How to deal with the Dutch weather

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It’s time to talk about something difficult: the weather in the Netherlands. You come from a warm sunny country to live in the Netherlands? You will find something else here. Rain, snow, wind. You could even expect something totally different every moment of the day.

How do expats and foreigners in the Netherlands deal with the Dutch weather? Have they installed Buienradar, or do they just have an extra rain jacket with them? 

First experiences of students

The first reactions from the foreigners talking about the Dutch weather are not very positive:

  • It sucks
  • It’s miserable
  • A roller coaster
  • It’s like living in a Tupperware container
  • It’s grey in every direction you look.

Well, that’s a cheerful start…

So what’s it like to live here, because somehow you have to deal with it?

Living with the Dutch weather

For a lot of students in the video, it’s the unpredictably of the Dutch weather that makes it sometimes difficult to get used to. Like someone says, it can rain at any time, any day in any season. Sometimes it can even start to snow on a nice spring day.


Changeable. This word best describes the weather in the Netherlands. It can change any time of day.

A mantra when it comes to living in the Netherlands and dealing with the weather is:

  • ‘Slecht weer bestaat niet, welke slechte kleding’
  • (There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.)

But all these statements about Dutch weather, are they all true?

What is the weather in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands has what is called, a typical maritime climate. The influence of the sea ensures that it’s not too cold in the winter and not too hot in the summer. It also means that you can expect showers – and sometimes snow – any time of the year.

Hot, hot summer school

Last year, during the summer school, it was the warmest summer ever, with temperatures rising above 35 degrees. For Dutch people this is an oven.

Fortunately there was something called ‘airco’ in the schools…

Gezellige winter

Winters in the Netherlands can be long and dark. But also very pretty with snow covered streets and bright skies. This time of the year gives the Dutch a good reason to make it gezellig! Students of the winter school are often surprised by this!

Maybe this comes as a surprise, but for some people, the winter is the best season of the year. Besides the fact that we like to get together in warm bars or house parties, it’s a good time to study.

Let’s start with one of my favourites, ice skating in the Netherlands. A very important tradition for the Dutch, when the temperature drops, people get their ice skates out. And each year, there are some daredevils who go onto the ice too soon.

It’s important to note here is that you have to be rather lucky to go on natural frozen ice outdoors. Because the last few winters haven’t been that cold, every year it’s a surprise if we can find any ice. That’s part of the fun. Last winter school we had the chance to go skating!

This uncertainty is difficult for Dutch people, who like things to be clear. So that’s why an ice rink is often set up in the centre of town.

That’s summer and winter. What is spring in the Netherlands like?

SPRING: Finally, there is the sun!

The good thing about spring in the Netherlands (according to a lot of the Dutch) winter is over!

And although there are definitely some good things about the winter in the Netherlands, it can also be a long and grey experience.  Spring means sunshine and pleasant temperatures. It is possible to do things outside without being totally bundled up in rain clothes or winter accessories.

Uitwaaien? This is a typical Dutch word. Let me explain.

Literally in English it would be ‘to blow out’! What could this be…. Actually, it’s something really fun. It’s going outside to be in the wind to clear your mind. In most cases this happens by the sea, because here the wind blows the hardest. Something the Dutch love to do in spring.   

Autumn in the Netherlands: rain and storms

In summer, water in the seas and oceans heats up considerably. In autumn the temperature on land drops. When the evaporated water comes ashore from the warmed up North Sea, it quickly condenses due to the cold…

And that’s when it rains.

And it’s not only rain! Because of the large differences in pressure areas, there is a lot of wind. So it’s time for your raincoat and an umbrella and being extra careful in traffic!

The good thing:

In autumn the colours of the leaves in the trees change from green to golden yellow and reddish brown. Then the trees drop their leaves to save energy for the approaching winter.

And there are many places to enjoy this!    

What you need! Buienrader / buienalarm

Buienradar and buienalarm are Dutch websites that use radar and satellites to show the current rain showers.

For many Dutch people it’s one of the first apps they install when they buy a new phone. And because the weather is sometimes really unpredictable, knowing when it’s going to rain can be very useful.

Nothing worse than arriving at a party all wet…

Things to say, talking about the weather

Number one favourite small talk topic in the Netherlands is the weather. These sentences can help you:

  • Wat een weertje, he? (What weather, eh!)
  • Lekker weer he? (Nice weather, isn’t it?)
  • Het regent (It’s raining)
  • Ik ben niet van suiker (I’m not made of sugar)
  • Het sneeuwt (It’s snowing)
  • De zon schijnt (The sun is shining)
  • Verschrikkelijk (Terrible)
  • Heerlijk (Fantastic)

Bart de Pau
online Dutch teacher & founder of the Dutch Summer School & Dutch Winter School