Hiking: Excellent for both long and short walks as the 300 km-long coast offers several reasonably scenic trails (known as LAWs) through sand dunes and nature reserves.
You can even walking across the mud flats at low tide in the Wadden Sea – between north coast and the Wadden islands. ‘Wadlopen’ (mud walking) is very popular and Dutch take this dirty business seriously.
Alternatively try following the tulip trail between Haarlem and Sassenheim or a windmill trail along Kinderdijk, or the Zaanse Schans area.
Dutch cities are compact and usually have suggested walking routes so the best way to explore is on foot. Get information and maps from the VVV (Tourist Office).
Canal cruises: There are loads of pretty canals and rivers in most urban centres so it’s easy to find cruises and boat hire.
Canoeing: is fantastic way to get close to Netherlands nature, for instance marshlands of the Hollandse Biesbosch National Park, south of Rotterdam. Guided tours are available as well as just canoe rentals.
The Netherlands most popular beach at Scheveningen. Photo by Random.
Holland is one of the most cycle friendly countries on the planet as the land is almost flat, about 85 % of Dutch people get around regularly by bike and most of the time cycles have priority over other vehicles.
There are said to be more bikes than inhabitants (16 million) in the Netherlands. It has about 17, 000 km (including 20 long distance routes totalling 6, 000km) of well-marked cycling paths/lanes and every local VVV will provide appropriate information.
Commercial cycling packages/tours are frequently on offer, too. Detailed cycle maps are available at book stores. Netherlands Railways are cycle friendly as bikes can be carried on trains or rented/ parked/ repaired or even bought at more than 100 stations throughout the country. Check out bike-rental vouchers at the station.
Try the windmill trail, the flower bulb trail (see hiking section), North Sea and Wadden Sea, 2 long coastal routes or riding white bikes for free in Hoge Veluwe National Park.
Do not forget to lock up your bike, these are the most stolen items in the country!
p. s. It is an offence to be drunk and in charge of a bicycle; this is taken seriously by the police.
Skating: Cycle paths are also good for inline skating or join Amsterdam’s skating evening touring the city on Fridays; meet at the Vondelpark.
Watersports/Beaches: the province of Zeeland in the south has 175 miles of mostly sandy beaches and is popular holiday destination. Good surf can be found easily, too.
Coffeeshops: weed, ready-rolled spliffs, space cake and so on as well as coffee are available from many ‘coffee shops‘ around Holland, not just Amsterdam, though new regulations sadly mean they may be obliged to shut down access to foreigners.
Some coffeeshops are cute, some are quaint, some are weird and some are just sad and squalid.
It’s legal to buy and use small quantities of wacky baccy or its resin derivative. But for how long?
late Feb: Holland Flowers Festival, a must-see garden show that takes place at the Greenery complex, covering 4, 500 sq. m in Wervershoof; this event is known for its creative landscape designs on display.
March: TEFAF Maastricht, the European Fine Art Fair, one of the world’s leading art and antiques fairs that attracts dealers and collectors globally.
April 30: Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag), a national celebration with massive, mad street party in Amsterdam. It is also known as Orange day and many people wander about dressed in orange, the royal colour representing the House of Orange.
late May/June: Holland Festival, Netherlands’ largest performing arts festival held mainly in Amsterdam and The Hague since 1947.
The 2nd weekend of July: North Sea Jazz Festival, one of the best and arguably the biggest jazz event in the world, with world-class artists and 23, 000 visitors a day. Previously held in the Hague, it has been held in Rotterdam since 2006. 3 days.
The first weekend of August: Amsterdam Pride is one of Europe’s largest gay/lesbian festivals. The world famous Canal Parade, with a hundred decorated boats and music, is a must-see.
For some precise dates, more suggestions and information see European Festivals or Arts Festivals
Rotterdam’s cube housing. Photo by Hanselpedia.