Netherlands travel advice
The Netherlands is fairly compact, but it offers many treasures to the dedicated explorer. You can use a single city as your base, or move between two or three destinations depending on your preferences. Our specialists have bicycled over Amsterdam’s canals, viewed the Dutch Masters, strolled the massive tulip fields and eaten gouda in the windmill-dotted countryside. With their in-depth knowledge, they can help you plan a trip that matches your specific interests.
The official language is Dutch, though there are other provincial dialects like Dutch Low Saxon, Limburgish and West Frisian. English is widely understood and spoken throughout the country, making communication easy.
Food & drink
The Netherlands enjoys hearty, locally-sourced dishes, with boiled potatoes and vegetables as staple ingredients. Fish is also very popular, and herring, eel and codfish pulled from the North Sea are eaten salted, smoked, pickled or fried.
The Dutch cheese-making craft is also several thousand years old, and red-waxed wheels of Edam and Gouda are two of the most popular products that come out of Holland.
Due to Dutch colonial history, Indonesian restaurants are also common throughout larger cities. Try ordering the rijsttafel, meaning ‘rice table’ and featuring a large number of different dishes to sample.
Beer and genever, a juniper-infused liquor, are the two most common alcoholic drinks.
Festivals & vacations
The Netherlands celebrates many national vacations and festivals throughout the year. King’s Day, on 27th April, celebrates the current king’s birthday, and 5th May is Liberation Day, marking the end of the Nazi occupation.
November through January, Amsterdam holds its Light Festival, where the canals are filled with brilliant glowing artworks. More traditional Christmas markets also appear, and the Saint Nicholas Parade on 5th December is followed by his feast day, with the tradition of children receiving gifts inside wooden shoes.
Carnival happens in late February or early March, and the Keukenhof Tulip Festival, when the tulips come into season, runs from March through May.
Tipping is not big in the Netherlands, since service fees are added in restaurants. However, an additional 5-10% for good service is welcomed. For taxis, round up to the nearest euro for short trips and leave about 10% for longer rides.
For your guides, we suggest tipping €20 for a half day or €40 for full day tour and €10 for a driver per day.
The country calling code is +31, and phone numbers are typically nine digits and begin with a 0. We recommend checking with your mobile phone provider to see whether they offer international phone and data service in the Netherlands as part of your plan or at an additional cost.
Wi-Fi is provided free of charge in most hotels and a large number of restaurants, cafes and bars.
Our certified country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the State Department website.
7½ to 10 hours dependent on airline (New York/Los Angeles to Amsterdam)