The Netherlands is a country where the natural beauty is almost entirely man-made - from its fields filled with carefully cultivated flowers to its pretty canals, its windmills, its charming cobbled city streets and the artistic and architectural wonders they contain.
Nestled on the North Sea coast between Belgium and Germany, the Netherlands (or Holland as it’s equally often called) is a prosperous, cosmopolitan country that shares maritime borders with France and the United Kingdom.
Without question, the biggest draw of holidays to the Netherlands is the capital, Amsterdam. Spend time discovering this historic city, one of Europe’s most picturesque urban centres, where the canals, lined by crow-stepped gable houses, are crossed by innumerable bridges. Watch everyday life unfold in one of the city’s welcoming cafés or bars, marvel at the art works in its great museums and galleries or perhaps go for a canal cruise, one of the best ways to see the sights and get to know the city.
Holland is also known as the home of some of the world’s most renowned artists. Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Vermeer, Bruegel and Hieronymus Bosch were all born here, and the Netherlands remains a vibrant hub of art and innovative architecture. You’ll find notable (and more than a few priceless) examples of classical and contemporary art at the country’s impressive museums, such as the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum, where Rembrandt’s famous ‘Night Watch’ is the most celebrated of the impressive exhibits.
And while it’s narrow, elegant waterside townhouses that most immediately spring to mind when thinking of Dutch architecture, the Netherlands is actually home to some startling, fascinating modern buildings. You’ll find some of the most innovative examples in Rotterdam, where cutting-edge designs give this city a lively, modern character - from the rows of cube houses near Blaak metro station to the vast modern 'harp' of the Erasmus Bridge and the remarkable Markthal food market and Cube houses of Overblaak Street.
In contrast to the cities, the Dutch countryside is a place of gentle charms. Enjoy the fun-loving air of picturesque seaside resorts like Scheveningen, meander along the paths and waterways of the Keukenhof, where millions of flowers carpet the ground in a breath-taking horticultural display, or perhaps stroll through the windmill-dotted landscape of on the shores of the Zuider Zee.
The Netherlands may be small, but it has plenty to offer, so take a holiday to Holland with Newmarket Holidays and discover the beauty and charm of every corner you visit.
Things to see and places to visit on your escorted tour of Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is a picturesque city of Golden Age canals, cobbled streets lined with narrow, gabled houses and world-class art museums making it one of Europe’s best destinations for a city break.
With its museums, villages, parks and cities, concert halls, bars and network of waterways, Holland has a huge range of activities to offer. Here are our top recommendations for things to do on your holiday in the Netherlands.
Dutch cuisine is often simple and straightforward, with most dishes traditionally consisting more of seasonal vegetables than meat.
Southern Dutch cuisine is famous for its various rich pastries, soups, stews and vegetable dishes. Northern cuisine is known for dried sausages while the western Netherlands is known for its many dairy products, which include prominent cheeses such as Gouda and Edam.
Tourists may turn in particular to pancakes with a million different sweet or savoury toppings, in Amsterdam and other Dutch cities, but for locals, Kibbeling is much more a famous snack. These deep-fried chunks of battered fish have much in common with British fish and chips but are served with a mayonnaise-based garlic sauce or tartar sauce. Other traditional snacks include meaty, bite-size Bitterballen, and Frikanddellen (a sort of skinless hot-dog sausage, served split lengthways and served ‘special’ with mayonnaise, curry ketchup and raw onion). For a heartier traditional meal, try stamppot, a delicious, filling dish of mashed potatoes and other vegetables that’s usually topped with a smoked sausage.
Dutch pastries and cookies are world-famous. No visit to Holland is complete without trying stroopwafel, the most famous pastry in the country. You can buy stroopwafels in most if not every supermarket, but they’re best enjoyed in one of the many cases where you can set them atop a steaming cup of coffee to soften the syrup inside. If you prefer something much fluffier, try poffertjes – a deliciously Dutch delight. Served with powdered sugar and butter, you can get these from food stands.
First holiday to the Netherlands? Here are a few questions you might have.
Yes and no. The country’s official name is the King of the Netherlands, which is simply shortened to the Netherlands and encompasses all 12 provinces. Technically, Holland only refers to the provinces of North and South Holland; however its typical usage is to describe the entire country.
The Netherlands has a typical maritime climate, consisting of mild summers and cold winters, with rain throughout the year. The driest time of the year tends to be between April and September, with the temperatures at their highest in July, with averages of around 20°C.
Most tourists tend to visit the Netherlands between April and September, when the chance of rain is at its lowest and the temperatures are higher. April and May are particularly good months to visit, when the daffodils and tulips bloom.
The Netherlands is famous for its long, flat coastline, which includes the Hook of Holland, and its picturesque, flat interior, crisscrossed by dykes and dotted with windmills. The Netherlands’ capital city, Amsterdam, is a very popular destination, and is known for its canals, bridges and the Rijksmuseum, which houses some of the Dutch Old Masters’ finest works. The Netherlands are also famous for their flowers: in spring, the daffodils and tulips bloom, and visitors flock to the countryside to catch a glimpse of this picture-perfect scene. Cycling is very popular in the Netherlands, partially due to its largely flat terrain.
In the Netherlands, they use the Euro (EUR). For the latest exchange rates, see www.xe.com. The Netherlands is a relatively expensive country, although it is possible to spend less if you plan carefully.
Dutch food is traditional and relatively straightforward, consisting mainly of vegetables, meat and fish, especially herring. Cheese is also very popular in the Netherlands. A standard dinner in the Netherlands is known as AVG’tje, which means potatoes, meat and vegetables. Beer is very popular in the Netherlands – it is brewed all over the country and can be very strong. The stroopwafel – two layers of baked dough sandwiching a layer of caramel – is a popular sweet treat in the Netherlands.
In the Netherlands, they speak Dutch. English is widely spoken, especially in Amsterdam. Below are a few useful phrases in Dutch:
Hello – hallo
Goodbye – vaarwel
Please – alstublieft
Thank you – dank u
Do you speak English? – spreekt u Engels?
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