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.
What can we say? If you were in Amsterdam these past few days you now know why the city (and the rest of the country) is so green. May is like that: days with lots of sun, and days with lots of rain.
It wasn’t cold, though — but it was hardly the type of weather the Amsterdam Tourist Board highlights in its marketing efforts.
Today, the 28th, we expect lots of clouds and heavy showers — a perfect day to visit one or more of Amsterdam’s many museums.
Midday high today is 15° C (59° F).
Tomorrow, May 29 (Ascension Day) starts out cloudy and drizzly, but while it will remain rather cloudy the chance of precipitation will diminish as the day progresses.
The weekend should be sunnier, especially on Friday and Saturday, with midday highs of 18° C (64.4° F).
For the long-range forecast, see the June weather page.
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.
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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