THE NETHERLANDS

High expectations.

WATCH FULL VIDEO: Why Celebs Are Buzzin’ Over Amsterdam’s Green House Coffeeshop

Records show that Dutch men are the tallest people in the world with an average of 1.83 m (6’0”.)

The Netherlands has 2 time zones of Central European Time and Atlantic Standard Time. The country’s European mainland, which includes Amsterdam, observes Central European Time (CET). 3:00 pm in Boston would mean 9:00 pm in this area of the Netherlands.

The country’s island territories in the Caribbean Sea use Atlantic Standard Time (AST). 3:00 pm in Boston would be 3:00 pm in these territories.

Whether you need a visa or not depends on where you’re from, your length of stay, and your destination. U.S. citizens, Canadians, Austrians, and New Zealanders (along with dozens of other countries) may enter the Netherlands for up to 90 days without a visa, but passports must be valid for at least 6 months past the date of departure.

Nationals of the European Union (EU)/European Economic Area (EEA) member countries and Switzerland do not need visas and can spend 90 days in the Schengen Area, which consists of 26 European states that have officially abolished passport checks.

Helpful visa information can be found here.

The Netherlands is a popular tourist destination, which brings about many possible airports: Amsterdam Airport (AMS), Eindhoven Airport (EIN), Rotterdam The Hague Airport (RTM), Flamingo Airport (BON), Maastricht Airport (MST), and Groningen Airport (GRQ).

Overall, Amsterdam Airport is quite packed because it is the country’s main international airport and Europe’s fifth busiest airport. Look for flights to smaller airports if possible to lessen travel time and traffic.

Look here for pros and cons about each airport.

The Netherlands hosts some of the most reliable public transport in the entire world. The main form of public transport for longer distances in the Netherlands is by train. Regional and local public transit is available by bus as well as metro, tram, and ferry in some cities. It is quite easy to get a metro pass, which depends on your length of stay.

The OV chipkaart is also another way to swipe onto public transport in order to pay for your fares. Look here for more info about public transportation in the Netherlands and more specific info on Amsterdam travel.

Overall, the Netherlands are quite safe (rated #14 in the World Safest Country index), but main cities have a fair amount of pickpockets, theft, and violence. Tourists who are under the influence are the biggest target, so be sure to know your limits and make good decisions. Law is strictly enforced here, so make sure to pay attention to officials at all times.

Safety tips:

  • Don’t leave valuable possessions in your pockets as pickpockets are common.
  • Pay attention in busy, crowded centers.
  • Watch when crossing bike paths; bikers often come out of nowhere!

Safety Tips for the Night-Owls:

  • Stay in groups, especially around the Red Light District.
  • Make smart decisions; the later it gets, the rowdier people become.

The Netherlands have been given a LOW rating for any dangerous risks for female travelers. Stay safe, stay smart, and always keep an eye on your belongings. Most of all, have a good time!

The Netherlands has a mild climate, similar to that of the UK. Summers in Amsterdam are warm while winters are fairly cold and rainy/snowy with temperatures below freezing. Rain occurs the entire year, but springtime is the driest year. Many people like to visit Amsterdam in spring or summer (May to September), although winter can be quite cozy, like a magical wonderland.

Warmest month in Amsterdam: August

Coolest month in Amsterdam: January

Wettest month in Amsterdam: November

Driest month in Amsterdam: April

*note: In Amsterdam, you can get four seasons in a single day. Make sure to pack layers!

Although the official and most common language of the Netherlands is Dutch, the following regional languages–Frisian, English, Papiamento, Dutch Low Saxon, and Limburgish–are recognized as well. Many schools use English to teach with, and you can definitely find English-speakers in public transportation or government offices.

The Dutch are very proud of their rich cultural history, so remember to be respectful at all times. Here are some helpful hints when you enter the country:

Social settings: 

  • The Dutch often shake hands with someone they meet, adding their last name instead of a “hello”.
  • Wave if greeting someone from a distance; shouting is considered impolite and rude.
  • The Dutch do not often speak to strangers and value privacy.
  • If you see someone move their finger to their ear, it’s not because they are signaling “crazy.” It means you have a telephone call.
  • Be prompt for any meetings or gatherings.

Wine and Dine:

  • To get the attention of a waiter or waitress, raise your hand while making eye contact and say ober (waiter) or mevrouw (waitress).
  • Business should be discussed during lunch, never during breakfast.
  • Bills are often split in half between two parties.
  • Keep your hands on the table at all times, not in your lap; elbows should always be off the table though.
  • Use a knife and fork to eat sandwiches, pizza, and fruit.
  • Always ask if a restaurant has a non-smoking policy.
  • To signal you are not finished, put your knife and fork in the shape of an “X” on your plate.

Other things to avoid:

  • When invited to someone’s home, bring a safe gift for the hostess.
  • Don’t chew gum in public.
  • Any form of ostentation is embarrassing and will only lead to an uncomfortable moment.
  • Do not call the Netherlands “Holland,” as Holland is a region within the Netherlands.

The unit of currency in the Netherlands is the euro, which currently compares to 1.11 United States dollars. ATMs are widely available throughout the city, dispensing notes of up to 50 euro. Most small shops will not accept 100 euro or 200 euro notes. Credit cards are widely used in the Netherlands, including Amsterdam.

Tipping! 5-10% of the bill is expected for tips. If the service was average, people often round up the bill or leave some change on the table. Giving a tip directly to your waiter/waitress is common.

If you’re from the UK, Europe, Australia, and most of Asia and Africa, you’ll be all set in the Netherlands with your cords working in outlets.  If you’re not from these places you may need a converter or adapter (type E or F). In the Netherlands the standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz.

Amsterdam apparently has the best water in all of the Netherlands, and the Netherlands has been voted to have the best quality water in all of Europe because the government does not add chlorine. Tap water is completely safe to drink.

There are many free wifi hotspots in Netherlands, from restaurants, bars, hotels, and coffeeshops. Prepaid SIM cards are also available and better to use for longer stays. Data roaming is the worst connection option available in the Netherlands, and you’ll end up with a huge bill. Overall, choose the best plan that works for your length of stay and with your type of phone.

The Netherlands is known to be one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly places in the world. LGBTQ+ rights here have been some of the most progressive compared to other countries. In 2001 it became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Overall, Dutch people are very tolerant; in surveys, 95% of Dutch people approve of same-sex relationships. Pride events are huge in the Netherlands where diversity is celebrated to the fullest.

The Netherlands take the environment very seriously. Many people bike to get around and there are limits on car pollution in the center of the city. More than 60% of household waste is sorted, collected, and recycled. Wind turbines are also used to generate electricity to homes.

There are many ethical and ecological restaurants aimed specifically at the eco-tourist. Eco-apartments, campsites, and green country cottages are available to use and rent. The Dutch are not only eco-aware, but they live eco daily.

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A TIMELINE OF THE NETHERLANDS' HISTORY

King Charles V of Spain rules Netherlands.

Charles V
Academic Kids
1516

Dutch declares independence from Spain.

1581

War breaks out between the Netherlands and England.

1652

Peace of Versailles ends war between France, England, and Holland.

Peace of Versailles
Wikipedia
1784

Harry Houdini escapes from a police station in Amsterdam.

Harry Houdini
Pinterest
1903

World War I begins; Netherlands maintain neutrality.

1914-1918

Dutch women receive the right to vote.

1922

Olympics open in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Olympics
Wikipedia
1928

Germany invades the Netherlands, bombing Rotterdam from the air and destroying tens of thousands of buildings; the Netherlands surrender.

1940

Japan declares war against the Netherlands.

1942

The Netherlands adopts a formal written policy of non-enforcement for violations involving possession or sale of up to 30 grams of cannabis.

Marijuana
National Institute on Drug Abuse
1976

10 EU nations and the Netherlands begin using the Euro monetary system.

1999

Bill is passed allowing same-sex couples to marry.

Gay Marriage
Business Insider Singapore
1940

Amsterdam authorities announce plan to close half the city’s brothels, sex shops, and marijuana cafés in order to lessen organized crime.

2008

Last surviving Anne Frank protector passes away at 100 years old.

Anne Frank
USA Today
2010

Parliament votes overwhelmingly in favor of recognizing the massacres of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman troops in 1915 as genocide.

2018

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