“God created the world, but the Dutch created Holland”. This is
because about half of the country has been reclaimed from the sea.
The Dutch pumped the water out from the swampy and flooded areas and
built dikes around them. This is why the Netherlands is so-named
because it is literally “low lands” or Nederland. Though a small
country in terms of land area, it is the largest of the Low
Countries, a term which includes Luxembourg and Belgium.
Most of the time, this country is referred to as “Holland”, which is
a misconception as this name only applies to the northwestern part
of the country. Its official name is the Kingdom of the Netherlands
or the Netherlands.
Summers are cool and winters are mild in the country so it would be
advisable to dress appropriately. Like most European countries, the
skies are normally cloudy and frosts may be a bit prolonged so better be
prepared for slightly chilly weather, even during summers.
The Dutch are very friendly people (even to foreigners) and speak good
English. In fact 70% of the population speak English, more than 50%
speak German, and about 20% speak French. This is attributed to the
tradition of learning foreign languages in the country and the
prevalence of television programs in the English language.
There are a million and one things to see and do in the Netherlands. For
short visits, the following will have to do. Sightseeing in Amsterdam is
probably the most logical place to start since it is the nation’s
capital and the nation’s business center. Cosmopolitan and carefree,
Amsterdam offers the best shopping, dining, and night life experience in
The best word to describe Delft is “tranquil”. Beautiful, historical,
and restful, this town boasts of tree-lined streets and canals, serene
bridges, and ageless buildings and landmarks. Sports lovers will also be
happy here for it has the Delftse Hout, a recreation spot where one can
windsurf, swim, and even go camping.
Go to Haarlem and sample its world famous beer. Walk down the Grote
Markt and sample their daily offerings from clothes to fresh produce.
Haarlem is also known for its Tulips so don’t miss a chance to sample
some of the country’s prized flora.
The seat of government of the Netherlands, Hague offers visitors several
museums and historical spots that will show the culture and history of
this great city.
If you really want to experience life in the Netherlands (and if you are
in perfect physical condition), take a bike tour of the country. It’s a
healthy, economic, and authentic way of exploring the nation’s cities
and rural areas.
Don’t forget that world famous Dutch beer, Heineken. Where else would it
taste better than in the country that brews and exports it? You haven’t
been to the Netherlands if you haven’t sampled Heineken.
For garden and nature lovers, the Keukenhof Gardens is definitely a
must-see. It is a floral paradise with tulips and hyacinths and other
flowers displayed in great abundance. The best way to get there is to
take a spring tulip cruise or river cruise.
Art lovers will make a bee-line for the home of the famous
Post-Impressionist painter, Vincent Van Gogh. See his work and that of
other Dutch painters at the Van Gogh Museum, one of the best art
galleries in the world that displays Impressionist and
Post-Impressionist art. There is also Kroller-Muller Museum, housed in
the Hoge Veluwe National Park.
If you want to see the Netherlands in a couple of hours, visit Madurodam,
the so-called “miniature city” (because it was built to scale 1:25). It
is a miniature representation of life in the Netherlands with a few
references to historical events that shaped the nation.
At least one building is added each year and one is taken away; it is a
city in progress and 35 people are detailed to maintain it. The most
elaborate model is that of the famous Rijksmuseum which comes complete
with exhibits and people. Madurodam will definitely leave a lasting
impression on all its visitors.
The Netherlands is much more than windmills, klompens, tulips, cheese,
dikes, and beer. It is a country that has made it to the top despite its
want of natural resources. It is a country that has bred famous artists
such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Vermeer. It has shaped other nations
through its exploratory endeavors during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Despite its size, the Netherlands has a lot to offer visitors from a
historical, cultural, and modern point of view, making it one of the
must-see countries in Europe.