The Netherlands is bordered by Belgium, Germany, and the North Sea which lies to the north and west. Large areas of The Netherlands have been reclaimed from the sea and consequently one fifth of the country lies below sea level. The country is flat and level, divided by rivers and canals. Amsterdam is the country’s central city and is beautiful, with impressive architecture; canals that criss-cross the city; great shopping and opportunities for the visitor to take in the culture and history, head out partying or just relax. Away from the cities there is the forest of Arnham, the tulip fields in the west, the lakes of the central and northeastern areas and the coastal dunes.


Dutch is the official language. English, German and French are taught as second languages and are generally widely spoken.


The Dutch currency is the (€) : 100 cents. The most common paper currency in Holland comes in denominations of €500, €200, €50, €20, €10 and €5. Coins appear in denominations of €2 and €1. Coins also come in 50 cents, 20 cents, 10 cents, 5 cents, 2 cents and 1 cent.


Summers are in general, warm with irregular rainfall periods, but excessively hot weather is rare. The optimal time to go is from May to October, when the temperature in the day is generally in the 70s-80s F/20-31 C, with nights in the 50s-60s F/10-20 C. Rainfall is customary all year. Winters can be fairly cold with the chance of some snow. The tulip season runs from April to mid May.


The Netherlands is a great place for a city break, or a more rural adventure. The north coast features lovely beaches and traditional fishing villages. The gorgeous Lower Rhine region is perfect for trekking, biking or just soaking up the peaceful countryside, complete with classic windmills!

Amsterdam is the cultural heart of the Netherlands. It is filled with museums and art galleries. Rich in history too, Amsterdam was the home of the tragic diarist Anne Frank. There are nightclubs a-plenty, and don't forget the notorius cafés!

Amongst the country's other cities, Rotterdam is renowned for its impressive architecture and jaw-dropping skyline. The Netherlands' political capital, The Hague is also well worth a visit.


  • Blood alcohol limit is 50mg.
  • Drive on the right side of the road.
  • The speed limit in the city is 50 km/h, sometimes there're zones where there's a maximum of 30 km/h. The limit outside the city is 80 km/h (N-roads). On the highway the limit is 120 km/h except on some roads where the limit is 100 km/h. These roads are indicated with white round signs with a red border marked with 100.
  • Your speed will be checked nationwide by the police.
  • Drinking & driving is not allowed and there are many breath controls nationwide.
  • A unbroken yellow line next to the sidewalk means no stopping, a broken yellow next to the sidewalk means no parking.
  • Some crossings have "shark teeth" painted on the road; this means you have to give way to the other traffic.
  • If you break down on the highway, go to the nearest yellow contact point. This is the direct connection to the emergency and assistance services.


Particular items of interest for sale include costume dolls, silverware from Schoonhoven, glass and crystal from Leerdam, diamonds from Amsterdam and Delft blue pottery and pottery from Makkum and Workum.

Shopping hours: Mon 1100-1730; Mon-Sat 0900-1700. In Amsterdam, Rotterdam and other big cities, supermarkets are open from 0800-2000/2100. In large city centers, shops are open Sun 1200-1700. Shopping malls are also open on Sunday.


Amsterdam is a cosmopolitan city, with some of the liveliest nightlife in Europe. Large cities have sophisticated nightclubs and discos, but late opening bars and cafés are just as popular in provincial towns. There are legal casinos in Amsterdam, Breda, Eindhoven, Den Haag, Groningen, Nymegen, Rotterdam and Scheveningen.

The leading place for dance lovers is The Escape on the Rembrandtplein (Amsterdam), with a capacity of 2,500, which takes its music seriously for a enthusiastic crowd. There are theatres and cinemas in all major towns.

Food and Drink

The Netherlands has a wide variety of local cuisine and international restaurants including Chinese, Italian, French, Balkan, Spanish, German, American and British. Local specialities include: Erwtensoep - thick pea soup served with smoked sausage, cubes of bacon, pig's knuckle and brown or white bread; Groentensoep - clear consommé with vegetables, vermicelli and meatballs; Hutspot - potatoes, carrots and onions; Boerenkool met rookworst - frost-crisped kale and potatoes served with smoked sausage; Flensjes or Pannekoeken - 25 varieties of Dutch pancake and Wafels met slagroom - waffles with whipped cream.

Jenever (Dutch gin) is a customary Dutch drink and is normally taken straight and chilled as a chaser with a glass of beer, but it is occasionally drunk with cola or vermouth. Favored brands are Bols, Bokma, De Kuyper and Claeryn.

If you can't read the Dutch menu, ask for an English version as most restaurants will have one. Restaurants typically have table service. There are no licensing laws. Drink can be bought all day. Bars open later and stay open until the early hours of the morning at weekends.

Tourist Information