Traveling through the
Kingdom of the Netherlands
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is known for many things: tulips, stroopwafels, unapologetically direct communication and bicycles – hordes of them, everywhere! More than 60% of the population is living 5 meters below sea level, yet somehow they are the 6th happiest country in the world. Traveling around the Netherlands is something else.
At the very top of Western Europe, just below Scandinavia lies the Netherlands. A kingdom whose territory is in fact submerged for one-third under water. Thanks to an ingenious system of pumps, dams, dikes and sand dunes the land was reclaimed over the years and is now home to roughly 17 million inhabitants.
The Netherlands has cultivated a strong image as a beacon of liberalism and tolerance. It was in fact one of the first countries to legalize LGBT marriages (in 2001) and the personal use of recreational drugs has been decriminalized (as is clear from the abundance of coffee shops dotted around the country).
In the streets, you will hear Dutch spoken, and the population will refer to themselves as being “Dutch”. One’s mind is spoken clearly, which to a non-native might come across as a bit rude. Fear not, no offense was meant this is simply a cultural quirk.
Holland vs. Netherlands
There are 12 provinces in the Netherlands two of which are respectively North – and South Holland. The Netherlands, therefore, is not Holland, though it is often referred to as such colloquially both by locals and tourists. Within the provinces of North- and South Holland lie the three largest cities of the Netherlands: Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague.
Traveling in the Netherlands
Travel in the Netherlands is relatively easy thanks to the well-developed highways and the small size of the territory. From the very northern part of the country (Friesland or the Frisian Islands) to the capital Amsterdam takes around 1h44 minutes by car, add another two hours on to that and you are already at the border with Belgium.
Public transport covers the majority of the country. Amsterdam is easily reachable from France (Paris) or Belgium (Brussels, Antwerp) via high-speed train (Thalys). Getting around the Netherlands can also easily be done by train. Use Amsterdam as a basis and explore around Amsterdam or take weekend trips from Amsterdam using the train.
There are a few airports in the Netherlands: Amsterdam Schiphol, Maastricht, Rotterdam, Groningen, and Eindhoven. The first being the largest of the country. Direct high-speed trains run between Belgium and Amsterdam Schiphol.
Tulip fields in the Netherlands
One of the things the Netherlands is famous for is its flowers, in particular the beautiful array of tulips. Fields of tulips grow in abundance throughout the Netherlands during late spring (End of March to mid-May) creating seas of bright multicolored patches as far as the eye can see.
The tulip fields around Lisse (South-Holland province) have become quite a sensation these last years, with flocks of tourists and hungry photographers descending down in droves. Lesser known are the tulip fields in Flevoland and Noordwijkerhout (near Leiden).
Places to visit in the Netherlands
Key facts about the Netherlands
|Dutch, West Frisian|
|UTC+1 / UTC+2|
|Right side of the road|
Practical information for visiting the Netherlands
HOW TO GET THERE
Fly: Amsterdam Schiphol, Eindhoven, Rotterdam, Groningen, Maastricht.
Train: Take the high speed train from France or Belgium.
Find a list of comfortable accomodations ranging from local guesthouses to luxury hotels.
Average Daily Budget: $85
Meals $20 a person; hotel accomodations $35- $100; activities (museums) $30
WHEN TO GO
Spring (Mid April – Mid May)
is the best time to visit the flower fields dotted around the country. This season does tend to get a fair amount of rain!
Depending on the country of origin visitors can stay for up to 90 days; costs depending on the country of origin
TOURS & ACTIVITIES
Romantic cruises on the canals, tasting tours with locals, bike tours or a guided tour through the tulip fields, there is plenty to do.
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Blogposts on the Netherlands
How to get around Amsterdam: Guide to Amsterdam Public Transportation
16 Most beautiful castles in the Netherlands
Castles near Amsterdam: 16 Dutch castles to visit
Things to do in Flevoland, Netherlands
Frisian Islands Netherlands: A guide for the adventurous
17 Places to visit near Amsterdam by train
15 weekend trips from Amsterdam reachable by train
Explore these 15 weekend trips from Amsterdam that can be easily done without a car. See more of what the Netherlands has to offer!
Things to do in Friesland & the West Frisian Islands
Perched at the very top of the Netherlands lies a province that has its own language, culture, and history dating back many centuries. It is surrounded by a host of little islands, some of which can be reached from the shore by wading through the sand. Find out everything there is to do in Friesland and how to walk to the West Frisian Islands!