What to Know Before You Visit the Netherlands
Greetings from Amsterdam! The Netherlands is a really fun place to visit, so today we’re sharing some things you should know before you come to the Netherlands. If you are thinking of Holland, North Holland and South Holland are just two of twelve provinces in the Netherlands. That’s your first tip! We have many more Netherlands travel tips for those wanting to explore the country outside of the red light district.
Language Spoken in the Netherlands
The spoken in the Netherlands is Dutch, but the Dutch generally speak English very, very well. You might be surprised at how well English is spoken, to the extent they will crack jokes and throw sarcasm at you. Dutch people can be frank. They are direct and like to get to the point without wasting time. Don’t mistake Dutch efficiency for rudeness, they just don’t bother with a lot of small talk.
As part of the EU, Dutch currency is the Euro. The Euro comes in several bills (500, 200, 100, 50, 10, 5) and the coins here are actually valuable. The 2 Euro coin is worth more than $2, so keep track of them. We try to avoid anything larger than a 50 Euro bill as it can be hard to make change. There are several ATM’s around the country, so it’s easy to get cash out. The machines will offer many languages, so don’t worry about that.
Prices in the Netherlands are comparable to other cities in Europe, and just slightly more expensive than the U.S. It’s not “Scandinavia pricy” but it’s not a cheap destination.
Tip: It’s always good to have coins on hand for snacks and treats as you walk around town.
Getting Around the Netherlands
You definitely should explore the Netherlands beyond Amsterdam. There are many cool places like Haarlem, Utrecht and Maastricht. You’re probably wondering how you will get around the Netherlands. The Netherlands train network is efficient, fast and gets you anywhere. It’s a relatively small country, so distances are pretty small. A lot of places can be reached in a day trip from Amsterdam. Renting a bike is a really fun way to get around the Netherlands. In addition to being a small country, the Netherlands is very flat, so biking is easy!
Tip: Don’t forget to tap your train card in and out when you go to your platform
Safety in the Netherlands
In general, the Netherlands is pretty safe. If you encounter any issues, it will likely be in Amsterdam. In my experience, I’ve seen the most aggressive beggars here in Amsterdam. They don’t just walk away, so I recommend avoiding them as best you can, and just keep walking if you encounter any.
In terms of danger, the biggest concern for tourists are the bike paths. Bike paths are painted red, so just think “Red is D.e.a.d!” There are a lot of bikes in Amsterdam, so you really have to pay attention and always look in every direction before stepping out.
The other safety concern in Amsterdam are the narrow stairways. This is mostly seen downtown in tall skinny buildings, especially old homes that have been converted to a hotel. The stairs can be very steep and you need to be very careful, especially with children or older folks. The steep stairs in Amsterdam is a great reason to pack lightly for your vacation.
Tip: If you have knee problems, or will be packing heavy suitcases, check ahead with your hotel to see if they have an elevator.
D.r.u.g Tourism in Amsterdam
If you are coming to the Netherlands for d.r.u.g.s, you need to be careful. If you haven’t tried d.r.u.g.s and want to experience this part of the Netherlands, be up front when you go to the coffee shops. They can help choose something for you based on your previous experience. Don’t get in over your head, or ruin your vacation by consuming too much.
Where to Stay in the Netherlands
There are tons of smaller hotels in the Netherlands. You will find the big hotel chains, but most likely you’ll stay in a smaller, private hotel. I recommend reading the reviews very carefully. In the Netherlands, you have a lot of tall, thin buildings, so the rooms are often very small. When we travel as a family to the Netherlands, we often just rent an apartment. If you’re visiting beach areas, you can rent a beach house or a condo. These options usually end up being cheaper than a hotel as well, especially if you are traveling with kids or other family members. A double room will only hold two people, so you’ll often need to get multiple hotel rooms.
Tip: Consider staying outside of Amsterdam for cheaper accommodation.
Dutch Food in the Netherlands
The Netherlands are an international melting pot, so you’ll find a lot of great international restaurants in the Netherlands. Indonesian food is one of the popular cuisines you’ll find in the Netherlands. If you are looking for traditional Dutch food, pancakes are something you should try. There’s a lot of good street food in the Netherlands, like french fries (with mayonnaise,) herring, or croquettes. If you see a food hall, check it out because you can try lots of different foods. Dutch food is similar to German food, with a lot of meat and potatoes.
Tip: Eating at food halls and street stalls is a great way to save money in the Netherlands.
Things To Do In The Netherlands
My favorite thing to do in the Netherlands is to walk around and enjoy the Dutch architecture. Of course, there are canals everywhere, and you can take canal tours all over the country. A bike tour is another great thing to do in the Netherlands. In the spring, you can bike through the tulip fields. Mid-April to Mid-May is the best time to visit the Netherlands. It’s so easy to get around the country, too! Go see the historic buildings in Haarlem, or go to the port in Rotterdam. I would even suggest for a solo traveler, or a couple, to stay in Haarlem and just visit Amsterdam for the day. You can save a lot of money that way.
More Netherlands Travel Tips
A few more things you need to know before you visit the Netherlands:
- Electrical outlets are the same as the rest of Europe, with two round plugs. You just need an adapter for your U.S. electronics.
- Toilets work the same as back home, and you can flush your toilet paper.