Travel guide to Netherlands

» Netherlands
The kingdom of the Netherlands is a liberal country which offers the visitor some impressive cultural and natural wonders. A walk along the canals in Amsterdam offers beautiful buildings and impressive art museums with the great Dutch painters Van Gogh and Rembrandt. Holland is known as the land of tulips, with dashing natural beauty and colourful fields of flowers, windmills and dikes.

Facts

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Local name
Koninkrijk der Nederlanden
Capital
Amsterdam (Den Haag is the seat of government)
Size
41.863 km2
Principal Languages
Dutch
Principal Religion
Christianity
Inhabitants
15.200.000
Government
Constitutional monarchy
Geography
Three big European rivers run through Holland out to the English Channel and the North Sea. The North Sea region has been widely reclaimed and drained, to such a degree that around 40 percent of the land today lies under sea level. So millions of lives depend upon the stability of the dikes.

Travel preparation

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Best time to visit

In order to get a view of the many flowers, Holland should be visited in the spring. However, it should be emphasized that the weather is very unpredictable.

Literature

Lonely Planet, Western Europe on a shoestring

Local conditions

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Currency

Gulden (Guilders - NFL)

Net cafes

There is no problem getting on the internet anywhere in the country, as internet cafés are abundant all over.

In case of emergency

In case of emergency call 112.

Tipping

Tips are not expected in restaurants or hotels, and it is up to yourself if you want to give any money.

Timezone

When it is 12.00 in England, it is 13.00 in Holland.

Weight and Measures

Length: metre Weight: kilograms

Photography

As a normal average photographer, there should be no problems in Holland.

Drinking water

The water is generally fine in Holland.

Electricity

The following voltage is used in Holland:: 220 volts AC, 50Hz.

Behaviour

As in all other places, normal good behaviour will get you far.

Business Hours

Banks are open from 9AM to 4PM. In the big cities, opening hours are from 9AM to 8 or 9PM, while the shops are open from 9AM to 4PM in the rest of the country.

Food and drink

The different Dutch regions each have their own speciality. Fish is common in many dishes; different varieties of herring are particularly popular. Besides this Holland is rich in exotic restaurants with roots in the Dutch colonial past.

Holidays

Holidays: New Years day, January 1st The Queens birthday, April 13th Day of liberation, May 5th Christmas day, December 25th

Accommodation / Hotel

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Camping

Any road-trip in Europe in the summer makes it obvious that the Dutch love to camp. Hence, the country has around 2500 camping grounds. However, camping outside the grounds is not allowed. You may save money by staying more than one night in a camping ground, which may be a good idea as the prices often are quite high.

Hotels

Holland's hotels are of all kinds, and as there are many rooms, it should not be a problem finding a bed. The national tourist office has divided hotels into seven categories so that searching for the right hotel is easier.

Bed og breakfast or guesthouse

Bed & Breakfasts are not common in Holland. However, you may ask for them at the local tourist office.

Hostels

Holland's 34 hostels are mostly placed in areas of great natural beauty. Some are in modernized castles, while others are in more modern buildings.

Local transport

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Planes

Both KLM and a number of airlines fly domestic routes in Holland, although the short distances and high prices make it difficult for them to compete with the trains or buses.

Bus

There are a couple of intercity-buses, but the routes are not very extensive and they have a hard time competing with the trains. It is possible to combine trains and buses, and it is worth noting that the schedules between trains and buses are coordinated.

Trains

Trains are by far the most popular mode of transport in Holland. They are fast, cheap and punctual, and are therefore the best alternative to buses and planes. There are different kinds of discounts, so just ask about them at the stations.

Taxi

All taxis have a taxi-meter, so there shouldn't be any discussion. It is most common to order a taxi by phone, though it is possible to hail one in the street.

Car rental

All the biggest car rental companies have offices in Holland. Usually the easiest way is to rent the car through the offices of a given company in your own country, and you can get all the relevant details at the same time.

Boat or Ferry

Many boats and ferries leave for some of the islands in the English Channel, as well as to many English cities.

Other Transport

If you don't bring your own bike, it is easy to rent one anywhere in Holland. Ask at a local tourist information office.

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