The Netherlands Travel Tips
When most people think of The Netherlands, they think of Amsterdam with its famous red lights and coffeeshops. And maybe tulips too. But there is much more to the country than these three things. The Netherlands is country filled with historic cities, canals, beautiful farm land, windmills, and pleasant beaches.
Most travelers come to the Netherlands and simply party in Amsterdam for a few days but by doing so they miss what much of the country has to offer. Spend time exploring more than just Amsterdam and coffeeshops and you’ll discover the country that keeps me coming back every year. I highly recommend heading north, especially in April/May when the tulips are in bloom, and also visiting Utrecht, one of my favorite cities south of Amsterdam.
- Accommodation: Hostels in Holland typically cost between $20-35 USD per night for a dorm room. The more popular hostels in Amsterdam can be close to $40. Private rooms in hostels begin at $90 per night for a double room. Most one to two star hotels are around $70 per night for a double room, or closer to $50 during the winter.
- Food: Cheap meals at fast food joins or places like Maoz or Walk to Wok cost around $11. Restaurant meals average around $20-27 for a main dish with a drink. If you choose to cook food for yourself, you can expect to pay an average of $45-55 per week for groceries. Fast food like Febo, cheap Dutch food, is around $5-8.
- Transportation: Train tickets around Holland are between $14-35. Short distances cost as little as $6. Since the country is so flat, biking is the main form of transportation around cities and for some people, between cities.
- Activities: Entrance into museums cost about $23 while churches are free to enter.
Money Saving Tips
- Avoiding Spending on the Green – Many people go to Amsterdam to visit the coffeeshops. If you choose to do this, don’t think you have to buy “stuff” in each shop. Places will let you smoke as long as you buy a drink or food.
- Get a Tourism Cards - Getting a city card like the I Amsterdam card will save you money if you plan on visiting a lot of museums, plus it provides free public transportation.
- Bike – Biking is the cheapest form of transportation. You can rent a bike for only a few dollars a day. However, Dutch cities are also very small and easily walkable.
- Hire your own Boat – Instead of taking an expensive canal cruise, you can hire your own boat. If you have 3 or 4 people, it works out to be about $7 each and you can bring alcohol, food, or smoke on it.
- Attend a Free Festival - During the summer, everyone goes outside. Check local city boards for a list of free concerts, festivals, shows, and markets. Once the weather gets warm, the social calender fills up.
Top Things to See and Do
- Visit Amsterdam – The capital and center of tourism in Holland, Amsterdam is as beautiful and serene as it is crazy. There’s lovely canals, beautiful houses, great shops, food, and, of course, the infamous red light district.
- Take a Canal Tour – Whether in Amsterdam or in another city, make sure you take a canal tour and see the canals that made the area famous and inhabitable. The Dutch practically perfected canal-building.
- Explore Rotterdam – As Amsterdam’s industrious rival, Rotterdam may not get all the attention Amsterdam does but the city is a great place if you want good shops, great architecture, and and a chance to learn about the famous harbor locks. Rotterdam is one of the busiest shipping ports in all of the world.
- Wander Historic Haarlem – Take a stroll through the old, upper-class homes of the rich and famous and visit the old homes of the merchant class that helped build the city.
- Find Culture in Den Haag (The Hague) - Filled with a lot of worldwide court bodies such as the International Criminal Court, this city is a hub of international life as it’s a center of European justice. You can see the Queen’s office here and visit the old castle and palace. Moreover, The Hague is located right on the beach, so lounging on the sand and strolling the boardwalk are popular summer activities.
- Celebrate King’s Day – Every year on April 30th, the Dutch used to celebrate the birthday of their queen. However, in 2013, Queen Beatrix passed the throne to her son, Willem Alexander. Starting in 2014, the Dutch will celebrate King’s Day. In 2014, it will be held on April 26, but after that, it will be held on April 27th. (This is because the holiday is not held on a Sunday, and in 2014, the 27th is a Sunday). It’s a national holiday filled with outdoor concerts, lots of orange, lots of drinking, and lots of celebrating on the canals. It is one of the wildest national holidays I’ve ever celebrated.
- Stroll through Beautiful Leiden – Head to this small town near Amsterdam and see where the Pilgrims lived before they left for America. It’s a very historic city and filled with beautiful 17th-century buildings and parks.
- Visit Edam – A picture-perfect town with windmills, farmland, and quaint houses where the famous Dutch cheese gets its name from. It’s one of the more quintessential Dutch towns.
- Head to the Keukenhof – The Keukenhof is the largest flower garden in the world, with 32 hectares’ worth of spectacular floral displays. The garden is open between March and May of each year when the tulips are in season. When you picture Holland, you picture flowers and there is no better place to see them than here.
- Bike through Hoge Veluwe National Park – Hoge Veluwe National Park is the largest national reserve in the Netherlands. It is home not only for drift-sands, wild deer and other animals but also to the Kröller-Müller Museum, the repository of Helene Kröller-Müller’s art collection. You can rent white bicycles in three designated regions and hope you will never get lost in the sea of green.
- Kick Back in Maastricht – One of the southernmost towns in the The Netherlands, this city is famous for having the country’s only “mountain.” It’s really more of a hill though and doesn’t take long to climb. But this hardly-ever visited city is a great place to see Dutch life away from hoards of tourists who frequent the rest of the country.
- Go Cycling – As one of the most popular activities throughout the country, you would almost feel out of place not on a bike. The country is covered in over 20,000km of paths, dedicated to the two-wheeled transportation. Hoge Veluwe National Park is a particularly beautiful place to ride, but the entire landscape of the country is quite scenic as well.
- Visit Delft – This is a fascinating little town, making it the perfect destination for a day trip. There are a few interesting sights here, including: the Municipal Museum het Prinsenhof, Nieuwe Kerk, De Zeven Zonden, and of course, the trademark blue and white pottery. The town lies between The Hague and Rotterdam.
- Admire the Art at the Van Gogh Museum – Open since 1973, this museum is host to over 500 original works by Vincent Van Gogh., in addition to several works by some of his contemporaries and beloved friends. The exhibits chronicle his life span, showing the progress and development of his work, alongside Gaugain, Monet, and Toulouse-Lautrec.