Dutch culture can be elusive to even the most avid traveller. Until now, that is.
The Netherlands offers unique travel experiences, immersing visitors in a world that is only now becoming popular to the everyday tourist. While Amsterdam is well-known to the world as the place to let your hair down, little do many know that there is so much more to see around the country. From stunning architecture to sprawling tulip fields, and even Dutch cheese, here are seven reasons to visit the Netherlands.
Explore the quirky world of Amsterdam
Before we trundle through the rest of the country, let’s see what makes Amsterdam so popular for tourists. It’s the city famed for its canals and bicycle-friendly laneways, but it’s the museums and outdoor art that entices the tourists. Head for Amsterdam-Centrum which laced with all sorts of unique museums: from Anne Frank to Van Gogh, Rembrandts to a museum about bags and purses; all the way down to sex work and gore-laden dungeons. They’ve even got an art museum dedicated to felines, as well as plenty of street art to find as you wander or cycle through the streets. While you’re out and about, head to the Vondelpark for a mental recharge as you lounge on the grass with the locals. And if you feel like experiencing the naughty side of Amsterdam, there’s always the infamous Red Light District as well as the renowned coffee shops.
Experience the vivid colours of tulips
Tulips are the national flower of the Netherlands and the season to see them is spring, of course. Spring in the Netherlands blossoms between March and May, and it’s not just tulips that bloom. The season starts with the flowering of crocuses, followed by daffodils and hyacinths. Then, from mid-April to the end of spring, the tulips revitalise the sprawling fields with vivid colours. Show off your stunning holiday to family and friends with a spectacular picture among the flowers. The most popular fields near Amsterdam can be located in the province of Flevoland. They can also be found in The Hague in the south and Alkmaar in the north. And if you want to get the best of tulip season, pay a visit to the Keukenhof, where seven million flowers bloom in spring each year.
See the wondrous architecture
Dutch architecture has influenced the world over three eras of change, holding its own unique style over the centuries. The first wave began in the 17th century during the peak of the Dutch empire, which led to change in the 20th century through a modernised style. Today, architecture in the Netherlands is going through its next trend with a new taste on modernism. Take a bike ride through the country towns and see the historical influence keeping strong, primarily the thatch-roofed houses of Giethoorn. Get a taste of post-modernism of the 20th century in Rotterdam, being sure to see the Cubic houses of Rotterdam (featured). And to get a taste of the ultra-modern architecture of The Netherlands, Amsterdam is by the far the best place.
Uncover the history of the Netherlands
The Netherlands dates back to Roman times, and has accumulated a rich history over the decades and centuries – there’s just so much to uncover! While the museums in Amsterdam are a great way to learn about the history, we find a better way is to travel through the sprawling landscape and find the towns that share more than just specialised insights on standing placards. Visit the oldest city in the Netherlands called Nijmegen, which celebrated its bimillennial in 2005. While you’re there, visit the Kronenburgerpark and see the historical beauty that still stands today. This could be a good time to say that if you really want to learn Dutch culture, it’s best to ask. The Dutch people are a robust bunch, who are very direct in the way they speak and act. Just viewing their wondrous architecture will show you that.
Salivate over the local cuisine
Come for the culture, stay for the food. Dutch pleases all sorts of taste buds with an array of eclectic feeds. A prominent worldwide hit is Dutch cheese, in the form of gouda, edam, leyden and maasdam. In fact, cheese is one of the Netherlands’ top exports. You can find all sorts of delicatessens that serve up these tasty treats. For those with a serious sweet tooth, try their famous stroopwafel: it’s a mix between a cookie and a waffle, with sweet syrup squeezed inside. Another popular snack is the kroket, which is a deep fried roll stuffed with meat ragout. You can have a kroket on its own or in a sandwich with mustard on the side. Australians will love the hagelslag, a sandwich filled with chocolate sprinkles which is usually consumed by the Dutch for breakfast or lunch.