Why does it rain so much in the Netherlands?

You can stand under my umbrella 🎶☔️

If you’ve ever visited, lived (or still live) in the Netherlands, then you know that the weather can be a bit hit-and-miss. Whether it’s rainy, windy, stormy, freezing, snowing, or rainy again, there always seems to be something to complain about.

Some people say it rains so much here because the House of Orange arranged it with the powers that be so that Dutch people have something to talk about!

But seriously, why does it rain so much in the Netherlands? And does it actually rain that much more than in other places? What is up with the weather in the Netherlands?! Let’s find out!

The Dutch climate

As you probably know, the Netherlands is located next to the North Sea, and the wind direction usually blows southwest, which means it has what’s known as a ‘moderate maritime climate.’ Fun fact: in Dutch this is known as het zeeklimaat (sea climate).

READ MORE | How to survive the Dutch winter: weather, clothing, and more.

This means that Holland experiences warm (but not hot) summers and fairly mild winters, without any really big temperature changes during the seasons (which is certainly not how it feels to us during winter, or summer for that matter).

But compared to places such as, say, Canada, the Netherlands doesn’t actually get that cold.

young-couple-going-ice-skating-in-the-netherlands
Snow is quite rare in the Netherlands, so when it comes out, it’s time to play! Image: Freepik

Rain in the Netherlands

While it seems like it rains a lot in the Netherlands, in actuality, the average rainfall isn’t that high.

The main reason that it sure seems to rain so much is that the weather can be very unpredictable, and the lack of mountains in the Netherlands means there is nothing to block any incoming depressions from the sea.

The Netherlands actually only receives about 700 millimetres of rainfall a year, which is fairly similar to places such as San Antonio, Texas — just without any of the really extreme temperature changes, floods, and tornadoes!

Wet-bicycles-on-rainy-day-in-Leiden-why-does-it-rain-so-much-in-the-netherlands
A bike seat cover is a Dutch essential (or a plastic bag — that’ll do the job too)! Image: Depositphotos

But while we can tell you that it doesn’t actually rain that much here, it doesn’t change the fact that the unpredictability of the weather can still be annoying.

Even if the weather seems nice and sunny in the morning, by the afternoon it might be raining; so you should always take an umbrella or jacket with you, just in case.

And when you go out during the middle of summer, expecting a lovely warm sunny day, but instead you get RAIN (again!), it sure does feel like it’s always raining!

How to survive the weather in the Netherlands

While it might not rain a huge amount, the rainfall does come fairly often in small parts. And even those small parts can be annoying when you are trying to get to work or school, sight-see or travel around the country. Our top tips for surviving the Dutch rain?

  • Always carry a decent umbrella with you — preferably one small enough to fit in a bag but strong enough not to turn inside out as soon as it’s windy, which it usually is here in the Netherlands!
  • If you’re getting into the Dutch habit of biking everywhere, make sure you cover your bike seat with a plastic bag (held on with a rubber band) when you’re leaving it outside — this will save you having a wet behind when you have to get back on it after a rain shower!
  • Check the weather apps, but don’t always trust them. Sometimes mine has told me it’s snowing when it’s sunny, so at least look outside as well.
  • If it is raining (or pouring), take advantage of some of the country’s great indoor attractions: such as museums, art galleries, and breweries. Every major city in the Netherlands, like Amsterdam, Leiden, and Tilburg, has great museums you can go to!

For more tips on surviving the Dutch weather and to learn some new Dutch words about rain, make sure you watch this amusing video by the Survival Guide to the Dutch!

How do you survive the weather here? Let us know in the comments below!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in March 2018, and was fully updated in January 2024 for your reading pleasure. 

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Kristy Atkinson
Kristy Atkinson
Originally from Tasmania (Australia), Kristy was living in London when she unexpectedly met a Dutch bloke and ended up moving to the Netherlands to be with him. Now she can be found taking numerous photos of their four weird cats and blogging at Tassie Devil Abroad.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t mind the rain in itself in my country of birth, the Netherlands, but how it shifts directions all the time because of the constantly changing winds. I have lived in Ohio( never again, too cold and snowy with the lake-effect in Cleveland), in California and now in Texas. And yes, temperatures are great here because I love the warmth more than the real cold, what I found myself doing here is actually walking in the rain…. because there is not often a wind with it, so it falls straight down. And that, my friends, feels like a shower, not like a child with tantrums, attacking you from all sides. And oh yes, it never gets too cold here, so I stay, if you don’t mind. Please enjoy your stay in my otherwise gorgeous country, the space I left behind

    • Yes, there can be heavy rains, like torrential downpours but they are no so common. What is more common are the violent storms, lightening, rain and high winds that come off the North Sea, sometimes with very little or no warning! This is the time to stay inside, have a hot chocolate and get cozy!

      It can also regular rain for days on end, with wind, but typically the rain is broken up fairly well throughout the day. The ground may mostly always be wet but very often going about your day is not spolied. When the temperatire gets below like 12C with rain and wind it is miserable putside! Don’t go to far out with your bicycle then!

  2. This time last year, we booked a holiday in the Netherlands. We live on El Hierro, which is one of the smaller Canary Islands. We booked for April 2020, which seemed simple at the time. (What could possibly go wrong?) Now Netherlands is putting people who arrive from Spain in quarantine, so it´s still not worth going. El Hierro hasn´t had many cases and for now has none, but we have to come through Tenerife and Madrid. Those airports are well-organised, but we understand why you don´t want us for now. Just know we will get there as soon as we can, though I´m quite old. From our point of view, at least we have the best weather here.
    Beste wensen en tot ziens!
    Elisa en Lidia

  3. I left the Netherlands in 1970. As a child growing up we certainly had more snow in those days, than what seems to be happening now. I remember my dad having to scoop the snow off the front porch so we could get out the door. And I don’t believe that was an isolated incident. We also didn’t have such hot summers as nowadays I think. I remember going to the beach with thick cardigans and sitting in a tent whilst it was blowing a gale force. So I think there has been a real change in the climate over the years … just like there has been in Melbourne Australia where I now live. Not as hot anymore during summer as when I first arrived and colder autumns and winters. Anyway that’s my thoughts on the matter😀

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