The Netherlands is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. In 2017, around 16 million people visited the Netherlands, and in 2018, the number went up to 19 million. It was projected that 21 million tourists would visit the country in 2020.
However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I believe that might not be possible. I am hopeful that the pandemic will be over soon, and everyone will get a chance to visit the country. Before you visit the Netherlands, it is crucial to know what the Netherlands is known for.
What is the Netherlands known for? The Netherlands is one of the few countries in Europe famous for hundreds of things, but the country is best known for its vibrant, rich culture, peaceful countryside, beautiful canals, charming tulips, windmills, bicycles, beers, coffeeshops, delicious cheese, wooden shoes and, signature delftware.
Dutch society is based on four core values: freedom, equality, solidarity, and work. The country has a low crime rate, making it a safe and welcoming place for visitors and tourists from all around the world. According to the World Happiness Report, the Netherlands is fifth on the list with the happiest people in a country. They are kind, honest, polite, friendly, and punctual. In this blog I will tell you everything about the Netherlands, and what the country is known for.
The Netherlands is a densely populated country with a population of over 17 million people. The majority of the population speak Dutch, the official language of the country. It closely resembles German and has words from both English and French.
Besides Dutch, Friesian is the secondary language spoken in the Netherlands. More than half a million people speak this language in the Dutch province of Friesland. Dutch society overall is very modern and independent and believes in both equality and individuality.
The Netherlands is a secularized country with only 47% religious people. Among them, only 6% of people strictly follow religion and attend church regularly. Currently, Dutch society has two main religions: Roman Catholic and Protestant, which are 22% and 15% of the Dutch population, respectively. Other minor religions in the country are Islam (5%), Buddhism, and Hinduism (5% together).
When it comes to social etiquette, Dutch people will greet you formally with a handshake, and if you have a close relationship with the person, you will kiss each other three times, starting with the left cheek, from your own point of view. This could be quite a culture shock when you visit the Netherlands for the first time, but soon you will get to know, when to kiss someone and when you won't.
Moreover, Dutch people are direct and straightforward, and there is no such thing as rudeness because they call it openness. Bear in mind that Dutch people do not mean to be rude to anyone because it is their style to speak honestly and straight to the point.
While people in the Netherlands are not against becoming rich or wealthy, most see it as a negative trait if someone spends large sums of money publicly. Most probably, they will label that type of person a "show off." Likewise, never ask people how much money they make as it is considered a bit offensive.
Most people think about Amsterdam, the vibrant nightlife, the delicious food, tulips, windmills, cheese, coffeeshops, and the red-light district when it comes to the Netherlands. However, the Dutch country is more than these things, such as the fantastic, colorful, and picturesque countryside.
The countryside is lush green with lots of canals and rivers, windmills, a long coastline, and beautiful beaches. Keep in mind that the countryside has little or no hills and mountains. The terrain is vast and flat, with many canal systems, used to pump and supply the water outside the mainland.
About 45% of the Netherlands is above sea level. The highest point is 323m above sea level, and the lowest point is 6.7m below sea level. That's why the Netherlands has efficient and reliable systems to pump the water from the mainland into the sea.
In the Netherlands, the countryside is quiet and peaceful. The lush vegetation and cool breeze will soothe your mind and tranquil your heart. The countryside is the best place to visit if you want to enjoy the lush greenery, ride a bicycle, or listen to birds singing.
You can travel to the countryside by fast, safe, and comfortable trains. The well-developed railway network has over 400 stations that connect most towns and cities in the country. Besides, you can also explore the beautiful countryside by car. I believe traveling by car is the most relaxing way to explore the picturesque scenery of the countryside. That way, you can also avoid fix schedules and stop at any place you want.
Undoubtedly, the Netherlands has many beautiful attractions, like Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam. However, you can visit many small villages and towns to get rid of the city's hustle and bustle. Visit the following places to relax and enjoy the scenic beauty of Holland.
Some of the most popular Dutch villages for tourists:
Giethoorn (119 km or 74 miles from Amsterdam)
Giethoorn has over 90 km of canals and is known as "Venice of the North". It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Dutch countryside. You can rent a boat and explore the town from the water. From there you will be able to see the beautiful village with its old and pretty houses.
People iceskating in Giethoorn, The Netherlands:
Volendam (20 km or 12 miles from Amsterdam)
Volendam is a 17th-century town, and here you can find traditional brown buildings with red roofs. It is also known for its fishing and, old-fashion clothing. Its also home to some of the biggest names in the Dutch music industry.
Naarden (23 km or 14 miles from Amsterdam)
Naarden is one of the best-preserved fortified cities in Europe. The city is especially famous for its unique star-shaped way in which the city was built. You can take beautiful walks around the old buildings in this city, and you can even take a tour through the canals that surround the fortress.
Naarden build in its unique star-shaped form:
Harlingen (115 km or 71 miles from Amsterdam)
Harlingen is a scenic countryside town famous for its architecture. Here, you will find beautiful medieval mansions and houses made of gable stones. It's also possible to take a ferry from here to one of the Dutch islands in the Wadden Sea.
Zierikzee (147 km or 91 miles from Amsterdam)
Zierikzee is a small seaside town with a lot of monuments to visit. For this relatively small city, it has no fewer than 568 monuments. The most important monument is the "Sint-Lievensmonstertoren". This church tower is also called the "Dikke Toren", this means the fat tower. Visit the "Dikke Toren" to enjoy the beautiful panoramic view of the countryside from its top.
Many cities in the Netherlands were built around canals. Some cities and towns characterized by beautiful canals are Leiden, Dordrecht, Utrecht, Alkmaar, Leeuwarden, Amersfoort, and Groningen. Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands, is best known for its beautiful canals. The city's canal district is mentioned in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
If you want to discover and enjoy Amsterdam from a different perspective, I recommend taking a boat through the beautiful canals. I am sure you will remember the ride for years and tell your children about it. In addition, you will understand why Amsterdam is called "the Venice of the North".
Every canal in the capital city showcases a unique charm. The most popular canals of Amsterdam are the "Herengracht", "Reguliersgracht" and the "Prinsengracht". All of them have their own uniqueness to it and show the beauty of Amsterdam.
Don't forget to visit the bridge on the corner of Reguliersgracht and Herengracht for a stunning view. There are fifteen bridges in Amsterdam, and among them, the most beautiful is The "Magere Brug", also known as the Skinny Bridge. The Magere Brug is incredibly lit at night, making it the city's most romantic spot at night. So if you want to make the perfect romantic picture with your love, this is the place to be!
Moreover, Leiden has the most number of canals, moats, and bridges after Amsterdam. So if you find Amsterdam too crowded, Leiden will be a good option for you. You can also visit Delft to see the most beautiful canals. People will tell you about the canals' historical value, which served as defense and lifelines throughout the town.
Click here to learn some Amsterdam canals facts.
Exploring Amsterdam from the water:
Holland is the biggest exporter of vegetables, fruits, plants, flowers, bulbs, and decorative trees globally. The latest statistics show that the Netherlands exported 6.2 billion plants and flowers in 2020.
Anyway, tulips are Holland's signature flowers that attract people from all around the world. Holland has a favorable climate for other flower types, such as hydrangea, crocus, and Dutch roses.
I recommend you to visit the countryside, where you can find a vast sea of tulips and other types of flowers that will surely soothe your eyes and refresh your mind. Make sure you visit the tulip fields between mid-march and mid-May.
The crocus season starts in March, followed by hyacinths and daffodils. Likewise, the tulip season begins in April, the best time to enjoy the beautiful blooming tulips in colorful fields. If you want to get the most out of your trip, explore the countryside by bicycle or by car if you are short on time.
There are more than 1100 windmills in the Netherlands. Some windmills are still used for drainage, including the iconic windmills like the Molen de Otter (Amsterdam) and the Moden de Valk (Leiden). The Dutch government has restored the Molen de Valk, which is used for grinding grain. It is also a beautiful museum showcasing the history of windmills in Leiden.
The Netherland is known for its iconic windmills. Millions of tourists visit Holland to explore windmills, which has become an exciting thing to do in the country. Bear in mind that the Dutch government has made substantial efforts to restore most of the historic sites. The two most popular places for tourists to visit windmills are the "Zaanse Schans" and "Kinderdijk".
Holland celebrates the "National Mill Day" in May. More than 600 windmills and watermills are opened to visitors and tourists every second Saturday in May. If you want to enjoy such historical sites, I recommend visiting Holland in April and May to see the colorful tulip fields and explore the iconic windmills. The best way to see these windmills is by bicycle.
Exploring the windmills by bicycle:
Research shows that people in the Netherlands have been brewing beer since the medieval era. Heineken, Hertog Jan, Amstel, Bavaria, and Grolsch are the famous Dutch beer brands today.
Besides, you can find a wide variety of specialty beers brewed in local breweries. Most people like to taste beers at the brewery, but many others also love visiting beer pubs. Luckily there are lots of them in the whole of the Netherlands.
Most people visiting Amsterdam do not miss the House of Bols. It is one of the oldest distilleries in Europe. The House of Bols offers a guided tour to visitors, allowing them to visit the company's facilities and taste the famous Dutch jenever and some cocktails. You can also learn about how the company makes cocktails and jenever in their facility.
If you are a real beer lover then you are in the right place in the Netherlands. For example, you can visit special beer cafes all over the country and it is also possible to get a tour at many breweries. Below you will find some of the nicest brewery cafes in the Netherlands.
This is a beer that comes from Haarlem. The name comes from the fact that the beer comes from barrels of no less than 112 liters. They call these barrels "Jopen". They have a beautiful cafe and restaurant in a church in the center of Haarlem. Here you can enjoy delicious beers and food.
This brewery is located in the beautiful city of Rotterdam. The brand is known for its bold flavor combinations. Kaapse Brouwers is located in the Fenix Food Hallen. This culinary hotspot is definitely worth a visit.
De Beyerd is a brewery in Breda. The beer was created in 1838 and there are no fewer than 125 flavors and types available. In their brewer's café, you can taste all kinds of beers and also have a delicious snack.
Because the Netherlands is known for its beer, it is certainly advisable to visit one of these breweries when you are in the Netherlands.
Cheese-making has a long history in the Netherlands. Today, you can find hundreds of cheese varieties in the Netherlands. The most popular and commonly available cheeses in the Netherlands are Leidse cheese, farmer's cheese, and goat cheese. Besides these cheeses, people love to eat Gouda cheese, a yellow cheese made from cow's milk.
Gouda is available in different varieties, including the softer and creamier Jong and the sharper flavored Belegen. Edam is another famous cheese available in most shops. The cheese has derived its name from the town of Edam. The round shape and beautiful red-color rind make it the signature cheese of the country.
Kanterkaas is a hard cheese compared to Gouda. It is produced in Friesland and has a wide range of flavors. The most popular Kanterkaas' variant is flavored with cloves and cumin. According to Ben Coats, people in the Netherlands eat a lot of cheese and drink a lot of milk. They say this diet makes them the tallest people in the world, but not everyone agrees with this theory.
The world famous Dutch cheese:
I won't be wrong if I say there are more bicycles than people in the Netherlands. There are more than 22.8 million bicycles in the Netherlands, which means that every Dutch person has an average of 1.3 bicycles. The Dutch government has been making significant efforts to make cycling safer and comfortable for people.
The government has built an extensive network of cycle paths with smooth surfaces, clear marks, lights, and signs for bicycle riders. For example, the Netherlands has no less than 37,000 kilometers (22,990 miles) of bicycle paths.
In most towns and cities, the cycling paths are entirely separated from other vehicles or traffic. Even if the motorized traffic and cyclers share a path, clear signs enable the motorist to know these are bike streets.
Bicycles are an integral part of day-to-day life in the Netherlands. The Dutch people use their bikes mostly for transportation, but a lot of people use them for pleasure as well.
Anyway, there are over 72,000 people in Amsterdam who ride bicycles in the morning rush hour. Bikes are twice the number of cars on the streets of Amsterdam. More people are getting conscious of climate change and global warming. That's why bicycle use is going up in the Netherlands as an effort to adopt eco-friendly practices.
Wooden shoes or clogs are traditional footwear in the Netherlands. Research shows that people have been using wooden shoes for seven centuries. However, you will rarely find locals wearing clogs on the streets. However, these shoes are famous accessories for foreign tourists who buy these items as souvenirs.
You can find a beautiful pair of classic and modern wooden clogs in most shoe shops and markets throughout the Netherlands. Wooden clogs are a great addition to your wardrobe.
I recommend visiting Volendam to see local artisans making traditional footwear. Most women can't resist buying a lovely pair of wedding clogs, made from unpainted wood.
The Dutch have been wearing clogs since the 13th century. The wooden shoes absorb sweat and allow your feet to breathe. In the Netherlands, wooden shoes are mostly worn by artisans, factory workers, fishers, and farmers to protect their feet.
I have already mentioned above that the Netherlands is famous for its rich heritage and vibrant culture. You may not know, but Delftware items are parts of Holland's rich history and culture. For instance, delftware ceramic items are beautiful pieces that you can find in any region of the country.
In Amsterdam, you can find a wide variety of vases, shakers, and hand-painted tiles. Every porcelain piece you see on the market represents the iconic history of the Dutch country.
Today, painters use porcelain items for painting the traditional decorations on them. The best thing about these items is that they are handmade. I recommend visiting the beautiful town of Delft to find the most authentic delftware.
Collection of Dutch Delftware:
The Netherlands is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The country is famous for its diverse culture, high human values, etiquette, and polite/humble people. Although Holland is a small country, it offers many things to foreign visitors and tourists.
Visiting the Netherlands allows people to see the picturesque tulip fields, explore the windmills, beaches/coastlines, taste beers, eat cheese, world-class water management systems, Delftware/earthenware, watermills, and millions of bicycles.
Again, I must say there are hundreds of places to visit in Holland and thousands of things to explore and see in this beautiful country. I hope this article helps you understand "what is the Netherlands known for".