The Netherlands

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Meet the Netherlands

The unique guide

Canals, windmills, tulips and pancakes. The Netherlands is a beautiful country offering city trips and countryside adventures. Explore the Netherlands’ 32000km of cycle paths or a hike in a National Park. Visit art galleries and museums in Rotterdam or The Hague. Stroll along canals and wander picturesque villages. There's more to the Netherlands than Amsterdam! Discover all the diverse places to go and things to see in the Netherlands in our travel guide.

In with the Old, In with the New

In Dutch cities you’ll find that tradition and innovation intertwine. Futuristic architecture sits side by side with Gothic facades and Renaissance palaces. When looking for things to do in the Netherlands you’ll find a great mix of modern art galleries and world-renowned art museums full of classic masterpieces. Contemporary museums are paired with those telling the tails of the Dutch Golden Age. If you’re looking for culture and history or modern cities and exciting nightlife, the Netherlands has it all.

Cycling & Landscape

The Netherlands is famously flat, pancake-flat in fact, and is one of the most bike friendly countries in the world. Cycling is the ultimate Dutch pastime and the best way to explore the Netherlands. Shaped by dikes, canals and rivers, discovering the Netherlands by foot or bike will deliver scenic views across its iconic landscape. Find an old windmill or two along the way and if you visit in Spring prepare to be met with endless seas of colourful flowers. Find out the best time to visit the country in bloom in our Netherlands travel guide.

Pancakes and Cafés

We can’t tell you that traditional food in the Netherlands is healthy, but it is tasty! For sweet treats, try Dutch pancakes or stroopwafels. How about a savoury pancake instead? Or try some Bitterballen, aka deep-fried Dutch meatballs. You’ll find them served as a bar snack in ‘cafés’. In the Netherlands this usually means a pub! Enjoy a relaxed evening on a canal-side terrace, chat with the locals and enjoy the Netherlands’ unique version of ‘café culture’.

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Rotterdam's yellow cube houses in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands Guide

Wander and wonder

Ready-made itineraries for your Netherlands adventure

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Read up on the best the Netherlands has to offer

Meet the Netherlands

Say hoi to your next travel destination! The Netherlands is a beautiful country full of canals, windmills, tulips, and so much more. With world-class cycling routes and excellent public transport, the Netherlands is an excellent pick for slow travellers looking to explore the off-the-beaten path! There are more national parks here than you’d expect. Backpackers, cyclists, and trekkers have so many options to choose from.

Stick to the cities and you’ll find tons of interesting museums, art galleries, markets, and independent shops. The Netherlands is known for its canals and windmills for a reason; every sight here looks like something off a postcard.

Most tourists gather here to visit its capital Amsterdam to party! But there’s so much more to the Netherlands . We’re here to let you know everything you need about the Netherlands for an authentic experience.

Tip: this is THE country for cycling. Especially in Amsterdam, cyclists have the right of way and bikes are not afraid to run into you so watch out! That being said, make sure you rent a bike during your stay anywhere in the country to get the quintessential Dutch travel experience.

The 12 provinces

The Netherlands is split into 12 unique provinces of Utrecht, Friesland, Groningen, Drenthe, Overijssel, Gelderland, Zeeland, South Holland, Limburg, Noord Brabant, North Holland, Flevoland and Limburg. Wow, try saying that three times! Don’t worry, we won’t quiz you on them. Just check out our map or province and city guides to discover which province is the perfect fit for you and your trip

Outdoor Adventures

The Netherlands is a great pick for any trip to the great outdoors. Cyclists need to visit the Netherlands at least once to experience the beautiful routes! The Netherlands has 20 national parks to discover. Tip! If you love a woodland walk,Veluwe National Park has the biggest forest. Climbing forests are great to visit in the summer! We also can’t forget the winter sports here; the Netherlands really love their ice skating, especially speed skating.

Cultural catch-up

If you’ve heard anything about the Netherlands, you’ve heard about its progressive values. We all know the famous “coffee” shops and definitely check those out if you’re keen to smoke some weed - but what we love about the Netherlands is its unexpected architectural gems, its industrial funky art sites and the hip, cool bar and eateries.

The people, in general, are welcoming and prefer to get straight to the point and more direct than most other European counterparts. Cycling is a beloved pass time as well as a practical mode of travel. Throughout the country, modern cities exist alongside traditional windmills and canals. The Netherlands has its charming quirks too: including an intense love for gouda cheese, coffee, and wooden shoes.

The country also has a history of trade and the arts. Visit any museum or art gallery and you’re in for a treat!

Tulip season

Don’t miss the gorgeous tulip season in spring! From around March to May, Holland is transformed into an unforgettable flower-packed paradise. Tulips are the star of the season! Come and see the bulbs of the ball throughout the country. THE place to be is by far Keukenhof in the town of Lisse. This is one of the biggest flower gardens in the world with over 6 million tulips every year to see! Walk the fields surrounded by rows and rows of pink, yellow, and red tulips.

When to go

The Netherlands is a beautiful country to visit no matter the season, but there’s a big tourist spike in the spring when the tulips are in full bloom. You can still see those sights without getting stuck with the crowd; simply visit one of the lesser-known provinces. Tourists are least likely to visit the Netherlands in November, but if you’re going for a winter trip we recommend December instead so you’ll see the stunning Christmas markets.

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Tourist season: Apr, Jul, Aug
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Best weather: May - Oct

Weather

The Netherlands’ warmest days are in July and early August, but April generally has the least rain. Throughout the year, the weather in the country varies quite a bit. Visit in the winter months and you’ll be blasted by wind, but you might enjoy a snow globe effect throughout the country. The average temperature in the Netherlands is about 10 degrees Celsius (50F), but that varies from month to month. It rarely goes above 22C (71.6F) in the summer, so in general the Netherlands is a country of mild weather with a fair chance of rain. Bringing a rain jacket is always a good idea.

Essentials

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Central European Standard Time (CET)
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Euro €
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$$$
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Dutch

OK, so we’ve got the basics. You might already have a month in mind for your travels. But do you know what’s happening during that month? To really plan your slow travel trip, it’s best to dig deeper into the culture of the Netherlands. Let’s see the big events month by month!

Dates for your calender
Jan - Scheveningen New Year’s Dive, National Tulip Day, Rotterdam International Film Festival
Feb - Carnival, Art Rotterdam, ABN AMRO Tennis Tournament
Mar - Spring opening of the Keukenhof Gardens, the famous tulip festival: open from March to May. Groningen Grasnapolsky Festival. Rotterdam Museum Night
Apr - Bloemencorso: Annual Flower Parade. Koningsdag, Alkmaar Cheese Market
May - Remembrance Day, Liberation Day, Bevrijdingspop, National Mill Day, Leeuwarden Flower Market.
Jun - Holland Festival, Oranjewoud Festival, Castle Day, Oerol Festival
Jul - Rotterdam Unlimited, North Sea Jazz Festival, The Four Days Marches
Aug - Amsterdam Gay Pride, Amsterdam Grachtenfestival
Sep - Red Head Day (Roodharigendag), World Port Days (Wereldhavendagen)
Oct - Amsterdam Dance Event
Nov - Eindhoven GLOW Festival, Sinterklaas Parade
Dec - Scheveningen Fireworks Festival, Deventer Dickens Festival, Ice Sculpture Festival, Christmas markets and lights

Languages 101

The Netherlands official language is Dutch, spoken by the vast majority of the locals. The Netherlands is pretty tourist friendly and a large part of the population speaks very good English, especially in the big cities. But if you’ve trying to chat with the locals, throwing in some Dutch is a good way to make a deeper connection.

While the official language is Dutch, a few provinces of the Netherlands have their own dialect. You’ll be fine speaking standard Dutch, but if you hear some differences in Friesland and Limburg don’t be too surprised!

Essential Dutch phrases

Ready to try out another language? Here are the basics of Dutch to get you started.

Speak the local language
Englisharrow
Hello
Hoi
Excuse me
Pardon
Can you show me on a map?
Kun je het me op de kaart laten zien?
How do you say...?
Hoe zeg je...?
How much?
Hoe veel kost?
My name is...
Mijn naam is
I’m lost
Ik ben verdwaald
Where is the ATM?
Waar is de bankautomaat?
Do you speak English?
Spreekt u Engels?
I don’t understand
Ik begrijp het niet
What does that mean?
Wat betekent dat?

Transport

Getting There

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By Plane

The Netherlands has 5 major airports. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is the biggest in the country and by far the busiest. But you can fly in to the west from The Hague Airport, to the south at Eindhoven Airport and Maastricht Aachen Airport, and to the north at Groningen Airport Eelde.

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By Train

There are good transport connections to other European countries. The Eurostar travels from London to Rotterdam everyday and you can easily get to Amsterdam from there. Intercity trains make their way to Berlin and Hannover everyday. Plus, lots of ICE trains travel to Frankfurt from Amsterdam and Utrecht. You’ll have no issue getting to the Netherlands by train from neighbouring European countries.

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By Bus

Buses are your best public transport option in most cities. Buses are also used to travel from one smaller city to the next. The Interliner coach is your best option to go cross-country by bus, including routes from Rotterdam to Zeeland and more. If you’re here for a longer trip, we recommend getting a smart ticket card (OV-chipkaart) just to make things easier. Otherwise, use a day pass (usually around 7€. Buses are best in the bigger cities and especially handy when the weather is bad, otherwise walking and cycling are good options to get around.

Getting Around

By Car

Public transport in the Netherlands is some of the best in Europe, so having a car isn’t necessary though it’s still handy. You’ll need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to rent a car here. The average price of renting a car varies depending on where you are. In Amsterdam you’re looking at an average of 57€/day.

By Train

Trains are one of the best ways to travel between cities in the Netherlands. The country isn’t too big, so you’re looking at less than a 3 hour train journey from each major city. The trains are pretty affordable and there are discount tickets available for unlimited travel. You’ll find a train station in each major city, plus lots of stops dotted around the country.

By Bus

Buses are your best public transport option in most cities. Buses are also used to travel from one smaller city to the next. The Interliner coach is your best option to go cross-country by bus, including routes from Rotterdam to Zeeland and more. If you’re here for a longer trip, we recommend getting a smart ticket card (OV-chipkaart) just to make things easier. Otherwise, use a day pass (usually around 7€. Buses are best in the bigger cities and especially handy when the weather is bad, otherwise walking and cycling are good options to get around.

By Bike

The Netherlands is one of the most friendly cycling countries in the world. The roads are fairly flat, so you won’t have any issues getting around. Drivers are used to cyclists, so it’s pretty safe to go around by bike here. Just watch out in Amsterdam, they expect you to know the road rules very well and don’t get in the way of the faster cyclists. Bike rentals are very common throughout the country and you can get a bike for a day for about 10€.

On Foot

Walking is an easy way to get around wherever you are in the Netherlands and you won’t have any issue on foot. For longer distances, rent a bike or hop on the train. Hiking is popular the closer you get to the national parks and countryside.

Transport Tips

  • There are no toll roads in the Netherlands, but car fuel is more expensive than other European countries.
  • If you’re planning on getting around by train, check out the ticket discounts from train runner Nederlandse Spoorwegen.
  • Check local timetables outside the major cities in more rural areas as there are some zones where bus tickets require prebooking.

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