Informally (and incorrectly) known as Holland, The Netherlands is located in Europe. Amsterdam is the capital city and other large cities include The Hague and Rotterdam, which has the largest port in Europe. Holland is a region in the Netherlands just to be clear.
The Netherlands is often linked to the idea of tulip fields, windmills, clogs and canals. It also is renowned for Amsterdam’s ‘coffee shop’ culture as well.
However, the Netherlands is also a founding member of the EU and NATO and has a long naval history.
With a population of over 16 million people the Netherlands is a densely populated country, but one which offers an insight into different cultures depending on the location.
What to do/see in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands you can go to Amsterdam, where you can wander down its network of canals. A must is the Grachtengordel neighbourhood, where you can see stunning bridgework and 17th century homes. While in Amsterdam you must visit the Anne Frank Museum in Prisengracht to get a glimpse of how it felt to be Jewish in the holocaust era. You could also visit The Torture Museum which shows a more macabre side of the city, or the Museum Vrolik which is home to many mutant anatomies.
With tulips being the country’s most popular flower you won’t want to miss going to Lisse’s Keunhofs 70 acre garden, which is awash with colour and over 700 varieties of tulips. For the more historical enthusiasts you can try Geul Valley, which is home to Valkenburg’s hilltop castle and 12th century ruins. If you can you should try to visit around Christmas when the market comes to town. The market stalls are held in a maze of passageways and in the Velvet caves.
For those not interested in happy fairy tales you can always visit the Witches Weigh House in Oudewater, where you can be weighed to see if you are the Devil’s bride.
A visit to the Netherlands must also be complimented with a visit to Kinderkijk to see the 19 old original windmills and learn their unique history.
Where to stay in the Netherlands
Where you stay is really important when you are on holiday. Endeus has a variety of vacation rentals in the Netherlands where you can wake up feeling fully rested.
For a more unique choice of accommodation, why not rent a houseboat in Amsterdam right next to the Jordaan? You should check out the Pantheos Top Houseboat.
Or you could find a cheap hotel in the Netherlands, the NH Atlanta Rotterdam Hotel is simple yet elegant and very centrally located.
For budget accommodation you can look for hostels in the Netherlands. The Hague has one called Jorplace, which is a cool beach hostel just five minutes from the harbour and the famous Dutch surfing beach.
- Travel in the Netherlands is really easy as you can take all modes of transport using an OV-chipkaart card, which you can purchase at tram and train stations. However, for a much nicer way of commuting, try to hire a bike for 10 euros a day. The land is flat and so it is easier to cycle from A to B. If you decide to walk please observe the cycle lanes on the roads, otherwise if you are in the wrong lane you might be shouted at by a local cyclist.
- Deserts are very important in the Netherlands and they offer a huge variety of sweets. Please try either a stroopwafel or poffertjes (waffles or pancakes) to ensure you have tasted the finest deserts on offer.
- In order to make payments you need to be careful which card you try to use, non-chipped cards often don’t work so it is best to carry around a little cash to pay for things. You can also ask in advance if they take your specific card.
- To sample local beers you may be confused when they give you a very small glass or a ‘fluitje’, but this is normal. The Dutch love to savour their beers.
- Lastly, please don’t forget your umbrella as rainfall is common throughout the year but don’t let that put you off this amazing country.
Amsterdam was once a small fishing village but now it is a hugely popular thriving city. For old baroque style you can visit the Royal Palace or one of the many buildings offering different architectural styles. With 8 windmills and 150 canals you can soak up the traditions and cultures of by gone Amsterdam. Have a wander around the Eastern Harbour neighbourhood to see many architectural landmarks. Visit the Bloumenmarkt for the largest array of floral beauties and buy a bouquet of traditional tulips or go to the Botanical Garden to be amazed by rare plants. The choices here are endless.
First things first, head up to the top of the Euromast: an observation tower presenting the city from 315 feet in the skyline. From here you can see the Erasmus Bridge which gleams over the placid waters of the Maas River. Take your time admiring the view before heading down to ground level to explore the streets of the ‘Dam’. Wind down streets littered with monuments like City Hall where statues adorn the main hall and a bell tower can often be heard ringing its hourly chime. Visit Paradijskerk church for its beautiful baroque carvings or for something more modern Kunsthal is a must!
Lying on the North Sea, The Hague is home to 18th century baroque and classicist mansions as well as 11km of coastline where you can walk down Schveningen Pier. Visit Plein to admire the historic government buildings while drinking a coffee and sampling traditional snacks and see if you can spot a politician or two. For something more contemporary you can go and gasp in awe at the classic cars in the Louwman Museum or works of Escher in Het Palais dedicated to the artist. To unwind dine at the Westbroekpark restaurant overlooking 20,000 different varieties of roses.