Windmills, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Heineken, Clogs, Gouda and Bicycles are all a few of my favourite things!
Every country in the world is famous and renowned for something that makes it special that sets it apart from the rest.
For example, Canada is known for moose, mountains, cold winters and poutine. France is celebrated for its city of lights, creme brulé, decadent pastries and the French Riviera. Thailand is publicly acknowledged as being the land of smiles with beautiful beaches, spicy food and elephants. Lastly, Japan has the reputation of being impeccably clean while at the same time having world-class skiing and fantastic dishes such as ramen and sushi.
The unique architecture, scenery, flavours, and people make every single country on the planet distinctive. Without this variety, the world would be a blank canvas with nothing interesting to explore.
Europe is especially well known for its different languages, culture and history. The country of the Netherlands is no exception in this regard. Holland has its own idiocentric traits that make it quaint, special and downright lovable.
Bicycles and Cycling
It is very typical for a tourist to rent a bicycle during their trip to the Netherlands. Some suggest that the best way to truly explore famous cities like Amsterdam is by cycling through the bike paths while admiring the stunning buildings along the canal.
The bicycle has been reported by 36% of people in Holland as their primary mode of transport on a typical day. In the major cities, it is much more common than smaller towns to ride bicycles, however, the town of Zwolle has 46% of citizens using a bike every day.
Cycling has a modal share of 27% of all trips in cities and towns across the Netherlands. This is much higher than the 2% reported in the United Kingdom.
The extremely well-maintained cycle paths, tracks and protected intersections account for the fact that there are over 22.5 million bicycles in the Netherlands. This is an astonishing number considering that there are just over 17 million inhabitants in Holland.
These amazing facts mean that the national average of bicycles per resident is 1.3.
Of course, not everyone in the Netherlands is avid cyclists, nevertheless, 84% of the Dutch own bicycles which means that there are some individuals who own more than one.
Some sources claim that Dutchies cycle, on average, more than 1o00 kilometres each year in various different biking trips.
As tourists visiting Holland, there are many reasons to use a bicycle as your primary mode of transportation during your trip. Some of the primary reasons include the following, its safe, there are over 35,000kms of beautiful paths all across the country that are part of the National Cycling Routes, its a unique way to visit classic tourist spots and above all you’ll have an absolute blast!
The Land of Windmills
Holland is known as the land of windmills. They can be seen everywhere since there are over 1000 across the country.
If you are a tourist visiting in the month of May, it is a perfect time to visit the windmills due to the fact that every second Saturday in May is known as “National Mill Day” and over 600 of the 1000 windmills are open to the public and can be visited.
Visiting the windmills is a great way to discover the various functions they had in the past and now have in the present.
The primary reasons why the windmills were constructed in the past was to move and drain water, saw wood and crush grain. The creation of sawmills in the early 17th century led to the expansive construction of ships used for international trade and for military reasons in order to protect the Dutch Republic from enemies during their economic prosperity known as the Dutch Golden Age.
The most famous windmills to visit in the Netherlands include the following:
- De Gooyer: built in the early 16th century it was one of the tallest buildings in the Netherlands at the time. It has been moved and relocated various times but it is currently located in the eastern docklands of Amsterdam.
- Molen de Adriaan: one of the most beautiful windmills located in Haarlem that has restored after it was destroyed in the 1930s.
- The System of Windmills at Kinderdijk-Elshout: these 19 windmills were originally constructed to pump water from Zuid-Holland’s marshlands. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site visited by many tourists every year.
Dutch paintings can be observed by any art enthusiasts in various museums all around the world.
The most creative period in Dutch history is known as the Dutch Golden Age and world-renowned artists such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer and Jan Steen painted their masterpieces during this time period.
During this period in time, there were very few religious paintings due to the fact that artists focused on naturalism and mainly painted portraits, scenes from everyday life, historical events and landscapes.
Due to the trade industry and freedom of expression in the Dutch Republic, paintings were very reasonably priced and shipped to places all over the world. Famous paintings from this period include Rembrandt’s The Night Watch and Vermeer’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring.
The only other Dutch painter that achieved equivalent worldwide success to Vermeer and Rembrandt is Vincent Van Gogh. Although he never experienced any commercial acclaim during his lifetime, his paintings are now celebrated all over the world as being some of the best ever painted. The Starry Night, Sunflowers, Café Terrace at Night and The Bedroom at Arles can all be observed by art lovers in museums around the world.
Some of the best museums in Holland to view Dutch art are the Rijksmuseum, Frans Hals Museum and the Mauritshuis.
With a town literally called Gouda in the Netherlands, you know that there is going to be fantastic cheese!
Holland has world famous cheeses such as Gouda, Edam, Maasdam, Leidse and Limburger. Due to the great selection of cheeses, it is no surprise that the Netherlands is the second biggest exporter of cheese in the world after Germany.
Recent figures have shown that profits for cheese exportation are worth more than $3.4 million.
Here are some facts about Holland’s most recognizable cheeses:
- Gouda: accounts for over 50% of all cheese production in the country. It can be aged for over 12 months to improve its flavour. It is believed to have dated back from the 12th century which makes it one of the oldest cheeses still consumed today.
- Edam: a very popular cheese that was the world’s most consumed between the 14th and 18th century. It ages and travels well without serious complications. It is softer than other Dutch cheese and can be eaten with fruit or on a toasted piece of bread.
- Maasdam: a new cheese in comparison to the other two previously mentioned kinds of cheese that was invented in the 1980s to compete with the Swiss Emmental cheese. It is a bit sweeter and nuttier than Swiss but as holey.
A great thing to do as a tourist is to visit a Dutch cheese market. A traditional purchasing ceremony is performed to show visitors how things used to be done. Alkmaar and Edam are great places to go in order to experience the most typical cheese markets.
Learn more about Dutch culture thanks to the Netherlands best writers or the best Dutch philosophers.
Although they are not native of Holland, they were imported from Turkey in the 16th century and have since become a classic symbol of Dutch culture.
In 1636, Tulip Mania greatly affected the country when prices for bulbs rose until they cost more than many houses and this led to a collapse which resulted in many Dutch people living in poverty during that time.
After this economic crisis tulips were unpopular until the bulbs were rediscovered during the last few months of the Second World War and used as a reliable food source. Since that time tulips have grown in popularity resulting in the Netherlands creating a National Tulip Day that is every third Saturday of November.
With 80% of the world’s flower bulbs originating from Holland it is the worldwide leader in this regard. The majority of the flower bulbs are tulips making it the most common flower exported to other countries.
Here are some of the best places in the Netherlands to go and see tulips:
- Keukenhof Gardens: visiting these gardens in springtime is an absolute must if you are in Holland. Over 6 million bulbs are planted every year and can be observed by any visitor.
- Noordoostpolder: situated in the Flevoland province that used to be submerged under water until the mid 20th century. The region is covered with flower fields and bike-friendly making it easy to visit and enjoy the grandeur of tulips during springtime.
What is Holland without beer? I don’t even want to imagine it! Heineken, Amstel and Grolsch are giant corporations that dominate the international exports, however, there are many microbreweries that serve a great pint and are worthy of discovering.
Whether you like a Pale Lager, Witbier, Herfstbok, Lentebok, IPA, a Dubbel or a Tripel, Holland has it all!
Before 2010, the Netherlands was the biggest exporter of beer in the world. Nevertheless, since that time, Mexico has become the biggest. With that being said this does not mean that Dutch beer is not heavily exported anymore. It’s actually quite the contrary since Holland comfortably has kept its second place position of beer exportation for many years.
In 2017, the Netherlands made $2 billion dollars worth of profits and accounted for 13.6% of the total beer exported.
Speciality beers from small microbreweries have become increasingly popular in the last few years with many Dutch residents preferring them to the more popular brands.
Canals are often the most noticeable characteristic of Dutch cities. The canals of Leiden, Delft, Utrecht and of course Amsterdam have been world renowned. The various canals in Amsterdam have led to the city being called the “Venice of the North.”
Due to the fact that 26% of Holland’s geographic territory is below sea level, canals, rivers and crucial in city planning.
For as long as Dutch people can remember they have been pumping water out of inhabited places in Holland. The canals were built for transport, irrigation and water removal.
The canals serve as a great way of transportation replacing many streets and cars. It is a common thing for tourists to take a boat tour of the canals while in the Netherlands. If you’re on a budget and wish to save money while travelling, it is highly recommended to hire a water taxi to get a better view of the canals and see houseboats instead of booking a planned tour.
Canals are authentically Dutch and cannot be avoided when visiting Holland.
Holland is famous for many unique things that keep tourists going back year after year. If you are a travel enthusiast, I think it is nearly impossible to not fall in love with the quirky Dutch culture and Holland’s beautiful and eccentric cities.