The Ultimate Guide to A Netherlands Winter: What To Do

Last Updated: July 25, 2023

Gerrit Vandenberg

Gerrit shares his love for the Netherlands from his home near Amsterdam, helping thousands plan unforgettable trips to the lowlands. Discover his inspiring journey "From a critical health scare to celebrating Holland's charms". If you want to send Gerrit a quick message, you can contact him here.

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Hi, I'm Gerrit

I enjoy sharing useful tips about the beauty of this county.

Are you wondering if an off-season visit in Winter to the Netherlands is a good idea?

You’re in the right place. I’m here to make the case that planning a trip during a Netherlands winter is a great idea. So many unique events are worth the trip, and prices are at their lowest.

As a local who lives here year-round, I know exactly what it’s like to be here during winter. I’ve spent the last 43 winters here.

Planning a visit during winter in the Netherlands will raise some eyebrows.

Because, after all, Holland is the country of Tulips. Every Spring, an influx of travelers visit the Netherlands to see the spectacle for themselves.

Summers in the Netherlands are something our German neighbors can not fathom without a visit to our wide sandy beaches. And the canals burst in August when it’s time for the yearly Boat Parade during gay pride.

Autumns already are less busy, and it is also a great season to visit, with the beautiful change of colors. September will still be quite busy because the weather is a bit better; October and November can be compared to winter.

Here is my article on things to do in Autumn it’s definitely worth a read too if you’re comparing.

Then there is winter. It will be dark and at its coldest. This isn’t Cancun. It will also be the time of year for the Charles Dickens Festival, Christmas Fairs at medieval castles, and even a Christmas Fair inside caves.

Or what about the Amsterdam Light Festival, the wonderful Winter Efteling at Europa’s 2nd most popular amusement park, or the New Year dive at Scheveningen Beach.

And, of course, the specific holiday traditions and special foods you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

If you want to see the tulips in bloom, this is not the time to visit (or come back on a separate trip). But Winter in the Netherlands has a lot going for itself.

But then, the personal space you’ll enjoy on the streets in Amsterdam is refreshing when it’s less crowded, and visiting one of the art exhibits at famous museums like the Rijksmuseum or the Van Gogh Museum and enjoying the masterpieces is a real treat.

There won’t be a line at the skip-the-line entrance. …Yes, in summer, that’s a thing.

There will also be space to look at a painting in peace without your view being blocked by selfie sticks and raised phones 80% of the time. A winter trip to the Netherlands during the colder months makes a lot of sense.

I’m grateful we have different seasons, and after autumn (the foliage here is just amazing), wintertime is my favorite time of year.

As a country, we know how to make it “Gezellig”, cozy for lack of a better worth. The end of November and the month of December are extra magical. It’s time for Christmas fairs at local castles, and festive lights come up in every town and city. 

Here are a few of my favorite seasonal foods: “Oliebollen” and Marzipan figures (and don’t raise your nose thinking you know – and don’t like Marzipan). This version is much sweeter and delicious! Then there are “Amandel Staven (almond paste-filled pastries)” and chocolate letters.

Hot Chocolate stalls and pea soup can be found everywhere. The local version is super thick and has an iconic smoked sausage. Hema stores are best known for these sausages. They sell them warm!  

A typical Netherlands winter in Amsterdam.
A typical Netherlands winter in Amsterdam – Photo: Charl van Rooy

Christmas Markets in the Netherlands 🎁

Most larger towns have a Christmas Market. And Amsterdam is no exception. The Museumplein in Amsterdam transforms into a winter wonderland with an ice rink every winter. It’s free to visit, but there is a charge for using the ice rink (and hiring ice skates). Another well-known fair is the Royal Christmas Fair in The Hague and the winter market in Leiden.

These markets definitely bring you into the holiday spirit with the wooden chalets and their twinkling lights, people ice skating, and iconic holiday songs playing from the speakers, and they’re great places to try the seasonal Oliebol (A fried Donut ball with or without raisins), delicious, and a must try.

Try if you can be better than me because when I eat an Oliebol, my jacket is covered with powdered sugar at the time I am finished. Can you keep your clothing clean?

But I don’t want to sound like a marketing machine for the local tourist board. Here is the thing with most Christmas Markets in this country: they are nice but always small and expensive. I usually find myself done within 30 minutes.

They’re definitely not a reason to fly to Amsterdam by themselves. For that, you need to go to Germany, but more about those later. When you’re already here, adding a Dutch one to your itinerary is fun.

Two events are the exceptions to that and absolutely worth the trip itself:

  • The Caves in Valkenburg
  • The Country and Christmas Fair at the fairy-tale De Haar Castle 

Valkenburg: A Unique Netherlands Winter Experience Underground

The Valkenburg Christmas market underground in a cave.
The Valkenburg Christmas market underground in a cave.

I don’t blame you if you’ve never heard of Valkenburg before when you’re not from the area. It’s in the far south of The Netherlands, about 3 hours from Amsterdam. It borders Belgium and Germany. Among locals, though, it’s famous.

This is where many people have spent their summers camping as kids, riding the Valkenburg cable car (since this is the only area in the Netherlands with proper hills). It’s also known for its limestone buildings and the tasty pastry of the south: Vlaai! 

And for quite a few years now, it became famous for the Valkenburg Christmas Fair. Today it’s rated 7th on the European Best Christmas Destinations list. The market runs above AND underground. This town has different caves transformed in winter for a cozy market, which is, of course, unique! 

It’s quite spectacular to hear the corridors echo with the sound of carol singers and musicians, creating a joyful ambiance. And Santa Claus has his residence in the cave for the little ones.

It’s super easy to get to Valkenburg. Just take a train from Amsterdam to Maastricht and transfer there to Valkenburg. It could not be easier. 

Another great benefit of Valkenburg is that it is so close to Germany you can visit a truly authentic German market too. The German city Aken (Aachen) is super close, and you can easily get there by train or bus. It’s pretty much a 2-1 deal. 

The market in Valkenburg runs from the last day of November to the end of December. The market in Aachen is a little shorter and stops just before Christmas. There is no charge in Aachen.

In Valkenburg, markets above ground are free to enter. To visit the caves (in my opinion, a must because that makes it unique and so cozy!), you need to purchase a ticket. Tickets are more expensive on weekends, so if possible, visit during the week. This is also a great idea to avoid some of the crowds.

German Christmas Markets

German Christmas market in Aachen.
Lebkuchen at a German Market in Aachen – Photo: Alexander Schimmeck

German Christmas markets, known as “Weihnachtsmärkte,” are truly magical, offering an atmosphere that’s second to none in the world. Known worldwide, these markets are a must-visit if you’re spending winter in Europe. Luckily for you, and us, the Netherlands borders with Germany. Making a day trip across the border is super easy.

At these markets, you’ll find hundreds of stalls filled with traditional German Christmas decorations, handicrafts, and unique gifts. However, perhaps the most alluring part of these markets is the food and drink on offer.

Make sure to get a hot Eierpunch drink. This has alcohol people. And, of course, mulled wine will be available in different flavors.

When it’s time to eat, you’re in for a treat unless you eat salads exclusively. Then Germany might not be the country for you. For the rest of us, expect the amazing smell of sizzling sausages, warm pretzels, and “Lebkuchen” (German gingerbread).

Try “Bratwurst”, a type of German sausage, or delve into “Reibekuchen”, which are crispy potato pancakes typically served with applesauce. For those with a sweet tooth, “Stollen”, a fruit bread dusted with powdered sugar, is also not a bad buy. 

My favorites? I love a good Bratwurst with mustard and a German bread roll with a side of Reibekuchen. I won’t leave without these two things checked off my list. Oh, and a cup (or two) of “Eierpunch” in their super cool souvenir cups. PS It’s up to you whether you take them home or return them for a refund.

Find Train Tickets from Amsterdam to European Destinations

The largest Christmas markets in Germany are found in the bigger cities such as Cologne, Düsseldorf, Munich, and Berlin, and they typically run from late November until just before Christmas. From Amsterdam, the ones in Düsseldorf and Cologne are the easiest to reach.

Both cities lie on the high-speed train link from Amsterdam. Making it super quick to get there. If you’re already in Maastricht/Valkenburg, then the Aachen Market is also a good choice. 

Berlin is great if you also want to go there on a city trip since Berlin is a 6-hour train journey from Amsterdam or a short flight. Here are some tips for winter in Berlin

Munich is another iconic destination to visit during wintertime. It’s an easy flight from Amsterdam. Munich in winter is magical. Visit the Altstad, the Christmas market, and the Harry Potter slash Disney-like Neuschwanstein castle.

The Dickens Festival in Deventer: A Step Back in Time

The wonderful Dickens festival in Deventer.
The wonderful Dickens festival in Deventer.

The Dickens Festival is an extraordinary annual event held in the beautiful city of Deventer in the Overijssel Province, about 75 minutes from Amsterdam. This city is undeservedly off the tourist tracks except for these two days in December when this unique festival takes place based on the stories of the well-known author Charles Dickens. Check the exact dates for 2024 on the Dickens Festival’s website.

What To Expect

As a visitor, you will be transported back to the 19th century, where hundreds of characters from his book come to life as Scrooge, Mr. Pickwick, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, orphans, chimney sweeps, and Victorian ladies and gentlemen. And, of course, Christmas Carol Singers will be found on the street corners. It’s a perfect winter experience.

This is an event I’ve always wanted to attend but never got around to doing. It’s always on the news how crowded it is. And I think never mind. If there’s one thing that really isn’t my cup of tea, it’s being in a crowd.

But I also love the classics like A Christmas Carol, when I re-read it again I always hope against knowing better he will start to be nice to people sooner, and I enjoy the story of Oliver Twist just as much.

Therefore, I think it’s worth braving the crowds and being able to be here myself once. Now I am writing this, I’m making a mental commitment to be there at the next edition.

I have been to Deventer many times during other times of the year and it’s just a wonderful place, make sure to pick up some “Bussink koek” while you’re there it’s a spiced cakes but translate to a cookie. It’s what Deventer is known for.

Why is this festival in Deventer of all places?

Once you get here, you understand why. The backdrop of the historic Bergkwartier is just perfect with its medieval streets. 

The event is free, and there is where the crowd issue comes in. The event is extremely popular with the locals, Belgians, and Germans alike. It will be a very local experience but a busy one.

More than 125.000 people will visit this small city in just two days. The only advice I can give you if you’re going is to be early! The event officially runs both days from 11 am to 5 pm, but be there at least one hour before. When you do, you have done something different than most tourists in Holland.

PS: Access is only possible via Keizerstraat, near the theater (Schouwburg). And people will only be admitted in groups from there. Consider the waiting time can reach 1.5 hours or more. If standing for longer periods is an issue for you, you might want to skip this or have a walker with you.

Amsterdam Light Festival: A Radiant Celebration of Light 

A Display from the Amsterdam Light Festival.
A Display from the Amsterdam Light Festival – Photo © Hidden Holland

One of the highlights of winter in Amsterdam and a must-visit is the annual Amsterdam Light Festival. This unique event sees the city come alive with light and color, making the cold, dark winter nights feel warm and cozy.

The festival takes place from the end of November until the end of January. It is a showcase of large-scale light installations and sculptures created by artists, designers, and architects worldwide.

They’re different every single year. It’s most definitely worth a visit during winter if you find yourself in Amsterdam.

The exhibits are spread throughout the city center, illuminating the historical city center of Amsterdam. 

There are two ways to explore the Festival:

1. Canal Cruise

Taking a canal cruise in Amsterdam is magical every time of year. And in the dark months, an evening tour along the lit canals adds a whole extra layer of romance. But the most spectacular time to take an evening cruise is during the Light Festival. The viewpoint from the water is unique and offers a truly magical experience.

These canal cruises are guided, offering insights into the artworks and their creators, and last around 75 minutes. Note: it won’t be a private experience. Boats are front to back and pretty much bump into each other at all times. It’s so popular. But who cares. The fact boats move slower gives you more time to enjoy the lights. 

Make sure to book your cruise on time because they will sell out! 

2. Walking Tour

The last time Herman and I visited the festival in 2020 just before the pandemic, we went for the walking tour. The main upside to this is that you can take in the sights at your own pace. And we loved it. You spend as much time with the sculptures as you want, read about them, and then move on when you’re ready. The boats will pass by.

Of course, these artworks are in public, so they’re free to view. But I advise you to purchase the digital app. I did. Why do this? It gives you a digital map and shows you the best walking route. The total walk is 6.5 km long (4 miles).

Of course, the app also provides background information about the artworks and artists. Plus, you support the organization with your purchase.

The walking tour is self-guided, meaning you can start and finish whenever you like. And you have ample time to enjoy a hot chocolate, some hot mull, gluhwein,  and other winter goodies during the night.

You might ask Gerrit which is better, a canal tour or the walk? And here is the infamous answer: it depends. I know, but it does. If you have the opportunity, then do both. Each experience is different and unique.

Suppose four miles of walking sounds like a lot (after a day of sightseeing), then opt for the cruise. If you like to learn more about what you’re seeing, the walk is the better option. I plan to enjoy the next edition later this year, both from the water and on foot.

Winter Efteling A True Netherlands Winter Experience

Langnek one of Eftelings most treasured characters still catched a running nose even though he was dressed extra warmly during the Winter Efteling.
Langnek still catched a running nose despite his ear covers.

One of the best places to experience winter magic in the Netherlands during winter must be the Efteling. This Amusement park on the level of Disneyland is a popular destination among Europeans but not that well known outside of Europe.

Which is a shame. It’s one of my favorite parks in the world. It’s unique with its original fairy tale park and has now grown into a resort, and they have themed rides for all ages.

During winter, the park is filled with sparkling lights, frost-kissed trees, and crisp, magical air. Or maybe that’s the smell of roasting chestnuts. The Winter Efteling is a seasonal transformation of the Efteling theme park in the Netherlands. The park will open just for this event during the months of December and January.

The Winter Efteling offers an enchanting experience for visitors of all ages. The day ends with a spectacular light show called Symbolica on the Lake, a final touch of magic to a day filled with whimsy and wonder. Make sure to put on your most extraordinary Christmas jumper and a scarf and get yourself a ticket.

The Efteling is an easy train and bus ride away from Amsterdam (allow about two hours to get there).

Ice Skating In The Netherlands

Ice skating on the Amsterdam canals a magical Netherlands winter.
Ice skating on the Amsterdam canals – Photo: Robbert Esser

With today’s global warming, skating on the frozen canals of Amsterdam is not as likely to materialize as before. While the sport is depicted as a quintessential Dutch pastime on many snowy winter paintings in the Rijksmuseum, it’s all a little different today.

But still, from time to time, canals and lakes do freeze over, and Dutch cities transfer into a winter wonderland—and it causes a true frenzy among us. Businesses should close because their employees will be out and on the ice. Otherwise, they will call in sick!

PS a trivial fact: small towns in The Netherlands like Haaksbergen and Burgum fight every winter to be the first to organize a marathon on natural ice.

For visitors, it’s easiest to find ice skating rinks in cities, where most places set one up, like the Museumplein in Amsterdam. Just hire some ice-skates, join the locals, and go ice skating! Guaranteed special memories in the making.

The legendary Elfstedentocht

Every year every Dutchman hopes for the legendary Eleven Cities Tour to take place. It is an epic 200-kilometer ice skating race that takes place when the canals freeze to a sufficient thickness. The last time this happened was over 25 years ago, in 1997! But that certainly doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm every single year.

When temperatures come anywhere close to freezing, the excitement is palpable throughout the country. No weather report on the radio and TV will not cover the question, will it happen this year? 

So what is it?

The Elfstedentocht is a “grueling” 125 miles tour that takes participants along 11 cities in the province of Friesland. Along the way, the waterways will be crowded with spectators, and in every city, riders have to get a stamp to collect their medal at the finish. This race is very much part of the history of the Netherlands and ingrained in the collective mind.

Did you know our king Willem-Alexander rode the Elfstedentocht in 1986 when he was eighteen? And that he is still proud of that achievement became clear during the recent coronation of Charles III in London, where he wore his medal.

Sinterklaas in Holland 🎠

Seasonal specialities at the Stadsbakkerij de Diamanten Ring Delft.
Sinterklaas snacks at the Stadsbakery in Delft – Photo © Hidden Holland

In late November, the excitement among children is palpable because this is the time of year when St. Nicholas arrives in the country. And this is a tradition that children eagerly await.

Let’s backtrack a little because I’ve seen some misconceptions about this holiday on other blogs. This is not a replacement for Santa Claus, dear bloggers.

Children here are arguably the happiest in the world because they have a bonus holiday that BOTH includes presents, now which kid doesn’t want that? If the parents are just as happy remains to be seen.

On December 5th, the holiday is celebrated. Traditionally with presents if you behaved well, or the threat to be taken in a bag by his helpers back to Spain. Yes, Spain, but it becomes much weirder than that. I’ll get there soon. 

On December 25th, we celebrate Christmas again with presents under the Christmas tree. Usually, parents decide which holiday they prioritize for the bigger presents.

But back to Sinterklaas. A holiday not without controversy. It started as a catholic holiday in the Middle Ages. There is a fantastic painting in the Rijksmuseum celebrating the feast by Jan Steen.

Back then, a guy from Turkey helped the poor and was to memorize his passing by helping others with gifts. Back then, it was a street party. But during the Reformation, the holiday went indoors (public displays of Catholicism were prohibited in Holland)—the first controversy.

Today it transformed into the story that St. Nicholas lives in Spain with his helpers (Black Pete) and white horse. The colorful party arrives with a steamboat every year in the Netherlands in late November because, coming from Spain, a steamboat is the most logical means of transportation. Hey, where is your sense of magic?

The event is covered live on national TV and will be held in a different city every year. A sea port is completely optional, the same for a city to host. They still make it happen.

I spent nights awake before his arrival as a kid, anticipating the event. The day would crawl oh so slowly before the TV show started, and I would completely zone out. I was out of reach for my parents. It was pure magic to me.  Attend if you have the opportunity. You will not be able to do this anywhere else in the world!

The period between that and December 5th is when kids place their shoes by the fireplace (or as close as they could get to one with central heating in most homes today), and a carrot and some milk for the horse hoping for a visit and find their shoes filled with candies or a small gift the next morning.

Oh, and you would go all out singing songs for a better chance of him visiting your house (Search for them on Spotify or whichever music service you’re subscribed to for the classics. That will be fun). “Zie Ginds Komt De Stoomboot,” “Hoor Wie Klopt Daar Kinderen,” or “Sinterklaas kapoentje.” Oh, childhood memories.

This is also when there are many special holiday candies for sale, like “Pepernoten” and “Kruidnoten.”

Strooigoed. Candy to throw in the house when Sinterklaas visits.
Strooigoed with Kruidnoten and Pepernoten.

For a while, it looked like the holiday would not survive due to fierce competition from Santa Claus and the controversy around Black Pete. Which many people claim to be racist. I believe it’s good we talk about that. At the same time, we live in a very black-and-white society. It’s cancel culture, right? There is not much space anymore for an open discussion.

It’s also difficult because it’s an innocent children’s fest and such a warm celebration – even celebrated in (former) overseas colonial areas to this day. It’s so easy to take a fierce stand on one side or the other.

I think having a respectful conversation and providing context is much more essential. But one result of the discussion is that Black Petes are now called Color Petes, and faces are painted in all colors of the rainbow, and kids don’t seem to mind a single bit.

The whole discussion was also a booster to the holiday, and it’s more popular today than ever.

One tip I can give you as an outsider stay away from the conversation. It’s a heated debate, and even I, as a local, still burn my hands occasionally. You need the full context to form a true opinion that even locals often miss.

I listened to a super interesting podcast about the topic from the Rijksmuseum (Dutch only, unfortunately) that shows how complicated the matter is.

Dutch Christmas Traditions 🎄

“Gourmetten” has been a Dutch tradition for generations.

The moment St. Nicholas leaves the country, it’s Christmas time in our collective psyche. We will set up our Christmas trees and have the same shopping frenzy as everybody else in the days leading up to Christmas. With presents under the tree on Christmas day.

But we also have our traditions, like attending church service in a Catholic church on Christmas Eve. Something I did as a kid every Christmas in the beautiful St. Vitus church is the town of Hilversum (20 minutes from Amsterdam).

I was most excited about staying up that late at first, but later I started to appreciate the beauty of the celebration. All these candles and traditional Christmas carols are just magical with such a grand backdrop. PS: These are free to attend, so try to add them to your itinerary if you’re here over Christmas.

Then another oddity that we have is we have two Christmas days in Holland instead of one. We use these days to visit family and celebrate together. Usually, if you’re a couple, you would visit one partner’s parents one day and the inlaws the other day. Of course, it’s a fierce discussion every year about who gets which spot.

Of which the first Christmas day always seemingly holds a little more value. Thus negotiations start as early as autumn. Basically, when you toss your flip-flops for a jacket, you can expect a phone call from one of the parents. 

When the dust settles, we have to get ready for the feast. The main tradition is “Gourmetten,” a typical meal where you grill small pieces of meat, fish, and veggies at the table in your tiny grilling pan.

We have specific devices for that, which every person owns here. And it just comes out of the attic during Christmas (and Easter): The gourmet pan. It’s a hot plate with neat little spaces for these tiny pans. Most homes will be filled with smoke over Christmas days, and the smell will linger up to New Year’s Eve.

I have great memories of this infamous Dutch tradition. Every year the furniture at my mother-in-law’s tiny house would be removed, and we would enjoy a night along a long table overflowing with food, laughter, and stories with the extended family. She is no longer with us, but I can still smell the smell in my clothes today—a small price to pay for these good times.

If you have a Dutch friend, ask them if they have the “Gourmetten” tradition in their family, and if so, try to invite yourself to the party thoughtfully. It won’t get more Dutch than that.

How the Dutch Celebrate New Year’s Eve 🍾

Rotterdam fireworks above the Erasmus Bridge.
Rotterdam fireworks above the Erasmus Bridge – Photo: Frans Berkelaar

It is (still) legal in the Netherlands to set off fireworks yourself, but the discussion about that is fierce and alive. But a large portion of society seems to love it. Every year spectacular amounts of money are spent on rockets, firecrackers, and more. 

It’s not without controversy because the streets are unsafe on New Year’s Eve. I’m not a fan. I hate the loud bangs. I do love the sight though of the visual displays from the top floor of our house and watching the sky across the city lights up. 

Some cities now forbid fireworks locally and offer professional fireworks shows instead. Amsterdam and Rotterdam are most famous for them. In Rotterdam, the well-known Erasmus Bridge forms the backdrop for this spectacular show. In Amsterdam, the location varies but is currently hosted on top of the ADAM Lookout Tower across from Central Station.

It’s tradition to enjoy lots of “Oliebollen” (deep-fried dough balls) and “Appelflappen” (apple fritters)  during the night. Lines on the day will be enormous at special food trucks and local bakeries. Make sure to buy them on the same day you want to eat them for the best flavor. New Year is not the time to watch your calories in the Netherlands.

And as the clock strikes midnight, a champagne toast will be made among your friends and family with the famous Dutch 3 kisses.

New Year’s Dive in Scheveningen

The annual New Year’s Dive is a tradition that might baffle you as an outsider. During winter, when the average temperatures are the lowest, thousands of brave participants run – completely voluntary – into the ice-cold North Sea.

Often in funny costumes, the iconic orange Unox hat is most prominently visible. A great marketing stunt for the brand most beloved for its smoked sausages. It for sure marks the start of the year with an unforgettable rush of camaraderie and cheer. 

Are you bold enough to take the plunge? Or do you prefer to witness the spectacle from the beach just like I do?

Frequently Asked Questions About Winter in Holland

Does it snow in Amsterdam/Holland in winter? ☃️

It doesn’t snow as much as it used to, but we still get some snow in most winters. And when we do, the country turns into a winter wonderland. The sight of Amsterdam’s picturesque canals covered with a light dusting of snow is a sight to behold.

Last winter, the canals in my hometown of Amersfoort froze over, and it was fantastic. Kids and adults alike came out with ice skates to try their best. I watched it all from the sidelines since I would just make a fool of myself on the ice. Chair anyone? My favorite part of it all: hot chocolate with freshly whipped cream. Yum!

How much daylight is there in Amsterdam/Holland in winter? 🔆

The short answer is not much 😅. During the winter months, the days in The Netherlands are short, and daylight is limited. In December, you can expect approximately 8 hours of daylight, which gradually increases to about 9 hours by February. It usually gets light around 9 am and then dark again between 4:30 and 5 pm.

It’s still much better than in Scandinavia, where some people don’t see the sun at all. So I’m not complaining. We embraced this fact and made this season extra cozy with festive lightning and winter events. I’m a little weird and not a summer person. I always look forward to the shorter days and enjoy the “Gezelligheid” that comes with the season.

How cold is the Netherlands in the winter?

While winters are milder nowadays than before, we don’t have that many harsh winters any longer, and it doesn’t snow as often as it used to. Expect temperatures in the single digits during the winter months in the Netherlands if your system is based on Celcius or in the 30s if you’re thinking in Fahrenheit.

Of course, these are averages. It can just easily be 15 degrees Celsius or 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Or it could freeze up to a chilly minus 20 or 0 Fahrenheit. So pack accordingly! Warm sweaters and thick jackets are essential. But don’t dress like you’re visiting the Northpole, or you will be overdressed and likely be too hot.

Does Holland have 4 seasons?

Yes, Holland does have four seasons, and that is what I love so much about this place. Everybody gets excited when the flowers start to bloom in Spring, but we eagerly await the first summer day we can put on our shorts and light up the BBQ. Then we start complaining about the heat and welcome the cool of autumn. We embrace the rainy, windy days and take to the beaches for long walks to clear our minds. When the sun is out, we visit the beautiful forests in all its magical colors in droves. When winter comes, we’re ready for the festive lights and the holiday season. But then the darkness gets to us in February, and we welcome spring again in March. I can not imagine not having four seasons.

Already done the whole European Christmas market thing and looking for something new?

Then this post might be your answer. I bet you haven’t been to the Winter Efteling yet, the Amsterdam Light Festival, or the Dickens Festival. And there is just the quiet at the famous Dutch museums. Holland might be the winter destination you haven’t thought about before.


I hope I’ve convinced you that visiting the Netherlands in winter is not a bad idea. And you now understand a little better why the Dutch love any season in the Netherlands, including the winter holidays. Unique winter activities are making for a memorable and magical Netherlands vacation. Flights to Amsterdam will be the most affordable, hotel prices will drop, and museums have some breathing room.

December will be filled with the most activities in many cities in the Netherlands, but that will also translate to slightly higher hotel prices. The month of January (except for the first weeks when kids still have their Christmas leave in Europe) and the first weeks of February will be the quietest and most affordable. 

If museums are on your bucket list, these weeks are your golden window of opportunity to head to the Netherlands.

As you’re planning your places to visit during your stay during the winter season then it’s important to keep an eye on the weather forecast. The months between December to February often see crisp, chilly weather in the Netherlands, with January being one of the coldest. With temperatures usually hovering around the freezing point.

However, weather can fluctuate, so make sure you check the forecast frequently and pack accordingly. Warm clothing is essential.

Despite the cold, I believe this period can be one of the best times for a visit to the Netherlands.

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Do you appreciate this article? Consider sending me a coffee ☕️ to support this website's upkeep. Every contribution matters and is deeply appreciated. Thank you for your generosity!

Would Like My Personal Help?

Planning a trip well is a lot of work and (or) can feel overwhelming.

Know I'm here to help with your Netherlands vacation.

When you book an Itinerary Consultation with me, I help you improve your itinerary and make your trip planning much faster and less stressful. I also enrich it with my unique insights and tips—local tips.

Unlike a blog article, with a one-on-one session, I can focus on you and your trip alone.

When you book an itinerary consultation with me, I take a look at your current itinerary/ideas before our call, and I'll start brainstorming for you. Then when we meet on the (video) call, we'll brainstorm together. And after our call I'll send you the recordings and a summary of everything we discussed.

30 minutes calls ar great for shorter trips up to 3 days, add 30 extra minutes if you stay in the Netherlands longer than that.

Have You Learned Something New Today?

I’d love your thoughts: but first of all kudos for making it this far. What is your favorite Netherlands winter event?

Let's start a conversation below this article 💬.

Gerrit shares his love for the Netherlands from his home near Amsterdam, helping thousands plan unforgettable trips to the lowlands. Discover his inspiring journey "From a critical health scare to celebrating Holland's charms". If you want to send Gerrit a quick message, you can contact him here.

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