What to do when in The Netherlands
The Netherlands, or Holland as the country often is called, has many good things to offer to visitors. While the total area is small (roughly 26,413 square miles), it features 12 provinces which are all of a quite distinctively different character when it comes to their landscapes and their typical local people and cultural habits.
As a Dutch team we have selected some places and activities which you possibly might like to visit. In addition to mentioning some standard touristic ‘hot items’, we are pleased to guide you to some very attractive parts of our country that you probably won’t find in the standard tourist guide books.
At the start we as Dutch team invite all of you: feel free to contact us if you have any specific areas of interest. For information about The Netherlands in general contact Barbara Koning. For information about the Southern part of the country, specifically the larger area near Rolduc, contact Willem Fermont.
You can find general information about our country at: http://www.holland.com/global/tourism/plan-your-holiday/practical-information/tourist-information-offices.htm. Every local village has its own touristic information website and you can be sure all these websites have English versions (but finding that link can be the problem).
By the way, most of the many museums in our country publish their websites and their treasures with texts in English.
Don’t worry about traveling around. We’ve got a great public transportation network that allows easy access to all places you’d like to go. Another option would be to rent a car or book a tour that includes transportation. If you’re planning to travel around a lot and cover much ground, we suggest that you set up a base centrally located in The Netherlands.
Many of our cities have very attractive and charming city centers. There you can find beautiful old historical houses and buildings, as well as a bunch of cosy small shops and boutiques. Spending a day there will be enjoyable. We recommend a few below.
The larger Amsterdam Airport region:
A special folkoristic small historical island with its village with characteristic antique wooden houses is Marken.
If you prefer residing in nature above a city trip, our country has a large variety of landscapes, sometimes located only a few miles apart from one another.
Due to its largely flat landscape, one has easy access by making a tour by bike. All over the country it is easy to rent a bike. All over the country a coherent system of guided routes has been set up, called Fietsnetwerk (“Biking network”): https://www.fietsnetwerk.nl/en/. You will never get lost. A network of low budget lodging has been set up where private owners offer their rooms only for people who travel by bike. These B&B’s are called “Vrienden op de Fiets”. Their website in English: https://www.vriendenopdefiets.nl/en. Bikes also can be transported easily by train during most of the hours of the day (not during busiest hours called ‘spits’).
Our country has many lakes so those of you who like sailing easily will find places to rent a boat. To mention a few areas: in the north the province of Friesland has a very large lake district where you can make a nice tour along nice small rural historical villages, like Sneek or Woudsend . In the middle of the country the village of Loosdrecht is famous for its five lakes. In the south of the country, not far from Rolduc, the Roermond area has a rich sailing district, a combination of rivers and lakes.
Next to biking or sailing, in many areas you can enjoy the woods and the countryside as well by horseriding or canoeing. Addresses can be found through local websites for touristic information.
Our country has 20 national parks: www.netherlands-tourism.com/20-amazing-national-parks-in-the-netherlands/. To highlight one of them: De Hoge Veluwe is of outstanding natural beauty; its museum for fine arts Kröller Müller is very famous. One can cross the park making a very nice tour by free bikes.
Holland is famous for its water management. For the dikes you might want to have a look at
– Neeltje Jans. All about the water engineering Delta after the 1953 flooding disaster
– The steam driven pumping station at Nijkerk
– The (water pumping) windmills at Kinderdijk
How we a century ago turned a complete sea into land has been preserved in the Zuiderzee-museum, which shows its education through a variety of indoor as well as outdoor elements.
If you are fond of historical sites, our country offers many places to go. Especially the southern part of our country, which is the area around Rolduc, contains many historical interesting sites. You can find more information on the tourist information webpage of the city of Maastricht. Maastricht itself already is a very beautiful city. As it is situated in the hills, an exciting program is making a tour underground there. Willem Fermont, member of the Dutch team, himself is a local in this area and will be happy to answer any specific questions.
Also in the north the hunebeds are the oldest monuments in the Netherland, over 4000 years old (comparable with some of the Egyptian pyramids). They are prehistoric tombstones built by the Funnelbeaker people using boulders transported to Drenthe during the Ice Age. The province Drenthe has no fewer than 52 hunebeds in a 30-kilometre radius. In Borger you can combine a visit to the Hunebedcenter with a view of the largest Dolmen.
Or do you rather prefer to visit a castle? Some of them even offer a bed&breakfast facility! This website – only in Dutch- gives an overview: http://www.kasteel.nl/kastelen/. Individual castles may have an information page in English on their website.
The next two sites, both in their own way symbolically very rich, are of a special character when it comes to dreamers.
Firstly: in Amsterdam the Ritman Library offers a very special collection of books and pictures. It calls itself the embassy of the free mind. https://www.ritmanlibrary.com/ It is a place where you can find wisdom from all over the world, where images and texts will tell you centuries-old stories created by free thinkers. It is a place where you can encounter history, science, art and spirituality all connected. This same Ritman Library offers you a journey through 2,000 years of wisdom, inspired by the collection of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. Open for visitors from Wednesday – Saturday from 10.00 – 17.00 in the House with the Heads (123, Keizersgracht, Amsterdam).
Secondly: in the eastern part of the country (close to the Apeldoorn train station) two creative landscape designers have turned an estate into a beautiful symbolic garden. Walking the tour (1 h walk) gives you a contemplation of scenes referring to the course of life (conception, pregnancy, birth, crossing points), feeling states, the senses, the chakras, astrology and more. The garden is named Levenstuinen van het Groot Hontschoten, http://www.levenstuinen.nl/en/the-garden/introduction/. A preview can be found at the internet: Pictures.
UNESCO world heritage
Some of the places in our country are so characteristic they are considered of value for humankind as such, to be preserved for coming generations.
- Defence Line of Amsterdam(1996)
- Droogmakerij de Beemster (Beemster Polder)(1999)
- Historic Area of Willemstad, Inner City and Harbour, Curaçao(1997)
- D.F. Woudagemaal (D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station)(1998)
- Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout(1997)
- Rietveld Schröderhuis (Rietveld Schröder House)(2000)
- Schokland and Surroundings(1995)
- Seventeenth-Century Canal Ring Area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht(2010)
- Van Nellefabriek(2014)
- Wadden Sea(2009,2014)
Close to Rolduc we can recommend a citytrip to Cologne.
Our southern neighbor country Belgium is as well worth a trip.
We conclude with mentioning a few very charming cities in Belgium, of interest for those who arrive at Brussels airport: