NETHERLANDS SOLO TRAVEL GUIDE
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO! NETHERLANDS TRAVEL GUIDE 2023
PLAN AND BOOK YOUR NETHERLANDS SOLO TRAVEL
- Cheap Flights to the Netherlands
- Netherlands Places to Stay
- Getting Around the Netherlands
- Netherlands Things to Do
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WELKOM IN NEDERLAND!
Hi! I’m Gwen, and my passion is using my 27+ years of global travel and sustainability knowledge and experience to help the solo over 50’s be and stay adventurous through solo travel with their eco-friendly, responsible travel foot forward. Here is my guide to Netherlands solo travel, all from my Netherlands travel, so you can book and realize your solo trip to the Netherlands. What are you waiting for?
NETHERLANDS: DID YOU KNOW?
About the Netherlands
Netherlands (aka Holland) – home to 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Amsterdam Canal District and the Rietveld Schröderhuis in Utrecht, is also known for wooden shoes (clogs), canals and bridges, tulips, 991 windmills, cheese, more bicycles than people, Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals, world’s largest ice-skating tour, Deft Blue earthenware, the tallest men in the world, licorice fans, the first country to legalize same-sex marriage, French fries with mayonnaise, Jenever, the largest flower garden in the world, the three-kiss greeting, Anne Frank House, and The Hague.
Languages in the Netherlands
The official language is Dutch, however the Dutch students learn many languages so it is not uncommon for the Dutch to heard speaking four to five languages.
Located in Western Europe bordered by Germany, Belgium and the North Sea, the Netherlands was founded in 1648. The population is about 81% Dutch, with the remaining population comprising of Indonesian, German, Turkish, Moroccan, Surinamese, Antillean and Aruban ethnicities.
The Netherlands is described as a “consociational democracy” consisting of democratic parliamentary representatives, a constitutional monarchy, and a decentralized unitary state.
Education is required for children between ages 5 and 16 followed by a secondary education that is all funded by the Dutch government. Vocational and higher educations are basically free – families may pay small fees for attendance.
The Dutch have a universal healthcare system but all adults 18 years and older living and working in the Netherlands are required to have basic insurance for basic care. The Dutch family tends to be smaller with only one or two children, and the family is considered the foundation of social structure. Most women do not work full-time to be more available to the children and family.
The Dutch are seen as hardworking, practical, thrifty and well-organized. They place high value on privacy, respect and tolerance of differences, cleanliness and neatness. Appearances are important to the Dutch, and they may be perceived as disciplined and reserved, and conservative in terms of displaying wealth or drawing attention to themselves or their accomplishments. A typical greeting is with a firm handshake, but close friends may greet with the three-kiss greeting near both sides of the cheek.
About 40% of the Dutch do not affiliate themselves with a religion. 31% identify as Roman Catholic, 21% as Protestant, and Muslim and others affiliations comprising the rest of the population.
Cuisine depends on where you go in the Netherlands. Smaller towns may serve more traditional dishes while larger cities may serve all types of international cuisine. There are more than 100 Michelin-star restaurants in the Netherlands. Due to the history of colonization of the East Indies, Indonesian cuisine is also popular.
A typical Dutch breakfast is bread, cheese, sausage, butter and chocolate sprinkles (hagelslag) served with coffee, tea and/or juice. Lunch time is usually lighter fare of sandwiches and snacks followed with a fuller dinner of a meat, potato and vegetable combination.
Traditional Dutch cuisine can include dishes like Hollandse Nieuwe (Dutch new herring), a raw herring with chopped raw onions and gherkins; erwtensoep or “snert” (a split pea soup with celery, leeks, carrots and pork); rookworst (smoked sausage); stamppot (mashed potatoes mixed vegetables like kale, carrots, endive or sauerkraut); or friet, frites, patat or vlaamse frieten (thicker cut French fries with topped with mayonnaise, tomato ketchup, curry or peanut sauce).
Don’t forget the cheese! The Dutch have been making cheese since 800 B.C. Gouda and Edam are the most popular, and the Dutch eat an average of 46 lbs. (21Kg) per person per year!
The Dutch also love their snacks and sweets, such as stroopwafel (a waffle cookie filled with sweet and sticky syrup); kroket (a breadcrumb covered deep fried roll with meat ragout inside); poffertjes (fluffy baby pancakes served with a lump of butter and powdered sugar); “drops” which the Dutch call pieces of licorice that they consume more than anywhere else in the world; and, the Dutch favorite snack, Bitterballen (deep fried, savory meat-based balls traditionally served with mustard and enjoyed with beer).
The Dutch national drink is Jenever (Dutch gin), served chilled by itself or with a beer chaser – pilsner style lagers being the most popular.
Popular Netherlands Activities
Sports clubs are very popular in Dutch culture with almost 7 million participating in some type of sporting activity, such as football (soccer), speed and leisure skating, tennis, and cycling. Football is the national game of the Netherlands and the Dutch love to cycle. After all, there are more bicycles in the Netherlands than people.
The Dutch are also lucky enough to get at least five weeks of vacation a year so, in addition to sports, they have more time to spend with family and friends, travelling, and socializing over food and drink.
The Dutch also do glamping – when the Dutch camp, they do it in style. The Netherlands holds many music, dance and film festivals, such as the Amsterdam Roots festival, the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, and the Holland Dance festival, to name but a few. The Dutch even hold the rather strange Amsterdam Stiletto Run where hundreds of (mostly) women can be seen running 100 meters in high heels.
The Dutch also do their holidays big. The Christmas season kicks off with Sinterklaas celebrated on December 5h, Christmas on December 25, with a possible 2nd Christmas on December 26th. They celebrate Kings Day (Koningsdag) on April 27th, where everyone dresses up in orange, the official color of the Dutch royal family. To end the year, New Year’s Eve is celebrated with a lot (A LOT) of fireworks.
Best Beer and Brewery Tours in the Netherlands
NETHERLANDS TRAVEL PLANNING
The Netherlands uses the Euro (€). Exchange rates are usually favorable for Europeans but could fluctuate in the other direction. Check throughout your travel planning phase on any exchange rate changes.
Tipping in the Netherlands
Traveling in a new country is easier when you know the country’s tipping etiquette in advance as each country has its own rules. That said, country rules and norms can shift, so here is an international tipping resource for over 70 countries to use as a general guideline that I have found is constantly updated.
What’s not on there is how to tip a concierge, beauty salons or spas, travel or tour guides, etc. For these extras, it is acceptable to tip 10% at minimum. Remember, tipping is for good service only.
Additionally, you should always tip in the local currency (if tipping in cash), and do not be offended if your tip is refused as it may not be the norm. I feel it’s always better to offer a tip for good service than not, unless I know it will be considered offensive, like in Japan.
It’s a complete bummer to spend time and money on the holiday of a lifetime only to show up at a key attraction, or try to access travel or banking resources, only to find them closed due to a national or local holiday.
Therefore, a key activity to do in your early Netherlands vacation planning stage is to know the local and national holidays in the Netherlands.
NETHERLANDS TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS
Travel Documents for the Netherlands
From the U.S., you will need a valid passport with an expiration date greater than 6 months from your return date to the U.S. It is advised to always check the U.S. State Department in advance of traveling to the Netherlands for pertinent, up-to-date Netherlands travel advisories and information. If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.
At this time (January 2023), a travel visa is not required for U.S. citizens who travel in the Netherlands 90 days or less and within a 180-day period. However, in November 2023 it is expected that the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETAIS) will go into effect that is designed to strengthen European borders and streamline entry. At that time, a printed ETAIS visa waiver (the “ETAIS”) will be required to enter the Schengen Area for tourist, business or transit purposes of 90 days or less. You will be able to apply online for the ETAIS visa waiver, which will also require a fee (amount unknown). Requirements for an ETAIS are available now. Watch for ETAIS updates if you are planning to solo travel to the Netherlands in late 2023.
If you are not from the U.S., please check if your country is on the ETAIS list indicating whether you are required to obtain an ETAIS or a Schengen Visa.
Choose from Top Travel Document Holders
Vaccinations for the Netherlands
There are normally no vaccinations required for Netherlands travel. The U.S. State Department provides up-to-date required vaccination information for traveling to the Netherlands. It is advised to always check for any Netherlands travel restrictions and required vaccinations during your planning stage and again before you leave.
If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.
NETHERLANDS TRAVEL ESSENTIALS
Electronics for the Netherlands
Want to use your 110V electronics while traveling around the Netherlands? The Netherlands’ voltage is 230V, and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. If you do not already have electronics (hair dryer, clippers, curling iron, etc.) made for the Netherlands’ voltage, you will need to bring a voltage converter to use your electronics. Below are top-rated power converters for you to compare and buy.
Choose the Converter That’s Right For You
Most smartphones, tablets, laptops, cameras and similar electronics don’t require a converter (double-check your device(s) before you leave home), but you will still need a plug adapter.
Traveling to the Netherlands, Type C and F adapters will fit the Netherlands’ electronic outlets. I recommend bringing at least one of each adapter type accepted. I do not recommend using those single adapters for 100+ countries. They have been known to break and/or cause a power short.
Be prepared before you visit the Netherlands. Bring a solid, reliable, and grounded power adapter to safely charge your electronics in the Netherlands. Below are top-rated U.S. (Type A and B) to Netherlands power adapter options, from the only brand I travel with, for you to compare and buy.
Choose the Netherlands Adapter That’s Right for You
Type C Adapters
Type E/F Adapters
If you are going to another country in addition to your trip to the Netherlands, check this international travel adapter guide to make sure you’re prepared.
Cyber Security While Traveling
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CITY GUIDES & ITINERARIES
It has been many years since I was in the following Dutch destination. If revisit this destination in the Netherlands, it will be updated. The more I travel the Netherlands, the more that gets added to this Netherlands Travel Guide.
Until then, here are my recommended things to do in the Netherlands (from what I’ve already enjoyed or would do when I revisit).
Best Things to Do in Amsterdam
Best Day Trips from Amsterdam
HOW TO BOOK NETHERLANDS TRAVEL
It’s important to book the top three travel necessities early: flights, accommodations and ground transportation.
No travel Netherlands guide would be complete without the booking tools below. These, along with fun Netherlands things to do and ecotourism ideas, will allow you to realize your solo trip to the Netherlands.
Cheap Flights to the Netherlands
With the ever-growing demand for airline tickets to the Netherlands, flights book quicker these days. Find cheap flights to the Netherlands now.
Don’t Wait to Book Your Flight to the Netherlands
Netherlands Places to Stay
Second in importance to buying airline tickets to the Netherlands is finding the best place to stay in the Netherlands for your solo travel to the Netherlands. Develop your Netherlands travel itinerary now and find the best accommodations in Netherlands to knock one more item off your Netherlands travel planning list.
Find the Best Solo Travel Accommodations in the Netherlands
Getting Around the Netherlands
The Netherlands has Bolt, Uber, Carpoolworld, and other possible regional ridesharing services and apps (research in advance if they are in your destination area).
There are also taxis, of course, and you can easily find a rental car if that better suits your Netherlands solo travel itinerary.
Find the Best Deals on Netherlands Rental Cars
The Netherlands is also part of Europe’s incredible bus and train network, so getting around and booking transportation is easy.
Netherlands Things to Do
Here are some more of the top things to do in the Netherlands to book for your solo Netherlands trip.
Best Netherlands Food Tours and Activities
NETHERLANDS ECO-TRAVEL IDEAS
There are ways to reduce your eco and carbon footprint through air travel, accommodations, tours, and activities in the Netherlands. To help avoid greenwashing businesses, here are some eco-friendly or sustainable travel (also called responsible travel) tips and resources, you can use to book your travel.
Air Travel Tips
Skyscanner provides a ‘Greener flights’ filter highlighting flights that emit less CO2.
Purchase carbon offsets through your airline or through a third party, like MyClimate.org, Carbonfund.org, or terrapass. Carbon offsetting allows you to buy a certificate to reduce carbon emissions, a major contributor to climate change, which in turn contribute community projects across countries to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The best eco-friendly forms of ground transportation in the Netherlands are public transportation, walking, or renting a bicycle or electric scooter. They are also apt to cost less than other ground transportation.
Explore Netherlands Bike and Electric Scooter Rentals
Try to avoid renting a car in the Netherlands by using the amazingly convenient and inexpensive buses and/or trains.
When booking a rideshare in the Netherlands, select the Bolt Green or Uber Green options instead of a traditional rideshare, or use Carpoolworld, to support the use of electric cars and carpooling for cleaner transportation in the Netherlands.
Bolt and Lime also have electric scooters to rent in the Netherlands for faster and cleaner commuting. Search Bolt and Lime for select city availability.
Look for accommodations with the following self and third-party assessed certifications when you book:
Green Globe – Green Globe certifies hotels, resorts, conference centers, transportation, attractions, tour operators, and other tourism businesses globally on sustainable operations and management. Look for Netherlands and other European Green Global members.
Green Key Global is an internationally recognized environmental certification for the lodging and meetings industries, including hotels and hostels, campsites and holiday parks, restaurants and attractions in 65 countries. Search for Green Key awarded sites.
Living Building Challenge – if you want to stay in a true, sustainable building, find one certified by the Living Building Challenge. LBC’s certification directory shows all project types globally. Hopefully they will put in a filter soon to allow searching by hotels or hospitality type.
LEED Certified – the USGBC’s LEED Certified label on buildings, like many of the Marriott’s hotels, are those that have verifiably employed multiple and varying green building strategies to improve human and environmental health. Search the LEED directory for Netherlands certifications.
Green Lodging Program – Audubon International has an environmental stewardship certification through third-party verification. Search its certified members directory.
GSTC Certified – the Global Sustainable Tourism Council provides global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, as well as international accreditation for sustainable tourism Certification Bodies. Booking sites that offer GSTC certified sustainable are bookdifferent, EcoHotels, and Transat.
Another way to find an establishments implementing eco-friendly or sustainable practices, certified or not, is through Booking.com in which you’ll need to find and review each establishment’s ‘Sustainable Initiatives’ within the booking process. Starting 2022, however, you’ll be able to filter searches for accommodations with the Travel Sustainable badge.
Find Your Travel Sustainable Stay in the Netherlands
Eco-Friendly Things To Do
The Netherlands has ecotourism ideas available to explore for your next vacation.
Search Green Global and Green Key awarded members for eco-friendly activity providers in the Netherlands. Some may also have the GSTC Certified logo.
Top Eco Friendly Activities in the Netherlands
There are more ways to do your part for the planet in your responsible travel, like bringing sustainable and eco-friendly products to protect the Netherland’s environment.
There are more ways to do your part for the planet in your responsible travel. Read my 10 Easy Eco-Travel Tips and view my suggested Eco Travel Resources to learn more.
NETHERLANDS TRAVEL SAFETY
Before You Go
Always consult your government’s Netherlands travel advisory for your Netherlands travel destination in the beginning travel planning phase and up to your departure date.
Buy Netherlands travel insurance and international medical insurance for your solo travel Netherlands to protect yourself and cover for emergencies.
Safety in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is ranked 16th safest country to visit and laws are strictly enforced. Amsterdam, although still considered safe to visit, could have its theft and pickpocketing instances or worse in more dangerous parts of the city. Be careful in touristy areas and at night. I felt safe in Amsterdam and the Netherlands overall.
Beyond that, there is nothing I can recall from making the Netherlands more of a “safety concern” than traveling in my own home country. Therefore, my standard tips for Netherlands solo and female solo travelers are:
- always carry photo ID with you; if you don’t want your passport on you at all times, at least carry a copy of it.
- always be “street wise”.
- always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you feel the need to imbibe or feel the need to “let loose” – you’re on vacation so have fun!
- never leave your food or drink unattended.
- keep your belongs on your person, or at least in your view in close proximity, at all times.
- be open to meeting and talking with new people – that is where a lot of the travel experience lies – but be careful on how you divulge personal information.
- research places in advance, if possible, so you know what to expect (i.e., “have a familiar view” – I like to Google the street view of new addresses I’m going to first).
- if something, someone or someplace makes you feel uncomfortable, go with your gut – leave.
NETHERLANDS BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS
Best Time to Visit the Netherlands
Like other countries in Europe, the Netherland’s high, tourist season, and most expensive time, is the summer (June to August). Crowds are not as heavy in the spring (mid-March to mid-May), but the weather is chillier at that time as well.
September and October offer better than summer prices with mild weather. Amsterdam may be pricier than other Netherland destinations.
The least expensive time to go to the Netherlands would be the winter months of November to February. For overall best weather and prices, try booking well in advance for spring or autumn but plan on wearing layers.
Staying in hostels could save you a lot of money on accommodations in the Netherlands, especially if you stay in a dorm-style room. Save more money by booking well in advance.
Many Netherlands hostels also offer private rooms, which I choose from time to time. Private rooms in hostels could possibly be cheaper than hotels in the Netherlands – it depends on where you stay and how far in advance you reserve.
Don’t overlook exploring hostels in the Netherlands if you’re on a budget.
Reserve Your Netherlands Hostel
Best Time to Book Travel
Ready to book your Netherlands solo travel? The sooner you book your reservations, the more you’re likely to save money and get the best flight, accommodation, and rental car choices and deals.
Don’t miss out and find the best Netherlands flight deals. The best time to book travel is now. Bundling flight, hotel and/or transportation reservations may even save you more money on your trip to the Netherlands.
Do You Know What Netherlands Flights and Hotels Cost?
The Netherlands was the first European country I visited. I mostly spent my time in Amsterdam enjoying the night life, the Rembrandt House Museum, Dam Square and, most especially, the Anne Frank House. You used to be able to go up to the attic behind the bookcase where the family actually stayed, but I believe they have closed off that section since. Still, I would highly recommend visiting the museum for its historical and literary value. I hear lines are long so I would get there early! I’m not a big fan of Heineken beer, but if you are, you can take the Heineken Tour.
The Amsterdam architecture and endless canals are very picturesque so don’t forget your camera. The Dutch are nice and most speak many languages, including English. Don’t be grossed out if you order chips (French fries) and they give you mayo on the side. The city is very walkable and easy to just wander around in. I would recommend visiting Amsterdam to anyone. Be careful, however – there are so many bicycles, trams, cars, and buses that if you’re not paying attention, you could be hit. I almost did on my first day.