The Netherlands is known for its flat landscape and liberal attitude towards sex and drugs. There’s plenty of cafes here where you can smoke a joint during the day and a world famous red light district to explore after hours. Amsterdam, the capital, is home to the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and the house where Jewish diarist Anne Frank hid during WWII. The Netherlands museums are a haven for art lovers and loaded with works by Rembrandt, Vermeer and many other prominent names from the 17th century “Golden Age.” Not to mention the endless tulip fields, great cycling routes, windmills and canals.
NETHERLANDS TOP 5 THINGS TO DO
Tour Amsterdam’s Canals
Just like many other cities that are situated on the water, Amsterdam also has a great canal system. These beautiful waterways are a popular tourist attraction, and these tranquil routes can be explored via a water taxi or a boat tour which will take you to all the must-see places. Alternatively wander along the banks by foot or do as the Dutch do and ride a bike.
See what life in Holland in the 17th and 18th centuries was like by visiting the Zaanse Schans. See 5 working windmills (there were once 600), Dutch cheese being produced, watch a clog maker and more. To get this perfectly preserved glimpse into the Netherlands’ industrial past take a 30 minute bus ride from Amsterdam’s Central Station to this open-air museum which is located in the north of Amsterdam around 15 kilometers from the main city.
Hoge Veluwe National Park
Hoge Veluwe National Park (Nationaal Park De Hoge Veluwe) is one of the largest continuous nature reserves in Holland and one of the most popular attractions in the Netherlands. It’s located 8 km north of Arnhem in the province of Gelderland also near the cities of Ede, Wageningen and Apeldoorn. It is approximately 55 square kilometers in area, consisting of heathlands, sand dunes, and woodlands. Check out the Sculpture Park, and watch out for roe and red deer.
The Village of Marken
Marken is a very pretty village in the municipality of Waterland in the province of North Holland. Its famous for its characteristic colorful wooden houses and fishing boats: the main tourist attraction here. There is a direct bus connection from Amsterdam Central Station to Marken all year round and it’ll only take 45 minutes to get here.
The Windmills of Kinderdijk
See 19 monumental windmills in the Alblasserwaard polder, in the province of South Holland. Located between Dordrecht and Rotterdam on the river Noord lies the village of Kinderdijk. Admire these iconic Netherlands windmills that date back to the 18th century. The 19 windmills, constructed between 1722 to 1761 are the most extensive collection of windmills in the Netherlands. The windmills can be seen spinning in all their glory from April to October so this is the best time to visit.
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NETHERLANDS TOP 3 FESTIVALS
Mardi Gras, Maastricht
The town of Maastricht is where one of the liveliest and the biggest carnivals in Europe takes place. From 10th to 13th February every year the ‘Prince of fools’ and his group lead the celebrations. Several Dutch cities host the carnival where you can see colorful street celebrations, dress in wacky costumes and watch the grand parade!.
King’s Day, Amsterdam
Renowned for being one of the biggest and most colorful festivities in the Netherlands, and especially so in Amsterdam. Amsterdam’s famous King’s Day carnival is held on 27 April and sees over a million people spill into the streets and onto the canals to paint the town orange at one of the world’s biggest street parties.
This is a day to remember all of the people who lost their lives in the War of Peace keeping Mission post-outbreak of WWII. It takes place at the Dam Square in Amsterdam and is attended by the government and members of the Royal Family. The flags around Dam Square and in the rest of the Netherlands fly at half mast from 18:00 to sunset on Remembrance Day. The first Remembrance Day was held on Amsterdam’s Dam Square in 1945, according to some sources, while others claim that it was observed for the first time on May 4, 1946. On the following day, May 5, the country celebrates Liberation Day.
Language: The official languages of the Netherlands are Dutch, Papiamento, English, and Frisian. English is widely spoken by a large majority of the Dutch.
Visa: Visiting the Netherlands will usually require a valid passport and visa for any travelers that are not from the European Union. Use these free online visa checker and calculator tools so you know if a visa for the Netherlands is required, which will depend on the country you are from, and if so, how long it will take to process your visa and the cost.
Electricity: In the Netherlands the standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. You can use your electric appliances in the Netherlands, if the standard voltage in your country is between 220 – 240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa). Buy a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each new country you visit.
Lonely Planet Netherlands: Check price on Amazon
WHAT TO EAT
The Netherlands although not famous for its cuisine, has a few culinary surprises up its sleeve. Prepare to drool!
Stroopwafels: A wafer cookie made from two thin layers of baked dough joined by a caramel filling. The first stroopwafel was made in the Dutch city of Gouda. Stroopwafels are popular throughout the Netherlands and are now one of the most famous Dutch snacks.
Kroket: The Dutch kroket was introduced during the Dutch colonial rule. Is typically cylindrical in shape, filled with a meat ragout (usually beef, beef broth, flour, butter or margarine, onions) and very crispy and crunchy on the outside, soft and smooth inside, with chunks or strands of meat.
Poffertjes: Poffertjes are a traditional Dutch batter treat, they are often sold from street stalls in Amsterdam and are baked in a special poffertjes pan, which has about a dozen or so tiny indentations. Typically, poffertjes are a sweet treat, served with powdered sugar and butter, and sometimes syrup or advocaat. They are small, fluffy pancakes, they are made with yeast and buckwheat flour.
Patat: This is a Dutch version of French Fries which are a bit thicker than the regular fries. The Dutch prefer to eat their fries with a lot of toppings like mayonnaise, peanut sauce, and raw onion. The result is that patats taste way better than they look!
Bitterballen: A Dutch meat-based very popular snack that can be found in most cafés and bars. These meatballs are savory and deep fried and are served with mustard. The outer coating is crispy with a soft interior made of beef, butter, flour and spices.
WHERE TO STAY
The Netherlands is a reasonably affordable place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in the Netherlands is super easy because there’s so many options whatever your budget.
Hostels and dormitories make travel to the Netherlands affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget. Whether you’re a backpacker, flash-packer or a luxury vacationer, the Netherlands will not disappoint you.
A basic hotel room in the Netherlands can cost less than 100 euros. If you’re looking for accommodation that includes luxury amenities and comforts then there will be endless options to choose from in the big cities and popular tourist hotspots like Amsterdam.
Whatever month you choose to visit the Netherlands, it’s wise to book your accommodation in advance. Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best places to stay have been snapped up already. The Netherlands is an extremely popular year-round destination with business travelers and backpackers.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in the Netherlands. However, if you are backpacking in the Netherlands or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in the Netherlands very affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies where ever you go.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
BEST TIME TO VISIT THE NETHERLANDS
The best time to visit the Netherlands is in May and June or September and October when the weather is reliably sunny. It is also less crowded at these times than the summer months of July and August which are high season and can be very hot, more expensive and extremely crowded, especially during the afternoons.
THE NETHERLANDS TRAVEL BUDGET
The Netherlands is generally an affordable destination for travelers on all budgets. The cost of your trip to the Netherlands really depends on the level of comfort you want. If you are backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between 50 to 100 euros per day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between 100 to 250 euros per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants then budget at least 250 to 500+ euros per day.
IS THE NETHERLANDS SAFE FOR FEMALE TRAVELERS?
Safety does not need to be a huge concern for women travelers in the Netherlands which is considered a generally very safe country to visit. As with any country you visit, always be extra careful when walking alone or at night. Some parts of the Netherlands aren’t as safe as other areas so do your research before you go and avoid these places. Based on many years of travel in Europe I would never leave home without insurance and recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks before your Netherlands trip.
NETHERLANDS VISA CHECKER
NETHERLANDS FLIGHT DEALS
NETHERLANDS TOURS & ACTIVITIES
NETHERLANDS PACKING TIPS
Packing for a trip to the Netherlands, like most other places in Europe, is a breeze. You really don’t need as much travel gear as you may think for a trip to the Netherlands.
That said, the gear you do bring on your trip should be the very best option available for you and that doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Jetset Bunnies around the globe are always discovering the latest and the greatest in travel gear for women and this is where we share our awesome finds with you.
If you’re visiting the Netherlands during the warmer months it will be much easier to travel light. Pack mainly lightweight and breathable clothing but still be prepared for cold mornings and evenings depending on the month you visit. You’ll need to wrap up warm between November and February. So pack a warm sweater, waterproof coat, gloves, scarves and a wooly hat if you’re traveling during winter.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to the Netherlands include, most importantly, a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Read our related blog post with advice on how to choose the best backpacks for women travelers. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
So if you’ve found your travel inspiration, figured out the practicalities and got the travel gear it’s time to stuff it all in a bag and go right? Well, no, hold your horses, you see there’s an art to packing which we have (almost) perfected. Hop to our Travel Packing Tips for all of the latest on this topic.