Netherlands travel guide
This country of tulips, windmills and bicycles stretches out over a predominantly flat landscape of land reclaimed from the sea. Sophisticated urban centres and sleepy rural towns are contained within the expansive vistas broken here and there by canals, castle walls and dikes. One of Europe's most densely populated regions is located within an area of the Netherlands called the Randstad. This urban hub radiates in a circle from Amsterdam and includes The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht, as well as the smaller towns of Haarlem, Leiden and Delft. The metropolitan centres of the Netherlands buzz with the activity of seasonal festivals, cultural activities, vibrant art scenes and excellent pubs and restaurants.
The rich cultural heritage that flavours much of Dutch life can be traced back through the centuries. During the 1600s the Netherlands dominated the world both economically and culturally, with the Dutch East India Company establishing trading links with the East and West Indies and bringing back an abundance of merchandise and cultural influences. The Golden Age reached its zenith in the artworks of the Dutch Masters: Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Jan Vermeer. Today, their paintings hang from the walls of the country's numerous world-class museums and galleries.
Most people travelling to the Netherlands head for the unique experience of its capital city, Amsterdam. The other parts are largely unaffected by tourism, particularly the areas outside the Randstad. The southern parts of the country are transformed by undulating landscapes of shifting sands and heath moors, best experienced within the Hoge Veluwe National Park. Further south, tucked between the German and Belgian borders, lies the historical city of Maastricht.
Since the collapse of Napoleon's empire in 1814, the Netherlands has taken a neutral stance throughout most of the world's conflicts, including the First World War in which it took no part. In spite of this independent stance it still suffered severely in World War II during the Nazi invasion of 1940. Its neutral political position, combined with its tradition of liberalism and tolerance, has made the Netherlands the logical choice for the establishment of the International Court of Justice, which is situated in The Hague.
The official currency is the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents. Major credit cards are widely accepted. Foreign currency can be changed at banks, post offices or bureaux de change (usually indicated by the letters GWK). Banks are closed on weekends but bureaux de change are open. ATMs are widely distributed and most are open 24 hours a day.
Language : Dutch is the official language. English is widely spoken. Fries (as well as Dutch) is spoken by the people of Friesland province.
Electricity : Electrical current is 220-240 volts, 50Hz. Two-pin round European-style plugs are used.
Entry Requirements :
US citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in the Netherlands. No visa is required, for holders of US passports, for a maximum stay of 90 days.
Most British citizens must have a passport that is valid upon arrival in the Netherlands, although some endorsements require three months validity beyond the period of intended stay. Passport exemptions apply to holders of identity cards issued by Gibraltar authories, and endorsed 'Validated for EU travel purposes under the authority of the United Kingdom'. A visa is not required for passports endorsed British Citizen; nor for holders of identity cards issued by Gibraltar authories, and endorsed 'Validated for EU travel purposes under the authority of the United Kingdom'; nor for holders of passports endorsed British Overseas Territories Citizen (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), and British Subject (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom). No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days in a half-year period, for holders of British passports with any other endorsement.
Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in the Netherlands. No visa is required, for holders of Canadian passports, for a maximum stay of 90 days.
Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in the Netherlands. No visa is required, for holders of Australian passports, for a maximum stay of 90 days.
South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in the Netherlands. A visa is required. Note that entry will be refused to holders of temporary South African passports.
Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid upon arrival in the Netherlands. No visa is required, for holders of Irish passports.
New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in the Netherlands. No visa is required, for holders of New Zealand passports, for a maximum stay of 90 days.
Passport/Visa Note :
The borderless region known as the Schengen Area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option, and which allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all the aforementioned countries. Additionally, non-EEA visitors to the Netherlands must hold confirmed return/onward tickets, the necessary travel documentation for their next destination, and proof of sufficient funds to cover their expenses while in the country. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Travel Health :
There are no health risks associated with travel to the Netherlands and no vaccinations are required for entry into the country. The water is safe to drink. The standard of health care in the Netherlands is very high, but the necessary health insurance provisions must be made before travelling. A reciprocal agreement exists with other EU countries, which entitles nationals to low-cost emergency medical treatment. A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is necessary for this purpose. Although medication is widely available in the Netherlands it is always best to take along any prescribed medication, in its original packaging, and accompanied by a signed and dated letter from your doctor detailing what it is and why it is needed.
Service charges are included in hotel rates, restaurant bills and taxi fares, usually at about 15 percent. Tipping for good service is always appreciated but not necessary. It is customary to tip taxi drivers and waiters about 10 percent.
Safety Information :
Travel in the Netherlands is fairly safe and the vast majority of trips are trouble-free. Travellers should, however, always exercise caution in empty streets at night and be aware of pickpockets, particularly in central Amsterdam and at Central Station. There have been several incidents on trains from Schiphol Airport where heavily laden passengers have been targeted by thieves. As in all Western countries, there is a risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks.
Police in Amsterdam are warning travellers of a new scam whereby tourists will be approached by 'plain clothes policemen' who claim to be investigating credit card fraud and counterfeit currency. Tourists are shown fake identification in the form of badges (Dutch police do not carry badges and plain clothes police will rarely conduct such an 'investigation'), and asked to hand over credit cards and money. This will be returned but with some money/cards missing. If approached, travellers are advised to ask for proper identification or to accompany them to the nearest police station.
Local Customs :
In the Netherlands the use of cannabis is tolerated in designated 'coffeeshops' in major cities. This policy exists to prevent the marginalisation of soft drug users thereby exposing them to more harmful drugs. However, the trafficking in hard or soft drugs outside licensed premises is illegal and the possession of soft drugs in public places will incur a prison sentence. Travellers should note that the rules are somewhat different for foreigners, with the Netherlands tightening up drug laws in recent years: Amsterdam is the only city still fighting for the right of tourists to smoke cannabis in 'coffeeshops' and this has become a bit of a grey area with laws not always enforced on the ground. Everybody from the age of 14 is required to show a valid identity document to law enforcement officers on request. Tobacco smoking in cafés, bars and restaurants is prohibited.
Business in the Netherlands is conducted in an efficient and professional manner. Punctuality is important, dress is usually formal (suits and ties are standard), business cards are exchanged and greetings are made with a handshake. Titles and surnames are used, unless otherwise indicated. Women tend to be well received in Dutch business and it is not uncommon for women to hold high positions. Most Dutch people speak excellent English. Business hours are usually 8:30am to 5pm.
The international access code for the Netherlands is +31. Local mobile phone operators have the Netherlands extremely well covered with GSM 900 and 1800 networks, which have roaming agreements with most international operators. Internet cafes are widely available.
Duty Free :
Duty free items for travellers to the Netherlands include 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars or 250g smoking tobacco; 1 litre spirits, 2 litres spirits or aperitifs made of wine or 2 litres of sparkling wines, liquor wines or still wine; perfume up to 50g or 250ml eau de toilette; 500g of coffee; 100g tea. Prohibited items include the import of all birds.
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
Location: The airport is nine miles (15km) southwest of Amsterdam.
Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).
Contacts: Tel: +31 207 940 800, or from the Netherlands: 0900 0141.
Getting to the city: The airport railway station is located beneath Schiphol Plaza and trains depart for central Amsterdam and other destinations around the Netherlands. Trains leave the airport station regularly, except from 12.30am to 5am when the service only runs every hour. The short 20-minute journey costs around €4.20. Most buses into Amsterdam run every 15-30 minutes from 6am until midnight on weekdays and slightly less frequently on weekends. Many hotels offer free shuttle services to guests.
Car rental: Car rental desks can be found inside the arrivals hall, and include Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Sixt and National.
Airport Taxis: A taxi to the city centre takes around 30 minutes. Visitors can go to Schiphol Plaza where they will find the metered Schiphol Travel Taxis, which offer fixed rates for everyone who travels to and from the airport.
Facilities: Facilities at Schiphol include ATMs and currency exchange facilities, a lost and found, information desks, luggage lockers and wrapping services, state-of-the-art conference facilities, a medical clinic, pharmacy and casino. There are also numerous shops and restaurants, a food court, and duty-free shopping.
Parking: Short-stop parking facilities are located close to the terminal with the first 15 minutes free and then from €1 per subsequent 12 minutes. Daily parking in the Schiphol Smart Parking area should be booked in advance on the Schiphol website and costs about €50 for eight days and is connected to the terminal via a frequent shuttle bus service. Valet parking is also available.
Departure tax: None.
Rotterdam The Hague Airport
Location: The airport is located five miles (8km) north of Rotterdam.
Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).
Contacts: Tel: +31 (0)10 446 3444.
Getting to the city: RandstadRail, a high-speed train, connects the airport to The Hague, Leidschendam, Pijacker, Zoetermeer and Rotterdam Central Station. From the central station you can catch trains to Antwerp, Brussels and Paris. To use public transport, you'll need to buy an 'OV-Chipkaart' (Public Transport Chip Card) from a newsagent at the airport. The RET bus connects to the Meijersplein metro station, where you can transfer to Line E to the city centre; a round trip of about 20 minutes overall. For a more direct route, the No. 33 bus will get you to Rotterdam Central Station in about 25 minutes. The night transport is available into the early morning.
Car rental: Major car rental companies such as Avis, Hertz, Budget, Sixt and Europcar have desks in the arrivals section.
Airport Taxis: Taxis are available directly outside the terminal building.
Facilities: Airport facilities include banks, ATMs and currency exchange, information desks, conference facilities, and a business lounge, travel agents, baby-changing stations, and a variety of shopping and dining options.
Parking: Parking is available in any of the three parking lots - P1, P2 and P3. P1 and P3 are the long-term lots, while P2 is the short-term lot. All the parking lots are easily accessible from the terminal.
Departure tax: None.
Groningen Eelde Airport
Location: The airport is situated nine miles (15km) from Groningen.
Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 between March and October).
Contacts: Tel: +31 (0)50 308 1300.
Getting to the city: The airport is served by Arriva bus number 52 and 53, which connect to the Groningen Central Station twice an hour on weekdays, and hourly on Sundays (only number 52). Various private bus services also run shuttles, and there are plenty of taxis available.
Car rental: Avis, Hertz and Europcar are car rental companies represented at the airport.
Facilities: Groningen's airport is small and has no currency exchange facilities, but there is one ATM available in the terminal building. There is a shop offering duty-free items for those travelling outside the EU, and staples like magazines, newspapers and sweets. The airport restaurant (part of the airport hotel) has an outdoor terrace where patrons have a view of the runway. There is also a children's play area and a travel agency.
Parking: Long and short-term machine-ticketed parking is available within walking distance of the terminal.
Departure tax: None.
|Dank u||Thank you||Dahngk ew|
|Mijn naam is...||My name is...||Mean naam is...|
|Hoeveel is...?||How much is...?||Hu-feel is...?|
|Waar is...?||Where is...?||Var is...?|
|Spreekt u Engels?||Do you speak English?||Sprekt ou En-gels?|
|Ik begrijp u niet||I dont understand||Ik be-greep ou neat|
|Één, twee, drie, vier, vijf||One, two, three, four, five||Ayn, tvay, dree, veer, vayf|
|Ik heb een dokter nodig||I need a doctor||Ik hep ayn dok-ter no-duhg|
The Netherlands has a fairly temperate climate, very similar to the UK: there are four distinct seasons but the temperatures are variable year-round and rain occurs throughout the year. The weather is particularly changeable on the coast, where it is influenced by the ocean. The Netherlands experiences cool summers, between June and August, and mild winters, between December and February. The average summer temperatures range between 53°F and 72°F (12°C and 22°C), and the average winter temperatures range between 34°F and 43°F (1°C and 6°C). Snow can fall anytime between November and April, although the Netherlands only experiences about 25 snowy days a year on average. Although rainfall can occur at any time of year it is marginally more common in summer and autumn. Tourists should ensure that they take along a rain jacket whatever time of year they are travelling to the Netherlands.
Despite the hordes of tourists the best time to visit the Netherlands is over the summer (June to August), or in spring (April and May) when the famous tulips are in bloom. However, the Netherlands is a year-round travel destination as enjoyment of the cultural attractions, like museums, galleries, restaurants and historic buildings is mostly not weather dependant.
Netherlands Tourist Office, The Hague: +31 (0)70 3705 705 or
United States Embassy, The Hague: +31 (0)70 310 2209.
British Embassy, The Hague: +31 (0)70 4270 427.
Canadian Embassy, The Hague: +31 (0)70 311 1600.
Australian Embassy, The Hague: +31 (0)70 310 8200.
South African Embassy, The Hague: +31 (0)70 392 4501.
Irish Embassy, The Hague: +31 (0)70 363 0993.
New Zealand Embassy, The Hague: +31 (0)70 346 9324.
Royal Netherlands Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 877
Foreign Embassies in Netherlands
Royal Netherlands Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7590 3200.
Royal Netherlands Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 877 388 2443.
Royal Netherlands Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6220 9400.
Royal Netherlands Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 425 4500.
Royal Netherlands Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 269 3444.
Royal Netherlands Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 471 6390.
Netherlands Emergency Numbers
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