Netherlands holidays mean so much more than fabulous flower fields and wooden shoes. Wedged between Germany and Belgium, with the North Sea lapping against its famous dams, the Netherlands has been a potent force in European history, exporting culture, science and tulip bulbs with an influence that belies its geographical size. The rich offerings of this progressive country make it a perfect getaway, from the quaint canals and bustling districts of Amsterdam to the modern port city of Rotterdam.
Whether you’re in search of rolling fields and romantic windmills or famous paintings and offbeat nightlife, there’s more than enough culture and cycling to keep any traveller hooked. You’re likely to begin in Amsterdam, a city that effortlessly combines the hip and the quaint. Countless museums and vibrant commercial districts provide a seemingly endless choice of fascinating excursions, while a quiet evening stroll along the picturesque canals with their historic houses makes for a charming alternative to the lively nightlife. Beyond the capital, Rotterdam wows visitors with its modernity and enormous port, while the Hague is a point of pilgrimage for politics buffs.
Hungry sightseers will be delighted by the local specialities of hot, crunchy meat and potato croquettes and syrup-drenched stroopwafels, while the country’s colonial past means that a stop in an Indonesian restaurant is actually a very Dutch experience. While hearty eating is very much on the national menu, your sightseeing trips are best taken as the locals themselves travel – by bicycle – so there are lots of opportunities to work off any big meals during your holidays to the Netherlands.
April for King’s Day
Celebrating the Dutch monarchy, the nationwide festival of Koningsdag sees locals, dressed in orange, attending flea markets, carnivals, and concerts, with especially grand showings in the capital.
The first country to legalise same-sex marriage, the Netherlands hosts the world’s most exciting, family-friendly pride event with floats on the canals crossing Amsterdam.
Amsterdam hosts the world’s largest parade dedicated to Sinterklaas. He arrives in the city in mid-November before heading to other towns around the Netherlands.
The Red Light District
Taking a historical tour of this infamous district will open your eyes to how progressive it all really is – you’ll come away with a much better sense of Netherlands life.
With Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam also boasts some of the country’s most modern architecture, all easy to see from the seat of a cycle.
Marvel at the museums
Exceptional museums are dotted around the country, from the wacky museum of bizarre inventions the Bizarium in Sluis, to the historic windmills in Kinderdijk.