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The Netherlands Travel Guide

Delft, Netherlands

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“Much of the Netherlands lies considerably below sea level, as you well know. Through the process of building dikes to wall out the salty sea and through pumping the water into canals, the country of the ingenious, resourceful, and doughty Dutch has literally been born of the sea.”

Joesph B. Wirthlin
Netherlands

Top Six Destinations In The Netherlands

  1. Amsterdam The capital city of The Netherlands, offers beautiful canals, historical buildings, world-class museums, rich history, and famous attractions like the Anne Frank House, Vondelpark, and Bloemenmarkt, and the floating flower market.
  2. Delft Is this unspoiled and progressive town with traditional canals, a Renaissance-style city hall in Market square, fascinating architecture, and a fun vibe. Ideal day trip to experience a true Netherland culture.
  3. Utrecht Has a rich Middle Age history apparent in the city’s architecture and the inner canal wharf system. A highlight is the striking Gothic Cathedral of Saint Martin, built over 200 years beginning in the 13th century. There is a warmth and genuine welcome in Utrecht.
  4. The Hague Is an extraordinary city by the north sea and is home to Dutch Royalty. There are historic districts and monuments, incredible art galleries and museums, the best shopping districts in the Netherlands, a spectacular panoramic view of the Scheveningen Sea, and a miniature city in the midst of a thriving, dynamic city.
  5. Kinderdijk Windmills is an iconic part of the Dutch landscape and a Unesco World Heritage site. Discover these beautiful windmills and see how the Dutch have been controlling the waters for over 1000 years. Some of these windmills are active homes with children playing in the front yard.
  6. In the tulip fields of Holland From March to May, the countryside becomes a magnificent sea of daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, and other gorgeous flowers. Photos can never capture the pure explosion of color and scent, a must-see in person. Amsterdam’s bulb zone stretches for thirty miles from Haarlem, just outside the capital, to Leiden. A memory that will stay with you forever.

Did you know?

Netherlands stats

  • Population: 17.2 million
  • Capital City: Amsterdam
  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Government type: Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy; part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
  • Ethnic groups: Dutch 76.9%, EU 6.4%, Turkish 2.4%, Moroccan 2.3%, Indonesian 2.1%, German 2.1%, Surinamese 2%, other 5.8%
  • Languages: Dutch (official)
  • Religions: Roman Catholic 23.6%, Protestant 14.9% (includes Dutch Reformed 6.4%, Protestant Church of The Netherlands 5.6%, Calvinist 2.9%), Muslim 5.1%, other 5.6% (includes Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish), none 50.7%
  • US State Department Risk Level: 3 Due to Covid and threat of terroism.
  • Terrorist groups: Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) (2019)
  • Despite the capital being Amsterdam, the government seat is in The Hague.
  • The Netherlands was one of the six founding members of the European Union.
  • GDP $886 billion.
  • Orange is the national color of the Netherlands.
  • The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in Europe.
  • Almost one-third of the country is below sea level, and 60 percent of the population lives 16 feet below sea level. It is said the Dutch are born of the sea.
  • The highest point in the Netherlands is Vaalserberg, a hill with a height of 1,058 feet above sea level, and the lowest is Zuidplaspolder, which is 22 feet below sea level.
  • Industries in the Netherlands include agricultural services, textiles, oil and natural gas, metal and engineering products, chemical, fishing, and electronic machinery.
  • Inventions from the Netherlands: Stock market, Gin, CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Ray, microscope, telescope, submarine, fire hose, chocolate bar, electrocardiogram, speed camera, and artificial kidney.
  • The Netherlands is the world’s biggest exporter of cheese at 8 billion dollars per year.
  • There are 20 national parks in the Netherlands, as well as hundreds of woods and lakes.
  • Rotterdam has the largest seaport in Europe.
  • The Netherlands was a founding member of the Euro, switching their “gulden” (guilder) to the euro in January 1999.
  • There are approximately 1000 museums in the Netherlands, 42 of them in Amsterdam.
  • Life expectancy 81 years old.
  • Literacy rate 99%.

Funs facts

  • The Netherlands national anthem is the oldest in the world.
  • Using “Holland” to refer to the Netherlands is not acceptable. Holland comprises the Dutch provinces of North and South Holland.
  •  The Dutch have been making cheese since 400 A.D.
  • The Netherlands is one of the happiest countries in the world.
  • Dutchmen are the tallest in the world.
  • The Dutch are the most physically active of the EU nations.
  • The Netherlands has a strong and active Green energy agenda.
  • Dutch electric trains are powered by wind energy.
  • Tulips are not native to the Netherlands but come from Turkey.
  • The Netherlands has one of the highest English proficiencies.
  • Amsterdam has over 1,200 bridges.
  • There are over 1000 windmills in The Netherlands.
  • Amsterdam is now Europe’s 5th-busiest tourist destination.
  • The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.
  • The Dutch are known to have one of the healthiest diets in the world.
  • There are more bicycles in the Netherlands than people.
  • Around 80% of the world’s flower bulbs come from the Netherlands.
  • The Netherlands is the world’s second-biggest beer exporter.
  • The Netherlands is home to some of the world’s biggest art museums, such as Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.
  • The Dutch turned carrots orange
  • Though it seems it would be Iceland, in reality, the Dutch eat more licorice than any other nation in the world.
  •  In Groningen, you can find the biggest bar in Europe. The “Drie Gezusters” (“Three Sisters”) fits 3,700 people.
  • The famous tulip garden Keukenhof is the largest flower garden in the world.
  • The current Dutch king is a pilot for KLM.
  • Netherlands Healthcare is considered to be one of the best in the world.
  • KLM, the Dutch national airline, is the oldest national airline in the world, founded in 1919.
  •  The Royal Palace situated at Dam Square is built on at least 13,659 wooden poles.
  •  In the Dutch language, the letter E is most often used.
  • The current King, Willem- Alexander, is the first King in 123 years and was crowned in April 2013. 
  • Some of the world’s greatest artists come from The Netherlands, such as Rembrandt and Van Gogh.

The Netherlands Map

Good to know before you go

  • Tipping in The Netherlands is expected in restaurants for good service, around 5-10% of the bill. If the service was average, you can round-up the bill or leave the change. Give your tip to the server directly. Sometimes a service charge is already included, so check the bill. Hotels do not expect tips as there is often a service charge added to your bill. Tipping a taxi or car service in the Netherlands is not common, but you can round-up the bill or leave 1 or 2 Euros for excellent service.
  • The Netherlands accepts credit cards everywhere.
  • Appearances are important to the Dutch, and they place a high value on cleanliness. Overall, clothing is stylish and well kept. The Dutch prefer fashions that are casual, unpretentious, conservative, and subdued. A traditional suit and tie are required only in certain circles of business and government.
  • The roadways in The Netherlands are some of the densest in the world. They have excellently maintained roads and are easy to navigate. If you are stopped and get a violation, you will have to immediately pay the fine as a foreigner. The Dutch are polite drivers and not aggressive.
  • Do not call the Netherlands “Holland.” Holland is a region within the Netherlands, and the Dutch may find that a bit disappointing you don’t know that.
  • Greetings are usually a handshake with everyone present, men, women, and children, at business and social meetings. It is important to make eye contact during these greetings. Shake hands again when leaving. Introduce yourself if no one introduces you. The Dutch feel it is rude not to identify themselves.
  • The Dutch speak directly, make eye contact, and may appear abrupt or even too serious. No need to take offense; it is just their manner of communicating.
  • As Dutch shake hands, they will say their last name, not Hi or Greetings. They answer the telephone stating their last name.
  • Smoking is prohibited in most areas. Always ask before lighting up.
  • Stand when a woman enters the room.
  • Don’t chew gum in public.
  • Seek out Dutch cheese and pastries. They make some of the best!!
  • The country’s traditional cuisine can be described as simple or “rustic” with little meat and various vegetables. Bread with cheese was typically eaten for breakfast and lunch: meat, seasonal vegetables, and potatoes for dinner. 
  • The Dutch see the family as the foundation of their social structure. Families tend to be small, often with only one or two children. The Netherlands has the lowest amount of women working outside the home in all of the EU.
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets while talking to someone or shaking hands. Keep your hands visible during meals.
  • The Dutch are disciplined, conservative, and pay attention to the small details. They do not boast or brag about material possessions.
  • The Dutch are private people and don’t speak to strangers as a norm. They will wait for you to make the first move. Do so; you meet some wonderful Dutch people. Avoid personal questions.
  • The Dutch are reserved and don’t show much physical touch in public, display anger or extreme excitement.
  • The Dutch have a reputation for not being good at standing in line. You even find yourself being pushed and shoved to board the subway. Just the way it is.
  • In Amsterdam, when people refer to a coffee shop, it is not quite as you expect. A coffee shop is a place to buy cannabis; if you want real coffee to ask where a cafe might be.
  • A myth is that the Dutch are all high due to their legalization of cannabis. The majority of the residents of the Netherlands do not partake in this extra circular activity.
  • In the Netherlands, if you go to a bar with locals you may meet, it is customary to pay only for the drinks you had. 
  • On average, each person in the Netherlands rides his or her bike 300 times a year and cycles about 550 miles per year. This is a not country for the non-seasoned rider. Bike traffic is significant, and best for someone who knows the rules of the road.
  • Dutch people are very down-to-earth. There is a Dutch saying, ‘Doe maar normal, dan doe je al gek genoeg’ which means ‘Just act normal, that’s already crazy enough.’
  • To get the attention of your server, raise your hand, and make eye contact.
  • Table manners are Continental – the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating. Use a knife and fork to eat all food, including sandwiches and pizza.
  • A popular Dutch snack is raw herrings topped with onions.
  • A Dutch traditional breakfast has chocolate but not hot chocolate sprinkles on toast! YUM!
  • Cannabis can’t be sold to foreigners anymore as of January 2021. Recent laws to control the partying that has become problematic in Amsterdam reflect the locals taking back their city. This is an example of the importance of sustainable tourism efforts.
  • It seems everyone speaks excellent English because they do. More so than any other EU nation. Learn the basics to show respect.
  • It is a very safe country.

The Netherlands Essential Info

US Consular Emergency
The 24-hour number from a US Phone 1-888-407-4747
Outside of US 011-202-501-4444

US Embassy Amsterdam
Museumplein 19
1071 DJ Amsterdam
 Telephone +(31) (0) 70 310 2209
 Emergency +(31) (0) 70 310 2209
 Fax +(31) (0) 20 575 5330
 Email AmsterdamUSC@state.gov
 Website U.S. Consulate General Amsterdam

Emergency Numbers
GENERAL 112

Country Code
+31

Time Zone
UTC+1

Driving
Right side

Adaptors
“Standard” Euro plug
Type C or F

Tourism Office
The Netherlands Tourism Office

When to go to The Netherlands

The best time to visit The Netherlands would be in spring. Late spring, in particular, is a great time to go as the weather is warming up, there’s less chance of rain, tulip season is in full bloom, events are increasing, and there are fewer tourists.

July and August are peak months for visitors in all of The Netherlands. It will be very crowded, and hotels can be expensive and hard to get. The weather can be hot and humid, but many days can be mild. The bonus of traveling in summer is all the great events, outdoor activities like cycling, boat rides, and wandering by the canals. You’ll also have the longest days so you can be out sightseeing for an extended time.

Fall is the closest you’ll get to the off-season in The Netherlands, which will be especially quiet. This is a good time to visit if you want to avoid the crowds, save costs, and get into any place you want without lines.

Winter will be cold in The Netherlands, but December is such a great time to go due to the wonderful Christmas markets.

  • Summer 52-72 °F (11-22 °C)
  • Spring 37-64 °F (3-18 °C)
  • Fall 40-66 °F (4-19 °C)
  • Winter 34-44 °F (2-7 °C)

Our Favorite Netherlands Resources

This resource section contains some Amazon affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Travel Books/Guides

The Netherlands was part of our 2018 seven-country trip. We flew home from there, so our last days were based there. It was a place we wish we had made more time for. There is a lot of offer in the Netherlands, especially outside of Amsterdam. We found a couple of great travel guides and used the internet extensively for our research.

Lonely Planet’s The Netherlands (Country Guide) by Lonely Planet

A passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on Amsterdam and Netherlands’ highlights has to offer and what hidden discoveries await you. Stroll the intricate canals of Amsterdam, visit the fascinating windmills, and enjoy endless flowering tulips in South Holland. Great photography and lots of details to aid in planning. Discover this travel guide here

Rick Steves Amsterdam & The Netherlands (Country Guide) by Rick Steves

Full disclosure, we are huge Rick Steve’s fans; it will be rare to recommend one of his wonderful guides; this guide is no different. Rick’s love of this part of Europe and is obvious in this guide. We love his travel style and perspective. His off-the-beaten-path approach, together with his independent travel philosophy, matches well with how we travel. The guides never disappoint. This book cut into our suitcase and was a fantastic resource. Find this must-have guide here

Our favorite websites

1. The Netherlands tourism site

2. US Department of State: Bureau of Consular Affairs The Netherlands Country Info

We cannot encourage you enough to visit this website as you plan and prepare for your trip. This is the US Federal Government addressing the safety, security, travel risk, entry, exit, visa documents mandates, emergency US and Embassy contacts, health, local laws, special circumstances, threats, traveler vulnerabilities, government warnings, and transportation In Luxembourg. This is your best and most reliable resource for all this important info. Check back often before you go, as things can change quickly. Being prepared is essential in all travel, but especially internationally.

The Netherlands International Travel Information (state.gov)

3. The Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travelers Health Resource

This CDC travel resource provides essential health info for your specific destination. Using their tool, you can determine which vaccines, medications, and health advice recommendations are needed for The Netherlands.

CDC’s Travelers Health Page for The Netherland

Our favorite maps

Michelin Netherlands Map 715

Easy to read maps with practical road and travel information. Practical road and travel information. Major sites and landmarks are well marked. Mapped road network with distances and designations for major highways to the off-the-beaten-path roads. Though we default to Google maps, this came in handy when service was poor or during construction detours. Find this essential map here

Our favorite apps

Rome2rio: Trip Planner Trip and Holiday Organizer Enter any address, landmark, or city in the app will instantly display all your travel options, booking info, along with accommodation providers and things to do. Find on your local app store.

Rick Steves Audio Europe This app includes a vast library of Rick Steve’s audio content. Get cultural and travel info. Includes self-guided tours of top attractions and historic walks. Amsterdam options. A must-have. Find on your local app store.

Duolingo-Language Lesson Audio lessons that help improve your listening and speaking skills. Find on your local app store.

Google Translate We used this often to practice proper pronunciations of Dutch words. As we always encourage, it is essential to learn the basics to greet and thank people in the local language. Google translate was an easy app to use. If needed, you can enter text in English, and it will speak back in Dutch to aid in communicating with locals. Furthermore, it came in very handy to translate text into images instantly.

Do you have a favorite Netherlands travel resource? Share your favorites in the comments section at the bottom of this page or

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