This Netherlands Travel Guide aims to provide simple and hassle-free travel planning information and ideas for planning a trip to The Netherlands.
The Netherlands is a tiny country in Western Europe that shares borders with Belgium to the south, Germany to the east, and the North Sea to the north and west. The country has one of the most level landscapes in the world, with about 20% of it falling below sea level. With such a small land mass for such a big nation, water abounds in The Netherlands, which is criss-crossed by canals and rivers as well as a lengthy coast.
The climate of the Netherlands is moderate. The months of May through October are warm, with summer days extending later and becoming warmer. There are longer and sunnier days in spring and summer, when temperatures may range from 30°C to 25°C for a few hours during the day. Winters can be extremely chilly, with Arctic winds from the North Pole bringing icy air, snow sometimes in January, and temperatures plummeting to -5°c on rare occasions.
Best Time to Visit
You can come to the Netherlands any time of year and have a delightful experience, so it really just depends on what kinds of activities you want to do while you’re here. From June until September (summer), there are lots more sunshine hours and longer days, which means plenty of opportunity for daytime exploring. However, this is also a prime tourist season so some popular attractions might be crowded and Amsterdam could feel busy.
In winter, from November to March (when it’s cold), the days are considerably colder and may be short. Late November into December is a popular time due to the festive season, which includes Christmas Markets and festivals all over the country. Spring is another popular time to visit The Netherlands, when the country’s famed tulip fields are in full bloom and putting on a spectacular show.
No matter where you’re traveling, it’s always a good idea to have a mix of cash and bank/credit cards with you. That goes for The Netherlands as well.
There are many cashpoints (ATM’s) conveniently located throughout The Netherlands in all major cities. In addition, credit cards are widely accepted as a form of payment, although some smaller establishments may only accept cash.
Getting to The Netherlands from surrounding European countries is simple, quick and cheap by bus or train. The Netherlands is also well-connected by air, with flights arriving from all across Europe and the United Kingdom as well as various parts of the United States, Middle East, and Asia. A flight from London to Amsterdam will take around an hour, while a flight from New York to Amsterdam takes roughly seven hours.
The Netherlands, being a small country, is easy to get around and relatively inexpensive.
It’s possible to reach virtually any part of Europe by train, and The Netherlands is no exception. The numerous rail connections throughout Europe ensure that getting around the country as well as to/from other European countries is both quick and inexpensive. Most major cities are linked to one another, and most minor regions are connected to at least one or two of those major cities.
There are two classes of trains, 1st and 2nd class. The main difference between the two is that 1st class offers slightly more leg space and room to move around.
Most trains do not require a seat reservation in advance, but a few (mostly high-speed intercity trains) may require one. This can be done at any train station or online through a ticketing agent in your home country. Here are a few recommended agents depending on where you are from:
- Rail Europe is the perfect way to travel for residents in USA, Canada & Mexico.
- Customers in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Europe and other select areas of the globe should call British Airways Travel. Residents of many countries can purchase tickets on American Airlines via Rail Europe for travel to and from Sydney.
Eurolines provide bus services across the country and are a cost-effective option to train travel, but they will take longer to get from A to B.
Because the Netherlands is a small country, driving oneself around is quite simple. The highways are excellent, and traffic delays are unheard of except during peak commute hours in the major cities.
If you have a green card, then you’re allowed to bring your car over from another EU country. Although an international drivers permit isn’t required if you’re only staying for a short while, it’s recommended that you get one if you’ll be in the country for an extended period of time.
Most airports and cities provide you the option of picking up and dropping off your hire car in a different city, which makes sense if you’re traveling across the country by road.
The Dutch have excellent road infrastructure and well-marked streets. The country’s roads are kept in excellent condition and readily accessible due to the presence of signage. Remember that weather conditions can alter suddenly during the winter months. Make sure you follow all directions carefully when driving on ice.
Where to Stay
The Netherlands provides endless accommodation options to make everyone’s stay comfortable. Some accommodations you’ll find are:
- Camping – Around the country, there are a variety of parks and campgrounds conveniently accessible by car. Many of the main cities have campsites located in remote areas with excellent transportation connections into town.
- Hostels – In The Netherlands, hostels are available in almost every city and one or two in most other areas. The Netherlands and similar countries of Europe have exceptionally high standards of cleanliness, so you can expect your room and communal bathroom to be spotless.
- B&B’s/Pensions – Small family-owned B&B or pension providers can be found all around the country in big cities, small towns, and well-known rural areas. Accommodation is basic yet comfortable, and the atmosphere is generally pleasant.
- Hotels/Apartments – Chain hotel/apartment brands and independent hotel/apartments are both widely available in cities across the United States. The benefit of this type of accommodation is that you usually know what to expect—a clean, comfortable, and modern room with decent amenities inside the room and on the property. Apartments tend to be better for longer stays since they offer more space and the ability to cook your own meals.
- Luxury Hotels & Resorts – For those of you who enjoy a luxurious lifestyle, the Netherlands has plenty of 5-star properties to choose from. These places will guarantee excellent service and topnotch locations, sometimes with breathtaking views of the surrounding area.
The Netherlands has a wide range of cuisine to choose from, catering to various budgets and preferences. You’ll find a variety of restaurants and cafés serving local, European, and international foods as a result of the nation’s multinational population.
- Supermarkets/Markets – With an eye for detail and a creative flair, you’ll have your bathroom in no time. If you only have time to finish one wall, go horizontal instead of vertical! The beauty of this application is that it may also be used on traditional brick walls. Save money by preparing meals at home rather than eating out every night or purchasing pre-prepared meals at supermarkets and local markets.
- Fast Food / Take-away – KFC, Burger King, Wendy’s—these are only some of the chain restaurants with locations all over America. In addition to being in large cities, you can also find these fast food places in more rural areas. If you want an inexpensive yet healthy fast food meal, look for where the locals go to eat—usually small meals from street carts or vendor booths by the side of the road. Frites (hot chips with mayonnaise on top) are a popular street snack that you’ll see stalls selling everywhere.
- Cafes – You’ll discover cafés on every corner, and you can choose to sit down or take away from them.
- Restaurants – The Netherlands has a wealth of local ingredients, so the food you receive in restaurants will almost certainly be fresh. Mussels and fish from the country’s North Sea are popular on many meals. Locally bred pheasant, rabbit, venison, beef and lamb are also consumed frequently in Dutch cooking.
- Fine Dining – If you’re looking for excellent eating experiences, the Netherlands has plenty of them. If you want to experience fine dining, you won’t be disappointed.