When you think about Holland, the first things that come to mind are probably ‘windmills’, ‘tulips’ and ‘Amsterdam’... Anything else?!
Holland has so much more to offer...
Most travelers come to the Netherlands and simply party in Amsterdam for a few days, but by doing so they miss so much of what the capital city and the rest of the country have to offer. Holland is filled with historic cities, canals, museums, beautiful farm land, windmills, and incredible beaches.
The capital city of Amsterdam has more to see than its famous red lights and coffee shops; it has an old historical city centre but also a modern suburb, picturesque canals, bridges, bikes, historic houses, museums, markets and many shops all of which are worth exploring. Amsterdam has many lovely little shopping districts and specialized shops offering plenty of opportunities to shop.
Whether in Amsterdam or in another city make sure you take a canal tour and see the canals that made the area not only famous but also inhabitable. The Dutch practically perfected building canals! We highly recommend getting up north, especially in April/May when the tulips are in bloom, the most famous place for photographing the flowers is ‘The Keukenhof’.
Why not Explore Rotterdam, one of the busiest shipping ports in all of Europe, it may not get all the attention Amsterdam does but the city is a great place if you want good shops, great architecture, and to learn about the famous harbor locks. Then there’s Historic Haarlem, take a stroll through the old upper class homes of the rich and famous and visit the old homes of the merchant class that helped build the city.
In Rotterdam you can expect a diverse range of fashion styles and shops. From casual to sophisticated, from retro to futuristic, from megastore to mini boutique.
The Hague (Den Haag), is filled with a lot of world-wide court bodies such as the International Criminal Court, this city is a hub of international life as it’s a center of European justice. You can see the Queen’s office here and visit the old castle and palace. Plus, The Hague is located right on the beach! Making lounging out on the sand and strolling along the boardwalk popular summer activities. Spend time exploring Holland and you’ll discover the country that keeps tourists coming back year on year.
The Hague has a lot to offer in terms of shopping: from art and design to fashion, shoes and souvenirs, the Hague has it all.
Utrecht is famed for it's university, and it's large student population results in a booming nightlife with many places to have a quick meal, some drinks or a dance. But the city has a long history, dating back to the Roman's original castellum in 47AD. On the place where once the castellum stood now stands the Domchurch built in the 13th century. There are a great many ways to enjoy this fascinating city - you can climb the Dom tower, take a bicycle tour through the old city centre, rent a canal bike and pedal your own way around the canals, or sample a locally brewed beer at Stadskasteel Oudaen, a 13th century city castle turned restaurant.
Utrecht is a shopper's paradise, with loads of varied shopping possibilities. With its beautiful canals, car-free city centre and abundance of great shops, Utrecht is an excellent city for a shopping spree.
Getting Around in Holland
Holland by Train
Holland has a modern and extensive railway network. Intercity trains run regularly between the larger cities. Express trains and local trains also stop at intermediate stations. Most trains offer a choice between first and second class. It is not possible to make reservations for seats on regular trains. It may therefore be more comfortable to travel first class in the busy trains in the Randstad area (encompassing the cities of Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Rotterdam) during peak hours. The train stations are centrally located. You won’t have to spend a long time searching for your destination as you will arrive close to the museums and historical places you might wish to visit.
Holland by Bus
In addition to the train, you can also explore Holland quite easily by bus, subway and tram. Most bus stations are situated next to the train station in the center of a city or town. City buses, trams or subways will take you anywhere in the cities. Regional buses travel to the smaller towns and villages. Express bus services and the Interliner buses are comfortable alternatives for the train for inter-city travel.
Holland by Bike
People sometimes say that the Dutch are born on their bikes! Fact is, Holland is a perfect country for cycling, and counts more bicycles than people! More than 20,000 kilometers of cycle paths are waiting for you throughout the country, and in the rare spots where there are no cycle paths, motorists are very aware of cyclists. The Dutch like a variety of bikes, ranging from regular men’s and women’s bikes to carrier bikes and reclining bikes. The fact that the land is so flat, the mild climate, the short distances and the wonderful infrastructure make biking in Holland not just practical, but great fun as well. So if you want to see more of Holland, one of the best ways to do it is by bike.
The Weather in Holland
Holland, with its long North Sea coast, has a typically moderate marine climate. The sea’s influence ensures that it is not too cold during winter, not too hot during summer, and there is always sufficient moisture in the air for a shower. So if you plan to visit Holland, it would be wise to keep this in mind. All in all, Holland has about 700mm of rainfall each year which is not a huge amount of water. However the unpredictability of the weather in all seasons is a more notable feature of the Dutch climate. A hot, sunny month of June may be followed by a wet, grey July. In January they may experience a ten degree frost or rather ten degrees above zero. So, it isn’t surprising that the Dutch, just like the British, always have something to say about the weather!
Events in Holland
Holland offers many events throughout the year. Festivals, markets, parades, expositions and events are organised throughout the country in every season. Spring mainly offers flower parades and cheese markets. In summer, there's a wealth of dance, music and theatre festivals; autumn is the time for art and culture, and the Christmas markets bring warmth to cold winter months.
The largest national event was celebrated every year on 30 April: Queen's Day. What used to be Queen’s Day is now King’s Day and is now celebrated on April 27, not April 30. During this national holiday, events and celebrations are held throughout the country and Amsterdam transforms into the capital of festivals. On King’s Day the Royal Family visits one or two towns that proudly display their cultural highlights and traditions. Members of the Royal Family enjoy and sometimes, even participate in the numerous activities! The whole event is broadcasted live on television and if visiting you will find unregulated street markets, music and bars on every street corner. It's a must to come and see Holland turn orange for this event!