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    Known for its tulips, windmills and bicycles, the Netherlandsstretches out over a predominantly flat landscape. Sleepy ruraltowns and sophisticated cities lie within its expansive vistas,broken here and there by dikes, walls, canals and castles. Thecountry is also home to one of Europe's most densely populatedregions, which is located in an urban hub called Randstad. The arearadiates in a circle from Amsterdam and includes The Hague,Utrecht, and Rotterdam, as well as the smaller towns of Delft,Haarlem and Leiden. Visitors will find vibrant art scenes, culturalactivities, seasonal festivals and excellent pubs and restaurantsin these destinations.

    Historically speaking, the country's global influence stretchesback centuries. That is, the Dutch East India Company establishedtrading links with the East and West Indies in the 1600s, bringinga wealth of merchandise and cultural influences back to Europe. TheNetherlands' Golden Age reached its zenith in the artworks of itsmaster painters, namely, Frans Hals, Rembrandt van Rijn, andJohannes Vermeer. Today, their paintings hang from the walls of thecountry's many world-class museums and galleries.

    Tourists generally visit the Netherlands to experience itscapital city, Amsterdam, though nature lovers may enjoy the south'sundulating landscapes of heath moors and shifting sands. They'rebest explored within the Hoge Veluwe National Park. The historicalcity of Maastricht is tucked between the Belgian and Germanborders, and is definitely worth seeing.

    Regarding global conflicts, the Netherlands has largely taken aneutral stance since the collapse of Napoleon's empire in 1814.That said, it suffered severely in World War II, when the Nazisinvaded. Its neutral position and tradition of tolerance andliberalism would make it the logical location for the InternationalCourt of Justice, which is situated in The Hague.

    Time is a multi-layered luxury in the Netherlands, wherecenturies-old windmills and visionary architecture accent thefamously flat landscape, pushing and pulling the imagination indelightful ways. Visitors can look backwards at Golden Age art, orglimpse the future through cutting-edge design with equal ease.

    Amsterdam dominates the tourism scene, though cities such asDelft and Rotterdam have undeniable appeal. The Red Light District,world-class museums, marijuana 'coffeeshops' and lovely naturallandscapes are all part of the experience. History-buffs,culture-lovers and pleasure-seekers will all enjoy their stay inthe country.

    Anne Frank House

    This museum is dedicated to the memory of Anne Frank, whosefamous diary describes the experiences of a Jewish teenager duringWorld War II. The Franks and others hid in part of the house(today's museum) to escape Nazi persecution. Visitors can explorethe concealed attic where eight people lived, and get some sense ofthe cramped and fearful existence described by Anne Frank. Theoriginal diary is on display as part of the permanent exhibitionand there is plenty of information on the lives of the peopleinvolved. With the exception of Anne Frank's father, Otto, theoccupants were discovered and sent to their deaths in concentrationcamps. Visitors need not have read the diary to appreciate themuseum. Admission queues get excruciatingly long, especially inpeak tourist season. Booking online will enable visitors to use aseparate entrance.

    Address: Prinsengracht 267 (Westerkerk)
    Opening time: Open daily from 9am to 7pm, and Saturdays 9am to 10pm(November through March); from 9am to 10pm daily, and Saturdays 9amto 10pm (April through October). Note that the queues can be verylong, but that tickets can be bought online inadvance.
    Model of Anne Frank House Model of Anne Frank House Alexisrael
    Van Gogh Museum

    The Van Gogh Museum is a definitive tourist attraction inAmsterdam. Situated in a modern building, the simple architecturesubtly underscores the artist's colourful and extraordinary work.The museum houses the largest collection of Van Gogh's work in theworld, comprising more than 200 paintings, 437 drawings and 31prints. Many of his most famous and recognisable paintings are ondisplay. The collection is organised according to three criteria.The first of these is the artist's work, which is divided into fivenotable periods. Then there is the display of other artists' work,including pieces from his friends and contemporaries. Finally, thethird section showcases the museum's history. The writteninformation provided is good and sufficient for many visitors, butthe audio guide is definitely worth hiring for Van Gogh fanaticswho want a more in-depth analysis. Photography of the art itself isnot permitted, though visitors can take pictures in the main hall.Large bags will have to be left in the cloakroom facilities as theyare not permitted in the museum.

    Address: Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ Amsterdam
    Opening time: Open daily from about 10am to 6pm (until 10pm onFridays). There are slight variations in opening times according toseason - check the website for details.
    Almond Blossom, Vincent Van Gogh Almond Blossom, Vincent Van Gogh Public Domain
    The Rijksmuseum

    The Rijksmuseum opened in 1885 and is best known for itscollection of 17th-century Dutch Masters, such as Rembrandt,Vermeer, Frans Hals and Jan Steen. The most notable of thesepaintings is Rembrandt's masterpiece The Night Watch, which haspride of place. The museum contains thousands of other paintingsspanning from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, in its Asiaticcollection, Print Room, Dutch History, and Applied Arts sections.The collection also includes stunning furniture, jewellery,ceramics and other artefacts, though it is most coveted for itspaintings. Visitors should consult a map or purchase an audio tourto help navigate the extensive collection. They should also allowat least a few hours to explore thoroughly.

    Address: Museumstraat 1
    Opening time: Open daily from 9am to 5pm.
    Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam Velvet
    Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art

    The Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art closely traces art-worlddevelopments that took place in the second half of the 20thcentury. Art lovers should note that it showcases the mostimpressive collection of modern art in Amsterdam. The institution'spermanent exhibition focuses on De Stijl, Cobra, Nouveau Realisme,Pop Art, Color Field Painting, Zero and Minimalist Art, whiletemporary exhibitions on design and applied art are housed in thenew wing. Many masters of modern art have a presence in the museum,including Cezanne, Chagall, Picasso, Warhol, Pollock andLichtenstein. The building is cool and artistic and seldom crowded,which makes it a breath of fresh air after some of Amsterdam'spacked tourist spaces. Tourists may also want to time their visitsto coincide with one of the many workshops, book launches or otherevents the museum hosts. They will find a shop, library andrestaurant on the premises. Audio guides are available in sixlanguages, and free guided tours take place weekly. They'reconducted in Dutch and English and cannot be booked in advance.

    Address: Museumplein 10, 1071 DJ Amsterdam
    Opening time: Open daily from 10am to 6pm. Fridays 10am to10pm.
    Stedelijk Museum Stedelijk Museum bMA
    Rembrandt House

    The museum provides insight into the life and times of thefamous Dutch master, who lived in this house between 1639 and 1658- which was the pinnacle of his career. Rembrandt went bankrupt in1656 and a list of his possessions was drawn up to pay his debts.This list has allowed historians to faithfully restore the housewith exactly the kinds of furnishings the artist owned. Visitorscan view a permanent collection of paintings done by Rembrandt'steacher, Pieter Lastman, as well as some pieces completed by hispupils. The painting studio holds daily demonstrations on howetchings and paintings were made in the 17th century, including aninteresting demonstration on Rembrandt's use of colour.

    Address: Jodenbreestraat 4
    Opening time: Open daily from 10am to 6pm.
    Rembrandt House Rembrandt House Michiel1972
    Amsterdam Museum

    Housed in a lovely 17th-century building and formerly anorphanage, the museum explores Amsterdam's development from a smallmedieval settlement into a thriving modern city. Its galleriesshowcase the progress made in each century, particularly Holland'sGolden Age. Visitors can enjoy a showpiece of glass, gold, silver,earthenware and other artefacts, as well as Dutch Masters'paintings, and archaeological discoveries. Seeing the largeexhibition will take at least two to three hours. The entry feealso covers the glass-roofed Civic Guards Gallery, which is linedwith portraits of Amsterdam's Civic Guards dating back to the 17thcentury. A pleasant museum café sells refreshments.

    Address: Kalverstraat 92
    Opening time: Open every day from 10am to 5pm. Closed on somepublic holidays.
    Website: www.ahm.nl
    Abraham de Vries - Portrait of the regents of theAmsterdam city orphanage in 1633 Abraham de Vries - Portrait of the regents of theAmsterdam city orphanage in 1633 Public Domain
    Red Light District (De Wallen)

    No trip to Amsterdam would be complete without a stroll aroundthe Red Light District (De Wallen). The area's prostitutes are partof a legal and regulated industry that includes compulsory healthchecks and taxable income. Tourists also visit the district toadmire its attractive architecture, which dates back to the MiddleAges. Waterlooplein, Zeedijk Street and Nieuwmarkt Square are allworth exploring. The modern-day City Hall and Muziek Theatre areboth located in Waterlooplein. Nieuwmarkt Square was once home to athriving community of mainly Portuguese Jews, who had fled frompersecution during the Spanish Inquisition. The area's culturaldiversity extends to Zeedijk Street, which is often referred to asChinatown. On a cautionary note, visitors should be respectful andrecognise that photography in and around the actual brothels isfrowned on, and could lead to confrontation.

    Red Light District Red Light District Bjarki Sigursveinsson
    The Dutch Resistance Museum (Verzetsmuseum)

    Nazi Germany occupied the Netherlands between May 1940 and May1945. The museum covers how the invasion affected the Dutchpopulation's everyday lives, as well as the resistance movement.Visitors will learn details about the movement's extraordinaryespionage activities, and view maps, photographs, weaponry,everyday objects, and false documents used by the resistance. Thecollection also personalises the history by including individualstories and experiences. The permanent exhibition is bilingual,catering to both Dutch and English visitors, and there are freeaudio guides available in English, German, French, Spanish andDutch. Guided tours are available by appointment only andreservations must be made a few weeks in advance.

    Address: Plantage Kerklaan 61
    Opening time: Open Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm; Open Saturdayand Sunday, and public holidays from 11am to 5pm.
    Dutch Resistance Museum, Amsterdam Dutch Resistance Museum, Amsterdam Nick-D
    The Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis)

    Although the Royal Palace is the official royal residence, it'smainly used for functions and is but one of the royal family'sthree palaces. Visitors should check the calendar on the officialwebsite to ensure it isn't closed for an event during their time inthe Netherlands. It's open most days, though. The building datesback to 1648 and was originally designed for use as Amsterdam'sCity Hall. A large collection of furniture from this period adornsits magnificent interiors and there is also some valuable art ondisplay. The palace is comparatively small by European standardsand only part of it is open to visitors. That said, exploring it isstill a fantastic experience, enhanced by an excellent free audioguide. Guided tours are offered to visitors (although they must bebooked two weeks in advance) and they are conducted by qualifiedart historians or art history students in Dutch, English, German,French and Spanish. Official tours take about an hour, but thosewho are exploring alone with the audio guide may take up to threehours if they linger and listen to all the information provided.Photography is permitted in the palace, but not flashphotography.

    Address: Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 147, Dam Square
    Opening time: Open most days between 10am and 5pm, but closed forroyal events.
    The Royal Palace The Royal Palace Robert Scarth
    Keukenhof

    Keukenhof is one of the country's top attractions and the bestreason to visit in the spring. The huge garden is home to millionsof tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, and is a sea of colour andfragrance. Visitors will also see many works of art scattered amongthe blooms in this creatively designed site. They can stop forrefreshments at one of the area's many cafes and restaurants, andshop at stalls that sell seeds, bulbs, gardening equipment and arange of other souvenirs. Tourists can view demonstrations aroundflower arranging and the latest trends in gardening as well. Boatand cycling tours are an option; photographers are in for atreat.

    Address: Stationsweg 166A, 2161 Am Lisse, Netherlands
    Opening time: Open daily from about 20 March to mid-May annually,between 8am and 7.30pm (ticket office closes at6pm).
    Keukenhof, Amsterdam Keukenhof, Amsterdam Tiago Fioreze
    National Maritime Museum

    Het Scheepvaartmuseum (the National Maritime Museum) givesvisitors a glimpse into the country's seafaring past. The exhibitcovers four centuries of history and includes paintings, shipmodels, antiquarian maps and navigation instruments, creating oneof the world's most extensive collections of maritime memorabilia.Visitors will learn about fishing and whaling, naval combat, andthe maritime trade in the Netherlands, as well as its journeys toplaces such as modern-day India, South Africa and Indonesia.Visitors can also explore a life-size reconstruction of a DutchEast India Company ship. The exhibition on the slave trade may notbe suitable for children, though other displays are dedicated toyounger age groups, and include fun, interactive activities.

    Address: Kattenburgerplein 1
    Opening time: Open every day from 9am to 5pm.
    Maritime Museum, Amsterdam Maritime Museum, Amsterdam Eddo Hartmann
    Heineken Experience

    As one of the most popular tourist attractions in theNetherlands, the Heineken Experience is not to be missed. Housed inthe original brewery, guests will learn about the HeinekenCompany's history and its unique process, visit cutting-edgeinteractive exhibits and enjoy free beer at two pit stops along theway. Visitors will also take a gift of Heineken memorabilia homewith them. The site's layout is impressive and the tour unfolds ina sophisticated manner, meaning its appeal extends beyond theinterest of beer lovers. Travellers can avoid queues andpotentially pay reduced ticket prices by booking online.

    Address: Stadhouderskade 78
    Opening time: Monday to Thursday 10.30am to 7.30pm; Friday toSunday 10.30am to 9pm. In July and August open 10.30am to 9pmdaily.
    Heineken Heineken Brodie319
    Amsterdam Coffeeshops

    Coffeeshops are one of Amsterdam's most iconic features. Theyopenly sell cannabis and welcome their patrons to smoke it on thepremises. 'Cafes', on the other hand, sell cakes, tea and coffee.Coffeeshops range from the laid-back and mellow to the loud andpsychedelic. The expectation is that customers will consume a snackor beverage along with whatever they order off the hash menu. Staffcan give advice on the different strains and strengths. Regardingregulations, coffeeshops can only carry controlled amounts ofmarijuana for sale to adults over the age of 18. The substance isalso illegal in the Netherlands. Recreational use is simplytolerated if it isn't socially disruptive.

    Coffeeshop, Amsterdam Coffeeshop, Amsterdam shelleylyn
    Artis Zoo

    Locally known as the Plantage, the Artis Zoo is something of anoasis in the centre of Amsterdam, and a must for children andanimal lovers. Boasting more than 700 species of animals and 200species of local and exotic trees (many of which are on the vergeof extinction), the institution will captivate visitors of allages. The grounds are huge and can easily keep visitors busy forhours, with the aquarium, butterfly house, planetarium and ahandful of museums all featuring as part of the experience.Visitors will also find several restaurants and a shop sellingsouvenirs such as books, toys and postcards. Tickets can be boughtonline to avoid queues at the entrance.

    Address: Plantage Kerklaan 38-40
    Opening time: March through October: Open daily from 9am to 6pm;November through February: Open daily from 9am to5pm.
    Website: www.artis.nl
    Artis Zoo Artis Zoo Martin Fisch
    Efteling

    Built in the 1950s and still one of Europe's leading themeparks, Efteling is a must for children of all ages. Kids are sureto relish its special attractions, which include a maze, watershow, bobsleigh course, creepy ghost castle and swinging-ship ride.They will also find theme-park classics, such as several rollercoasters, carousels and playgrounds. Games, activities, restaurantsand refreshment stands are also on offer. Queues get very long,particularly in peak tourist season (summer), so it's best toarrive early.

    Address: Europalaan 1, 5171 KW Kaatsheuvel
    Opening time: Open daily from at least 10am to 6pm, with extendedhours in summer (July through August).
    Flying Dutchman Castle Flying Dutchman Castle Hullie
    Madurodam

    Located around 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam and first openedin 1952, Madurodam is quite literally the smallest city in theNetherlands. The park features hundreds of miniature houses andfactories that reflect real Amsterdam architecture, exact replicasof famous Dutch landmarks, and transport systems such as ships,airports and railways. Children and adults alike will enjoy theattraction, and will find many tremendous photo opportunities asthey stroll around. Visitors can also activate parts of the parkfor a small cost, setting trucks moving down highways, or gettingplanes to land. Otherwise, visitors can buy souvenirs in the park'sshop, and purchase refreshments at one of its restaurants.

    Address: George Maduroplein 1, The Hague
    Opening time: Open daily from about 9am to 8pm; there are seasonalfluctuations to opening times.
    Madurodam Madurodam Misty and David
    Amsterdam Canal Tour

    Amsterdam's canal tours are an essential experience forvisitors. The UNESCO-listed features were crucial to the city'stransport and defensive strategies in the 17th century but, today,are a pleasing way to appreciate the historic and picturesquedestination. Tourists who are interested in tours have two mainoptions. They can go for the large, glass-topped canal boats, whichcan accommodate hundreds of passengers, and travel alongpredetermined routes. Or, they can choose the more personal andtraditional tuindersvletten boats, which used to carry animals andvegetables around Amsterdam, and hold 10 people per tour.Tuindersvletten boats can navigate the tiniest canals and fit underthe city's lowest bridges.

    Keizersgracht Canal, Amsterdam Keizersgracht Canal, Amsterdam Massimo Catarinella
    Concertgebouw

    The Concertgebouw (literally, 'concert building') is one ofAmsterdam's top-rated tourist attractions. Widely regarded as oneof the world's finest concert halls, it is easily comparable to theVienna Musikverein or the Moscow Conservatory. Classical-musiclovers in particular will enjoy the superb resident orchestra andmatchless acoustics, though the venue hosts some jazz and popconcerts too. Visitors can enjoy 'behind the scenes' tours of thegraceful 19th-century building, and possession of an 'I Amsterdam'card can get them up to 25 percent discount on ticket prices.

    Address: Concertgebouwplein 10
    Opening time: Box office hours: Monday to Friday from 1pm to 7pm,and on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 7pm.
    Concertgebouw, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Amsterdam Hans-Peter Harmsen
    Vondelpark

    Amsterdam's Vondelpark allows visitors to experience the city aslocals do. The relaxed and beautiful public space dates back to1865 and features several notable attractions. These include animpressive statue of Joost van den Vondel (the author for whom thepark is named), a playground, a film museum, an open-air theatre,and many cafes and snack bars. Travellers can exercise in the park,which has well-kept and extensive pathways for cycling, jogging andwalking. The tranquil space also hosts free concerts andperformances from time to time, and is an exceedingly charmingsetting.

    Vondelpark, Amsterdam Vondelpark, Amsterdam Felipek
    Sex Museum Amsterdam

    Along with a certain fame for legalised prostitution, Amsterdamis also home to the world's oldest sex museum. Open since 1985, theinstitution has grown from being a shaky idea, to becoming one ofthe most popular museums in a city full of interesting museums.Exhibits range from bawdy to particularly graphic, with examples ofancient and modern art, historic sex symbols and photographs allfeaturing. Visitors will also find a walk-through model of thefamous Red Light District, and an extensive collection of modernparaphernalia. Displays are a mixture of art and porn, anddifferent aspects of it will appeal to different people. Visitorsmust be at least 16 years old to enter.

    Address: Damrak 18
    Opening time: Daily 9.30am to 11.30pm.
    Amsterdam Sex Museum Amsterdam Sex Museum Ankur Gulati

    Dutch Phrase Book

    Dutch English Pronounciation
    Hello Hello Hello
    Tot ziens Goodbye Tot-see-uns
    Alstublief Please As-too-bleef
    Dank u Thank you Dahngk ew
    Ja Yes Ya
    Neen No Ne-un
    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 don�t understand Ik be-greep ou neat
    ��n, 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' fairly temperate climate is very similar to theUK's. There are four distinct seasons but the temperatures arevariable year-round and rain occurs throughout the year. Theweather is particularly changeable on the coast, where it isinfluenced by the ocean. The Netherlands experiences cool summers,between June and August, and mild winters, between December andFebruary. The average summer temperatures range between 53°F and72°F (12°C and 22°C), and the average winter temperatures rangebetween 34°F and 43°F (1°C and 6°C). Snow can fall anytime betweenNovember and April, although the country only experiences anaverage of about 25 snowy days a year. Rainfall can occur at anytime of year, but is marginally more common in summer and autumn.Tourists should ensure that they pack a rain jacket whatever timeof year they visit the Netherlands.

    Despite the hordes of tourists, the best time to visit is overthe summer (June to August), or in spring (April and May) when thefamous tulips are in bloom. However, the country is a year-roundtravel destination, as enjoyment of the cultural attractions, likemuseums, galleries, restaurants and historic buildings is mostlynot weather dependant.

    Blauw aan de Wal

    Blauw aan de Wal (Blue on the Quay) is one of Amsterdam's mostdelightful secrets. Located in the city's Red Light District, thischarming establishment occupies a 17th-century former herbwarehouse, and serves Mediterranean-inspired dishes. The menuchanges seasonally, service is first rate and reservations arenecessary.

    Address: Oude Zijds, Achterburgwal 99
    D Vijff Vlieghen

    The 'Five Flies' oozes an old-world charm that befits one of theworld's most famous restaurants. Original Rembrandt sketchesdecorate the walls of its attractive, country-style dining rooms,and brass plagues on its chairs remind guests that the likes ofOrson Welles and Walt Disney have patronised this establishment.All dishes are prepared with fresh Dutch products.

    Address: Spuistraat 294-302 (opposite the Amsterdam HistoricalMuseum)
    Cafe de Jaren

    Café de Jaren is both stylish and contemporary, with its chiefattraction being a waterfront terrace that overlooks the AmstelRiver. The establishment is a great setting for pre-dinner drinks,sampling a superb bottle of wine, or enjoying a strong coffee. Themenu is varied and attractive, with fare ranging from soups andsandwiches to steaks and pastas.

    Address: Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20-22
    Dynasty

    Amsterdam is well supplied with Asian restaurants, particularlyin its rejuvenated Chinatown district. Dynasty is one of the morepopular institutions, and serves a mix of Thai, Chinese, Malay,Vietnamese, and Filipino cuisine. Its themed interior isexceedingly beautiful. Reservations are essential.

    Address: Reguliersdwarsstraat 30
    Pasta E Basta

    The lively restaurant's waiters and bartenders sing opera ariaswhile they tend tables, creating a jovial atmosphere. Pasta EBasta's excellent wine list and superb Italian fare make it a mustfor foodies spending time in Amsterdam. Bookings should be madewell in advance.

    Address: Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 8
    Roses Cantina

    Amsterdam's most popular Mexican-style bar buzzes with warmLatin-American ambience, and serves up notoriously potentmargaritas. The menu includes regular Mexican favourites likeburritos, nachos and enchiladas. Fillet steak and burgers are alsoavailable and are well complimented with Mexican beer. Open dailyfrom 5pm.

    Address: Reguliersdwarsstraat 38-40
    De Silveren Spiegel

    The elegant Silveren Spiegel (Silver Mirror) is one ofAmsterdam's best-known traditional restaurants. Set in two historichouses and characterised by beautifully decorated, candlelit rooms,its menu includes meat and seafood dishes done in a traditionalDutch manner.

    Address: Kattengat 4-6
    Cafe Luxembourg

    Café Luxembourg is an established eatery and a definite must forfoodies looking to experience Amsterdam's famous café culture. Itssuperb food, affordable prices and traditional atmosphere areappealing in any season. Reviewers have called Café Luxembourg'spacious, elegant and unhurried', and quite simply 'one of theworld's great cafés.'

    Address: Spuistraat 24
    Greetje

    Located in a district that includes many beautiful oldbuildings, Greetje is an essential experience for foodies lookingto enjoy authentic Dutch cuisine. It's known for having some of thebest service in Amsterdam, and offers traditional Dutch recipeswith a modern flair. The restaurant is open for dinner only (6pm),seven days a week.

    Address: Peperstraat 23-25
    Pannenkoekenhuis Upstairs

    This two-man operation serves up savoury and sweet pancakes atreasonable prices. There are only four tables in this charmingeatery, and hundreds of teapots hanging from the ceiling. Theservice can be slow, but locals swear it's worth the wait.

    Address: Grimburgwal 2, Medieval Centre
    Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
    Location: The airport is about thirteen miles (21km) fromAmsterdam.
    Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March tothe last Sunday in October).
    Getting to the city: The airport railway station is located beneath Schiphol Plazaand trains depart for central Amsterdam and other destinationsaround the Netherlands. Trains leave the airport station regularly,except from 12.30am to 5am when the service only runs every hour.Most buses into Amsterdam run every 15-30 minutes from 6am untilmidnight on weekdays and slightly less frequently on weekends. Manyhotels offer free shuttle services to guests.
    Car Rental: Car rental desks can be found inside Schiphol Plaza, and includeAvis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Sixt and Enterprise.
    Airport Taxis: A taxi to the city centre takes around 30 minutes. Visitors cango to Schiphol Plaza where they will find the metered SchipholTravel Taxis, which offer fixed rates for everyone who travels toand from the airport.
    Fascilities: Facilities at Schiphol include ATMs and currency exchangefacilities, a lost and found, information desks, luggage lockersand wrapping services, state-of-the-art conference facilities, amedical clinic, pharmacy and casino. There are also numerous shopsand restaurants, a food court, and duty-free shopping.
    Parking Short-stop parking facilities are located close to the terminalfor €1 per 10 minutes. The daily maximum cost is €40. Daily parkingcan be booked in advance on the Schiphol website and the lots areconnected to the terminal via a frequent shuttle bus service. Valetparking is also available.
    Website: www.schiphol.nl
    Rotterdam The Hague Airport
    Location: The airport is located five miles (8km) north ofRotterdam.
    Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March tothe last Sunday in October).
    Getting to the city: A high-speed train called RandstadRail connects the airport toThe Hague, Leidschendam, Pijnacker, Zoetermeer and RotterdamCentral Station. Travellers can catch trains to Antwerp, Brusselsand Paris from the central station. They'll need to buy an'OV-Chipkaart' (Public Transport Chip Card) from a newsagent at theairport to use public transport. The RET bus connects to the Meijersplein metro station, wheretravellers can transfer to Line E, which heads to the city centre.For a more direct route, travellers can take the No. 33 bus toRotterdam Central Station. Night transport is available into theearly morning.
    Car Rental: Major car rental companies such as Budget and Sixt have desks inthe arrivals section.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available directly outside the terminal building.
    Fascilities: Airport facilities include banks, ATMs and currency exchange,information desks, conference facilities, travel agents,baby-changing stations, and a variety of shopping and diningoptions.
    Parking Parking is available in various lots, which allow for short-termand long-term stays. Travellers can reserve parking spaces via theairport's online booking system. They will have to pay a 'drive-in'charge if they don't.
    Groningen Eelde Airport
    Location: The airport is situated nine miles (15km) fromGroningen.
    Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March tothe last Sunday in October).
    Getting to the city: Shuttle bus service 100 operates between the airport andGroningen, and connects with flights arriving from, and departingto London and Copenhagen. Travellers can also take bus 9(Groningen-Eelde). Passengers from Assen can use bus 50(Assen-Groningen), changing onto bus 9 at De Punt.
    Car Rental: Avis, Hertz and Europcar are car rental companies represented atthe airport.
    Fascilities: Groningen's airport is small and has no currency exchangefacilities, but there is one ATM available in the terminalbuilding. There is a shop offering duty-free items for thosetravelling outside the EU, and staples like magazines, newspapersand sweets. The airport restaurant (part of the airport hotel) hasan outdoor terrace where patrons have a view of the runway. Thereis also a children's play area and a travel agency.
    Parking Long and short-term machine-ticketed parking is available withinwalking distance of the terminal.
    Website: www.gae.nl
    Money:

    The official currency is the Euro (EUR), which is divided into100 cents. Major credit cards are widely accepted. Foreign currencycan be changed at banks, post offices or bureaux de change (usuallyindicated by the letters GWK). Banks are closed on weekends butbureaux de change are open. ATMs are widely distributed and mostare open 24 hours a day.

    Language:

    Dutch is the official language. English is widely spoken.Frisian (as well as Dutch) is spoken by the people of FrieslandProvince.

    Electricity:

    Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Two-pin roundEuropean-style plugs are used.

    Entry Requirements:

    US citizens must have a passport that is valid for three monthsbeyond the period of intended stay in the Netherlands. No visa isrequired, for holders of US passports, for a maximum stay of 90days within a 180 day period.

    Most British citizens must have a passport that is valid uponarrival in the Netherlands, although some endorsements requirethree months' validity beyond the period of intended stay. Passportexemptions apply to holders of identity cards issued by Gibraltarauthories, and endorsed 'Validated for EU travel purposes under theauthority of the United Kingdom'. A visa is not required forpassports endorsed British Citizen; nor for holders of identitycards issued by Gibraltar authories, and endorsed 'Validated for EUtravel purposes under the authority of the United Kingdom'; nor forholders of passports endorsed British Overseas Territories Citizen(containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abodeissued by the United Kingdom), and British Subject (containing aCertificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by theUnited Kingdom). No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days ina 180 day period, for holders of British passports with any otherendorsement.

    Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for threemonths beyond the period of intended stay in the Netherlands. Novisa is required, for holders of Canadian passports, for a maximumstay of 90 days within a 180 day period.

    Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for threemonths beyond the period of intended stay in the Netherlands. Novisa is required, for holders of Australian passports, for amaximum stay of 90 days within a 180 day period.

    South African citizens must have a passport that is valid forthree months beyond the period of intended stay in the Netherlands.A visa is required. Note that entry will be refused to holders oftemporary South African passports.

    Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid upon arrivalin the Netherlands. No visa is required for holders of Irishpassports.

    US citizens must have a passport that is valid for three monthsbeyond the period of intended stay in the Netherlands. No visa isrequired, for holders of US passports, for a maximum stay of 90days within a 180 day period.

    New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid forthree months beyond the period of intended stay in the Netherlands.No visa is required, for holders of New Zealand passports, for amaximum stay of 90 days within a 180 day period.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    The borderless region known as the Schengen Area includes thefollowing 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 andSwitzerland. All of these countries issue a standard Schengen visathat has a multiple-entry option, and which allows the holder totravel freely within the borders of all the aforementionedcountries. Additionally, non-EEA visitors to the Netherlands musthold confirmed return/onward tickets, the necessary traveldocumentation for their next destination, and proof of sufficientfunds to cover their expenses while in the country.

    It is recommended that a traveller's passport has at least sixmonths' validity remaining after the intended date of departurefrom their travel destination. Immigration officials often applydifferent rules to those stated by travel agents and officialsources.

    Travel Health:

    There are no health risks associated with travel to theNetherlands and no vaccinations are required for entry into thecountry. The water is safe to drink. The standard of health care isvery high, but the necessary health insurance provisions must bemade before travelling. A reciprocal agreement exists with other EUcountries, which entitles nationals to low-cost emergency medicaltreatment. A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is necessary forthis purpose. Although medication is widely available in theNetherlands, it is always best to take along any prescribedmedication, in its original packaging, and accompanied by a signedand dated letter from a doctor detailing what it is and why it isneeded.

    Tipping:

    Service charges are included in hotel rates, restaurant billsand taxi fares, usually at about 15 percent. Tipping for goodservice is always appreciated but not necessary. It is customary totip taxi drivers and waiters about 10 percent.

    Safety Information:

    Travel in the Netherlands is fairly safe and the vast majorityof trips are trouble-free. Travellers should, however, alwaysexercise caution in empty streets at night and be aware ofpickpockets, particularly in central Amsterdam and at CentralStation. There have been several incidents on trains from SchipholAirport where heavily laden passengers have been targeted bythieves. As in all Western countries, there is a risk ofindiscriminate terrorist attacks.

    Travellers should also watch out for a scam whereby touristswill be approached by 'plain clothes policemen' who claim to beinvestigating credit card fraud and counterfeit currency. Touristsare shown fake identification in the form of badges, and asked tohand over credit cards and money. If approached, travellers areadvised to ask for proper identification or to accompany them tothe nearest police station.

    Local Customs:

    In the Netherlands, the use of cannabis is tolerated indesignated 'coffeeshops' in major cities. This policy exists toprevent the marginalisation of soft drug users, thereby exposingthem to more harmful drugs. However, the trafficking in hard orsoft drugs outside licensed premises is illegal and the possessionof soft drugs in public places will incur a prison sentence.Travellers should note that the rules are somewhat different forforeigners, with the Netherlands tightening up drug laws in recentyears: Amsterdam is the only city still fighting for the right oftourists to smoke cannabis in 'coffeeshops' and this has become abit of a grey area with laws not always enforced on the ground.Everybody from the age of 14 is required to show a valid identitydocument to law enforcement officers on request. Tobacco smoking incafés, bars and restaurants is prohibited.

    Business:

    Business in the Netherlands is conducted in an efficient andprofessional manner. Punctuality is important, dress is usuallyformal (suits and ties are standard), business cards are exchangedand greetings are made with a handshake. Titles and surnames areused, unless otherwise indicated. Women tend to be well received inDutch business and it is not uncommon for women to hold highpositions. Most Dutch people speak excellent English. Businesshours are usually 8.30am to 5pm.

    Communications:

    The international access code for the Netherlands is +31.Hotels, cafes and restaurants offering free wifi are widelyavailable. As international roaming costs can be high, purchasing alocal prepaid SIM card can be a cheaper option.

    Duty Free:

    Duty free items for travellers to the Netherlands include 200cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars or 250g smoking tobacco; 1litre spirits, 2 litres spirits or aperitifs made of wine or 2litres of sparkling wines, liquor wines or still wine; perfume upto 50g or 250ml eau de toilette; 500g of coffee; 100g tea.Prohibited items include the import of all birds.

    Useful Contacts:

    Netherlands Tourist Office, The Hague: +31 70 3705 705 orwww.holland.com

    Netherlands Embassies:

    Royal Netherlands Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202244 5300.

    Royal Netherlands Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 75903200.

    Royal Netherlands Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 237 5031.

    Royal Netherlands Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 4254500.

    Royal Netherlands Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 26 2209400.

    Royal Netherlands Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 269 3444.

    Royal Netherlands Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 4 4716390.

    Foreign Embassies in Netherlands :

    United States Embassy, The Hague: +31 70 310 2209.

    British Embassy, The Hague: +31 70 427 0427.

    Canadian Embassy, The Hague: +31 70 311 1600.

    South African Embassy, The Hague: +31 70 392 4501.

    Australian Embassy, The Hague: +31 70 310 8200.

    Irish Embassy, The Hague: +31 70 363 0993.

    New Zealand Embassy, The Hague: +31 70 346 9324.

    Netherlands Emergency Numbers : 112 (General)
    Netherlands
    Maastricht

    Maastricht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands.Perched peacefully on the banks of the Maas River, it's among thesunnier spots on the country's southern-most point. The once humbleRoman settlement now boasts a high number of national heritagesites. It's also the birthplace of the European Union and thesingle European currency, the Euro. Regarding attractions, ancientfortifications provide pleasant walking routes, and theBonnefantenmuseum allows visitors to trace the city's historicalorigins. The Basilica of Saint Servatius is a medieval cruciformbasilica that houses a significant collection of religiousartefacts. Visitors will find a selection of old shops anddepartment stores in the old centre of Maastricht, where they cansavour the destination's fine food and wine. The university town'slarge and vibrant student community gives it a sense of energy.

    Address: Maastricht is located 133 miles (215km) fromAmsterdam
    Maastricht Maastricht Les Meloures
    Peace Palace

    The deliberately named Peace Palace is a significant place forarbitration, and for the maintenance and promotion of world peace.Situated in The Hague, the building houses the International Courtof Justice, the Permanent Court of Justice and The Hague Academy ofInternational Law. The International Court of Justice's firstsession took place here in 1946. Regular guided tours reveal thepalace's wonderful gardens and impressive interiors. Visitors willalso see a beautiful art collection, which various countries giftedto the Peace Palace. Tour dates appear on the official website, andmust be booked in advance online. Visitors are not allowed to takephotographs inside the palace, and cannot enter with luggage -including handbags. Lockers are provided, though. The Visitor'sCentre (which is more of a museum) does a free audio guide and is agood option for anyone who can't go a tour.

    Address: Carnegieplein 2
    Transport: Tram 10 to Hague Central, or bus 24 to the Vredespaleisstop
    Opening time: The Peace Palace is only accessible on organisedtours, which are run on certain weekends.
    Peace Palace Peace Palace Public Domain
    Hoge Veluwe National Park

    Visiting the Hoge Veluwe National Park is a fantastic way toenjoy the Netherlands' (somewhat limited) great outdoors. Thesite's topography features heathland, peat bogs, woodland and evensand dunes. Its wildlife population includes badgers, foxes, reddeer, roe deer, wild boar and mouflon (a kind of wild sheep), andprovides ample cycling and walking opportunities. The area alsohouses the beautiful St. Hubertus Hunting Lodge, and theKroller-Muller Museum, which contains artwork by luminaries such asVan Gogh, Picasso and Mondrian. Site visitors can walk through aSculpture Garden as well.

    Opening time: Opening hours vary from month to month, but aregenerally from at least 9am to 8pm
    Hoge Veluwe National Park,Netherlands Hoge Veluwe National Park,Netherlands Stefan Kruithof
    Haarlem

    The quaint city of Haarlem lies 15-minutes away from Amsterdamby train, and has the distinction of boasting more museums percapita than any other city in the Netherlands. Its cosy, small-townfeel and cheaper accommodation rates mean that many tourists arechoosing to make it their base while vacationing in theNetherlands. A bustling market and a wide array of bars, cafes,restaurants, and live music venues means that Haarlem is anattractive choice for a variety of travellers. Its mix of historicsights and youthful energy is tremendously appealing. Haarlem'slist of must-see attractions includes the Grote Markt (MarketSquare), where 10 streets converge around the town's 700-year-oldcentre, and the Saint Bavo Church, which contains an organ thatdates back to 1738 and was once played by the great composer,George Frederic Handel.

    Grote Kerk, Haarlem Grote Kerk, Haarlem Fryslan0109