The Netherlands: A Tourist Guide

6 Jun 2019

I consider myself a pretty seasoned traveller, I was fortunate enough to have parents who really treasured having the opportunity to explore foreign countries and experience different cultures that I ended up going on my first overseas flight before I even turned one! But if there's one place that I've been to the most and I'm most familiar with, it's most definitely The Netherlands. While I'm loud and proud about my love and affection towards Denmark (where I've been 4 times), I often somehow shy away from talking about all TEN of my experiences in The Netherlands (My Dad lived in Amsterdam for a year and became a little obsessed so we went there A LOT as kids). Amsterdam is quickly becoming that place where absolutely everybody on Instagram is going to or has been to in the past year and now since they've won Eurovision the likelihood that tourism will peak again is huge, so I'm going to share a few tips about visiting Amsterdam as well as a few other places you should try to get to while you're there because the Netherlands is more than just Amsterdam and is definitely more than just 'Holland'.

Amsterdam Tips
We'll start with the biggie! Everyone and their cousin is going to Amsterdam at the minute and while I did just mention that the Netherlands is more than just Amsterdam it's also great to know some tips for getting around Amsterdam easily as well as what to do and what not to do etc. I'm not a local so I'm sure there are people better qualified than me but here's just a little summary of the things I like to get up to when we visit the city.

Dwaze Zaken
If you're not staying in the heart if the city (which we rarely do) you'll most likely be hopping off the train at Amsterdam Centraal. Once you get out of the station, almost straight ahead of you across the canal is Dwaze Zaken. We love this place and no trip to Amsterdam for our family is complete without it. In fairness, my dad worked here when he lived in Amsterdam so that's why we go all the time, but I think it's definitely worth a visit. It's described as a Lively, Christian-oriented cafe serving hearty meals & beers on tap, plus art exhibits & live music. Also if you ever do visit pop in and check out their toilets. You think I'm kidding but really these toilets are next level, that's all I'm going to say to keep up the suspense!

Book Museums in Advance
If you want to go to certain museums and art galleries when you're in Amsterdam make sure you book them at least the day before you're planning on going to save yourself an unnecessary hike out to Museumplein only to be turned away, This happened to us first hand because we never thought to book the Van Gogh museum in the height of summer, oops, so make sure you avoid our mistakes so they weren't made in vain!

Use a Map
I know, I know, you don't want to look like a tourist, I hate looking like a tourist on holiday because I always just want to blend in but if you can get your hands on a city guide it'll have a whole load of places you can choose to visit on it, That's where I discovered Hortus Botanicus which just so happened to be one of my favourite places we went to in the city.

Canal Tour
Amsterdam is obviously famous for its canals so if you're going you DEFINITELY have to go on a canal tour, otherwise, what's the point in going to the city of Canals? There are so many different tours to choose from but they basically all offer the same thing. 

Obviously with weed cannabis being legal in The Netherlands that can be a big draw for people but if that's not your jam (It's definitely not my jam) just be aware that the smell of weed can be very strong at certain times. And research actual coffee shops before you go so you don't end up going into the wrong kind!

Footwear Choice
Obviously, when you're on a city break you're going to be walking a lot so make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear. That doesn't necessarily mean trainers or walking shoes but any shoes that you're comfortable walking long distances in, I wore my Arizona Birkenstocks and they suited me perfectly but that's because they're comfortable for me, but maybe just avoid heels if your planning on exploring a lot of the city.

We can't go on holiday to The Netherlands without a trip to a pancake house for lunch. If you can find an authentic Dutch pancake house it's definitely worth hitting up and I'm just going to recommend you try a Cheese and Bacon one, it will blow your mind!

Other Places I Think Are Worth Visiting
As I mentioned, the Netherlands is more than just Amsterdam so while I've been to Amsterdam a fair few times, there are also many other places in The Netherlands that we've explored, so here are a few of my favourites from throughout the years.

I love Tilburg, it's completely different from Amsterdam but it's got that big city vibe without being overpowering. There are so many things to do and there's loads of good cafes and restaurants that I think it definitely warrants a visit! In fairness my opinion may be tainted by the fact that we watched Mamma Mia Here We Go Again here and I'll forever associate it with Young Bill but minor details. (Films are all in English in The Netherlands with Dutch subtitles so it makes going to the cinema really easy, if it's maybe raining one day and you need something to do inside)

Famous for its blue pottery, it has the most beautiful centre with renaissance buildings and you can even see some cheese rolling although that's probably less exciting than it sounds it's really fun to be able to experience authentic Dutch culture.

WINDMILLS! Nothing screams The Netherlands more than Windmills and Kinderdijk has an abundance and it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been since 1997.

If you're looking for a beach resort, this is THE beach resort of The Netherlands, we've spent countless holidays in Zandvoort fulfilling the beach needs that always creep in when you're on holiday. Anywhere in Zeeland is also a good shout if you're looking for a good beach to visit.

This is a place that not a lot of tourists actually visit but it's got a modern centre with cool street art with multitudes of restaurants, cafe's, and bars with great nightlife but it's also got a medieval part and lots of old architecture, surrounded by a moat. All in all, it's pretty cool!

Basically, it's mini-Amsterdam but with fewer crowds so if you're after the aesthetics of Amsterdam but without the people everywhere, Haarlem is probably your best shot! Corrie Ten Boom's house is also here if you're interested in the Holocaust then this is a good visit!

Each village in The Netherlands is unique so if you stumble across one, have an wander. The last time we visited, the village we stayed in had an exact replica of St Peter's Basilica in Rome in the centre which was really random but also really cool to explore.

Is there anywhere in The Netherlands that you've visited that you think other people should too? Let me know below!

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