The Netherlands is located in Europe, in Western Europe, and borders to Germany in the East and Belgium in the South. The northern and western part of the country border the North Sea, which means the country has a large coastal area where you'll find beautiful beaches, boulevards and lots of tourism.
If you look at the map above you'll notice there are some islands in the North, these islands are called the Wadden Islands. The five most western islands belong to the Netherlands, the ones to the east to Germany. These islands are very popular with as well Dutch as foreign tourists.
In 2014 the Netherlands was visited by 13.9 million foreign tourists, with nearly 4 million coming from Germany.In 2012, the Dutch tourism industry contributed 5.4% in total to the country's GDP and 9.6% in total to its employment.
With its global ranking of 147th and 83rd place for total contribution to respectively GDP and employment, tourism is a relatively small sector of the Dutch economy.
Visitors To Netherlands In 2014 were from the following countries:
Germany - 3,894,000
United Kingdom - 1,857,000
Belgium - 1,828,000
United States - 991,000
France - 725,000
Italy - 503,000
Spain - 406,000
Switzerland - 256,000
China - 249,000
Russia - 196,000
Total foreign 13,925,000
Amsterdam is the capital city and most populous city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, receiving more than 4.63 million international visitors annually, excluding the 16 million day trippers visiting the city every year.
The most important museums of Amsterdam are located on the Museumplein (Museum Square), at the southwestern side of the Rijksmuseum.
Considered to be the cultural and financial capital of the country, Amsterdam is known for its historic canals, which earned it the monniker Venice of the North, as well as a host of historic buildings and state of the art facilities.
Amsterdam is famous for its vibrant and diverse nightlife centred around the Leidseplein and the Rembrandtplein. The Paradiso, Melkweg and Sugar Factory are cultural centres, which turn into discothèques at night.
Main sights and events of interest include:
- The Canals of Amsterdam, 100 kilometres of canals, about 90 islands and 1,500 bridges.
- The Rijksmuseum is the largest museum and one of the national museums of the Netherlands.
- The Van Gogh Museum specialises in works by Vincent van Gogh.
- The Stedelijk Museum specialises in modern art.
- The Anne Frank House, a museum based around the life of Anne Frank located in the house where she and her family lived.
- The Hermitage Amsterdam, a dependency of the Hermitage Museum of Saint Petersburg.
- The Tropenmuseum, anthropological museum.
- The NEMO, the science museum in a building that looks like a sinking ship.
- The Verzetsmuseum, the Amsterdam resistance museum.
- The Joods Historisch Museum, The Jewish Historical Museum collects objects and works of art associated with the religion, culture and history of the Jews in the Netherlands and its former colonies.
- The Nederlands Scheepvaart Museum, a museum about Dutch maritime history. Reopened on 1 October 2011 after renovations lasting since January 2007.
- The Royal Palace, former town hall, built in 1648.
- The red-light district or De Wallen, a network of alleys containing about 300 one-room cabins rented by prostitutes who offer their sexual services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red lights.
The city of Rotterdam is known for the Erasmus University, its riverside setting, lively cultural life and maritime heritage.
The near-complete destruction of Rotterdam's city centre during World War II has resulted in a varied architectural landscape including skyscrapers, which are an uncommon sight in other Dutch cities.
Rotterdam is home to some world-famous architecture by renowned architects like Rem Koolhaas, Piet Blom, and Ben van Berkel, and was voted 2015 European City of the Year by the Academy of Urbanism.
The port of Rotterdam is the largest cargo port in Europe, and its extensive distribution system including rail, roads and waterways has earned Rotterdam the nickname "Gateway to Europe", and conversely "Gateway to the World" in Europe.
Sights and events are:
- Diergaarde Blijdorp, one of the oldest and largest zoos in the Netherlands.
- North Sea Jazz, an annual music festival held on the second weekend of July at the Ahoy venue, and acknowledged as the "biggest indoor jazz festival in the world"
- Rotterdam Centraal railway station
- Summer Carnival, a large carnival parade organised by the Dutch Caribbean community
- Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, an art museum with a collection ranging from medieval to contemporary art, with works of Rembrandt, Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, and Salvador Dalí
- The port of Rotterdam, the largest cargo port in Europe
- The Cube houses, a set of innovative houses built by tilting the cube of a conventional house by 45 degrees.
- The Dutch Architecture Institute, a cultural institute for architecture and urban development.
- The Wereldmuseum, an ethnographic museum showing more than 1800 ethnographic objects from various cultures in Asia, Oceania, Africa, the Americas and the Islamic world.
- Maritime Museum Rotterdam, a maritime museum dedicated to naval history.
- The historical shipyard and museum Scheepswerf "De Delft" where the reconstruction of ship of the line Delft can be visited
Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands and was the most important city in the northern Netherlands until the Dutch Golden Age, which is reflected in its ancient city centre which features many buildings and structures, several dating back to the High Middle Ages.
The centre of the city houses the Oudegracht, a curved canal lined with the unique wharf-basement structures that create a two-level street along the canals.
Utrecht has been the religious centre of the Netherlands since the 8th century, and houses both the Archbishop of Utrecht and the offices of the Dutch Reformed Church
As such Utrecht's cityscape is dominated by churches and other clerical buildings, the largest of which is the Dom Tower, the tallest belfry in the Netherlands.
Partly due to the presence of Utrecht University, the largest university in the Netherlands, the city has a vibrant night life.
Sights And Events:
- Dom Tower, a 112.5 metre (369 feet) high Gothic-style tower and symbol of the city. The tower was part of the Cathedral of Saint Martin, Utrecht, also known as Dom Church, and was built between 1321 and 1382.
- Railway Museum, a museum housing many historic trains and locomotives.
- Museum Catharijneconvent, a museum showing the history of Christian culture and arts in the Low Countries.
- Centraal Museum, an art museum housing a varied collection of both historical and modern art, including a permanent exhibition on the Dutch cultural icon Nijntje, better known internationally as Miffy.
- Letters of Utrecht, an endless poem.
- Utrecht Centraal, the main railway station of Utrecht, is the largest and busiest in the Netherlands, with over 900 trains arriving and departing each day.
- Rietveld Schröder House, a world heritage site and one of the best-known examples of De Stijl architecture.
- Royal Dutch Mint, the only Dutch entity authorised to strike and issue coins.
- Museum Speelklok, a museum housing the world's largest collection of automatically playing musical instruments.
The Hague is the seat of the Dutch government and parliament, the Supreme Court, and the Council of State.
King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands lives at the Huis ten Bosch and works at the Noordeinde Palace in The Hague, together with Queen Máxima.
Most foreign embassies in the Netherlands and 150 international organisations are located in the city, including the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court, which makes The Hague one of the major host cities of the United Nations, along with New York and Geneva.
The district of Scheveningen, formerly an independent village, is known for its modern seaside resort with a long sandy beach, esplanade, pier and historic lighthouse.
The beach is popular for water sports such as windsurfing and kiteboarding.
Sights And Events:
- Binnenhof is the oldest House of Parliament in the world still in use, located in the city centre next to the Hofvijver lake. It houses the meeting place of both houses of the States General of the Netherlands, as well as the Ministry of General Affairs and the office of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. Located within the complex is the Ridderzaal, which houses the Dutch throne.
- Noordeinde Palace and Huis ten Bosch, two of the three official palaces of the Dutch royal family.
- Kurhaus, a beachfront hotel and one of the few remaining Grand Hotels built during the Belle Époque.
- Museon, a museum of science and culture with large collections in the domains of geology, biology, archaeology, history, science and ethnology.
- Paard van Troje ("Trojan Horse"), one of the largest music venues of the Netherlands.
- The Mauritshuis, an art museum housing the Royal Cabinet of Paintings, which consists of 841 objects, mostly Dutch Golden Age paintings. The collection contains works by Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Steen, Paulus Potter, Frans Hals, Hans Holbein the Younger, and others.
- Madurodam, an iconic miniature park home to a range of 1:25 scale model replicas of famous Dutch landmarks, historical cities and large developments.
- Peace Palace , a building often called "the seat of international law" because it houses the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Hague Academy of International Law, and the extensive Peace Palace Library.
- Prinsjesdag, the day on which the reigning King of the Netherlands addresses a joint session of the Dutch Parliament in the Knights Hall with the "Speech from the Throne". It includes an eleborate ceremonial procession, in which the King is seated in the Golden Coach.
• Historic old town, former imperial residence of the Holy Roman Empire and member of the Hanseatic league.
• Ancient Roman remains .
• Valkhof museum, focussing on Roman and medieval history.
• Velorama, a bicycle museum.
• Four Days Marches, the largest marching event in the world.
Bergen op Zoom, North Brabant
• The fortified city of Bergen op Zoom has existed for over 800 years. Bergen op Zoom, this is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands . Bergen op Zoom has more than 800 historic buildings that form a unique backdrop to many shops, cafes and cozy restaurants. The narrow streets and old squares around the monuments around to tell you the story of a rich and eventful life . The center has more than 600 monuments, of which over 200 are on the monument list. The most striking monument is the Markiezenhof , the former residential palace of the Lords and Marquises of Bergen op Zoom. Today the Markiezenhof is used as a museum.
Delft, South Holland
• Historic old town.
• Delft Blue pottery.
• Nieuwe Kerk, the traditional burial place of the Dutch Royal Family and the second tallest church tower of the country.
• Het Prinsenhof, urban palace where William of Orange was murdered, now a museum.
's-Hertogenbosch, North Brabant
• Historic old town, including the Binnendieze the medieval canal system through and below the city.
• St. John's Cathedral, considered to be the zenith of Gothic architecture in the Netherlands.
• Yearly carnival celebrations.
• Bossche bol, a famous local pastry.
Brielle, South Holland
The history of Brielle as a city goes way back, when Brielle was elevated. The City got officially city rights in 1330. In 1418 the city was equipped with wooden vests, which were demolished in times of trouble to make fire beacons. Clay lining the walls arose after 1450.
Brielle, also called Den Briel, has been immortalized in the Dutch language in many proverbs, ways of speaking and songs. Almost all of them refer to the events of April 1, 1572, when the Beggars took Brielle 'in the name of Orange'.
The Spaniards lost thus for the first time their authority in a Dutch town. After the Beggars quite easily had captured Brielle, they started replacing the medieval city walls by a modern fortress.
This process of renewal and replacement would last until 1713. In that year, the fortress came to completion.
Since then, little has changed at the fortress, allowing the defense, which is among the most important water and land fortifications in the Netherlands, still breathe the atmosphere of that time.
• Historic old town, containing 1677 national heritage sites.
• Sint Servaasbrug, medieval stone footbridge across the Meuse river.
• Basilica of Our Lady, largest Romanesque church of the Netherlands, built in the 11th century.
• Bonnefanten Museum, a fine arts museum containing focussing on Early Dutch, Golden Age and Flemish Baroque paintings.
Leiden, South Holland
• Historic old town, including medieval canals and Gravensteen, a 13th-century fortress.
• Naturalis, one of the largest natural history museums in the world.
• Leiden University, the oldest university of the Netherlands.
• Hortus botanicus, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world.
• Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, the National Museum of Antiquities.
Breda, North Brabant
• Historic old town.
• Breda Castle, traditional headquarters of the Royal Dutch Army and Koninklijke Militaire Academie.
• Grote Kerk, large medieval church built in the Brabantine Gothic style.
Dordrecht, South Holland
• Holland's oldest city is situated on wide rivers and lets you enjoy numerous monuments, historic inner harbors and above all a great atmosphere.
Walking or driving through the city, visit the Great Church and the Court, roam museum Huis van Gijn, watch your eyes to the many art and antique shops and meet Dutch masters in the Dordrecht Museum.
Dordrecht could develop the strategic location at the crossing of rivers in the Middle Ages to a flourishing trade city.
The lively trade in timber, grain and wine attracted merchants and craftsmen from far beyond the city limits.
The rich past is still palpable when you walk along the Old Town harbors, monuments, winding streets and walks of Dordrecht rivers.
Not to be missed are the Grote Kerk, the critically acclaimed collection of paintings of the Dordrecht Museum, the beautiful interiors of the old mansion house of Gijn and the thirteenth-century Augustinian monastery Court.
Enkhuizen, North Holland
• Historic old town.
• Former harbour-town of the Dutch East India Company.
• Zuiderzee Museum, an open-air museum dedicated to the cultural heritage of the Zuiderzee-region.
Gouda, South Holland
• Historic old town.
• Traditional Dutch cheese market.
• 15th century Town Hall, one of the oldest Gothic Halls in the Netherlands.
• Traditional foods, including Stroopwafels and Gouda cheese.
Alkmaar, North Holland
• Historic old town.
• Traditional Dutch cheese market.
• The only remainining functional Waag of the country.
• Historic old town.
• Near the coast of the Wadden Sea, the only natural world heritage site of the country.
• Historic old town.
• The ancient Koppelpoort, part of the city wall
• The Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren, the third tallest church tower of the country.
Haarlem, North Holland
• Historic old town.
• The Grote Markt square with the Grote Kerk.
• Near the popular seaside resort of Zandvoort
The Netherlands has 20 national parks, consisting of natural terrains, water and/or forests, with a special landscape and flora and fauna.
The tourism industry of the Netherlands is focused on North Holland, where the country's largest airport Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is located. Given the relatively small size of the Netherlands, it is easily possible to travel to locations in South Holland within an hour. These two provinces constitute the majority of the densely populated Randstad, where the largest cities are located. The other provinces of the Netherlands are much less popular with foreign tourists and do not have as many tourist attractions. With a long coastline along the North Sea and its many lakes, the Netherlands offers plenty of opportunities for water sports and beach recreation.
In North Holland the capital Amsterdam is the most visited city of the Netherlands, with 4.3 million foreign hotel guests.
It is home to the three most frequently visited museums of the country, respectively the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House and Rijksmuseum.
Several times a week events are being organized in the capital, like on Rembrandtplein, Leidseplein and Dam Square. For instance there is a National Tulip Day each year in January. Amsterdam's canal rings are a World Heritage Site.
The Netherlands is one of the few countries which tolerates the consumption of cannabis and has legalized prostitution. This has made Amsterdam a popular destination for drug tourists. According to research, 22.5% of tourists in Amsterdam have visited cannabis coffee shops.
The city's red light district called De Wallen was visited by 20% of tourists.
North of Amsterdam are the windmills of Zaanse Schans, as well as two former fishing villages, Volendam and Marken. These villages are frequented by tourists for their appeal to traditional life.
Alkmaar is known for its cheese market and old center. To the southeast of Amsterdam lies the Muiderslot, a castle. Further to the southeast is the town of Naarden, with its very well-preserved star fort.
To the west lies Haarlem, the province's capital, a city notable for its historical legacy and old city center. Once important for its production of paintings, many of these are now exhibited in the Frans Hals Museum. West of Haarlem is the seaside resort of Zandvoort, which has an automobile racing circuit.
In South Holland lies the Keukenhof, the world's largest flower garden. In 2013 it had 849,000 visitors, of whom 80% were foreign tourists.
Because the garden is only open for a few weeks during the spring, it receives the highest number of visitors of all Dutch attractions on a weekly basis.
A system of 19 windmills at Kinderdijk forms the largest concentration of windmills in the Netherlands and is designated as a World Heritage Site.
The Hague is the seat of the Dutch Government and the Dutch royal house. The Binnenhof and the Ridderzaal are government buildings which can be visited.
Close by is the Mauritshuis, an important art museum. Scheveningen is known for its beach and Madurodam, a miniature park. Leiden, north of The Hague, possesses an extensive historical center, as well as Naturalis and the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, respectively the national museums of natural history and archaeology in the Netherlands.
The Hortus Botanicus Leiden is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. Further north are Noordwijk and Katwijk, both popular seaside resorts. The latter also has a narrow gauge railway museum.
To the south of The Hague lies Delft, which is known for its pottery and old center. The sole remaining pottery factory in Delft, De Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles, can be visited.
Also in the town is the Prinsenhof, now a museum of William the Silent, the founder of the modern Netherlands. Further south is Dordrecht, which also has a historic center.
Utrecht, the capital of the province of Utrecht, is one of the oldest cities of the Netherlands. One can climb the Dom Tower of Utrecht, the tallest church tower of the Netherlands at 112.5 metres (369 feet).
The city is also home to the Netherlands Railway Museum, housed in a former station, and the Musical Clock Museum. Kasteel de Haar and Slot Zuylen are castles which can be visited.
Near Kaatsheuvel lies Efteling, the largest theme park in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in the world. With 4.1 million visitors in 2011, it is by far the most visited attraction of the Netherlands.
In Eindhoven is the Effenaar, a popular music venue that attracts visitors. Den Bosch is a walled city with an old center.
The province of Gelderland is notable for its many castles, such as Slot Loevestein. Het Loo Palace near Apeldoorn served as the residence of the Dutch royal house, but is now a museum open to the public.
Nijmegen, the oldest city in the Netherlands, is a city with a historic center and is famous for the International Four Day March in July.
In Arnhem, the province's capital, is the Netherlands Open Air Museum, popular with tourists, while at Oosterbeek nearby is the Airborne Museum, dedicated to the Battle of Arnhem in 1944.
At low tide one can walk from the mainland of Friesland to the West Frisian Islands, which is called mudflat hiking.
Middelburg, the capital of the province of Zeeland, is a historic city. The province has several seaside resorts including Domburg.
The drug policies of the Netherlands are often viewed as pragmatic and soft by those nations seeking to impose stricter penalties on the sale and use of illicit drugs.
The pragmatic approach means that in case a problem is unsolvable, like the drug usage, it is better to control it then try to eradicate it and fail.
Many individuals in the Netherlands believe that the Dutch policies are working far better than the laws in many other countries, and have actually resulted in lower rates of abuse or at least less disturbance on the streets.
Much of this could be and is in fact often debated by lawmakers from various countries seeking to find a better way to deal with the problem.
For what it’s worth, let’s take a look at the Dutch drug policies, and what they do, and do not allow.
All Drugs Are Against the Law
That pretty much sums up what the law in the Netherlands states.
Drugs are neither encouraged nor legal.
However, there are a few differences in how those laws are enforced and carried out.
One such difference is in the coffee shop model. So, while many claim that drugs are accessible and not penalized in the Netherlands, it is not generally recommended to test out that theory.
They are in fact illegal, regardless of what you may have heard. There is however a tolerant policy which means you will not be prosecuted for having up to 5 grams of cannabis, they can however confiscate it.
Some of the accusations of non-enforcement come from the way lawmakers in the Netherlands view different types of drugs.
Cannabis is widely considered a “soft” drug, with very little negative effects, and is therefore not harshly pursued or prosecuted.
Cannabis is not legal but it is tolerated. The Dutch view is that harshly penalizing people, including young people, for their use of cannabis, will actually push them toward harder drugs.
Therefore, the offense for smoking cannabis in small amounts is minor, and does not result in a “record”, if in fact it is prosecuted at all.
Interestingly enough, the cultivation of cannabis is strictly illegal, but only selectively prosecuted. Only the large-scale importer and exporters are generally prosecuted.
Coffee shops in the Netherlands are known to be places where cannabis can be purchased and smoked in small doses: generally not more than five grams per person per day.
The shops are not allowed to advertise the sale of the so-called “soft” drug, and children under the age of 18 are not allowed to enter the coffee shops.
There are actually strict laws concerning the selling of this drug by the coffee shops: which seems odd since the drug is illegal in the first place.
However, the government seems to take the view that if people are only smoking a little in a safe and regulated environment, they will not feel the need to seek out drugs from those who are also selling “hard” narcotics as well.
There seems to be some indication that a softer approach to “soft” drugs is having a positive impact on the amount of drug use.
Contrary to what you might expect, there seems to be less of a problem with the purchase and smoking of cannabis in the Netherlands than in many other countries, including the ones directly surrounding them.
The number of various types of drugs is no greater then in other countries but more importantly the number of drug-related deaths is the lowest in Europe.
The pragmatic approach means that authorities can actually focus on the big criminals.
Visiting another country can be compared to entering into a sort of fantasy land, where new and delightful sights, smells, and sounds are blended with a strange and eccentric way of life – one that is quite different from what you’re used to. It’s one of the most exhilarating experiences ever; however, it can be intimidating to the uninitiated.
The Netherlands is no exception to this truth. It is an amazing country with an even more amazing culture. But if you’re not properly prepared, you could possibly find yourself confused by some of their common cultural tendencies.
For this purpose, I have put together a sort-of cultural strategy guide for your visit to the Netherlands. It should provided you with the major essentials you’ll want to know to be well prepared to enjoy all that the Dutch culture has to offer. While this may not be an exhaustive list, I’ve made every effort to include what will most likely matter the most.
As of March 9, 2011 the Netherlands has a population of 16,805,037. It is currently ranked as the 64th most populated country in the world.
Languages. The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch, and it is spoken by a vast majority of the country’s population. It closely resembles German and borrows terms from both French and English. The secondary language of the Netherlands is Friesian, which is spoken by approximately a half-million citizens of the Dutch province of Friesland.
The Dutch society as a whole is very independent and modern. Many believe in equality for all, yet focus on individuality more than community. They are considered a middle-class society.
The Netherlands has an advanced free market economy. The major sectors for employment are the agriculture, trade, and service industries.
Respect from other Dutch citizens is not garnered via age or association, but by hard work and acquired skills.
The Netherlands is one of the most secularized countries in Western Europe. Only about 39% of citizens claim to be religious, and of those 39% only 6% attend church on a regular basis.
There are currently two main religions prominent in Dutch society: Roman Catholic and Protestant. The Roman Catholics make up approximately 25% of the Dutch population, and Protestants make up approximately 15%.
Muslims make up 5% of the population. Buddhists make up 1%, and Hindus make up 0.9%.
Traditional Dutch cuisine is not very diverse. It’s very simple and straightforward. The traditional Dutch meal consists of a lot of vegetables with a little meat.
The average Dutch household prepares food from other cultures as well. The major influences are Italian, Chinese, Mediterranean and Indonesian.
These same influences, and others, can be found among the Netherlands selection of dine-out restaurants as well.
Breakfast typically consists of a slice of bread with various toppings like different cheeses, peanut butter, treacle, and chocolate spread.
While lunch can include the same foods as breakfast, often times there will be sandwiches with different cold cuts and cheeses – Gouda, Edam, and Leyden.
Dinners in the Netherlands are typically a two or three-course meal consisting of soup as an appetizer, potatoes with a large portion of vegetables and a small portion of meat as the main course, and pastries or cookies for dessert.
Stamppot or stew is a traditional winter meal and snert (pea soup) is often times the soup of choice for dinner.
Culinary Staples. The Netherlands is famous for its cheese. Gouda, Edam, and Leyden are known worldwide, and Alkmaar is a town famous for its cheese market. Salted herring is another staple to the Dutch. Other staples include hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles), stroopwafel (caramel waffle cookies), French fries and mayonnaise, and pffertjes (small, thick pancakes).
Breakfast is served first thing in the morning between 6 and 8 A.M. Lunch is typically served 12 and 1 P.M. And dinner usually starts around 6 P.M. (early by international standards.)
Tea time is a combination culinary and social event. It typically takes place either between breakfast and lunch (10 to 11 A.M.) or lunch and dinner (4 to 5 P.M.).
Tea time involves inviting friends and/or neighbors over for a spot of tea or coffee and a single biscuit or cookie.
It is considered rude to leave the table during dinner for any reason, whether it is to take a phone call, use the bathroom, etc.
At the start of a meal, take a smaller portion. You will be asked if you would like a second portion. It is always polite to accept this offer for second portion.
In the Netherlands, it is polite to leave your hands on the table while eating. However, you still want to make sure you do not rest your elbows on the table.
While Dutch etiquette closely mirrors that of the rest of the Western world, there are certain traits and practices specific to Dutch citizens.
Keep in mind that what you’re about to read below may not be practiced in all areas and by all people. Instead, consider it a general guide to showcasing proper etiquette in a majority of circumstances and situations.
The Dutch either shake hands upon greeting and departing, or, if they have a close bond with the person, kiss the cheek three times, starting with the left cheek. A simple accompanying “hello” will suffice.
Don’t be surprised if a dinner with a Dutch friend is scheduled six weeks in advance. The Dutch live by schedules and are strict on adhering to them. There’s no such thing as stopping by someone’s home. It needs to first be agreed upon by the other party, and then properly placed into the schedule.
Dutch citizens are very straightforward and direct. What some people would call rudeness, they call it “openness.” They tell it like it is – honest and straight to the point. It’s not meant to be rude, it’s just their particular style.
The Dutch maintain strong eye contact when conversing with others.
They are also very direct in their speech. Criticism is welcome, and most Dutch are not easily offended.
Do not be surprised if you greet a person in Dutch and they respond in English. The Dutch are very proficient at speaking foreign languages and they can easily pick up on foreign dialects.
While the Dutch have nothing against becoming wealthy, it is typically seen as a negative character trait if you publicly spend large sums of money.
You are labeled as a “show off.” Also, never ask someone how much money they make.
To put it bluntly, the Dutch can be impatient and rude on the road. Gestures, honks, and expletives are commonplace in many areas, and swift lane changes are also the norm.
In other words, be prepared for an adventure if driving through the Netherlands.
Gift giving. If you’re invited to a Dutch home, it is customary to bring a gift for the hostess. The most acceptable gifts include flowers which is always an odd number, and never thirteen, a book, quality chocolates, or a potted plant.
The Dutch typically have a wine already chosen for the meal, so bringing a bottle as a gift is uncommon.
Sports are a very important part of life for many Dutch citizens. There are currently over 35,000 operational sports clubs in the Netherlands and approximately 28% of the population is active members in these clubs.
Furthermore, there are still more of the population who are not members, yet are still very active in sports.
The major sports of the Netherlands in order of popularity are football, cycling, and speed skating.
Football is a way of life more many sports fans in the Netherlands.
The Royal Dutch Football Association is the most revered football federation in the country and was one of the founding members of FIFA.
Throughout the years, the Dutch have achieved several accolades for football, such as three bronze medals in the Olympics and three FIFA World Cup finals appearances.
Johan Crujiff is the country’s most revered football player.
The Dutch’s cycling boom started in the late 1890s and took off in the early 1900s.
In 1928, the Royal Dutch Cycling Union was formed and cycling soon became a premier sport in the Netherlands, and has maintained its status ever since.
There have been two Dutch Tour de France winners in Jan Janssen and Joop Zoetemelk, and seven have been crowned World Champion. No matter the terrain, open road, off trail, or track, cycling is still very popular.
Speed Skating. While footballs and bicycles take center stage for most of the year, when winter hits, speed skating becomes the undisputed king of sports.
While the Dutch experienced some success in the early 1900s, it wasn’t until the 1960s, when speed skating titles became the norm for Dutch athletes, that the sport took off with the rest of the country.
It hasn’t slowed down since. During the winter months it’s normal to overhear conversations about speed skaters, along with seeing fellow citizens strapping on a pair of skates for a race.
Other sports. While football, cycling, and speed skating are the main focus for Dutch’s sports enthusiasts, there are still other sports that remain fairly popular and are worth mentioning: basketball, baseball, volleyball, field hockey, cricket, rugby, and korfball.
The Netherlands is world-renowned for its number of art and historical museums, along with its impressive collection of fine art.
The most prolific period for Dutch art was the Golden Age (17th century), where the Baroque style, inherited from the Italians, became the basis for several Dutch masterpieces.
The next resurgence began in the twentieth century with modern art and continues to flourish today. International art festivals occur year-round and draw big crowds from all over the world.
Dutch architecture also became prominent during the Golden Age, where Baroque-style buildings were considered the norm.
The end of the nineteenth century saw a resurgence of Gothic Revival architecture, and modern architecture found its place, starting in the 20th century. The vast array of buildings offers a magnificent view of varying historical styles that span centuries.
MTraditional Dutch music consists of simple melodies and rhymes that focus on central emotional themes like loneliness, happiness, and sadness.
Today, popular culture is fixated on Nederpop (pop music), electronic/trance, and Nederhop (Dutch Hip-Hop).
Classical and orchestral scores are also very popular, and Jan Sweelinck is still considered the most prolific composer in Dutch’s illustrious musical history.
Other popular genres include folk, jazz, and various types of metal.
The Netherlands has its own unique form of cabaret that is aimed more at provoking thought on social and political themes, instead of laughter. Cabaret shows can be found in most cities and even on some television networks.
The Netherlands is a hot bed for annual events in all different kinds of niches and markets, and the locals love to attend.
For art there’s the Maastricht Art Show in the first half of March.
The Amsterdam Roots Festival in June showcases music from the Netherlands and other parts of the world. For techno lovers, the FFWD Dance Parade is held in August. And Sinterklaas comes in December.