Holland - Holiday facts and Information

Holiday facts and information about Holland

General facts

Trip Preparation

Trip Preparation

Trip Preparation

The Netherlands is the official name of this country but it is more commonly known as Holland. Though technically Holland is only 2 regions in The Netherlands, it is used to refer to the whole country.

Language

The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch, which is spoken by about 21 million inhabitants. In all tourist destinations you can easily communicate in English, French and German.

Currency

Since January 2002, as in other European Union countries, the Netherlands introduced a common currency, the Euro. European currency has replaced the earlier Dutch guilder, also called the florin. The new currency has been adopted with enthusiasm, and most Dutch people believe that since the introduction of the Euro, everywhere prices increased radically. In all the larger stores, hotels and restaurants credit cards are widely accepted.  

Best travel time

The Netherlands is situated in a temperate rain climate. The climate of the Netherlands is determined by the position of the sea. The closer you get to the sea, the lower the temperature difference between summer and winter gets. In summer it is usually warm and dry, often leads to freshening winds. In spring and autumn often encounter severe storms associated with heavy rainfall. In winter it is wet and cold. It is only very rarely snows. Average summer temperatures range from 10.5 to 21 °C.  

Visa requirements

The Netherlands is part of the Schengen Area. Travelling in and out of the Netherlands is possible with a Schengen Visa or with a passport of a country in the Schengen Area. For a concise list of countries check the links for nationals who need a Visa and nationals who don't need a Visa for a stay of up to 90 days. 

Vaccinations

No specific vaccinations are required for entry to the Netherlands. For tourist trips, it is recommended to vaccinate against tetanus and hepatitis. It's worth remembering to also purchase a minimum basic package of insurance: Accident and luggage insurance. If someone is suffering from chronic illness, or has plans to engage in sports you should insure yourself for that as well.  

Communication

Voltage current in the Netherlands is 230 V, 50 Hz. Dutch socket contacts are compatible with type C, E and F. They are compatible with most European socket types. To see whether your plug fits check this list. Reception on cell phones is normally available. Just remember to run an option with your operator prior to departure (The cost of calls depends on your operator). Better yet, buy a prepaid card from a local service operator, its a lot cheaper.

Country and People

Country and People

History

Family life is very important to the Dutch. Many Dutch people live in relationships without marriage, but they respect the rights of marriage. Dutch families are not large in general, but are imbued with great affection by all its members. The Netherlands is also famous for its colorful regional costumes. Mens wear consists of black trousers and a wide hat. Ladies wear dresses with embroidered corset, lace bonnet and shoes.

Traditions and Culture

Dutch people turn out to have very high tolerances for each type of diversity. They are very responsible and punctual. They are more a vibrant community of people, also in displaying emotions. The Dutch like to spend free time in nature. Very popular is cycling, which can be done virtually anywhere, because it's flat everywhere. Additionally they are a very proud nation. Two very important traditions in the Netherlands are the Queens Day celebrations and the celebration of Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas).

Religion

Since the nineteenth century the Netherlands has a system of columns. This means that society is divided into four religious groups: Protestants, Catholics, socialists and liberals. At the moment the most important churches in the Netherlands are the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant church. To this day you can meet with small groups of orthodox Calvinists. Approximately 38% of Dutch people do not identify themselves with any religious community. The Netherlands has also reached other religions with it's multicultural population such as Muslim, Hinduism, Jewish or Buddhist.

Getting around

Getting around

By bus

When it comes to public transport we have several options to choose from: •     Trains are the best means of long distance transport. Among all the cities in the Netherlands high speed trains run very frequently. Dutch railways are considered to be one of the best in Europe. To see when your train leaves check  www.ns.nl/cs/Satellite/traveller. •     Suburban buses are a very good complement to the trains, which do not reach to smaller towns. Bus stations are almost always at the railway stations.   •     The bike is also a very good method of transportation. Throughout the Netherlands, riding a bike is no problem. Most roads have an extra lane for bikes. Also, the Dutch countryside is very very flat and the bike is generally THE short distance transportation method for many people (for example: Amsterdam has almost as many bikes as inhabitants, 600’000 compared to 740’000.). Bike rentals in general are also very numerous because of this. To see whether you travel destination is already using this system check here All over the Netherlands the OV-chipkaart is soon available, the provinces of Groningen and Drente are the only regions where it isn't valid yet, also some trains don't support it yet either. It is a prepaid ticket with which you can hop on and off the train, bus or tram. It works with a chip inside the card which validates itself when held against the validation machine, also you have to check out before getting off. This ticket has become quite popular for public transport because of its simple use. It is momentarily valid in nearly all parts of the Netherlands.

By plane

Flights to Amsterdam and Rotterdam are the most common. You can use the services of low-cost airlines or buy a scheduled airline flight. Road infrastructure in the Netherlands is very good, larger cities are connected with the highway, so traveling by rental car is done without any difficulty. Being in the Netherlands is no problem. At the airport you can rent a car to explore the country on your own. The country offers lots of colorful tulips, great cheese and typical Dutch windmills. It is best to rent a car if you want to travel around the Netherlands. Depending on the season and company that rents the car, the cost of such a car varies between 50€ and 60€. That price is also influenced by the size of the vehicle. Remember to comply with road regulations, there are a lot of traffic lights and relatively high fines. The Netherlands has right-hand side traffic.

By taxi

Taxis are available without much of a problem. They can be ordered by phone or caught on the streets.

Discover and Enjoy

Discover and Enjoy

Sights

Being in the Netherlands you have to visit Amsterdam of course, and there, the Van Gogh Museum, the streets of the red light district, the Heineken Museum, as well as doing a Grachtentour. It is also worth to walk through the old town of Amsterdam. Apart from Amsterdam, there are many other interesting places of course: The western part of the country Randstad, known as the Ring Towns. In this region an interesting place to visit is The Hague and Rotterdam (it has one of the largest ports in the world). Leiden and Delft: Famous for the porcelain factory and medieval buildings. The Keukenhof is the biggest flower park in Europe. The Haarlem Frans Hals Museum. The southern part of Holland (Zeeland, North Brabant and Limburg) is the Catholic part of the Netherlands. Maastricht: it is the oldest city in the Netherlands, it is known for its history and culture. It attracts a lot of tourist and is a Dutch center of education, with a large population of international students. The "Djiks", they are very important and impressive constructions. They have protected the Netherlands from disastrous floods. They resulted the in the creation of the buffer sea "Ijsselmeer". In the Netherlands you will find many interesting places and beautiful landscapes.

Events

January: "Leiden International Film Festival" in Rotterdam, "International Chess Festival" in Wijk aan Zee. February: Exhibition of flowers in Bovenkarspel March: Flower Festival in the city Keukenhof April: Cheese market in Alkmaarzee, "Parade of Flowers" in the northern part of the Netherlands, Rotterdam Marathon May: Celebrations of the end of World War II, "Feast of windmills", music festival in Amsterdam, flagship gala on ships at the start of herring season June: Art festival in Amsterdam, the Hague and Rotterdam, pop music festival in Landgraaf, "Eleven Cities bicycle race" starting in Bolsward, "Arab Film Festival" in Rotterdam July: Jazz Festival in The Hague, "International Exhibition of Roses". August: International Regatta (weekly) in Sneek, The famous "Parade of Homosexuals", Festival in Scheveningen (pyrotechnic), "Festival of Classical Music" in Amsterdam. September: "Parade of Flowers". October: The half marathon through the streets of Amsterdam, Salsa Festival in Haarlem. November: Parades to celebrate the arrival of St.Nicholas, "The Feast of Marijuana" in Amsterdam, "Domino Day" in Leeuwarden. December: 5th - St. Nicholas is celebrated You might laugh about the fact that the Dutch way of life is riding a bike. The Dutch like to spend free time outdoors, bicycling everywhere. On Dutch streets you will almost always see someone riding a bike. In the Netherlands there are about 1,500 bicycle paths, by which you can easily and quickly get to any destination. The Dutch are more a vibrant community of people regarding displaying emotions. They are very proud, but also very tolerant.

Food

The Dutch eat two cold meals during the day (breakfast and lunch), and a warm dinner, consisting of fish, meat, potatoes and vegetables. The main dishes that can be found in the Netherlands include: chicken, fish, soups and braised dishes. The barrel salted herring, mackerel, served with bread is very good, and all that is combined with lots of onions. Popular and general are also available seafood. The traditional dish is mashed pot - it smashed potatoes mashed cooked with vegetables and fried bacon. Very popular in the Netherlands is cheese. There are several kinds of them: subtle, intense and sharp. The most popular of them is Gouda cheese, also known in Poland. It is produced from cow's milk in Gouda. Served to meals is the most popular drink: Beer (Heineken, Amstel and Grolsch). National liquor is Dutch gin with high volume (gin with a thick consistency.) The most popular dessert is apple pie and cinnamon pie