Weather: The Netherlands

It's ironic that two of The Netherlands' most famous icons – its dikes and windmills – call to mind the image of a windy, waterlogged nation. True, it rains with regularity here, but no spot averages more than 1000mm/39in a year. That's below the norm in Wales and much less than on the west coasts of Scotland or Norway. And though windmills are scattered across the land, the wind itself is concentrated along the coastlines. Many spots along the North Sea average over 25kph/16mph, going far above that norm in winter storms. Inland, The Netherlands is often rather calm. On average, the Utrecht area is less windy than Paris.

You're most likely to notice the Dutch wind in winter, when the temperature typically hangs just above freezing. The moist air makes the stiff breeze whistling along the canals feel even colder. On occasion, a low-pressure centre winds up in the North Sea and delivers a pounding gale that can jeopardize dikes and push waters well inland, reclaiming land that Holland took from the sea long ago. With no major mountain ranges immediately to the north and east, The Netherlands is also prone to blasts of Arctic or Siberian air that can last for a week or two, turning the waterways to ice. Cold waves and snow are a bit more frequent and prolonged across the northeastern reaches of the country, next to Germany. Breezes off the cool North Sea in summer help protect The Netherlands from many spells of heat. (When it does get hot, though, not even the coast is immune.) Expect some clouds even on a bright, dry day. Clear skies are rare in the Netherlands: in summer, only about 1 in 9 days have clear skies. Your best chance of sun is along the coast and in the northern islands. Holland's southwest coast (around The Hague) is often drenched during the autumn, but on a annual basis, Hage Veluwe National Park and environs get the most rain.