Good news: In Holland, May often is the sunniest month of the year, with on average up to 15 hours of sunshine a day.
However, May also tends to have as many cold days as it has warm days.
At night there can even be some frost, particularly in the first half of the month — though if and when that happens it is usually in the countryside far east of Amsterdam.
That said, the feast days of the so-called Ice Saints — May 11 through May 13 — are notorious for it.
Mind you, as so often is the case, the weather forecast for the rest of the country may call for sun, while much of the West (Amsterdam included) can be covered with clouds drifting in from the Northsea.
We are at the tail end of May, and the weather sure hasn’t been as good as advertised.
In fact, in May 2015 we have had only two warm days — ‘warm days’ being 20° Celsius (68° Fahrenheit) or warmer.
That is the lowest number of warm days since May of 1991.
Average temperature was 12.5° Celsius (54.5° Fahrenheit), whereas 13.1° Celsius (55.58° Fahrenheit) is normal.
But we can thank this year’s exceedingly sunny months of March and April for bringing us, overall, a sunny spring — with 610 hours of sunshine where 517 is the normal average.
That would make this spring the seventh sunniest since the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorologisch Instituut, or KNMI) started keeping track of such things, 161 years ago.
Friday (29th): Very rainy, very cloudy, and not warm — with a high of 13° Celsius (55.4° Fahrenheit) in the late evening.
Saturday (30th) should be dry. Depending on which weather service you trust, it will either be partially cloudy for most of the day, or clear up quite a bit in the middle to late afternoon. Even so, don’t expect temperatures higher than 13° Celsius (55.4° Fahrenheit).
Sunday (31st) will be rather cloudy, with drizzle and/or rain expected for much of the afternoon and early through late evening. Slightly warmer, though, with a high of 18° Celsius (64.4° Fahrenheit) in the early to mid-afternoon.
See June for the long-range forecast.
Normal lows and highs in May:
1-10: 7.3-15.9° Celsius (45.14-60.6° Fahrenheit)
11-20: 8.4-17.4° Celsius (47.1-63.3° Fahrenheit)
21-31: 9.2-18° Celsius (48.6-64.4° Fahrenheit)
We’ll update this information throughout the month of May.
The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI)1 notes that in recent years the months of April and May have been rather mild, sunny and dry.
But May, 2013 was quite cold, somber and wet. Even the sunny days were cold.
May, 2014 was a dream — beautiful spring weather.
Amsterdam Weather Facts: May
• Average lows: 7.2° C (45° F)
• Average highs: 18° C (64.4° F)
Sunrise & Sunset
• May 1 – 6:11 a.m. / 9:06 p.m
• May 31 – 5:26 a.m. / 9:51 p.m.
• Average: 52 mm (2.4 inches) in 44 hours
What to wear in Amsterdam in May
You’ll need to take into account the updated weather situation as described above, but normally this is what you’d bring:
Bring short-sleeved T-shirts or tops, and summer-type skirts and dresses — but also something slightly warmer for chilly evenings and sunny but chilly days. Jeans, light-weight slacks, or shorts for guys.
You probably won’t need an umbrella. If you do want to carry one, a small fold-up model will suffice. But showers usually are brief enough to wait them out over something to eat of drink at a brown café, a coffeehouse/coffeeshop. or a deli.
- Sunny days are perfect for postcard-quality photos — especially now that everything is green. You can take beautiful pictures along the canals (particularly from bridges).
- Grey and rainy days make for great dramatic pictures, particularly if you shoot in black & white (or later convert your color photos to B&W).
- When the weather is good, do like the Amsterdammers do, and relax at an outdoor café. It’s perfect for people-watching.
- If it’s rainy, plan on visiting some of Amsterdam’s 50+ museums
- A bad weather day is also perfect for a visit to the cinema2. We can recommend a visit to the unique EYE Film Institute.
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