Offical language: Dutch, Frisian, Papiamento
Welcome to the Netherlands, country that has preserved its historical heritage and maintained its authentic character where the feeling of being surrounded by the past is always present.The Netherlands is also the country that lies under the sea level. Because of the plenitude of water in the country there are many canals that are ideal for romantic boat trips along beautifully restored medieval cityscapes. Everywhere you go in the country you will come across typical Dutch architecture, fortified villages, and cities from the middle ages. The Netherlands is also the perfect destination for a water sports holiday. The Netherlands can sometimes be contradictory. Although known for its progressive stance on number of topics, the Netherlands can be very conservative at the same time. The place where you can let youself go and enjoy experience that you wouldn't be able to do anywhere else...
Must see places in The Netherlands
Amsterdam is famous for its many canals and impressive architecture. They often call it the Venice of the North. The city is charming and bustling with creativity and opportunities. At night the streets along the canals light up giving the city a romantic atmosphere. It is the perfect surrounding to take a romantic boat trip with your loved one. The organised tours will take you passed beautiful quays and streets. You will come across characteristic narrow and high houses, sometimes no wider than 2 or 3 meters.
The city of Delft in the South Holland province of the Netherlands, is famous for its charming old centre, its university and of course Delft’s Blauw, the Dutch blue and white porcelain pottery. Delft was also the home town of world famous painter Johannes Vermeer, who among many other famous paintings painted ‘The girl with the pearl earring’. Strolling through the narrow cobble stone streets along the canals you will quickly recognise Vermeer’s world.
Leiden is a vibrant university city in the South Holland province. The old centre if full with cafes, restaurants and museums. Leiden is the perfect town to go on strolls around the historical centre and breath the air of The Netherland’s past. Leiden is known for its University’s specialisation in classical and antiquity studies like archaeology and Egyptology.
Utrecht is a popular student city in the centre of the country. Before the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century Utrecht was The Netherlands’ most important city. From the 8th century onwards it became the religious centre of the region. And in 1522 the elected pope was Adriaan Florenszoon Boeyens from Utrecht. The traces of history are very present. All around the centre of the city you will find medieval canals, castles and churches.
If you are looking for a romantic getaway in The Netherlands with your loved one, Maastricht will definitely live up to your expectations. Maastricht is The Netherlands’ city of the ‘good life’. Maastricht is also the culinary capital of the Netherlands. It is home to 2-michellin star restaurant Beluga. In Maastricht you will find a pleasant mixture of history culture, art, good food, cafés, and nature. It is impossible to get bored in this beautiful city.
Terschelling is one of the five inhabited islands off the north coast of Holland. The islands are situated in the Waddenzee. The island of Terschelling is the ideal destination for a relaxing holiday in the middle of nature. The island is small, it is 32km long and almost 5km wide, and 80 percent of the island is a national park. The most famous parks are De Noordvaarder natural reserve and the Boschplaat nature reserve. The Wadden area between the Wadden beaches on the south side of the island and the province of Friesland are part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
Groningen is the often forgotten city in the far north of the country, but actually one of the Netherland’s prettiest cities. It is also a very popular university city and because of that is the city with the youngest population in the country. In The Netherlands the Groningers (people from Groningen) are known for speaking a hard to understand local dialect and for being rigid. However, many a person has travelled up to the city of Groningen to be pleasantly surprised by the charm of its lively and historical centre. And contrary to Dutch prejudice Groningen according to EU research it is the city in Europe with the happiest habitants.
Rotterdam is the second largest city in Holland, with 600000 inhabitants, and 1300000 in its total metropolitan area. It is also home to the largest port in Europe. Rotterdam has a bustling city life. With its large harbours and industry Rotterdam has since long attracted labour immigrants from all over the world. Because of this the city turned into a diverse and multi-ethnic melting-pot. In Rotterdam you will find shops and restaurants from around the globe. Prepare yourself for a truly multicultural experience.
Scheveningen and The Hague
Scheveningen is The Netherland’s most famous beach resort. It is also known as Holland’s surf town. Scheveningen is the ideal holiday destination for beach enthusiasts who also like the hustle and bustle of city life, and who every now and then like to get active. Scheveningen is famous for its boulevard, and many beach bars and beach restaurants. Scheveningen is located next to and often seen as a part of the parliamentary city of The Hague.
Volendam and North Holland province
Volendam is one of the most famous towns in the province of North Holland. In North Holland in general and in Volendam specifically you will find most of the Dutch culture clichés like, clogs, windmills, tulips, and the typical Dutch boats called botters that were used for sailing the treacherous Zuiderzee. Traditionally the people of Volendam fished herring. The Dutch are famous for eating raw herring with raw onion. It is considered a Dutch delicacy. Volendam is also famous for its traditional costume, and well-known for its Calvinistic character.
Things to do in The Netherlands
Go for a bike ride
If you travel in Winter
Explore local beaches
Nightlife in the Netherlands
Enjoy watersport activities
Did you know?
Pick the time right
Tourists visit The Netherlands from April to October
The best time to visit the Netherlands is whenever you can, no matter what time of year you will always find things to do and explore. In general, most travelers visit Amsterdam between April and October when the days are longer and temperatures are perfect to enjoy everything this place has to offer.
The Netherlands is also the country of Maxima, The Argentine queen. The colour orange is the national colour and represents the monarchy. The whole country goes Orange crazy on Kings Day and at any international soccer match of the Dutch soccer team. When you come to the Netherlands around King’s day (formerly Queens Day) you will be surprised by the amount of Orange flags, clothing, and cakes. This festival is one of the best times to visit Holland, especially the larger cities; you will be overwhelmed by the open air entertainment that takes places. There are concerts and parties organised all around the towns, but also flea markets, and creative and funny initiatives. Famous is the Jordaan neighbourhood of Amsterdam.
More typical Dutch foods are: artisan farmer’s cheese, chips with mayonnaise, pancakes, poffertjes (mini pancakes), rookworst, hutspot, snert, and raw herring with onions. And, of course the ‘broodje kaas’, the cheese sandwich, a Dutch favourite for breakfast, lunch, and maybe even dinner. Nowadays Dutch gastronomy has been highly influenced by French and Italian cuisine, but also other international cuisines. It has become rare to see a real Dutch style restaurant as people don’t cook and eat much traditional food anymore.
A new coffee shop policy was introduced in the border regions some years ago, whereby only residential members could buy marihuana. These regulations have been abolished and nowadays tourists don’t need anything to enter or buy in a coffee shop. A no smoking policy was introduced as well, but has in some cases been turned back as well.
Contrary to what you might think, the Dutch don’t smoke weed a lot. And consider it anti-social to smoke weed while strolling down the town. If you like to smoke try sticking to the coffee shops or your private space. You’ll get around with English in most of the country but with a few lines of Dutch you will definitely impress and make some new friends.
All cities can easily be seen by foot. Renting a car is usually not recommended, especially not in Amsterdam. In Amsterdam you are better off renting a bike, it will give you access to all the nice places, plus that way you get an idea about what local life is like. An alternative way to get around is by metro, tram or bus. Get an OV chip card to travel with the public transport anywhere in the country. You can buy these at the yellow vending machines or at the counter in the train stations, in supermarkets, or at a newsagent. Remember to top up before jumping on a bus and that you always have to check in and check out. If you would like to travel around the country you can also rent a car. The roads are good and save, and places are clearly indicated.