Cyclists ride their bikes year-round in the Netherlands but if we had to pick the ‘best time’ we’d tell you to visit between late April and mid June.
The weather is normally warm and sunny, accommodation is easy to find, prices are reasonable and the bike paths are uncrowded because most kids are still in school.
Spring is also the time to see the vibrant tulip fields that cover the landscape (particularly between The Hague and Amsterdam), and if you’re here at the end of April, you can party with the locals. The whole country dresses in orange (the national colour) to celebrate Queen’s Day or Koninginnedag on April 30th.
Other options include:
Summer – The temperatures creep higher but rarely become hot and sticky as they do further south in Europe. The real bonus for cyclists is the amount of daylight. Near the June solstice, the skies stay lit until 11pm. Even though it’s summer, don’t forget to pack your rain gear. If you’re here for a few weeks, chances are that at least one or two wet days will break up the sunny stretches.
Since schools are out, summers also mean higher prices for accommodation and a generally busy feeling everywhere you go, especially near the coastal beach resorts. You don’t necessarily need to reserve a spot if you’re camping (there’s almost always room for 2 more cyclists) but it’s wise to call ahead if you want a room somewhere, especially on the weekends.
Autumn is another ideal time to ride around the Netherlands – as long as it’s not too rainy. Here’s the story of an October bike tour.
Autumn – September and the early weeks of October can be an ideal time to ride your bike across the country. The days are generally mild and sunny, with the risk of rain increasing by mid-October. Bring a fleece for the crisp morning and evening hours. By mid-October, nighttime temperatures are usually around the freezing point. Most campgrounds stay open until the end of October.
Winter – This isn’t really a season for cycling, unless you’re very hardy. It may not be as cold as some parts of North America in winter but you can still expect plenty of dreary grey skies, abundant rain, stiff winds and – in December and January – even a bit of snow. Bike paths are often cleared but not always. They can quickly become icy and treacherous after a storm.
If you insist on winter cycling, make sure to wrap up against the weather. Plan on much shorter days. Around the winter solstice, Amsterdam only has about 8 hours of daylight. And don’t count on campgrounds being open. It may be easier to rely on hotels or small guesthouses, such as those run by Vrienden Op De Fiets.