Sometimes misleadingly referred to as Holland (‘Holland’ is actually only one part of The Netherlands), this flat country is made up of re-claimed land from the sea and a maze of canals and rivers. The capital Amsterdam is a fabulous city break option, I’ve been many times and never tire of wanding the streets, dodging trams and bikes and sitting at street cafes watching the world go by. Anything and everything seems to go in Amsterdam but it’s an incredibly safe city and plenty of tourist attractions.
Amsterdam’s canals and gabled houses give the city an historic elegance and a reminder of it’s seafaring past. Take a canal boat tour as an introduction to the city and visit the many flower markets, museums and galleries. Street cafes are round every corner, sit and watch the world go by for hours of entertainment! Dam Square is particularly interesting with buskers and street performers. The Blomenmarket is full of heady flower scents, you can order bulbs to be sent home. Climb the tower of the Westerkerk and explore the little streets of the Jewish Quarter nearby. Amongst the must see buildings and museums are Anne Frank’s House, the National Museum (Rijksmuseum), Oude Kerk (14th century church) and the Van Gogh Museum. This painters museum houses many of this famous works, including ‘sunflowers’. Take a wander round Jordaan, a peaceful area with pretty canals, speciality shops, restaurants and regular markets. There are dinner and candlelight cruises around the city or visit the ‘dark side’ on a walking tour through the Red Light District and learn about one of the oldest trades.
You can take guided tours (which I can pre-book for you) to include Amsterdam’s main sights, there are tours going further afield, such as a full day trip to the Aalsmeer Flower Auction, a visit to Delft (home of the blue pottery), or Rotterdam. You can also visit the House of Parliament in the Hague and the beach resort of Scheveningen. A trip to The Keukenhof is one of the world’s biggest flower shows with over 6 million bulbs planted in 80 acres of beautiful gardens.
Highlights of Dutch cuisine include herrings (raw, pickled, cooked ….!), smoked eel and chips with mayo and of course well known cheeses such as Gouda and Edam. Dutch apple pie is a must have desert and there are plenty of pancake houses and poffertjes stalls.
Bicycles seem to rule the roads everywhere in The Netherlands, this is a great destination for cycling holidays. Flowers, in particular tulips, are of course a major industry here. Visit in the spring to see the amazing colourful carpets of bulb fields and botanical gardens.