Since its ‘Golden Age’ in the 17th century, the Netherlands is a country that fascinates Europe and the world. Netherlands’ contribution to global art heritage through works of grandmasters such as Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Vermeer (to name just a few out of dozens of art geniuses) is immense, diverse, and rich.
Typically, the Netherlands is known for its flatlands intersected with canals, tulip fields, windmills, and cycling paths, but there is much more to discover in this tiny country.
Amsterdam, the capital, is home to many museums, notable few are Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum; Rotterdam, a famous major port city that hosts Pilgrim Fathers Church; the university town of Utrecht, with lively canalside cafes; Maastricht with a lively culinary scene and medieval city walls; The Hague, administrative capital and home of major international justice institutions, and many more.
1. Quick facts
- Official name: The Kingdom of the Netherlands
- Capital: Amsterdam; seat of government: The Hague
- Population: 17 million
- Area: 41,864 sq km (16,164 sq miles)
- Major language: Dutch
- Major religion: Christianity
- Life expectancy: 80 years (men), 84 years (women)
- Currency: Euro
2. Where is it?
The Netherlands is located in Northwest Europe, on the shores of the North Sea and it is bordering Belgium and Germany. It’s a small country, it is ranked by size as 135th country in the world and 32nd in Europe. The actual Kingdom of Netherlands is comprised out of the Netherlands, special municipalities in the Caribbean: Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba, and Caribbean islands of Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten.
3. Visa requirements
As with many countries, your passport must be valid for at least three months after you complete your visit to the Netherlands, so you are advised to plan ahead. The Netherlands is part of the Schengen agreement and a visa for any of the countries from the Schengen group is also valid for Austria. Valid Schengen visa holders can use it to enter Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten as well.
More info about visa requirements for Schengen countries can be found here.
4. Getting there
Getting to the Netherlands is the best via Schiphol Airport (AMS), or by train, bus, or car from neighboring countries, or via boat to Hoek van Holland port, which is 1h 20 min from Amsterdam.
Here are some flight options from various locations:
5. Where to stay in the Netherlands?
Apart from standard AirBnB deals and hotels, there are many other options for accommodation in the Netherlands, and some of them are unique, such as windmills, boats, campers, or even a treehouse!
In the end, everything is up to you and your budget and personal preferences. For budget (and young) travelers, there are plenty of cheap accommodation to choose from in the Netherlands
For the latest offers on hotels from our providers use the search form below:
6. Moving around
The Netherlands has very efficient and reliable public transport. All major transport modes, such as metro, bus, and tram are integrated and have a single payment method via smart swipe card (OV-chipkaart), which is very practical for tourists and easy to use between different transportations.
You can also rent a bicycle to ride around cities along designated paths and Netherland is known to be a very bicycle-friendly country, or you can rent a car if you prefer to move around faster (although, parking in cities can be quite expensive).
For moving between cities and from and to the airport, we recommend the train as the most efficient and cheapest option.
7. Food in the Netherlands
Traditional Dutch food is not very known outside of the Netherlands, so you should try some of the local dishes when you are there, you might like them. Here are a few of them we recommend.
Hollandse Nieuwe (Dutch new herring) is a raw herring served with onions and pickled gherkins. The fish is cleaned and marinated in salt. It is truly Netherlands’ specialty. Stroopwafel, pastry waffle made out of baked batter and filled with sweet syrup. Made in the Netherlands since the late 18th century and can be bought in every grocery shop or supermarket. Kroket, a deep-fried roll in breadcrumbs, filled with beef or veal ragout. Great snack and very popular.
Bitterballen, another great snack, these deep-fried meatballs are served in bars and go well with beer. Rookworst, Dutch smoked sausage, is another snack, served in a bun. Lekkerbekje and Kibbeling could be described as the Dutch equivalent of famous fish and chips, but without chips, it’s a deep-fried fish served with some dip. Gouda and Edam cheeses are also famously from the Netherlands.
From the sweet side of the Dutch menu, we have Drop, various licorice sweets, very popular among locals, Oliebollen, sweet treats popular during New Year’s Eve, similar to doughnuts, and Pannenkoeken, Dutch styled pancakes, often topped with syrup, but sometimes with bacon, cheese, apple or raisins.
How safe is the Netherlands for tourists and to move around? The Netherlands is quite safe; it is ranked as number 16 on the world’s safest country list. Tourist areas are generally safe, both for single tourists and groups or families, but extra caution for pickpocketers is advised.
The Netherlands is not costly for tourists, and you can always find great deals on accommodation, meals, and attraction tickets.
Prices throughout the Netherlands are almost the same, with slight variation, but Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague are the most expensive cities for general tourism.
The Netherlands has a moderate climate, with winters not too cold and summers not too hot, but weather can be unpredictable with rainfall out of nowhere, so visitors are advised to have appropriate clothes. Temperature is rarely going down to 0 C (32 F) and in summer maximum temperature rarely goes over 30 C (86 F).
11. Best time to visit the Netherlands
The visiting season for the Netherlands is from mid-April till mid-October, but the peak season is in July and August, where the majority of tourists visit. There are many events and Christmas markets in December, so this is another good time to visit.
12. Money matters
The Netherlands is part of the European Union and Eurozone and the official currency is Euro. You should always pay attention when paying bills if you are coming from non-Euro countries and mind the exchange rate. (Xe.com). Major credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, but please do check card charges from your bank in foreign countries before the trip.
It is always good to have some cash on you, especially when leaving a tip in the restaurant or for the taxi ride. There are ATMs and banks on every corner and cash withdrawals are in Euros with a fee. Major banks don’t charge ATM fees to foreigners, but privately operated ATMs may sometimes charge high fees. However, the machine should warn you about the charge so you have a choice to cancel the transaction before committing to it.
13. What to see in the Netherlands?
There are plenty of landmarks and attractions to see in the Netherlands, so we are going to list only the most popular ones:
Keukenhof. Located in Lisse, South Netherlands, this is the world’s largest flower garden. Opened from March to May.
Anne Frank House. Now a museum, it was a house where the famous author of Diary of Anne Frank was hiding together with her family during WWII until Nazis captured them.
Rijksmuseum. A 19th-century art museum, hosting European and Dutch Golden Age painting masterpieces.
Van Gogh Museum. Naturally, this museum hosts world’s largest collection of van Gogh works, including paintings, drawings, and letters.
Dam Square. Large main square with Royal Palace in Amsterdam, popular gathering place since 17th century.
Vondelpark. Massive park in Amsterdam with an open-air theatre, playground, and ponds.
Heineken Experience. For beer lovers – an interactive beer museum in Amsterdam with a guided tour to learn about this beer producer and enjoy some beer in the end.
Jordaan. Central city district in Amsterdam, famous for hip restaurants and pubs and trendy shopping.
Royal Palace of Amsterdam. One of the three royal palaces in the Netherlands. Built in the 17th century, now a place of royal receptions with guided tours and exhibitions when not in use.
Efteling. A fairytale-themed amusement park located in the village of Kaatsheuvel. Offers fairytale-themed rides, wooden roller coasters, a water fountain, and a light show.
Madurodam. A miniature scale model of a Dutch city with buildings and famous landmarks, located in Scheveningen in The Hague area.
Ijsselmeer. A closed-off inland bay in the central Netherlands, famous for sailing, cycling, and hikes.
Leidseplein. Bustling square and nightlife center in south Amsterdam, with high-end shopping and dining.
Hoge Veluwe National Park. Nature reserve covering about 55 sq km in central Holland near the city of Arnhem. Home of red deer and wild boar, offering cycling and walking trails.
Madame Tussauds Amsterdam. Wax museum featuring many local and international celebrities in themed galleries.
Oude Kerk, Amsterdam. The cultural center in the 13th century built church, the oldest city building, hosting religious and cultural activities including concerts.
Rembrandt House Museum. Restored home of the famous painter, located in Amsterdam, where he lived between 1639 and 1656.
Science Center NEMO. Waterfront, boat-shaped, science museum in Amsterdam with interactive science exhibits and experiments.
Natura Artis Magistra. Amsterdam Zoo with aquarium and planetarium. Founded in the 19th century, one of the oldest zoos in Europe.
Stedelijk Museum. Museum of international and local contemporary art and design in Amsterdam.
Cube houses. Set of cube-shaped houses built in Rotterdam and Helmond designed by architect Piet Blom.
Bloemenmarkt. The world’s unique floating flower market, dating from the 19th century, is located in south Amsterdam.
Singel. The main canal in Amsterdam, which encircles the city. It served as a moat around the city until the 16th century when Amsterdam expanded further.
Nieuwe Kerk. A 15th-century church on a Dam Square in Amsterdam, next to the Royal Palace. Hosts exhibitions, royal weddings, and organ recitals.
Amsterdam Museum. The former orphanage, now hosting a museum about the city’s history with various artifacts and interactive exhibitions.
Euromast. A TV tower with a restaurant and luxury rooms is located in Rotterdam. Offering great, 360-degree views, abseiling, and zipline.
Mauritshuis. Museum of Dutch Golden Age paintings in The Hague. It’s a government collection of artworks by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Holbein the Younger.
Albert Cuyp Market. A large, open-air market in Amsterdam, existing since the early 20th century, where items like food, souvenirs, accessories, and flowers are sold.
Westerkerk. A 17th century Dutch Protestant church in central Amsterdam with an iconic 85m tall spire. Famous as the burial place of Rembrandt.
Nieuwmarkt. A square in central Amsterdam. Lined with shops and restaurants, popular with tourists.
IJ. Waterfront in North Amsterdam. Lined with restaurants and cafes, offer great views of passing boats and ships.
De Pijp. Bohemian Neighborhood in Amsterdam, famous for ethnic restaurants with sidewalk terraces, cafes, and pubs.
Kröller-Müller Museum. Dutch national art museum and sculpture garden, located in the Hoge Veluwe National Park in Otterlo, hosting 19th and 20th-century art and sculptures and Vincent Van Gogh collection.
The National Maritime Museum. Interactive maritime history exhibits with 18th-century replica ship, located in Amsterdam.
Binnenhof. The building complex in The Hague, hosting parliament and the Prime Minister. Guided site tours are offered through the visitor center.
EYE Film Institute Netherlands. Large collection of Dutch and foreign movies with film posters in a modern cultural center in Amsterdam.
Biesbosch National Park. Located Southeast of Rotterdam, this park consists of a large network of rivers and smaller and larger creeks with islands. Offers trail for hiking, boat rides, and bird watching.
Spui. A square in central Amsterdam, popular with open markets, art exhibitions, and seafood.
Erasmusbrug. A modern, iconic white bridge connecting north and south of Rotterdam, nicknamed ‘The Swan’.
Museumplein. Public space in Museumkwartier neighborhood in Amsterdam with art exhibitions and high-end shopping.
Magere Brug. Narrow, historic bridge over river Amstel in Amsterdam. Opened for pedestrians and cyclists and nicknamed ‘Skinny Bridge”, it is illuminated at night.
Hermitage Amsterdam. Amsterdam’s branch of famous St. Petersburg’s art and culture museum with regularly changing temporary exhibitions and permanent exhibitions depicting Netherlands and Russia relations.
Dom Tower. Gothic bell tower with 465 steps and tallest in the Netherlands, this church is located in Utrecht. Offers panoramic views for persistent climbers.
Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder. A unique, 17th-century house with a hidden church on the top floor, located in central Amsterdam. Guided and audio tours are available.
De Haar Castle. Rebuilt medieval-style castle and gardens in Utrecht. Offers tours with art exhibitions and hosts events and weddings.
Peace Palace. Internationally famous ornate center of justice hosts many law-related institutions: the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Hague Academy of International Law, and the Peace Palace Library. Weekend tours available.
Amsterdam Dungeon. Franchised theatrical gruesome history interactive show. Featuring elements from Dutch history.
14. Interesting facts about the Netherlands
Here are some interesting facts about this amazing country:
- More than 25% of the Netherlands is located under sea level.
- Famous Dutch tulips, an unofficial trademark of the Netherlands, actually originated from Turkey.
- The Netherlands is the largest exporter of beer in the world.
We hope you enjoyed reading about the Netherlands!
Last Updated on October 29, 2021 by Tours Editor @ gotravelyourself.com