Never-ending Netherlands: Everything You Need to Know Before You Go
When you think of traveling to the Netherlands you might immediately think about their world-famous tulips, museums or maybe even the red light district. There is so much more to this beautiful country that most people never get to experience.
In this article, we’ll cover what you absolutely need to know before you plan your trip to this country of the north. Everything from the most obscure attractions to the best food you can find — we’ll cover it.
Before we get into WHAT to do while there, let’s touch on WHY should you go to the Netherlands!
A Melting Pot of Cultures
Amsterdam is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world and you’ll find people here from all continents of the globe. Though Dutch is the official language of the Netherlands, a majority of the Amsterdam residents speak English. This makes travelling there that much easier!
Art Lovers’ Paradise
Art lovers take note! Amsterdam is well known for its heritage and architectural history. It is home to the well known Museum Square of Amsterdam. The square houses the world’s best museums and galleries containing over 200 paintings and art pieces. Oh, and did you know that the great impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh was born in the Netherlands? You’ll find around 500 of his drawings in the city. This, by the way, is the largest collection of the artist’s work in the world.
The City of Festivals
No matter what time of the year you visit Amsterdam, there is always a celebration of the best that life can offer such as dance, music, food, and art. The highlight is the King’s Day which is celebrated April 27th. During this celebration, Amsterdam is colored orange and more than half a million people descend on the city and party the night away!
Let’s not forget the Canals and Bridges
Amsterdam is known for its beautiful canals and bridges. It has more than one kilometer of canals, about 90 islands, and 1,500 bridges (Yes. 1,500!). In fact, Amsterdam’s waterways are the real source of its country’s wealth. Each canal containing historic and interesting sights which travelers can visit. Amsterdam’s canal cruise is the most popular traveler attraction in the country. With over 200 boats available, it’s the easiest way to experience the canals, learn about important points of interest, and relax from a day of traveling.
Nothing beats the Nightlife in Amsterdam
Once the day is over, the city transforms. Amsterdam’s streets and squares get busy with its nightlife. At the heart of the city, you’ll find cultural and music centers that offer varied forms of entertainment for both the young and the young at heart — clubs, cafes, eateries, and discotheques. This is a city where people like to go out at night and make the most of it!
The Awe-inspiring Architecture
Amsterdam is a thousand-year-old city and it is blessed with an impressive range of modern architecture. Amsterdam fuses a charming mix of architectural styles due to constant urban developments and beautifully built buildings can be seen throughout the city. You’ll have to visit to see for yourself!
The Lip Smacking Food
You will discover that the delicacies in Amsterdam are second to none. You will find a lot of great restaurants that provide cuisines from around the world ranging from Asian to Middle Eastern to local Dutch flavors. People absolutely go crazy for Amsterdam’s street food! Dutch delicacies you MUST try are Bitterballen, Stroopwafel, Raw herring, Kibbeling, Croquettes, and Oliebollen.
Now that you know why you must absolutely NEVER miss out on visiting, you need to know, when’s the best time for you to go?
When Should You Go?
Without a doubt, the Netherlands is a country whose beauty can quickly change with the seasons. From warm summers to scenic winters, we all have varying preferences on ideal weather conditions.
However, there are just certain times of the year where the country boasts sights and sounds you can’t find anywhere else. If you haven’t booked your flight yet, consider booking your travels for these following dates:
From the End of November to Mid-January:
Get to Amsterdam during these dates and you’ll make it in time for the Amsterdam Light Festival — Deep into the calm winter is a colorful display of city lights.
Each year, there are different themes so there’s always something new everytime you visit. Created by artists in public spaces either on foot, by bicycle or by canal boat, you’ll see a sight to truly behold.
Christmas to New Year: Do you remember the first time you’ve seen a snow globe? That’s exactly how spending the holidays in the Netherlands looks like. With little Christmas shops and spectacular lights, you’ll feel like you’re walking on a winter wonderland.
Amsterdam Orange Festival: In celebration of the Queen’s birthday, the entire city of Amsterdam becomes covered in orange. Why orange? Because it’s the color of Dutch Royalty for many generations. You can read more about it here.
Whole Month of April to May: When you think Tulips, you think Holland. But, the Netherlands has so much more to offer than just Tulips. In fact, this country is responsible for about 80% of the world’s flower trade comes from the Netherlands.
When you visit during these months, you’ll see acres full of brightly colored flowers. You can never go wrong by visiting this time of the year.
Since you now know when your next visit will be, let’s go deeper into your itinerary.
Best Way to Get Out of the Airport
Although the Netherlands is the most bike-friendly city in the world, we don’t necessarily recommend you hop in a bike from the airport and just cycle your way to the city. Unless you’re training for an Ironman, the two best options for transport is the City Train and the Trams.
The City train will take you straight into the center of the city while the Trams will take you around the perimeter of the city. So, depending on where your stay will be, choose accordingly.
What to Add to Your Itinerary
Keukenhof AKA The Largest Flower Garden in the World
If you love flowers, especially during the tulip season, you must go to this art garden filled with different patterns and colors. A part of Holland is transformed into a vast sea of flowers from mid-March to mid-May. From daffodils to hyacinths, you can’t help but fall in love.
This is the place that makes Amsterdam what it is. You should definitely join the Canal Tour – 3 to 4 hours – and enjoy the postcard view of Amsterdam in real life.
Who’s to say that traveling to the Netherlands is nothing more than sight-seeing? There are tons of extreme adventures to try. Check out the Zipline or abseil down Euromast, Rotterdam to see magnificent views, or perhaps try mudflat hiking in Friesland – rather peculiar sport developed in a region called wadlopen. Lastly, you can go mountain biking in the Hoge Veluwe to see jaw-dropping birdseye views of the city.
With its rich history and its unique blend of cultures, you’re always only a few museum visits away from discovering new interesting things about this elusive country. Topping the must-go list of museums is the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum.
This city was bombed heavily during world war II and was left completely ruined until it was rebuilt from scratch by the world’s most famous architects. It’s home to the most out-of-this-world structural designs like the Cube House, Euromast and the Erasmusburg Bridge.
Want an experience that is a little bit more on the eccentric side? There’s plenty of odd but fascinating thrills for you to check out:
Other Unusual Places to Go
- Micropia – If you are fascinated by the world around us that we don’t see with the naked eye, you need to check out the world’s first zoo for microbes.
- Museum Vrolik – Like something out of P.T Barnum’s famous circus, this museum shows a curious collection dedicated to human and animal anatomical mutations.
- Nieuwe Spiegelstraat – Wanna know what old apothecary tools look like? Check out this street lined with antique shops each one dedicated to a different obscure collection
- In’t Aepjen – Can you imagine casually going to a bar, and instead of paying with cash, you pay with your dog? Something similar happened to this historic Amsterdam bar. They used to accept sailor’s monkeys as payment.
- The House with The Blood Stains – Enjoy watching crime shows and movies? You can visit this former home of a mad diplomat is said to still be marked in bloody, arcane scrawls. Freaky.
- Oudemanhuispoort – Book lovers rejoice! There’s an ancient passage filled with stalls selling used books, once frequented by Vincent Van Gogh himself. Spend your afternoon stroll getting lost in books.
After visiting all of those places, you’ll most probably work yourself up an appetite. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are the MUST-try food places and dishes that are best experienced in the Netherlands:
Where to Eat
Some of our gastronomical discoveries you should not miss:
Balthazar’s Keuken: a small and crowded restaurant located in a former blacksmith’s workshop in the heart of the Jordaan.
Marius: a small restaurant with a provincial style decor and located somewhat off the beaten path.
Wilde Zwijnen: Translated, means wild boars. It’s the new star rising in Amsterdam Oost, a still rough on the edges but up and coming neighborhood attracting a young adventurous crowd.
Weird Places: In the mood for flavors that are more bizarre? Try the Pataje Oorlong – AKA the war fries known for its spice. Or perhaps try some Tulip Vodka – the country’s unique twist to the popular beverage.
What to Eat:
- A Dutch-Surinamese “broodje bakeljauw” which is a bun with sliced cucumbers and shredded and spiced stockfish
- Gouda Cheese – Gouda is a very popular Dutch cheese named after one of their cities…Gouda!
- Dutch Raw Herring – In Amsterdam, fish stands sell raw herring, a soused raw fish with a strong taste. Dutch raw herring is hugely popular in Amsterdam. You’ll find it on the streets
- Indonesian-Dutch Fusion – It may come as a surprise, but Indonesian Food is popular in the Netherlands. This is because of the Dutch settlement in Indonesia back in the 16th century. When the Dutch returned, they brought back with them Indonesian spices and flavors. You can read more about it here.
Never-ending culture, never-ending majestic views, and never-ending discoveries. You can absolutely never go wrong with choosing the Netherlands as your next travel destination. Distinct and alluring, it lives up to its tourism slogan for being ‘the original cool.’
We hope you found this article useful. If you’re like us and love to travel, check out where we’re heading to next!