Still, always check your country’s travel advisories before booking international travel. In the United States, the State Department handles them.
In addition, take proper precautions whenever you visit a foreign country. Learn some basic phrases to help you get by and navigate emergencies, just in case.
What is the currency used in the Netherlands?
The Netherlands uses the Euro as its currency. The value of any currency fluctuates, but the Euro and US dollar usually stay relatively close to each other.
Why is it called Holland and the Netherlands?
Like most places in the world, the country that we call the Netherlands today did not always exist, nor did it emerge organically. Instead, national borders resulted from centuries of migration, warfare, interactions, and cultural exchange.
In short, Holland and the Netherlands were regions or kingdoms in the present-day unified nation. While the history is a little more complicated, the Dutch government uses the name the Kingdom of the Netherlands or simply the Netherlands.
Holland actually refers to one region of the country, even today. It’s in the west along the North Sea and includes two provinces, North Holland and South Holland. The former includes Amsterdam, the latter being home to The Hague and Rotterdam.
To complicate things further, people from this country are Dutch. Where does that come from? The word Dutch originates from an early language that was a precursor to German and Dutch. Loosely translated, it means “the people.”
Is the Netherlands in the European Union?
Yes, the Netherlands is in the European Union. It also plays a critical role in foreign relations. The city of The Hague is home to the court of the United Nations. The Hague is on the North Sea between Amsterdam (to its north) and Rotterdam (to its south).
Do people in the Netherlands speak English?
Many Dutch people and people in the Netherlands speak English, as they do in much of Europe. European education systems simply prioritize fluency in multiple languages from an early age, as do European families. It’s not uncommon for Dutch children to learn two languages at home.
Still, it’s polite and wise to learn some common phrases in Dutch before you visit. Locals appreciate the effort, and it can help you read street signs, find a bathroom in a hurry, or read a menu.
There Is Never a Bad Time to Visit the Netherlands
As stated above, there’s never a bad time to visit the Netherlands. Even in winter, temperatures typically remain above freezing, and the nation’s forests, hills, coastline, and greenspaces look breathtaking. Cultural institutions also stay open, and the cities are always bustling.
While the best time to visit Holland or the rest of the Netherlands is in the spring or fall, you’ll have an unforgettable experience no matter when you go. So what are you waiting for — book your trip to Holland today!