Dutch windmills in Zaans Schans, though no longer functioning as peanut or flower crushers; they are now tourist crushers just 20
minutes by train from Amsterdam. Photo by Kevin Bus.
The Nederland's biggest tourist attractions are Amsterdam, Leiden, Haarlem, Delft, The
Hague, Rotterdam, Maastricht, Hoge Veluwe National Park, Edam, Texel Island, Frisian Islands and Gronigen.
Netherlands Guide | Netherlands
Map | Europe Map | Amsterdam
Aruba, a separate state within the Kingdom of the Netherlands since 1986, the Caribbean.
And don't forget the old Dutch Antilles islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao in the Caribbean!
Netherlands vs Holland
The correct term for this country is the Netherlands (Nederland
in the Dutch language means low lands), or more formally
'The Kingdom of the Netherlands' (which includes Aruba and
the Dutch Antilles).
The reason for the Netherlands/Holland confusion is that the two most
important of the country's twelve provinces - historically the most
powerful and still hosting the most important Dutch cities of Amsterdam,
The Hague and Rotterdam - are called North and South Holland; those were the places that made the country great and those were the places everyone talked about.
Even the Dutch people (aka Nederlanders) call their country Holland from time to time, including at international soccer games.
origin of the Dutch name/language is a combination of German
deutsch and Dutch dietsch meaning language of
the common people - as opposed to the Latin language that the
posh folk spoke in medieval times.
Flat packed is one way to describe this low lying snooker table of
a country at the centre-west of Europe, with the North Sea on one
side, Belgium and Germany on the others.
Half of the Netherlands lies below sea level and is saved from inundation
and infertility only by dykes (huge, sloping grassy walls). Survival of so many large people in
such a small, endangered location is thanks to the creativity, stamina,
organisation and efficiency of the Dutch people.
Visitors to Holland tend to enjoy the stimulating urban life rather
than trying to find wild things on Netherlands nature walks, though
the 300 km (200 mile) long coast offers several scenic trails through
sand dunes and nature reserves. However, biking from town to town
through damp and sunken fields is as close to a Dutch wilderness as
most tourists experience.
traditional grassy sea wall at Hoofdplaat, also known as a dyke (dike), protecting low-lying
Dutch land. Photo by Marc Ryckaert.
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.
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.
Netherlands' most popular beach at Scheveningen, on the outskirts
The Hague. Photo by Jvhertum.
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.
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
A typical bike overload beside Keizergracht in Amsterdam. Photo by Lies-Thru-a-Lens
Weather conditions can change rapidly and dramatically in the
Netherlands so always carry warm/cool and wet gear with you on your
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.
Photos: The Hague | Rotterdam | Twisted Amsterdam