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Netherlands Tourism

Continent: Europe

Ideal Duration: 10 - 12 days

Best Time: Spring and Autumn Read More

Currency: Euro (EUR)

Budget: Moderate-Expensive

"The land of tulips"

Netherlands Tourism

Amongst one of the most developed and progressive nations of the world, the Netherlands offers an immersive and enriching travelling experience. With the most exquisite flowers blooming in the summer, refreshing showers in the fall, snowfall and nostalgia in the winter and the most colourful landscapes in the spring, the Netherlands has something to offer to everyone. From markets to gardens to the most absurd museums and shops, this country gives a 360-degree experience to its tourists, of a culture and lifestyle so diverse that it always stays with the traveller.

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Regions in Netherlands

Eastern Netherlands is home to numerous hotspots including Hoge Veluwe National Park - the largest national park in the Netherlands and the beautiful Hanzesteden cities i.e. seven medieval cities along the IJssel River with a historic centre. Western Netherlands: referred to as the Randstad, this region, comprising of the four biggest cities of Netherlands (Flevoland, North Holland, South Holland, Utrecht), as well as typical Dutch countryside, is also called the heart of the country. Northern Netherlands: This hidden gem is the least densely populated area of the country and remains mostly untouched by tourists, but is popular among the locals. The West Frisian Islands and the Frisian Lakes, for instance, are prime destinations for a few days of outdoor fun. Southern Netherlands: It is a unique part of the Netherlands, distinguished from the rest of the country by its Catholic history and heavy religious influence, unique carnival celebrations and its "Burgundian way of life".

Best time to visit Netherlands

Spring and Autumn is the best time to visit Netherlands

The best time to visit the Netherlands is during Spring and Autumn. The country experiences a temperate climate, with relatively mild summers and moderately cold winters. The temperatures tend to rise, the further south in the country you go. Spring and Fall offer incredibly pleasant weather conditions with the added advantage of being a part of the Shoulder season. The lack of tourist crowds allows you to explore the country at leisure and take part in plenty of activities. The period from mid-March to mid-May is the best time to see the country’s world-famous tulips in full bloom. Summer is the most crowded and you are bound to run into a huge number of tourists wherever you go. Apart from the seasons, there are plenty of events that happen throughout the country over the course of a year. Make sure to book in advance if you are planning to attend any event.

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Holidify's Opinion

What's Great?

  • The beautiful, surreal landscapes, especially in the summer and winter seasons. While the former gives the tourists bursting colours and overwhelming fragrances, the latter offers snowy-white views and outdoor activities. 
  • The immersive and distinguished cultural experience with a thriving art, music and cinematic scene. 
  • Unique culinary experiences. 
  • An opportunity to experience the free culture of the country with its exciting cafes and nightclubs.

What's Not So Great?

  • Extremely expensive and crowded during the high season. This can be an inconvenience, especially for last-minute travellers.
  • Frequent thieveries are a nuisance especially when they prevent people from enjoying the thriving nightlife of the country

For Whom?

For people who are experimental and willing to step outside their comfort zones to try new things and gain a fresh perspective.

Stay options in Netherlands

While all countries have hotels as an option, the Netherlands is known for its unique stay options available to tourists: Official Dutch Youth Hostels, an excellent budget option, are famously called "Stay Okay". However, they do not have kitchens for guests, so people usually eat out. A popular alternative is The Flying Pig Hostels in Noordwijk and Amsterdam, which give a kitchen for tourists. Another stay-option is that of Bed & Breakfasts, available in both big cities and smaller towns and villages. Prices range from 40-100, varying based on the season and number of occupants. However, they are inferior in facilities to hotels, but the service is known to be friendly and personal. Vacation rental homes are also popular in the Netherlands, especially in villages and remote areas. Simple or luxurious, these can be individual places or part of large fields with lots of identical homes, operated by private owners.

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Currency of Netherlands

Euros are the only acceptable currency in the Netherlands. It is important to remember that a lot of shops do not accept banknotes of Û100, Û200 and Û500, due to counterfeiting and burglary threats. 1 or 2 cent coins are also not given as change, and the price of shopping is rounded up or down. American Express cards are widely used in the Netherlands, but Amex is not as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard. The locals often use local bank cards which mean even small shops and market stands usually have a machine. In tourist spots, as well as in larger shops and restaurants, cards are readily accepted, but it is always better to ask in advance.

Exchanging Money in Netherlands

Best ways to exchange money in the Netherlands - ATMs (keep in mind that regular and "independent ATMs are different; not all machines accept foreign cards) and currency exchange offices (be careful of scams and shady practices). Avoid exchanging currency in airports as they offer very poor rates. ATMs are also readily available, especially near shopping complexes and areas with bars/clubs. The Dutch word for ATMs is "pinautomaat".

Nightlife in Netherlands

Den Bosch: The bar and club area are very accessible, and it is very easy to find a seat/place. People are extremely friendly, so is the staff. Popular places include Cafe M'n Tante, Party bar Lalalaa, Plein 79, Korte Putstraat and Cafe Silva Ducis.ÊMaastricht: Various bars are spread all around. Walk through the Platielstraat right up until the Kersenmarkt, where one is welcome to spend a pleasant evening at the bars/clubs. For more options, there's the other side of the St. Servatius Bridge, when walking towards the Maastricht Central Station.ÊRotterdam: It is in the direction of the Oude Haven (Old Harbour) where some nice bars and pubs are located. With the water nearby and the area sparsely crowded, this is a cosy spot to spend a leisurely night. Other similar areas include the Nieuwe Binnenweg and the Coolhave.ÊFurther, in the city centre, things are slightly more different - they are fast and flashy. Places are more crowded and busy. For concerts and live shows, the Ahoy is a popular spot.ÊGroningen: This is the go-to city for partying thanks to the large student population. Popular places include Drie Gezusters, Groote Griet, De Tapperij, NegendeCirkel, Jazz bar De Spieghel and De Pintelier.

Shopping in Netherlands

Typical souvenirs: Stroopwafels, Dutch cheese, Ajax attires, Delftware pottery, clogs, miniature windmills, Jenever 
Places to go shopping: 
Amsterdam - Kalverstraat (a street full of all well-known shops), 9 straatjes (9 streets comprising of vintage shops), 
PC Hoofdstraat (for luxury brands);
Maastricht - best for buying clothes and accessories, known for its Christmas market; 
Rotterdam - Known as the shopping city, has a Beurstraverse or a market under street level 
Alexandrium - a big indoor shopping mall; 
Groningen - small local shops and boutiques selling antiques, clothes and everyday items; 
Den Bosch - famous for little streets with speciality shops that deal in different items.

Festivals of Netherlands

Top Dutch Festivals: New Year's Day dive (Nieuwjaarsduik) (1st Jan) in the North Sea at Scheveningen, the Hague. Carnival (Mardi Gras), Maastricht (Feb) - costumes, parades, and balloons.The openingÊof Keukenhof Gardens (near Lisse), Festival of Trees (Boomfeestdag) and the Silent Walk (Stille Omgang) in March to celebrate the onset of spring and bloomingÊflowers. Flower Parade (Bloemencorso), Noordwijk to Haarlem (April-May) to celebrate the spring. King's Day (Koningsdag), Amsterdam (April) in honor of King Willem-Alexander.RemembranceÊDay (Herdenkingsdag) and Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag) in May to mourn all the Dutch lives lost in wars and celebrate the freedom of the Netherlands from Nazi Germany. Flag Day (Vlaggetjesdag), Scheveningen (June) - the harbor serves just-caught seafood and the Dutch herring fleet is launched. Rotterdam Summer Carnival (Zomercarnaval) (July) Amsterdam Gay Pride (August) -The World's only floating gay parade. St Nicholas (Sinterklaas), Amsterdam (Nov-Dec) - largest St Nicholas parade in the world.

History of Netherlands

From 1555 to 1581, the Dutch were ruled by the Spanish. In 1588, the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands was formed. During the 17th century, the Netherlands declared a 12-yearÊtruce with Spain and became a prosperous trading nation, founding a colony in South Africa in 1652. However, due to increasing trade rivalry, the Netherlands had to fight three consecutive wars with England. Finally, William of Orange, ruler of the Netherlands made peace with England by marrying the princess. Therefore, in the late 17th century, science,Êart, and philosophy finally flourished in the country. However, in the 18th century, the political and economic power of the country started declining. The Dutch were again involved in the War of the Spanish Succession against the French, and were hence exhausted all the resources. The French successfully invaded the Netherlands; however, with Napoleon's defeat and William of Orange's return, the country once again came under his rule. After his death, his son took over and introduced a new liberal constitution. For the rest of the 19th century, the Netherlands remained prosperous and stable and industrial growth took place. In the 20th century, while the Netherlands remained neutral during WW-I, it suffered through the Great Depression in the 1930s. Further, it was invaded by Germany in WW-II, and the people suffered terribly with frequent bombings and deportations. With the end of the war, NetherlandsÊslowly recovered and became a founding member of the EU in 1957.

Hygiene in Netherlands

  • The Netherlands boasts of the cleanest "tap water" in the world, at par with natural mineral or spring water. The food is also considered very clean. The healthcare system is as that of rest of Europe and employs English-speaking staff. >When camping or hiking in forests, wear covered clothes and socks to prevent against ticks and tick-carrying diseases such as Lyme disease.
  • Given that prostitution is legal, condoms and other protective measures are recommended when using the services of brothels in Amsterdam to protect oneself against STDs.
  • In summers, water bodies may be infested by foul-smelling blue algae. Look out for sign-posts warning against its presence.

Customs of Netherlands

  • Overt declarations of personal wealth and inquiring people about their income is considered invasive. Overtly religious behavior is also frowned upon and looked at with bewilderment.
  • When meeting someone for the first time, shaking hands and introducing yourself is the correct way to go. Cheek-kissing is only limited to certain regions and social circles.
  • Once on little friendlier terms, it is more common to refer to people by their names instead of sir/madam.
  • When dining, the Dutch generally make it clear if they are willing to pay the bill or if the party should ÒGo DutchÓ (split the bill).
  • Waiters and waitresses should be addressed softly as "Ober" or "Mevrouw".
  • Leaving the table during dinner is considered rude. Excuse yourself when leaving.
  • Dutch people expect good table manners as they are important to them and expect tourists to know their way around cutlery.
  • Tipping is optional but preferred Ð standard tips for porters, room service or cleaning ladies is Û1-2 and in restaurants and cafŽs, it is 5-10% of the total bill.
  • Keeping oneÕs clothes on in a public sauna or pool is strictly forbidden.
  • Netherlands should not be referred to as ÒHollandÓ.

Tips for visiting Netherlands

  • Biking is the cheapest and most convenient form of transportation around the country. Hire a bicycle instead of renting a car.
  • Getting the Museumkaart (Museum Card) is more economical than buying tickets if one intends to visit multiple cities.
  • Use Couchsurfing to save on hotel bills as Netherlands can be expensive accommodation-wise. While no major crimes occur in the country, places like Amsterdam are infamous for thievery, especially for stealing of bicycles and personnel items. Hence, being vigilant and keeping all important phone numbers handy is imperative.

Culture of Netherlands

Known for its acceptance and decriminalisation of prostitution, the unique culture of Netherlands celebrates sexuality with its sex shops and museums. Further, the sale, possession and consumption of marijuana in small quantities as well as the legalisation of homosexuality - are testimonies to the open and free culture of the country.The majority population of the Netherlands is Roman Catholic while the remaining subscribe to various Protestant churches, the largest being the Protestant church in the Netherlands.Dutch and Frisian are the national languages of the Netherlands even though the former is more in use than the latter. Other local languages include Low Saxon and Limburgish. Since all schools teach English and several other European languages (like French and German) in the Netherlands, almost 90% of the population can speak some English, making it the second-most English-proficient country in the world. Common phrases in Dutch - "Hallo, hoe gaat het met je?" (Hello, how are you?); "Alsjeblieft" (Please); "Sorry" (Sorry); "Dank je" (Thank You).

Food of Netherlands

Dutch cuisine is heavily influenced by its location in the North Sea river delta and the consequent activities that happen there - fishing, farming (for crops and domesticated animals), and trading. Dutch cuisine is relatively straightforward and simple involving lots of vegetables and a small portion of meat. For breakfast and lunch, the Dutch have bread with cheese whereas, for dinner, meat and potatoes are complemented with seasonal vegetables. Their diet also contains numerous dairy products, high in carbs and fats. However, with outside influence, more international and cosmopolitan cuisines find representation in the country. Some main dishes: Raw herring, Mosselpan, Pea soup, Kroket and Dutch pancakes.

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