Visiting the Netherlands | What you need to know before traveling to the Netherlands

Looking for a post that answers all the general questions you have about traveling to the Netherlands? Lucky for you, you’ve found it! If you are planning on visiting the Netherlands, this is your travel guide!

Airports in the Netherlands

KLM plane at Schiphol
Photo by Niels And Marco on Unsplash

There are two main airports in the Netherlands that you’ll likely fly into. Which one you fly into is based on where you are flying from and which airline you are flying.

AMSTERDAM AIRPORT SCHIPHOL is the main one and is the busiest airport in Europe for aircrafts overall and the third busiest in Europe in terms of passengers. It’s a very well-connected airport with regional buses available and a train station beneath the passenger hall. Most airlines fly in here and it’s the main international airport for the country.

EINDHOVEN AIPORT is in the southern part of the country and mostly serviced by Ryanair, WizzAir, Transavia, and TUI. It’s a great place for budget airlines if they are going where you need to go since, I’m assuming, it’s much cheaper to fly into Eindhoven. It’s still accessible to Amsterdam, if that’s where you are headed. There’s a direct AIRPORT SHUTTLE (1.5 hours) or you can take the local bus 400 to Eindhoven Central Station (about 20 min), then take a direct train from there (a bit over an hour).

Tulips and windmill

Watch our YouTube playlist from the Netherlands

What language do they speak in the Netherlands?

Dutch sign pointing left for pluktuin and right for perkeren
Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

Dutch is the official language of the Netherlands but many speak English and another European language as well. They are taught from a young age so if you are speaking with someone in the tourism industry , restaurant or a shop, it’s highly likely they’ll speak English as well as you do.

Some words to know to get by and make a good impression are:

Hallo! = Hello

Dank je wel (sounds like daank ya vell) = Thank you very much

Tot ziens (sounds like tote zeens) = Good bye

What is the official currency of the Netherlands?

Euros in envelope
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The Netherlands is part of the eurozone — a group of 19 countries in Europe that use the Euro. While most places will take cash, the Netherlands is more of a card-based country. We use contactless payment as much as possible. This also means you can use your phone or other device for contactless payment.

To easily use money abroad in the Netherlands you can look into Borderless from TRANSFERWISE since it’s easy to use and you can get a contactless payment card.

Geography and Visa Information

Map of the Netherlands - Travel Guide
Photo by Ian on Unsplash

The Netherlands is located on mainland Europe on the north-western side — west of Germany, north of Belgium and across the English Channel from England. It’s part of the European Union, the Schengen Area (a group of 26 countries that allow freedom of movement), and the eurozone as I mentioned before.

Check with your embassy to see what the visa allowance is for you. In general, Americans can visit the Schengen Area for 90 days with a visa-on-arrival at no cost. Basically, it means they check your passport, you may have to fill out a landing card, and they stamp it to show that you entered the area.

What is the Netherlands’ time zone?

Amsterdam Amstel

The Netherlands is in the Central European Time Zone, or Central European Summer Time Zone. Generally, we are 6 hours ahead of the east coast of the USA, 1 hour ahead of the United Kingdom and Portugal, and 1 hour behind Greece.

Outlets/voltage

Euro plug
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

The Netherlands uses the Type F electrical plug. It has two round prongs and sometimes a grounding prong. The voltage is 230v, so if you are coming from North America, you’ll likely need a converter, and not just an adapter, due to the difference in voltage.

Major cities

Rotterdam Bridge

AMSTERDAM is easily the most popular city in the Netherlands for visitors. It makes sense, too, it’s the capital of the country and it has the famous UNESCO World Heritage canal belt. It’s easy to access, easy to get around, and it’s just beautiful.

ROTTERDAM is considered the “Second City”. It’s very different from Amsterdam in looks and vibe…and that’s exactly what makes it awesome to visit. It is full of modern and eclectic architecture, an awesome food scene, and is also extremely accessible.

THE HAGUE, or Den Haag in Dutch, feels more like the capital city. It’s where the Dutch Parliament is and where the King and his family actually live. The embassies of many countries are also in The Hague, making this a very diverse and social place to be.

Transportation in the Netherlands

Train from Amsterdam to Zandvoort

Public transportation in the Netherlands is very easy to use. Once you have the appropriate ticket, you just check in, then out for your journey. We use a national train service called NS, then each locality will have their own systems. In Amsterdam, we use buses, trains, trams, metros, and ferries. Read this post on how to use the AMSTERDAM PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM.

At all of the main train stations, there will be someone you can ask for help if you are confused about local transportation. The train stations will all have machines for you to buy train tickets, and may have kiosks for the local buses and such as well. Don’t hesitate to ask anyone you see. People are generally very nice, here.

Major events

Amsterdam Pride 2019

We have some pretty epic events here in the Netherlands. We may be most known for the PRIDE PARADE in Amsterdam since the parade is in the canals! The boats are full of dancing, smiling faces, and a showing of solidarity for the LGBTQIA community.

Another that’s a spectacular sight to see is KING’S DAY. It’s a national holiday to celebrate the King’s birthday — and the outfit of the day should be orange! There’s also a parade in the canals for this holiday. Obviously, we like using the waterways!

In the southern part of the city, Maastricht celebrates CARNIVAL with flair! Thousands flock to this multi-cultural city during this time because Maastricht takes the Carnival festivities very seriously. You’ll find a parade, the famous Carnival-style costumes.

Visiting the CHRISTMAS MARKET IN VALKENBURG might just be the most Christmas-y thing you can do in the Netherlands. There are other Christmas markets that are wonderful, but it really feels like this is the must-visit market in the country because it’s so unique. You’ll find much of the market underground…in caves!!

Read about a bunch more MAJOR EVENTS IN THE NETHERLANDS THAT YOU SHOULDN’T MISS.

9 Unique places to stay near Amsterdam
7 small towns worth visiting in the Netherlands
Amsterdam City Pass: A 3-day itinerary with the I amsterdam Card
The Ultimate tulip guide: How to see the tulip fields in the Netherlands
Major events in the Netherlands worth visiting for
Visiting the Keukenhof – Holland’s flower garden

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