Theft is not common in Holland and generally confined to bike ‘borrowing’, bag snatching or pickpocketing perpetrated by non-Dutch nationals. Be especially careful with bags on commonly travelled tourist trains such as those to and from Schipol Airport.
Another Netherlands scam involves two or three men of probable east European extraction pretending to be ‘undercover’ police, showing fake IDs and searching tourists in remote locations. In the process valuables magically disappear. The best response to this harassment is either refuse point blank to be searched or if the men are are pushy demand to be taken to the police station for the search.
Real police are concerned, reliable and mostly speak good English.
The Netherlands’ most popular beach at Scheveningen, on the outskirts of The Hague. Photo by Jvhertum.
Biking or inline skating
Holland is one of the most cycle friendly countries on the planet as the land is almost flat, about 85 % of Dutch people travel regularly by bikes and most of the time bikes 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, North Sea and Wadden Sea, long coastal routes or riding white bikes in Hoge Veluwe National Park.
A typical bike overload beside Keizergracht in Amsterdam. Photo by Lies-Thru-a-Lens
Hotels in Holland tend to be expensive and the better value ones are booked up well in advance, especially in Amsterdam and Haarlem, so reserve your room ahead during busy times such as during the Orange Festival at the end of April, during the Easter holidays and in the summertime.
Weather conditions can change rapidly and dramatically in the Netherlands so always carry warm/cool and wet gear with you on your Dutch trip.
Worst: Winters are cool, December-February, but when winds start to whistle across the flatlands, the chill factor freezes your blood and bicycles are not on the menu du jour – a warm, dry taxi will do nicely. However, if you’re visiting for purely urban life and wrap up well then winter can be interesting and is naturally less touristy.
Spring and Autumn involve a lot of rain so grey skies sometimes seem to be Holland’s default setting.