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Discover Netherlands

Pays-Bas - ENG

Capital city Amsterdam
Population 16 902 103 inhabitants (november 2014)
Area 41 530 Km²
Timezones UTC +1
Telephone code +31
Internet domain .nl
Currency Euro

For a long time reduced to cheeses, windmills, tulip fields and smoking, the Netherlands far surpassed these caricatures. Rich in history, the Netherlands is a destination that will transport you on a journey through nature, art and a glorious past. So many reasons to fall under the spell!

Its geography, for its part, has a lot to do with the country's emblematic landscapes. Up to 15% of the Netherlands is made up of polders, which are below sea level, from lakes, marshes and estuaries. This is where the name 'The Netherlands' comes from. By the way, Holland is actually a region of the Netherlands! It refers to the provinces of North Holland and South Holland, which are just two of the 12 provinces that make up the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

And because the most detailed descriptions will never equal a visit on site, we let you discover the Netherlands by yourself, but... beware of clichés!

discover netherlands

Clichés and more clichés

  • The Dutch are stingy and thrifty
  • The Dutch are all tall, blond and blue-eyed
  • The Dutch are all stubborn!
  • The Dutch are arrogant

Welkom in Nederland

Languages spoken in the Netherlands

Dutch and Frisian are the two official languages of the Netherlands. While the first is spoken by the majority of Dutch people, the second is spoken by only 44,000 people in the north, in the province of Friesland to be exact.

English, German and Spanish are among the majority languages spoken in the country. If you are fluent in one of these languages, you will normally have no problems communicating during your trip to the Netherlands.

Religion and politics

If you are planning a short or long stay in the Netherlands, you should have at least some information about the country's political system and religions.

The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy based on a parliamentary democracy. It is a cosmopolitan country with many religious communities. The 2 majorities are: Catholics and Protestants.

Dutch Cuisine

Dutch cuisine is very much influenced by its maritime and agricultural origins. Although it is not very sophisticated, it is nutritious and healthy. Indeed, Dutch dishes are rich in a variety of ingredients and flavors that are sure to delight the palates of food lovers.

Note that: There are many Vietnamese restaurants in the country.

If you travel to the Netherlands, don't miss out on the specialities of Dutch cuisine, including :

Salted herring or herring saur which is most often served as a starter with rye bread

  • The stamppot is one of the traditional dishes of the country, consisting of a mixture of mashed potatoes and other vegetables of your choice.
  • The erwtensoep is a soup with dry or split peas, mixed with leeks and celery. It can also be prepared with other ingredients, such as carrots, onions and potatoes ;
  • The pepernoten or the spicy biscuits that are most often eaten during the feast of St. Nicholas
  • Oliebollen or Ollie-bollen, a Dutch pastry similar to doughnuts. Oliebollen or Ollie-bollen, a Dutch pastry similar to doughnuts.

The Netherlands is also the land of good cheese! Holland is known for its abundant production of dairy products, especially cheese. As a major exporter, the country produces up to 650,000 tons of cheese per year. The most popular ones are Gouda and Edam. Living in the Netherlands can only be a pleasure for cheese lovers!

There are many cream and cheese shops in the Netherlands, where you can experience closer the Dutch speciality. Better still, the city of Alkmaar even has a cheese museum!

If you feel like trying some, you can go to any shop or to the many open-air markets. It is even possible to buy some online, as cheese prices in the Netherlands are generally lower than in France (400g of Gouda cheese costs €8.95).

what to eat in netherlands

And what about eating habits ?

Breakfast is very important. It usually consists of different kinds of bread with cold meats, cold cuts, cheese or eggs, depending on your preferences. Cereals and yoghurt are also welcome at the breakfast table. As for drinks, it is either tea or coffee.

At noon, it is customary to have a quick, light lunch consisting of a sandwich and a salad.

Dinner is taken early, around 6pm, and is the main meal of the day. On the menu: a soup, a meat or fish dish and a dessert.

But you can't talk about Dutch cuisine without mentioning the famous Dutch cheeses! Indeed, the country produces a wide variety of cheeses, such as Gouda, Edam or Maasdam.

Sex, drugs & Rock’n’roll in Netherlands


Since 2008, it is strictly forbidden to smoke in public places. Follow the rules and regulations to ensure that your trip to the Netherlands is as pleasant as possible.

Des espaces séparés et aménagés dans la plupart des lieux publics sont mis à la disposition des fumeurs.

Separate smoking areas in most public places are available for smokers.

Tabac : prix moyen d’un paquet 6,90 €

Tobacco: average price of a packet 6,90 €.

To know more about prices, discover the cost of living in Netherland


Alcohol is mainly bought in supermarkets and liquor stores. Supermarkets, on the other hand, only offer products with an alcohol content of less than 13 degrees.

To buy beer and wine, you must be 16 years old, while spirits of more than 13 degrees are reserved for adults over 18 years of age on presentation of an identity card.

The Netherlands is well known for its tolerance, especially for cannabis. But not everything is allowed! In the Coffee-shops you can buy and smoke cannabis, not more than 5g per person per day. Hard drugs are strictly prohibited.

Whether you are travelling in the Netherlands for a short or a long period of time, compliance with the regulations is highly recommended.

  • Confirmed : 0.5 g/l of blood
  • Young driver : 0.2 g/l of blood


Drugs are illegal but tolerated and regulated. In the Netherlands they distinguish between hard and soft drugs. For soft drugs, break-ins are not monitored.

Despite the coffee-shops, you can't buy more than 5 grams.


Prostitution is legal, it has never been punishable in the Netherlands and brothels have been allowed since 2000.


There are 11 public holidays in the Netherlands, including national and religious holidays.

January 1st

New year’s day

changing date (march-april)

Good Friday
changing date (march-april) Easter Sunday and Monday
April 27th Koningsdag, King's Day
May 5th Liberation Day
Changing date (may) Ascension Thursday
changing date (7 weeks after Easter) Whit Sunday and Monday
December 25th and 26th Christmas

Each of these events has its own ritual, but perhaps the most important of them all is "Koningsdag" (King's Day) celebrated on 27 April each year. On this day, all of 'Holland' is alive and kicking!

Dressed in orange, as a tribute to the royal family, all the Dutch go out into the streets to celebrate. On the program: concerts, shows and fairgrounds all over the country. All of this is topped off with an unlimited supply of oranjebitter (Dutch alcoholic beverage).

As for the royal family, it is taking part in the festivities by visiting several communes to share the joy of this day with the citizens.

Note: this festival is also an opportunity to do good business thanks to the many bargains that the Dutch maintain. Party + Bargains! April 27th is a date to remember!


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