The Complete Netherlands Travel Guide: A Post-Covid edition

by | Sep 23, 2022 | Europe, Travel Tips

Netherlands travel guide
Canal view from streets of Amsterdam

With Covid-19 finally releasing its deadly clutch, tourism and travel have sprung back to life again. And the Netherlands seems to be topping the charts by being one of the most desired travel destinations. No surprises there! 

From World War era buildings and historic Dutch art to its state-of-the-art public transport network and modernist architecture, the Netherlands is the perfect combination of the old and new. 

If you are planning to travel soon, here is a detailed Netherlands travel guide from JoinMyTrip to make your travel post-Covid safe and memorable.

The Basic facts:

 Languages spokenEnglish & Dutch
Plug230V supply, types C and F

4 Things to Know Before You Travel

1. What to Pack

Be ready to see a glimpse of all four seasons in a single day in the Netherlands. A light rain jacket, a pair of waterproof shoes, and an umbrella are must-carry items. Also, carry a warm jacket on you always as the weather changes quickly throughout the day. Make sure to pack your sturdiest pair of walking or running shoes as there is a lot of walking to do. 

Tip: Pack a simple lock and key to secure your things as most hostels have open cubbies for storage.

2. Currency Exchange

How and where to exchange currency of Netherlands

The Netherlands is just catching up on the cashless payment track, so be prepared with sufficient cash and get it quickly from ATMs like ABN AMRO or ING. If you are looking to exchange currency, do it at popular and trusted offices like Pott Change, and GWK Travelex. Avoid exchanging money at the local Dutch banks, as this service is not applicable for non-customers. 

Damrak Avenue in Amsterdam houses many such exchange offices and would be a useful pitstop if you are low on Euros. Moreover, as credit cards are not accepted in most places, consider using your Visa or Maestro debit cards instead.

3. Overall Cost of Trip

Your trip to the Netherlands can be a budget-friendly one if you know where not to overspend. Hacks like staying at hostels, cooking for yourself, and using public transport as much as you can make a gigantic difference to your wallet. 

In 2022, on average it costs around €65-€70 per day for one person including food, travel, and accommodation. If you are planning to visit the Netherlands for a week, you can set aside around €500 on a student budget, €800 on a mid-range budget, and €1200 and above for a luxury vacation.

4. How to Reach

Ferries outside Amsterdam Central station, Netherlands travel guide
Connecting ferries outside Amsterdam Central station

You can enter the Netherlands by traveling to Amsterdam either by flight, train, or bus. It is always a good idea to check your visa and other travel requirements set by the Dutch government before leaving your home country. 

By Flight – If you are traveling to the Netherlands from US by flight, then explore affordable options at Kayak, Momondo, and Expedia.

Contrary to popular belief, sometimes you can find good deals directly at the airline’s website like at KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) and Delta Airlines which operate direct flights to Amsterdam Schiphol airport from New York, Chicago, Washington, Atlanta, Miami, and more.

If you are traveling to the Netherlands from UK, Easyjet, Ryanair, and Flybe are some low-cost carriers that operate from London, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburg, and more. 

By Train – If you already live in Europe, you can reach Amsterdam by train in two hours from Brussels, three hours from Paris, and four hours from London.

International rail operators Eurostar and Thalys are your best bets to find affordable and reliable train journeys. Once you are in Amsterdam, you can hop on to any local train or bus to explore Delft, Rotterdam, or the Hague in less than two hours. 

Insider Travel Tips

Here are some insider travel hacks from locals and frequent travelers to set your expectation and budget on the right track.

Make good use of public transport 

Travel Netherlands through its well-connection public transport system
Well-connected tram system of Amsterdam

The Netherlands is known worldwide for its seamlessly well-connected public transportation system. So don’t waste your money on hiring taxis or self-driving cars to explore different cities. 

There are one-day to multi-day travel tickets for tourists which cover unlimited travel by trams, trains, buses, and metros in each city from €8.50 to €25.50. You can travel to other cities like Rotterdam, Hague, Utrecht, and Maastricht with a day travel ticket that will cost €15-€25.

Though you can get these online, it is easier to buy them from NS ticket machines at the Schiphol airport and Amsterdam Central Station. For further information for train travel within Netherlands and Europe, head to the tourist information center at any main station.

You can also get yourself an OV Chipkaart, a prepaid card that can be topped up and used by more than one person.

Extra Tip: Whichever card you use, be sure to validate the cards twice, while going in and getting out. 

Also, people use ferries here to cross roads! Hop on to one such ferry right (free of cost) outside the Amsterdam Central Station to have a look at the breathtaking skyline and towering skyscrapers along the banks. 

Spend the least money on accommodation

If your travel destination is a country like the Netherlands, it’s safe to say that you will hardly ever be in your room.

So, consider staying at hostels, which offer small but clean rooms for €25-€30 in Amsterdam and for even lesser in other cities. Try getting a room near train stations or the airport for an easier commute.

If you are an adventurous spirit, you can look for quirkier options like couch sharing which has more than 40,000 hosts in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Hague, and Utrecht. 

Cook for yourself

While Stroopwaffles and Gouda cheese is synonymous with the Netherlands, it is not a very well-known food destination otherwise.

So instead of shelling out big bucks at overpriced restaurants, cook a quick meal at the fully functional shared kitchens in hostels.

Another option would be to get ready-made sandwiches, pasta, and salads for the go from popular supermarket chains like Albert Heijn, Lidl, Aldi, and Dirk. 

Check Tulip season duration

Information about tulips season as a part of Netherlands travel guide
The beautiful Tulip fields bloom from April to May in Netherlands

The famous Tulips of the Netherlands only bloom from mid-April to the end of May every year.

If you happen to travel during the other months, visit FloraHolland, the world’s largest flower warehouse in Aalsmeer, Naaldwijk, and Rijnsburg, or visit the Bloemenmarkt in Amsterdam

Read up on Marijuana do’s and don’ts

Tips about smoking of Cannabis in Amsterdam Coffee shops, Netherlands travel guide book
A coffee shop that sells Cannabis in Amsterdam

Contrary to international belief, Cannabis or Marijuana is NOT legal in the Netherlands. Instead, it is decriminalized by the Dutch government. 

This means that you can carry only up to 5 grams or less on your person. If you are found carrying more you will be fined or in some cases, arrested by the Dutch police. 

Also, it is allowed to smoke Cannabis only in Coffee Shops and not in public or open spaces. 

In cities other than Amsterdam, some shops don’t sell Cannabis to foreigners as per the rules. So have a quick chat with the shopkeeper before buying it.

Netherlands Covid-19 Restrictions and Requirements

Covid restrictions have become almost non-existent in the Netherlands now. The Dutch Government decided to lift all Covid-19 restrictions from September 17, 2022, much to the relief of international tourists. This makes the Netherlands a top travel destination in the Schengen area. 

You are also not required to wear a mask in most places, except while traveling in public transport or crowded museums.

You do not need to show any proof of vaccination while entering the Netherlands. But it is advised by the WHO to be fully vaccinated for your safety. 

But it is always advised to check travel requirements while heading back to your home country as some Covid-19 rules are still in play.

If you are traveling to the Netherlands from the US, make sure to take a glance at the CDC regulations and if you are traveling to the Netherlands from UK, go through UK foreign ministry travel advice. 

Lastly, check your passport for its validity, if you need a visa and gather all travel documents for an hassle-free entry to the Netherlands.

With that said, pack your bags and get ready for a trip filled with history, art and culture with the courtesy of the Dutch!

10 Must See Places in the Netherlands

Here is the list of 10 unique and must-visit attractions which bring the Netherlands travel guide to a conclusion.

Thanks to its tiny size, you can easily explore four to five cities in the Netherlands in a week by keeping Amsterdam as your origin destination. 

1. De Haar Castle, Utrecht

De Haar Castle one of the places to visit in Netherlands
The 14th century De Haar Castle in Utrecht

This 14th-century castle is an apt example of medieval architecture and is the largest fortress in the Netherlands.

Located less than 15 kilometers from the city of Utrecht, the De Haar castle is a must-visit for history lovers. The sprawling gardens and majestic moats around the castle add to its captivating aura.

Book your tickets in advance and visit the park from 9 am to 5 pm and the castle from 11 am to 5 pm, except on Mondays.

2. Canals of Amsterdam

Travel around Amsterdam along pretty canals, Netherlands travel advice
Colourful canals of Amsterdam

The canals in Amsterdam are hard to miss as they run throughout the city for over 100 kilometers and are connected by over 150 bridges.

Lined with numerous bicycles, pretty cafes, and colorful flowers, the canals are a beauty to behold.

The best way to explore them is by taking a canal cruise or a water taxi. Check for couple and student discounts online before booking in advance.

3. Rijksmuseum and Anne Frank House, Amsterdam

The Rijksmusem on Museumstraat in Amsterdam

A trip to the Netherlands is incomplete without visiting these two places.

The Rijksmuseum holds more than 5,000 paintings of revered Dutch painters like Vermeer and Rembrandt. It is the most prestigious and famous art museum in Europe. It is open on all days from 9 am to 5 pm and make sure to pre-book your tickets.

The Anne Frank house is a standing testimony to the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust. The house has been well-preserved and shows the original secret hiding spots used by Anne frank (a Jewish refugee) and her family to escape the secret police of Nazi Germany.

Visit this place only if you have booked your tickets well in advance as it is usually fully booked. 

4. De Hoge Veluwe National Park, Apeldoorn

Make travel plans to visit De Hoge Veluwe national park under Netherlands travel guide
The De Hoge Veluwe park is the largest nature reserve in Netherlands

For nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, this 13,800-acre national park is an absolute must-visit.

Located between Arnhem and Apeldoorn, it is the largest and most diverse nature reserve in the country.

You can enjoy a breezy cycle ride on their 40-kilometer bike paths, or have a scenic picnic under the towering redwood trees. Plan your day trip here by booking tickets a week before traveling.

5. Royal Delftware factory, Delft 

Buy famous Delft blue products under things to do in Netherlands
The famous Delft Blue porcelain items from Netherlands

The famous white and blue porcelain products that adorn most mantels and dining rooms across the world come from the city of Delft.

It is the last remaining earthenware factory which is still in operation today since the 17th century.

You can observe the age-old manufacturing process inside the factory and buy some typical Dutch souvenirs. This is a must-visit to see the intricate and painstaking work of Dutch artisans.

6. The Windmills of Kinderdijk, Rotterdam

World famous windmills of Netherlands

Located close to Rotterdam, the windmills of Kinderdijk paint the perfect picture of the Dutch countryside.

These picturesque windmills have been preserved by UNESCO and declared a world heritage site, making it a top contender on the list of places to visit in the Netherlands.

The best time to visit them is from April to October. Take a walk along the River Noord to explore and get a closer look at these 18th-century wonders. 

7. Hilltop Castle of Valkenburg, Maastricht

The only hilltop castle in the Netherlands

Known to be the only hilltop castle in the Netherlands, Valkenburg is a symbol of rich history and culture.

The castle is known to have withstood several attacks from French and Spanish troops hence explaining its half-demolished structure. 

You can plan a day trip to Valkenburg from Maastricht to explore the romantic canals and finally end your day with a quaint picnic on this hilltop. You can also see the entire city of Limburg from this vantage point.

8. Waterways of Giethoorn

Beautiful canals crisscrossing through houses in Giethoorn

Popularly known as the Venice of Holland, Giethoorn is a sparsely populated village in Northern Netherlands.

While traveling by water taxi is a popular tourist activity in Amsterdam, it is the only option in Giethoorn! This village has no roads and is connected only by a series of interconnected waterways.

Due to its location, it is quite a journey to reach Giethoorn. It will take you about 1.5 hours from Amsterdam by car and an up and down boat journey will cost €50 each way. Consider traveling here with a group either by car or bus.

9. Cheese markets of Alkmaar

Taste and buy Gouda cheese from cheese markets of Netherlands
Streets of Alkmaar filled with traditional Cheese markets

The foodie in you will spring alive with one glimpse at the cheese-laden markets of Alkmaar.

Situated about 40 kilometers from Amsterdam, Alkmaar is famous for its Friday cheese markets between April and September.

Here you can taste and buy different types of cheese like Gouda and Edam from vendors dressed in traditional Dutch attire. 

10. Streets of Harleem, Amsterdam

Explore Haarlem under best things to do in Amsterdam
Streets of Harleem at sunset

An evening stroll exploring the streets of Haarlem will help you soak in authentic Dutch culture and architecture.

This city is usually ignored by tourists for being an Amsterdam look-alike. But Haarlem is much quieter and less populated.

Dutch beer and music festivals are the must-try elements of this place. Do not miss visiting the popular cathedral-turned-brewery, Jopenkerk here. 

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