"In season" in Holland means from mid-April to mid-October. The peak of the tourist season is July and August, when the weather is at its finest. But the weather here is never really extreme, and you'll find Holland every bit as attractive during shoulder- and off-season months. Not only are airlines, hotels, and restaurants cheaper and less crowded during this time (with more relaxed and personalized service), but some appealing events are going on. Case in point: Holland's bulb fields burst with color from mid-April to mid-May.
Holland has a maritime climate. Summer temperatures average about 67°F (19°C); the winter average is 35°F (2°C). Winters, moderated a touch by the North Sea, are often rainy (it's driest Feb-May).
July and August are the best months to soak up rays on a sidewalk cafe terrace, dine at an outdoor restaurant in the evening, and head for the beach. September usually has a few weeks of fine late-summer weather; and there are even sunny spells in winter, when brilliant, crisp weather alternates with clouded skies.
Although the temperature doesn't always linger long below freezing in winter, remember that much of Holland is below sea level, making fog, mist, and dampness your too-frequent companions. This damp chill often seems to cut through to your very bones, so you'll want to layer yourself in Gore-Tex or something similar in the colder months. There are plenty of bright but cold days in winter, and if the temperature falls far enough, canals, rivers, and lakes freeze to become sparkling highways and playgrounds for ice skaters. Throughout the year, you can expect some rain.
To prepare for Holland's unpredictable weather, invest in a fold-up umbrella and hope you never have to use it; likewise, carry a raincoat (with a wool liner for winter), pack a sweater or two (even in July), and be prepared to layer your clothing any time of year. Winters can be cold, and in the northern provinces, like Friesland, canals and lakes are likely to freeze; the farther south you go, the less chance there is of this happening. Don't worry: You're allowed to leave space for T-shirts, skimpy tops, and sneakers.
For weather information once inside Holland, call tel. 0900/8003.
Public holidays in Holland are January 1 (New Year); Good Friday; Easter Sunday and Monday; April 30 (Koninginnedag/Queen's Day); Ascension; Pentecost Sunday and Monday; and December 25 (Christmas) and December 26. The dates for Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost change each year.
In addition, there are two Remembrance Days related to World War II, neither of which is an official holiday, though you may find some stores closed: May 4, Herdenkingsdag (Memorial Day), honors all those who died in the war; and May 5 celebrates Bevrijdingsdag (Liberation Day).
One way to save money, and not just on admission to museums and attractions, is to buy one -- or more -- of the visitor passes offered by some city and province VVV tourist offices, like the I amsterdam Card. Remember that many museums and other attractions offer reduced admission to seniors, students, and children.
If you're in Holland on National Museum Weekend (Apr 4-5, 2009; similar dates in 2010), you're really in luck. Many museums in Holland offer free admission over the weekend, and others charge reduced admission.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.