The Netherlands (or Holland) may be a small country, but it`s filled with world famous icons. This country is famous for its bulb fileds, windmills, cheese markets, wooden shoes, canals of Amsterdam, masterpieces of Old Masters, Delft Blue earthenware, innovative water management and millions of bicycles. As you explore the Netherlands you`ll find photogenic spots at every nook and cranny, a hipster coffee scene, an up and coming food scene and loads of wonderful museums. While its most well-known city is Amsterdam, there are plenty of other beautiful cities that you will want to explore as well.
No visit to the Netherlands (Holland) is complete without a visit to the capital city, Amsterdam; however, there are so many more thrilling sites to see in the Netherlands. From the beautiful fields of flowers, traditional windmills to historic town centers filled with museums and sights to explore, this country has so much to see and do.
While you are exploring the country make sure to take a visit to Europe`s busiest port, Rotterdam, which is also the most modern city in the Netherlands. Haarlem is another beautiful town located on the river Spaarne,situated just 12 miles from Amsterdam and near the coastal dunes. Then there is the rich Middle Age history of Utrecht which is home of the largest college in the country. Maastricht is located in southern Holland and is home to the impressive sain Servatiur Church, the Saint Jan`s Cathedral, and the old fortification that bring many visitors here. Many annual festivals take place here and it also boasts a bustling town squre with amazing cafes, hip bars and interesting galleries and shops. The Hague is the largest Dutch city on the North Sea, the set of the government and also the place where Queen Beatrix lives. Another picturesque city is the beautiful Leiden where you`ll find tree-lined canals that are marked with old windmills, wooden bridges, and lush parks, you`ll definitely want your camera ready in this town. These are just a few of the towns and cities to visit in the Netherlands that are not to be missed, and most are easily accessible.
The best time to visit weather wise is from mid April to mid October. July and August are the peak months for visitors, when the weather`s at its finest. The weather overall is never severely cold or hot as the temperatures are influenced by the North Sea (the Netherlands has a maritime climate). If you favor off-season travel, you`ll find the country every bit as attractive during these months. Not only are hotels and restaurants cheaper and less crowded, but some very appealing events also take place.
Peak tourist season in the Netherlands runs from April to August and mid-December to early January. What should be remembered is that although the weather is at its best during these months (April - August), the museums especially are extremely busy. If Keukenhof or tulips are a consideration, the time to visit the Netherlands is from mid-April to mid-May when the bulb fields are in full color. No matter when you decide to visit, prepare for rainy weather. Even summer days can be grey and wet, so always bring a coat and umbrella. Overall, there is no worst time to visit Amsterdam; the city truly provides year-round entertainment. Here is an overview of the Netherlands in all four seasons that will help you make a decision on the best time of year for you to visit.. For more information, check out: Best Time to Visit Netherlands.
We recommend 7-10 days based on what you want to see and do. We offer flexible vacation packages so you can select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities. We suggest a minimum of 3 nights in larger cities.
Getting around the Netherlands is rarely a problem: it`a a small country, and the longest journey you`re ever likely to make, say from Amsterdam to Maastricht, takes under three hours by train or car. Furthermore, the public transport system is well organized, a fully integrated network of trains and buses that brings even the smallest of villages within easy reach, and at very reasonable prices too. Train and bus stations are almost always next door to each other, and several of the larger cities also have a tram network.
By Train: The best way of travelling around the Netherlands is by train. The system is largely, though not exclusively, operated by Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS). NS trains are fast, mostly modern, frequent and prompt; fares are relatively low; and the network of lines comprehensive. NS domestic services come in two types: the speedy Intercity for city-to-city connections; and the Stoptrein, (or Sprinter), which operates on local routes and stops pretty much everywhere.
Several other train companies operate long-distance/international, high-speed services across the Netherlands, principally Fyra (www.fyra.com) and Thalys (www.thalys.com), whose services connect Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and ICE trains linking Amsterdam with Utrecht and Arnhem. At larger train stations in the Netherlands, there are separate hi-speed train ticket desks.
By car: For the most part, driving round the Netherlands is pretty much what you would expect: smooth, and fairly easy. The country has a uniformly good road network, with most of the major towns linked by some kind of motorway or dual carriageway, though traffic jams are far from rare. Rules of the road are straightforward: you drive on the right, and speed limits are 50kph in built-up areas, 80kph outside, 120kph on motorways – though some motorways have a speed limit of 100kph, indicated by small yellow signs on the side of the road. Drivers and front-seat passengers are required by law to wear seat belts, and penalties for drunk driving are severe. There are no toll roads, and although fuel is expensive, the short distances mean this isn`t too much of an issue.
Most foreign driving licenses are honored in the Netherlands, including all EU, US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand ones. When renting a car, all the major international car rental agencies are represented in the Netherlands. To rent a car, you’ll have to be 21 or over (and have been driving for at least a year), and you`ll need a credit card - though some local agencies will accept a hefty cash deposit instead.
By Bicycle: One great way to see the Netherlands is to travel by bike (fiets). Cycle-touring can be a short cut into Dutch culture and you can reach parts of the country - its beaches, forests and moorland – that might otherwise be (relatively) inaccessible. The mostly flat landscape makes travelling by bike an almost effortless pursuit, although you can find yourself battling against a headwind or swallowed up in a shoal of cyclists commuting to work.
The short distances involved make it easy to see most of the country with relative ease, using the nationwide system of well-marked cycle paths: a circular blue sign with a white bicycle on it indicates an obligatory cycle lane, separate from car traffic. Red lettering on signposts gives distances for fairly direct routes; lettering in green denotes a more scenic (and lengthy) mosey. Long-distance (LF) routes weave through the cities and countryside, often linking up to local historic loops and scenic trails.
You can rent a bike from most NS train stations for about €7.50 a day, plus a deposit of anywhere between €50 and €150 depending on the model. Most bikes are single-speed, though there are some 3-speeds to be had, and even mountain bikes in the hillier south. You`ll also need some form of ID. The snag is that cycles must be returned to the station from which they were rented, making onward hops by rented bike impossible. Most bike shops (and there are many) rent bicycles out for around the same amount, and they may be more flexible on deposits: some may accept a passport in lieu of cash. In all cases, advance reservations are advised.
Taking your bike on an NS train is allowed and the bike carriages have a clear cycle symbol on the outside. You`ll need to buy a flat-rate ticket (dagkaart fiets; about €6) for your bike, which is valid for the whole day. Space can be limited and because of this you won`t be allowed on with your bike during the morning and evening rush hours (6:30-9am and 5:30-6pm), except in July and August.
Note that in the larger cities in particular, but really anywhere, you should never, ever, leave your bike unlocked, even for a few minutes - bike stealing is a big deal in the Netherlands. Almost all train stations have somewhere you can store your bike safely for less than a euro.
The currency of Netherlands is the Euro. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for euros upon arrival. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city. For more detailed information, consult our guide by clicking here Tipping in Netherlands.
The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch. English may be spoken at your hotel and in the tourist areas, but not everywhere. We suggest you get a good English-Dutch guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.