Thinking of going to The Netherlands. What a GREAT idea, it’s fabulous there. Here are a few nice things to do in NL that will definitely convince you there’s far more to it than weed and windmills!
1) Camp at Duinrell. A campsite with a theme park, what could be better? Set in woodland just outside the pretty town of Wassenaar, Duinrell is great for the ouders as well as the kinderen. Pitch up in your own tent or camper van or rent a Duingalow. Park tickets are included in the price where you can thrill seek on roller coasters or take it slower on the monorail, which you pedal yourself. Karaoke and a kids disco make for quality Dutch evening entertainment and there’s a fantastic swimming pool on site, perfect for flume and wave machine fans.
2) Ride a bike. An obvious one, perhaps, but do make the most of cycling in the Netherlands. Its flat and small, meaning you can cover a fair bit of the country with relative ease whilst taking in the surroundings. Cycle routes are everywhere and cyclists are given priority even in bigger cities. Going with small kids? Pop them in a cargo bike or on a tandem and off you pop.
3) Look around a cube house in Rotterdam. There’s a cluster of these mad houses in Rotterdam and one of them is a show home. For a couple of euros you can see what it’s like to live in a cube tipped on its side, and it’s pretty trippy. These iconic houses are definitely worth a peek at, and are situated just opposite Markthal, which is also worth a visit when in Rotterdam (or anywhere, Liverpool or Rome – sorry). It’s an enormous food hall, selling everything from delightful fluffy poffertjes and crispy churros to Nieuwe Haring, a Dutch speciality! A little walk further on and down the river will take you towards the famous Erasmus bridge and the Hotel New York, too.
4) Go to the beach. You might not associate The Netherlands with golden sandy beaches but it boasts some of the prettiest coastline in Northern Europe. A hot day will see the likes of Zandvoort and Scheveningen crowded. Cycling there will make a dip in the North Sea all the more refreshing!
5) Drink coffee in the Jordaan. Amsterdam’s most famous, and prettiest neighbourhood is teeming with cafés. Order a coffee, sit outside and nibble the cookie it comes with whilst watching the world go by. It doesn’t get much more gezellig than that.
(A point to note, there is a difference between a coffeeshop and a koffiehuis or café. A coffeeshop is where you can buy cannabis products, and it will be indicated by the sign above which are clearly visible in the door or window. If that’s not your thing, look for one without it, there are plenty of them. Amsterdam is absolutely not the hotbed of marijuana its reputed to be.)
6) Eat Hollandse Nieuwe Haring the way the Dutch do. It might not sound particularly appetising, but trust me on this; raw herring is delicious. Ask for it with chopped onions, open your mouth, tip back your head, hold the fish firmly by the tail and nosh on. Also available in a soft white roll as a “broodje” (bro-dyeh) if that’s more your thing. If you’re lucky, you might get a dinky Dutch flag poked in it. Schattig!
7) Scramble over the I Amsterdam letters at Museumplein for a photo. A touristy one, sure, but still fun to do. Get there early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
8) Gram the Dam (and the rest of the Netherlands). Enjoy wandering around? Like Instagram? You’ll get a real feel for Amsterdam whilst meandering around the canal belt and beyond. Share the love and snap pictures of the pretty waterways and wonky buildings that Amsterdam is famous for, or the modern architecture you’ll see in Rotterdam. Or the hoards of bikes you’ll see pretty much everywhere. You won’t need to look hard for interesting things to photograph – there’s beauty around every corner. #gramthedam #igersholland #wonderfulholland are all popular hashtags to try.
9) Take the kids to NEMO. Amsterdam’s science centre aimed at kids makes for a fun trip. Spread over three floors there are plenty of hands on experiments to keep the children, and their parents, occupied for hours. Sit out on the roof terrace and look out over Amsterdam with a drink if it’s a nice day.
10) Coo over Holland’s most famous bunny. Miffy, or Nijntje (from Konijntje – “little bunny”?), as she’s known in NL, comes from Utrecht. Even if Miffy doesn’t float your boat, Utrecht is another pretty Dutch town, and well worth checking out. Not dissimilar to Bruges in Belgium with its winding streets and flower-lined canals.
This list barely scratches the surface. We played at being Dutch for a week, and spent our time at Duinrell and in Amsterdam. Go over and explore the tulip fields in spring, or head north and visit Groningen. Take a walk around the historical town of Maastricht, or stuff yourself full of cheeses. And then come back and tell me about it!