Travel to Netherlands

Travel to Netherlands

Bike along a labyrinth of canals, ponder the peace of a tulip field, or dig into a rich artistic legacy that includes such masters as Van Gogh and Rembrandt.

The famously open-minded Dutch way of life is just one of the attractions of the Netherlands, which also serves up an abundance of artistic attractions. Marvel, for example, at the homegrown talents of Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh in the world-class galleries of the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. Visit grand cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and the Hague, where you’ll get a sense for the magnitude of the country’s story, from Habsburg royalty and the wide-ranging powerhouse of the Dutch Empire to modern sites for important international negotiations. Be sure to sample Edam cheese, which originated in the Netherlands, and browse the quaint shops for one-of-a-kind treasures, such as colorful wooden shoes. Leave the Netherlands impressed with the Dutch's genuine personality —compassionate, creative, worldly, and justly proud of their remarkable country.

At times travelers make the mistake of judging the Netherlands based solely on Amsterdam's racy Red Light District and infamous coffee shops. This is unfortunate because Amsterdam, the Dutch capital, is also home to some incredibly beautiful neighborhoods, picture-perfect canals and truly world-class cultural attractions.

The Netherlands has produced some of the world's most-respected artists including Rembrandt, van Gogh, Mondrian and Escher. The Dutch also have a tradition of producing many handicrafts like cobbled shoes and pottery, with the most famous hailing from Delft.

In addition to outstanding art museums like the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum (both in Amsterdam), the country also has a wealth of cathedrals and other historic buildings, castles and palaces to visit, many of which still belong to the Dutch monarchy. It's also worth noting that culturally-speaking, the Dutch are extremely socially tolerant and have a very high standard of living.

Interesting cultural attractions to visit in the Netherlands: Het Loo Palace (near Apeldoorn), Sint-Janskerk Church (in Gouda), and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (in the modern city of Rotterdam)

If you're hoping to incorporate gastronomy (and drinks!) into your Dutch vacation, you are in luck. While perhaps not always sophisticated or gourmet, the Netherlands is home to plenty of good things to eat and drink. Let's begin with the cheeses. The Dutch have an impressive array of cheeses including Gouda, Edam, Leyden and many more, and it's very easy to visit a cheese market while on vacation; they are held frequently in major squares throughout the country in cheese-producing towns.

Beer is another huge export from the Netherlands, with Heineken, Grolsch and Amstel being perhaps the most famous. (When visiting Amsterdam, visitors can even tour the Heineken brewery.)

A lot of traditional Dutch dishes are based around hearty (and oftentimes heavy) comfort foods suited to colder climates (think potatoes and sausages). The seafood that one can find while on vacation in the Netherlands is generally excellent (especially herring). The Dutch are also very fond of their tasty pancakes, and there are restaurants that solely serve both sweet and savory pancakes.

It's also worth noting that visitors can find extremely good Indonesian food in the Netherlands because the cuisine became popular when Indonesia was a Dutch colony.

This Western European, very flat, river-crossed country shares borders with Belgium, Germany and the North Sea. As much of the country hovers just above sea level and a good portion lies beneath it, the country is aptly named in Dutch "Neder (low) land," or "the Low Countries" (which also references Belgium). The country's low lands are innovatively inhabited using intricate systems of canals and levees, which were created and are maintained by some of the finest engineers in the world: the Dutch!

People frequently call the Netherlands "Holland," but South Holland and North Holland are actually just two of the country's twelve provinces. (Amsterdam is the largest city in North Holland, while Rotterdam is the largest in South Holland.) The country's north is largely rural countryside, occasionally dotted with pretty villages, cheese farms and windmills.

For nature lovers, the Netherlands has a great variety of national parks, nature reserves and astonishingly beautiful gardens. From March to May, the Dutch flower culture shines through in full force with flower parades and the opening of the legendary Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, home to some of the world's most beautiful tulips. Flower fans can also travel to the Dutch town of Aalsmeer to tour the world's largest flower auction. (Visitors are welcome to visit; just be sure to wake up early to see the action!)

It's also worth mentioning that it's easy to combine a trip to the Netherlands with other Western European countries; Amsterdam for example has terrific train connections to Brussels and Paris.

Largest cities: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht

Other great places to visit: Haarlem, Utrecht, Leiden, Volendam, Delft, Gouda, Maastricht (Click here to read more.)

The Netherlands has an extremely colorful history filled with Germanic tribes, Roman legions, Frankish kings, Viking raiders, Holy Roman emperors, Dukes of Burgundy, and Hapsburg monarchs! It is a tale of Golden Age thinkers, Protestant reformers, Puritan refugees, colonial trading companies and Nazi invaders.

There is much historical sightseeing to take advantage of when visiting the Netherlands. Two important attractions associated with the Holocaust and World War II are the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and the Corrie ten Boom Museum in Haarlem. Also worthy of a visit are the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague, the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, the Binnenhof in The Hague, the Zuiderzee Museum in Enkhuizen, and the historic Zaanse Schans neighborhood in Zaandam, which houses an impressive collection of historic Dutch windmills.

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