Tulips, canals and windmills are among the iconic images that come to mind when Holland or The Netherlands is mentioned. Wander through the charming streets of Amsterdam, or take in the dazzling artworks of Dutch artists Van Gogh and Rembrandt, to name a few, found on display in the country’s many museums. But the modern progressive and athletic country is so much more than that. Innovation and open-mindedness continue to guide the Dutch, especially in leading the way towards environmental sustainability. Bikes have become the preferred mode of transportation for many, making touring Amsterdam a breeze. Join Odyssey Traveller as we take you on a journey through this magical country.
Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Holland is serviced by an excellent train network, offering extensive transportation coverage across the country. The bus network is also very efficient, with services linking all the major towns and cities, as well servicing routes to rural areas and villages.
In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.
Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.
Geography, Environment, & Weather
Holland covers a total area of 41,543 square kilometres. Much of the country’s land has been reclaimed from the sea, with nearly a quarter of Holland below sea level. The country is almost entirely flat, with only the extreme south of the country having any significant elevation.
Holland has a temperate maritime climate, with mild summers and cool winters. Depending on when you intend to travel, check the weather reports and dress accordingly.
World heritage sites
There are 10 sites in Holland listed on the World Heritage List. You can view the listed properties here: (https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/nl). Holland’s listed properties include:
Defence Line of Amsterdam, the only fortification complex in the world dedicated to protecting a city from the sea
Rietveld Schröderhuis (Rietveld Schröder House), an outstanding example of the Modern Movement in architecture
Wadden Sea, the largest unbroken system of intertidal sand and mud flats in the world.
Festivals & Events
The vibrant culture of Holland is put on display through its many colourful festivals and events. One of the biggest events of the year is the King’s Day (Koningsdag). Held in honour of King Willem-Alexander, towns and cities across the country are decked out in orange with the occasion marked by parades, live music and festive revelry. Given that Holland is famous for its beautiful tulips and flowers, it should come as no surprise that the country holds an entire festival dedicated to them, namely the Keukenhof. The Keukenhof Holland largest garden festival, with thousands flocking to Middenmeer to see elaborate arrangements of countless flower varieties. The architecture of Holland towns and cities is not only commemorated but celebrated through events such as Open Monumentendag (Heritage Day) during which thousands of historical buildings and homes throughout Holland are made open to the public.
Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City, by Russell Shorto
A Concise History of Holland (Cambridge Concise Histories), by by James C. Kennedy
Tulipomania: The Story of the World’s Most Coveted Flower & the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused, by Mike Dash
The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age, by Simon Schama
Eating & Drinking
Dairy products, in particular cheese, are a central part of the national diet, with the Dutch often consuming cheese as part of breakfast and lunch, or a snack throughout the day. The most popular varieties are Gouda and Edam, although many other types of cheese are produced and consumed throughout Holland. The former Dutch presence within Indonesia has left its mark on Dutch cuisine, with Indonesian dishes such as bami goreng (stir-fried egg noodles with garlic, onion, meat, egg and chilli) and satay (skewered meat served with peanut sauce) making their way onto Dutch menus in recent years. The Dutch are known for their sweet tooth, with sweeter offerings inclduing poffertjes (pancakes made from yeast and buckwheat flower), stroopwafel (layers of thin waffles sandwiching caramel syrup) and drop (licorice).
Traditional beverages in Holland include advocaat (a cocktail made from eggs, sugar and brandy) and jenever (Dutch gin).
Health & Safety
Generally speaking, Holland is safe to travel in, though always exercise common sense while travelling.
Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. The electricity supply in Holland runs at 230V and 50Hz. In Holland the Type C and Type F electric plug types are used, so make sure you have the right travel adaptor with you.
Holland has a single time zone, Central European Standard Time (UTC+1). Daylight savings commence on the last Sunday of March, and conclude on the last Sunday of October.
If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you tip an appropriate amount for services. Tipping isn’t particularly common in Holland, with a service charge often included with the bill. However, if service is not included, it is polite to round up the bill.
Wifi is widely available in Holland and should be freely accessible in most hotels, cafes and restaurants.
Check with your cell phone provider to see whether you’re able to make calls and use data while in Holland. Many providers will allow you to pay a daily fee that allows you to make calls and check the internet while only being charged your regular rates. However, be certain to inform your provider that you’re heading overseas, because just like a bank they can turn off your service as a result of unusual activity.
Responsible travel tips for Holland
- Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although many locals speak English, the more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
- Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
- Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of lekë in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.
- When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of euros in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.