The Netherlands is a country filled with vibrant culture, picturesque landscapes, and stunning architecture. From bustling cities to the tranquil countryside, there’s something for everyone in this enchanting land of windmills and tulips. In this article, we’ll guide you through the must-visit destinations, where to stay, what to do, where to eat and drink, how to travel around using public transport, and when to visit.
The Netherlands, or Holland, is a small yet prosperous country in northwestern Europe. The country has a rich history, with the first human settlements dating back to the Neolithic era. Over time, the region was ruled by various European powers, including Spain and France, before gaining independence in the 16th century.
During the Golden Age of the 17th century, the Netherlands became a centre of international trade, with Amsterdam as its hub. The Dutch East India Company was one of the world’s first multinational corporations, and its trading ships brought spices, tea, and other goods from around the world.
The Netherlands played a significant role in the world’s cultural and intellectual history, with renowned artists like Rembrandt and Van Gogh and groundbreaking philosophers like Spinoza. Today, the country remains a hub of innovation and creativity, with a thriving tech industry and a lively arts scene.
Where to stay
The Netherlands has various accommodation options to suit every budget and taste. You’ll find something to suit your needs, from luxurious five-star hotels to cosy bed and breakfasts. In Amsterdam, the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam is a top choice for luxury travellers. Housed in six historic canal palaces, the hotel combines old-world charm with modern amenities.
The CitizenM Amsterdam is a stylish and comfortable hotel with a central location for a more affordable option. The rooms are compact but well-designed, with free Wi-Fi and various tech amenities.
The Netherlands has various unique accommodation options outside of Amsterdam, including houseboats, windmills, and farm stays. The Vrouwehuisje Bed & Breakfast in the charming town of Oirschot is a cosy and romantic option for couples. The bed and breakfast is located in a historic house from the 1600s and features antique furnishings and a lovely garden.
What to do
The Netherlands has a rich cultural heritage and diverse tourist attractions. Here are some of the top things to do:
- Visit the Rijksmuseum: One of the world’s finest art museums, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam features an extensive collection of Dutch masterpieces, including works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh.
- Explore the canals of Amsterdam: The city’s canals are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offer a unique perspective on Amsterdam‘s historic architecture and charming neighbourhoods.
- See the tulips in Keukenhof: The Keukenhof Gardens are a must-visit destination for flower lovers. The gardens are filled with over seven million tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths each spring.
- Discover the windmills of Kinderdijk: The Kinderdijk windmills are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offer a glimpse into the country’s traditional way of life. The 19 windmills were built in the 18th century to help control flooding and are still used today.
- Visit the Van Gogh Museum: The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is dedicated to the life and works of the Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh. The museum features the most extensive collection of Van Gogh’s paintings worldwide.
Food & Drink
The Netherlands is known for its hearty and delicious cuisine, which features a variety of meat dishes, seafood, and cheeses. Here are some of the top restaurants and bars to try:
- De Kas: Located in a stunning greenhouse in Amsterdam, De Kas serves innovative, farm-to-table cuisine. The restaurant uses produce grown in its garden to create fresh and delicious dishes.
- Brouwerij ‘t IJ: This brewery in Amsterdam is a must-visit for beer lovers. The brewery produces a range of delicious, artisanal beers that can be enjoyed on-site or taken home in a growler.
- Café Loetje: This popular chain of restaurants serves up some of the best steaks in the country. The menu is simple but delicious, with a range of perfectly cooked meat dishes.
- Café Americain: Located in the iconic American Hotel in Amsterdam, Café Americain is a grand café serving classic European cuisine. The café has a beautiful Art Deco interior and a terrace overlooking Leidseplein.
- Gouda Cheese Market: Gouda is famous for its delicious cheese and is a must-visit destination for foodies. The market takes place every Thursday from April to August and features a range of cheese stalls, demonstrations, and tastings.
How to get around
The Netherlands has an extensive public transport system, including trains, buses, and trams. The country’s rail network is extensive and efficient, with trains running between significant cities every 30 minutes or less. The NS Dutch Railways website provides schedules and ticket prices for trains nationwide.
Buses and trams are good options for getting around within cities. Many cities, including Amsterdam and Rotterdam, have an extensive tram network that covers the city centre and surrounding neighbourhoods. Buses are also suitable for travelling to more remote areas or smaller towns.
When to visit
The best time to visit the Netherlands depends on what you want to see and do. Spring is a popular time to visit, as the tulips are in bloom and the weather is mild. However, summer is also an excellent time to visit, as the weather is warm and there are many outdoor festivals and events.
Fall is a great time to visit for those who want to experience the changing colours of the countryside and enjoy a quieter, more peaceful trip. Winter is also an excellent time to visit for those who want to share the country’s Christmas markets and winter sports.
The Netherlands is a beautiful and vibrant country with a rich cultural heritage and diverse tourist attractions. So whether you’re looking to explore the historic canals of Amsterdam, sample delicious Dutch cuisine, or experience the country’s natural beauty, there’s something for everyone in this enchanting land. The Netherlands is the perfect destination for a European vacation, with various accommodation options, excellent public transport, and a friendly and welcoming culture.
Main image: Landscape with tulips in Zaanse Schans, Netherlands, Europe By Olena Zn, Adobe Stock