Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

Beyond Amsterdam, there is much more to see in The Netherlands than red lights and cannabis smoke, contrary to popular belief. This tiny country is rich in tradition, culture, and unparalleled allure, from its historic towns to its fields of blooming flowers.

When it comes to the Netherlands, many travelers only consider Amsterdam, and many of these tourists do not venture beyond the Old Center’s tourist attractions. However, this tiny nation has much more to offer, as well as cultural nuances that are useful to comprehend. Before embarking on a trip to the lowlands, there are a few things to consider.

1. English-speakers need not be concerned about a language barrier.

The Dutch now have the distinction of speaking the best English (as a second language) in Europe, surpassing the Swedes and the Danes.

Don’t be afraid to ask for directions, recommendations, or to simply engage in conversation in English. Nearly all locals, especially in Amsterdam, speak some English and are eager to demonstrate their proficiency.

Learning a few key phrases, such as Dankjewel and Goedemorgen, is never a bad idea and will help you break the ice with natives.

In addition, you may already know more than you realize because a surprising amount of Dutch is derived directly from English.

10 Things to Know Before Visiting The Netherlands
The Dutch fishing village, Volendam. Photo credit: iStock

2. Book in advance

Especially if you’re traveling to Amsterdam during peak season, booking in advance can save you a lot of trouble (between June and August). During the summer, hostels in the city center are typically fully booked in advance, and if you don’t book online for certain attractions, you may have to wait for hours.

If you intend to visit the Anne Frank House, you must purchase a ticket online prior to your arrival. Each day, a limited quantity of tickets are available. If you choose not to shop online, expect to spend hours in a line that typically wraps around the block.

When it comes to major museums, the I Amsterdam City Card is your best option. This provides free access to the majority of the city’s cultural attractions, such as the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. It also includes unlimited public transportation use for the duration of the card’s validity.

10 Things to Know Before Visiting The Netherlands3. In Amsterdam, coffee shops are distinct from cafes.

It’s no secret that cannabis is legal (with some restrictions) in the Netherlands, and many tourists visit Amsterdam solely to sample the local, um, specialties. Cannabis is illegal in the Netherlands unless it is purchased and consumed on the premises of a coffee shop. Furthermore, you should not assume that all cities have the same policies as Amsterdam. Some municipalities, particularly those near the German and Belgian borders, prohibit non-Nederlanders from purchasing cannabis from their coffee shops. It is possible that these measures will be implemented nationwide in the near future.

But if all you want is an innocent cup of coffee and a slice of banana bread, avoid coffee shops – those are not the brownies you’re looking for. Instead, search for a café to satisfy your craving for hot chocolate.

10 Things to Know Before Visiting The Netherlands4. Lock your bicycle… twice

If you’re renting a bike during your stay — one of the best ways to explore the cities — be sure to take a sturdy lock with you when you leave the rental shop.

Typically, bikes are equipped with a fixed lock that wraps around the wheel and a separate lock that can be used to secure the frame to a pole or bike rack. Making the bike twice as difficult to steal will deter thieves looking to make quick cash.

Consequently, if you hear “pssst, want to buy a bike?” while wandering the streets, ignore the low price they offer – it’s not worth the guilt that comes with riding a stolen bike.

10 Things to Know Before Visiting The Netherlands5. The Red Light District in Amsterdam is relatively normal during the day.

As soon as the sun sets, the area is illuminated by red lights, and the streets come to life. Visit the neighborhood at night to fully appreciate its splendor.

Daytime is significantly less active. Even though the women still tap on their windows during the day, without the neon lights and bustling atmosphere, it is easier to see that this is a real neighborhood where regular people live. It is one of the oldest sections of the city center, with charming canals, historic churches, and Dutch-style architecture (which is why there is a proposal to move the Red Light District out of the center and into a new “erotic center” elsewhere in the city).

10 Things to Know Before Visiting The Netherlands
During the day, the Red Light District is inhabited. Image source: iStock

6. Do not photograph the women in the Red Light District.

Consider this your warning, drunken backpackers: Not only is it extremely impolite to treat the women in the windows as if they were zoo animals, but taking photos of their occupation will likely result in your phone drowning.

If any of the girls catch you taking a sneaky photo, they will likely come out from behind their windows, seize your phone, and drown it in the nearby canal to teach you a lesson.

10 Things to Know Before Visiting The Netherlands7. Don’t just plan on visiting Amsterdam

Too frequently, visitors to the Netherlands allocate only enough time to explore Amsterdam. But beyond this deservedly renowned city are a number of other cities brimming with traditional Dutch charm, many within an hour’s drive of the capital.

Visit Haarlem, Utrecht, Maastricht, or Den Bosch, to name a few, instead of the touristy city of Amsterdam. In these lesser-known locations, you will discover the Netherlands beyond its preconceived notions.

10 Things to Know Before Visiting The Netherlands8. The Dutch are not impolite; they are simply direct.

The Dutch are notoriously straightforward. It’s part of their culture to say exactly what’s on their minds without censorship.

From brutal candor to a straightforward “no” without explanation, you will always know where you stand with a Dutch person.

10 Things to Know Before Visiting The Netherlands
9. Buy an OV-ChipKaart (OV-Chip Card)

The OV-ChipKaart is the Netherlands’ public transport ticket system and is valid on all trains, trams, buses, and metros.

You can purchase a single-use card or an anonymous card, depending on how frequently you plan to use public transportation. Simply use the card readers to check in and out of your trip, and top up as necessary.

10 Things to Know Before Visiting The Netherlands
10. Be cautious of the bike lanes

The bike lanes can be unforgiving to visitors, who are typically dangers to cyclists. If you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to step in the designated bike lanes (which are painted red and marked with a bicycle symbol).

If you hear angry bells, move out of the way immediately; they’d rather hit you than stop.10 Things to Know Before Visiting The Netherlands

Topic: 10 Things to Know Before Visiting The Netherlands

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By InfoNewsLive