The Netherlands has, unsurprisingly, a maritime climate. Winters are mild (temperatures in January and February are about 5 degrees) and summers are warm (temperatures hover between 20 and 25 degrees in July and August). Rain falls year round but spring (February, March and April) is the driest season.
When to fly to Netherlands
The Northern Hemisphere summer is high season in the Netherlands when workers take time off and schools are on holidays. July and August are the busiest months. Watch out for April 30, Queen's Day, a huge celebration.
November, January and February are low-season months.
April (depending on when Easter falls) and September (make sure you visit when schools are back in session) are shoulder-season months when rates are lower and flight prices more reasonable.
Getting around Netherlands
The Netherlands is a dream to get around. There's no need to rent a car or even take a taxi... The rail network is comprehensive and trains are fast and clean. Fast ferries and water taxis also link cities and towns around the country.
Perhaps the form of transport that's most synonymous with the Netherlands is the bicycle. There are more than 20,000 km of cycle paths and bikes can be rented cheaply from a myriad of places - train stations, hotels, hostels.
Netherlands insider information
- While bicycles might be one of the most popular forms of exercise, it's not the only one. Sailing and swimming and other water sports are popular on the country's coastline and on the lakes, rivers and canals.
- The Wadden Sea lies between Den Helder in the Netherlands and Esbjerg in Denmark. Declared a World Heritage Site in 2009, there are about 50 islands, the first five are the Dutch Wadden Islands. Full of birdlife and wildlife, empty beaches and sand dunes and views that go on for miles and miles, Wad hopping is a fantastic experience.
- Football is a religion in the Netherlands. Where to support "oranje"? Try Heinekenplein, a square located behind the Heineken Experience in "Pijp" district. There are more bars and restaurants per square metre here than anywhere else in the Netherlands. Should the national team get to a semifinal or final of a big tournament, then Museumplein (Museum Square) in Amsterdam will probably put up a big screen.
- In Scheveningen you must sample a raw herring with chopped onions! It's a Dutch delicacy. You could also try kroketten (a deep-fried version of breaded ragout) and poffertjes (tiny pancakes) eaten hot with powdered sugar and lots of butter.
- Queen's Day is on the last day of April. Holland goes orange and events and celebrations are held throughout the country.
- Perhaps you'll spy the royal family at one of these palaces. Drakensteyn Castle is Queen Beatrix's former residence; it's close to Soestdijk Palace. Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima live in Villa Eikenhorst, Wassenaar. Huis ten Bosch is Queen Beatrix's residence in The Hague; Noordeinde Palace is the monarch's "working" palace. The Royal Palace is in the centre of Amsterdam and Palace Het Loo is a sumptuous 300-year-old palace near Apeldoorn.