Surviving Dutch Weather

Cycling whilst holding an umbrella is a skill you'll soon master whilst in Utrecht (credits: Maria Salaru)

If I had to sum up Dutch weather in one word, it would be “capricious”. Trusting the weather app is a no go as rain intensity and wind direction can change within a few hours, and before you know it, you’re soaked to the bone and biking against 25kmph wind. You’ll need to know how to survive the winter, the rain and wind.

Here’s your guide on how to survive Dutch weather during your period of studies!

First, I’ll start with winter. This would be relatable for ones who come from tropical countries where 20℃+ temperatures are the norm. I underestimated the cold when I first got here and didn’t bring enough sweaters.

So, Tip #1: bring plenty of sweaters! At least 3 or 4 would do. I recommend including a sports sweater as well which is handy when biking in autumn and early spring as you don’t want to boil under a thick sweater and your jacket while biking. Don’t buy expensive and excessively thick jackets as winters aren’t very harsh here. On average, the day time temperature drops to around 3-5℃ and occasionally, a few degrees below zero. For those extra cold days, a thick sweater and your jacket is quite adequate to keep you warm. I do recommend having two jackets, one being a waterproof one as it does rain during the late autumn and late winter.

Tip #2: make sure to have plenty of warm socks as you’ll go through them pretty fast. Some cosy socks, thick sweater and a warm coffee or tea is a perfect combination if you are staying home during a rainy or cold weekend.

Tip #3: thermal pants are not necessary but if you really think you’ll feel uncomfortable in the cold, do not hesitate to bring a couple. I personally didn’t bring any and I adjusted well. Whenever you’re outside, you’ll be biking and that warms up your legs in about 5 minutes.

Tip #4: bring 2 or 3 pairs of gloves. One of them needs to be a thick one (and preferably waterproof) as you’ll need that for the winter. Gloves are a must as your fingers would freeze while biking, especially in the bitter wind. Be prepared for a bit of pain during your first winter. My fingertips hurt occasionally while biking, it definitely takes some time to get used to. But there’s nothing a little flexing and finger wiggling can’t help fixing.

Photo Credits: Bart Weerdenburg
Dark clouds are a familiar sight in the Netherlands (credit: Dick Boetekees)

In the Netherlands, it rains. It rains so much that the people have so many different words for it. It comes with no surprise that investing in a quality raincoat would go a long way. Remember I told you to bring a waterproof jacket? Well don’t forget to buy a pair of rain pants when you get here as well. There are a few at shops called “HEMA” and “Action”.

You shouldn’t rely on your weather app too much, instead, you need to download one of the Dutch weather apps; Buienradar or Buienalarm That’s tip #5! They provide hourly updates on rain patterns, wind speed and direction, temperature etc and they are very accurate. You will be able to plan what time you’d prefer to bike or go for a jog outside as you can see a chart with the time it’ll rain and how intense and it is pretty much spot on.

 

Rain or shine, cycling is still the best way to navigate the city of Utrecht

 

That was my Top 5 tips on surviving Dutch! Use it as a checklist to see if you’ve packed everything you need. Remember, the weather can be sporadic but that’s part of the Dutch charm which you’ll learn to live with!