The Netherlands, a European nation that is growing in popularity amongst tourists from around the world, should be on the bucket list of every traveller. Not only is the nation deeply rooted in its strong historical and political significance within Europe and the larger global context; Netherlands tourism also offers a delightful melange of art, culture, food and drink, and celebration. It is no wonder that the country ranks in the top ten happiest countries in the world – and travelling to the Netherlands is an equally enjoyable experience.
Netherlands is located in the north-west of Europe, bordered by Germany to the east and by Belgium to the south. To the north-west of the country, you will find the North Sea, and the nation shares its maritime borders in the North Sea with the United Kingdom, Belgium and Germany. While the mainland consists of twelves provinces, with the capital of Amsterdam (which is also the largest city in the country) being located in the province of North Holland, the nation also includes three island territories that are located in the Caribbean Sea.
The name ‘Netherlands’ quite literally translates into ‘lower countries’ – a clear indication to the low elevation and flat terrain that you will find across the country, with the exception of hill ranges in the central and south-eastern parts of the country. The Rhine, a river that begins in the Swiss Alps and ends in the North Sea, runs through the Netherlands, dividing the country into north and south. In fact, a cruise on the Rhine river is a must-do on your trip.
The south-west winds found in the Netherlands create an interesting climate, where summertime (running from July to September) temperatures are milder than in other parts of Europe, and winters are quite cool, with temperatures frequently reaching below zero degrees Celsius between November and March.
While summertime is the peak season for Netherlands tourism, do not expect the extreme heat and constant warmth that you may find in other parts of Europe like the Mediterranean countries. Summertime in the Netherlands is also the peak rainy season. Summer evenings can be very chilly, so we recommend bringing a light jacket with you, even if you are travelling during the summer. Though winters are cool, you will still find the winters in the Netherlands to be mild in comparison to many other countries in Europe. While snow is rare during the winter, it is always smart to be prepared for all kinds of weather – and in the Netherlands, the weather is truly unpredictable!
The culture of the Netherlands is an amalgamation of the country’s diverse influences, both regional and international, heightened by the adventurous and explorative tendencies of the Dutch people. Most importantly, the Netherlands is seen as a benchmark of openness, liberalism and tolerance, with people of all religions, cultures and personal beliefs living together in harmony.
Art has played a pivotal role in Dutch culture and the seventeenth century was hailed as the golden age of Dutch painting. On your trip to the Netherlands, you must make the time to visit the museums and galleries in every city. In particular, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is known to have one of the largest collections of Dutch art in the entire world, and it will give you deep insight into the importance and evolution of art in the country – a must-see when it comes to Netherlands tourism.
Music is also a crucial part of culture in the Netherlands, and they have a host of local styles and traditions that range across musical genres. Even today, the Dutch dominate many parts of music, with some of the most notable electronic dance music artists and DJs hailing from the Netherlands.
Dutch, Frisian, English and Papiamento
Tourist travel to the Netherlands has been increasing each year, with more than fifteen million annual tourists flocking to the nation to experience all that is has to offer. The good news is that the country is set up in a way that makes Netherlands tourism and travel very easy.
First and foremost, getting around the country is really easy is most major cities, due to an extensive and well-built public transport network that consists of buses, trams and metros. You will also notice that cycling is very, very popular in the Netherlands, as it is convenient, cheap and environmentally-friendly. As a tourist, cycling is a great way to get around and explore any city – we highly recommend renting out cycles for an afternoon and seeing the country on two wheels. Make sure to stick to the bike lanes and respect local cycling etiquette!
When it comes to communication, Dutch is the main language spoken in the Netherlands, but you will find that most locals are fluent with English, especially in major cities, so you will have no trouble communicating, asking for directions or interacting with them on your trip.
At SOTC, we offer a wide range of holiday packages that include Netherlands tours. Our Summer Premium Exclusive Europe tour runs over two weeks and takes you to key cities in Europe, including Amsterdam, as does our longer European Highlights tour. If you’re short on time, we also offer the European Magic tour, which takes you to France, Belgium and the Netherlands. To learn more about our packages and Netherlands tours, or craft an itinerary of your own, visit us at your local SOTC branch and we will help you plan out a Netherlands trip to remember!