The Netherlands Travel Guide
The German poet Heinrich Heine described the Netherlands as a place where “everything happens 50 years later than anywhere else”. One will reach quite an opposite conclusion, if comes to check out the actual state of affairs. The Netherlands is usually associated with tulips, clogs footwear, windmills and Gedoogcultuur or a culture of permissiveness. The country has much more to offer apart from that, however. Amsterdam is the most cosmopolitan city in the Netherlands with some of the best nightclubs in Europe, cobblestone lanes and the canals frame old gabled mansions, Rotterdam is the industrial centre and home to the Europoort, one of the world’s largest ports, while The Hague is filled with the headquarters of many international organizations and government institutions, including the International Criminal Court. With its neighbouring seaside resort of Scheveningen, The Hague is the spot to enjoy some summer activities. Make sure to leave the capital city and explore the country’s smaller cities like Leiden, Edam and Haarlem, which have changed little over the centuries.
Getting Around The Netherlands
The Netherlands has a comprehensive and efficient public transport system. Major cities can be easily reached by train, while towns and villages are served by local buses. The comfortable Interliner long-distance buses connect destinations without rail links. Most intercity trains tickets in the Netherlands cost between 9-25 EUR, or even cheaper depending on the distance. Amsterdam to Utrecht is around 8 EUR and takes 27 minutes, Amsterdam to The Hague is around 11 EUR and takes 50 minutes, Amsterdam to Schiphol takes just 15 minutes. OV chipcard or anonymous chipcards are great to avoid surcharge for paper tickets. OV cards can be used on buses, trams, metros and ferries. Take advantage of the country’s flatness and rent a bike for around 12 EUR per day. Public transport in Amsterdam is cheap, a GVB 1 hour one-way ticket is under 3 EUR. Taxi fares are quite expensive, thus some drivers might refuse to give a lift for less than 10 EUR. It is surely illegal, but it is difficult to protest such a refusal.
Food in the Netherlands
Dutch food may not be popular, but it still has tasty meals to try. Dutch cuisine has absorbed a little bit from everywhere around Europe. German, French and Belgian meals are all mixed here. It is worth noting that Dutch food is quite straightforward and nourishing. Apart from restaurants with European food, there are numerous Chinese, Indonesian and Middle Eastern restaurants. Food prices in the Netherlands mostly depend on the city and the eatery’s location. Expect to pay around 15-25 EUR in an inexpensive restaurant. Meals in a mid-range restaurant cost around 60-70 EUR. Frituur snack vans serve fast-food near public transport stops and offer french fries wrapped in a traditional cone, sandwiches, meatballs and Kebab for around 4-5 EUR. Thus, most fast food like FeBO and street stalls come for 5-10 EUR or cheaper. French fries, which is a Belgian or Flemish dish, quite popular in the Netherlands. At first I was sure that the french fries are all the same everywhere, but it turned out in the Netherlands this meal is delicious and addictive. You can’t just pass the stall without having one! Make sure to compare the fries from various street vendors, as it totally worth it! The traditional Dutch cuisine consists of meat, potatoes and vegetables. Make sure to try pannenkoeken, traditional Dutch pancakes, wide cheese varieties, especially Gouda, Edam, Leerdammer, Maaslander and Maasdamer, salted herring with chopped onion and pea soup with smoked sausages.
Accommodation in the Netherlands
With so many accommodation options in the Netherlands, there is also a chance to save on it. Most hostels in Amsterdam’s center are really expensive, while those closer to the outskirts have the prices ranging from 18-34 EUR per night for a dorm room. Rooms at budget hotels come for 45-70 EUR with amenities like free WiFi and bathroom. Couchsurfing and Airbnb are great options to save on accommodation. While Couchsurfing is usually a free fun, expect to get a shared room at Airbnb for around 20 EUR per night or studio apartment with prices starting at 45 EUR. It might be tough to find accommodation in Amsterdam in late April, as the country celebrates the King’s Day — formerly Queen’s Day. At this time, accommodation prices are almost twice as high as they are during the normal days, while the capital is crowded with people coming from neighboring cities and countries. Campers will be spoiled for choice in the Netherlands, with numerous campsites and caravan parks, which are often situated in stunning locations. Expect to pay around 12-15 EUR per night at the campsite.