Often called Holland, the Netherlands is in fact 12 provinces, one of which is called Holland. Located in north-western Europe it is full of picturesque windmills, tulips blooming in spring, walking and bike trails, fun and festivals. Famous names in beer brewing like Heineken and Amstel have found a place in the world. Throughout the country, boutique breweries are a treat and beer has been enjoyed since the Middle Ages, so they know ales.
The capital is Amsterdam, a delightful, sophisticated and friendly metropolis. They like their coffee, wine bars, comedy, and affluent lifestyle. There is much to do from a canal cruise, seeing an original Van Gough, taking in the Light Festival, or a walking tour tracing the fascinating life of Anne Frank. Leave the city and do either a self-drive or organised tour and explore the treasures around this beautiful country.
Amsterdam is a smorgasbord of great hotels, restaurants, exciting-racy nightlife, and a huge 'rave' scene. Then there are the marijuana cafes, where getting high on more than coffee is legal. Great shopping is also aplenty. It's a progressive, proud culture and at the forefront of environmentalism.
The Netherlands is a low nation, with nearly one-third of the landmass below sea level. It makes hiking and bike riding a breeze and boasts some 35,000 kilometres worth of bike trails alone. Vaalserberg is the highest point at 323 meters while Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel is currently the lowest point at -6.76 meters NAP.
Each province has its distinctive landscape and atmospheres like the lakes in Friesland and the Biesbosch in North Brabant. Tulip lovers will be delighted by Keukenhofin in spring. Drenthe has prehistoric remains, including the unique tombs called hunebeds. For those that like ice- skating, check out the weather conditions and maybe register for Elfstedentocht as it travels through eleven Friesian cities.
Food is aplenty. For fish lovers, Haring or ‘Hollandse Nieuwe’ is a local favourite served with new herring freshly caught from the sea. There is no shortage of ice cream, pastries and treats for those with a sweet tooth. Stroopwafel, a rather unusual waffle biscuit filled with a delicious syrup, is one of the most famous pastry treats.
From clogs to cogs, watches and windmills, tulips and a country that aims to be clean and green, enjoy the Netherlands and their warm Dutch hospitality.
It’s a European country that can be visited all year round. Autumn and the start of winter is the quietest season, with fewer crowds and lines to major attractions. Spring is a peak season as the tulips bloom and tracks open to those that like the great outdoors.
Festivals also see most accommodation in towns fill quickly, so it’s best to plan. Outside of Christmas, winter is low season. It’s cold, but if you like the indoors, it’s the best time for the wallet and to avoid long lines for entry into Amsterdam's numerous, famous, art galleries and museums. The bars are also warm and full of locals.