Netherlands Travel Tips

Last Updated: April 28, 2023
By: Gerrit

With these practical Netherlands travel tips about Holland, I’m trying to make your trip to Holland frictionless, more enjoyable, and, above all, more relaxed.

You can click from the index below to go directly to the topic of your choice. Or, of course, you can read them all, and you’ll be current on everything Holland 😉

Find practical information about the best time to travel, the weather, money, electricity, accessibility, and everything in between.

Practical Netherlands travel tips.
Practical information Holland for visitors. Photo: Filip Bodlak

This post contains affiliate links. I’ll earn a small commission at no additional cost if you make purchase. By doing so, you support this website and my free content. Note: that commissions never influence my opinion. I also provide non-affiliate links when it benefits you most.

Accessibility

Wheelchair assistance on dutch train.
Wheelchair assistance on Dutch train – Photo: NS

If you travel with a disability, you should find – in general – that Holland as a country is well adapted for travelers with a disability. Most public buildings are accessible, as are most museums, theme parks, and restaurants.

Taking public transport is generally possible, but it can require some extra planning if you take the train. Read more about this in my full article about travel in the Netherlands with a disability.

The one major exception for good accessibility is the Anne Frank House Museum. Read more about that here.

Public spaces in modern parts of villages, towns, and cities are well adapted to wheelchair users. Still, older historic city centers can prove challenging at times.

Airports

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is the largest airport in Holland and is used by most visitors. 

There are also four smaller airports in Holland. They can be convenient if you want to combine your visit to Holland with other European destinations. Usually, you can travel at better prices from these airports and be in and out of the airport much quicker.

These airports are:

  • Rotterdam/The Hague Airport
  • Eindhoven Airport
  • Maastricht/Aachen Airport
  • Groningen Airport

Read more about the airports in Holland in our dedicated post here.

Best Time To Travel to Holland

Gorgeous red tulips during flower season in the Netherlands.
Gorgeous red tulips during flower season in the Netherlands.

Holland can be visited year-round, and each season has pros and cons to each season.

Spring is one of the most popular seasons to visit Holland. Expect large crowds and high prices, especially in flower season. That is between the last week of March and the first week of May.

The best week to see most flowers bloom is the 3rd and 4th week of April. April and May are also the months with the most sunshine (on average) in Holland.

As a bonus, April and May are also great for joining typical Dutch celebrations. On April 27th, it’s Kings Day, May 4th is Remembrance Day, and May 5th is Liberation Day.

Kingsday is a national holiday and the most significant national celebration ever. Make sure to wear something orange if you’re here! 

Summers can be hot in Amsterdam or full of rain. You never know. Neither is particularly pleasant. 

The Germans will invade our beaches :-). And in August, when France, Spain, and Italy have their holiday together, Holland, our tiny country, is swamped by tourists. Especially Amsterdam then bursts to its seams with tourists.

Plus, the Dutch have their long summer holidays. They’re going on many day trips adding to an overhaul feeling of the busyness of cities and attractions all around the country.

I think The Netherlands is best to be avoided for a visit during summer. Unless you have the urge to practice your French, Italian, or German, then summertime is perfect!

The one event worth visiting during the summer, despite high prices and crowded streets, is Gay Pride on the canals of Amsterdam. It’s famous for its inclusive atmosphere and the colorful boats that will pass you by.

Autumn is a great time to visit Holland and see the beautiful fall colors on the trees. Prices are low this season, most tourists are gone, and nature is at its most beautiful again (after the flower season).

Holland might be known for flat green grasslands with cows and windmills. But the country also has gorgeous forests all around, which become spectacular during the fall season. Put on your hiking boots, bring a warm coat, order a hot chocolate with whipped cream like the Dutch do, and explore Holland as not many visitors do.

Winter is the slowest season of them all. But also, as the Dutch say, “gezellig” (cozy). It might be dark outside, but lights, candles, and holiday decorations are everywhere.

In December you can visit Christmas fairs and markets at castles, old medieval cities and even in caves. Plus, the famous Christmas markets in Germany are just around the corner. Easily accessible on a day trip.

Prices will be the lowest, and many tourists won’t visit. If the dark and cold don’t bother you, this might be the best time to visit. One side note: the two weeks around Christmas are crazy busy in Amsterdam. If you can avoid Christmas/New Year in Amsterdam, do! There are no significant celebrations anyway, then other cities like London are much better.

Drinking water

NS Tap Water points at railway stations.
NS Tap Water points at railway stations – Photo: NS

Amsterdam and the rest of Holland have the best tap water in the world. Quality is so good that you won’t taste any difference between bottled and tap water. There is no chemical taste like so many other countries do.

It makes no sense to buy bottled water in the Netherlands. It’s taxing to the environment and your wallet. Dutch drinking water is safe to drink.

Some restaurants serve tap water for free, but most don’t. Be prepared to see a charge for water on your bill.

Also, note the serving size of drinks in general in restaurants in Amsterdam and the rest of Holland are super tiny. On average, 200ml/7 fl. oz. And they are expensive (non-alcoholic beverages like mineral water and soda cost around €3 per drink), with no free refills either.

Drugs

A coffeeshop in Amsterdam is not for coffee.
A coffee shop in Amsterdam is not for coffee – Photo: Martijn Baudoin

Amsterdam and Holland have a liberal image when it comes to drugs. But are things as relaxed as they seem? The short answer is no.

Usage and selling of soft drugs, including marihuana, are tolerated and regulated via “coffee shops.” That doesn’t mean it’s socially accepted, however.

It’s also illegal to smoke in public spaces. In tourist areas, this is not enforced, but elsewhere in the country, it is. There is a significant social stigma about drug usage, including marihuana. It’s not regarded as something cool by the Dutch. Drug usage, any drug, is usually associated with social problems and low income.

So why do we tolerate/legalize it? The Dutch have always been pragmatic. By regulating it, you take some of the criminal activity away. Now you can also tax it and provide healthcare. Plus, some of the curiosity disappears. Nowadays, many users are foreign visitors. Everything forbidden tends to be more attractive. Read more about the Dutch here.

Dutch Food

Dutch stroopwafel. The iconic caramel waffle from the Netherlands.
Dutch Stroopwafel at the Zaanse Schans.

Ok, our cuisine might not be famous. We get it. Expats often describe it as dull—meat, veggies, potatoes, and often, no salt.

Most Dutch will take a wholewheat sandwich with one slice of cheese or ham, nothing else, to work. The Dutch consider their main meals usually as practical. That doesn’t sound exciting.

The good news is you can find excellent restaurants with kitchens from all over the world everywhere in Amsterdam and the rest of Holland, from a quick, wholesome tasty meal to Michelin-starred restaurants. You won’t be deprived of good food here.

Due to its past colonial ties, Indonesian and Surinam cuisines are widely available around Holland. Both kitchens are amazingly flavorful and a must-try when you visit. We also have Dutch food specialties that are worth trying, believe it or not.

I’ve written a post about them. We excel in snacks, candy, pastries, seasonal products, and everything fried. A “Bitterbal” anyone? Read about Dutch Food in my post: “Traditional Dutch Food.”

Electricity

Electricity EU plugs are different then elsewhere in the world.
Two pole EU power plug. Make sure to travel with the correct adapters.

In Holland, we use 220-230 volts. If you’re traveling from a country that uses 110-120 volts like the US or Canada, be aware that not all your devices will work here.

Usually, chargers for personal electronics and shavers can handle both voltages but check the adapter to see if this applies to your appliances.

Look at the image below to know what to look for. Our plugs are round two-prong plugs, with or without grounding. Make sure to buy a travel adapter before you leave home if your plugs look different.

Healthcare

Doctor.
Healthcare is organized trough the family doctor (GP) first in the Netherlands.

Dutch medical care is considered one of the best in the world. You can find well-equipped modern hospitals in all major towns and cities nationwide. Doctors, nurses, dentists, and other healthcare professionals will speak English.

Most medicines are available in Holland. Make sure your (travel) insurance covers the total costs of medical care in Holland, or be prepared to pay upfront if you need treatment.

The medical system here works differently than in most countries. You can not go directly to the emergency room without a life-threatening emergency. Otherwise, a family doctor must refer you to a specialist if necessary.

Once you arrive, it’s important to get information from your accommodation, which family doctor to contact when you need one. Usually, this is included in the information booklet in your accommodation. If not, ask your host or at the reception.

Immigration (Passport, Visa, and ETIAS)

Passport and Immigration control in the Netherlands.
Passport control The Netherlands – Photo: NS

Most visitors from Western countries don’t need a visa for Holland when visiting as a tourist or for business. A valid passport (valid for at least three months after your intended departure) is enough.

If you live in the EU, an identity card is even sufficient.

There is some confusion out there about ETIAS. It stands for European Travel Information and Authorisation System. If you live outside the EU but can travel visa-free, you’ll need to apply for a pre-clearance to go to the EU when ETIAS comes into effect.

The fee will be €7, and you can apply online. Once approved, your travel authorization is valid for two years for multiple trips. ETIAS is not yet in effect. It’s expected to be launched in 2024. It’s not necessary or possible to apply for it now.

Of course, I’ll update this post when ETIAS comes into effect.

Internet In The Netherlands

Good Wifi at a cafe in Groningen.
Good Wifi at a cafe in Groningen – Photo: Jantine Doornbos

Internet access is excellent in Holland. Most restaurants, hotels, and public places offer fast WIFI. If you’re staying with Dutch friends, they most likely have fast broadband Internet at home.

Still, I advise getting a local sim card with a large data allowance. It’s much easier than connecting to WIFI networks every time. And you’ll have the Internet everywhere (if not only for Google Maps!).

It’s also safer to use your data than public WIFI. Mobile Internet is so fast here that you won’t notice a difference with the internet speed at home. These high speeds mean you consume a lot more data because even watching Netflix on a mobile network is no problem.

Make sure your data bundle is adequate. I advise about 1 GB for every day you’re here in Europe. I’ve written a post on the best travel sim card for European travel.

Language

The Dutch speak Dutch (Nederlands). To many foreigners, it sounds German. Please never, ever make the mistake of calling the Dutch language German. Or try to do your best to speak the few German words you know to a Dutch person.

The German occupation during WWII isn’t forgotten. Yes, we are friendly with our German neighbors now and welcome them to our beaches every summer, but it’s a thin layer. Calling a Dutch person German is offensive, no matter how good your intentions are.

In general, most people in Amsterdam and the rest of the country speak English. Finding your way and asking for advice or help should never be a problem. Most of my US friends say how amazed they are at the level of English here.

Do note that older people don’t always speak English very well since it wasn’t taught in school back then. Also note that although the Dutch speak English well, there are still cultural barriers like the Dutch directness. Read our article about the Dutch people to prepare yourself for this :-).

Money

How to exchange currency in Amsterdam. Euro banknotes.
How to Exchange Currency in the Netherlands.

Money is always an important topic when you travel. What currency do you need? Can I use an ATM in Holland? How to exchange money, how to tip, et cetera. 

Read the answer to these questions in my post about Exchanging Currency in Amsterdam and the rest of The Netherlands.

ATM’s

ATMs are widely available. It’s legislation that ATMs must be available within a certain distance from everyone’s home to make access to cash available to everybody, even people living remotely and the elderly.

Google Maps has an excellent feature for locating the nearest ATM in Holland. Shopping centers and railway stations are always a safe bet to find one. More about ATMs can be read in my post about exchanging currency.

Sales Tax

Sales Tax or Value Added Tax. In Dutch, we call it BTW. On non-food items, the VAT is 21%, and on food items, 9%.

The rate is steep, but VAT/BTW is included in all prices. The price you see is the price you pay. This is different than the US, for example, where sales tax is added at the register. That won’t happen here.

If you live outside the EU, you might qualify for a tax refund if you take the goods out of the country. Participating stores have a VAT refund sticker on the shop windows and near the register.

When you qualify, ask for a form at the cash register, get a customs stamp at the airport and claim your refund there. After fees, you get around 15% of the purchase amount back. In general, only large department stores and tourist shops/areas offer this service. Regular stores rarely do.

Tipping

Tipping in Holland is different than, for example, in the US. It’s not mandatory or expected. Salaries here are higher than elsewhere. Still, the Dutch do tip. It’s considered rude if you receive excellent service but do not give a tip.

However, there isn’t a fixed percentage that is expected. It’s customary to tip a few euros to round up the bill. Usually, between 5 and 10% of the total amount, where 10% is considered an excellent tip.

If service is extraordinary, you can, of course, tip accordingly. But don’t tip as you would at home. That is often not expected or necessary. Tipping is expected in restaurants, private tours, and taxis. Not at many other places.

Paying To Use The Toilet

When you’re used to free public toilet access at home, you’re in for a surprise. In Holland, using one can cost between €0,50 and €1. This applies to malls, train stations, and fast-food restaurants like the Golden M.

Have some coins ready for these minor emergencies. Tip: your best bet for a free-of-charge toilet is at table service restaurants and museums.

Museum Reservations

Important Dutch holidays 2023. When schools are closed.
Making a reservation for the most famous museums is essential.

The most well-known museums now often require a reservation with a time slot. This included the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum, and the Van Gogh Museum. All three likely sell-out, sometimes weeks (or months), in advance—especially the Anne Frank House. But also, the Van Gogh can sell out weeks in advance.

Avoid disappointment and make your reservations on time.

Opening hours

Opening hours vary from business to business. As a general rule of thumb, most shops open during office hours on Monday – Saturday. One night a week (Thursday or Friday), shops are open until 9 p.m.

This varies per city and even per suburb. In smaller towns, shops are usually closed on Monday (mornings.)

Supermarkets are usually open from 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. Most Supermarkets are open on Sunday, but every city has its own rules about this, and opening hours vary. Your safest bet is to go during the afternoon on a Sunday.

Some cities have Sunday opening hours for all stores, not just supermarkets, every Sunday. This is most often the case in larger cities.

Other cities allow stores to open just once a month, while others forbid their shops to open on Sundays.

Reasons for limited opening can be different. Sometimes it’s to protect worker from having to be constantly available, but most often, the reason is religious. If a city or town has a more conservative local government, stores will be closed.

Museums and restaurants are usually closed on Mondays. The exception is Amsterdam, where many museums are open seven days a week.

And remember that kitchens in restaurants often close at 10 p.m. In smaller towns, as early as 9 p.m. The Dutch eat early. The most popular times for a reservation are between 6 and 7 p.m.

People

Of Dutch holidays 2023, Kings day is the best known Here people dressed up in orange.
Dutch people are friendlier than they get credit for – Photo: Ruben May

I would say we Dutch are a friendly bunch. However, our reputation in the world doesn’t always match that. We’re known to be direct (sometimes offensive), our language sounds harsh to foreign ears, and some might say we’re cold. And yes, aren’t we those people legalizing prostitution and soft drugs? Ai, that almost hurt.

Thankfully most of it comes down to cultural misunderstandings. Our language sounds harder because it’s a Germanic language, and we have that hard G sound. I can guarantee you, most of the time, a conversation is friendly and polite except maybe during rush hour in traffic or when a tourist walks into the bike lane.

But believe me, that sounds very different. We are direct, yes. Get used to it. See, I’m direct too. But seriously, if you prepare yourself for it, it’s less hostile and liberating to know what the other person thinks, with no hidden agendas.

It works the other way around too. If a Dutch person tells you they like you, they genuinely do.

And about those moral laws like drugs and red lights? Rest assured. The Dutch don’t appreciate or think either activity is socially accepted.

Why is it legalized? The Dutch are pragmatic. If you can’t stop it, control it. The Dutch don’t like to preach morally (outside the bible belt, that is).

Read more about the Dutch people in this article here.

Phone

Holland has one of the best mobile phone networks in the world. The coverage is extensive, also in the countryside, in small villages, on the islands, and on beaches.

Local prepaid sim cards are available, but not easy for visitors to register. The better, cheaper, and easier option is to get a sim card for Europe with affordable bundles. Read our post for the best tourist SIM Cards in the Netherlands and Europe here.

Note because mobile coverage is this good, traditional ways to make a phone call are almost non-existent. Public phone booths are a thing of the past. Even emergency booths along the motorway are gone.

Postal Services in Holland

Post offices do not exist anymore in Holland. Today they’re called PostNL service points and are often located in shops, primarily inside books and magazine stores like Bruna or Primera. It’s just a desk. You can buy stamps at PostNL points and send letters and parcels from there. Use this link to search your nearest location.

You can also buy stamps at supermarkets like Albert Heijn. Use outdoor Orange mailboxes to post your postcards. They have two slots. Unless you have a local zipcode you’re sending to, use the “Overige Bestemmingen” slot for everything further away and international mail.

Public Holidays And Other Special Dates

Like every country, Holland has its own specific public holidays, significant dates, and school holidays. Holland doesn’t tend to have as many public holidays as many other countries do. But we have specific days like Kings Day (April 27th).

And we add 2nd days to holidays like Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas. In Holland, we use three “zones” for school holidays to spread the number of people going on holiday at once. This system extends the periods the Dutch have their school holidays. Thus prices are higher for longer. For all these dates, please check out my post on Dutch Holidays.

Public Transportation

Trains at Amsterdam Central Station.
Train at Amsterdam Central Station – Photo: NS

In Holland, you’ll find excellent transit systems all around the country. The main backbone of public transport is the train system, connecting every corner of the country with high-frequency scheduled departures in every direction.

From the train station, towns and villages are connected by local buses. Or the Dutch rent a bike for the last few miles if needed. In large cities, you’ll find an extensive system of buses, trams, metro, and sometimes even ferries. Amsterdam and Rotterdam have them all.

Download the NS app on your phone. It’s available in English. You can use it for planning your journey and buying your tickets. The app accepts credit cards (that most machines do not), and you avoid the €1 surcharge for paper tickets.

Responsible travel

In today’s day and age, thinking about your environmental impact is essential when you travel. You can do many small things to make your travel less taxing on the environment.

Choose an airline using modern airplanes that emit much less than older aircraft. Even better is choosing an airline where you can offset your Co2 emission. KLM is an airline that gives you that option when you book your flight.

Within Europe, travel by train when it’s convenient. Between Amsterdam and Brussels, Frankfurt, Paris, and London, it’s easy to take a high-speed train, often just as fast or faster as a plane ride. You can check fares and travel times here. Locally, use a bike or public transport to avoid the gas emission of a taxi or Uber.

Leave No Trace behind

Leave no trace behind is global advice. When people travel, they tend to be more careless about waste than at home. Please don’t be one of them and use trashcans when you’re here. They’re everywhere.

In nature, take your empty bottles, wrappers, and other waste with you until you see a trashcan and throw it away. It’s a small effort with a significant impact.

Over-Tourism

You may have heard some places and cities worldwide suffer from over-tourism. Amsterdam is one of these cities. If you’re mindful of this topic, you can make better choices: Use local companies like us for your tours.

Go off the beaten track a bit more. Explore neighborhoods outside the city center, and go to other cities and towns so that not all visitors are concentrated in a tiny area.

Also, avoid booking general group tours through travel agents and cruise liners. The money will not stay locally, and the quality is usually subpar.

Plastic

The most important thing to know is that plastic bags are not free of charge in Europe. Legislation requires businesses to charge for plastic bags. This is to encourage people to bring their own bags. And it works. Since this legislation is in place, the one-time use of plastic bags is marginalized.

Recycling

The Dutch are very much into recycling. We separate glass, paper, plastic, metal, and organic waste in our homes from our regular trash.

When you see opportunities to separate your waste and recycle, please do. It’s a small effort, but again, significant consequences.

Paper and plastic are now often collected separately in public spaces, including trains, railway stations, and fast-food restaurants. Note that if you buy drinks in a bottle or can, you pay a deposit (in Dutch, it’s called “Statiegeld”).

Return these items to any supermarket when empty for a refund of that deposit (look for the return machines inside stores).

Support local

Cheese shop in Haarlem.
Support local shops when you can – Photo: © Hidden Holland

Did you know when you book tours with large global companies, their subcontractors get only pennies on the dollars you spend? Plus, the quality of these tours is substandard at best.

Expect to be taken to tourist shops and inferior restaurants and spend little time at the main attraction. Instead, look for local tours and companies recommended by independent sources that are often not by your cruise ship information desk.

Most tourist attractions can be easily accessed without needing a tour operator. Blogs like these are great for inspiration and direction. A tour can be worthwhile if you want more background information or to go to difficult-to-reach places.

Just make sure to book local and ask about what is part of the trip. Do they take you to a tourist shop, for example? (then keep looking for another tour) Is the tour recommended by a local? On my blog, you’ll only find links to tours I 100% endorse, and I only work with companies taking reasonable commissions.

You can opt for a private tour. You can book me as one. I love to take visitors inside the country. But also to show the best side of Amsterdam, including, for example, a food tour or a Rijksmuseum highlight tour. The great thing about private tours is that they can be customized to your preferences.

Safety

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on security, crime, or terrorism. Please always follow the advice from (local) authorities first.

What I say below is my honest but personal opinion from a local perspective.

Crime in general in the Netherlands is lower than in most developed countries. Due to strict weapon laws, murders are still rare. If they happen, it’s usually outside the public eye and within criminal organizations.

Also, due to a high standard of living and the Dutch value system, there is less division between income groups. Because of that, crime rates are lower. Your biggest concern should be pickpockets and bike theft. You should have a worry-free holiday if you’re mindful of your belongings, especially in busy and touristy areas. Make sure to lock your bike!

Scams

Criminal scams can happen anywhere, including in tourist places like Amsterdam. Always be vigilant.

One annoying scam for a while (not as present today as before) where fake police officers. They are dressed as legit-looking cops, but they’re not.

What can you do? 

  • Ask them to speak Dutch. A fake cop is usually a criminal from Eastern Europe and can’t speak Dutch (familiarize yourself with the accent when you get here)
  • Ask for their ID. Police officers should always identify themselves when asked.
  • Look for an official vehicle like a police car, bicycle, motorcycle, or horse nearby, marked blue, red, and white. The correct uniform is black/yellow.
  • It’s a red flag if they ask for your wallet to investigate fake money. Regular police would never do that.
  • Draw attention to yourself, and yell for help if the person asks for your wallet. 

Emergency Numbers in Holland

If you have an emergency (police, fire services, and ambulance), call 112. This is the European version of 911 in North America.

Use 112 only in a life-threatening emergency, not if your wallet is lost.

For that, you can call the police at 0900-8844. That number is for non-life-threatening emergencies.

Events

The safety standards for events are incredibly high. At events, there are always first-aid assistants available. There will be security and, with significant events, police presence too. Often bags are inspected, and exits are always clearly marked.

The use and possession of drugs are forbidden within the closed events areas (including soft drugs). These will be confiscated. At more significant events, there is a zero-tolerance policy (also for bringing your own alcohol.). If a person is aggressive, he or she will be arrested and often brought in front of a judge within 24 hours.

Fines

If you are an EU citizen, fines are often sent directly to your home address. They’re collected by your local authority if there is an agreement between your country and Holland. Not paying has the same consequences as at home.

If you are from outside the EU or your country does not have an agreement with Holland, you must pay fines before you leave the country, often immediately, but if not, you will be stopped at the border. Fines are high in Holland. You will get them for the usual offenses. But also for things you might not expect, like :

  • Touching your phone while operating a bicycle
  • Using your phone in a car while driving
  • Parking a vehicle where forbidden
  • Peeing on the street. Yes, gents, hold your urge even after a few beers, do not pee in the canal
  • Having no official ID on you (always take your passport, a copy won’t suffice, and neither will your driver’s license if it’s from outside the EU)

Even for things listed above, the costs go quickly in the three-digit range. The canal can suddenly become a costly toilet.

LGBT travelers

Gay Pride celebrations in Amsterdam on the Prinsen canal with the Westerkerk in view.
People are waiting for the canal parade to start – Photo: Amir Deljouyi

The Netherlands is known for its liberal attitude towards the LGBT community. But things never are as they seem to be at first glance. Primarily, due to large influxes of migrants from traditional countries (from the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe), hostilities do increase.

More and more, you hear about threats or abuse (both physically and mentally) towards openly LGBT persons on the street, even in Amsterdam.

It’s one of the most upsetting things to me. I am all for immigration when people are fleeing danger and looking for safety. But then why be disrespectful of your new host country and its customs? And bring others in danger? It was voluntary to come specifically here. It’s mind-boggling to me. But unfortunately, it’s reality.

My advice is this: you’re safe inside any establishment, whether geared specifically towards LGBT people or for the general public. On the street, be more mindful of your surroundings. Keep public affection to a minimum, especially if youth groups are around.

Don’t think you can walk hand in hand just because at home you can’t, and here you’re free. It’s not always like that, and it hurts me to say that.

One of the great things is that the police are always your friend! Remember this.

Even if you go on a wrong date, the police will not judge you and will always help you. LGBT issues are part of their training. So never feel shame or fear reporting an LGBT-related issue to the police.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a tricky subject. I wish I could say Holland is safe from terrorism. Unfortunately, we live in a world where there is no such thing as a safe place. Holland has not had any significant incidents, but we came close. 

Still, the chance of personally becoming a victim of an act of terrorism is minimal, even if you visit a hotspot like London, Paris, or New York. So why limit yourself to seeing the world?

Everybody has to make their own safety assessment. But I believe it shouldn’t stop you from living and exploring.

Being as fearful as many of us became doesn’t match the statistics. Traffic or DIY projects at home are far more dangerous. Still, we do these activities without a second thought.

What can you do to minimize the chance of being involved in an incident?

  • Know your exit when a need to evacuate arises, and be prepared.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings. When you see odd behavior, report it. Call 112 if you feel unsafe.
  • When you see an unattended bag, move away from it and call 112 immediately.
  • Trust your instincts when you don’t feel safe, move away
  • Read your country’s official travel advice.

Regarding the last piece of advice, be aware these sometimes can be overly cautious and sometimes even politically motivated, so they’re not always as helpful as they could be.

Solo Female Travelers

As two men, we’re not the expert on solo female travel. Thankfully, others are experts on the topic. Karen, a fantastic blogger from WanderlustingK, is a traveler-turned-local. She wrote a comprehensive post about solo female travel in Amsterdam and the rest of Holland.

But here is some general advice: Amsterdam and the rest of Holland are safe places to travel to for women. Of course, things do happen like anywhere else. Still, Holland is one of the safer destinations for solo female travelers.

Dutch women themselves are very independent. There is also a lot of security, cameras, and police presence, especially in big cities.

The Dutch tend to be a bit shy compared to other cultures. It’s not typical for a Dutch guy to approach a girl directly.

A few things to watch out for: use extra care in the red light district (everybody should, men and women). When you go out for a drink, always watch your drink. If you are harassed (most commonly by minority youths), just ignore them, and you’re fine. When you feel in real danger, always call 112 immediately.

Timezone

Holland is in the GMT+1 timezone (CET), and we observe daylight saving time. That means, in general, when it’s noon in New York City, it’s 6 p.m. in Holland. When it’s noon in London, it’s 1 p.m. in Holland. And when it’s noon in Australia, it’s 2 a.m. in Holland.

I said in general because the dates of switching to daylight saving times differ worldwide. North America, for example, is usually one week behind. In that timeframe, the time difference can be larger or smaller.

In Holland (and the rest of Europe), we switch the clocks on the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October. Our best tip: when in doubt, ask Google what time it is in Holland and your home country.

Weights and Measurements

In Holland, we use the metric system. Meters, liters, and kilos and not feet, ounces, and pounds like countries that use the Imperial System.

Some of the most frequent conversions are:

  • One mile = 1.609 kilometers
  • One gallon = 4.546 liters
  • One pound = 0.453 kilos or 453 grams

The easiest thing to do is to use Google for conversions on the fly. If you need mobile data during your visit, check out my post about this topic.

Weather and Climate

Dark skies over light tower Texel Netherlands.
Dark skies over light tower Texel Netherlands – Photo: Karsten Würth

The weather in Holland. Ahh, our favorite conversational topic of them all. Our climate is considered mild. Due to its proximity to the sea, it’s not too cold or hot. We have four distinct seasons.

But climate change is changing that a bit. It hardly freezes long enough anymore to ice skate in wintertime, and summers are now often tropical. What still holds true is that the weather here is unpredictable.

You should always expect a range of temperatures. And rain is always around the corner. It didn’t get this green here from the sun. Pack accordingly. If you’re annoyed by the weather, know you’re in good company, and you’ll have the perfect conversation starter to connect with a local.

Gerrit Author Box image.

Hi I'm Gerrit 👋, a Dutch native with a passion for my homeland that was inspired by my grandmother. I enjoy sharing my expertise in discovering hidden gems and connecting travelers with Dutch culture for an unforgettable experience. Let's explore the beauty of the Netherlands together!

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