The Netherlands – More Than Drugs, Cheese and Ladies of the Night

Almost everyone knows Amsterdam, the capital city of the tiny country that is the Netherlands. Often known for its drugs, red-light district and for it’s cheese. But there is so much more to the Netherlands than its famous capital city. Neil moved here last summer, and we made a bucket list for him to get to know the country better. Here we have listed some ideas what to do more next time you’re over.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam Canals - Holland

Of course, there is more to discover in Amsterdam itself, rent a bike and take the ferry to Amsterdam North and bike around. This summer they opened Europe’s biggest swing, on top of the A’DAM tower! which gives you a pretty overlook over the city of Amsterdam.


Getting tired of all the biking around? Book a boat tour and sail through the canals of Amsterdam, it’s even better to do it by night! If you don’t mind queuing, the Anne Frank Museum is well worth the wait. Visit the original building where she as a young Jewish girl, hid from the Germans in World War 2.

Utrecht

utrecht dom tower
View from the Utrecht Dom Tower

Utrecht is our hometown, we always call it little Amsterdam. The centre of Utrecht is easy to visit, and most sites are within walking distance of each other.  Through the centre runs a canal with small terraces and bars either side. The canal brings you to the big church in the centre of the city, called De Dom. It’s nice to climb the tower (if you’re not afraid of heights!) and on a clear you can see the Amsterdam Arena, the football stadium of Ajax.

If you fancy a sandwich for lunch, try a ‘Mario’, it’s a well-known sandwich in Utrecht based on a Italian recipe, and is delicious! There are a few city parks which are great for picnics or for a spot of training, or nice for just having a relaxing afternoon.

Volendam

volendam holland

Volendam is a well-known fishing town, where the locals still wear the traditional clothing. You can even have a photo taken dressed up with the traditional cloths. You can also take a boat ride on the big lake in the middle of The Netherlands. Try our fresh fish for lunch and try to eat a raw Haring with onion, if you dare! For the non-fish lovers among us they can enjoy their lunch or snack with the Dutch bitterballen.

New Year dive in Scheveningen

New Year dive in Scheveningen

If you find yourself around on new years eve, you should get up early on new years day and start the year in a big way by joining the Nieuwjaarsduik in Scheveningen. It’s a lot of silly Dutch people taking a dip in the freezing cold North Sea, great for a fresh start to the new year! I’ve done it a few times myself and even Neil joined us once!

I must admit that standing there with a hangover makes it pretty damn difficult, and it crossed my mind several times, ‘what the hell am I doing!’ but afterwards it’s a perfect way to get rid of your hangover. Afterwards you’ve been in the sea you will get a cup of split pea soup, which is a Dutch winter tradition!

Maastricht

Maastricht at sunset

Maastricht is a city in the southeast of The Netherlands, near the border of Germany and Belgium. It’s a Burgundian area, where you can have nice dinners and enough bars or terraces to have a drink. You will notice that the atmosphere is different than in the west part of The Netherlands. Less stressed and more about enjoying the time people spend together.

Waddeneilanden

Waddeneilanden-islands

In the top north of the Netherlands we have eight islands, of which three aren’t inhabited. Some of the islands are bigger, like Texel, Terschelling and Ameland, who have inhabitant’s through the whole year. It’s always been a handy and close holiday location for locals. If you want to visit one of the ‘Waddeneilanden’ make sure you read into it, some of them are car free islands, and the time it takes you to go over with the ferry can vary.

Beekse Bergen Safari

Beekse Bergen Safari

Safaripark Beekse Bergen is the largest wildlife zoo of the Benelux region. This park offers the possibility to explore the park on numerous safaris: walk safari, car safari, bus safari and boat safari. What makes it so special is that you can explore the park with your own car, without a fence in between you and the animals. Even though so far away from the real Africa it feels a bit like a safari should feel like in Africa with all those zebras, leopards and giraffes around you.

Cheese Market in Alkmaar

Cheese Market in Alkmaar

Alright, we are the country of cheese. When I’m abroad I always miss the brown wholemeal sandwich with fresh cheese. Alkmaar is a city 40 km to the north of Amsterdam. The cheese market takes place every Friday morning between March and September and there probably will be an evening cheese market every Tuesday night. The cheese market is a particular spectacle which includes a market filled with cheese and hauling cheese carriers. Afterwards it’s worth it walking trough the small streets in the centre.

Four Days Marches Nijmegen

Nijmeegse vierdaagse

It’s not easy to get selected for the ‘Nijmeegse vierdaagse’ where 47.000 join to walk for four days, 30, 40 or 50 kilometres depending on their age and gender. Every year mid-June this event is being organised in Nijmegen a city in the east of The Netherlands. Mostly civilians join, but there are also a few thousand military participants. Walking these days, it not something you do without training, but it’s still worth visiting this big party.

Because the Nijmeegse four days aren’t only known because of the participants walking but also for the big (student) parties. The participants start walking in the early morning when the students just ended partying and they wave them goodbye and wish them luck before they go to bed.

Have you been to The Netherlands before? Which part was your favourite and what did you liked the most? Let us know!

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