Imagine this: you are walking in a field full of yellow, red, pink tulips blooming all over. You tilt your head to the one side and spot a windmill, slowly turning and making time stand still. The sun is shining, you hear some music playing far away, a smell of ‘Poffertjes’ from a café at the end of the field finds its way to you, directly into your heart. You feel beamed with delight, full of joy, peaceful, genuinely happy. That’s what the Netherlands do to one, do to me. They relax me and make me utterly happy.
When in the Netherlands, I strongly recommend staying overnight in a hostel. It just gives you an authentic experience with many new friends, and the openness and craziness is what the Netherlands stands for. Hostels typically cost 15 – 30€, near Amsterdam even up to 45€. Private dorm rooms will cost you about 60 – 80€ (80 – 100€ in Amsterdam). Hotels will cost around 70 – 90€, yet in high-season which ar ethe months of May – September they will be more expensive. They usually offer breakfast, free WiFi and a decent room. BUt be aware of the fact that the ceilings are all pretty low. When I was in Amsterdam (I am 174cm/ 5,7 feet tall), I could not go into the bathroom without ducking my head every time 🙂
Sadly, the Netherlands is not famous for its food…at least not in a positive way. People tend to rather dislike the Dutch food. In my opinion, their food is average but they do have great sweet dishes, such as ‘Poffertjes’, which are fluffy mini-pancakes, or ‘Stroopwafels’ (sweet Dutch waffles). Their ‘Patat’ are actually pretty good, it is thick-cut fries with different kinds of toppings. If you go out for dinner at a restaurant, expect to pay 15 – 25€ for a nice meal with a drink. Fast food places will cost you no more than 10€.
Getting around in the country is fairly easy. A inter-city train will be 10 – 35€. Amsterdam to Rotterdam can cost 26€ and takes 40 minutes whilst Amsterdam to The Hague can be as cheap as 7€ and take 50 minutes. Trains are reliable and cheap. As the beautiful ‘Country of Tulips’ is rather flat, biking is the main form of transportation in the cities. Amsterdam for example barely has any metro because of the canals, there are a few buses and just as many bike lanes as car lanes. So do not get in the way of a Dutch who is late for work and on his bike – they are reckless sometimes 🙂
Last but not least: safety. The Netherlands are a very safe place to travel to. Yes, it is a little more laid-back and easy-going as the rest of the Central European countries are, but it barely has any negative influence. No major terrorists attacks have occurred nor is there an above-average crime rate. The only thing you should know is that it is legal to buy weed in Amsterdam.
Something I genuinely enjoy in the Netherlands is just letting the vibe of the city take me in. Just strolling along the streets, entering unique cafés, talking to locals, experiencing their life. Participating in their activities, such as riding the bike, going to the beach on public holidays (because the country does have a coast), going with the flow. I think there is no ountry in Europe where it is easier to be laid-back than the Netherlands.
- Restaurants: 5 – 10%
- Taxi: None (or at least not expected)
- Guides/Staff: None (or at least not expected)
- The Dutch are extremely friendly and open towards new people. They might not be the first to start a conversation, as the Irish for example are, but they enjoy nothing more than spontaneously making friends. So off you go, the Dutch are just waiting to hear your story 😉
- The Dutch kiss cheeks as a greeting. They usually kiss three times, starting with the right cheek. Acquaintances and men friends simply shake hands.
- Do not confuse ‘coffee shops’ in Amsterdam: they are not cafés, but shops where you can purchase weed, cannabis tea etc. A coffee shops sells cannabis products, a cafés sells coffee.
- There are two parts fo the country you should distinguish. The Netherlands is the country itself, and Holland – as many people tend to say – is actually just a part of the country, in fact the Western part to which Amsterdam also belongs.