Holland or the Netherlands as it is also called is known most famously in the vibrant city of Amsterdam. The Netherlands is one of the smaller countries in the world, with 15.8 million inhabitants and an area of 41,864 square kilometers The major cities are all relatively close together, yet each has a quality of its own.
Holland has so many exciting and accessible cities to discover. Holiday in Amsterdam with its historic city centre and museums, its unique ring of canals and impressive buildings, attracts the most tourists, where you can uncover the liveliest bars and the most diverse museums. Or why not immerse yourself in the atmosphere of one of the other great Dutch cities? The Hague, Delft, Haarlem, Utrecht, Groningen and Maastricht certainly have their share of historic buildings, museums, traditions and attractions.
Rotterdam is renowned for its stunning architecture combined with exciting nightlife. The many bridges, dikes, water mills and pumping stations are an impressive sight. The extensive Delta works are a powerful reminder of the battle the Dutch is still waging against the sea. Nearly half of the country is below sea level. The lower Netherlands consists largely of flat polders surrounded by dikes, where the water table is regulated artificially. From the 16th century on, windmills were used not only to keep the land dry but also to drain entire inland lakes.
Above all, the Netherlands is known for its flowers. The bulb fields in the provinces of North and South Holland are at their most beautiful in April and May, when the daffodils, hyacinths and tulips are in bloom. Thousands of visitors flock to see them. The Netherlands produces 60 per cent of the worlds commercially-grown flowers.
City Breaks Amsterdam
A city break in Amsterdam is a trip that must be done in your life time. Whether your young or old this vibrant city will leave you with fond memories. Buy a pair of hand made cloggs as a souvenir or visit the Keukenhof Gardens
Which opens in March and send home some tulip bulbs to remember your trip forever. The wonderful colours and styles of tulips from Amsterdam will look vibrant in your garden. Take a trip on the canals of Amsterdam or visit Anne Franks house. The nightlife in Amsterdam will keep you going for a city break and a trip to the Dutch city would be incomplete without a tour to the windmills of holland. Visit in the month of August and watch the Gay Pride Canal Parade with their different themed boats.
Dutch Restaurants & Food
There are Restaurants galore in the Netherlands; they not only reflect international influences in the past, but even more those of the present. Amsterdam has a long and rich cafe tradition; throughout the city you’ll find old-fashioned cafes in all shapes and sizes. Many owe their existence to the locals who come to play cards. Generally they are called ‘brown’ cafes; walls and ceilings have yellowed by age, historical artifacts are cherished and rather than music, you hear other customers and the sound of glasses being rinsed.
A trend of the last 10 to 15 years is the ‘grand cafe’. This type of cafe is noticeably different from the traditional brown cafes in both size and interior. Opening hours vary, but usually open for lunch from 11:00am – 2:30/3:00pm and for dinner from 5:30-10:00/11:00pm. Value added tax and service charges are included in hotels and restaurants, tips for extra service are always appreciated but not necessary.
Accommodation in Holland, Netherlands
A shield is issued to all Hotels approved by The Netherlands Board of Tourism. This must be affixed to the front of the hotel in a prominent position. Hotels, which display this sign, conform to the official standards set by Dutch law on hotels, which protects the tourist and guarantees certain standards of quality. Hotels are also graded according to the Benelux system, in which the standard is indicated by a row of 3-pointed stars from the highest 5* to 1*. However, membership of this scheme is voluntary, and there may be first-class hotels that are not classified in this way.
Weather in Holland
Mild, maritime climate. Summers are generally warm with changeable periods, but excessively hot weather is rare.
Winters can be fairly cold with the possibility of some snow. Rainfall is prevalent all year. Spring is a good time to visit as the bulbs are in bloom – April for daffodils, tulips in May.
Dutch Banks and Currency
Since 1 July 2002, the euro has been accepted everywhere in Holland. Cash-on-card services are available from selected American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and VisaCard addresses. These cards are also accepted by all GWK currency exchange outlets and Change Express Offices. It is handy to take some cash with you for the first few days in Holland. Travelers cheques are a safe alternative to cash and are handy if you do not have a credit card.
Banking hours in Holland
Banks are open Mondays – Fridays from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00/5:00 p.m.
Visa Requirements for the Netherlands
European Union residents just need their EU papers to enter. No visas are required for travelers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and the USA for visits of up to 90 days.
Calling Home from the Netherlands
Most telephone booths require a prepaid phone card, which can be purchased at train stations, post offices, local tourist information offices (VVV), Primafoon stores and selected shops.
Phone cards are available for NLG 10, NLG 25 and NLG 50. Some telephone booths also accept coins (NLG 0.25, NLG 1 and NLG 2.50). Directory Assistance: 0900-8008.
Incase of an Emergency in Holland
Dial 112 for Police, Ambulance and Fire
Events in Holland
There are theatres and cinemas in all major towns. Large cities have trendy nightclubs and discos, but late opening bars and cafￃﾩs are just as popular in regional towns. Amsterdam is a sophisticated city, with some of the liveliest nightlife in Europe. There are legal casinos in Amsterdam, Breda, Eindhoven, Den Haag, Groningen, Nymegen, Rotterdam, Zandvoort, Valkenburg and Scheveningen (which claims to have the largest in Europe); all have an age limit of ‘over 18′ (passports must be shown).
Driving tips in the Netherlands
Driving is on the Right hand side of the road in the Netherlands.
Given that nowhere in Holland is more than two or three hours from Amsterdam, what better way to explore the real Holland than by car? Drivers should be particularly aware of cyclists; often there are special cycle lanes.
Seat belts are compulsory. Speed limits are 80kph (50mph) on major roads, 120kph (75mph) on motorways and 50kph (30mph) in towns. The Drink driving limits in Holland strict at 0.2mg. Car hire from Amsterdam can be booked through gay travel, just email or call for more information.
For more information on the Netherlands see visit the Tourist board for Holland at Holland Tourist Board