Discover the Netherlands

This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.

Follow Our Footprints

If you are wondering where to travel to next, Follow Our Footprints through the Netherlands and you will see it is well worth a visit.  Be sure to read through our Netherlands overview and explore our many blogs on various cities and trip itineraries.

Beauty and History of the Netherlands
Follow Our Footprints

The Netherlands is the best place on earth to experience bicycling while on your vacation. You can explore spectacular historic, charming, human-scaled, and romantic towns, cities and neighborhoods – all on your bike at a leisurely pace. No nation has safer and more enjoyable bicycling than the Netherlands.  Much of the countryside you can discover on your bicycle is so charming you will often be overwhelmed.

The Netherlands may be a small country, but it’s packed with world famous icons. Experience the tulip bulb fields, windmills, cheese markets, wooden shoes, canals of Amsterdam, masterpieces of Old Masters, Delft Blue earthenware, innovative water-management, and perhaps most charming and inspiring of all, the millions of bicycles. In bicycle-loving European cities like Amsterdam and The Hague, over three-quarter of all journeys are made by bike. Indeed, because the nation is relatively flat, and boasts a pastoral, colorful, windmill-graced countryside, the Netherlands offers a highly enjoyable, carefree bicycling experience outside its cities. The Netherlands, in other words, is heavenly for bicycling.

The three main canals in Amsterdam (Herengracht, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht), are over 100 kilometers (62 miles) in length, form concentric belts around the city, and explain why Amsterdam is considered ‘Venice of the North.’

If you are daring, don’t miss sampling the RAW herring. The Dutch are also rightly famous for their many delicious cheeses. A great many Dutch villages possess overwhelming romantic charm with their lovely network of lovely, picturesque canals. Perfect and fun for days of enjoyable bicycling and enjoying the many sights. The popular Dutch beers — Heineken, Grolsch and Amstel – exemplify the Dutch skill in brewing beer.

Tulips and Beyond

Follow Our Footprints

If you have never been to the Netherlands, we recommend that you stay a minimum of one in day in Delft, Gronigen, and Utrecht. You will need at least 2 days in Brussels.

Must-See Cities
Follow Our Footprints
The Grand Place, Brussels


Amsterdam is world-famous for its tolerance. Both residents and visitors enjoy the city tolerance for prostitution, as shown by its Red Light District. The city is also tolerant of marijuana, as exemplified by the many “coffee shops” that sell that herb. Amsterdam is also world-famous for “non-sinful” features as well, such as an extensive, highly photogenic and romantic canal system that brings it the reputation of being the “Venice of the North,” as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. The city is also home to beautiful historic buildings, the spectacular rijksmuseum, and the Anne Frank house. Amsterdam is one of the greatest – if not THE greatest – city in the world for the overwhelming number of residents who engage in bicycling, and the quality of the bicycling infrastructure. Amsterdam has more museums per square meter than any other city in the world. The city administration counts 51 museums and it’s not a case of quantity over quality. It’s home to the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum, which are stacked to the rafters with world-class works, and there’s Anne Frank House, once home to the eponymous diarist and her ill-fated family. There are museums dedicated to everything from cats and hemp, to funerals, sex, torture and even pathological specimens. No matter how specialized your interests, Amsterdam might just have the museum for you.

Ghent Belgium


Delft is exceptionally enjoyable on a bicycle – particularly on the wonderful bicycle-friendly cobblestone streets flanking canals in Delft. You will also enjoy biking in the countryside surrounding Delft. This university town is world famous for Delft Blue earthenware, being the birth place of the famous painter Johannes Vermeer, and the Royal House. Windmills, delicious food, delightful architecture, picturesque canals, loads of happy bicyclists. Don’t miss enjoying a stroll in Delft’s many charming streets.

Bruges belgium


Utrecht is much like Delft. Only better. Don’t miss the imposing, impressive Dom Tower in the ancient, delightful, quiet Old Town. The city is known for its quality museums and its gorgeous canals. It’s town center boasts an extremely pleasant car-free pedestrian zone. BBC Travel has called Utrecht the fourth happiest place in the world. Utrecht provides all the big city amenities while still maintaining a pleasant small town vibe. The Berlin-based search engine GoEuro argues that Utrecht is the most beautiful canal-based city, not Venice, Bruges, Amstersdam, or St Petersburg.

Antwerp Square


Maastricht: Quick Summary on What It Is Known For and Why You Should Visit

Maastricht developed from a Roman settlement to a medieval religious center. In the 16th century, it became a garrison town and in the 19th century an early industrial city. Today, the city is a thriving cultural and regional hub. It became well known through the Maastricht Treaty and as the birthplace of the euro. Maastricht has 1677 national heritage buildings, the second-highest number in the Netherlands, after Amsterdam. Maastricht is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network. Maastricht has a well-developed network of historical caves and tunnels. Between the 1500’s and the 1800’s, this network of tunnels and underground passageways was developed to aid during times of siege and for improving the cities defenses. During WWII, many people also took shelter here to avoid bombing raids and conflict. Some networks of the tunnels once stretched for over 230 kilometers and were completely man-made. You can now take many different guided tours of the tunnels and learn about their incredible history.

Essential Infomation

Follow Our Footprints

We’ve compiled a list of essential information you will need while planning your trip and traveling through the Netherlands. If we’ve left anything out that you are uncertain about, just ask us!

When to Travel the Netherlands
Follow Our Footprints

The best weather in the Netherlands is from mid April to mid October. July and August are the peak months for tourist season. The weather overall is never extremely cold or hot, as the temperatures are influenced by the North Sea (the Netherlands has a maritime climate). Most rain falls in the winter, when it can feel damp and chilly. The driest times are between February and May. Although the weather is at its best in the summer, the museums especially are extremely crowded. If Keukenhof or tulip season is of interest, 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. We like to travel to European cities such as the Netherlands during the “shoulder seasons” (the off-peak months such as late fall or spring, when travel and lodging prices are lower and crowds are smaller). Our favorite time of year is late November and early December, as tourist season is at a low ebb, weather in the Netherlands is often sufficiently pleasant at that time, and best of all, we LOVE the festive, romantic ambiance one finds in the Netherlands in December. Be sure to check our Netherlands festival list to experience the fun of being in Belgium during their many enjoyable annual festivals.

The Netherlands has a temperate maritime climate influenced by the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean, with cool summers and moderate winters. Daytime temperatures varies from 2°C to 6°C (36 to 43 degrees F) in the winter and 17°C to 20°C (63 to 68 degrees F) in the summer.

Since the country is small there is little variation in climate from region to region, although the marine influences are less inland. Rainfall is distributed throughout the year with a dryer period from April to September.

Especially in fall and winter, strong Atlantic low-pressure systems can bring gales and uncomfortable weather. Sometimes easterly winds can cause a more continental type of weather, warm and dry in the summer, but cold and clear in the winter with temperatures rather cold. The Netherlands is a flat country and has often breezy conditions, although more in the winter than in the summer, and more among the coastal areas than inland.

Best Lightweight Carry On Luggage


Euro (EUR). Check current exchange rates using google currency converter.

Time Zone

Central European Standard Time (CET)

The Netherlands is in the Central European Standard Time (CET) which means the Netherlands is 6 hours ahead of the state of New York (Eastern Standard Time – EST). When it is 12:00 noon in New York, it is 6:00 pm in the Netherlands.

Electrical Sockets

In the Netherlands the power plugs and sockets are of type C and F. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. We have found multiple electrical outlet types in Europe.

We recommend you pack a universal electrical outlet adaptor so you can use your electronic gadgets wherever you are in Europe.


A standard passport obtained in the US is all you will need for travel to and within the Netherlands. The Netherlands is one of the 26 European countries in the European Schengen Area, which allows visitors from many countries to visit for 90 days without a visa for tourist visits. Just make sure your passport is valid for 6 months past your time of entry!  The countries that are included in this visa exemption are the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, and many countries in Central and South America. You can check the requirements here. Lodging proprietors occasionally ask to photocopy your passport when you arrive at their place, so try to always have your passport in an easy-to-find, secure location.


The Netherlands is a very safe country to travel to. However, like in any other part of the world, in larger cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and there is a heightened risk that you will encounter pickpockets and other forms of petty crime such as bag snatching and bicycle theft. This is also true in places that attract large numbers of tourists. The official emergency number is 112, where you can reach all emergency services and then you will be re-directed to the department you require such as police or an ambulance. The Netherlands is, generally speaking, very safe for women travelers. For general travel, we recommend researching and purchasing through as they will show insurance options for multiple travel insurance carriers. For adventure travel, check out World Nomads as they have the best adventure travel coverage, covering activities like snorkeling, hiking, etc. For personal safety, carry a cross-body neck wallet  or waist pack (in front) to keep your valuables in. You should also avoid keeping things like your wallet and phone in your back pocket. Always travel with digital images or photocopies of your passport and bank cards.


English in the Netherlands is spoken by over 90 percent of the Dutch population. In fact, the Dutch have overtaken Sweden as the most proficient English speakers in the world outside of nations where English is the official language. English is spoken by nearly all Dutch, particularly in recent decades and in larger cities. Pretty much all travel service workers speak English rather well. We have never had significant difficulties communicating with the Dutch, even though our Dutch is very limited. Know that even if you are not fluent in Dutch, the Dutch appreciate and enjoy when you at least make an effort to speak a little bit of Dutch. In this website, you will find a handy guide showing Dutch translations for the most common phrases and questions you will need in the Netherlands. If you DO encounter people who do not speak any English, it is usually just a matter of engaging in a friendly form of charades or sign language to communicate.

You can also download the Google Translate app to your phone. It is available for iPhone and Android.


Traveling in a foreign country can be stressful, especially when road signs are in a foreign language.

We strongly recommend that your travels in the Netherlands are as car-free as possible. Doing so is much less stressful, can be much more affordable, puts you in a happier mood, provides you with a more comfortable and civilized experience, allows you to “live like a local,” allows you to more easily take in the sights on a street, and puts you in closer contact with residents. Fortunately, the Netherlands does very well in providing convenient, pleasant, easy-to-use non-car travel options. The Netherlands has one of the best, most modern, and most reliable public transportation systems in the world. The Netherlands prides itself in being innovative and modern in its transportation offerings. You can conveniently and affordable use public transportation such as buses, trains or trams (or bikes!) whenever you need to travel in the Netherlands. We find that train travel to towns and cities is almost always available and very low in cost. The trains tend to be relatively clean, and are a pleasant place to eat and drink and relax. In the rare instances where train travel is not available, a bus is always an option. Buses tend to be clean, low-cost, frequent, and easy to use (just find one of the many tobacco shops in the town you are in!). The Netherlands is a compact country so you can always check out opportunities to bicycle for part of your journey. 

When you are in a Netherlands town or city and would like to see the sights, the historic center of the community is always compact enough to walk, and low-speed enough to safely and happily ride a rented bicycle.

We recommend the RomeToRio app to view bus and train schedules ahead of time. Be sure to load that app to your cell phone before your trip to Italy. Links to the app are on their homepage and they are available of iPhone and Android. Visit our Booking Resource Travel Page to compare rail and bus tickets. 


The cost of living in the Netherlands is relatively affordable for western Europe, although the cost of living in Amsterdam and other main Dutch cities is typically higher. The cost of living is about 14 percent higher in the Netherlands than in the United States. While you can travel far more expensively or far less expensively than we do, we generally find that we spend approximately $1000 for a week of travel in European nations such as Belgium. That includes everything: round-trip airfare from the US, lodging, food and drink, entrance fees, etc. 

We offer tips on how to save on your biggest expense: roundtrip airfare. We also offer tips on how to save money for expenses other than flights. See which airlines currently fly to Belgium

Travel Expenses

Follow Our Footprints

Budgeting can be difficult but we are disciplined when planning. We do not spend more than $50 per person (pp) on lodging, $550 pp for R/T air, and $50 pp for long-distance trains.


We stay in studio or 1 bedroom apartments when we travel. Depending on your length of stay, seek lodging that has laundry facilities. There are plenty of apartment options available that have in-unit washing machines, which come in handy for longer trips. Apartment prices vary per season and by proximity to the city center. For any type of accommodation, expect to pay about 30% – 50% more in peak season.

  • Studio/1BR Apartment: $50 – $150 per night
  • Hotel: $65 – $200 per night
  • B&B: $80 – $200 per night

Most dining options are open during lunch and dinner.  There are plenty of brew pubs in the Netherlands and they are a great option sof good, hearty food at a reasonable cost. For pub food, you will pay around $12.  Restaurants with table service generally will cost a bit more at around $25 per person. House wines by the glass run about $3-6 per glass.

  • Pubs and Breweries: $6 – $15 pp
  • Restaurants: $20 -$50 pp

Travel through the Netherlands is inexpensive and there are multiple options for getting from city to city. For regional travel, trains and buses are convenient and affordable. For longer distances, or traveling to neighboring countries the fast trains can get you there in a couple of hours at a reasonable price, especially if you book early. Most larger cities offer trains, trams, and buses. Many cities also have bike rentals if you want to have the freedom to explore locally without relying on public transport.

  • Local City Transit: $2
  • Buses: $6 – $12
  • Trains: $35 – $75 (Intercountry) or $6 – $35 (standard)
  • Bike Rental: $14 per day

What to pack when traveling

Best Things To Do

Follow Our Footprints

The Netherlands is a delight for those that enjoy food and drink, as well as outdoor pursuits and beautiful, interesting architecture. Here are a few of the best places to see and things to do in the Netherlands.

See Amsterdam by Boat

One of the very best and most romantic ways to see Amsterdam is on a boat tour of its canals – particularly at night. You can easily find many boat operators to hire for a trip of any distance or length of time.

See Amsterdam by Bicycle

Another fantastic, unforgettable ways to see Amsterdam is by bicycle. Because nearly everyone in Amsterdam rides a bicycle, and the streets tend to be full of bicyclists at all times of day or night, you will find that bicycling in Amsterdam is highly safe and extremely enjoyable. It is likely to be the first time in your life where bicycling in a city seems normal and driving a car seems abnormal. Do not miss this experience. And while you have your bike, be sure to take an easy and very plesant ride in the countryside. Bicycling along the canals and in the countryside is likely to be the most enjoyable and unforgettable thing you do in the Netherlands.

Bruges Belgium
Belgium Carnival

Immerse Yourself in Dutch Tulips

Tulips, of course, are the signature flowers of the Netherlands and the Garden of Europe just outside of Lisse is the largest public garden anywhere in the world.

Covering 70 acres of land, you will find gorgeous flower exhibitions as well as restaurants and a wide variety of flora including daffodils hyacinths, and crocuses. Mid-April to mid-May is the best time of year to see the flowers in all their glory. It is an explosion of vibrant colors.

Visit the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

The Rijksmuseum is the Dutch National Museum located in Amsterdam and is filled with an astonishing collection of art and antiques which date from 1809. The building houses over 7 million items and has more than 5,000 paintings that sprawl over 250 rooms. Out front is the iconic “I Am Amsterdam” block lettering.

Experience the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam

The Anne Frank Museum is one of the most famous attractions in Amsterdam and makes for an extremely moving visit. The building is the former home of Anne Frank who hid from the Nazis here during the Second World War. Anne Frank died two months before the war ended but her diary that she wrote in the home was found and went on to become one of the most important books in the world. The home has been restored although the hiding place in which the family lived is much as it would have been when Anne Frank lived here. And don’t make the mistake that Maggie made when she visited the city. Don’t eat a marijuana brownie earlier in the day and sleep so long that you miss your chance to visit!

Visit the UNESCO-Designated Kinderdijk Windmills

The village of Kinderdijk sits on the River Noord and is nestled between Rotterdam and Dordrecht. The name of the village means ‘Children’s Dike’ in Dutch. The main attraction is the beautiful windmills that date from the 18th century – so striking that they have been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are 19 windmills here that date from 1722-1761 and this is the largest group of these structures anywhere in the Netherlands.

Beer and Chocolate

Visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is a celebration of one of the greatest artists ever to have lived. The Van Gogh Museum is regularly voted one of the best art museums in the world. An impressive 1.5 million visitors make their way here each year and the museum has the largest collection of Van Gogh pieces in the world. Here you will find 200 beautiful paintings, 500 drawings, and 700 letters that give you a unique insight into the life of the artist.

What To Eat in The Netherlands

Follow Our Footprints

We prefer fresh, hearty, flavorful foods and when in the Netherlands, we partake in all of their most known and traditional foods. Here are a few dishes that you need to try in the Netherlands.


One of the most popular Dutch foods to eat in the Netherlands. You will find it at most bars around the Netherlands.  Made with beef or veal, bitterballen are typically served with mustard.

Bossche Bol

Cream-filled chocolate glazed profiteroles. Similar to éclairs au chocolat but are formed into spherical shapes rather than oblongs. The dessert is roughly the size of a tennis ball and is almost completely covered in brittle milk or dark chocolate. Due to its size, shape and abundant chocolate, a bossche bol is notoriously difficult to eat without causing a huge mess.


After hearing from a European friend about the common practice of the Dutch to eat RAW herring, I made it one of my primary missions to sample this in the Netherlands. Fortunately, it was not difficult for me to be daring, as raw herring (known as haring in Dutch) is found at herring stands all over all Dutch cities, as well as many restaurants. Is it safe to eat raw herring? Yes! Just lean back, hold it by the tail, and drop it in your mouth (the fish are deboned).


Popular Dutch fried snacks that are similar to the Spanish croquettes. Most commonly filled with veal or beef and often dipped in mustard.They date back to the time of King Louie XIV.


Licorice, known as Engelsdrop, is a popular Dutch candy. Licorice (and other anise-related flavors) are a big deal in the Netherlands.

Vlaamse Frites

The Dutch version of American French fries. You can find Vlaamse Frites all over the Netherlands. 


Pepernoten is a favorite in the December Sinterklaas season.  Made with cinnamon, these little crunchy snacks are a delicious snack. Look for pepernoten covered in chocolate.  It’s traditional for Dutch parents throw them into children’s rooms and have their kids them look for them.


This food consists of fried fish (often cod or pollock) with a mayo-based sauce or tartar sauce. 

Frikandel Speciaal

A sausage served with curry ketchup. This is a fast-food classic. Frikandel Speciaal consists of a long, skinless sausage served with raw onions, curry ketchup and mayonnaise.

Dutch cheese

Also called Tomaat met Grijze Garnalen, this is another common food for the Belgians. The dish is made with brown or grey shrimp, with a generous mix of mayo and stuffed in cold tomatoes. It is a popular appetizer.


Stamppot is a traditional Dutch food served with potatoes, spinach, sauerkraut, and some other veggies. A heavy dish that is particularly good for a cold winter day in Amsterdam. 


Snert is a split pea soup, and a staple of Dutch food.  You can easily find this at many Dutch bars that serve food and it is a pleasant, hearty dish in winter.

Dutch apple pie

While America is known for its apple pie, the Dutch make a great apple pie as well. It is the most famous dessert in the Netherlands.


Ossenworst is a raw beef sausage that originated in Amsterdam. Originally made of ox meat, it’s now made with beef. 


Circular, syrup-filled waffles are available at nearly every supermarket. They are best eaten when freshly-baked.

Stamppot (Mash Pot)

Stamppot is comfort food. It is considered a Netherlands national dish. The traditional dish has a potato base and is prepared with vegetables, according to taste. White potato, sweet potato, carrots, onion and cabbage are simmered in a pot, mashed and topped with rookworst (smoked sausage).


Spicy pork rolls usually served as a happy hour appetizer.


A classic Surinamese dish is named after its main ingredient. Roti flatbread usually contains several other components including fiery curry, potatoes, boiled eggs and yard beans. It is sometimes served with homemade sambal – a very spicy condiment made from crushed chilli peppers.


A savory smoked sausage.


Little nuggets of deep fried fish. It is a Dutch street food served with a creamy mayo-based dipping sauce.

Dutch Broodjes

Broodjes are Dutch Sandwiches. The most simple Dutch sandwich is a Broodje Kaas, which is a cheese sandwich. Commonly eaten for breakfast. The sandwiches come with a variety of ingredients, including meats, like beef, pork, fish, liver and tartare. One version is beef slathered with peanut sauce.

Indonesian Food

Indonesian food is extremely common in the Netherlands. The reason is due to the 17th century spice trade and the Dutch East India Company. Indonesia was colonized by the Dutch. Indonesian cuisine was introduced to the country and today remains quite popular.

Patatje Oorlog (War Fries)

Patatje Oorlog is a delicious Dutch version of the fried potato. Toppings include a dollop of mayo, satay sauce and raw, diced onions. Another version is to use curry sauce instead of satay sauce.

Dutch Banketstaaf

A Dutch winter holiday treat. It is an almond paste-filled pastry. Also called the Dutch Christmas Log, the pastry has a butter, flakey exterior and a sweet creamy filling. Some variations have powdered sugar sprinkled on top or sliced almonds.

Book Your Travel

Search for the best air and hotel prices

Follow Our Footprints
Netherlands Travel Guides
Follow Our Footprints
Follow Our Footprints

Apart from our complete travel guide on this website, here are other reading materials we recommend checking out before your trip.

Latest Netherlands Blogs
Follow Our Footprints