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Eindhoven, Netherlands – Travel Guide

Eindhoven, Netherlands – Travel Guide

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City and Municipality
Hoogbouw Eindhoven overzicht.jpg
Eindhoven (Emmasingel).jpg Overzicht - Eindhoven - 20396787 - RCE - Cropped.jpg
Steentjeskerk Eindhoven.jpg Eindhoven Centrum 042.JPG Vestedatoren, Vestdijk, Eindhoven 4x3.jpg
Zicht op de rechter zijgevel van de nieuwbouw, restaurant op de voorgrond links - Eindhoven - 20536864 - RCE.jpg Philips Stadion - PSV Eindhoven, 2008-1.jpg
1302 Eindhoven - HTC 044.jpg
From top down, left to right: Skyline of Eindhoven,
Light Tower at the city centre, Evoluon conference centre,
St. Anthony Church, St. Catherine Church, Vesteda Tower,
Van Abbe Museum, Philips Stadium of PSV Eindhoven,
High Tech Campus Eindhoven
Flag of Eindhoven
Coat of arms of Eindhoven
Coat of arms
Highlighted position of Eindhoven in a municipal map of North Brabant
Location in North Brabant
Coordinates: 51°26′N 5°29′E / 51.433°N 5.483°E / 51.433; 5.483Coordinates: 51°26′N 5°29′E / 51.433°N 5.483°E / 51.433; 5.483
Country Netherlands
Province North Brabant
 • Body Municipal council
 • Mayor Rob van Gijzel (PvdA)
 • Municipality 88.87 km2 (34.31 sq mi)
 • Land 87.72 km2 (33.87 sq mi)
 • Water 1.15 km2 (0.44 sq mi)
Elevation[3] 17 m (56 ft)
Population (Municipality, May 2014; Urban and Metro, May 2014; BrabantStad, 2007)[4][5][6][7]
 • Municipality 221,402
 • Density 2,524/km2 (6,540/sq mi)
 • Urban 337,487
 • Metro 419,045
 • Metropolitan region 749,841
 • Brabant cities region 2,213,379
Demonym Eindhovenaar
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postcode 5600–5658
Area code 040

Dutch Topographic map of Eindhoven (city), Sept. 2014

Eindhoven (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɛi̯ntɦoːvə(n)]) is a municipality and a city located in the province of North Brabant in the south of the Netherlands, originally at the confluence of the Dommel and Gender streams. The Gender was dammed short of the city centre in the 1950s but the Dommel still runs through the city. The city had a population of 221,402 in 2014, making it the fifth-largest city of the Netherlands and the largest of North Brabant.

Neighbouring cities and towns include Son en Breugel, Nuenen, Geldrop-Mierlo, Heeze-Leende, Waalre, Veldhoven, Eersel, Oirschot and Best. The agglomeration has a population of 337,487. The metropolitan area consists of 419,045 inhabitants. The city region has a population of 749,841. Also, Eindhoven is part of Brabant Stad, a combined metropolitan area with more than 2 million inhabitants.


The name Eindhoven derives from the contraction of the regional words eind (meaning last or end) and hove (or hoeve; a section of some 14 hectares of land). “Eind” is toponymically a common prefix and postfix in local place- and streetnames. A “hove” was a parcel of land that might be given in leasehold to private persons such as farmers by the local lord. Taken in conjunction with the fact that a string of such parcels existed around Woensel, the original location of Eindhoven may be understood to be “last hoves on the land of Woensel”.


13th-15th century

The written history of Eindhoven started in 1232, when Duke Hendrik I of Brabant granted city rights to Endehoven, then a small town right on the confluence of the Dommel and Gender streams. At the time of granting of its charter, Eindhoven had approximately 170 houses enclosed by a rampart. Just outside of the city walls stood a small castle. The city was also granted the right to organize a weekly market and the farmers in nearby villages were obliged to come to Eindhoven to sell their produce. Another factor in its establishment was its location on the trade route from Holland to Liège.

Around 1388, the city’s fortifications were strengthened further. And between 1413 and 1420, a new castle was built within the city walls. In 1486, Eindhoven was plundered and burned by troops from Guelders.

16th-18th century

The reconstruction of Eindhoven was finished in 1502, with a stronger rampart and a new castle. However, in 1543 it fell again: its defense works having been neglected due to poverty.

A big fire in 1554 destroyed 75% of the houses but by 1560 these had been rebuilt with the help of William I of Orange. During the Dutch Revolt, Eindhoven changed hands between the Dutch and the Spanish several times during which it was burned down by renegade Spanish soldiers, until finally in 1583 it was captured once more by Spanish troops and its city walls were demolished.

Eindhoven did not become part of the Netherlands until 1629. During the French occupation, Eindhoven suffered again with many of its houses destroyed by the invading forces. Eindhoven remained a minor city after that until the start of the industrial revolution.

19th century

The industrial revolution of the 19th century provided a major growth impulse. Canals, roads and railroads were constructed. Eindhoven was connected to the major Zuid-Willemsvaart canal through the Eindhovens Kanaal branch in 1843 and was connected by rail to Tilburg, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Venlo and Belgium between 1866 and 1870. Industrial activities initially centred around tobacco and textile and boomed with the rise of lighting and electronics giant Philips, which was founded as a light bulb manufacturing company in Eindhoven in 1891.

Industrialization brought population growth to Eindhoven. At the establishment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815, Eindhoven had 2.310 inhabitants.

20th century

By 1920, the population was 47,946; by 1925 it was 63,870 and in 1935 that had ballooned to 103,030.[8] The explosive growth of industry in the region and the subsequent housing needs of workers called for radical changes in administration, as the City of Eindhoven was still confined to its medieval moat city limits. In 1920, the five neighbouring municipalities of Woensel (to the north), Tongelre (northeast and east), Stratum (southeast), Gestel en Blaarthem (southwest) and Strijp (west), which already bore the brunt of the housing needs and related problems, were incorporated into the new Groot-Eindhoven (“Greater Eindhoven”) municipality. The prefix “Groot-” was later dropped.

After the incorporation of 1920, the five former municipalities became districts of the Municipality of Eindhoven, with Eindhoven-Centrum (the City proper) forming the sixth. Since then, an additional seventh district has been formed by dividing the largest district, that of Woensel, into Woensel-Zuid and Woensel-Noord.

The early 20th century saw additions in technical industry with the advent of car and truck manufacturing company Van Doorne’s Automobiel Fabriek (DAF) and the subsequent shift towards electronics and engineering, with the traditional tobacco and textile industries waning and finally disappearing in the 1970s.

People of Eindhoven (during World War II) watching Allied forces entering the city following its liberation from Axis forces on 19 September 1944.

Eindhoven, view to a street: 18 Septemberplein-Vestdijk-Stationsplein

A first air raid in World War II was flown by the RAF on 6 December 1942 targeting the Philips factory downtown. 148 civilians died, even though the attack was carried out on a Sunday by low-flying Mosquito bombers.[9][10] Large-scale air raids, including the preliminary bombing during Operation Market Garden to aid the US 101st Airborne Division paratroopers in securing the bridges in and around the town on 18 September 1944, destroyed large parts of the city. The reconstruction that followed left very little historical remains and the post-war reconstruction period saw drastic renovation plans in highrise style, some of which were implemented. At the time, there was little regard for historical heritage; in the 1960s, a new city hall was built and its neo-gothic predecessor (1867) demolished to make way for a planned arterial road that never materialised.

The 1970s, 1980s and 1990s saw large-scale housing developments in the districts of Woensel-Zuid and Woensel-Noord, making Eindhoven the fifth-largest city in the Netherlands. At the start of the 21st century, a whole new housing development called Meerhoven was constructed at the site of the old airport of Welschap, west of Eindhoven. The airport itself, now called Eindhoven Airport, had moved earlier to a new location, paving the way for much needed new houses. Meerhoven is part of the Strijp district and partially lies on lands annexed from the municipality of Veldhoven.

21st century

In the 2000s decade, Eindhoven emerged as the capital of Dutch industrial design. The Design Academy Eindhoven has produced major Dutch designers, such as Maarten Baas, Marcel Wanders, Richard Hutten, Jurgen Bey, and Hella Jongerius. The school also has a strong affiliation with droog design. In 2003, Time Magazine called the Academy, “The School of Cool.” Due to the fame of the D.A.E, Eindhoven has been able to grow in the design industry with such events as the Dutch Design Week, that takes place every October. While most of Philips’ industries have moved out, the Philips Design Bureau is still in Eindhoven.

Eindhoven was named world’s most intelligent community by Intelligent Community Forum for 2011.[11]


Terrain map of the Eindhoven Region

The villages and city that make up modern Eindhoven were originally built on sandy elevations between the Dommel, Gender and Tongelreep streams. Beginning in the 19th century, the basins of the streams themselves have also been used as housing grounds, resulting in occasional floodings in the city centre. Partly to reduce flooding, the bed of the Gender stream, which flowed directly through the city centre, was dammed off and filled up after the War, and the course of the Dommel was regulated. New ecologial and socio-historical insights have led to parts of the Dommel’s course being restored to their original states, and plans to have the Gender flow through the centre once again (link to article in Dutch).

The large-scale housing developments of the 20th century saw residential areas being built on former agricultural lands and woods, former heaths that had been turned into cultivable lands in the 19th century.

The city is currently divided into seven districts:

  1. Centrum
  2. Woensel-Noord
  3. Woensel-Zuid
  4. Tongelre
  5. Stratum
  6. Gestel
  7. Strijp


Climate data for Eindhoven, Netherlands for 1981–2010 (Source: KNMI)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 15.2













Average high °C (°F) 5.7













Daily mean °C (°F) 3.0













Average low °C (°F) 0.0













Record low °C (°F) −21.7













Average precipitation mm (inches) 63.6













Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 16 14 16 13 13 14 14 13 14 15 17 17 176
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 cm) 6 6 4 1 0 - - - - 0 2 5 24
Average relative humidity (%) 87 84 80 74 73 75 75 77 83 85 89 90 81
Mean monthly sunshine hours 61.5 84.0 120.8 170.2 202.5 191.5 204.8 188.8 141.7 115.9 65.1 48.1 1,603.6
[citation needed]


The (now monumental) former building of the Boerenleenbank in the Raifeissenstraat (in the Centrum).


As of 2013[update], the population of Eindhoven consisted of 218,433 persons (according to the Eindhoven city council, the city will reach the maximum population of 230,000 inhabitants around the year 2025). Of these, 29.5% or some 63,873 people are of foreign descent.[12] People are classified as being of foreign descent when they were born outside of the Netherlands, or when at least one of their parents was born outside of the Netherlands.

Large minority groups include:[12]

  • Non-Western immigrants (first and second generation): 38,303 (17.5%)
  1. Turks (10,305) (4.7%)
  2. Moroccans (5,743) (2.6%)
  3. Surinamese (3,714) (1.7%)
  4. Antilleans/Arubans (2,619) (1.2%)
  5. Indian people (1,502) (0.7%)
  6. Others (14,420) (6.6%)
  • Western immigrants (first and second generation): 28,578 (11.1%)
  1. Germans (5,232) (2.4%)
  2. Indos (6,236) (2.9%)
  3. Belgians (2,640) (1.2%)
  4. British people (1,375) (0.6%)
  5. Spaniards (1,115) (0.5%)
  1. Polish people (2,579) (1.2%)

The municipal agglomeration of Eindhoven (an administrative construct which includes only some of the surrounding towns and villages) has 327,245 inhabitants as of 1 January 2010.

The spoken language is a combination of Kempenlands (a Dutch dialect spoken in a large area east and south east of the city, including Arendonk and Lommel in Belgium) and North Meierijs (between the south of Den Bosch and into Eindhoven). Both dialects belong to the East Brabantian dialect group), which is very similar to colloquial Dutch).[13]


Of all Eindhoven districts, the historical centre is by far the smallest in size and population, numbering only 5,419 in 2006. Woensel-Noord is the largest, having been the city’s main area of expansion for several decades.

Population figures for all districts, as of 1 January 2008, ranked by size:[14]

  1. Woensel-Noord (65,429)
  2. Woensel-Zuid (35,789)
  3. Stratum (31,778)
  4. Gestel (26,590)
  5. Strijp (25,402)
  6. Tongelre (19,680)
  7. Centrum (5,757)


Eindhoven is located in the Southeast of the province of North Brabant. This area is historically Roman-Catholic and the population of Eindhoven was similarly mostly Roman-Catholic for a very long time. However, the internationalizing influence of the university, Philips and other companies have created a more mixed population over the last few decades.

The Eindhoven agglomeration has the following religious makeup as of 2003:[15]

The spiritual needs of the Eindhoven population are tended by a large number of churches (united in the Eindhoven Raad van Kerken), two mosques and one synagogue. In addition, Eindhoven is also the abode of street preacher Arnol Kox.


In research by the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad based on the police’s statistical data on crime rates, Eindhoven was found to have the highest crime rate in the Netherlands for 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010. In 2011, Eindhoven has slipped down the list to number six.[16]

In 2009, in the Eindhoven agglomeration, the following numbers of crimes were recorded:[17]

Category Number
Total 61.539
Monetary (including burglary, theft) 37.266
Destruction and public disorder 9.861
Violent crime 5.568
Other crimes (criminal code) 562
Traffic crimes 6.665
Drug related 1.094
(Fire)arms related 343
Environmental 19
Other crimes (other laws) 161


Eindhoven has grown from a little town in 1232 to one of the biggest cities in the Netherlands with around 212,000 inhabitants in 2009. Much of its growth is due to Philips, DAF Trucks and Brabantia.

After the resurrection of the Netherlands in 1815 and the end of the Belgian Revolution, Eindhoven was a small village of some 1250 people in an economically backward and mostly agricultural area. Cheap land, cheap labor and the existence of pre-industrial homesourcing (huisnijverheid in Dutch) made Eindhoven an attractive area for the developing industries which were being stimulated by the government of King William I. During the 19th century, Eindhoven grew into an industrial town with factories for textile weaving, cigar manufacturing, match making and hat making. Most of these industries disappeared again after World War II, though.

In 1891, brothers Gerard and Anton Philips founded the small light bulb factory that would grow into one of the largest electronics firms in the world. Philips‘ presence is probably the largest single contributing factor to the major growth of Eindhoven in the 20th century. It attracted and spun off many hi-tech companies, making Eindhoven a major technology and industrial hub, generally known as Brainport. In 2005, a full third of the total amount of money spent on research in the Netherlands was spent in or around Eindhoven. A quarter of the jobs in the region are in technology and ICT, with companies such as FEI Company (once Philips Electron Optics), NXP Semiconductors (formerly Philips Semiconductors), ASML, Toolex, Simac, CIBER, Neways, Atos Origin and the aforementioned Philips and DAF.

Eindhoven has long been a centre of cooperation between research institutes and industry. This tradition started with Philips (the NatLab was a physical expression of this) and has since expanded to large cooperative networks. The Eindhoven University of Technology hosts an incubator for technology startups (called the Twinning Center) and the NatLab has developed into the High Tech Campus Eindhoven. Also, TNO has opened a branch on the university campus. This tradition has also fostered inter-industry cooperation in the region; one example of this is the announcement in September 2010 of a new research lab for high-grade packaging materials, a cooperation of IPS Packaging and Thales Cryognetics.[18]

This cooperative tradition has also developed into a different direction than the traditional technology research done at the university. Starting in 2002, the university, the Catharina hospital, Philips Medical and the University of Maastricht joined forces and started joint research into biomedical science, technology and engineering. Within Eindhoven, this research has been concentrated in a new university faculty (BioMedical Technology or BMT). This development has also made Eindhoven a biomedical technology hub within the country and its (European) region.

The Evoluon conference center.

Prime examples of industrial heritage in Eindhoven are the renovated Witte Dame (“White Lady”) complex, a former Philips lamp factory; and the Admirant building (informally known as Bruine Heer or “Brown Gentleman” in reference to the Witte Dame across the street), the former Philips main offices. The Witte Dame currently houses the municipal library, the Design Academy and a selection of shops. The Admirant has been renovated into an office building for small companies. Across the street from the Witte Dame and next to the Admirant is Philips’ first light bulb factory (nicknamed Roze Baby, or “Pink Baby”, in reference to its pink colour and much smaller size when compared to the “White Lady” and “Brown Gentleman”). The small building now houses the “Centrum Kunstlicht in de Kunst” (centre artificial light in art)[19] and the “Philips Incandescent Lamp Factory of 1891″ museum.[20]

Knowledge economy initiatives

Due to its high-tech environment, Eindhoven is part of several initiatives to develop, foster and increase a knowledge economy. Chief among these are:

  • Brainport Top Technology Region:[21] A cooperative initiave of local government, industry and the Eindhoven University of Technology to develop the local knowledge economy of the Eindhoven region.
  • Brainport Development:[22] An extension of the Top Technology Region, Brainport Development serves commercial exploitation and advertising of the region.
  • SRE:[23] The Samenwerkingsverband Regio Eindhoven is a cooperative agreement among the municipalities in the Eindhoven metropolitan area. Although SRE is far more than just an economic agreement, it includes economic cooperation.
  • The Eindhoven-Leuven-Aachen triangle:[24] An extensive cooperation agreement between the universities and surrounding regions of Eindhoven, Leuven (Belgium) and Aachen (Germany).
  • Within the Eindhoven region (particularly around Helmond), several parties are working together to set up an automotive testing facility of European scale, for testing and European certification of vehicles. This cooperation involves the Eindhoven University of Technology, TNO Automotive and the different automotive companies in and around Helmond.

As a result of these efforts, the Intelligent Community Forum named the Eindhoven metro region one of the top-21 intelligent communities in 2008 and one of the top-7 intelligent communities in 2009 and 2010.[25][26] Finally, in 2011, the ICF named Eindhoven the Intelligent Community of the Year.[27]

EIT Co-location

Eindhoven is one of the co-location centres of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).[28] It hosts two Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs): Innoenergy (Sustainable Energy) and EIT ICT Labs (Information and Communication Technology). The co-locations are on the High Tech Campus Eindhoven.


Eindhoven, being a city with a 200,000+ population, is served by a large number of schools both at primary and secondary education levels. In addition, Eindhoven is a higher-education hub within the southern Netherlands, with several institutes of higher education that serve students from the extended region of North Brabant, Zeeland, Limburg and parts of the surrounding provinces.

Primary education

Primary education is provided to the children aged 4 to 12 in Eindhoven through a large number of primary schools:

Area Gestel Stratum Strijp Tongelre Woensel

Secondary education

Secondary education is provided to the children aged 12 to 18 in Eindhoven through several highschools:

Area Gestel Stratum Strijp Tongelre Woensel
  • Christiaan Huygens College
  • Aloysius/De Roosten
  • Van Maerlant Lyceum
  • Heliconopleidingen “Groenschool”
  • Sint Lucas Eindhoven
  • SG Augustinianum
  • De Burgh
  • Sint-Joris College
  • Montessori College ROC Eindhoven
  • Lorentz Casimir Lyceum

Special needs secondary education:

  • Sondervickcollege, Locatie de Stolberg
  • De Korenaer
  • Mgr. Bekkers
  • De Beemden
  • Mytylschool
  • Antoon Schellens College
  • Praktijkschool Eindhoven
  • VSO Ekkersbeek
  • Instituut ‘St. Marie’

Higher and adult education

Eindhoven hosts four different public institutions for higher and adult education, as well as a number of private institutions offering courses and trainings. The public institutions hosted in Eindhoven are:

The Open University also has a study center in Eindhoven.

Among the private institutions is the Centrum voor Kunsten Eindhoven, which offers art-related courses to adults (including a DJ-education).

Government and politics

City Council

The city council is the legislative council at the municipal level in Eindhoven; its existence is mandated by the Constitution of the Netherlands. The Eindhoven city council consists of 45 elected representatives from the Eindhoven municipality. These are elected during municipal elections from candidates running in Eindhoven. Eindhoven politics consists of local branches of the national political parties and purely local parties with strictly local interests. The city council reflects this mix in its makeup.

The last three municipal elections were held on 7 March 2006, 3 March 2010 and 19 March 2014. The division of the 45 seats in the Eindhoven city council after these elections is shown below:[29]

Party Percentage in 2006 Seats in 2006 Percentage in 2010 Seats in 2010 Percentage in 2014 Seats in 2014 Election results (percentages) 2010
PvdA 26,99% 14 20,56% 10 15,9% 8 EindhovenCityCouncilElectionResults2010.png
CDA 14,60% 7 11,50% 6 8,0% 4
SP 12,87% 6 8,70% 4 14,6% 7
VVD 11,78% 6 15,65% 8 13,5% 6
GroenLinks 7,07% 3 8,88% 4 7,6% 4
Leefbaar Eindhoven 8,88 % 4 3,22% 1 4,0% 2
OuderenAppel Eindhoven 4,88% 2 6,23% 3 9,7% 5
D66 3,33% 1 12,19% 6 14,7% 7
Stadspartij 2,44% 1 1,40% 0 - -
Lijst Pim Fortuyn 2,27% 1 4,57% 2 3,7% 1
ChristenUnie 2,22% 1 1,81% 0 2,0% 1
Eindhovense Lijst Studenten 1,69% 0 - - - -
Partij van de Toekomst (PvdT) 1,05% 0 0,8% 0 0,6% 0
Nieuw Rechts 0,98% 0 - - - -
Liberaal Eindhoven 0,90% 0 - - - -
Trots op Nederland/Lijst Rita Verdonk - - 2,84% 1 - -
Eindhoven Nu - - 1,16% 0 - -
Lijst J.C.W.M. Vlemmix - - 0,80% 0 - -
Partij voor Mens en Spirit - - 0,49% 0 - -
Blanco lijst, 1e kand. M. Leenders - - - - 1,5% 0
Samen Eindhoven - - - - 1,1% 0
De Groenen - - - - 0,1% 0
Eenheid Partij - - - - 0,7% 0
OPA Eindhoven - - - - 0,7% 0

Council of Aldermen

The executive council in Dutch municipalities is called the College of the Mayor and Aldermen (Dutch: College van Burgemeester en Wethouders or College van B&W for short). The mayor is appointed by the monarch, but the council of aldermen is composed as a result of the formation of a local coalition government. This coalition is formed in such a way as to be able to rely on a majority of the votes in the city council.

In May 2014, a coalition was formed between PvdA, D66, SP and GroenLinks. Together they have 26 seats in the city council. The council of aldermen consists of the following people:[30]


The mayors of the Netherlands are not elected but appointed by the crown. Nevertheless there has been a movement over the last few years to give the municipalities more say in who will be their mayor, which has resulted in consultative referenda being held in the larger cities to “suggest” a candidate for the post. This was also tried in Eindhoven and as a result the current mayor is Rob van Gijzel (PvdA).

On 23 January 2008, a referendum to elect a mayor was held in Eindhoven. This referendum, the second of its kind in the Netherlands, was attended by 24,6% of the inhabitants. This was less than the required 30% needed to make a referendum binding. Nevertheless, the city council would choose the winner of the referendum as the preferred candidate. The main reason for the low attendance was that the candidates, Leen Verbeek and Rob van Gijzel, were from the same party. Rob van Gijzel won the referendum with 61,8% of the votes and was appointed the city’s new mayor.

The mayor is the chairman of the Council of B&W. He also has responsibility for a number of specific posts (like the aldermen). In the current council, mayor Van Gijzel holds responsibility for the following posts:[30]

  • Communication

If unavailable, the mayor is temporarily replaced by one of the aldermen.

Culture and recreation

City centre of Eindhoven.

Culturally and recreationally, Eindhoven was formed by two forces:

  • Being a university city, Eindhoven has a large student population. The students from the Eindhoven University of Technology and a number of undergraduate schools give Eindhoven a young population, whose recreational needs are catered to by several different festivals, clubs and such.
  • Eindhoven was long the main location of Philips. The Philips company undertook a lot of effort in the “cultural formation” of its workforce and has given the city both cultural institutions (such as the former POC and the Muziekcentrum Frits Philips) and sporting institutions (notably PSV).

Eindhoven is also known as the City of Light, due to the Company Philips originating there and because of the several projects involving lighting up buildings of the city. During Carnival, Eindhoven is rechristened Lampegat (Hamlet of Lamps, although for the ironic purposes of carnival the translation Hole in the ground with lamps is closer to the mark); this refers again to the important role of Philips in the Eindhoven community.

Cultural institutions

There are several cultural institutions in and around the city.


  • The Centrum Kunstlicht in de Kunst (next door to the lightbulb museum) takes a more general look at lighting as an art form. The museum is scheduled to close on 5 December, due to loss of funding.[31]
  • There are two museums dedicated to the major topics of the city’s industrial heritage: the DAF Museum has a collection of DAF cars and the Philips Gloeilampenfabriekje anno 1891 (across the street from the Kempenland) documents the early lightbulb industry.
  • The former district court house now houses the Designhuis, a public podium and interaction area for modern design and innovation.
  • The Eindhoven Museum is an archaeological open air museum which focuses on the region’s Iron Age and Middle Ages. It merged in 2011 with Museum Kempenland which was a regional museum, which documents the history of the Kempenland region in objects, documents, paint and educational activities. Museum Kempenland’s old location, the Steentjeskerk, is closed.
  • Finally, the Inkijkmuseum (the Look-In museum; housed in an old linen factory in the Dommelstraat) is a small but special museum: it offers ever-changing exhibits, which are to be viewed through the building’s windows.
  • The Van Abbemuseum has a collection of modern and contemporary art, including works by Picasso, Kandinsky, Mondriaan and Chagall.

Eindhoven was home to the Evoluon science museum, sponsored by Philips. The Evoluon building has evolved into a conference centre.

Open air art

The Eindhoven public space contains many forms of artistic expression (a book published by the Eindhoven tourist board records 550 as of 2001 and more have been added since), with high “concentrations” of them in the parks. The Stadswandelpark for instance, contains over 30 works of modern art. There are also several other works of art on permanent display throughout the city, such as Flying Pins (by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, who considered the location on the southern stretch of the John F. Kennedylaan to be like a bowling alley) and Swing (a construct on the Karel de Grotelaan, which morphs into different geometric shapes as you move around it). There are also a number of statues of famous city inhabitants, such as Jan van Hooff (by Auke Hettema, 1992) and Frits Philips (by Kees Verkade) on the Market Square. There is a statue of Anton Philips in front of the central railway station.

Piazza Centre as seen from Demer

Eindhoven is also, to some degree, open to forms of impromptu and alternative art. For example, the Berenkuil is a freezone for graffiti artists in the city.

Music and theatre

The Effenaar music venue.

The Effenaar is a popular music venue and cultural center in Eindhoven, and is located at the Dommelstraat.[32]

In 1992, the Muziekcentrum Frits Philips was opened as a stage for classical and popular music in Eindhoven, reviewed by critics as a concert hall with acoustics that rival the best halls in Europe. Before that, Philips sponsored the POC.

Parktheater Eindhoven is Eindhoven’s stage for opera, cabaret, ballet etc. Opened in 1964, it has received over 250,000 visitors every year. With its 1000 m2 it has one of the largest stages in the Netherlands. With a major renovation ending in 2007, the new Parktheater will receive an estimated 300,000 visitors a year.

Eindhoven’s Plaza Futura is now a cinema featuring cultural movies, lectures and special cultural events.

Especially for students, Studium Generale Eindhoven organizes “socially, culturally and intellectually formative events”.[33] From within the student body, two Tunas provide entertainment from time to time at university and city events: Tuna Ciudad de Luz (Tuna of the City of Light) and the ladies tuna La Tuniña.[34][35]

The general music and theatre scene in Eindhoven (in the broadest sense) is supported by a foundation called PopEi.[36] The purpose of this foundation is to support artistic groups with facilities, especially rehearsal stages and areas (housed in the old Philips location of Strijp-S) but also storage facilities. PopEi also provides a working environment for groups (through cafeteria facilities in Strijp-S, so groups can have real working days) and provides some logistical support for organizing events.


Eindhoven has a lively recreational scene. For going out, there are numerous bars on the Market square, Stratumseind (Stratum’s End), Dommelstraat, Wilhelmina square and throughout the rest of the city. In addition to the more culturally oriented Plaza Futura, there are two cinemas in the centre of town (“Servicebioscoop Zien” and the Pathé Eindhoven, which offers THX sound, IMAX screens and 3D movie viewing).

Eindhoven also hosts a large number of cultural and entertainment-oriented festivals. The biggest festivals in Eindhoven are:


Eindhoven contains several parks and a lot of open, green space. Of the five largest cities in the Netherlands, it has the highest percentage of green area (encompassing about ⅓ of all public space). It is also the greenest of the five largest cities in North Brabant. The green area per house is about 100 m².[42]

Some of the major parks in Eindhoven are the Stadswandelpark, Genneper Parken, the Philips van Lenneppark, Philips de Jongh Wandelpark and the Henri Dunantpark. There is also a green area surrounding the Karpendonkse Plas (a water area). The combination of park area, water and general atmosphere got the Ooievaarsnest neighborhood elected the “Best large-city neighborhood of the Netherlands” by the NRC Handelsblad in 1997.[43]


Adult-oriented entertainment

The centre of town features two casinos (one branch of Holland Casino and the independent Casino4Events). At the A67 a Jack’s casino is located. There is a night club called Club Massa and another called After Dark (which is really a strip club).

Like every sizeable city in the Netherlands, Eindhoven also has its own sex industry. There is a red light district on the Baekelandplein, as well as four brothels throughout the city. There is also a blue movie theater.


Eindhoven features several print media. The local newspaper, called the Eindhovens Dagblad, is a daily newspaper with over 110.000 subscribers in the Samenwerkingsverband Regio Eindhoven region.[44] It has a national and international section, as well as a section dedicated to regional news; the editorial department is located in Eindhoven.

In addition to the newspaper, Eindhoven is served by a number of weekly door-to-door publications. Chief among these is Groot Eindhoven (which carries publications of the city council, as well as other articles and advertisements). Other than that there are de Trompetter, dé Weekendkrant and the ZondagsNieuws. The first two are delivered midweek, the last two are weekend publications.

There are several regional and municipal radio stations. The local radio station is Studio040, whereas Omroep Brabant and RoyaalFM provide regional radio.

Local television is provided by Studio040. Omroep Brabant broadcasts regionally from its television studio in Son.

Internet, television and telephone connectivity is available via cable television, optic fiber and ADSL.


The Eindhoven Airport is the closest airport, located approximately 8 kilometres (5 miles) from the town centre. The airport serves as a military air base and a civilian commercial airport. Eindhoven Airport is the second busiest in the Netherlands (after Schiphol). There are flights with Air France-KLM to London City. Ryanair serves London Stansted airport, Dublin, Rome, Milan, Pisa, Bordeaux, Marseille, Glasgow, Madrid, Valencia, Stockholm, Kaunas, Malta and Barcelona. Wizz air serves Belgrade, Brno, Bucharest-Baneasa, Budapest, Cluj-Napoca, Debrecen, Gdańsk, Katowice, Prague, Riga, Sofia, Vilnius, Wrocław. In the summer season, Reykjavík is served with 2 weekly flights operated by Iceland Express. Transavia services Alicante, Antalya, Bodrum, Corfu, Dalaman, Faro, Gran Canaria, Innsbruck, Malaga, Majorca, Rhodos and Salzburg, although not all destinations during the whole year. Eindhoven Airport served more than 2,5 million Passengers in 2011.

Eindhoven is a rail transport hub. The main station has connections in the directions of:

Eindhoven’s central railway station is served by both intercity and local services while the smaller station, Eindhoven Beukenlaan is only served by local trains.

Up until World War II, a train service connected Amsterdam to Liège via Eindhoven and Valkenswaard, but the service was discontinued and the line broken up. Recently, talks have resumed to have a service to Neerpelt, Belgium via Weert.

The A2/E25 motorway from Amsterdam to Luxembourg passes Eindhoven to the west and south of the city. The A2 connects to the highway A58 to Tilburg and Breda just north of the city. Just south of Eindhoven, the A2 connects to the A67 / E34 between Antwerp and Duisburg. In 2006, the A50 was completed connecting Eindhoven to Nijmegen and Zwolle.

The public transport of Eindhoven consists of almost 25 city bus lines, which also serve neighbouring cities like Veldhoven, Geldrop and Nuenen. Two of these buslines (401 and 402) are high quality public transport and the buses on these lines are so-called Phileas vehicles, a combination of tram and bus. The Phileas does not use the magnetic guidance anymore for some years due to the regional urban transport authority (SRE). Apart from the city lines there are some 30 regional and rush-hour lines.

Like all large Dutch cities, Eindhoven has an extensive network of bicycle paths. Since 2012, the Eindhoven bicycle path network has incorporated the Hovenring.

Medical care

Eindhoven has two hospitals in three locations: the Catharina Hospital and the Máxima Medisch Centrum, which has a branch in Eindhoven Centrum (the old Diaconessenziekenhuis) and one in Veldhoven (the old Sint Joseph Hospital). These three have an extensive cooperation and have divided specialties among each other. Emergency medicine, for example, is concentrated in the MMC Veldhoven branch and the Catharina Hospital, the MMC Eindhoven branch has no emergency department. Cardiac procedures are done in the Catharina.

Catharina is also an academic and research hospital and participates in a shared research program with Philips Medical, the Eindhoven University of Technology and the Maastricht University into biomedical science, technology and engineering.

Notable residents

Statue of Frits Philips in Eindhoven

International relations

Twin towns – sister cities

Eindhoven is twinned with:



  1. ^ “Rob van Gijzel” (in Dutch). Gemeente Eindhoven. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  2. ^ “Kerncijfers wijken en buurten” [Key figures for neighbourhoods]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 2 July 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  3. ^ “Postcodetool for 5611EM”. Actueel Hoogtebestand Nederland (in Dutch). Het Waterschapshuis. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  4. ^ “Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand” [Population growth; regions per month]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 26 June 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  5. ^ “Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand” [Population growth; regions per month]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 26 June 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  6. ^ “De grenzeloze regio”. Sdu uitgevers. 2007. Het BBP van BrabantStad ligt op 14.7% van het nationale BBP. In de regio liggen Philips, de Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, de Universiteit Tilburg en de HAS Den Bosch. De regio heeft 1.4 miljoen inwoners. Er is veel R&D, ICT, automotive, logistiek en agribusiness. 
  7. ^ “Triumph of the city: the power of Brabantstad”. TUDelft-Gebiedsontwikkeling. 2014. Because the great thing about the Brabant metropolitan area is that five compact cities, which are very close together and surrounded by appealing living and working environments, can benefit directly from their collective strengths to be a region of true significance in the European context. The point is not only to recognize and enhance the autonomous power of the individual urban centres, but also to recognize the importance of the cities’ complementarity, and that by strengthening their coherence, the spatial economic strength of the region as a whole can also be enhanced. 
  8. ^ (Dutch) Groei van Eindhoven
  9. ^ Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary – Campaign Diary December 1942
  10. ^ World War II Today – Low level daylight attack on the Philips plant, Holland
  11. ^ “Intelligent Community Forum (ICF)”. 2010-05-21. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  12. ^ a b Eindhoven Population Central Bureau of Statistics. Accessed 29 August 2010 (Dutch)
  13. ^ Jos & Cor Swanenberg: Taal in stad en land: Oost-Brabants, ISBN 9012090105
  14. ^ bij “bevolking->stand bevolking”
  15. ^ (Dutch) [1]
  16. ^ “Rotterdam onveiligste gemeente” (in Dutch). 
  17. ^ “Gereg.criminaliteit; misdrijven naar soort misdrijf en politieregio” (in Dutch). CBS Statline. 7 July 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  18. ^ Wenstedt, Joop (25 September 2010). “Nieuw testlab voor hoogwaardige verpakkingen” [New testing lab for high-grade packaging materials]. Technisch Weekblad (in Dutch). The Hague, Netherlands: Uitgeverij Bèta Publishers. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  19. ^ “Centrum kunstlicht in de kunst te Eindhoven. Museum voor lichtkunst en lichteffecten” (in Dutch). Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  20. ^ “Philips gloeilampenfabriekje anno 1891″. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  21. ^ (Dutch)Brainport Top Technology Region website
  22. ^ Brainport Development website
  23. ^ (Dutch)SRE website
  24. ^ The ELAt website
  25. ^ “Intelligent Community Forum Announces Top Seven Intelligent Communities of 2011″. Intelligent Community Forum. 19 January 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  26. ^ Postma, Renée. “Brabantse techniek terug in de wereld” [Brabant technology back in the world]. NRC Handelsblad (in Dutch). p. 13. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  27. ^ “ICF Names Eindhoven Region of the Netherlands as its Intelligent Community of the Year 2011″. Intelligent Community Forum. 3 June 2011. Retrieved 4 June 2011. 
  28. ^ “European Institute of Innovation and Technology: Home”. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  29. ^ (Dutch) The Dutch database of election results, including all election results since 1848
  30. ^ a b “College van B&W 2014-2018″ (in Dutch). Gemeente Eindhoven. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  31. ^ “LIGHT ART MUSEUM CLOSES BY THE END OF 2010″. Centrum Kunstlicht in de Kunst. 16 September 2010. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  32. ^ Evenement. “Effenaar”. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  33. ^ (Dutch) Studium Generale (English page available on site)
  34. ^ “Tuna Ciudad de Luz”. Tuna Ciudad de Luz. Retrieved 29 August 2010. 
  35. ^ “La Tuniña”. La Tuniña. Retrieved 29 August 2010. 
  36. ^ (Dutch) PopEi official website
  37. ^ “ABlive gratis festival Eindhoven 23 Augustus 2008″. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  38. ^ “Muziek op de Dommel gratis toegankelijk klassiek muziek festival”. Retrieved 2013-08-04. 
  39. ^ “Stichting Virus – Startpagina”. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  40. ^ “Glow Eindhoven”. Glow Eindhoven. Retrieved 2009-12-02. 
  41. ^ “STRP Festival”. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  42. ^ Eindhoven de Gruunste!,
  43. ^ “Profiel: Buurten in Nederland” (in Dutch). NRC Handelsblad. 18 September 1997. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  44. ^ (Dutch) Circulation and area,
  45. ^ a b
  46. ^ a b
  47. ^
  48. ^ “Twin towns and Sister cities of Minsk [via] (in Russian). The department of protocol and international relations of Minsk City Executive Committee. Archived from the original on 2 May 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-21. 
  49. ^ Korolczuk, Dariusz (12 Jan 2010). “Foreign cooperation – Partner Cities”. Białystok City Council. City Office in Białystok. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  50. ^ “National Commission for Decentralised cooperation”. Délégation pour l’Action Extérieure des Collectivités Territoriales (Ministère des Affaires étrangères) (in French). Retrieved 2013-12-26. 


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Maastricht, Netherlands – Travel Guide

Maastricht, Netherlands – Travel Guide

Book Cheap Hotel, Apartments, Hostels & BBs in Maastricht


Maastricht banner.jpg

Maastricht [1] is the southernmost city in the Netherlands, and is the capital of the province of Limburg. Situated on the Maas river, within walking distance of Belgium and cycling distance of Germany, it claims to be the oldest city in the Netherlands (a claim it shares with Nijmegen). A great place to spend some time, it contains some magnificent buildings and culture, taking the form of plenty of old houses and buildings, lovely cathedrals and a spectacularly cobblestoned town centre. The city is also well known for its fine cuisine, excellent shops and multicultural atmosphere.


Maastricht is an especially popular tourist destination in the Netherlands because of its historical old center and broad shopping possibilities. The city is home to approximately 120,000 people. The University of Maastricht attracts many national and foreign students to the city. Geographically, the city is split in half by a major river (the Maas), with the majority of commercial activity being concentrated on the Western bank of the river, and the train station and the Bonnefanten Museum on the Eastern side.

The VVV [2] is a branch office of the Dutch national tourist agency. The office offers maps, souvenirs, and local, regional, and national travel suggestions. They can be located in Maastricht at Kleine Staat 1, in the city center.

For information about all (cultural) events in Maastricht, try to find a copy of the Week in Week uit [3]. They are distributed all around the city. Also visit Crossroads [4], a webzine in English for expatriates in Maastricht.


Maybe even more than in other parts of the Netherlands, people know how to speak foreign languages. So don’t worry if you don’t speak Dutch, many Maastrichtenaars are happy to converse with you in English, German or even French.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Maastricht is served by a small airport (IATA: MST [5]) with direct flights from selected cities in Europe. The flights from Amsterdam were discontinued on 26 October 2008.

  • Ryanair [6] flies to Maastricht from:

- Alicante (Alicante Airport), Girona-Barcelona (Girona Barcelona Airport), Tenerife in Spain

- Bari in Italy and

- Faro and Porto in Portugal

- Budapest in Hungary

- Katowice in Poland

  • Transavia [9]

- Antalya in Turkey

- Crete (Heraklion) in Greece

Other airports in the Netherlands include:

  • Amsterdam – Schiphol Airport [10] is the biggest airport for the Netherlands, and is the entry point for most air-borne travellers. Schiphol is approximately 3 hours from Maastricht by train.
  • Eindhoven – Eindhoven Airport [11] is about an hour and a half from Maastricht, and mainly serves discount and charter airlines.
  • Rotterdam – Rotterdam Airport [12] is another Dutch airport, located about 2.5 hours from Maastricht.

Due to Maastricht’s proximity to the Belgian border, some visitors prefer to use Belgian airports:

  • Brussels – Brussels Airport [13], another Belgian airport, is the second largest airport (after Schiphol) within 2 hours distance of Maastricht, and is another decent option for arriving by plane. A journey to Brussels is slightly under 2 hours by train, which to some people makes the airport a more attractive option than Schiphol.
  • Charleroi – Brussels South Charleroi Airport [14] is Brussels’ second major airport, also within train distance to Maastricht, and mainly caters to discount airlines (notably Ryanair).
  • Liege Bierset – Liege Airport [15] is located in Belgium, about a half hour from Maastricht.

The nearby airports in Germany offer many connections to chose from as well:

  • Airport Weeze [18]

By train[edit]

Maastricht is well served by train, with train stations (Maastricht, near the centre of the city, and Maastricht Randwyck, in the south). There are two trains departing from Maastricht Station to the northern destinations every hour. Some popular destinations include:

City Duration Price Transfer
Sittard 0:14 € 4.20 Direct
Heerlen 0:20 € 5.50 Direct
Roermond 0:41 € 7.80 Direct
Eindhoven 1:03 € 15.20 Direct
Den Bosch 1:25 € 19.40 Direct
Utrecht 1:56 € 24.90 Direct
Amsterdam 2:26 € 28.70 Direct
Nijmegen 1:45 € 19.40 Roermond
The Hague 2:44 € 29.90 Eindhoven
Groningen 4:18 € 37.80 Utrecht

Prices in this table are one-way and non-reduced fare. For more information check the NS English language website. Local trains will take you to Valkenburg, Heerlen & Kerkrade, four times every hour.

There is an extensive rail system in the Netherlands. Travelling by train is generally a good experience in the Netherlands, although Dutch people will often complain that the trains are late and full. National train services are run by Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) [19], and an elaborate timetable system including price information is available on their website. Prices for trips are determined by distance, with longer distances costing less per km than shorter ones. Tickets can be bought at the ticket office in the train station’s main hall, but you can save yourself an extra service fee by buying your train ticket from a yellow-and-blue electronic ticketing machine (note that some machines only accept European pin passes/debit cards and only older machines accept coins). Wherever you plan to buy your ticket, make sure you buy it before boarding the train, as it is not possible to buy a ticket on-board and you’ll risk a € 35,- fine (in addition to the ticket price). Tickets can be bought as either one way tickets, or as a same-day or same weekend return. If you plan to return in the course of a couple of days, you should simply buy two separate one way tickets.

Visitors who intend to travel a lot by train in the Netherlands may consider purchasing a Voordeelurenabonnement (Off Peak Discount Pass), which will set you back €55,- but entitles you and three fellow passengers to reduced-fare tickets (40% off the price). Reduced-fare tickets can be bought from the same ticket-vending machines. The card can be purchased from any NS Ticketing Office, although an address, phone number, and passport photo is required (you are initially issued a temporary paper card, which will be replaced by a plastic card about 3 months later).

International trains[edit]

An hourly service connects Maastricht with Liege, Belgium. Although the direct, high-speed connection no longer exists directly between Maastricht and Brussels, Belgium, you can catch an express train in Liege and take it to Brussels. From there you can switch trains to Paris and London. Check out the Maastricht-Brussels Express website[20] for more information on connecting to Brussels.

Alternatively, Eurostar [21] can include travel to/from any Dutch station.

For further information on international train journeys, check timetables and train fares at the Belgian Railways [22], the French Railways [23], or Die Bahn (German Railways) [24] websites.

By car[edit]

There a two motorways from and to Maastricht: A2 (Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Sittard, Belgium and France – “Route du Soleil”) and A79 (Heerlen, Aachen).

By bus[edit]

  • Bus 50 from Aachen serves Maastricht on an half-hourly basis all days. Generally, travellers pay €5,50 for a one-way ticket (Veolia Combikaart Zuid-Limburg). An all-day ticket that allows travel on South Limburg bus routes, including those to local cities such as Heerlen, is now €7.00. Travel time is approximately one hour from Aachen. See Veolia Transport for timetables (Regio: Limburg). [25]
  • Eurolines Netherlands has a bus stop at the Central train station in Maastricht. In Liege is the Belgian Eurolines stop, which serves different routes to the Maastricht stop.
  • Semi tours [27] travels on Tuesday (“Utorak”) to/from Bosnia via Belgium, passing Maastricht, to Amsterdam. Return trip around €150, reservation by phone at the Belgian office. Bus stops at the central station.

Get around[edit]

The City Wall in Maastricht, with the 13th century main gate in the background

By Car[edit]

Travelling by Car can be painful in Maastricht, largely due to the fact that most of the city centre is pedestrian-only, and also due to the horrendous parking rates. It is often easier to park your car outside the town centre and either walk or bus into the city.

By Bus[edit]

The city has a bus system called the Stadsbus (“City Bus”) that travels over most of the city and to surrounding areas. Tickets can be bought on the bus, or you can buy an ‘OV chip card’. It is a magnetic card which you can recharge with chosen amount of money (minimum € 5). This card costs € 7.50 and can be bought at the train station, also at the vending machine at the station or in the Veolia Transport service point (Veolia is Maastricht’s bus transport company). When you enter the bus, you have to put the card close to the yellow card reader which will ‘log you in’ at the beginning stop. When you go out from the bus, you have to do it again to ‘check out’. The amount of money for the trip wll be taken from your card. It is much cheaper than buying a ticket from the bus driver.
‘Strippenkaart’ is no longer valid in Maastricht.

By Train[edit]

Trains run four times per hour between Maastricht Centraal Station, and Maastricht Randwyck station (at the South of the City), at a cost of €2.20.

By Foot[edit]

This is by far the most attractive option as it allows travellers to see the beautiful winding streets in the centre of the city, as well as experience the cultural melting pot that Maastricht’s location allows. A particularly nice walk outside of the centre is along the river, from St Servaas Brug (The Stone Bridge near the entrance to the city) down to the JFK Bridge (near the bottom), which goes through Maastricht’s largest park. Visitors can then cross the JFK bridge and go to Maastricht’s modern art museum – the Bonnefanten (see below).

Maastricht Running Tours [28] offers guided city jogging tours in Maastricht or their green surroundings. During tours you get to see more and you do your work out at the same time. The Higlight tours is about 6km (1,5 hours). During several stops on the tour you get to hear the interesting stories behind the most interesting sights of the old historical center. The pace is very easy and adapted to the group.

By Bike[edit]

There are thousands of bicycles in Maastricht, often the young gents giving their girlfriends a lift on the parcel carrier at the back, with the girls sitting “side saddle”. A charming sight, and you can join in the bicycle culture very easily, there are several bicycle hire shops in Maastricht. At around €10 per day (2006 prices) you can explore the flat country of South Limburg. Dutch traffic law is heavily biased towards the cyclist, so you might find cars slowing down to let you pass when they are pulling in to a side street which you are about to cross – no sane car driver is going to cut you off since in the case of an accident the cyclist is always presumed innocent unless grossly negligent. Also while there are many one-way streets in Maastricht, almost all (if not all) of them have a cycle lane going the other way up the street. Very handy. I would dispute the previous reviewer’s assertion that foot is the most attractive option, for me it has to be the bicycle.

Maastricht-Biking [29] offers 2 hour guided city tours off the beaten track.

See[edit][add listing]

Streets of Maastricht

City Centre[edit]

The Vrijthof, Lit Up at Night

  • Perhaps one of the best (free) sights of Maastricht is simply to admire the two town squares in the centre of the city; The Vrijthof, which features the massive St Servaas Church and St Jan’s Cathedral; and The Markt, which features the Town Hall (Stadhuis) and on Wednesdays and Fridays, markets.
  • The Vrijthof regularly hosts large festivals at various times throughout the year, including autumn and winter festivals. The Carnival before Lent is an amazing occasion where (it seems) the whole city dresses up in costume and parties until the early hours. It really has to be seen to be believed, this is a North European Mardi Gras, hence colder and darker than its American cousin.

Civic Buildings[edit]

  • City Library [30] Plein 1992
  • University Maastricht Library, Grote Looierstraat 17 (centre) & Universiteitssingel 50 (Randwyck)
  • The Stadhuis (Town Hall) in the Markt (City Centre)


  • Bonnefantenmuseum, Avenue Céramique 250, +31 (43) 329 01 90 (, fax: +31 (43) 329 01 99), [31]. Tue-Sun: 11.00 am – 5.00 pm; Mon: closed, except on public holidays. The museum is the foremost museum of Old Masters and contemporary art in the province of Limburg. The contemporary art collection contains works by an international group of artists, including Sol LeWitt. In addition to contemporary paintings, the collection also includes projections and gallery-sized installations. The collection of Old Masters emphasises on 16th and 17th century Flemish paintings, including major works by Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck and Jacob Jordaens. In addition, the collection comprises magnificent medieval sculptures by Jan van Steffenswert, early Italian paintings and a presentation of Maastricht silver. Adult: €7.50; child 13-18: €3.50; child under 13: free entry.  edit
  • Centre Céramique, Avenue Céramique 50, +31 (43) 350 56 00 (, fax: +31 (43) 350 55 99). Tue and Thu: 10.30 am – 8.30 pm; Wed, Fri, Sun: 10.30 am – 5.00 pm.  edit
  • Derlon Museum Cellar, Plankstraat 21, +31 (43) 325 21 21. Sun: 12.00 am – 4.00 pm. The museum is not wheelchair accessible. Before the restoration of the Derlon Hotel started, Maastricht’s city archeologists undertook an extensive survey of the site. The Roman finds, from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th century, are considered so important that it was decided to conserve them and exhibit these to interested parties. The following can be seen in the cellar of Derlon Hotel: part of a 2nd and 3rd century square, a 3rd century well, part of a pre- Roman cobblestone road and sections of a wall and a gate dating from the 4th century. Free entry.  edit
  • Natuurhistorisch Museum, De Bosquetplein 7, +31 (43) 350 54 90 (, fax: +31 (43) 350 54 75), [32]. Mon-Fri: 10.00 am – 5.00 pm; Sat-Sun: 2.00 pm – 5.00 pm. The museum outlines the natural history of southern Limburg. Modern displays offer an insight into both the recent and distant past. Among the museum’s highlights are the remains of enormous Mosasauriers and Giant Turtles found in marlstone at the St Pietersberg caverns. Fossils of all shapes and sizes show how South Limburg has changed in the course of the last 300 million years. Adult: €4.50; child 4-11: €3.00; child under 4: free entry.  edit
  • Spaans Gouvernement, Vrijthof 18, +31 (43) 321 13 27 (), [33]. Wed-Sun: 1.00 pm – 5.00 pm. The museum contains period rooms with mainly 17th and 18th century furnishings, including furniture, silver, porcelain and pottery, glassware and paintings. Two of the rooms have been decorated in the mid-18th century Liège-Maastricht Regence Style. Adult: €3.00 (exposition: €4.00); child under 16: free entry.  edit

Tourist Attractions[edit]

Saturday Flea Market in Maastricht

  • Saint Pietersberg Caves (Grotten Sint-Pietersberg), Buitengoed Slavante, Slavante 1, +31 (43) 325 21 21, [34]. Local marlstone mine with over 20,000 passages dug out over centuries, used as shelter during sieges and bombings. Tours essential; check website for details (English and Dutch times differ). Boats runs from the city centre with commentary pointing out interesting landmarks along the way.  edit
  • Kazematten, Tongerseplein, +31 (43) 325 21 21, [35]. A network of bunkers on the west side of Maastricht from which soldiers fired at invaders; again, tours are essential.  edit
  • ‘Regular’ shopping centre, known for its exclusivity.

Do[edit][add listing]


  • Lumière [36] – art house cinema – tickets €8 unless you’re eligible for a discount
  • Euroscoop Cinemas [37] Multiplex


In the Netherlands, the policy regarding soft drugs (such as weed, hash and magic mushrooms) is lenient. Therefore, there are several coffee- and headshops where you can buy these products. It is tolerated to buy up to 5 grams of marijuana. Make sure you bring your identification card or drivers license with you, because the shops are very strict about age and they will check it no matter how old you look. You have to be at least 18 years old to enter a coffee- or headshop.

The coffeeshops in Maastricht have a lot (2.2 million annually!) of foreign customers, so they are able to understand Dutch, English, French and German. The Mississippi boat is the most popular with coffeeshop visitors from abroad. It is a coffee shop built in a large boat which lays in the Maas river and is certainly worth visiting. However it is regarded as having overpriced products and lower quality by locals and connoisseurs. Recommended are; Black Widow, a small coffeeshop located outside of the city center but having reasonable prices and good quality, Easy Going for its centrality and Heaven 69 for the open roof diner. Club 69, just around the corner of the Cool Running, is the oldest, smallest but most laid back one in town. For tourists other than Dutch, German or Belgian, there is a coffeeshop at Koestraat near the Beluga restaurant that is outside of the “union” and will serve you.


  • Visit the Uitbalie [39] in the Theater on the Vrijthof for (last minute) tickets to almost any cultural event. Pick up a Week in/Week uit with its weekly English agenda published by MaastrichtNet [40], or see what students are upto on
  • Find out more about life in Maastricht through Crossroads [41], a webzine for expatriates in Maastricht published by the European Journalism Centre [42].
  • Visit the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) [43] This art fair is among the world’s leading art fairs. Buyers from all over the world come and visit this fair.
  • Visit Intro in situ [44] which hosts many free concerts ranging from contemporary music to pop and jazz. Check the website for the agenda.


In Autumn 2007 a collective made an English Map of Maastricht, the Ekoplan, listing as much fair trade, organic (dutch: ‘eko’), second hand and vegetarian initiatives in Maastricht they could find. The map is distributed on strategic spots in town (eg. Stayokay hostel), and available on-line [45]

Eat[edit][add listing]

Eating out in Maastricht is seldom cheap, with most restaurants catering more to a posh older crowd rather than the student population. On weekdays, good and relatively low-priced sandwiches can be found at Deli Belge and Somethin’ Good, both on Tongersestraat, close to the Economics and Law faculties of the Universiteit Maastricht.

  • Eetcafé De Preuverij, Kakeberg 6, +31 (43) 325 09 03, [46]. Mon-Fri: 10.00 am – 10.00 pm; Sat-Sun: 12.00 am-10.00 pm. If you are really hungry, but don’t want luxury food then visit this place. Try the Vesserslatien sandwich (cock-and-bull story sandwich). At night it is a popular drinking venue with students of Maastricht University. Three-course meal: €12.50.  edit
  • Sour Meat (Zuurvlees in Dutch or Zoer vleis in the local dialect)

Drink[edit][add listing]

Maastricht has many bars, restaurants, pubs and dance clubs, located on Vrijthof and Market Squares, and in the centre of downtown it’s nearly impossible to walk around and not see anything to do.

  • Maastricht is great for a night out (Maastricht is home to both a University & Institute). therefore, lots of students, also lots of foreign companies are based here so a mixture of international pubs & clubs can be found here.
  • Be sure to check out these places to go drink and have a good time: The Highlander, Falstaff, Twee Heeren, Metamorfoos, C’est La Vie, Take5, De Allabonneur, and especially the make!-bar. They all are very welcoming and have great music to dance to.
  • Maastricht is known for its yearly “Carnival,” a tradition celebrated in many towns in the south of the Netherlands.
  • Take One, Rechtstraat 28, +31 (43) 321 64 23, [47]. Th-M 4PM-2AM. Stocks over 150 Belgian and Dutch beers; owner Peet can find something to suit every taste (if you can brave his sense of humour). Small, atmospheric and sometimes lively bar – peanut shells on the floor please!  edit
  • Beluga, Centre Ceramique Plein 1992, +31 (0)43 321 33 64, [48]. €75″ lat=”” long=””>  edit
  • Cafe ‘t Pothuiske (Pothuiske), Het Bat 1 Maastricht, 6211 (Just east of the main square, near the River Maas), +31 (0)433 21 60 02, [49]. Great place to grab a beer. Their weekly specials often have some pretty rare Belgian and Dutch brews. The outdoor seating’s atmosphere is great and allows a view of the River Maas.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under €50
Mid-range €50 to €150
Splurge Over €150


  • Stayokay Maastricht, Maasboulevard 101, +31 (43) 750 17 90 (, fax: +31 (43) 350 01 47), [50]. This hostel opened its doors on 5 April 2007 and offers 38 rooms. It has a deck looking over the Maas river and is a delightful place to have a beer in the evening. The hostel is clean, but as with many chain hostels, it does not have a kitchen and may lack atmosphere for those looking to meet other travellers. Prices start at €21 (breakfast included) for an overnight stay in a dormitory.  edit
  • Cafeshamrock [51] (city centre, from €20)
  • Botel Maastricht, Maasboulevard 95, +31 (0)43 321 90 23 (fax: +31 (0)43 325 79 98), [52]. checkin: before 19:00. This hostel is located on a boat on the river Maas, next to the city center. Breakfast is optional during weekdays and obligatory on weekends. 20-33 € per person, depending on room size and breakfast inclusion. (50,8453834,5,6970482) edit


  • Hip Hotel St. Martenslane Maastricht, St. Maartenslaan 1-7, +31 (43) 321 11 11 (, fax: +31 43 310 07 12), [53]. Hip Hotel St. Martenslane Maastricht is the most affordable trendy Bed & Breakfast boutique hotel in the Maastricht city centre.  edit
  • Townhouse Designhotel Maastricht, St. Maartenslaan 5, +31 (43) 321 11 11 (, fax: +31 43 310 07 12), [54]. Townhouse Designhotel Maastricht is a new and innovative hotel concept located in Maastricht city centre.  edit
  • Bastion Hotel Maastricht, Boschstraat 27, +31 (43) 321 22 22 (fax: +31 (43) 321 34 32), [55]. Bastion Hotel Maastricht is part of a Dutch chain of four star hotels at sub-four star prices. If you are used to the full four star service this will be a disappointment, but it is only a five minute walk into the city center of Maastricht and provides free wireless internet service.  edit
  • Hotel MABI, Kleine Gracht 24, +31 (43) 351 44 44 (, fax: +31 (43) 351 44 55), [56]. The Hotel MABI, just off the market place, must be owned by a group of dentists. Little jars of sweets are everywhere in the public spaces.  edit
  • NH Hotel Maastricht, Forum 110, +31 (43) 383 82 81 (, fax: +31 (43) 361 58 62), [57]. The NH Hotel Maastricht is about a 25 minutes walk from the city center, but very convenient if you are attending a conference or fair in the Maastricht Exhibition & Congress Centre [58] next door. The hotel is comfortable enough, however, only the “deluxe” rooms really come up to the standards of other NH hotels. The standard rooms look tired by comparison, and some of them are quite noisy.  edit
  • Hotel De Pauwenhof, Boschstraat 70, +31 (43) 350 33 33 (, fax: +31 (43) 350 33 39), [59]. De Pauwenhof is a small hotel with a family run feel. It has recently been refurbished with air conditioning in all 15 rooms. There is no restaurant in the evening, but with all the eateries in central Maastricht within a few minutes walk, who really cares?  edit
  • Design Hotel Eden, Stationsstraat 40, +31 (43) 328 25 25 (, fax: +31 (43) 328 25 26), [60]. If you’re bored of identi-kit hotel rooms then Design Hotel Eden will be a breath of fresh air. All the rooms are comfortably furnished in a variety of modern styles. You’ll appreciate a philosophy that doesn’t put a desk in your room so you can relax properly; and with the centre of Maastricht less than 5 minutes walk away that’s easy to do.  edit
  • Short Stay Apartments Jules & You, Bouillonstraat 12, +31 621 502 463 (), [61]. Jules & You can offer you a variety of well furnished and equipped self catering apartments in the center of Maastricht. All apartments have a living room, a kitchen and a private bathroom. They all come with wireless Internet and cable TV. Number of bedrooms varies between 1 and 4. Prices vary between € 25 and € 50 p.p.p.n. all-in. Ideal for families and (small) groups. A Jules and You apartment really is the ultimate basis from where of to experience exciting Maastricht.  edit


  • Crowne Plaza Maastricht, Ruiterij 1, +31 (43) 350 91 91 (, fax: +31 (43) 350 91 92), [62]. Crowne Plaza Maastricht is quietly situated in the city center on the river Maas.  edit
  • Hotel Derlon, Onze Lieve Vrouweplein 6, +31 (43) 321 67 70 (, fax: +31 (43) 325 19 33), [63]. Ideally located on the most beautiful square of the city.  edit
  • Kruisherenhotel, Kruisherengang 19 – 23, +31 (43) 329 20 20 (, fax: +31 (43) 329 30 30), [64]. checkin: 11/07/2013; checkout: 13/07/2013. A beautifully renovated gothic monastery in the center of Maastricht, complete with a church, is a rather spectacular stage for an unusally stylish hotel. (2,) edit


Religious services[edit]

  • Damascus Road International Church [65], Stay Okay Hostel, Maasboulevard 101. Sun: 11:00 Service in English
  • All Saints Maastricht (Anglican) [66], Onze Lieve Vrouw Kerk, 1st and 3rd Sundays 10:30 Service in English

Holy mass in Catholic churches in Maastricht:

  • Sint Servaas Basilica [67], Keizer Karelplein. Sat: 18:00; Sun: 10:00, 11:30; Mon-Sat: 09:00 (Sint Servaas chapel)
  • Onze Lieve Vrouwe Basilica [68], Onze Lieve Vrouweplein. Sat: 17:00 (crypt), 18:30; Sun: 09:00, 10:00, 11:30; Mon-Sat: 09:30
  • Sint Matthiaskerk, Boschstraat 99. Sat: 17:30; Sun: 11:15; Tue-Fri: 08:30
  • Sint Petrus Banden [69], Oude Kerkstraat 10 (Maastricht Heer). Sat: 19:15; Sun: 08:30, 09:45; Mon-Fri: 19:00
  • Basiliek van het H. Sacrament [70], Markt, 6231 LR Meerssen. Sun: 11:00; Mon & Tue: 19:00; Wed & Fri: 08:00

Directory of Christian churches in Maastricht: [71]

  • El Fath Mosque [72]. Sint Lucassingel 70.

Phone: 043-3437120

  • Tevhit Mosque [73]. Weustenraadstr 24. Phone: 043-3436598

Saint John Chrysostom Orthodox Church [74],St. Maartenslaan 37. Check website for service times.


  • Maastricht University and Hogeschool Zuid both have campuses in Maastricht.
  • Vita Language Centre Language School, Grote Looiersstraat 20, 6211 JJ, (), [75]. – prices starting at 195€ for six weeks, many langagues possible, private and group sessions.  edit

Get out[edit]

The terraced Chateau Neercanne located just before the Belgian border

  • World War II Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial: take the N278 9.5 kilometers (6 miles) east of Maastricht. The cemetery is located just west of the village of Margraten. Open daily except for December 25 and January 1; 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The cemetery is the final resting place for 8,301 American military dead. A monument is inscribed with the names of 1,723 Americans whose remains were never found or identified. The site contains a chapel and museum with three engraved operations maps describing the European Campaign.
  • Caves in the Sint Pietersberg: Although the limestome caves are actually mines, it is nice to take a guided tour through the belly of the berg. In the Second World War, the Dutch stored their national arts collections in a vault in the hill, and a lot of engravings – some more old than the other – are to be admired. Entrances lie at several places on the mountain, and are well within walking distance of the town center. Plan in advance to make sure you can get in.
  • Fort Eben-Emael[76]: A Belgian WW2 fort no longer in use, but open to the public on certain weekends. Very close to Maastricht, just south across the Belgian border.
  • Valkenburg aan de Geul: This historic town was beseiged many times and many traces remain to be seen, including Valkenburg castle. Along with tours of the old mines there is also a popular spa and a casino.

Routes through Maastricht
AmsterdamGeleen  N noframe S  END

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Utrecht, Netherlands – Travel Guide

Utrecht, Netherlands – Travel Guide

Book Cheap Hotel, Apartments, Hostels & BBs in Utrecht


Utrecht banner.jpg

For other places with the same name, see Utrecht (disambiguation).

Utrecht [1] is a central Dutch city with a long history.


The Oudegracht. In the centre the Dom Church tower.

With 316.448 inhabitants it’s the fourth largest city in the Netherlands. The agglomeration of Utrecht has 640.000 inhabitants. The history of the city goes back to 47 AD when the Roman emperor Claudius ordered his general Corbulo to build a defensive line along the river Rhine which was the northern most border of the empire. One of the strongholds (or Castella) along the river was built at a crossing in the river and was called Traiectum (which means crossingplace). In the local language this became Trecht, Uut-Trecht (lower-Trecht) and later Utrecht. On the place where once the castellum stood now stands the Domchurch built in the 13th century.

Utrecht is known as a student city with a large population of single young people. This results in a booming nightlife with many places to have a quick meal, some drinks or a dance.

Get in[edit]

By train[edit]

Utrecht Central Station forms the hub of the Dutch rail network, and is easily accessible directly, or with one change of train, from almost every station in the Netherlands. For instance, there are direct connections from Amsterdam and Schiphol Airport (even at night), both taking 30 minutes and for about €8 one-way. The high-speed train ICE to Cologne, Frankfurt and Basel stops in Utrecht. It also has daily night train (Euronight/CityNightline) connections to Berlin, Copenhagen, Prague, Warsaw, Zurich, Munich and Innsbruck (seasonal). You can book tickets for the night trains on or ICE tickets are also available from the ticket vending machine on the train station.

The train station is located at the western edge of the old city. A 5 minute walk through the Hoog Catharijne shopping center (follow signs to “Centrum”) will take you from the station to the old city.
You can also take a bus from the bus station next to the station: Utrecht CS Centrumzijde

By bus[edit]

The bus station is located next to the train station. International and some regional buses depart from the western side of the train station (‘Jaarbeurszijde’), while most regional and all city buses depart from Busstation CS Centrumzijde at the east side of the train station. Regional buses are much slower than the trains. U-OV provides public transport services in the city of Utrecht and the region around.
Some other companies run long distance connections:

  • Arriva, [2].  edit
  • Connexxion, [3].  edit
  • Veolia, [4]. ‘Brabantliner’ to Breda and Oosterhout  edit

Journeys by all means of public transport in The Netherlands can be planned at 9292OV (English).

By car[edit]

If you are coming in by car, park your car in one of the many parking garages around the city (follow the signs) and walk from there. Electronic signs display the number of parking spaces available in any given lot as well as directions to the lot, and if the sign says Vol it means the lot is full. Expect to pay around € 2,60 per hour at any of the garages in the center. Parking on the curbside is also possible, but even more expensive. Expect to pay € 4 to € 5 an hour in advance at the meter. Parking fines are around € 70 and frequenty enforced, so make sure to get back to your car before the ticket expires. It’s best to avoid driving into central Utrecht. Instead, leave your car at the city perimeter and take a bus or tram into the center.

There are 4 transferiums (also called P+R): Westraven, Uithof (open from 1 october 2013), Muziektheater and Papendorp. You can park your car at a flat rate of € 4,50 per day, including transit to the city center by bus or tram for up to 5 passengers. All of the transferiums are close to the highway (location information can be found [5]) and open from early morning to 01:00 at night. Transferium Westraven is on the southern side of the city, very close to the A12 highway exit number 17. The Nieuwegein-Utrecht tram line has a stop at this transferium and departs 8 times an hour daytime, 4 times an hour evening and weekends. Going back you can take a tram bound for either Nieuwegein or IJsselstijn, the last one departs at about 0.30 AM. Transferium Papendorp is near the football stadium, and connected to the city center by bus. Frequency of the bus service is comparable to that of the trams.

By tram[edit]

Utrecht is connected to two neighboring towns by a high speed tram line. At the edge of the city, close to the A12 and A2 motorways, you will find Transferium Westraven [6]. It’s a good idea to park your car there and to take the tram into town. The high speed tram terminates at Utrecht Centraal Station. You will need to go through the Central Station to get to Hoog Catherijne shopping center and the inner city.

€4.00 will allow you to park your car all day and to travel into the city with a maximum of five people. Visiting Utrecht by car doesn’t come cheaper than this.

Get around[edit]

pedestrian street

Walking is the easiest way to travel in the city of Utrecht. The center is very compact compared to the other large Dutch cities, with almost all points of interest being within walking distance to each other (the only major exception being the Rietveld-Schroder house).
To use the public transportation in the Netherlands, it is recommended to buy an OV-chipcard. There is no separate OV-chipkaart for tourists. As a tourist you will purchase an anonymous OV-chipkaart or a disposable OV-chipkaart. You will purchase either card at the counter for a public transport company, the device at the station, at a newsagent or at a supermarket. The OV chipcard is valid for bus, train and tram and works like a debit card that you must first charge with an amount.

By bike[edit]

Using a bike is an easy way to travel in the city center if the weather is on your side, but can be dangerous for inexperienced cyclists. There are many bicyleshops located near the train station where you can rent bikes. Do make sure that you have good locks on your bike, as bike thefts are unfortunately quite common in the city centre. Also it’s a good idea to make use of the free bike parking areas provided by the city council. They are usually guarded and are a safe place to park your bike. Routes can be planned with a bike route planner, that also shows bike parkings, bike shops and much more.
Also recommended is to do a bike tour. There are several bike tour companies offering guided city tours. There are also cycle routes starting in the centre of Utrecht, which you can download for free.

By bus[edit]

A good alternative is taking the bus, which goes often and will take you nearly everywhere. Utrecht Centraal Station serves as the main bus hub for Utrecht as well as the main train hub for the Netherlands. Most buses run from early morning (around 6am) until just after midnight.

In addition, there are several so-called nightlines [7]. These cost 5 to 6 euros and can’t be paid for using strips or chipcard.

By tram[edit]

In Utrecht there is a tram line from central station to southern suburbs Nieuwegein and IJsselstein. For tourists, only the the first stops will be interesting, Westplein and Graadt van Roggeweg. These are located next to the Turkish neighbourhood and the main convention centre respectively.

By car[edit]

Seeing Utrecht by car is not recommended. The city planners have made it as difficult as possible to navigate the city center, to try and discourage cars there. Driving around can be frustrating as the center is fraught with bus-only lanes, one-way streets, traffic lights and terribly expensive parking spaces. If you want to come by car it is recommended to park at one of the P+R (Park and Ride) [8] places, and take a cheap shuttle bus or tram service into town. There are also several parking garages closer to the center, but they are more expensive.

See[edit][add listing]

City centre[edit]

De Dom at Dawn

  • Dom church [9], Domplein, open Mo-Fr 10am-5pm (October-April 11am-4pm), Sa 10(11)am-3.30pm, Su 2pm-4pm. The Gothic Dom church (built between 1284 and 1520) is the major religious building in the city. When a hurricane hit the town in 1674, the badly constructed nave collapsed, which is the reason that today the Domtoren (Bell Tower) and the church itself are separated by the Domplein (Dom Square). The interior of the church was stripped of all sculpture during Reformation, but its exterior remains a lavishly decorated example of Dutch Gothic architecture.
  • 112 meter tall Domtoren [10] is the highest church tower in the Netherlands. Climbing up the stairs to see the magnificent view on the top is highly recommended, but beware of the narrow, steep stairs. On clear days you can look as far as Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Open daily, climbing of the tower only through guided tour, admission charge.
  • Next to the Dom church, the cloister garden is ideal to sit down and relax, and listen to a Saturday morning carillon concert.
  • Between the church and the tower at Dom Square is the entrance to DomUnder [11], an underground interactive exibition under the Square between the stone remains since Roman times.
  • In addition, due to being the Netherland’s centre of catholic religion for centuries, many very old churches (19+) are scattered around the city centre. You’ll find a list of them at the Dutch Wikipedia.
  • Oudegracht – A canal going through the heart of the city, with shops and restaurants on both sides. This canal is unique because of its many picturesque cellars on water level. Centuries ago they were used for storage and commerce. Nowadays, many of them host fine restaurants and pubs. In the summer you can find nice terraces at the water here. A poem in the pavement runs along Oudegracht (from house number 279 onwards): the ‘Letters of Utrecht’ [12]. Every Saturday at 1pm the next letter is hewn from the next stone and added to a poem without end. Year markers for the coming decades and centuries up to 2300 are embedded in the pavement further along.
  • The Vismarkt (Fishmarket, a lovely street in the plain centre).
  • Stadsschouwburg [13] Lucasbolwerk 24, the city theatre. Almost all theatre performances are in Dutch, but there are also dance and music performances. There are two halls inside the Stadsschouwburg, the Douwe Egberts Zaal (Douwe Egberts Hall) and the Blauwe Zaal (Blue Hall). Students can buy tickets 30 minutes before the start of a show for a reduced fee (€9 for shows in the Douwe Egberts zaal, €7 for shows in the Blauwe Zaal), provided the show is not sold out yet.
  • The City Hall [14] Korte Minrebroederstraat 2, close to the Oudegracht, has a rather unique look.
  • Close to the city hall is Theater Kikker [15] Ganzenmarkt 14, a small theatre. Every month they have a Kikker Koopje, a performance by budding artists for €7 [16].


Rietveld Schroder House

  • The defining building of Utrecht is the 13th century Domchurch, part of a larger cathedral which was partially destroyed by a severe storm while under construction. The main tower is the highest building in the city by municipal mandate.
  • De Uithof, which is the campus of Utrecht University on the outskirts of Utrecht, near the stadium of FC Utrecht. De Uithof is a strange mix between grey concrete buildings and an increasing number of buildings designed by famous modern architects, like the Educatorium [17] designed by Rem Koolhaas, the University Library [18] and the Minnaert building [19]. There is also a beautiful botanical garden [20] that stretches over 8 acres and houses 6 thousand different sorts of plants. Also worth a look: the bicycle track at the Heidelberglaan which is broad enough to function as a two-way car-track.
  • The Post Office is an outstanding and surprising building. The Utrecht main Post Office (in use as such from 1924 until 2011) is a great example of Dutch Art Deco architecture. The Post Office, located on the Neude Square, was designed by the architect J. Crouwel and completed in 1924. The barrel-vaulted ceiling is made up of glazed yellow-brick ribs alternated with diagonal glass panes that fill the hall with natural light. The black-and-white floor is set off by five carved black statues set in the walls, each representing a continent. America is a stylized American Indian with two buffalo’s at his feet. Over the main entrance are magnificent stained glass windows.
  • Rietveld Schröder House Prins Hendriklaan 50 Tours organised by Centraal Museum for €16, which includes travel from Centraal Museum, Entry to Museum, Tour of House and Rietveld designed apartment, and a tea/coffee at museum. See website [21] for full details. The Rietveld-Schröderhuis, designed by Gerrit Rietveld, was built in 1923-1924 in Utrecht. The structure of the house matched completely with the ideas of the art movement De Stijl (The Style). The house was designed and built for Truus Schröder-Schräder, who lived there from 1924 till her death in 1985. It can only be visited under supervision of a tour guide. In 2000 the house was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • The Stadsschouwburg Lucasbolwerk 24 was designed in 1937 by the famous architect Willem Dudok.
  • The Inktpot is an eyecatcher, seen when arriving by train. This is the biggest brickstone building in the Netherlands. Currently headoffice of ProRail. ‘De Inktpot’ is at walking distance from the ‘Utrecht Centraal’ train station. When leaving the station, walk in the direction of Hoog Catharijne/Centrum. About 400 metres into Hoog Catharijne, go right towards Godebaldkwartier. Follow the walking route to the exit of Moreelsepark. You will see ‘De Inktpot’ about 150 metres from this exit at the right hand side of the park.
  • In 2014 the new centre of music TivoliVredenburg[22] was opened. It houses five concert halls of different size, shape and atmosphere, designed by different architects. All musical styles are expected.
  • The Leidsche Rijn is a large urban extension to the west of the city which showcases modern urban planning and design. Large park areas and a visitor centre (as of 2012) are particular places of interest.


Most museums are situated in the “Museum Quarter” at 10 minutes walking distance from Central Station.

  • Centraal Museum, Nicolaaskerkhof 10, [23]. 11-17, closed on mondays. The oldest municipal museum in the Netherlands. It has a large art collection including the world’s largest collection of Rietveld designs and a permanent exhibition on Dick Bruna. There are usually several temporary exhibitions as well, an overview of which you can find at their site. €9. (52.083607,5.125487) edit
  • Museum Catharijneconvent, Lange Nieuwstraat 38, [24]. 11-17. a large collection of historic Christian items. €11.50. (52.210973,5.122375) edit
  • Nederlands Spoorwegmuseum, [25]. Tue-Sun 10-17. the Dutch Railway Museum. It reopened in June 2005 after a intensive renovation. It is possible to go directly to the Spoorwegmuseum from centraal station with a special train. €16. (52.089329,5.13068) edit
  • Money Museum, Leidseweg 90, 3531 BG Utrecht, +3130-2910492, [26]. Museum about money: history, culture, greed, saving, gambling, loans and money frauds.You can see Dutch Euro’s being print (from behind glass). Not all exhibitions have Englisch information cards.  edit
  • Nationaal Museum van Speelklok tot Pierement, [27]. a surprisingly pleasant museum on all kinds of mechanical music, including carillon clocks, musical boxes, pianolas, belly organs and much more.  edit
  • Aboriginal Art Museum, [28]. a fairly large museum dedicated exclusively to Aboriginal art.  edit
  • Moluks Historisch Museum, [29]. museum on the history of the Moluccas.  edit
  • Utrecht Universiteit Museum, [30]. the museum of Utrecht University.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Enjoy the nightlife
  • Have a drink at one of the terraces at Neude or the lower docks of Oudegracht
  • Climb the Dom tower, a full 112 meters high. You can climb to near the top.
  • Take a tour with a boat through the canals
  • Take a bicycle tour through the old city centre
  • Rent a canal bike and pedal your own way around the canals. [31]
  • Try a locally brewed beer at Stadskasteel Oudaen [32], which is a 13th century city castle turned restaurant.
  • Walk a route trough the city center. The routes sold for €3 by the tourist information center (located in front of the Dom tower) explain the history of buildings and shows unexpected beautiful spots in Utrecht.
  • The Wilhelminapark, Park Lepelenburg or the Julianapark are nice places to chill out in summer.
  • Trajectum Lumen – an exploration after dark, which follows artistically lit locations throughout Utrecht’s historical city centre. Since its launch in the spring of 2010, an increasing amount of light artworks have emerged along the route. Together, they illuminate this city’s past and present in spectacular fashion. [33] (Mobile apps with a map are freely available for Apple and Android)
  • Utrecht Free Tours, That has tours starting at the Domsquare, next to the Dom tower, (), [34]. Every saturday 12:00 – 15:00. See Utrecht through the eyes of locals, taking you through 2000 years of history. The tours are really free, voluntary donations only.  edit


  • Watch a movie at one of many cinemas. With the exception of some animated movies (and even those are usually available in the original language as well), all movies are subtitled and not dubbed, so you should be able to enjoy all the standard Hollywood fare in the original English.
  • As any large city, Utrecht has its share of cinemas showing Hollywood movies. More interesting are the three independent cinemas: Louis Hartlooper Complex [35], ‘t Hoogt [36] and Springhaver. These specialize in art house movies and also are ideal places to get a drink or have dinner.


  • 27 April: Koningsdag [37] Visit the festivities for the Dutch king and the royal house, starting on the eve before from 18:00 sharp. Flee market all over the city center, music and other performances(dress code is bright orange).
  • June: International Chamber Music Festival [38], supervised by internationally famous violinist Janine Jansen.
  • July: Festival De Beschaving (Civilisation Festival) [39]
  • July, last two weeks: The Parade [40], a yearly open air festival with theatre, comedy, dance, music and much more.
  • July: Summer Darkness [41], international goth festival.
  • August, last weekend (10 days on): The yearly Utrecht Festival of Old Music, called Festival Oude Muziek [42] brings to Utrecht some of the best artists in the world of authentic performance, but reserves some space for future talent as well. Concerts of all sizes are scattered over some of the city’s most beautiful churches, with major performances held at TivoliVredenburg (central lounge and tickets) and the old Dom Church. There are over 60 free ‘fringe’ concerts and a set student price. During the rest of the year lots of concerts are held everywhere in The Netherlands.
  • September, second week: Gaudeamus Muziekweek [43]. This is the internationally celebrated annual festival for young composers and new music. Apart from the annual festival they also organize a monthly series of new, contemporary music.
  • September, second half: Dutch Movie Festival [44]. For ten days, Utrecht is the Mekka of the Dutch film.
  • November (2014: 20-23): Le Guess Who, the indie rock festival [45], in TivoliVredenburg, Tivoli De Helling, Ekko, DBs and other locations.

During the year several Culturele zondagen, cultural sundays [46] are held. Connected by ‘culture’, they have a wide variety of themes and activities as well as locations.


  • Utrecht University [47], which has just celebrated its 375th anniversary, has developed into one of Europe’s largest and most prominent institutes of research and education. With 49 Bachelor’s programmes and 109 Master’s programmes in English, Utrecht University offers the broadest spectrum of English language disciplines available in the Netherlands and innovative research and liaises with universities and research centres all over the world. Recently ranked the Best University in the Netherlands, the 4th best University in Europe, and the 39th best in the world. Utrecht University has been home to many prominent academics, among whom Buys Ballot, Donders, Rudolf Magnus, Van Unnik and Freudenthal. Currently Nobel Prize Winner Gerard ’t Hooft (1999) is affiliated to the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy.


A ton of service positions exist in the ancient city centre. However, they usually have low wages and require fluent Dutch and a work permit.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Most shops are located in the city centre, concentrated around the Oudegracht, Vredeburg and Neude. There is also a large shopping centre extending east from the city centre in the direction of the Wilhelminapark. For general shop info and their openings hours you can visit [48] it shows an overview of the most popular shops.

  • Hoog Catharijne, [49] is a large indoor shopping area connected to the central hall of Utrecht Centraal Station, the main railway station of Utrecht.
  • Books. Broese Boekverkopers [50] is a large bookstore at Stadhuisbrug 5. They have a fair selection of English books. Bijleveld [51] at the Janskerkhof is an old bookstore with beautiful wooden show windows. And last but not least de Rooie Rat [52], at Oudegracht 65 (next to Augustine’s church), which is the oldest collectively run political bookstore of the Netherlands.
  • Music. Plato [53] at Voorstraat 35 has a fair selection at reasonable prices.
  • Markets. On Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays there is a large open air market on the Vredenburg square. On Saturdays you can find a plant market on the Janskerkhof and a flower market on the Oudegracht. The Breedstraat houses a large fabric market (lapjesmarkt) on Saturdaymornings (09:00-13:00).
  • At Stationsplein 7 there is a give-away shop, open Tuesdays 14:00-18:00 and Saturdays 14:00-17:00.
  • El Beso, [54] At Nobelstraat there is an excellent Wine, life and style shop, called El Beso (Spanish for Kiss). On Saturdays you can just walk in and try a wine, no buying obligations. International crowd.
  • Cannabis. Several so called “coffee shops” in the city centre offer hash and marijuana products. Due to recent legislation it’s not allowed to smoke inside.

Geek gear[edit]

There are half a dozen stores at the part of the Oudegracht (Old Canal) south of De Dom that sell board games, card games, wargames, roleplaying games, fantasy and science-fiction books and/or comics (ie. Piet Snot, Elf Fantasy, the Joker and Neverneverland). Keep your eyes peeled; some of these stores are easy to miss.

  • Blunder [55] has a large collection of “mainstream comics” on street level and an even bigger collection of the newest American comics and Manga/Anime in the basement. The address is Oudegracht 203.
  • Piet Snot [56] is a normal comic shop. They also have a big collection of second hand comics. Vismarkt 3 (It’s a small part of the Oudegracht that for some dark reason has been given a different name…)
  • Strip & Lectuurshop [57]. Lots of comics located at Oudegracht 194
  • Labyrinth [58] is all about fantasy games. They have furniture, weapons, clothing, jewelry and lots of roleplaying books. It is located at Oudegracht 207.
  • The Joker. Games, games and (much) more games. From your normal family games to the German type games and the American wargames and everything in between. They also have lots of Collectible Card games and scenariobooks for RPGs. In the basement it’s possible to play the games. It is located at Oudegracht 230a.
  • Neverneverland, like The Joker, has a large selection of boardgames and RPGs. It is located at Oudegracht 202.
  • Subcultures [59] is well… about subcultures. Specialized in miniature wargames, RPGs and designer toys. The address is Oude Gracht 194, but the store is a werfkelder. This means that when on street level you have to take the stairs down to the canal.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Many restaurants can be found in the city center. Especially near the canals there is a huge choice of places to eat, each with their own style of kitchen, like Italian, Thai, American, etc. Ask the locals or check [60] for which places are recommended as not every restaurant offers the same quality.

  • Cafe ‘t College, Mariastraat (Close to the dom), 030 2319136, [61]. mo: 10am-7pm,tu-th:10am-01am,fr-sa: 10am-2pm,su 12am-7pm. Cozy jazz-blues restaurant with good simple food: steaks, salads, sate. The kitchen closes at 9pm, but you can get bitterballen, spring rolls, etc. after that. main: €14.  edit
  • Stadskasteel Oudaen [62], at Oudegracht 99, is a 13th century city castle turned restaurant.
  • There are several Flemish snack bars outside of Hoog Catharijne that sell wonderful thick fries with mayonnaise. Try it; it’s not as bad as John Travolta’s character seems to think in Pulp Fiction.
  • Bigoli, Schoutenstraat 12. Serves delicious italian sandwiches. Be prepared to wait in line at lunch time though. €3-5.  edit
  • Broadway, Oudegracht aan de werf 139, +31 30 2312643, [63]. is an excellent spare ribs restaurant. mains €15–20.  edit
  • Luce, Visschersplein 75, +31 30 2333008, [64]. is a hip and trendy restaurant. Very trendy atmosphere with exclusive and delicious food. mains €–.  edit
  • For cheap tapas go to El Mundo at Voorstraat or Mimadre at Oudkerkhof.
  • To try something dutch visit one of the snackbars and order a Kroket. A good one is behind City Hall, it is called Broodje Plof. A lot of Dutch people visit this place after a good night of binge drinking.
  • For a more multi-ethnic view of Utrecht, walk away from the old city from the bus station/central station, walk under the train tracks, and follow the bus route (straight ahead) about 200 meters. Try some affordable rotisserie style chicken on the left side of the Kanaalstraat, get a Moroccan style bagel across the street at one of the many middle eastern bakeries, and stock up on way-affordable (the cheapest in Utrecht) fruit and veggies at one of the many produce markets.
  • ACU, Voorstraat 71, [65]. In this squatters cafe cheap vegan food is served on tuesdays, wednesdays, thursdays and sundays.  edit
  • Meneer Smakers, Nobelstraat 143 and Twijnstraat 62, [66]. Lovely burgers and nice fries for a decent price! €8-10.  edit
  • El Greco, Ganzenmarkt 28. This greek snackbar serves some of the best pita gyros sandwiches in Utrecht. (52.092442,5.119937) edit
  • Mario, Oudegracht 130-132. This place sells Italian rolls in Utrecht, simply called Broodje Mario. They are famous among people from Utrecht; there’s even a rap song about it by the local band Stropstrikkers. €3.  edit
  • De Oude Muntkelder, Oude Gracht a/d Werf 112, +31 30 231-6773, [67]. 12:00-21:00 daily. Traditional Dutch pancake restaurant. They have a lovely setting beside the small canal. They have a wide varieties of pancakes, even quirky ones like the Norwegian pancake. On Mondays and Tuesdays all-you-can-eat pancakes for students for only €10,50. €10-15.  edit
  • Indonesia Asli, Biltstraat 56-58. mo-sa 12-20. Authentic (ie, spicy) Indonesian restaurant and take-away. The Nasi Semoer Tahoe is great value (€ 4,25). €4,25-11.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

As the population of Utrecht contains a lot of students, naturally there are a lot of places where you can spend the day or night having some drinks and a dance. Most are located in the city center. Main hubs for drinks are Neude, Janskerkhof, Mariaplaats and Ledig Erf.


  • The terraces at Neude, Janskerkhof or Ledig Erf
  • The lower docks near the canal Oudegracht
  • The cafe’s at the street Lucasbolwerk
  • Wijncafé Lefebvre – wine bar. Neude 2. [68]
  • Havana – Club / restaurant / dancing. Oudkerkhof 29. [69]
  • Filemon & Baucis – dancing. Janskerkhof 22 [70]
  • Mick O’ Connells – irish pub. Jansdam 3. [71]
  • Stairway to Heaven – is a large rockcafe at Mariaplaats 11-12. [72]
  • Olivier at the Achter Clarenburg. A Belgian cafe with some thirty beers. Located in an old church.
  • Theatercafé De Bastaard [73], Jansveld 17. Students, artists, the occasional local celebrity. There is a pool table in the back.
  • Jan Primus, Jan van Scorelstraat 27 – 31. It’s a little out of the centre of the city near the Wilhelmina Park. No music, no slot machine, no nothing. Just 160 beers. 10 draught and 150 bottled.
  • Klein Berlijn Briljantlaan 5 A, located next to Tivoli “de helling” club serves drinks and some food in a german beergarten styled environment from 12 am to 12 pm. In summer the terrace next to the water is very nice.


The Oudegracht is home to a lot of bars, both in- and outdoors, and both at street and at water level. From north to south:

  • Stadskasteel Oudaen, Oudegracht 99, +31 30 231 1864, [74]. is a 13th century city castle turned restaurant. They have their own theatre and more importantly their own brewery, where they brew the local beers Ouwe Daen, Jonge Daen en Linteloo Gold. Highly recommended.  edit
  • De Witte Ballons, Lijnmarkt 12 (On the west side of Oudegracht, halfway the city center. From the Domplein, walk under the Domtoren, straight ahead, over the Oudegracht, first left, on your left after 20 metres), 030-2311056. is a small and cosy café  edit
  • Café België, Oudegracht 196, +31 30 231 2666. has good music and a selection of 198 different beers of which 20 are draught. Also serve nice food for a reasonable price. Try the Celis White if you like white beer and try the Trock Banaan if you want to try a beer that tastes just like the banana sweets you probably ate when you were a kid (Most likely you are going to get a question from the bartender like “Are you sure you want to have this??”).  edit
  • Ledig Erf, Tolsteegbrug 3 (located at the very south tip of the Oudegracht), +31 30 231 7577, [75]. at the south end of the Oudegracht has a large outdoor seating area which is packed whenever the sun is shining.  edit
  • De Kargadoor, Oudegracht 36 (located at the very north tip of the Oudegracht), +31 30 231 0377, [76]. Warf cellar with live music, stand-up comedy and cinema.  edit


  • The clubs near the square Janskerkhof provide a great dancing opportunity for young people (Filemon, Pakhuis, Hofman).
  • The clubs at the street Oudkerkhof provide a great dancing opportunity for everyone (Havana, Dikke Dries).
  • Other cafes, recommended for students, are Beurs (at Neude), Zussen and Hemmingway (near Janskerkhof).
  • The main venue for pop concerts and for dancing is Tivoli Oude Gracht [77], Tivoli de Helling, or the smaller Ekko [78], Kargadoor, De Vloer and DBs (close to the train station Zuilen).
  • A smaller, more intimate venue, is political-cultural centre ACU [79]. They host a large variety of things, such as a small cinema (smoking allowed), art exhibitions, cafe literature, concerts, disco, gay events, and they serve vegetarian and vegan food.
  • Club Poema [80] is known for it’s ESN[81] student’s night every Tuesday and techno parties in the weekend.
  • Derrick [82] is a (small) disco in the old meaning of the word. Only 70s, 80s, and 90s music.
  • Oude Pothuys, Oudegracht 279 (On the west side of Oudegracht, a bit south of the city center), 030-2318970, [83]. is a cafe in a basement, with live music almost every night.  edit


Utrecht has one of the more cultivated coffee scenes in The Netherlands, but unfortunately a majority of the cafés does not pay enough attention the freshness of beans and barista skills (if they even have one). Some of the better are:

  • The Village, Voorstraat 46, [84]. One of the better coffee joints in the country. They serve not only espresso products, also drip, french press etc. Usually they have a variety of recently roasted beans on offer.  edit
  • Brandmeesters, Korte Jansstraat 5, [85]. Next to selling their own fresh roasted beans and coffee equipment, you can get a good cup to drink as well.  edit
  • Casa Barista, Lange Jansstraat 2, [86]. Not the place to hang out for an hour, but perfect for getting a quick, high quality espresso.  edit
  • Bakkerswinkel, Wittevrouwenstraat 2, [87]. Primarily a cake shop, and a very good one! Ideal place for a high tea or a craving for sweetness. Makes good coffee as well.  edit
  • Koffie & Ik, Vleutenseweg 169, [88]. Located near the Lombok neighborhood with great coffee and a cozy atmosphere  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Utrecht, like any big town, has its fair share of business hotels of the big chains.

  • Grand Hotel Karel V, Geertebolwerk 1, +31 (30) 233 75 55 (, fax: +31 (30) 233 75 00), [89].  edit
  • Park Plaza Utrecht, Westplein 50, +31 (0) 30 29 25 200 (, fax: +31 (0) 30 29 25 199), [90]. great location (city center), modern style with nice meeting rooms overlooking Utrecht.  edit
  • NH Utrecht, Jaarbeursplein, 24. 3521AR Utrecht, +31.30.2977977, [91]. This hotel is nestled away in a quiet area, yet is still only a short distance from the town center and the Jaarbeurs Convention Center which is ideal for people staying on business. Take advantage of the meeting rooms available in the hotel and enjoy the views and surroundings. Rooms from 99€.  edit
  • Hotel Oorsprongpark, F.C. Dondersstraat 12, +31 (30) 271 63 03 (fax: +31 (30) 271 46 19), [92]. single room: €100, double €115.  edit

For those on a budget:

  • Hostel Strowis, Boothstraat 8, 3512 BW Utrecht, +31 30 2380280 (), [94]. Lovely hostel run by a group of clever ex-squatters who bought their building to start this initiative. The best and most homely hostel in Utrecht. A choice of 6,8,10,or 12 bedded dorms,free internet and a relaxing shaded garden area. from €15.50.  edit
  • Hostel B&B Utrecht, Lucas Bolwerk 4, 3512 EG Utrecht, tel. +31 650434884 (), [95]. checkout: noon. Bizarre hostel. Main room dominated by television and individuals sitting at computers. Free internet (when it works), free food (you cook on your own!), sometimes free beer. Showers take half an hour to warm up in the morning. 10 min walk from the Central Station. from €25.00.  edit
  • Stone Hotel & Hostel, Biltstraat 31 (10 min walk from the centre,15 min walk from Utrecht Central Station), +31 30 268 2315, [96]. checkin: 15:00; checkout: 11:00. Casual, family run hostel situated in a bright and cheery building only a short distance away from the centre of Utrecht (the city centre and the central station). With a friendly & cosy atmosphere, helpful staff and the occasional company of happy family dog Lola, there are rooms and dorms available for all budgets – 4, 6, 8 bed dorms, ladies only dorms, and private rooms sleeping 1-3 persons. You’ll find fast & free wifi, hot showers & clean bathrooms, a full kitchen and supermarket nearby making for easy cooking options, TV & lounge area for relaxing. Coffee, tea, towels, advice and even a joke or two are all available for free! Dorm beds start from €17.50, private rooms available from €61.  edit



  • At DE cafe (Jansstraat (near the Neude) and Domstraat (near the Dom tower)) you get unlimited free WiFi access (password is ristretto)
  • At the Coffee Company (Vismarkt 5 and Nachtegaalstraat 34) you get free WiFi access for an hour with every order (you need your receipt for a temporary password)
  • Wzzrd [97] is located at Vismarkt 21 and open daily from 12:00 to 23:00 and friday and saturday until 01:00.
  • Some Internet browsing centers are available on Kanaalstraat for affordable prices (1.5 euros per hour). It is a 10 minute walk from Utrecht Central Station.

Stay safe[edit]

Utrecht is one of the 10 most unsafe cities in the Netherlands. There are several neighborhoods in the outskirts that are best avoided in the evening or at night.

As always, don’t flash your wallet at markets and have a natural caution for pickpockets in the city centre. Unfortunately, bike thefts are a common nuisance, so if you travel by bike, make sure you have good locks and try to bolt your bike to a lamp post or bridge railing if possible. There are also some free bike parking places with surveillance in the city center and near the train station.

Gay people often face harassment in the outskirt neighborhoods.

Car burglary is common, also in the city center. Park your car in a guarded parking place and remove valuable items.

The following neighborhoods are defined as “probleemwijk” (one of 40 neighborhoods in the Netherlands with serious issues) by the national government:

  • Kanaleneiland-noord
  • Ondiep
  • Overvecht
  • Zuilen Oost

These neighborhoods should be considered as unsafe or at least less safe.

In general, the center of Utrecht is pretty safe.

Get out[edit]

  • Soest_(Netherlands) – home to the biggest dune area in Utrecht
  • Soesterberg — home to the Dutch national air force museum
  • Haarzuilens — a small village which is home to the Castle De Haar
  • Wijk bij Duurstede — a typically old dutch town on the Rhine river; dikes galore!
  • Rhenen — played a key-role in the WWII Grebbelinie defense. Beautiful forests and a great zoo
  • Rhijnauwen — take a walk in the forests between the Uithof and Bunnik
  • Vianen — small historic city on the south of Utrecht
  • Wageningen — the city in which the Germans signed the WW|| peace

Routes through Utrecht
AmsterdamMaarssen  N noframe S  CulemborgMaastricht
The HagueWoerden  W noframe E  VeenendaalArnhem
AlmereHilversum  N noframe S  GorinchemBreda
END  S noframe N  AmersfoortGroningen

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


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Rotterdam, Netherlands – Travel Guide

Rotterdam, Netherlands – Travel Guide

Book Cheap Hotel, Apartments, Hostels & BBs in Rotterdam

For other uses, see Rotterdam (disambiguation).
City and Municipality
Erasmusbrug seen from Euromast.jpg
Laurenskerk, Rotterdam.jpg Rotterdam zadkine monument.jpg Overzicht - Rotterdam - 20358120 - RCE.jpg
Rotterdam aelbrechtskolk wallekant.jpg Maasvlakte, containeropslag foto1 2014-03-09 11.12.jpg
2003-03-04 rotterdam 15 cubic houses.JPG Rotterdam feyenoord stadion 1.jpg
Rotterdam stadhuis.jpg Schielandshuis Rotterdam cropped.jpg Rotterdam hotel newyork.jpg
Skyline Rotterdam from Schiebroek cropped.jpg
Flag of Rotterdam
Coat of arms of Rotterdam
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): Rotown, Roffa, Rotjeknor
Motto: Sterker door strijd (Stronger through struggle)
Highlighted position of Rotterdam in a municipal map of South Holland
Location in South Holland
Coordinates: 51°55′N 4°30′E / 51.917°N 4.500°E / 51.917; 4.500Coordinates: 51°55′N 4°30′E / 51.917°N 4.500°E / 51.917; 4.500
Country Netherlands
Province South Holland
 • Body Municipal council
 • Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb (PvdA)
 • Aldermen
 • Municipality 325.79 km2 (125.79 sq mi)
 • Land 208.80 km2 (80.62 sq mi)
 • Water 116.99 km2 (45.17 sq mi)
 • Randstad 3,043 km2 (1,175 sq mi)
Elevation[4] 0 m (0 ft)
Population (Municipality, May 2014; Urban and Metro, May 2014; Randstad, 2011)[3][5][6][7]
 • Municipality 619,879
 • Density 2,969/km2 (7,690/sq mi)
 • Urban 1,015,215
 • Metro 1,181,284
 • Metropolitan region 2,261,844
 • Randstad 6,979,500
Demonym Rotterdammer
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postcode 3000–3099
Area code 010

Rotterdam (/ˈrɒtərdæm/ or /ˌrɒtərˈdæm/;[8][9]Dutch: [ˌrɔtərˈdɑm]) is a city in South Holland, the Netherlands, located geographically within the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt river delta at the North Sea. Its history goes back to 1270 when a dam was constructed in the Rotte river and people settled around it for safety. In 1340 Rotterdam was granted city rights by the Count of Holland[10] and slowly grew into a major logistic and economic centre. Nowadays it is home to the Europe’s largest port and has a population of 624,799 (2014, city proper), ranking second in the Netherlands. The Greater Rotterdam area is home to approximately 1.3 million people[citation needed] and the Rotterdam The Hague Metropolitan Area area makes for the 168th most populous urban area in the world. Rotterdam is part of the yet larger Randstad conurbation with a total population of 7,100,000.

The city of Rotterdam is known for the Erasmus university, striking riverside setting, lively cultural life and its maritime heritage. The near-complete destruction of Rotterdam’s city centre during WW2 (known as the Rotterdam Blitz) has resulted in a varied architectural landscape including sky-scrapers, which are an uncommon sight in other Dutch cities. Rotterdam is home to some world-famous architecture from renowned architects like Rem Koolhaas, Piet Blom, Ben van Berkel and others. Recently Rotterdam was listed 8th in The Rough Guide Top 10 Cities to Visit[11] and was voted 2015 European City of the Year by the Academy of Urbanism.[12]

The port of Rotterdam is the largest cargo port in Europe and the 10th largest in the world. Rotterdam’s logistic success is based on its strategic location on the North Sea, directly at the mouth of the Nieuwe Maas (New Meuse) channel leading into the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta. The rivers Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt give waterway access into the hearth of Western Europe, including the highly industrialized Ruhr region. The extensive distribution system including rail, roads and waterways have earned Rotterdam the nickname “Gateway to Europe”, and, conversely; “Gateway to the World” in Europe.[13][14][15]


Map of Rotterdam by Willem and Joan Blaeu (1652)

The settlement at the lower end of the fen stream Rotte (or Rotta, as it was then known, from rot, ‘muddy’ and a, ‘water’, thus ‘muddy water’) dates from at least 900 CE. Around 1150, large floods in the area ended development, leading to the construction of protective dikes and dams, including Schielands Hoge Zeedijk (‘Schieland’s High Sea Dike’) along the northern banks of the present-day Nieuwe Maas. A dam on the Rotte or ‘Rotterdam’ was built in the 1260s and was located at the present-day Hoogstraat (‘High Street’).

On 7 July 1340, Count Willem IV of Holland granted city rights to Rotterdam, which then had approximately 2,000 inhabitants. Around the year 1350, a shipping canal, the Rotterdamse Schie was completed, which provided Rotterdam access to the larger towns in the north, allowing it to become a local trans-shipment centre between the Netherlands, England and Germany, and to urbanize.

The Delftsevaart in c. 1890–1905

The port of Rotterdam grew slowly but steadily into a port of importance, becoming the seat of one of the six ‘chambers’ of the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC), the Dutch East India Company.

The greatest spurt of growth, both in port activity and population, followed the completion of the Nieuwe Waterweg in 1872. The city and harbor started to expand on the south bank of the river. The Witte Huis or White House skyscraper,[16] inspired by American office buildings and built in 1898 in the French Chateau-style, is evidence of Rotterdam’s rapid growth and success. When completed, it was the tallest office building in Europe, with a height of 45 m (147.64 ft).

Rotterdam centre after the 1940 bombing of Rotterdam. The ruined St. Lawrence’ Church has been restored

Tower blocks in the Kop van Zuid neighbourhood

During World War I the city was the world’s largest spy centre because of Dutch neutrality and its location in between England, Germany and occupied Belgium.[17]

During World War II, the German army invaded the Netherlands on 10 May 1940. Adolf Hitler had hoped to conquer the country in just one day, but his forces met unexpectedly fierce resistance. The Dutch army was finally forced to capitulate on 15 May 1940, following Hitler’s bombing Rotterdam on 14 May and threatening to bomb other Dutch cities. The heart of Rotterdam was almost completely destroyed by the Luftwaffe. Some 80,000 civilians were made homeless and 900 were killed; a relatively low number given that many had fled the city because of the warfare and bombing going on in Rotterdam since the start of the invasion three days earlier. The City Hall survived the bombing. Ossip Zadkine later attempted to capture the event with his statue De Verwoeste Stad (‘The Destroyed City’). The statue stands near the Leuvehaven, not far from the Erasmusbrug in the centre of the city, on the north shore of the river Nieuwe Maas.

Rotterdam was gradually rebuilt from the 1950s through to the 1970s. It remained quite windy and open until the city councils from the 1980s on began developing an active architectural policy. Daring and new styles of apartments, office buildings and recreation facilities resulted in a more ‘livable‘ city centre with a new skyline. In the 1990s, the Kop van Zuid was built on the south bank of the river as a new business centre. Rotterdam was voted 2015 European City of the Year by the Academy of Urbanism.[18]


Topographic map image of Rotterdam (city), as of Sept. 2014

‘Rotterdam’ is divided into a northern and a southern part by the river Nieuwe Maas, connected by (from west to east): the Beneluxtunnel; the Maastunnel; the Erasmusbrug (‘Erasmus Bridge’); a subway tunnel; the Willemsspoortunnel (‘Willems railway tunnel’); the Willemsbrug (‘Willems Bridge’); the Koninginnebrug (‘Queen’s Bridge’); and the Van Brienenoordbrug (‘Van Brienenoord Bridge’). The former railway lift bridge De Hef (‘the Lift’) is preserved as a monument in lifted position between the Noordereiland (‘North Island’) and the south of Rotterdam.

The city centre is located on the northern bank of the Nieuwe Maas, although recent urban development has extended the centre to parts of southern Rotterdam known as De Kop van Zuid (‘the Head of South’, i.e. the northern part of southern Rotterdam). From its inland core, Rotterdam reaches the North Sea by a swathe of predominantly harbour area.

Built mostly behind dikes, large parts of the Rotterdam are below sea level. For instance, the Prins Alexander Polder in the northeast of Rotterdam extends 6 metres (20 ft) below sea level, or rather below Normaal Amsterdams Peil (NAP) or ‘Amsterdam Ordnance Datum’. The lowest point in the Netherlands (6.76 metres (22.2 ft) below NAP) is situated just to the east of Rotterdam, in the municipality of Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel.

Satellite image of Rotterdam and its port

The Rotte river no longer joins the Nieuwe Maas directly. Since the early 1980s, when the construction of Rotterdam’s second subway line interfered with the Rotte’s course, its waters have been pumped through a pipe into the Nieuwe Maas via the Boerengat.

The 24 municipalities of the Rotterdam The Hague Metropolitan Area

Between the summers of 2003 and 2008, an artificial beach was created at the Boompjeskade along the Nieuwe Maas, between the Erasmus Bridge and the Willems Bridge. Swimming was not possible, digging pits was limited to the height of the layer of sand, about 50 cm (20 in). Alternatively people go the beach of Hoek van Holland (which is a Rotterdam district) or one of the beaches in Zeeland: Renesse or the Zuid Hollandse Eilanden: Ouddorp, Oostvoorne.

Rotterdam forms the centre of the Rijnmond conurbation, bordering the conurbation surrounding The Hague to the north-west. The two conurbations are close enough to be a single conurbation. They share the Rotterdam The Hague Airport and a light rail system called RandstadRail. Consideration is being given to creating an official Metropolitan region Rotterdam The Hague (Metropoolregio Rotterdam Den Haag), which would have a combined population approaching 2.5 million.

On its turn, the Rijnmond conurbation is part of the southern wing (the Zuidvleugel) of the Randstad, which is one of the most important economic and densely populated areas in the north-west of Europe. Having a population of 7.1 million, the Randstad is the sixth-largest metropolitan area in Europe (after Moscow, London, the Ruhr Area, Istanbul, and Paris). The Zuidvleugel, situated in the province of South Holland, has a population of around 3 million.


Rotterdam experiences a temperate oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) similar to almost all of the Netherlands. Located near to the coast, its climate is slightly milder than locations further inland.

Climate data for Rotterdam The Hague Airport
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.1













Average high °C (°F) 6.0













Daily mean °C (°F) 3.6













Average low °C (°F) 0.8













Record low °C (°F) −17.1













Average precipitation mm (inches) 69.1













Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 12 10 12 9 9 10 10 10 12 12 13 13 132
Avg. snowy days 6 5 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 4 23
Average relative humidity (%) 88 85 83 78 77 79 79 80 84 86 89 89 83.1
Mean monthly sunshine hours 62.5 83.8 124.0 174.9 213.9 203.6 213.1 196.6 137.6 106.9 60.4 46.7 1,623.8
Source #1: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (1981–2010 normals, snowy days normals for 1971–2000)[19]
Source #2: Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (1971–2000 extremes)[20]


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1796 53,200 —    
1830 72,300 +35.9%
1849 90,100 +24.6%
1879 148,100 +64.4%
1899 318,500 +115.1%
1925 547,900 +72.0%
1965 731,000 +33.4%
1984 555,000 −24.1%
2005 596,407 +7.5%
2006 588,576 −1.3%
2007 584,046 −0.8%
2010 603,425 +3.3%
2011 612,502 +1.5%
2012 617,347 +0.8%
2014 624,799 +1.2%

Overall the demographics differ per city area. According to a recent area analysis, the city centre has a singles population of 70%, between the ages of 20 and 40, considerably more than other city areas. Also the city centre has a much larger population of people with higher education and higher income. Nonetheless, 80% of the homes are rented, not owned. The city centre also has a higher percentage (51% vs 45%) of foreign-born citizens (Dutch: allochtonen). The majority (70%) of shops are also run by foreign-born citizens.[21]


On 1 January 2007 (source: Statistics Netherlands), the municipality covered an area of 319 km2 (206.44 km2 of which is land) with a population of 603,425. It is part of a larger metropolitan area with a total population (including Dordrecht and surrounding cities) of approximately 1.6 million. In 1965, the municipal population of Rotterdam reached its peak of 731,000, but by 1984 it had decreased to 555,000 as a result of suburbanization.

Rotterdam consists of 14 submunicipalities: Centrum (‘Center’), Charlois (including Heijplaat), Delfshaven, Feijenoord, Hillegersberg-Schiebroek, Hoek van Holland, Hoogvliet, IJsselmonde, Kralingen-Crooswijk, Noord, Overschie, Prins Alexander (the most populous submunicipality with around 85,000 inhabitants), and Rozenburg. One other area, Pernis, does have an official submunicipality status since 3 March 2010.

The current size of the municipality of Rotterdam is the result of the amalgamation of the following former municipalities,[22] some of which now are a submunicipality:

Ethnic make-up

The ethnic origin of the population, based on 2013 data:

In the Netherlands, Rotterdam has the highest percentage of foreigners from non-industrialised nations. They form a large part of Rotterdam’s multi ethnic and multicultural diversity. 47.7% of the population are of non Dutch origins or have at least one parent born outside the country. There are 80,000 Muslims, constituting 13% of the population.[23] The mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, is of Moroccan descent and is a practicing Muslim. The city is home to the largest Dutch Antillean community. The city also has its own China Town at the (West-) Kruiskade, close to the central railway station.


Gebouw Delftse Poort, one of the tallest office buildings in the Netherlands

Rotterdam has always been one of the main centres of the shipping industry in the Netherlands. From the Rotterdam Chamber of the VOC, the world’s first multinational, established in 1602, to the merchant shipping leader Royal Nedlloyd established in 1970, with its corporate headquarters located in the landmark building the ‘Willemswerf’ in 1988.[citation needed] In 1997, Nedlloyd merged with the British shipping industry leader P&O forming the third largest merchant shipping company in the world. The Anglo-Dutch P&O Nedlloyd was bought by the Danish giant corporation ‘AP Moller Maersk‘ in 2005 and its Dutch operations are still headquartered in the ‘Willemswerf’.

Nowadays, well-known companies with headquarters in Rotterdam are consumers goods company Unilever, asset management firm Robeco, energy company Eneco, dredging company Van Oord, oil company Shell Downstream, terminal operator Vopak and commodity trading company Vitol. It is also home to the regional headquarters of chemical company LyondellBasell, commodities trading company Glencore, pharmaceutical company Pfizer, logistics companies Stolt-Nielsen, electrical equipment company ABB Group and consumer goods company Procter & Gamble.

The Erasmus University has a strong emphasis on research and education in management and economics. The university is located on the east side of the city and is surrounded by numerous multinational firms. On Brainpark I, Brainpark II, Brainpark III and Het Rivium are located offices of major multinationals.

The City of Rotterdam makes use of the services of semi-government companies Roteb (to take care of sanitation, waste management and assorted services) and the Port of Rotterdam Authority (to maintain the Port of Rotterdam). Both these companies were once municipal bodies, now they are autonomous entities, owned by the City.

Being the largest port and one of the largest cities of the country, Rotterdam attracts many people seeking jobs, especially in the cheap labour segment. The city’s unemployment rate is 8.5%, twice the national average.[24]

Together with Eindhoven (Brainport) and Amsterdam (Airport), Rotterdam (Seaport) forms the foundation of the Dutch economy.[25]


Main article: Port of Rotterdam

The Waalhaven by night

Unmanned vehicles handle containers at Europe Container Terminals (ECT), the largest container terminal operator in Europe.

Rotterdam has the largest port in Europe, with the rivers Meuse and Rhine providing excellent access to the hinterland upstream reaching to Basel, Switzerland and into France. In 2004 Shanghai took over as the world’s busiest port. In 2006, Rotterdam was the world’s seventh largest container port in terms of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) handled.[26]

The port’s main activities are petrochemical industries and general cargo handling and transshipment. The harbour functions as an important transit point for bulk materials and between the European continent and overseas. From Rotterdam goods are transported by ship, river barge, train or road. In 2007, the Betuweroute, a new fast freight railway from Rotterdam to Germany, was completed.

In 1872, the Nieuwe Waterweg (‘New Waterway’) opened, a ship canal constructed to keep the city and port of Rotterdam accessible to seafaring vessels as the natural Meuse-Rhine channels silted up. The canal proper measures approximately 6.5 kilometres (4.0 mi) from the western tips of its protruding dams to the Maeslantkering (‘Maeslant Barrier’). Many maps, however, include the Scheur as part of the Nieuwe Waterweg, leading to a length of approximately 19.5 kilometres (12.1 mi).

In the first half of the twentieth century, the port’s center of gravity shifted westward towards the North Sea. Covering 105 square kilometres (41 sq mi), the port of Rotterdam now stretches over a distance of 40 kilometres (25 mi). It consists of the city center’s historic harbor area, including Delfshaven; the Lloydkwartier; the Maashaven/Rijnhaven/Feijenoord complex; the harbors around Nieuw-Mathenesse; Waalhaven; Vondelingenplaat; Eemhaven; Botlek; Europoort, situated along the Calandkanaal, Nieuwe Waterweg and Scheur (the latter two being continuations of the Nieuwe Maas); and the reclaimed Maasvlakte area, which projects into the North Sea.

The construction of a second Maasvlakte received initial political approval in 2004, but was stopped by the Raad van State (the Dutch Council of State, which advises the government and parliament on legislation and governance) in 2005, because the plans did not take enough account of environmental issues.[citation needed] On 10 October 2006, however, approval was acquired to start construction in 2008, aiming for the first ship to anchor in 2013.[citation needed]


Well-known streets in Rotterdam are the shopping center the Lijnbaan (the first set of pedestrian streets of the country, opened in 1953), the Hoogstraat, the Coolsingel with the city hall, and the Weena, which runs from the Central Station to the Hofplein (square). A modern shopping venue is the Beurstraverse (“Stock Exchange Traverse”), better known by its informal name ‘Koopgoot‘ (‘Buying/Shopping Gutter’, after its subterranean position), which crosses the Coolsingel below street level). The Kruiskade is a more upscale shopping street, with retailers like Michael Kors, 7 For All Mankind, Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger and the Dutch well known men’s clothier Oger. Another upscale shopping venue is a flagship store of De Bijenkorf. Located a little more to the east is the Market Hall, with lots of small retailers inside. This hall is also one of Rotterdam’s famous architectural landmarks.

The main shopping venue in the south of Rotterdam is Zuidplein, which lies close to Ahoy’ Rotterdam, an accommodation center for shows, exhibitions, sporting events, concerts and congresses. Another prominent shopping center, called Alexandrium (sometimes still called by its former name Oosterhof), lies in the east of Rotterdam. It includes a large kitchen and furniture center.


Bronze statue of Erasmus created by Hendrick de Keyser in 1622

Rotterdam has one major university, the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), named after one of the city’s famous former inhabitants, Desiderius Erasmus. The Woudestein campus houses (among others) Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. In Financial Times’ 2005 rankings it placed 29th globally and 7th in Europe. In the 2009 rankings of Masters of Management, the school reached first place with the CEMS Master in Management and a tenth place with its RSM Master in Management.[27] The university is also home to Europe’s largest student association, STAR Study Association Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the world’s largest student association, AIESEC, has its international office in the city.

The Willem de Kooning Academy Rotterdam’s main art school, which is part of the Hogeschool Rotterdam. It is regarded as one of the most prestigious art schools in the Netherlands and the number 1 in Advertising and Copywriting. Part of the Willem de Kooning Academy is the Piet Zwart Institute for postgraduate studies and research in Fine Art, Media Design and Retail Design. The Piet Zwart Institute boasts a selective roster of emerging international artists.

The Hoboken campus of EUR houses the Dijkzigt (general) hospital, the Sophia Hospital (for children) and the Medical Department of the University. These are known collectively as the Erasmus Medical Center, which is ranked third worldwide for medical research,[citation needed] behind the Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University. The Erasmus Medical Center ranks as the top European institution in clinical medicine[28] according to the Times Higher Education rankings. As a combined medical treatment and research center it is particularly noted for its patient cohort studies in which large numbers of patients are followed for long periods of time.[citation needed]

There are also three Hogescholen (Universities of applied sciences) in Rotterdam. These schools award their students a professional Bachelor’s degree and postgraduate or Master’s degree. The three Hogescholen are Hogeschool Rotterdam, Hogeschool INHOLLAND and Hogeschool voor Muziek en Dans (uni for music and dance) which is also known as CodArts.

As there are many international and American schools scattered across Europe such as ASH (American International School of the Hague) Rotterdam also has its own international/American school by the name AISR (American International School of Rotterdam). At AISR children receive a multicultural education in a culturally diverse community and it offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program.

Unique to the city is the Shipping & Transport College which offers masters, bachelors and vocational diplomas on all levels.


Rotterdam waterfront, with spotlights shining into the air to commemorate the Rotterdam Blitz

Alongside Porto, Rotterdam was European Capital of Culture in 2001. The city has its own orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, with its well-regarded young music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin; a large congress and concert building called De Doelen; several theaters (including the new Luxor) and movie theatres; and the Ahoy Rotterdam complex in the south of the city, which is used for pop concerts, exhibitions, tennis tournaments, and other activities. A major zoo called Diergaarde Blijdorp is situated at the northwest side of Rotterdam, complete with a walkthrough sea aquarium called the Oceanium. The city is home to the Willem de Kooning Academy and Piet Zwart Institute.

Rotterdam features some urban architecture projects, nightlife, and many summer festivals celebrating the city’s multicultural population and identity, such as the Caribbean-inspired “Summer Carnival“, the Dance Parade, Rotterdam 666, the Metropolis pop festival and the World Port days. In the years 2005-2011 the city struggled with venues for popmusic.[citation needed] Many of the venues suffered severe financial problems. This resulted in the disappearance of the major music venues Nighttown and WATT and smaller stages such as Waterfront, Exit, and Heidegger. Currently the city has a few venues for pop music like Rotown, Poortgebouw. The venue WORM focuses on experimental music and related cutting edge subcultural music. There are also the International Film Festival in January, the Poetry International Festival in June, the North Sea Jazz Festival in July, the Valery Gergiev Festival in September, September in Rotterdam and the World of the Witte de With. In June 1970, The Holland Pop Festival (which featured Jefferson Airplane, The Byrds, Canned Heat, It’s a Beautiful Day, and Santana) was held and filmed at the Stamping Grounds in Rotterdam.

There is a healthy competition with Amsterdam, which is often viewed as the cultural capital of the Netherlands. There is a saying: “Amsterdam to party, Den Haag (The Hague) to live, Rotterdam to work”. Another one, more popular by Rotterdammers, is “Money is earned in Rotterdam, distributed in The Hague and spent in Amsterdam”. Another saying that reflects both the rivalry between Rotterdam and Amsterdam is “Amsterdam has it, Rotterdam doesn’t need it”.[citation needed]

Rotterdam has had a rich hip hop music scene since the early 1980s.[citation needed] It is also the home of Gabber, a type of hardcore electronic music popular in the mid-1990s, with hard beats and samples. Groups like Neophyte and Rotterdam Terror Corps (RTC) started in Rotterdam.

The main cultural organisations in Amsterdam, such as the Concertgebouw and Holland Festival, have joint forces with similar organisations in Rotterdam, via A’R’dam. In 2007 these organisations published with plans for co-operation.[29] One of the goals is to strengthen the international position of culture and art in the Netherlands in the international context.


Rotterdam has many museums. Well known museums are the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, the Netherlands Architecture Institute, the Wereldmuseum, the Kunsthal, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art[30] and the Maritime Museum Rotterdam.[31] The Historisch Museum [1](Historical museum) has two buildings: the Dubbelde Palmboom and the Schielandshuis.

Other museums include the tax museum and the nature historical museum. At the historical shipyard and museum Scheepswerf ‘De Delft’ the reconstruction of ship of the line Delft can be visited.[32]

Architecture and skyline

The former headquarters of the Holland America Line next to modern residential architecture in 2010

In 1898, the 45 meter high-rise office building the White House (in Dutch Witte Huis) was completed, at that time the tallest office building in Europe. In the first decades of the 20th century, some influential architecture in the modern style was built in Rotterdam. Notable are the Van Nelle fabriek (1929) a monument of modern factory design by Brinkman en Van der Vlugt, the Jugendstil clubhouse of the Royal Maas Yacht Club designed by Hooijkaas jr. en Brinkman (1909), and Feyenoord‘s football stadium De Kuip (1936) also by Brinkman en Van der Vlugt. The architect J. J. P. Oud was a famous Rotterdammer in those days. The Van Nelle Factory has since 2014 the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the early stages of World War II the center of Rotterdam was bombed by the Germans, destroying many of the older buildings in the center of the city. After initial crisis re-construction the center of Rotterdam has become the site of ambitious new architecture.

Rotterdam is also famous for its Lijnbaan 1952 by architects Broek en Bakema, Peperklip by architect Carel Weeber, Kubuswoningen or cube houses designed by architect Piet Blom 1984.

The Cube Houses in 2011

The newest landmark in Rotterdam is the Market Hall, designed by architect firm MVRDV. In addition to that there are many international well known architects based in Rotterdam like O.M.A (Rem Koolhaas), Neutelings & Riedijk and Erick van Egeraat to name a few. Two architectural landmarks are located in the Lloydkwartier: the STC college building and the Schiecentrale 4b.

The Market Hall as seen from the Binnenrotte, Rotterdam center.

Rotterdam also houses several of the tallest structures in the Netherlands.

  • The Erasmusbrug (1996) is a 790-meter (2,600 ft) cable stayed bridge linking the north and south of Rotterdam. It is held up by a 138 metres (453 ft) tall pylon with a characteristic bend, earning the bridge its nickname ‘De Zwaan’ (‘the Swan’).
  • Rotterdam has the tallest residential building in the Netherlands: the New Orleans Tower (158.35 metres (519.5 ft)).
  • Rotterdam is also home to the tallest office building ‘Maastoren‘ (164.75 m or 540.5 ft) which houses Deloitte. This office tower surpassed the ‘Delftse Poort’ (160 m or 520 ft) which houses Nationale-Nederlanden insurance company, part of ING Group as tallest office tower in 2009.[33][34][35]
  • The city also houses the 186 metres (610 ft) tall Euromast, which has long been a major tourist attraction. It was built in 1960, initially reaching a height of 101 metres (331 ft); in 1970, the Euromast was extended by 85 metres (279 ft) to its current height.

The Euromast in 2005.

Rotterdam has a reputation in being a platform for architectural development and education through the Berlage Institute, a postgraduate laboratory of architecture, and the NAi (Netherlands Architecture Institute), which is open to the public and has a variety of good exhibitions on architecture and urban planning issues.

Rotterdam is standing in the best European SkylineTop together with Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Paris, Warsaw and Moscow. Over 30 new highrise projects are being developed at the moment.

Highrise buildings that are currently being built:

  • First Rotterdam,[36] a large building with a height of 130 metres at Weena. It is expected to be completed in 2015.
  • Boston & Seattle,[37] two buildings with a height of 70 metres each are being built at Kop van Zuid. They are expected to be completed in 2017.


Rotterdam calls itself Sportstad (City of Sports). The city annually organises several world renowned sporting events. Some examples are the Rotterdam Marathon, the World Port Tournament, and the Rotterdam World Tennis Tournament. Rotterdam also organises one race of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship and the car racing event Monaco aan de Maas (Monaco at the Meuse).

The city is also the home of many sports clubs and some historic and iconic athletes.


Robin van Persie, who now plays for Manchester United, began his career with SBV Excelsior.

De Kuip, Feyenoord home stadium.

Rotterdam is the home of three professional football clubs, being first tier clubs Feyenoord and Excelsior and second tier club Sparta.

Feyenoord, founded in 1908 and the dominant of the three professional clubs, has won fourteen national titles since the introduction of professional football in the Netherlands. It won the European Cup (current Champions league) as the first Dutch club in 1970, and won the World Cup for club teams in the same year. In 1974, they were the first Dutch club to win the UEFA Cup and in 2002, Feyenoord won the UEFA Cup again. In 2008, the year of their 100-year-anniversary, Feyenoord won the KNVB-cup.

Seating 51,480, its 1931 stadium, called Stadion Feijenoord but popularly known as De Kuip (‘the Tub’), is the second largest in the country, after the Amsterdam ArenA. De Kuip, located in the southeast of the city, has hosted many international football games, including the final of Euro 2000 and has been awarded a FIFA 5 star ranking. There are concrete plans to build a new stadium with a capacity of at least 80,000 seats.

Sparta, founded in 1888 and situated in the northwest of Rotterdam, won the national title six times; Excelsior (founded 1902), in the northeast, has never won any.

Rotterdam also has three fourth tier clubs, SC Feijenoord (Feyenoord Amateurs), PVV DOTO and TOGR. Rotterdam is and has been the home to many great football players and coaches, among whom:


Runners during the marathon in Rotterdam

Rotterdam has its own annual international marathon, which offers one of the fastest courses in the world. From 1985 until 1998, the world record was set in Rotterdam, first by Carlos Lopes and later in 1988 by Belayneh Densamo.

In 1998, the world record for women was set by Tegla Loroupe, in a time of 2:20.47. Loroupe won the Rotterdam Marathon three consecutive times, from 1997 to 1999.

The current track record for men is held by Duncan Kibet, who ran a time of 2:04.27 in 2009. The female record was set in 2012, when Tiki Gelana finished the race in 2:18.58. Gelana went on to become the 2012 Olympic champion in London, a few months later.

The marathon starts and ends on the Coolsingel in the heart of Rotterdam. It attracts a total of 900.000 visitors.


Since 1972, Rotterdam hosts the indoor hard court ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, part of the ATP Tour. The event was first organised in 1972, when it was won by Arthur Ashe. Ashe went on to win the tournament two more times, making him the singles title record holder.

Former Wimbledon winner Richard Krajicek became the tournament director after his retirement in 2000. The latest edition of the tournament attracted a total of 116.354 visitors.[38]

Tour De France 2010

In November 2008 Rotterdam was chosen as the host of the Grand Départ of the 2010 Tour de France. Rotterdam won the selection over the Dutch city of Utrecht. Germany’s Düsseldorf had previously also expressed interest in hosting. The Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), organizer of the Tour de France, said in a statement on its web site that it chose Rotterdam because, in addition to it being another big city, like London, to showcase the use of bikes for urban transportation, it provided a location well positioned considering the rest of the route envisioned for the 2010 event.

The start in Rotterdam was the fifth in the Netherlands. The prologue was a 7 km (4.35 mi) individual time trial crossing the centre of the city. The first regular stage left the Erasmusbrug and went south, towards Brussels.


Members of the student rowing club Skadi were part of the ‘Holland Acht‘, winning a gold medal at the Olympics in 1996.[citation needed]

Field Hockey

In field hockey, Rotterdam has the largest hockey club in the Netherlands, HC Rotterdam, with its own stadium in the north of the city and nearly 2,400 members. The first men’s and women’s teams both play on the highest level in the Dutch Hoofdklasse.


Rotterdam is home to the most successful European baseball team, Neptunus Rotterdam, winning the most European Cups.


Rotterdam has a long boxing tradition starting with Bep van Klaveren (1907–1992), aka ‘The Dutch Windmill’, Gold medal winner of the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, followed by professional boxers like Regilio Tuur and Don Diego Poeder.


Rotterdam’s swimming tradition started with Marie Braun aka Zus (sister) Braun, who was coached to a Gold medal at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics by her mother Ma Braun, and 3 European titles 3 years later in Paris. In her career as 14 time national champ, she broke 6 world records. Ma Braun later also coached the Rotterdam born, three-times Olympic champion Rie Mastenbroek during the Berlin Olympics in 1936. In later years Inge de Bruijn became a Rotterdam sport icon as triple Olympic Gold medal winner in 2000 and triple European Gold medal winner in 2001.

Motor cycle racing

Motor cycle speedway was staged in the Feyenoord Stadium after the second world war. The team which raced in a Dutch league was known as the Feyenoord Tigers. The team included Dutch riders and some English and Australian riders.

Sportsmen of the year election

Since 1986, the city has selected its best sportsman, woman and team at the Rotterdam Sports Awards Election, held in December.

Other famous Rotterdam athletes

  • Mia Audina, a retired Indonesia born badminton player, living in Rotterdam.
  • Nelli Cooman, a Surinamese born retired athlete who held the 60 meter dash world record, and was the world and European champion in that event.
  • Robert Doornbos, a Rotterdam born race car driver, who competed in the Formula One.
  • Robert Eenhoorn, a Rotterdam born retired MLB short stop, who competed for the New York Yankees, the Anaheim Angels and the New York Mets.
  • Dex Elmont, a Rotterdam born judoka, who finished second in the European championships in 2009 in the 65 to 73 kg (143 to 161 lb) division.
  • Guillaume Elmont, a Rotterdam born judoka, who became world champion in 2005 in the 73 to 81 kg (161 to 179 lb) division.
  • Francisco Elson, a Rotterdam born basketball player who played in the NBA, won the NBA finals in 2007 with the San Antonio Spurs.
  • Ignisious Gaisah, a Ghanaian born long jumper with a personal best of 8.43 metres, residing in Rotterdam since 2001. Gaisah is a multiple medal winner in several international events, both as a citizen of Ghana and the Netherlands.
  • Francis Hoenselaar, a Rotterdam born female darts player, generally recognised as the best Dutch female darts player ever.
  • Robert Lathouwers, an athlete born in a Rotterdam suburb, specialised in the 800 meters. Lathouwers gained international notoriety when he got disqualified after shoving Irish athlete David McCarthy in the 2010 European Championships.
  • Fatima Moreira de Melo, a Rotterdam born, three-times olympic champion in field hockey. Moreira de Melo currently is a professional poker player.
  • Piet Roozenburg, a Rotterdam born draughts player, who was the world champion from 1948 to 1956 and the 8-time Dutch champion.
  • Betty Stöve, a Rotterdam born retired female tennis double specialist and 10-time Grand Slam winner.
  • Ingmar Vos, a Rotterdam born decathlete, with a personal best of 8224 points.

Yearly events

Rotterdam hosts several annual events unique to the city. It hosts the Zomercarnaval (Summercarnaval), the second largest Caribbean carnival in Europe, originally called the Antillean carnival. Other events include: North Sea Jazz Festival, the largest Jazz festival in Europe, Bavaria City Race, a Formula 1 race inside the city center and a 3 day long maritime extravaganza called the World Port Days celebrating the Port of Rotterdam.


Rotterdam is well connected by international, national, regional and local public transport systems, as well as by the Dutch motorway network.


There are several motorways which run to/from Rotterdam. The following four are part of its ‘Ring’ (ring road):

The following two other motorways also serve Rotterdam:


Much smaller than the international hub Schiphol Airport, Rotterdam The Hague Airport (formerly known as Zestienhoven) is the third largest airport in the country, behind Schiphol Airport and Eindhoven Airport. Located north of the city, it has shown a very strong growth over the past five years, mostly caused by the growth of the low-cost carrier market. For business travelers Rotterdam The Hague Airport offers advantages due to rapid handling of passengers and baggage. Environmental regulations make further growth uncertain.


Rotterdam’s new Central Station reopened in March 2014, designed to handle up to 320,000 passengers daily.

Rotterdam is well connected to the Dutch railway network, and has several international connections:

Railway stations

The main connections:

  • Direct international services to Belgium and France via high speed train system: Thalys
  • Frequent international trains to Antwerp and Brussels, Belgium
  • Frequent services within the Netherlands:
    • Intercity line to The Hague, Leiden, Schiphol airport and Amsterdam (north)
    • Intercity line to Utrecht and on to Deventer or Enschede (the east), Leeuwarden (north-west) or Groningen (north-east)
    • Intercity line to Dordrecht, Roosendaal and on to Vlissingen (south west)
    • Intercity line to Dordrecht, Breda, Tilburg, Eindhoven and Venlo (south east)
    • Night services every hour connecting every day of the week to Delft, The Hague, Leiden, Schiphol airport, Amsterdam, and, with a detour, Utrecht. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday night services (either direct or via a detour) to Den Bosch, Eindhoven, Tilburg, Roosendaal.
    • Several semi-fast services and local trains originate or call at Rotterdam Centraal; semi-fast services Amsterdam-Breda.
  • Detailed information available from the site of the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways)[45]

In Rotterdam, public transport services are provided by these companies:

  • NS (Dutch Railways) ; Train services
  • RET (Rotterdam Elektrische Tram); Tram, city-bus, metro, randstadrail and ferry-services in Rotterdam and surrounding cities.
  • Arriva Netherlands ; Province bus services.
  • Connexxion ; Province bus services.
  • Veolia ; Province bus services.


Main article: Rotterdam Metro

In 1968 Rotterdam was the first Dutch city to open a metro system. Currently the metro system consists of three main lines, each of which has its own variants. The system has 78.3 km (48.7 mi) of railtracks and there are 62 stations. The system is operated by 5 lines; 3 lines (A, B and C) on the east-west line, and two (D and E) on the north-south line.

Map of Rotterdam Metro

Line Southern / western terminus Northern / eastern terminus
Line A Schiedam Centrum Binnenhof
Line B Schiedam Centrum Nesselande
Line C De Akkers De Terp
Line D De Akkers Rotterdam Centraal
Line E Slinge Den Haag Centraal

Rotterdam metro


Main article: Trams in Rotterdam

The Rotterdam tramway network offers 9 regular tram lines and 4 “special” tram lines with a total length of 93.4 km (58.0 mi). Service Tramlines in Rotterdam as of 2013:

  • 2: (Rotterdam) Charlois – Rotterdam Lombardijen NS – (Rotterdam) Groene Tuin (Drives only at the Southern part of the city)
  • 4: (Rotterdam) Molenlaan – Rotterdam CS – (Rotterdam) Spangen
  • 7: (Rotterdam) Woudestein – Rotterdam CS – (Rotterdam) Willemsplein
  • 8: (Rotterdam) Spangen – Rotterdam CS – (Rotterdam) Kleiweg
  • 20: Rotterdam CS – Rotterdam Lombardijen NS – (Rotterdam) Thialf
  • 21: (Schiedam) Woudhoek – Station Schiedam Centrum – Rotterdam CS – (Rotterdam) De Esch
  • 23: (Rotterdam) Marconiplein – Rotterdam CS – (Rotterdam) Beverwaard
  • 24: (Vlaardingen) Holy – Station Schiedam Centrum – Rotterdam CS – (Rotterdam) De Esch
  • 25: (Rotterdam) Schiebroek – Rotterdam CS – (Barendrecht) Carnisselande

A Citadis tram outside the former Rotterdam Centraal, 2008

Special tram lines:

  • 10: Historical tram line, only runs in summer and throughout the whole city for tourist information. Using historical Rotterdam Trams from the year 1928.
  • 18: Tramline from Rotterdam Central Station towards Park, runs only at the Dunya Festival and during the Rotterdam World Port Days.
  • 12: CS – De Kuip (English: The Tub, Feyenoord stadium) or CS – Het Kasteel (English:The Castle, Sparta Stadium). Football- tramline, only for big fixtures at De Kuip or Het Kasteel.
  • Snert-tram: Historical tram, only in winter as a tourist tram through Rotterdam. Passengers are provided with a cup of “snert”; Rotterdam dialect for erwtensoep (English: Pea-soup). Rolling stock is a historical Rotterdam tram from 1968.
  • IJsjes-tram: Summer version of the snert tram, providing tourists with ijsjes rather than snert (English: ice cream).

Water Taxi in Rotterdam


Rotterdam offers 33 city bus lines with a total length of 432.7 km (268.9 mi).

RET runs buses in the city of Rotterdam and surrounding places like Spijkenisse, Barendrecht, Ridderkerk, Rhoon, Poortugaal, Schiedam, Vlaardingen, Delft and Cappele a/d. IJssel. .

Arriva Netherlands, Connexxion and Veolia runs busses from other cities to Rotterdam.

Water bus

Every half hour a water bus (Waterbus route 1) goes from Rotterdam to Dordrecht and vice versa. The trip takes an hour, inclusive stops along the way. The ferry can carry about 130 passengers and there is space for 60 bicycles. The stops are:

International relations

Rotterdam has city and port connections throughout the world. In 2008, the city had 13 sister cities, 12 partner cities, and 4 sister ports.[46]

Sister cities

Partner cities

Sister ports

Places named after Rotterdam

In popular culture

Rotterdam features in Edgar Allan Poe‘s short story ‘The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall’ (1835), as well as J.T. Sheridan Le Fanu‘s ‘Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter’ (1839).

Part of Jackie Chan‘s 1998 film ‘Who am I?‘ is set in Rotterdam.

Ender’s Shadow, part of the series Ender’s Game is partially set in Rotterdam.

In season 1, episode 2 of The Golden Girls (“Guess Who’s Coming to the Wedding?”), Dorothy reminisces how her ex-husband, Stan, would buy her tulips after they had a fight. “Towards the end, our house looked like Easter in Rotterdam.”

The British band The Beautiful South recorded a song named after this region.

Notable residents


  1. ^ “College van b en w” [Board of mayor and aldermen] (in Dutch). Gemeente Rotterdam. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  2. ^ “Kerncijfers wijken en buurten” [Key figures for neighbourhoods]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 2 July 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Anita Bouman–Eijs; Thijmen van Bree; Wouter Jonkhoff; Olaf Koops; Walter Manshanden; Elmer Rietveld (17 December 2012). De Top 20 van Europese grootstedelijke regio’s 1995–2011; Randstad Holland in internationaal perspectief [Top 20 of European metropolitan regions 1995–2011; Randstad Holland compared internationally] (PDF) (Technical report) (in Dutch). Delft: TNO. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  4. ^ “Postcodetool for 3011AD”. Actueel Hoogtebestand Nederland (in Dutch). Het Waterschapshuis. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  5. ^ “Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand” [Population growth; regions per month]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 26 June 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  6. ^ “Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand” [Population growth; regions per month]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 26 June 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  7. ^ “Over de Metropoolregio Rotterdam Den Haag”. 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2014. De Metropoolregio Rotterdam Den Haag is het gebied dat nu de huidige stadregio’s Rotterdam en Haaglanden omvat. Binnen dat gebied gaan de 24 gemeenten hun krachten bundelen in het samenwerkingsverband Metropoolregio Rotterdam Den Haag om de internationale concurrentiepositie van de regio te versterken. De Metropoolregio regio heeft 2,2 miljoen inwoners. 
  8. ^ Wells, John C. (2008), Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.), Longman, ISBN 9781405881180 
  9. ^ Roach, Peter (2011), Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (18th ed.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521152532 
  10. ^ “Geschiedenis van Rotterdam”. Gemeente Rotterdam. March 9, 2015. 
  11. ^ “Top 10 Cities : The Rough Guide to 2014″. Rough Guides. March 9, 2015. 
  12. ^ “Urbanism Awards: Rotterdam takes top prize”. Academy of Urbanism. November 14, 2014. 
  13. ^ Jan Walburg (1 August 1984). The port of Rotterdam: Gateway to Europe. 
  14. ^ Royal van Gorcum (1998). Dutch Culture in a European Perspective: 1950, prosperity and welfare. “Rotterdam port: Gateway to Europe” (p.151) 
  15. ^ European Parliament (2014). Gateway to the World “Gateway to the world: how the EU helped Rotterdam to become Europe’s largest port”. 
  16. ^ “The Witte Huis or White House,”. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  17. ^ Edwin Ruis, Spionnennest 1914-1918 (Meppel 2012)
  18. ^ “Urbanism Awards: Rotterdam takes top prize”. Academy of Urbanism. November 14, 2014. 
  19. ^ “Klimaattabel Rotterdam, langjarige gemiddelden, tijdvak 1981–2010″ (PDF) (in Dutch). Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  20. ^ “Klimaattabel Rotterdam, langjarige extremen, tijdvak 1971–2000″ (PDF) (in Dutch). Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  21. ^ Gebiedsanalyse 2006, Centrumgebied, Gemeente Rotterdam. Page 7 and 9.
  22. ^ Ad van der Meer and Onno Boonstra, Repertorium van Nederlandse gemeenten, KNAW, 2006.
  23. ^ Kim Jansen (2010). Muslims in Rotterdam (PDF) (Report). Open Society Institute. 
  24. ^ “Werkloosheid in Rotterdam KNSexamen: Weblog Inburgering, NT2, examen”. 23 April 2009. Retrieved 12 April 2011. 
  25. ^ “Over Brainport”. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  26. ^ “Home”. Port of Rotterdam. Retrieved 6 May 2009. [dead link]
  27. ^ “Business School Ranking of the Financial Times 2009″. Retrieved 12 April 2011. 
  28. ^ storycode=406694&seq=2&type=T&c=1 “Top European institutions in clinical medicine”. Retrieved 12 April 2011. 
  29. ^ “Concertgebouw and Holland Festival manifesto”. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  30. ^ “Witte de With museum”. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  31. ^ “Maritiem Museum official site”. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  32. ^ “Scheepswerf ‘De Delft’ official site”. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  33. ^ “ING building brief”. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  34. ^ “Sky Scraper City ING site”. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  35. ^ “Emporis Maastoren”. Retrieved 3 April 2010. 
  36. ^ “First Rotterdam”. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  37. ^ “Boston en Seattle woontorens Rotterdam Wilhelminapier”. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  38. ^ Laatste nieuws · 41e ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament
  39. ^ “International Film Festival official website”. Retrieved 15 May 2008. [dead link]
  40. ^ “Rotterdam Marathon official website”. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  41. ^ “KoninginnedagFestival official website”. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  42. ^ “Zomer Carnival official website”. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  43. ^ “Pleinbioscoop official website”. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  44. ^ “World Port Day (Rotterdam) official website (in Dutch and English)”. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  45. ^ “Dutch Railway website”. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  46. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad Rotterdam. Een sterk internationaal merk “ROTTERDAM: EEN STERKINTERNATIONAAL MERK” (PDF) (PDF) (in Dutch). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: City of Rotterdam. 2008. p. 37. Retrieved 2015-03-20. 
  47. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Eric Vrijsen (23 September 2008). “De schaamte voorbij: Gaza als zusterstad”. Elsevier (in Dutch) (Amsterdam, The Netherlands). Retrieved 2014-07-24. 

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The Hague, Netherlands – Travel Guide

The Hague, Netherlands – Travel Guide

Book Cheap Hotel, Apartments, Hostels & BBs in The Hague

The Hague

The Hague Banner.jpg

This article is about The Hague proper. Scheveningen is covered in a separate article.

The Hague [1] (Dutch: Den Haag or ‘s-Gravenhage) is a city in the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. It is the seat of the Dutch parliament and government, and the residence of King Willem-Alexander, but it is not the capital city, which is Amsterdam. The municipality has about 500,000 inhabitants, with the greater urban area numbering about one million. The Hague lies on the North Sea and is home to Scheveningen, the most popular seaside resort of the Netherlands, as well as the smaller resort of Kijkduin.


View of the Binnenhof, the centre of government in The Hague

Internationally, The Hague is often known as the “judicial capital of the world” due to the many international courts that are located in the city. Among these are the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and, since 2004, the International Criminal Court. Beside these institutions, The Hague is home to more than 150 international organizations, as well as many EU institutions, multinational companies and embassies. This gave the city a distinct international character — one that is noticeably different from Amsterdam. Rather than having the many foreign tourists and fortune-seekers attracted by Amsterdam’s reputation for excitement and liberalism, The Hague generally has more expatriates working and living in the city because of the number of international institutions and companies. Because of this, The Hague has a reputation as a wealthy, conservative and somewhat sedate city.

The Hague has very little of the edginess and excitement of Amsterdam; however, it provides well for its inhabitants in different ways, such as large areas of green space, 11 km of coastline, attractive shopping streets and an extensive multicultural scene. Rather than having canals like other Dutch cities, The Hague has streets and avenues that are just a little bit wider than those in the rest of the country, giving the city a more continental feel. Instead of the typical Dutch renaissance 17th-century step-gabled houses, it has 18th-century mansions in baroque and classicist styles. The city is considered by many as the most stately of the country. Just outside the city centre, posh neighbourhoods effuse a more 19th century look with eclectic and art nouveau architecture.

The farther you get from the sea front and the city centre, however, the more neighbourhoods tend to become less well-off. One dividing line between affluent and sketchier areas is drawn by some at Laan van Meerdervoort, which runs parallel to the seaside. Areas away from the sea tend to have much less in the way of green space. An exception to this is one centrally located park, Zuiderpark, which also used to contain the stadium of the local football team ADO Den Haag. Some of its supporters were known as the most notorious hooligans of the country, perpetuating a stereotype of “lower-class” for the inhabitants of that area.

The Hague offers great architecture, from the picturesque government complex of the Binnenhof, to the grand and stately mansions on Lange Voorhout. Museums like the Mauritshuis rank among the best in the country. For food aficionados, The Hague offers some of the country’s best Indonesian cuisine, due to large-scale immigration from this former Dutch colony. The city also offers good opportunities for outings, such as extensive green spaces for walking and bicycling as well as dunes and seaside recreation areas just a few tram stops away from the city centre. The Hague also offers a few attractions especially appealing to children, such as the miniature city of Madurodam and the 360 degree Omniversum cinema.

Over the past 10 years, the city has undergone an extensive amount of development in the form of modern architecture projects. Recent constructions include the City Hall and Central Library by American architect Richard Meier, De “Snoeptrommel” (known by the locals as Candy-Box) – a round shopping centre next to the old town hall, and a collection of post-modern, brick-clad office towers in between the city hall and the Centraal railway station, which provide new housing for a number of ministries. A major infrastructural development has been the construction of an underground tram tunnel underneath Grote Marktstraat, which is used by regular trams, and a new light-rail system, known as RandstadRail, linking The Hague with the neighbouring cities of Zoetermeer and Rotterdam.

A major redevelopment project is currently underway in the area around the Centraal railway station. Here, skyscrapers like the 142 m Hoftoren rise up over the city and several other high-rise towers are currently under construction.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

The Hague shares an airport with Rotterdam. Rotterdam The Hague Airport can be reached from The Hague Central Station by RandstadRail Line E, with an Airport Shuttle to and from Meijersplein Station. However, with several direct trains per hour from the railway stations Hollands Spoor and Centraal, and also with an hourly night train from station Hollands Spoor, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is more frequently used by people travelling to and from The Hague by air.

By train[edit]

The Hague has two main train stations, serving domestic and international routes.

Den Haag Centraal is in the process of being renovated, and is the biggest train station in The Hague. It is within walking distance of the city centre and from Malieveld park.
It has connections to Amsterdam (45 minutes), Schiphol Airport (30 minutes), Utrecht (35 minutes), Groningen (2 and 1/2 hours) and many other cities throughout the Randstad and the Netherlands. You can get to Centraal Station from a variety of international destinations such as Cologne, Berlin, Frankfurt, Prague, Moscow, Basel and Copenhagen via the city of Utrecht. Upon arrival, the city centre of The Hague is about a 5 minute walk from the Centraal Station. Leave through the left side entrance (look for the tram station stops) and walk through the glass passageway and straight ahead. You should reach the centre in less than 5 min. Visitors are most likely to use Centraal Station, as it is closer to the centre of town, tourist attractions and shopping. It also has the best local public transport links via tram and bus.

Den Haag HS (Hollands Spoor) is a 20 min walk from Central Station.
It has connections by intercity train to Antwerp and Brussels, as well as domestic connections to Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Amsterdam, Leiden and Delft.
Southbound trains from Den Haag CS always pass through Hollands Spoor. To get to the city centre, walk straight ahead from the main entrance and follow the Stationsweg road through Chinatown, and you will end up right in the middle of town.

Despite its shabby location, there should be no reason to feel less safe here than anywhere else in town. You can use Hollands Spoor is to catch the international trains to Antwerp and Brussels, and also to reach the city when coming from a late night flight into Schiphol or to catch an early morning flight from there. In addition to southbound trains from Centraal, tram lines 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17 also cover the short distance from Centraal Station to Hollands Spoor. Both stations have trains that go to and from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.

By car[edit]

The Hague is connected by toll-free motorways to Amsterdam (A4 and A44), Rotterdam (A13) and Utrecht (A12). Access to the centre is through the A12 motorway that penetrates the city centre, like a needle, and ends on a large traffic junction just north of the historic centre. Approaching and leaving the city from any of these motorways can take a long time during the morning and evening rush hours. On hot summer days, hundreds of thousands of people try to reach Scheveningen beach by car, and huge traffic jams of up to 50 km long may occur, causing traffic delays of up to several hours. On such days, consider taking public transportation. A park and ride facility, P+R Hoornwijck, opened in 2008 on the Laan van Hoornwijck by the Ypenburg interchange. Motorists can easily reach it from the A4 (Exit 9) and A13 (Exit 7).

By boat[edit]

Regular ferries sail from Harwich to Hook of Holland. If you bring bicycles (small charge or free), there is a traffic free cycle route all the way to the Hague, an easy ride of under an hour and a half. Public transport options also exist.

Get around[edit]

By tram or bus[edit]

The Hague has an efficient city wide system of light rail (called RandstadRail), trams and buses, running mostly on free tracks allowing for a fairly speedy ride. HTM [2] runs the public transport system in The Hague and some of the surrounding area. Rotterdam-based RET [3] runs a Randstadrail line between The Hague and Rotterdam, through various suburbs. Veolia [4] runs regional bus services to the areas surrounding The Hague.

Centraal Station has easy access to trams on the south side (Rijnstraat), but the main lines (Randstadrail 2, 3 and 4, tram 6) stop on platforms crossing the main station hall at level 1. You can find buses on the bus platform above the railway tracks. Central Station is currently finishing up a major reconstruction work that may make some connections hard to find. Just ask at the information kiosk at the centre of the station. Hollands Spoor has trams and buses stopping in the front of its main entrance.


If you use the public transport, you will need a valid ticket. The strippenkaart is no longer valid. You can travel by “OV Chipkaart“, which is a public transport smart card. This card can be bought at the HTM offices at Central Station (you find the office upstairs at the bus terminal), Hollands Spoor and in Wagenstraat, among other places.

If you get caught without a valid ticket, you will get the opportunity to buy a ticket at a much higher price. This ticket costs € 3,00 as of April 2013 and is valid for 1.5 hours. If you are not able of not wanting to buy this ticket, you will be fined for € 37.40. It is easy to enter trams without having a valid ticket, but it better to be safe than sorry.

By foot[edit]

The Hague’s city centre is fairly compact and you can easily navigate the area on foot. From Centraal Station, it is about a 10 min walk to the Binnenhof and the Hofvijver pond.

By bike[edit]

The Hague’s city centre is fairly compact and if you want to get a good understanding about the Dutch you should travel around by bike. Cheap second hand bikes can be bought at the bicycle garage above central station The Hague C.S. If you want to get a better deal on a bike and don’t mind walking 15 minutes from Central station The Hague, visit the nameless [Javastraat 116, The Hague] second hand bike store (open tuesday – saturday; from 11.00 – 18.00), where bikes are really cheaper and in really good condition.

See[edit][add listing]

A view of the new high-rise buildings near the city centre


The heart of the city contains most of the historic architecture from the medieval, renaissance, and Baroque periods and is easily accessible on foot. You’ll also find lots of outdoor cafes and shopping near the Plein on the Lange Poten or just east of there on the Hofweg.

William of Orange overlooks het Plein (the square)

  • Plein, (southwest from Centraal Station along Herengracht and Korte Poten). This square — Plein simply translates as ‘square’ in English — is one of the most elegant in the centre. Located right next to the Binnenhof, it is lined with historic government buildings on three of its four sides. The north side is lined with bars and cafés, which spill out onto the square in summer. These sidewalk cafés are quite popular with politicians from the neighbouring Binnenhof, and even Prime Minister Mark Rutte can be spotted here with a pint regularly. The square is also the scene for demonstrations against government policies. The statue in the middle is that of William of Orange, heralded as the founding father of the Dutch nation.  edit

Ridderzaal at Binnenhof

  • Binnenhof, (northwest of the Plein, trams 1 and 9 (Spui stadhuis stop), trams 2, 3, 6, & 10 (Spui stop)), +31 070 757 02 00 (), [5]. M-Sa 09:30AM-5PM. Since the 13th century the Binnenhof (‘Inner Court’) has subsequently been the seat of the government of the county of Holland, the Dutch Republic and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It used to be a castle, surrounded by moats on all sides. Since then it has been modified countless times to accommodate the expanding Dutch government. The moats have been filled, but the castle still borders on the Court Pond (named Hofvijver). In its waters the old buildings continue to mirror themselves. Today, the Binnenhof houses the two chambers of the Dutch parliament and the Prime Minister’s office in a small round tower opposite the Mauritshuis. Enter through one of the gates on Plein or Buitenhof and you will find yourself in a medieval enclosed courtyard, surrounded by architecture from the 13th up to the 19th century. There may be crowds gathered here on occasion because of public demonstrations, TV airings or receptions for foreign officials. In the middle stands the Knight’s Hall, the original centrepiece of the castle, used for ceremonial purposes. The houses of parliament and the Knight’s Hall are accessible in guided tours. It is also possible to attend the meetings of the parliament. The Tweede Kamer (second chamber) of parliament meets on tuesday, wednesday and thursday and has a new gathering room since 1992. The Eerste Kamer (first chamber) meets monthly, and does so in a splendid 17th century Dutch-styled interior with a lavishly painted ceiling.  edit
  • Mauritshuis, Korte Vijverberg 8 (next to the Binnenhof), +31 70 3023456 (), [6]. T-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 11AM-5PM, and also M 10AM-5PM from Apr-Aug.. Housed in a 17th-century palace overlooking the water of the Hofvijver pond, the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis contains the former collection of last Dutch stadtholder, William the V. While the museum is quite small (a complete tour takes a little over an hour) it contains some of the most famous work from the old Dutch Masters, including Johannes Vermeer (Girl with a Pearl Earring and View of Delft), Rembrandt van Rijn (The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp), Andy Warhol (“Queen Beatrix”), Rembrandt self-portraits at ages 20 and 63, and others. Adult incl. audio tour €11.50, under 18 get in free.  edit
  • Bredius Museum, Lange Vijverberg 14, +31 70 3620729 (), [7]. T-Su 11AM-5PM. The private collection of Abraham Bredius, a 19th-century art historian contains Dutch Baroque art, as well as drawings, porcelain and crafted silver. €4.50.  edit
  • Museum de Gevangenpoort, Buitenhof 33, +31 70 3460861. T-F 10AM-5PM, Sa-Su 12PM-5PM. Built in 1370 as an entrance gate to the Binnenhof complex, the Gevangenpoort (Prison Gate) was converted into a prison in 1420. In 1853 the prison shutdown and it was turned into a museum. For a taste of medieval justice, have a look at their collection of torture instruments and get locked inside an original medieval cell block. €4.  edit
  • Lange Voorhout, (northwest along either side of the entrances to the Binnenhof). This former extension of The Hague Forest is now a large tree-lined square, bordered on all sides by grand 18th century townhouses. The large Baroque building on the west side is the ‘Huis Huguetan’, home to the Dutch supreme court. The square is especially pretty in spring, when its crocuses are in bloom. On Thursdays and Sundays there is a very good antique and book market. Every summer, the square hosts The Hague Sculpture (Den Haag Sculptuur) [8], a free outdoor sculpture exhibition. The fortified building on the corner is the US Embassy and has been a point of contention among locals and embassy officials because of the heightened security.  edit

Escher museum

  • Escher in Het Paleis, Lange Voorhout 74 (trams 16, 17 (Korte Voorhout stop)), +31 70 4277730, [9]. T-Su 11AM-5PM. This former royal townhouse was recently converted into a museum dedicated to the famous Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher. The first three floors display prints, sketches and archive material showing how Escher progressed from realistic pictures to his later works of optical illusion and geometrical pattern. The top floor offers a trip through Escher’s worlds through 3D graphic headsets. €9.00.  edit
  • Denneweg. This street is a prime area for finding antique and specialty shops. It also has some good pubs and upscale restaurants to recharge in after shopping. Parallel to the Denneweg run the Hooigracht and Smidswater canals, which are two of the very few canals in The Hague compared to other major Dutch cities and towns.  edit
  • Paleis Noordeinde, (near Prinsessewal), [10]. This is the royal palace that Queen Beatrix uses as her office. While the inside is not open to the public, the 17th-century façade can be seen from Noordeinde street, which also has a large number of art galleries. The gardens on the opposite side of the palace are accessible to the public for walking.  edit
  • Panorama Mesdag, Zeestraat 65, +31 70 3644544 (). M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa-Su 12PM-5PM. The Panorama Mesdag is a cylindrical painting from 1881, more than 14 m high and 120 m in circumference. One of the most famous painters of The Hague School, Hendrik Willem Mesdag, created a vista of the sea, the dunes and Scheveningen village. It is the oldest 19th-century panorama in the world that’s still in its original site. €6.  edit
  • De Verdieping van Nederland, (north side of Centraal Station next to platform 12, inside the Royal Library). W-Sa 9AM-5PM, T 9AM-8PM, Su-M 12PM-5PM. A free exhibition showcasing the history of the Netherlands through original copies of historically significant documents. It has the original copy of peace treaty of Münster with Spain, marking the end of the 80-year Dutch independence war in 1648, and the original sales act of the Dutch purchase of Manhattan from the Indians.  edit
  • Oude Stadhuis. The original town hall is a small building from the 15th century when The Hague itself was a small settlement around the Royal Court. In the 18th century it was expanded upon and now has a grand facade facing the 15th-century Grote Kerk (Big Church), originally used as city’s main place of worship, but now primarily functions as an exhibition space.  edit
  • Stadhuis. In the early 1990s, the municipality moved to this enormous white building by American architect Richard Meier, nicknamed by locals as the Ice Palace. Walk in to have a look at the lofty main hall, which has exhibits on various topics related to the city. The two air bridges through the hall connecting the various offices had to be fenced off to prevent suicides, but still make for a nice view of the atrium below. The city hall borders a large, somewhat barren modern square with a fountain. It contrasts sharply with the Baroque Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), located in a small park in the other side of the road.  edit

Statenkwartier Area[edit]

Peace Palace, the home of the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration

The Statenkwartier area, located between the dunes and the centre, has leafy avenues and 19th century housing and is very popular with The Hague’s large expatriate community. The area is nice for walking tours of the 19th-century mansions, which showcase architectural diversity in The Hague. All kinds of neo- and modern-styles are represented here, especially Art Nouveau architecture. Good shops, delicatessens and restaurants are to be found on Statenkwartier’s main street, Frederik Hendriklaan, or ‘Fred’. The area also has a number of tourist attractions, which make it worth a visit, most of them being clustered around the Gemeentemuseum on Stadhouderslaan.

  • Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Stadhouderslaan 41 (tram 17 (Statenkwartier stop) or bus 24 (Kijkduin stop)), +31 70 3381111 (), [11]. T-Su 11AM-5PM. The Gemeentemuseum (Municipal Museum) has a small collection of classical modern art (Van Gogh, Kandinsky, Monet, Sisley, Degas, Bacon). It boasts an especially large collection of Mondrians, showcasing the entire career of this painter known for his works with red, blue and yellow shapes. The Gemeentemuseum also has a large selection of paintings of the Hague School, a 19th century movement of landscape artists, in addition to period rooms and collections of fashion, musical instruments and decorative arts. Rotating exhibitions on 19th and early 20th century art held here are also quite popular. The museum is housed in a yellow brick building built in 1938 by Dutch architect Hendrik Berlage, a pioneer in modern architecture and best-known for his Beurs van Berlage – the exchange building on the Damrak in Amsterdam. Next to the Gemeentemuseum are the GEM, a museum with rotating exhibitions of contemporary art, and the Fotomuseum Den Haag, which has rotating photography exhibitions. €8.  edit
  • Museon, Stadhouderslaan 37 (next to the Gemeentemuseum), +31 70 3381338 (), [12]. T-Su 11AM-5PM. An interactive science museum, very popular with school groups and younger crowds. €7.50.  edit
  • Omniversum, President Kennedylaan 5 (behind the Museon), +0900-6664837 (), [13]. Cinema with a round screen, offering a 360 degree viewing experience. Runs IMAX/Discovery-style documentaries; some are aimed at children. €9.  edit
  • Vredespaleis, Carnegieplein 2 (bus 24 (Kijkduin stop), tram 1 (to Scheveningen Noorderstand)), +31 70 3024137 (), [14]. The Peace Palace was built in 1913, to house the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which was hoped to provide a means to legally settle international disputes. Ironically, World War I broke out just a year later. Today the Peace Palace also houses the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial body of the UN, which settles disputes between countries only. 5€.  edit


  • Madurodam, George Maduroplein 1 (tram 9 or 22 (toward Scheveningen Noorderstrand), +31 (0)70 416 2400, [15]. 9AM-6PM daily. This miniature city contains a selection of Dutch architecture, ranging from Amsterdam’s canals and church spires from Utrecht and Den Bosch, to modern architecture from Rotterdam and the enormous Delta works that protect the country from the sea. Madurodam also has an airport, a seaport, beaches, and little cars, trams and trains running through the entire town. A great attraction for kids (but a tourist trap for adults). €14.50 for adults, €10.50 for children.  edit
  • Paleis Huis ten Bosch, [16] The home palace of Queen Beatrix, Huis ten Bosch, is in the middle of the vast Haagse Bos park. (The Hague Forest). While the surrounding park is open, the palace itself is not open to visitors.
  • Louwman Museum (Nationaal Automobiel Museum), Leidsestraatweg 57 (Between benoordenhoutseweg and N44/A44), +31 (0)70 – 304 7373 (, fax: +31 (0)70 – 383 5587), [17]. Daily, except mondays, from 10AM-5PM. Opened in juli 2010. This private collection contains a century of history of the car. Price: € 13,50, 6-12 year € 7,50, Parking € 5,-..  edit
  • Boat trips The Hague (Salonboot), [18] Enjoy The Hague during a boat trip on the canals.
  • Boat trips The Hague (Ooievaart – Dutch site only), [19] Enjoy The Hague from the water. Special rates for groups and also the possibility to rent a boat with a captain.

Do[edit][add listing]

Since The Hague was founded on a former hunting manor, there are a variety of parks and green spaces that are ideal for exploration. Like the majority of cities in the Netherlands, The Hague is extremely bike friendly and it’s easy to get from one place to another on a bicycle if you feel like stepping outside the city centre. Scheveningen (and to a lesser extent Kijkduin) is a busy seaside resort filled with boardwalk cafes and close to the dunes. The prime months to get out and see The Hague on foot or by pedal are in the late spring, summer, and early fall months; just note that the beachfront area can get extremely crowded as vacationers from all over Europe come to visit and bask along the North Sea coastline.

  • Park Clingendael – Once a former estate, the park is best known for its Japanese garden, one of the oldest (1910) in Europe. While the garden is open only from late April to mid-June, the surrounding area is open all year long and is free for visitors.
  • Westbroekpark – An English-style park from the 1920s. Renowned for its Rosarium or rose garden, with 20,000 different varieties of roses blooming from June until November. The park includes a restaurant with lovely views.
  • Haagse Bos – This park is the oldest forested area in the country. It stretches from the suburb of Wassenaar to the northeast and goes right to the doorstep of Centraal Station, where there is a small fenced off area with deer. Haagse Bos also has a large birds-nest built on top of a pole with which the local municipality has succeeded in attracting a pair of storks, since the stork is in the city’s emblem. The Haagse Bos also contains the Queen’s palace of Huis ten Bosch.
  • Scheveningse Bosjes – A park near Scheveningen centred around a small lake, the Waterpartij. Home to the Indiëmonument, which commemorates Dutch victims of the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies.
  • Wassenaar – This suburb of The Hague is the wealthiest municipality in the country. Large wooded areas contain cycling and walking paths and are interspersed with huge estates. The village centre has a few restaurants and shops and is fairly close to the beach.

Scheveningen Pier in the late summer

  • Duinrell, (near Wassenaar village), [20]. This amusement park is mainly aimed at children but has accommodation as well for longer stays since it is right near the beach. The surrounding dunes and forested areas are great for walking, cycling and mountain biking.  edit
  • The North Sea coast resorts, [21]. Resort facilities at Scheveningen and at Kijkduin have access to the beach, the dunes, as well as seaside restaurants and cafes. Be sure to check out the Scheveningen Pier, the largest pier in the Netherlands, which has a 60 m (200 ft) lookout tower, bungee jumping, and a casino and restaurant. Scheveningen gets crowded in the summer, so try Kijkduin if you’re looking for something a little more peaceful.  edit


Check the “Haagenda” for current events link->[22]

  • KoninginneNach, [23]. Evening of the 29th of April. While Amsterdam is generally known for having country’s largest celebration of Dutch Queen’s Day on the 30th of April, in recent years The Hague has held the largest anticipatory party the night before. KoninginneNach (Queens’ Night in The Hague dialect) has bands and DJ’s giving shows in 5 different locations in the city centre.
  • Scheveningen International Sand Sculpture Festival, [24]. May.
  • Scheveningen International Fireworks Festival, [25] August.
  • Parkpop, [26]. Last Sunday of June. Huge, free, one-day pop music festival held in Zuiderpark. Attracts nearly 400.000 visitors each year, nearly as many people as actually live in the city, making the festival the largest of its kind in the world.
  • North Sea Regatta, [27]. End of May / Beginning of June. International sailing contest, held off the coast of Scheveningen.
  • Tong Tong Fair, [28]. End of May/beginning of June. This claims to be the largest Eurasian festival in the world. Since its first edition in 1958 it has been the quintessential event and meeting place for the country’s sizable Dutch-East-Indian community. The festival also attracts lots of outsiders though, who come to sample Indonesian cuisine in the huge food halls, listen to music, buy foodstuffs, Indonesian clothes and parafernalia and inform themselves about Indonesian culture. The festival is held in large tents on the Malieveld, opposite Centraal.
  • Den Haag Sculptuur, [29]. June, July and August. Free sculpture exposition on Lange Voorhout with different themes each year.
  • North Sea Jazz Festival, [30]. Second weekend of July. After having been held in The Hague for 30 years, this world famous jazz festival has now (2006) moved to Rotterdam because of accommodation problems in The Hague.
  • Live Jazz, on you can find all live jazz and other improvised music events in the city! There are a lot of jazz musicians in The Hague, and you can hear them and other (inter)national musicians play around town!
  • Prinsjesdag. Third Tuesday in September. Prinsjesdag or ‘Princes Day’ marks the beginning of the new parliamentary year. On this day, large crowds are drawn by the traditional journey that King Willem makes from his palace at Noordeinde to the Knight’s Hall at the Binnenhof. He makes his trip in the Gouden Koets (Golden Carriage), a gift from the people of Amsterdam to his great-grandmother Wilhelmina from 1903. The carriage is used only for this special occasion. In the Knight’s Hall, the King then performs his duty as the formal head of state by reading out the Troonrede (Throne Speech) to the gathered chambers of the parliament. The throne speech contains a summary of the policies the cabinet is planning to implement over the next year.
  • Crossing Border Festival, [31]. November.
  • TodaysArt Festival, [32]. Last weekend of September. International Festival Beyond Art.


Many people move to the Randstad area (including The Hague, Amsterdam, Rotterdam) either for a year out, work (as an Expatriate) or to join partners (who are mostly either Expatriates or Dutch). There are specialist websites for English and non-Dutch speakers looking to work in The Hague (and Randstad area) and a good place to start; Blue Lynx – Employment by Language [33].

Immigration matters are dealt with by the Immigration Service IND [34]. Registration is done by both police and municipalities. Immigration policy is restrictive and deliberately bureaucratic. That is especially true for non-EU citizens.

European Union citizens do not require a work permit. Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians are afforded a one year working-holiday visa. In general the employer must apply for work permits. Immigration is easier for “knowledge migrants” earning a gross annual salary of over € 45 000 (over € 33 000 for those under 30).

Buy[edit][add listing]

The lively and historical centre of The Hague is perfect for a day of shopping. The shopping area around the Spuistraat and Grote Marktstraat is busy seven days a week. Most of the main department stores are located in this shopping area.

  • Maison de Bonneterie, Gravenstraat 2. An opulent fashion store inside a glass-domed building built in 1913. Stores such as Burberry, Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren, and others cater to an upscale crowd. They also have purveyors to Queen Beatrix herself!  edit
  • De Bijenkorf, Wagenstraat 32 (corner Grote Marktstraat). This middle-priced to expensive department store is housed in a large building from 1924, built in a unique expressionist style with brick and copper. Have a look at the glass-stained windows in the staircase. The restaurant ‘La Ruche’ in the third floor has a good view of the surrounding area.  edit
  • V&D, Grote Marktstraat 50. A similar department store to Debenhams in the UK.  edit

You can find the best shopping in The Hague on the side streets that circle out from the city centre. While lots of them are upscale, you can find a few bargain stores dotted here and there.

  • De Passage – A unique covered shopping gallery built in 1882, with a sister-building in Brussels. Here you can find specialty and upmarket fashion shopping. Check out the outdoor cafes just outside on Buitenhof
  • The Candy Box, (next to the Oude Stadhuis). This building is near the up-market Hoogstraat shopping area. Locals call it “The Candy Box” because of it’s unique exterior. Completed in 2000, it’s one of the newer building in the city
  • Prinsestraat – Specialty shops, delicatessens and restaurants in the area around this street, located between Grote Kerk and Noordeinde palace.
  • Spuistraat. Pedestrianized, shopping streets with mainly smalll chain stores. Other streets bordering the area with similar shops are Vlamingstraat, Venestraat and Wagenstraat.
  • The American Book Center, Lange Poten 23, +31 70 3642742, [35]. This unique store sells new and used English titles and caters to both expats and locals. If you’re dragging extra copies of books across Europe, but don’t want to throw them away, try trading them in here.  edit
  • Denneweg and Noordeinde. These shopping streets lie parallel to one another from either side of the Binnenhof. The former has antiques, bric-a-brac, and several interesting restaurants and specialty food shops, while the latter is known for its boutiques and haute couture.
  • Lange Voorhout. This street doesn’t have much shops, but there it’s a beautiful old street that has a weekly returning market.
  • Antique & Book Market, [36]. 10.00-18.00. Now if you are looking for great original souvenirs to bring to your friends, then this is a great place to go: Every Thursday and/or Sunday there is an Antique and Book Market, where you can find original Dutch gifts. Most of the time, there is also a man there (Cornelis) who sells tiny handpainted paintings of Dutch landscapes for only €5 a piece that make a great gift. The market is not that big, so look out for him and you will easily spot him.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

Just as Indian restaurants abound in the UK, the Netherlands has an excellent tradition in Indonesian and colonial Dutch-Indies cuisine. After Indonesia became independent from the Netherlands in 1945, the country received a large number of former colonials from Dutch and mixed descent who had been forced to leave the newly independent colony. The Hague received a relatively large number of these people and is still a centre of the Dutch-Indonesian community.

  • Haagsche brood- en banketbakkerij Hans en Frans, Denneweg 128, [37]. 07.00 – 17.00. Famous local bakery. Try their Haagse Kakker, which is a big sweet bread filled with raisins and nuts. Great to bring home as a gift. Other specialties include Haagsche Ooievaartjes (cookies) and Haags Jantje (chocolate). They are also located at Theresiastraat 131 and Reinkenstraat 50  edit
  • Restaurant Alexander The Hague, Denneweg 138 2514 CL, 0031 70 36 48 175, [38]. 17:00 – 23:00. 3 course menu € 27.50 per person.  edit
  • Burgerz, Prinsestraat 23, 070-3560062, [39]. Funky gourmet hamburger restaurant serving 25 home-made and pure burgers: beef, lamb chicken, salmon, tuna and vegetarian. Also for take-away and from sept 2011 also in Delft.  edit
  • Dap & co, Schokkerweg 39, Scheveningen, 070-3223969, [40]. Two story glass restaurant with magnificent views overlooking the harbor. Serving meat and fish grilled on the green egg as well as a selection of delicious home-made hamburgers ( Open 7 days/week for lunch and dinner and the perfect place for parties, receptions and meetings.  edit
  • FLOC, prinsestraat 42A, 070-4276168. a very friendly restaurant with a modern yet cosy atmosphere. The owner is also the chef and serves great fresh food wich he loves to pair with his special wine selections. Menu price €35,00 wine starts at €21,00 per bottle €4,25 per glass  edit
  • The Penthouse restaurant skybar, Rijswijkseplein 786 (Next to HS station), 0703051000, [41]. 10.00-late. Holland’s highest restaurant, sitting on top of The Hague Tower at 135metres. Spectacular place and good restaurant.  edit

Indonesian, city centre[edit]

  • Garoeda, Kneuterdijk 18a. Historic place (founded 1949) with waiters in traditional costumes, spread out over two floors.
  • Poentjak, Kneuterdijk 16. Next to Garoeda. Interior is a time-warp to the 1920ies.
  • Istana, Wagenstraat 71. Small restaurant with somewhat minimalist decor. Excellent sateh.

Indonesian, out of the centre[edit]

  • Bogor, Van Swietenstraat 2 (070) 346 1628. Known by the in-crowd as traditionally the best place in town. Simple but excellent food, has been around for over 40 years and has not changed since.
  • Tampat Senang, Laan van Meerdervoort 6. Very colonial-style restaurant with waiters in traditional costumes. Beautifully decorated with indigenous art. Excellent garden for outside dining in summer.
  • Palembang, Thomsonlaan 17. Cosy place with excellent food. Lots of pictures on the wall with local celebrities who visited here.
  • Sarinah, Goudenregenplein 4, 070-360 1585. A local institution, this place gets especially busy in the weekends when service can be a bit slow. Has both a restaurant area and a take-away service.
  • Keraton Damai, Groot Hertoginnelaan 57, 070-363 9371. Small ‘living-room style restaurant’ with very personal and attentive service. Small but excellent choice of dishes.
  • Isaku Iki, Anna Paulownastraat 17, 070-3920033. This place has both ‘restaurant area’ and take-away service.


  • Baklust[42], Ran by ex-squatters, Baklust is an Organic and Vegetarian cafe with an international air, open 10.00-18.00 th/su, Veenkade 19, 070-7532274.
  • Water & Brood, An ex-squat, Organic and Vegetarian diner, Hellingweg 127, 070 3997455.


  • NOH Sushi & Sake (Japanese restaurant), Prinsestraat 77 (next to ‘de Paleistuinen’ or take tram 17 and get out at ‘Noordwal’), 0031703633320, [43]. Kitchen open: Wednesday – Sunday: 17.30- 22.30 Monday and Tuesday: Closed. NOH is one of the most relaxing and finest Japanese sushi restaurants in The Hague, providing all the basics for an enjoyable evening. They regularly serve Toro and Uni and have a sushibar for single (traveling) people. €33.  edit
  • Kiraku. Toussaintkade 31., Open since 1992. It’s a small restaurant with a sushibar, the sushi taste excellent so make a reservation or come in early for dinner.

Asian Fusion HanTing restaurant on Prinsestraat 33 offers a fusion of Asian flavours with flair. Price range around 30 Euro for a 5 course gourmet meal.

  • Chinatown. Recently the town has officially hailed the area around Gedempte Gracht and Wagenstraat as its local Chinatown, and added street signs in Chinese and all that. The area is not particularly spectacular, but good Chinese food is to be found around here. There seem to be 3 real popular Chinese restaurants in ‘Chinatown’. 2 Restaurant have the same owner, but the restaurants are quit different. There is (1)Fat Kee (prefered by Indian, Dutch and people from Suriname) has a superb chicken and broccoli dish. Though most ‘local’ Chinese people seem to go to the restaurants: ‘(2)Kee Lun Palace’ and ‘restaurant Long Ting’. Both have really good Chinese food for a relatively low price, though the service is generally rated below average. Another ok place is Harvest, which is in the heart of Chinatown; it’s usually visited by Dutch people and Chinese people seem somehow to avoid it.
  • Dudok. Hofweg 1a. Dudok lies right opposite the Binnenhof and is quite popular with both politicians and the “ordinary” public out shopping.
  • Sakura. In Scheveningen. A friendly sushi bar that can accommodate a big crowd.
  • Bodega de Posthoorn. A grandcafe is the centre of the Hague. Located near various tourist attraction: Maurtishuis, Hofvijver, Binnenhof, Historical Museum and Escher Museum. Bodega de Posthoorn is a unique eating and drinking establishment with typical Dutch grandieur. If you visit the Hague, you must have had a at least a cup of coffee here, to experience the typical Dutch grandieur.
  • There are also other small mom and pop restaurants around The Hague, such as take out Suriname, Chinese, or Thai. They are small and normally a tourist wouldn’t know much about them. But if you wander around the city and the more residential areas, such as the Zeeheldenkwartier, you’ll find them easily. On the main street in the Zeeheldenkwartier (Elandstraat 52), past the McDonald’s and the Albert Heijn, you’ll find a small Suriname restaurant called Warung Kromo there. It is mostly for take-away dishes, but there are a few tables and chairs inside if you want to eat there. The people are friendly and the food is good and cheap. Try the roti and curry dishes, as well as the simple Suriname “broodjes”.
  • Florencia [44] near the Grote Kerk the best known ice cream parlor in town.
  • Marinello [45] also near the Grote Kerk but situated in the Lange Poten is still the best ice cream parlor in town.
  • Simonis [46] is a no-nonsense fish restaurant which is situated on several locations. It’s amazing to see the enormous variation of fish available to eat. The one located at Scheveningen Harbor is the oldest and most attractive [47], but avoid weekends if you do not like big crowds. The one in The Hague Center is more intimate [48]
  • cafe Madeleine [49] just outside the centre. take tram 3 to valkenbosplein and just have a coffee and something sweet :) open for early birds from 8am
  • Dolomiti IJssalon [50] a little bit away from the centre, this ice cream parlor makes delicious gelato, also sugarfree and dietary ice. Melis Stokelaan 13

Drink[edit][add listing]

Bars and Pubs[edit]

Grote Markt is the place to go for drinks of dinner when you visit The Hague. Many different bars, restaurants and pubs are located at this unique location, right in the city centre of the hague:

  • De Zwarte Ruiter [51]. A busy bar at the “Grote Markt” with a rock ‘n roll vibe.
  • September, next to De Zwarte Ruiter.
  • Supermarkt, a live music venue, with a bar vibe, next to September and De Zwarte Ruiter.
  • Tiki Room Vavoom [52], At the Grote Markt, alternative, surf style bar ran by tattooed people.
  • De Boterwaag opposite September, housed in a former weighing building it’s a spacious and atmospheric venue. Beautiful building!
  • Zèta Next to De Zwarte Ruiter, A busy bar, whith a relaxed admosphere, with sustainability and green thinking as key words.

During summer, the “Grote markt” becomes a big open air terrace, great for people watching and music festivals!

  • Cafe Cremers [53], A great pub and coffeeshop with great DJ’s. The one place where international visitors gather to both smoke and drink. Don’t miss it. Prinsestraat 84.
  • De Pater [54]This is a small pub with a relaxed environment,in the city center. If you like Jazz music please check out the program on their site to see the Jazz music nights. During the Jazz evenings, music students come visit and play their music during a jam session.
  • La Grenouille More commonly known as “De Kikker”. Jazz concerts and jam sessions on Tue-Sunday from 21.30. The place is always full of music students which gives it the authentic vibe of a small jazz club. Molenstraat 13.
  • Zahara cocktailbar[55], the oldest cocktailbar of the Netherlands, is situated at the boulevard of Scheveningen and has more than 100 cocktails on it’s menu. Zeekant 32


As everywhere in The Netherlands, the possession (of small quantities) and use of cannabis (hash and weed) is tolerated in The Hague. Since Amsterdam draws more coffee-shop tourism prices are lower in The Hague. Some renowned places:

  • Cafe Cremers, Prinsestraat 84, [56]. A great pub and coffeeshop with great DJ’s. The one place where international visitors gather to both smoke and drink. Don’t miss it.  edit
  • Ceylon, Edisonstraat 98.  edit
  • Fly High, Rijswijkseweg 229.  edit
  • Seventh Planet, Loosduinseweg 741.  edit
  • De Mazzelaar, Zoutmanstraat 29.  edit

Please remember that possesing large quantities of hasheesh or cannabis is a crime in The Netherlands, and please do not take stuff with you when leaving The Netherlands (you can be punished severely in neigbouring countries). It’s also unwise to buy for someone else, especially if it’s a foreigner as you can be punished in his or her country of origin (it has happened).

A noteworthy fact is that smoking tobacco is currently banned inside food and drink establishments — even coffeeshops! That being said, tobacco smoking appears to be tolerated in coffee shops, and their pre-rolled joints are often mixed with tobacco.


On “Plein” you will find a variety off nightclubs. Most of the clubs here are actually restaurants that turn into a club on Friday and Saturday night (some clubs are open on Thursday as well). Entrance is usually free, except with special parties. Prices of drinks are quite similar in every club. “Plein” is a little more trendy than the “Grote Markt” area so expect girls in fine dresses and boys with casual party outfits. Usually clubs open around 23:00.

  • Millers, Trendy club with house and latin music (2 area’s). avg age: 20-30. open until 5 am. attracts an international crowd. [57]. Plein 10.
  • Cloos, Cozy club with house and various music. avg age: 20-40. open until 2 am. [58]. Plein 12a.
  • Danzig, Club with various kinds off music. Popular with students from The Hague. avg age: 18-25. open until 5 am. This club is also open on Thursday until 4 am (Students Night with cheap beer) [59]. Lange Houtstraat 9.
  • Havana, A Cuban style dance cafe with Latin beats, R&B and various. avg-age 20-30. Besides native Dutch, this club is also popular with Arabian-Dutch and Surinam-Dutch. Open until 4 am .[60]. Prinsegracht 12.
  • Het feest van Sinterklaas, Entrance fee of €5,-. Open until 5 am.[61]. Herenstraat 6.
  • Paard van Troje and Paard Café, also a venue for concerts and such [62]. Prinsegracht 12.

Sleep[edit][add listing]


  • Stayokay Den Haag, Scheepmakersstraat 27 (tram 17 (Rijswijkseplein stop)), +31 70 3157888 (), [63]. This standard but relatively soulless and uninspiring backpacking hostel has double rooms with individual toilet and shower facilities as well as 8 bed dorms.It is huge, quite corporate so don’t expect too much of a personal touch here. The hostel has a good location, being close to the Hollands Spoor train station (a 5 minute walk). Hosteling International members get discounts at Stayokay, and you can get a one-year membership card that is useful if you’re staying at other HI Hostels. There are internet facilities available to lodgers at a reasonable fee.  edit
  • easyHotel Den Haag, Parkstraat 31, [64]. Opened in May of 2013,this new hotel follows the steps of the same-owned easyJet: cheep small rooms, with extra paid facilities (breakfast is not available at all). Sufficient for the backpacker who wants something more than a hostel, and in a relatively central location of the city. starting with 49 € the double.  edit


  • Ambassade Arena Aparthotel Scheveningen (Berkenbosch Blokstraat 9), +31 (0)70 306 0123, [65]. checkin: 2pm. A1 location on tram lines 1 & 9. Located just 15 minutes from Central Station and less than 5 minutes walking distance from the beach.  edit
  • Ibis Den Haag Centre (Jan Hendrikstraat 10), [66]. Great location close to the Grote Kerk.  edit
  • NH Den Haag, Prinses Margrietplantsoen 100, +31.70.3812345, [67]. Located at the heart of the business district and within a short distance of many tourist attractions, this hotel is perfect for a weekend away. Make use of the indoor parking and enjoy the massage services available! From 89€.  edit
  • Novotel Den Haag Centrum, Hofweg 5-7, [68]. Located in the Passage shopping centre and literally right across the street from the Binnenhof.  edit


  • Hotel des Indes, Lange Voorhout 54-56, [69]. A former residence of a seventeenth century aristocrat, this über-luxury hotel opened its doors in 1881 and has been serving artists, musicians, and other celebrities ever since. It is located down the street from some of the major diplomatic missions such as the American and French embassies, and has also hosted heads of state such as Dwight Eisenhower and Jacques Chirac. Be sure to check out the ultra-luxurious bar and lounge.  edit

Stay safe[edit]

You should take normal precautions against pickpockets and baggage theft, especially in the main shopping streets, in trams and trains, at stations, and anywhere where tourists congregate. Street begging is common around the Hollands Spoor train station and at the Grote Markt. Most of them are homeless and non-aggressive and a simple ‘no’ will be enough. At night, the city centre is quite safe because of the large number of police cameras monitoring this area. Neighbourhoods southwest of the centre are less affluent and may not be as safe. The area between Zuiderpark and Hollands Spoor has a bad reputation due to the increasing number of street gangs. Schilderswijk and Transvaal areas are blocks that should be avoided after dark. If you are unsure, take a taxi to your destination. Taking a tram is also considered safe, as the so-called ‘risky lines’ in this area now have a security team on board from 8PM till 1AM.

Readings and guidebooks[edit]

The only guidebook to The Hague currently available in English is published by City Trail Publishing ( It was published in April 2013. It covers the Hague and the surrounding areas (Voorburg, Wassennar, Rijswijk) and has both tourist and practical information for those that visit and move to The Hague.


  • As-flag.png Australia, Carnegielaan 4, +31 70 310-8200 (fax: +31 70 310-7863), [70].  edit
  • Da-flag.png Denmark, Koninginnegracht 30, +31 70 302 5959 (, fax: +31 70 302 5950), [74]. Monday to Friday 10.00-15.00.  edit
  • Eg-flag.png Egypt, Badhuisweg 92 2587 CL, +31 70 3542000 (, fax: +31 70 3543304), [75]. Monday.  edit
  • Gr-flag.png Greece, Amaliastraat 1, 2514 JC, +31 70-3638700, Emergencies: +31 62-110200, +31 65-0967109 (, fax: +31 70-3563040).  edit
  • Ja-flag.png Japan, Tobias Asserlaan 2, +31 70-3469544 (fax: +31 70-3106341), [81].  edit
  • No-flag.png Norway, Lange Vijverberg 11, +31 (0) 70 311 7611 (, fax: +31 (0) 70 365 9630), [83]. Monday to Friday 09.00-16.00.  edit
  • Ru-flag.png Russia, Andries Bickerweg 2, 2517 JP, +31 70 346-88-88, +31 70 345-13-00 (, fax: +31 70 361-79-60), [85].  edit
  • Uk-flag.png United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Lange Voorhout 10, +31 70 427-0427 (, fax: +31 70 427-0345), [89].  edit
  • Us-flag.png United States of America, Lange Voorhout 102, +31 70 310-2209 (fax: +31 70 361-4688), [90].  edit

Get out[edit]

Quaint cities like Delft, known for its famous blue pottery, and the university town of Leiden are just 15 minutes by train.

  • Delft – Arguably the country’s most picturesque canal-lined town. Home of the famous Delft Blue pottery (or Delftware), and the home of Baroque painter Johannes Vermeer. Trains leave from Centraal Station or Hollands Spoor every 15 min; the trip takes 12 or 8 min respectively. Tram 1 also reaches the Delft city centre.
  • Leiden – This town lays claim to the oldest university in the Netherlands, Leiden University, which was founded in 1575. It is the second largest 17th-century town centre after Amsterdam. Home to many interesting museums. Trains from Centraal Station or Hollands Spoor every 15 minutes, with each trip taking 13 or 10 minutes respectively.

Routes through The Hague
AmsterdamLeiden  N noframe S  Delft
END  W noframe E  ZoetermeerArnhem
END  N noframe S  DelftRotterdam

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


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Netherlands, Europe – Travel Guide

Netherlands, Europe – Travel Guide


TourTellus Hotel Search: Book Hotels, Apartments, Hostels & BBs in Netherlands




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Kingdom of the Netherlands in its region.svg
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Quick Facts
Capital Amsterdam
Government parliamentary democracy with constitutional monarch
Currency Euro (€) (mainland)
U.S. Dollar ($)(special municipalities in the Caribbean)
Area 41,543km²
water: 7,650km²
land: 33,893km²
Population 16,803,893 (2013 estimate)
Language Dutch (official & main), Frisian (official, but only really spoken in Friesland)
Religion Roman Catholic 31%, Protestant 21%, Muslim 4.4%, other 3.6%, unaffiliated 40%
Electricity 230V, 50Hz (European plug)
Country code +31
Internet TLD nl.
Time Zone UTC +1

The Netherlands (Dutch: Nederland, also commonly, but incorrectly, called Holland in English) is a European country, bordering Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and France in the Caribbean as the Dutch territory Sint Maarten borders French territory Saint-Martin. The people, language, and culture of the Netherlands are referred to as “Dutch”.

With over 16 million people on an area of just 41,543km², it’s a densely populated country with its gorgeous capital Amsterdam being just one of many interesting cities. Once a great naval power, this small nation boasts a wealth of cultural heritage and is famous for its painters, windmills, clogs and notoriously flat lands. A modern European country today, it preserved its highly international character and is known for its liberal mentality. As a founding member of EU and NATO, and host to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands is at the heart of international cooperation. Its small size, welcoming attitude to travellers and many sights make it a unique and fairly easy to discover destination and a great addition to any European trip.


The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy, administratively divided into 12 provinces (provincies). Even though the Netherlands is a small country, these provinces are quite diverse and have plenty of cultural and linguistic differences. They can be divided in four regions:

Regions of the Netherlands

Western Netherlands (Flevoland, North Holland, South Holland, Utrecht)
Commonly called the Randstad, this is the heart of the Netherlands with its four biggest cities as well as typical Dutch countryside.
Northern Netherlands (Drenthe, Friesland, Groningen)
The least densely populated area, mostly unexplored by foreigners, but popular among the locals. The West Frisian Islands are excellent destinations for a few days out, as are the Frisian Lakes.
Eastern Netherlands (Gelderland, Overijssel)
Home to the largest national park of the Netherlands, Hoge Veluwe National Park, as well as the beautiful Hanzesteden, seven mediaeval cities along the IJssel River with a traditional historic centre, such as Zutphen, Zwolle, Doesburg, among others.
Southern Netherlands (Limburg, North Brabant, Zeeland)
Divided from the rest by its Catholic history, carnival celebrations and its “Burgundian way of life”.

This article describes the European part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Caribbean islands Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba are “special municipalities” fully integrated in the Netherlands proper. Beside the Netherlands proper, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten are constituent countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.


The Netherlands has many cities and towns of interest to travellers. Below are nine of the most notable ones:

  • Amsterdam — impressive architecture, lovely canals (grachten), museums and liberal attitudes
  • Arnhem — green city on the Rhine: Sonsbeek, Veluwe and Meinerswijk, old quarters and mansions, cultural events
  • Delft — historic unspoiled town with the world-famous blue and white ceramics
  • Groningen — student city with a relaxed atmosphere and nightlife till the sun gets up
  • The Hague — the judicial capital of the world, the seat of government and the royal family
  • Leiden — historic student city with the country’s oldest university and three national museums
  • Maastricht — fortified medieval city showing the different culture, style and architecture of the south
  • Nijmegen — oldest city of the country, known for its marches, left-wing politics and large student population
  • Rotterdam — modern architecture, good nightlife, vibrant art scene and the largest port of Europe
  • Utrecht — historic centre, antique stores and the Rietveld-Schröder House

Other destinations[edit]

These are some interesting destinations outside of the major cities.

  • Efteling — renowned theme park with fairytale elements like elves and dwarves
  • Hoge Veluwe National Park — largest national park with heathlands, sand dunes and woodlands
  • Keukenhof — more than 800,000 visitors see these enormous flower fields each spring
  • Kinderdijk — these windmills show the typical Dutch landscape in all its glory
  • Schokland — old island evacuated in 1859, a well-preserved ghost village remains
  • South Limburg — hilly green landscapes, picturesque villages, castles and orchards
  • Texel — largest island suited for cycling, walking, swimming and horse riding
  • Waterland and Zaan Region — typical Dutch villages with clogs, wooden houses, windmills and the Zaanse Schans
  • Zaanse Schans — open air museum with Dutch windmills and Zaan houses



The southern part of the country was part of the Holy Roman Empire until it was acquired piece by piece by the Burgundians. At the end of the Middle Ages, it became a Spanish possession (together with what is now Belgium). Little survives from this period, except a few historic city centres, and a few castles.

Following the Dutch Revolt, led by national hero William of Orange (Willem van Oranje), the Netherlands became a de facto independent republic in 1572. The (first) split with Belgium came when the northern provinces (including Flanders) signed the Union of Utrecht in 1579. It grew to become one of the major economic and seafaring powers in the world during the 17th century, which is known as the Dutch Golden Age (Gouden Eeuw). During this period, many colonies were founded or conquered, including the Netherlands East Indies (currently Indonesia) and New Amsterdam (currently New York City), which was later traded with the British for Suriname.

In 1805, the country became a kingdom when Emperor Napoleon appointed his brother ‘King of Holland’. In 1815, it became the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (Verenigd Koninkrijk der Nederlanden) together with Belgium and Luxembourg under King William I (Willem I). In 1830 Belgium seceded and formed a separate kingdom. Luxembourg received independence from the Netherlands in 1890, as the Salic Law prohibited a female ruler.

Avoiding the liberal revolutions of 1848 and new adopted Treaty, the Netherlands quietly became a constitutional monarchy and remained neutral in World War I but suffered a brutal invasion and occupation by Germany in World War II. A modern, industrialized nation, the Netherlands is also a large exporter of agricultural products. In 1944, the Low Countries formed the union of the Benelux in which they economically (and sometimes politically) work together. The country was a founding member of NATO in 1949 and the European Community (EC) in 1957, and participated in the introduction of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in 1999.


Quite a few travellers visit the Netherlands to enjoy its famously tolerant attitude: prostitution is decriminalized but only for those prostitutes registered at a permitted brothel. It is illegal for sex workers to solicit for customers on the street and prostitutes are most common in the capital Amsterdam, where red-light districts are popular, even if tourists only visit as a memento of the visit. In more rural areas, prostitution is almost non-existent. Sex shops, sex shows, sex museums and drugs museums are also popular amongst tourists. The sale, possession, and consumption of small quantities of cannabis while technically still illegal, is officially tolerated, but coffeeshops are subject to increasing restrictions. Harder drugs (e.g. ecstasy or cocaine) remain illegal both in theory and practice. In the same open minded atmosphere is the Dutch ease towards homosexuality, gay marriage is legalized. Also the practice of euthanasia is legalized under strict conditions.


The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. No matter where you go, you are never far away from civilization. Cities can be crowded especially in the Randstad area, where congestion is a serious problem. Much of the country is flat and at or below sea level making it an ideal place to cycle. Hills may be found only at the Veluwe and Southern Limburg. Much of countryside is dominated by highly industrialized farming: despite its population density, the Netherlands is one of the largest food exporters in the world. Though there are some beautiful spots scattered across the country, tourists expecting a countryside full of picturesque villages, tulips and windmills may be in for a bit of a shock. The villages, tulips and windmills are there for sure, but you just have to find them (for example, in the Waterland and Zaan Region) and most Dutch have never been there actually. The most beautiful places are most of the times the places known only by the Dutch themselves. Asking a Dutch person for some ideas of what to see could be helpful. Otherwise, just visit local ‘tourist shops’, known as the VVV, found in all the larger towns.

The geography of the Netherlands is dominated by water features. The country is criss-crossed with rivers, canals and dikes, and the beach is never far away. The western coast of the Netherlands has one of the most beautiful North Sea beaches that can be found, attracting thousands if not millions of people every year, among them a lot of Germans as well.


The Netherlands have a temperate climate, which means that summers are generally cool and winters are generally mild. Every month of the year has rainfall, some are although very dry or wet. The best time to go is from May to September (daily maximum 18/19°C up to 23°C), but also April and October can once be pretty good months to come, if you’re lucky.

Country name[edit]

The official name of the country is the Netherlands. In the rest of the world, the name Holland is commonly used for the entire country. However, when used correctly, the name Holland only refers to the area covered by the provinces of North and South Holland. Indeed, in this area, which contains the largest cities and largest part of the population, this use is common as well. However, outside of this area, and particularly in the South and North, this use is often considered quite insulting, and the Netherlands is preferred. Consider how a Scot would feel if called English. In these areas, you are likely to be corrected with a slightly annoyed explanation of the difference between Holland and the Netherlands.

Get in[edit]

The Netherlands is a member of the Schengen Agreement.

There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented this treaty – the European Union (except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. But be careful: not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union. This means that there may be spot customs checks but no immigration checks (travelling within Schengen but to/from a non-EU country) or you may have to clear immigration but not customs (travelling within the EU but to/from a non-Schengen country).

Please see the article Travel in the Schengen Zone for more information about how the scheme works and what entry requirements are.

A Schengen visa is generally not valid for travel to the Caribbean parts of the Netherlands. If you require a visa for that part, you will need to apply for a separate visa valid for that part at your nearest Dutch embassy or consulate.

All non-EEA or Swiss travellers must register their residence within 3 business days of entry with the Aliens’ Police. Hotels, however, normally will handle the registration formalities for their guests.

Applications for visas and long-term residence permits are handled by the IND. Generally speaking, travellers to the Netherlands who do not require a short-stay visa may be able to get a residence permit upon arrival without a long-stay visa, but consult your nearest Embassy/Consulate for information.

There are a number of ways to get into the Netherlands. From neighbouring European countries, a drive with the car or a train ride are feasible; visitors from further away will probably be using air travel. Visitors from the United Kingdom can also travel by boat.

By plane[edit]

Schiphol Airport, near Amsterdam, is a European hub, and after London, Paris, and Frankfurt the largest of Europe. It is by far the biggest international airport in the country, and a point of interest in itself, being 4 metres below mean sea level (the name is derived from “ship hole” since Schiphol is built in a drained lake). Travellers can easily fly in from most places of the world and then connect with the Dutch largest airline KLM [1].

Some budget airlines also fly to the Netherlands., Easyjet, Transavia and other low-cost carriers serve Schiphol, providing a fairly economical way to city-hop to Amsterdam from other spots in Europe. Especially flying to/from the British Isles and the Mediterranean countries can be relatively cheap. It’s important that you book as early as possible, as prices tend to get higher closer to departure.

From Schiphol there are excellent railway connections: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and most large cities have a direct train service. International high speed trains depart to Brussels and Paris and Intercity trains to Germany. The train station at Schiphol is located underground, under the main airport hall. The train is the quickest and cheapest way to get around in the Netherlands. Taxis are expensive: legal taxis have blue number plates, others should be avoided. Some hotels in Amsterdam, and around the airport, have a shuttle bus service.

Other international airports are Eindhoven Airport, Maastricht/Aachen Airport, Rotterdam – The Hague Airport, and Groningen-Eelde Airport. These smaller airports are mainly attended by low-cost airlines. Eindhoven Airport and Maastricht/Aachen Airport are mostly used by Ryanair, while Rotterdam Airport is frequented by Transavia, the low-cost subsidiary of KLM for tourists. The operator CityJet does an expensive commuter trip to London city. A direct bus connection, either to the local railway stations and then take the train are the best way to get to Amsterdam or any other town. There is a direct bus service between Eindhoven Airport and Amsterdam Central Station.

It is also possible to come to the Netherlands via airports lying in surrounding countries. Much-used airports are Düsseldorf International Airport and Brussels Airport. European low cost carriers (Ryanair and Air Berlin) also use the airports of Münster-Osnabrück and Weeze/Niederrhein which are near or just at the Dutch/German border. From these two airports there are frequent flights to the major European destinations.

By train[edit]

(High speed) trains may be the most comfortable mode of transport between major European cities. While some low cost airlines offer cheaper deals, remember that international high speed lines connect city centres, rather than airports that are usually located outside of the city. Also, trains do not require you to be present one hour before departure and can be part of the holiday experience: they allow you to enjoy the landscape, meet new people, have cup of coffee in the board restaurant or bring along a good bottle of wine.

Remember that the cheapest tickets are often sold out early and that reservations are generally possible 3 (normal) to 6 (CityNightLine) months in advance. Bookings can be made via NS Hispeed (Dutch railways) or its German and Belgian counterparts.

From France, Belgium, United Kingdom[edit]

The Thalys high-speed train, which connects the Netherlands with France and Belgium, is a bit expensive, but if you book a return in advance or if you’re under 26 or over 60 you can get good deals. It is also faster, normally cheaper and more convenient than flying. Direct trains depart from Amsterdam, Schiphol Airport and Rotterdam, for the south of the country has excellent connections via Liège-Guillemins (Belgium) and Aachen (Germany).

A slow, but cheap alternative for trips to Brussels or Antwerp is the Intercity train. Take into account you may have to change trains. A local train runs hourly from Antwerp to Roosendaal, where you can catch a domestic train to Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

London St. Pancras station is connected to the Netherlands by Eurostar high-speed trains via Brussels Midi/Zuid/South station. Use one of the connections mentioned above.

From Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Italy, Russia[edit]

The ICE [2] high-speed train, runs from Basel via Frankfurt to Amsterdam, via Cologne, Düsseldorf, Arnhem, and Utrecht.

Intercity trains run from Berlin and Hannover to Amsterdam or Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, via Osnabrück, Hengelo, Deventer, Apeldoorn, Amersfoort and Hilversum.

CityNightLine and Euronight trains provide direct overnight connections from Amsterdam to Copenhagen, Prague Warsawand Moscow.

There are also a number of regional trains from and to Germany:

By bus[edit]

Eurolines [7] is the main ‘operator’ for international coaches to the Netherlands. (In fact the name Eurolines is a common brand-name used by different operators). Services are limited: only a few main routes have a daily service, such as from Poland, London, Milan, Brussels and Paris [8], but this is the cheapest way to travel and you get a discount if you are under 26 of age.

Megabus [9] runs lines from London and Paris via Brussels to Amsterdam.

PublicExpress [10] runs a line from Bremen via Oldenburg to Groningen.

Due to the Bosnian war in the 1990s, there are bus companies serving the Bosnian diaspora, which provide a cheap and clean way of getting to the other side of the European continent. Semi tours [11] runs several times per week from various destinations in Bosnia and Herzegovina to Belgium and the Netherlands, Off-season approx. 135€ for a return ticket.

By car[edit]

Speed limits in the Netherlands

The Netherlands has good roads to Belgium and Germany, and ferry links to Great Britain. The country has a dense, well-maintained trunk-road network. Borders are open under the terms of the Schengen Agreement. Cars may be stopped at the border for random checks, but this rarely happens. There are car ferry services from the United Kingdom, see below. As the UK is not part of the Schengen zone, full border checks apply.

Driving in the Netherlands

Road rules, markings and signs are similar to other European countries but have some particularities:

  • At unmarked intersections traffic coming from the right ALWAYS has priority. Traffic includes bicycles, horses, horse-drawn carts (recreational use and fairly uncommon), electric wheelchairs, small mopeds and motorised bicycles.
  • Cycle paths are clearly marked and are widespread throughout the country.
  • On motorways, on and off-ramps (slip-roads) are usually long and allow for smooth merging however do note that as of 2009 returning onto the motorway from an off-ramp lane is illegal. Passing on the right and needless use (other than for passing) of the inside lane(s) is prohibited. (passing on the right is permitted only in congested traffic)

Urban driving:
Urban driving in the Netherlands is considered by many tourists and locals alike to be an exasperating, time consuming and expensive experience.
City roads are narrow, riddled with speed bumps, chicanes and a large variety of street furniture (with knee-high, asphalt-coloured anti-parking poles being probably the most dangerous threat to paintwork as they tend to either blend into the background or be beneath the driver’s view)

Other hazards are:

  • Pedestrians protruding on the road or crossing in dangerous and not-permitted areas.
  • Cyclists and moped riders generally tend not to adhere to the rules or traffic lights so preventive driving is crucial.
  • Narrow bridges.

Parking in city centres can be expensive. Particularly in Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam street parking is sometimes limited to only a few hours and prices range between 3 and 6 Euros per hour.
Generally, underground car parks cost between 4 and 6 Euros per hour and may be by far the best choice for practical and safety reasons.

By boat[edit]

There are three ferry services from the UK

More information, timetables and ticket prices for the North Sea ferries is available at Dutchflyer[12] is a combination ticket that includes the train ride from anywhere on the Greater Anglia [13] network (including London and Norwich) to Harwich, the ferry, and the train ride from Hook of Holland to anywhere on the NS (the Dutch railway) network. Rotterdam is also the second largest port in the world, and (in theory) a good place for Freighter travel.

From Belgium[edit]

  • For a list of border-crossing buses between Belgium and the Netherlands, you may consult the list at [14].
  • In order to avoid paying for an international train ticket on the route between Amsterdam and Antwerp, you can get off in one of the border stations of Essen (Belgium) and Roosendaal (Netherlands) and walk to the other on foot. You can follow the main road between the two places and will need to walk some 10 kilometres in a flat and open, though particularly uninhabited terrain.
  • Apart from being a peculiar result of ancient European history, the town of Baarle (formally Baarle-Hertog in Belgium and Baarle-Nassau in the Netherlands) is a possible change point, since the town’s main bus stop Sint-Janstraat is operated by both Flemish (Belgian) and Dutch buses.
  • The Flemish (Belgian) company De Lijn operates a border-crossing bus between Turnhout in Belgium and Tilburg in the Netherlands, both of which are termini in the respective country’s railway network.
  • There’s a bus operated by the Flemish (Belgian) company De Lijn going between the train stations of Genk (Belgium) and Maastricht (the Netherlands). A train connection is non-existing in this place, but it is being built at the moment.

Get around[edit]

The Netherlands has a fine-grained, well-organized public transport system. Virtually any village can be reached by public transport. The Dutch public transport system consists of a train network which serves as backbone, extended with a network of both local and regional buses. Amsterdam and Rotterdam have a metro network, and Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht also have trams.

Whenever you’re walking through the bigger cities (especially Amsterdam), be aware that cyclists are a serious part of traffic! Be careful when you cross the street and keep clear of the special biking lanes (marked by red asphalt or a bike symbol).

Public Transport tickets[edit]


Travel Warning

NOTE: The old strippenkaart and the paper train tickets have been phased out in the Netherlands and are no longer valid. If you still own one from a previous visit, you can throw it away or keep it as a collector’s item.

The contactless smart card OV-Chipkaart (OV-Chipcard [15]) can be used on all forms of public transport (OV stands for Openbaar Vervoer meaning Public Transport).

Train, bus, tram, metro
OV-chipkaart only Throughout the Netherlands you generally use an OV-chipkaart to travel in public transport. This includes all trains operated throughout the Netherlands: NS, Veolia, Arriva, Syntus, Connexxion.

If you travel domestic with the high-speed Intercity Direct or ICE you have to ‘load’ a supplement fee onto your card if traveling between Rotterdam – Schiphol Airport vice versa

Paper ticket only 4 out of 5 West Frisian Islands (Waddeneilanden):

  • Vlieland (tickets in bus)
  • Terschelling (tickets in bus)
  • Ameland (tickets in bus)
  • Schiermonnikoog (tickets in bus)
  • Cross-border journeys (such as the Thalys)
Card types and obtaining a card[edit]

The OV-chipkaart comes in three versions:

  • Disposable OV-chipkaart sold with a travel product that cannot be recharged or reloaded with another product. For example a single or return train journey. It does not contain an electronic purse and is meant for people who rarely use public transport in the Netherlands. They are available for a range of fares, such as a three-day pass to all public transport in one city. The single-trip variants are sold on the bus by the driver, and sometimes on the tram.
  • Anonymous OV-chipkaart available for €7.50 at ticket offices and vending machines valid up till 5 years. This card is reusable and has an electronic purse. It is transferable, and therefore cannot be used for discounted travel, or for monthly or annual season tickets. However, the anonymous card can contain multiple products simultaneously, as long as those are ‘simple’ travel products, like those available for the disposable card.
  • Personal OV-chipkaart is useful for anyone entitled to travel with a discount. It is also the only type that can hold a monthly or annual season ticket. Because of these characteristics, the personal card is non-transferable and features the holder’s photograph and date of birth. The personal OV-chipkaart has an electronic purse. In addition, it can be set to automatically top its balance up when it drops below a certain level. The personal card is the only one that can be blocked if it is lost or stolen.

Choosing a card to fit your needs, you best consider how often and for what period you visit the Netherlands and how often you use public transport. If you are likely to use the bus/tram/metro three times or more per year, it’s usually cheaper to get an anonymous card, rather than buy a disposable one for every trip. If you are likely to do a lot of travelling in a relatively short time, you could opt for a disposable one-day or multi-day card.

Travellers can buy a travel product, for example a single ride, a one-day pass for an entire city or a monthly season ticket for a certain route. When they check out after the trip (see next section), the system will recognise that a certain product has been used and, if necessary, deactivate it.
The other option is to use money from the electronic purse on the OV-chipkaart. On checking in, the system will charge a checking-in fee (€20 for NS trains, €4 for metro, tram and bus), which will be refunded as soon as the traveller checks out, minus the fare for the trip actually made. If a user fails to check out, the checking-in fee, which is higher than the fare for most actual journeys, is refunded after filling refund forms from the travel company (refund forms can be found [here] and at the counters of the travel company ).
Loading travel credit can be done at station ticket machines, at ticket offices and some tobacco shops and supermarkets, note that with the only exception being the ticket machines at stations, most other locations charge a small fee (around €0,50).
During a trip, personnel can check cards with a mobile card reader. You must be travelling away from the point where you checked in.

Using the chip card[edit]

When travelling by train or metro, the OV-chipkaart is held against a card reader as soon as the traveller enters the platform. The card has now been ‘checked in’, and the boarding fee will be charged to the card. When the passenger ends the journey at another station, the card is held against the card reader again in order to ‘check out'; the boarding fee is refunded (minus the fare for the journey actually made if the traveller is using the e-purse).
There are two types of card reader systems on train and metro stations: free-standing card readers, and card readers integrated into ticket gates (gates open with the reader at your right hand).
When travelling by tram or bus, travellers check in and out when entering and leaving the vehicle. Card readers are placed near each door for this purpose. Changing buses or trams of the same company (as is likely within cities) travel costs will be combined (no double entrance fee, as you would pay when you check out and in between trains of the same company, see next).

Checking in and out is always required, except when you transfer from one train to another from the same operator. Changing trains from one operator to a different operator requires checking out at a card reader of the first operator and checking in at a card reader of the second operator (these locations are usually marked with big signs with the text Overstappen (Transfer)). This is order sensitive (so check out first before checking in). If you expect to travel by train only, it’s usually easier to buy single-use OV-Chipcards. If you also want to travel by bus, tram, metro or ferry an Anonymous OV-Chipkaart is recommended since it’s easier to use and will save you money in the long run. If checking out is impossible (i.e. the check-out device is defective), you can claim refunds with the public transport company involved.

Amsterdam: Checking in/out at combined stations
Beware of different gates for train (NS) and metro in combined train+metro stations. Check in at the correct gate.

Unused credit[edit]

It is possible to get a refund of unused credit on Personal and Anonymous cards at a ticket office for a €2.50 fee. The Anonymous and Personal OV-chipkaart have a validity of four to five years. Any credit that’s still on an old card can be transferred to a new card; for free if the old card is still valid, or for €2.50 if it isn’t.

By train[edit]

The country is densely populated and urbanised, and train services are frequent. There are two main types of trains: Intercity trains and Sprinter (or sometimes ‘Stoptrein’) trains which stop at all stations. An intermediate type ‘Sneltrein’ is found in a few places. All these types of train have the same prices (you pay about € 0,25 per kilometer[16]). There are also a few high-speed trains (such as the ‘Intercity Direct’ between Amsterdam Central station, this includes Schiphol Airport, and Breda) which are more expensive and sometimes require an extra ‘product’ to be put on your OV-Chipkaart (see above). Travelling all the way from the north of the country (Groningen) to the south (Maastricht) takes about 4.5 hours.

Most lines offer one train every 15 minutes (every 10 minutes during the rush hours), but some rural lines run only every 60 minutes. Where more lines run together, the frequency is, of course, even higher. In the west of the Netherlands, the rail network is more like a large urban network, with up to 12 trains per hour on main routes.

The Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) operates most routes. Some local lines are operated by Syntus, Arriva, Veolia and Connexxion.

Because of the high service frequency, delays are quite common. However, the delay is usually limited to 5 to 10 minutes. Note though that NS boasts a punctuality of 85% (meaning that this percentage of trains departs/arrives within 3 minutes of the scheduled time), which could be higher than you’re used to. Trains can be crowded during the rush hour, especially in the morning, but most of the time you’ll find a seat. Reserving seats on domestic trains is not possible.

Many tourists experience that they’re in the wrong part of a train: many trains are split up somewhere along the way, for different destinations. So watch the signs over the platforms for parts and destinations: achterste deel/achter means back and voorste deel/voor means front, referring to the direction of departure. Sometimes trains leave in the direction they came from. Probably a more secure way to know would be the part of the platform: a or b, also mentioned at time tables etc. Most trains have displays inside (front and back wall of each train section) showing stations and destination, and even information about times and platforms for changing trains. Announcements are made in Dutch when trains are separated. Feel free to ask other passengers (most people will be able to explain in English) or an employee.
When you find yourself in the wrong part of a train, don’t worry: you’ll have time enough to change at the station where the train is split.

Schiphol to Amsterdam city

Another frequent surprise involves tourists travelling from Schiphol to Amsterdam. From Schiphol you can travel by train to either Amsterdam Centraal or Amsterdam Zuid (South) (or: WTC, Duivendrecht). Tourists heading for Amsterdam City/old town need to go to Centraal but many of them wind up at South. As these railway stations are not connected directly it can take a while to get to the city centre from there. So watch the signs on the platforms. But once you are at Amsterdam Zuid best you can do is take a metro to Centraal (takes about 15 min.), a train back to Schiphol, or to Duivendrecht (direction Amersfoort/Enschede or Almere), change there to Centraal (2nd floor). If you discover it too late you might wind up in another part of the country, especially if you’re in an intercity train. If you passed the destination on your ticket and you get ‘caught’ by the conductor: stay polite and play the ignorant tourist (which is quite adequate). You’re not the first.
Be aware that NS trains have little room for luggage. Big suitcases blocking the paths are a pain for other passengers, so try to keep them between the seats. In some trains you can put them between the back of seats.

There is a convenient night train service (for party-goers and airport traffic) between Rotterdam, Delft, The Hague, Leiden, Schiphol, Amsterdam, and Utrecht, all night long, once an hour in each direction. In the nights Friday onto Saturday and Saturday onto Sunday, North-Brabant is also served. You can get to Dordrecht, Breda, Tilburg and ‘s-Hertogenbosch / Eindhoven.

Many intercity trains, (almost all single-deck trains and a few double-deck trains) have free WiFi internet access (Named Wifi in de trein). Some intercity trains have electrical outlets in the First Class, but it can’t be guaranteed.

Most trains have two comfort classes (First Class and Second Class, identified by big ‘1s and ‘2s on the side of the train). Some regional lines don’t have first class. First class can easily be recognized since the seats are usually red (most ‘Sprinters’ and intercities) or black. Second class have blue or green seats. Some sections in trains are silent zones (which is indicated with a white stripe on the glass with the text Stilte – Silence. In this zone you aren’t allowed to talk or make phone calls (the fine for calling in a silent zone is € 85,-).

Buying tickets[edit]

There is one national tariff system for train travel. You don’t need separate tickets for other operators (except in some international trains). Tickets are valid on both sprinter and intercity services; there is no difference in price. The most used tickets are the one way (enkele reis) and return tickets (retour). The latter is valid one day, so you should return on the same day. The price is equal to two ‘one way’ tickets, so a return ticket offers no price advantage. Single tickets (2nd class) can cost up to €30 and up to €60 for return on very long distances. This is the same as the price as of day passes.

Tickets are valid in any train on the route (as opposed to being valid in only one fixed train). You’re free to take a break at any station on your route, even if this isn’t a station where you need to transfer, and resume your journey later on. As in many countries, there is a difference between first and second class. A second class ticket is 60% of the price of a first class ticket. The main advantage of first class is that it is less crowded, and seats and aisles are generally wider.
For children 4-11 y.o. a Railrunner ticket is available for €2,50. The Railrunner ticket allows for free travel for the duration of one day; children need to be with a parent/guardian if they travel first class.

There is no discount for tickets that are bought in advance, unlike in some countries. The ticket price is uniform and depends on distance between start and destination (sometimes different routes are possible and allowed). Always make sure your OV-Chipkaart is checked in before boarding the train.

Tickets can be purchased from machines in stations. Some of the ticket machines, at least one at each station, also accept coins (but no notes). Since August / September 2014, all machines at all train stations accept Mastercard / VISA creditcards with PIN. There is a €0.50 supplement for paying by creditcard and a €1 supplement for buying a disposable, single-use, chipcard. Only larger stations have ticket counters. All ticket machines have English-language menus available. A common mistake made by foreigners is accidentally getting a 40% discount (‘korting’) ticket from the machine. A special discount-card is required for these tickets, although you can travel on other people’s discount cards too (Tip; you can ask a student to travel along with you, his so-called Studentenreisproduct allows for three people to ride with a 40% discount). (See Discount rail pass). If you have trouble using the ticket machine, ask someone else for help; almost everyone speaks English and will help you out. It is also possible to buy e-tickets online, although a Dutch bank account for payment (iDEAL) is necessary. Unfortunately, some tickets can only be bought online. For example group tickets, these tickets are low-priced from €7,00 till €13.75 (only depending on group size, price for all distances) for a day retour ticket.

You must buy a ticket before travelling—since 2005, you can no longer simply buy a ticket from the conductor, as in some other countries. If the conductor asks you for your ticket but you can’t show any, you’ll have to pay the ticket (without any discount) plus a € 35,- fine. If the ticket machines are defective, go to the conductor immediately when boarding. The conductor is not allowed any discretion on this policy, though being polite and pretending to be an ignorant tourist might help you get away with having an invalid ticket. In worst case though, if you do not have either enough cash, or a passport, you could be arrested by railway police. The only exception to this rule is the Grensland Express that connects Hengelo to Bad Bentheim (Germany), where you have to get the ticket from the conductor and the OV Chipkaart is not valid.

In the station[edit]

While many villages have small stations with only one or two platforms and no railway staff, cities like Amsterdam and Utrecht have large central stations with up to 18 platforms. It can take 5-10 minutes to move from one platform to another, especially for people not familiar with the station.

The platforms are all numbered. When platforms are so long that two or more trains can halt at the same platform, the different parts of the platform are indicated with the lowercase letters a/b/c, these signs are blue and have the platform number, followed by the letter (e.g. 14b) printed on them and are usually located next to the monitors containing train information. On some stations, capital letters are used to indicate which part of the train stops at which part of the station (usually seen at stations where international trains arrive), these signs are white, significantly smaller than the blue platform signs, and have only the capital letter on them.

Time tables can be found in the station hall and on the platforms. All train tables are normally yellow, with exceptions for the different schedules during planned maintenance works (blue) and queen’s day (orange). Departing trains are printed in blue (on yellow tables), arriving train tables in red. Unlike in other countries, the tables themselves are not ordered by time of departure, but by direction. In some cases, more than one table is necessary to cover a single day for a certain direction. Additionally, all stations have blue electronic screens, indicating the trains departing during the next hour (which include delays and/or cancellations).

Discount rail pass[edit]

Visitors planning to travel by train in the Netherlands should consider the Eurail pass with the Benelux package. This allows for unlimited train travel within Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg over multiple days. Europeans, not being eligible for Eurail passes, should look into Inter Rail Passes for their discount train travel.

If two or three people want to travel around the Netherlands together for a few days during the summer, the Zomertoer may be used. This pass gives them two, not necessarily consecutive, days of unlimited travel. An add-on also allows you to travel on all other public transportation in the country. In autumn weekends, the Herfsttoer also gives some discounts. These packages may or may not be available since they’re bound to seasons.

If you’re thinking of staying a longer time in the Netherlands it can be a good deal to get the Dal Voordeel Abonnement (Off-peak discount)[17], which gives the cardholder (and up to three additional persons travelling with him or her) 40% off for one year on NS trains, except when travelling during peak hours (working days 6.30-9.00h and 16.00-18.30h, except holidays). The subscription costs € 50,- for one year (2014). The subscription includes a personal OV-chipkaart which takes 2 weeks to process. If you already have one, the subscription can be loaded onto your own personal OV-chipkaart. Remember that you always have to check in and out, the discount will be automatically applied, depending on the time of check in. Depending on your travel pattern, NS also have monthly and yearly subscriptions for free travel in weekends, off-peak hours or the entire subscription period including peak hours, and also a subscription that offers a 40% discount for the entire period including peak hours.

If you are in the Netherlands for only one day and want to see much of the country by train, you may want to get a “Dagkaart” (day pass), for € 50,80 (2014)), valid in 2nd class on all non-surcharge trains in the Netherlands (thus excluding the Fyra and international trains, but including local companies. These trains are marked by a white bar on the displays stating Een extra toeslag is mogelijk van toepassing op deze trein). Sometimes different stores sell “Dagkaart” at a cheaper rate (€ 13 or € 16), however those are just tokens (only valid in a certain time period possibly weeks AFTER the day you purchased these tokens) you use on the NS website in order to change them to tickets (see instructions on the token or receipt itself). These tickets are bound to a name and date and the procedure is all in Dutch but pretty self explanatory. You also need to print these cards out, tickets displayed on an electronic screen (smartphone, tablet etc) will not be accepted. The cheaper € 13 ticket is only valid on weekends (Saturday, Sunday and holidays) while the € 16 ticket is valid every weekday after 9 AM and all day in the weekends and holiday. Stores that sell these reduced day tickets are Kruidvat, Blokker, Intertoys, HEMA and Albert Heijn as long as supplies last.

For an additional 5,50 you get the OV-Dagkaart, which adds free transport on bus, tram and metro.

The NS train service also has a special website with which you can buy combined tickets to various tourist attractions (e.g. 20% discount + free train connection). However, the website is exclusively in Dutch and a Dutch bank account is needed in order to buy the tickets (payments are processed by iDeal).

By bus[edit]

The network of regional and local buses in the Netherlands is fine-grained and frequent and usually connects well with the train network; you can reach most small villages easily. However, for long-distance travel, these regional buses are not convenient at all, and are much slower than the train.

Fast long-distance buses are only available on a small number of routes that aren’t covered by the rail network; these buses have special names that differ by region, such as Q-liner, Brabantliner and Interliner, and special tariffs.

There are four main bus companies in the Netherlands, Connexxion, Veolia, Arriva and Qbuzz. A few large cities have their own bus company.

A cheap way to get across the Netherlands is to buy a “buzzer” ticket. It costs €10 a day, and is valid after 9AM on every single Connexxion bus for two grownups and up to three children. On weekends and holidays it is also valid before 9AM. Because Connexxion has a near monopoly on the bus market, you can get from Groningen to Zeeland this way in a day, and it undercuts the train. A big downside though is that bus lines are very indirect. For example, if you want to travel from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, you have to change three or more times to get all the way there. In short: bus journeys will almost always take longer than train travel. For example, trip to Rotterdam from Utrecht will take 40 minutes, but in the Bus it will take 1 hour and 30 minutes. However, if you want to enjoy the countryside and villages you can prefer the bus trips.

Many companies and regions have their own bus discount tickets, which are often cheaper than using credit on the OV-chipkaart.

Park-and-ride-(travel-)tickets: some towns and cities have special cheaper bus tickets from car parks near the city limits to the city centre, for outside rush hours, usually a return ticket.

Night buses[edit]

Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht offer public transport at night. Only Amsterdam has a service all night and every night; in the other cities it is more limited to the beginning of the night or only during the weekend. Several other cities and regions also have night buses, usually even more limited.

You might need special night-bus tickets so be sure to check the city pages.

Metro, tram[edit]

The two largest cities, Amsterdam] and Rotterdam, have a metro network which runs mainly on elevated railways outside the city centres, and underground within the center. Furthermore there is a large city tram network in the agglomerations of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague; Utrecht has two sneltram lines (fast tram or light-rail).

Travel information[edit]

  • – Journey planner for all Dutch public transport[18] – All public transport companies participate in the OV Reisplanner, which can plan a door-to-door trip for you using all public transportation types. The site mostly relies on scheduled detours, but delays are incorporated to a limited degree. 9292 OV-informations is also available by telephone: 0900-9292 (€ 0,70 per minute/max. € 14,-).
  • Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways)[19] – Information about the trains can be found at the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) website , which includes a trip planner which uses the latest information about train delays and detours. For the information of the other transport types they use 9292ov information.
  • Google Maps (Transit)[20] – Some public transport is also in Google Maps, the planner is however not reliable. Beside is has no current information it makes lot of mistakes. This year more transport companies will participate, and Google will enhance the planner.
  • During the journey – At large train stations are (yellow) information desks, at most smaller stations there is an information/SOS kiosk. If you push the blue information button you are connected to an operator from 9292ov. If you ask train-staff, they often look for you in their smart-phone journey-planner. Almost all vehicles have digital displays with current travel information. Most train platforms and some bus stops have electronic information. Both 9292ov[21] and NS[22] also have mobile sites.

By car[edit]

A car is a good way to explore the countryside, especially places not connected by rail, such as Veluwe, parts of Zeeland and The North Sea islands. The motorway network is extensive, though heavily used. Congestion during peak hour is usual and can better be avoided. Roads are well signposted. Driving is on the Right side.
When driving in cities, always give priority to cyclists when turning across a cycle lane. If you are involved in a collision with a cyclist, you will be automatically liable (though not guilty) unless you can prove that the cyclist was in error, in which case you will be deemed half liable. If you can definitively prove that they were both in error and trying to hit you, and the person hit was 14 or older, they will 100% liable. If you wish to see only cities, a car is not the best option. Due to limited road capacity and parking, cars are actively discouraged from entering most bigger cities.

P+R park and ride facilities are available at the outskirts of bigger cities; you can park your car cheaply there, and continue your journey via public transport (often free or with a discount when you have parked at the P+R).

Road signs with directions are plenty, but having a map is useful, especially in cities where there are many one way streets, and getting from one part of the city to another is not always so straightforward. Be careful not to drive on bus lanes, often indicated with markings such as Lijnbus or Bus, nor on cycling paths, marked by the picture of a bicycle, or by a reddish colour of asphalt.

Rules regarding Public Transport[edit]

Public transport buses have the priority when leaving a bus stop, so be careful as they may pull in front of you expecting that you will give way. Furthermore, in cities where there are streetcars (Amsterdam especially), remember that Streetcars always have priority under every circumstance. Note that some tram stops are in the middle of the road, so passengers exiting the streetcars will cross the street in order to get to the sidewalks. Exiting streetcar passengers always have priority so be careful when driving past a streetcar that stopped.

Speed limits[edit]

The speed limit in built up areas is 50 km/h with some zones limited to maximum of 30 km/h. Note that 30 km/h zones are home of unmarked intersections (so all traffic from the right has right of way!). Outside of towns speed is limited to 80 km/h (this includes most N-roads, though some are restricted to 70 or 100). On some local roads the speed limit is 60 km/h. The maximum speed limit on the interstate is 130 km/h, however this is mostly based on the time you are driving, as well on the opening of the spitsstroken (rush hour lanes, indicated by long interrupted lines, when open, the speed limit is 100 or 80 km/h. This is indicated by a green arrow (open) or red cross (closed)). This is always designated next to the interstate, but this is confusing even for locals, so remember this when driving on an interstate:

  • If there are no signs whatsoever, you may drive 130 km/h.
  • If there are signs saying 120, 100, 80, the top speed at all times is (respectively) 120, 100, 80 km/h.
  • If there is a sign saying 120 (6-19) the top speed is 120 km/h between 6 AM and 7 PM, and 130 at all other times.
  • If there is a sign next to or in proximity of the 120 (6-19) sign saying 100, the top speed is 100 until you see a sign stating 120, not 120 (6-19)!
  • Speed indicated on the dot matrix signs above the lanes always take precedence over anything else you see, both when the speed is in a red circle (the regular speed limit) or without (an incidental speed limit, indicating traffic or construction). A white circle with a diagonal bar in it indicates ‘end of all speed limits from dot matrix signs’ from which moment on you obey the ordinary signs.

These limits are strictly enforced and the fines are very heavy (see below)!


Your speed will be checked nationwide by the police and fines are heavy. Exceeding the maximum speed with more than 50km/h will result in seizure of your driving licence. After that driving is considered a criminal act. Pay extra attention to Trajectcontrole signs: that means that in the road you’re driving there is an automatic system that checks your average speed on a long section. Radar detectors are illegal devices to have in your car. They will be impounded and you will be fined €250. Keep in mind that the police use so-called radar detector detectors to track down radar detector users, so it is best to turn them off. Drinking and driving is not allowed and this is enforced strongly. Breathalyzer tests occur frequently, both on an individual basis (i.e. you get pulled over and the police see it necessary for you to undergo a breathalyzer test) as on a bigger scale (i.e. the police has set up a designated control checkpoint on a highway). An unbroken yellow line next to the sidewalk means no stopping, a broken yellow next to the sidewalk means no parking. Some crossings have “shark teeth” painted on the road, this means you have to give way to the other traffic.

Note that police also use unmarked traffic surveillance cars, especially on the highways. They have a video surveillance system and often they don’t stop you right after doing a violation but they keep on following you. That means if you do more violations, you’ll be fined for everything you did. Note that the policemen in unmarked cars are obliged to identify themselves after pulling you over, which means you shouldn’t have to ask. Policemen in marked cars have to show their ID only when you ask them for it, but they too are obliged to show it when asked.

Parking fees within cities can be pretty steep. When considering going to bigger cities, such as Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Rotterdam, consider use of public transportation to avoid traffic jams and the great difficulties involved in finding a parking spot. Note that a blue line on the road or on the sidewalk next to the road indicates that you need to have a parking disc indicating the time of arrival. You may stay up to half an hour (usually) without paying. Not having a parking disc or staying too long results in a fine.

Breaking down[edit]

If your car breaks down on the highway you might go to the nearest roadside emergency telephone; these “praatpalen” can be recognized as they are about 1.5m high, yellow and have a rounded bunny-eared cap on top. This is the direct connection to the emergency and assistance services.

Alternatively, you might use a mobile phone to reach the ANWB [23] autoclub via toll-free number 0800-0888; your membership of a foreign autoclub might entitle you to discount rates on their services. Leased (business) cars and rental cars are usually serviced by the ANWB services included in the lease/rental price; but you may want to check any provided booklets.

If you are involved in an accident, both drivers need to complete and counter-sign a statement for their respective insurance companies (damage form/”schadeformulier”). You are required to have this form on hand. The police need to be notified if you have damaged (public) property (especially along the highways), if you have caused any sort of injury, or if the other driver does not agree to sign the insurance statement. It is illegal to hit and run. If the other driver does this, call the police and stay at the scene. The emergency telephone number is 112 (tollfree, will even work from disconnected mobile phones); the telephone number for non-emergency police presence is 0900-8844.


Fuel is easy to come by, but extremely expensive! The Netherlands have the doubtful title for having the most expensive fuel prices in the world for 20 years. It is better to refuel your car for 100% before going in the Netherlands, since the Belgian and German fuel prices can be €0,30 lower. If it’s truly desperately needed, only try to tank at unmanned gas stations, such as TanGo or Firezone. They save up to 10 cents, but are still far more expensive than their Belgian counterparts. Prices of fuel are, as of 2012, €1,84 ($2.20) a litre in manned stations. Along highways many gas stations are open 24/7. More and more unmanned gas stations can be found, even along highways, selling petrol cheaper. These unattended stations accept all common debit and credit cards. All gas stations sell both petrol and diesel; the “premium” brands have the same octane level (they allegedly contain compounds that improve fuel efficiency to offset the higher price). Liquid Petroleum Gas is sold at relatively many gas stations along the high ways, but it is never sold in built-up areas. The symbol for LPG gas is a green-collared petrol pump icon, set beside the general case black-collared petrol pump icon. LPG fuelled cars need regular petrol to start the motor, and can also be operated using strictly petrol, though it is more expensive.

If you come in the Netherlands with your LPG fuelled car, probably you will need an adaptor. If you buy in your country, ask for the specific Dutch adaptor. The plug sold as “european” (screw style), is used in Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany but won’t fit Dutch pumps.

Getting a public charging point for electric cars is quite hard to come by, and are only located in city centres generally. Public charging points can be found at [24].

There are currently 2 hydrogen gas stations in the Netherlands, Arnhem and Amsterdam, although more are planned in e.g. Rotterdam.

By taxi[edit]

Taxi service was traditionally a tightly guarded monopoly. In recent years, the market was deregulated, but prices are still high. Taxi drivers are licensed, but they do not, as of yet, have to pass a proficiency exam, providing they know the streets. This is planned in the future, since the taxi market is being re-regulated. In the bigger cities taxi drivers can be un-friendly to very rude. One will find that especially in the western part of the country the cost of a taxi are very high for very little politeness and service. The public transport system often proves to be cheaper and a lot faster.
If you have to rely on a taxi, there is a free smartphone app [25] for ordering taxis in most of the major cities in the Netherlands that gets you a responsible driver, and helps you keep track of the route and price.

Some taxi drivers refuse short rides (e.g. under €10). This is illegal, but it’s hard to enforce this prohibition. There is a maximum tariff, and it’s built into the taxi meters. If you negotiate a price before you get in, the price you have to pay is the negotiated price, or the metered price, whichever is lower. Getting in a cab without enough money to pay for the ride is illegal, so it’s wise to negotiate a price.

All legal taxis have blue license plates. So do some other vehicles for group transport, such as minibus services for the handicapped.

By thumb[edit]

Making your way on thumb is accepted, works quite well and locals that take you typically expect no payment in return. It’s also suited for short rides from small towns or minor streets, there might be less traffic, but in general drivers will be more likely to stop. Hitch-hiking on the highways/motorways is not allowed but generally tolerated on the on-ramps and other access points, provided you do not create a dangerous traffic situation. Try to stay before the traffic sign “highway/motorway” on a spot where cars have slow speed and where it is possible for drivers to stop and let you get in. The same safety rule applies to highway gas stations and rest places, and to traffic lights on non-motorway roads.

For longer distances, the large amount of highway crossings make it difficult to find a driver going to your exact destination, while the limited number of gas stations make it hard to change cars half way. A simple (cardboard) plate with your destination written on it is a common way to increase chances of finding the right driver, and may also convince suited drivers that they will not be stopping in vain.

There are official hitch-hiking spots (liftershalte) (lift-stops) and recommended unofficial spots at the centre or edge of a few major cities:


Liftplaats at Prins Bernardplein

  • Prins Bernhardplein , before NS Station Amsterdam Amstel (on east side of the river Amstel) (past the bus stop). Leads to the ramp of the S112 of the A10, direction E231-A1/E35-A2. It is recommended for the directions Middle-/East-Netherlands. For other directions/routes try also alternative spots.

Alternative spots / other directions(recommended for the directions West-/South-Netherlands):

  • Amstel (on the west side of the river Amstel) near traffic-lights/Utrechtsebrug and near beginning-/end-stop of Tram-line 25. Leads to the ramp of the S111 of the A10, directions E35-A2-E25/E231-A1.
  • Junction S109 of the A10, close to NS Station RAI (RAI Congress Centre; specially when there are large events or congresses). Leads to the ramp of the S109 of the A10, directions E35-A2-E25/E19-A4/E231-A1.
  • At bus stop Amstelveenseweg / Ringweg Zuid just northeast from metro station Amstelveensweg. There is an on-ramp which leads to the A10 North, A4 South and A9 (both directions). What makes this location convenient is that cars can easily stop in the bus lane in order to pick you up.

The Hague[edit]

  • Utrechtsebaan next to the northside of the Malieveld, at the beginning of the E30-A12 towards Utrecht. Also possibilities towards E19-A4 Delft-Rotterdam or E19-A44 Leiden-Amsterdam

Alternative spots / other directions:

  • edge northwest-side of Malieveld/crossing Zuid-Holland-laan/Utrechtse baan/Benoordenhoutseweg, towards Leidsestraatweg N44 and Leiden E19-A44 and Amsterdam E19-A4.


  • Graafseweg (Venlo and Den Bosch), at the major city-centre roundabout (verkeersplein) Keizer Karelplein (hitch-hiking on the roundabout itself is not recommended)
  • near the Waalbrug/before the bridge in direction Arnhem,
  • at the Annastraat, close to the Radboud University (RU)/University Medical Centre (UMC)
  • at the Triavium, across shopping centre Dukenburg

Other cities:[edit]

  • Groningen: Emmaviaduct (200m west of Centraal Station), on the road to A28
  • Maastricht at the beginning of A2 near the soccer-football stadium ‘De Geusselt’, to E25-A2 (Eindhoven) and A79 (Heerlen).
  • Utrecht close to petrol station and ramp of the Waterlinieweg near ‘De Galgewaard’ soccer-football-stadium, north to A27/A28, south to A2/A12/A27.

By bicycle[edit]

Cycling in the Netherlands is much safer and more convenient than in other countries, because of the infrastructure – cycle paths, cycle lanes, and signposted cycle routes. However, the proliferation of bicycles also means that you’re seen as a serious part of traffic – motorists and other cyclists will hate you if you don’t keep by the rules or if your cycling skills are not up to scratch. Some things to know:

  • Cycle lanes and cycle paths are indicated by a round blue sign with a white bike icon, an icon on the asphalt, or by red asphalt. Using them is mandatory.
  • Cyclists must obey the same traffic signs as motorists, unless exempted. For example, a cycle icon under a no-entry sign, usually with the text ‘uitgezonderd’ (except), means cyclists may use the street in both directions.
  • Where there is no cycle lane or path, use the regular road. This is unlike the rule in Germany and Belgium, where you are supposed to use the footpath in many places.
  • On some narrow streets that do have a cycle path parallel to them, mopeds may be required to use the cycle path, rather than the main street (as is usual).
  • Bicycles must have working front (white) and rear (red) lights. Reflectors are not sufficient. You may be fined (€ 40) for cycling in the dark without a light, and you seriously endanger yourself and other traffic by doing so. Small, battery-operated LED lights attached to your person are allowed.

There are different ways to use a bicycle:

  • if you are staying in a city, you can use the bike as a means of transport, to get from A to B. This is the way local people use it, for short journeys it is faster than car, bus or tram. You can use the bike to get to places near the city, which may not be accessible by public transport. If you choose to do this, make sure you are trained and you have a ‘working knowledge’ of riding a bike. You can seriously endanger yourself and/or other cyclists if you don’t know how to handle a bike.
  • you can cycle around on the bike, in a city, or in the surrounding area. The bike is then a means to see places and landscapes. The many signposted cycle routes are designed for this, most of them are octagonal and take you back to the starting point. Some rural routes go through areas inaccessible by car. Signs for bicycle routes are usually white, with a red border and lettering. In most of the Netherlands it’s possible to create your own routes by connecting marked and numbered points called “knooppunten”.
  • you can take the bike on a train, for a day trip to another city or region. It costs € 6, and you may not travel with a bike in the rush hour. You must carry a supplementary ticket called “dagkaart fiets”, which is easily obtained from the automated kiosks. As an alternative, you can easily rent bikes at (or near) stations. Folding bikes can be taken on board for free when folded.
  • you can load your tent on the bike, and set off across the country. For this you do need to be fit, and not afraid of rain. The national long-distance cycle routes are designed for this type of holiday, see Cycling in the Netherlands Long-distance routes [26].

The best online routeplanner for cyclists can be found at [27] a wikiplanner made by volunteers of the Dutch cyclist union “Fietsersbond”.

Bike theft[edit]

Bike theft is a serious problem in the Netherlands, especially around train stations, and in larger cities. If possible, use the guarded bike parking (‘stalling’) at train stations and in some city centres. They will cost up to €1.25 per day. In general, use 2 locks of different kinds (for example, one chain lock and one tube lock). This is because most bike thieves specialize in a particular kind of lock, or carry equipment best suited to one kind of lock. Ideally, you should lock the bike to a lamppost or similar. Bike thieves have been known to simply pickup unattached bikes and load them into a pickup truck, so they can crack open the locks at leisure.

In cities, most bikes are stolen by drug addicts, and they sell most stolen bikes too. They often simply offer them for sale to passers-by, if they think no police are watching. Buying a stolen bike is itself illegal, and police do arrest buyers. If you buy for a suspiciously low price (e.g. € 10 to 20), or in a suspicious place (in general, on the street), the law presumes you “know or should have known” the bike was stolen. In other words, actual ignorance of the bike’s origins is no excuse.

Bike shops are the best place to buy a second-hand bike legally, but prices are high. Some places where you can rent bikes will also sell their written off stock, which is usually well maintained. Most legal (and often cheap) second-hand bike sales now go through online auction sites like – the Dutch subsidiary of Ebay.

The Dutch bicycle-share system “OV-fiets” is only accessible for residents of the Netherlands or those who have a Dutch bank account. The member fee of 9 Euros a year and 3 Euros per trip is written of automatically.

Extra legal protection[edit]

“Weaker” parties in traffic such as cyclists and pedestrians enjoy extra protection from the law regarding liability when an accident occurs with a “stronger” party (e.g. cars). The basic idea is that the stronger participant (e.g. a car driver) is always liable when an accident occurs between a weaker (e.g. a cyclist) and the stronger party, unless force majeure can be proven. Force majeure is here defined as (1) the car driver was driving correctly and (2) the faults of the cyclist were so unlikely that the car driver did not have to accommodate his driving for them. When this cannot be proven, the car driver is liable, but this can be limited when the accident can be attributed to the behaviour of the cyclist, up to 50% (more if the cyclist was consciously being reckless).

The burden of proof for force majeure, for faults of the cyclist and for recklessness are with the car driver. Such things can be hard to prove, which is why some people take this rule to mean that cyclists/pedestrians always have right of way, but this is incorrect.

By plane[edit]

Due to the small size of the country as well as the abundance of road and rail connections, domestic flights have proven to be unprofitable in the past. Therefore, none exist at the moment.


The national language in the Netherlands is Dutch. It’s a charming, lilting language punctuated by phlegm-trembling glottal gs (not in the south) and schs (also found, for example, in Arabic). Dutch, especially in written form, is partially intelligible to someone who knows other Germanic languages (especially German and Frisian), and you might be able to get along at least partially in these languages if spoken slowly.

Besides Dutch, several other languages are spoken in the Netherlands, in the eastern provinces of Groningen, Overijsel, Drenthe and Gelderland people speak a local variety of Low Saxon (Grunnegs or Tweants for example). In the southern province of Limburg the majority speaks Limburgish, a language unique in Europe because of its use of pitch and tone length to distinguish words (for example: ‘Veer’ with a high tone means ‘we’, while the same word with a low tone means ‘four’).

Officially, the Netherlands is bilingual, as Frisian is also an official language. Frisian is the second closest living language to English. Despite its status as official language, it is spoken almost exclusively in the province of Friesland. Other forms of Frisian are also spoken by small minorities in Germany. When travelling through Friesland you will come across many road signs in two languages (similar to Wales and South Tyrol). This is also the case in southern Limburg. Everybody speaks Dutch, but the Frisians are so protective of the minority language that ordering a beer in it might just get you the next one free.

“They all speak English there” is quite accurate for the Netherlands. Education from an early age in English and other European languages (mostly German and to a lesser degree French) makes the Dutch some of the most fluent polyglots on the continent, and the most English-proficient country in the world where English isn’t official (90% of the population speaks at least some English). Oblivious travellers to the major cities should be able to make their way without learning a word of Dutch. Dealing with seniors or finding yourself in a family atmosphere, however, will probably require learning a bit of the native tongue.

In areas bordering Germany, German is widely spoken. However, outside of the eastern provinces, a good amount of people (especially amongst the younger generation) can also speak basic German too. French will be understood by some as well, especially the older generations. Immigrant languages are prominent in urban areas, they include Turkish, Arabic, Sranan-Tongo (Suriname) and Papiamento (Netherlands Antilles).

Foreign television programmes, films and are almost always shown in their original language with subtitles. The same is true for segments in locally/nationally-produced programmes that involve someone using a foreign language. The major exception is children’s programmes, which are dubbed into Dutch.

See[edit][add listing]

Traditional Netherlands[edit]

Zaanse Schans

For many foreigners, nothing captures the idea of the Netherlands more vividly than windmills, wooden shoes, tulips, and remarkably flat lands. Although some of these characteristics have evolved into stereotypes far off from the daily lives of Dutch people, there’s still a lot of truth to them and plenty of authenticity to be found. The Dutch have preserved many elements from this part of their past, both for touristic and for historic reasons.

Kinderdijk boasts a network of 19 windmills, once used to drain the adjoining polder. The Zaanse Schans has windmills as well, and a nice museum with traditional crafts and old Dutch houses on display. Schiedam, world-famous for its jenever, has the tallest windmills in the world, and they’re right in its lovely old town centre.

Thinking about the Dutch countryside, you might imagine wide, flat, grasslands with black and white cows. If you do, you’re not that far off. A large swathe of the country, especially the western part of it, consist of polders; reclaimed land separated by ditches. These rural areas are dotted with picturesque villages, old farms, impressive summer estates, and of course, windmills; the Waterland and Zaan Region is especially scenic. For a touch of folklore, see the traditional clothing and fishermen boats in Volendam or Marken.

The Netherlands is a major international player in the flower industry. The tulip fields are seasonal, and are specific to the Bulb Region and some areas in North Holland. They are a lovely Dutch alternative to the lavender fields you could find in France. The famous Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower garden, only opens between March and May. It is a great way to see what the Dutch flower industry has to offer. Another way to see the Dutch proudly present their flowers is by visiting a flower parade, called Bloemencorso. In a parade of this kind the floats (praalwagens), cars and (in some cases) boats are magnificently decorated or covered in flowers. Each parade has its own character, charm and theme. Many towns and regions in the Netherlands hold parades every year.

They make great destinations for a recreational bike trip or can serve as a laid-back base, from where you can explore cities in the area. The rolling hills of South Limburg have characteristic timber-framed houses and a lot of castles. The province of Gelderland combines its many castles (Palace ‘t Loo in Apeldoorn being the highlight) with the natural scenery of the Veluwe. Don’t worry if you’re headed elsewhere: you’ll find a beautiful countryside in every Dutch province.

Historic cities[edit]

Wandering through the magnificent city of Amsterdam, with its lovely canals and hundreds of 17th century monuments, is a delightful experience. For most people, a visit to the Netherlands would not be complete without a good day in its bustling capital. Nevertheless, it is only one of many towns in the country that offers a beautiful, historic centre.

Before Amsterdam’s rise to fame in the late 16th century, the fortified city of Utrecht was the country’s most important town. Much of Utrecht’s mediaeval structures remain, with canals flanked by wharf-based structures, lots of buildings from the Early Middle Ages and some impressive ancient churches. Maastricht is often claimed as the most beautiful city of the country. It is known for its romantic lanes, ancient monuments, and for what the Dutch call its “Burgundian” atmosphere.

Leiden, the birthplace of Rembrandt and home to the oldest university of the country, is yet another beautiful place with canals, narrow streets, and over 2,700 monuments. The Hague is often called the “judicial capital of the world”, as it famously hosts the Peace Palace and many international organisations. It has a spacious layout, with large estates, and the ancient Binnenhof, where the Dutch government had its seat for centuries. Also consider the gorgeous old town centres of Haarlem, Delft, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Alkmaar, Gouda and Amersfoort.

Art museums[edit]

Considering its small size, this country has brought forward an impressive number of world-famous painters. Arts and painting flourished in the 17th century, when the Dutch Republic was particularly prosperous, but renowned artists have lived in the country before and after that age as well.

Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer, Vincent van Gogh, Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Jacob van Ruysdael, and Piet Mondriaan are just a few of the Dutch painters whose works now decorate the walls of the world’s greatest museums. Fortunately, some of these world-class museums can be found in the Netherlands as well. The Museum Quarter in Amsterdam has the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum right next to each other, all three with excellent collections. The Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam also has a huge collection of drawings, including Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and foreign masters.

The Kröller-Müller Museum is beautifully located in the Hoge Veluwe National Park, with the second largest Van Gogh collection in the world (after the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam). Less focused on Dutch art, but with a unique modern collection, is the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven. Other cities with notable art museums include Groningen with the Groninger Museum, and Haarlem with the Frans Hals Museum. The newly established Hermitage in Amsterdam has all the grandeur of its big sister in Saint Petersburg, with changing Russia-oriented exhibitions on display.

Living with the water[edit]

Oosterscheldekering, part of the Delta Works

The Dutch are famous for their struggle with the sea. As a former naval power, the Netherlands owed its 17th century Golden Age to the water, and still depends heavily on it for modern day trade and fisheries, as the massive, modern port of Rotterdam demonstrates. However, with much of the country’s land below sea level, the water also caused terrible floods and great losses over centuries.

Dutch attempts to protect their lands with dikes are well recorded from the 12th century, but started around 2,000 years ago. An enormous flood in 1287 created the large Zuiderzee, an inland sea that is now known as the IJsselmeer. From that period onwards, a long process of reclaiming lands lost to the sea began. Windmills and extensive networks of dikes were created to pump out the water, slowly creating the characteristic polders. One of these polders is the Beemster Polder, and when you visit you get a few fortifications of the Defence Line of Amsterdam included as a bonus.

After another devastating flood in 1916, the country started the Zuiderzee Works, a massive undertaking to reclaim and tame the Zuiderzee once and for all. In the 1930s, the impressive Afsluitdijk was finished, which turned the inland sea into a fresh water lake called the IJsselmeer. The Zuiderzee Museum in lovely Enkhuizen is devoted to the cultural heritage and folklore of the region, as well as the maritime history of the Zuiderzee.

Another devastating flood struck the country in 1953, recording 1,836 deaths in the province of Zeeland. In the following fifty years, the famous Delta Works were constructed to protect the south-western portion of the Netherlands from flooding. It can be visited at various visitor centres, the most notable of which is the Neeltje Jans park near the Oosterscheldekering (Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier). The American Society of Civil Engineers have recognised the Zuiderzee Works and the Delta Works collectively as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.


Sinterklaas is a traditional winter holiday figure still celebrated today in the Netherlands and a few other countries. His birthday (December 6th) is celebrated annually on Saint Nicholas’ eve (December 5th). Since the celebration is a family affair, the chance is small to see the celebration as a tourist. Sinterklaas traditionally arrives in the Netherlands each year in mid-November (usually on a Saturday) by steamboat from Spain. The Sinterklaasintocht (his arrival and walk through the city) is public and organized by almost every city. From his arrival until his celebration, you can walk into Sinterklaas or the ‘zwarte pieten’ (which are his helpers) in shopping malls. Zwarte Piet is felt by some to be racist, because these black men are the helpers/servants of the white skinned Sinterklaas. Today, Zwarte Pieten have become more modern servants and parents often tell their children that the Pieten have black faces because they climb down dirty, soot-filled chimneys. If want to you experience a part of the Sinterklaas tradition, your best option is to visit the arrival of Sinterklaas (sinterklaasintocht) or buying some Sinterklaas candy such as: Pepernoten, Kruidnoten, taai-taai, chocolate coins or chocolate letters. The candy is available in supermarkets and other candy selling stores from September until the fifth of December.

Do[edit][add listing]

One of the most popular activities among the locals is cycling. And for a reason — the Netherlands has about 22,000 km of dedicated bicycle paths, which criss-cross the country with many of them numbered. It’s as easy as getting a map, picking a number, and start cycling! Particularly scenic areas well suited for cycling include the Green Heart, Hoge Veluwe National Park, South Limburg, and the Waterland and Zaan Region. Just be aware that winds can be strong (because of the flat lands), and that winters can be cold and rainy.

The Dutch coastline measures 1,245 km of coastline with many beaches. Popular activities include swimming and sunbathing, but these are mostly restricted to warm summer days. Expect Scheveningen to be extremely crowded when temperatures rise towards tropical levels. More mellow and family friendly beaches include Zandvoort, Bloemendaal, Bergen, and the West Frisian Islands.

Water sports is another activity mostly undertaken by the locals. Lakes can be found in every province, but the Frisian Lakes are outstanding, especially during the annual Sneekweek that starts the boating season. Boating can be done without licence as long as the boat is not longer than 15m and/or faster that 20km/h. Other lake-rich areas include Wijdemeren, Kaag, and Aalsmeer. Most of these lakes are very calm, with parasailing and rafting impossible.

Local non-profit tourist information organizations are mostly called ‘VVV’, they can inform you about organized activities during your stay.


The big organized festivals such as Lowlands, Dancevalley, Pinkpop and Sensation, usually sell out very fast. Advised is to buy tickets before you go to the festivals, to prevent disappointment buy them as quick as you can. For most free festivals such as Carnaval, Queens/Kings day and the Vierdaagsefeesten, you don’t need to get a ticket.

  • Every two years, the country goes football crazy as either the European Championship or the World Cup is held. Complete streets will be decorated with orange flags, the country’s national colour. It’s not uncommon for literally fifty percent of the population to be watching a game if it’s a particularly important one. Often bigger cities will put up large TV screens for the general public, like on the Rembrandtplein in Amsterdam. Likewise, cafes and bars are another popular place to watch games.
  • In the Southern Netherlands (North Brabant, Limburg and to a smaller extent also in Twente, Overijssel and the south of Gelderland), the Catholic celebration of Carnaval is held since mediaeval times. It occurs immediately before Lent; which is usually during February or March. Mainly in Limburg – where carnaval is called “vastelaovend” – carnaval is celebrated very traditionally. Every town get’s a new name and is symbolically ruled by the local carnaval-association. It is expected that you dress up in a weird- or funny-looking costume. Parades can be seen in many towns on Sunday, sometimes also occurring on Monday. Parades can also be held in the evening, usually on Saturdays all the wagons are then lit up by numerous small lights. The other days of the week, many activities can be found ranging from street painting (stoepkrijten) to beer drinking contests, some of the activities have their own dress-code like the farmer’s wedding (the “boerebroelof”, a tradition in almost every town in Limburg and some of North Brabant). The cities of Venlo (Jocus Riék), ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Oeteldonk) and Maastricht (Mestreech) are advisable for attending Carnival.
  • King’s Day (Koningsdag) is held every year at April 27th all over the country (except if this day is a Sunday, then it will be held at the Saturday before). In every village and town, you will find frolicking Dutch, free markets and authentic Dutch games. Nowadays King’s day much more becomes a day of festivals and parties. It is advised to wear orange clothing, as most Dutch people walk around in their national colour. An advisable city to attend at this day is Amsterdam, because it’s one of the largest events of the year there. In several larger cities (most notably The Hague and Utrecht), the festivities start in the evening of the 26th of April. This day used to be Queens Day (Koninginnedag), which was held on the 30th of April.
  • Pinkpop [28] is a three-day pop festival every year with Pentecost (“Pinksteren”) in Landgraaf, Limburg.
  • Lowlands [29] popfestival – every last weekend of August at Biddinghuizen, Flevoland. This festival has pop, rock and alternative live music as well as theatre performances.
  • Summercarnaval [30] – A big parade through the center of Rotterdam. One of the largest events in the Netherlands.
  • Heineken Dance Parade [31] – A big dance parade through Rotterdam. Much in the spirit of the popular Love Parade in Germany.
  • Northsea Jazz Festival [32] – Big summer jazz festival, held in the Ahoy stadium, Rotterdam since 2006 as it moved there from The Hague. Around 1,800 jazz, blues, funk, soul, hip Hop, Latin and R&B acts play during this 3 day event.
  • Vierdaagsefeesten [33] – Summer festival in Nijmegen lasting seven days, during the Nijmeegse Vierdaagse, which always starts on the 3rd Tuesday in July. The Nijmeegse Vierdaagse is a walking event where people walk a route of 30-50 km for four days in a row. You only can join the walk if you have registered yourself [34]. The celebrations (that are mostly not attended by the walkers) start already the weekend before until the weekend after and over 1 million people attend. During the festival, there is a section for all the top Dutch bands, pop, alternative and rock, electronic dance music and of course the numerous terraces and bars.
  • Sensation [35] – (Formerly known as ‘Sensation White’) One of the best-known parties in the world organized by ID&T.[36] 40,000 people all dressed in white gather to hear some big and upcoming house music DJs. Several international editions are being organized several times a year around the world with the main concert being held in Amsterdam ArenA every summer. Sensation Black (with hardstyle music) was previously hosted annually in the same location but is now being held in Belgium instead.
  • Dance Valley [37] – The largest dance festival, with over 40,000 visitors. Annually mid July in park Spaarnwoude, near Schiphol Airport. The focus is on celebrating summer, and has circus tents in which every tent is a different genre in dance music.
  • Mystery Land [38] – Dance festival with a flower-power theme. In the last week of August near Schiphol Airport. Most dance genres are present, including even electro. Also has activities such as workshops and theatre, which are usually uncommon with dance festivals.
  • Defqon.1 [39] – Dance festival focussing on the harder dance styles, such as hardstyle and hardcore. Residing in Flevoland, usually in mid June, but in 2009 is held in mid September.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Netherlands has the euro (€) as its sole currency along with 24 other countries that use this common European money. These 24 countries are: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain (official euro members which are all European Union member states) as well as Andorra, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino and the Vatican which use it without having a say in eurozone affairs and without being European Union members. Together, these countries have a population of more than 330 million.

One euro is divided into 100 cents. While each official euro member (as well as Monaco, San Marino and Vatican) issues its own coins with a unique obverse, the reverse, as well as all bank notes, look the same throughout the eurozone. Every coin is legal tender in any of the eurozone countries.

A lot of shops do not accept banknotes of €100, €200 and €500, due to concerns about counterfeiting and burglary. Shops also do not give 1 or 2 cent coins as change, usually rounding the price of shopping up or down to the nearest 5 cent denomination. Shops usually open by 9AM and they usually close by 5:30PM or 6PM. Most shops are closed on Sundays, except at the “koopzondag”. “Koopzondag” means the biggest part or all the shops are open. It differs from town to town which Sunday is the “koopzondag”. In most towns it is the last or first Sunday in a month. In a few cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Leiden) the shops are open every Sunday, in most cases they are open from noon till 5PM or 6PM. In Amsterdam centrum area is an exception, since you can see the shops open till 9PM and Sundays from noon till 6PM. The shops can be crowded with people coming into town from outside the city. In some areas shops are closed on Monday.

Credit cards & ATMs[edit]

For safety reasons, credit card use in the Netherlands increasingly requires a PIN-code. Credit card use in general is reasonably common, but not by far as much as in the US, UK or Scandinavia. The Dutch themselves often use local bank cards, i.e. debit cards without a Visa or MasterCard logo for which even small shops and market stands usually have a machine. In tourist destinations you will generally find credit cards widely accepted, as well as in larger shops and restaurants in the rest of the country, but ask in advance or check the icons that are usually displayed at the entrance.

ATMs are readily available, mostly near shopping and nightlife areas. The very smallest ones excluded, even villages usually have an ATM. The Dutch word for these machines is “pinautomaat”, and the verb meaning both withdrawing cash from ATMs and paying with a debit card (“pinpas”) is “pinnen”.


Accommodation and food is on the expensive side. Rail travel, museums, and attractions are relatively cheap. Retail prices for clothing, gifts, etc. are similar to most of Western Europe; consumer electronics are a bit more expensive. Gasoline, tobacco and alcohol are relatively expensive due to excise taxes. however tobacco products can be considered cheap compared to prices paid in the UK. A pack of Marlboro (19 cigarettes) averages about €6,00.


The Netherlands is a good place to buy flowers. Besides florists, you can buy them pre-packaged in most supermarkets.

In most cities there’s a big variety of shops and some bigger cities even have some malls.


The Netherlands is famous for its wooden shoes. However, nowadays almost no one, except for farmers in the countryside, wears them. You could travel through the Netherlands for weeks and find no one using them for footwear. The only place where you’ll find them is in tourist shops and large garden stores. Wearing wooden shoes in public will earn you quite a few strange looks from the locals.

If you do try them on, the famous “wooden shoes” are surprisingly comfortable, and very useful in any rural setting. Think of them as all-terrain footwear; easy to put on for a walk in the garden, field or on a dirt road. If you live in a rural area at home, consider taking a pair of these with you if you can. A good quality wooden shoe protects your foot from falling objects up to 10 kg, so you won’t feel a thing. Wooden shoes are made from willow or poplar wood. Willow is more expensive than poplar, because the wood is harder and more compressed. This means that the wooden shoe of willow is stronger and more wear-resistant. Also they are better isolated and more water resistant.

For good quality wooden shoes; avoid the kitschy tourist shops at Schiphol and Amsterdam’s Damrak street, and instead look for a regular vendor (such as Welkoop[40]) which can usually be found in towns and villages in rural areas. The northern province of Friesland has a lot of stores selling wooden shoes, often adorned with the bright colours of the Frisian flag.

Eat[edit][add listing]

A fancy serve of herring at a restaurant

Pea soup (snert) with bacon

The Netherlands is not known for its cuisine, but hearty Dutch fare can be quite good if done well. Some of these “typically Dutch” foodstuffs taste significantly different from, but do not necessarily improve upon, specialties from other countries. For example, while Dutch coffee and chocolate can instil feelings of homesickness in expats and might be seen as “soul food”, fine Belgian chocolate and Italian coffees (espresso, etc.) are considered to be delicacies. The Dutch, however, are known for their specialties and delicious treats:

Snacks & candy[edit]

  • Bitterbal (a round ball of ragout covered in breadcrumbs and deep-fried), served in bars as snacks with drinks and usually arrive in groups of at least five or as part of a bittergarnituur, always with mustard. Be sure to try these, Dutch people love them.
  • Bittergarnituur, a plate containing different warm and cold snacks, like blocks of cheese, slices of sausage, bitterballen, perhaps something like chicken nuggets or mini spring rolls, and mustard or chilli sauce for dipping. One usually orders a bittergarnituur along with (alcoholic) drinks, from which the name of the dish is derived (translated to English “bitterganituur” would become “Dutch gin garnish”).
  • Poffertjes are small slightly risen pancakes with butter and powdered sugar. Eat them in poffertjeshuizen or at a fair.
  • Syrup waffle (Stroopwafel). Two thin layers with syrup in between. Available packaged from any supermarket or made fresh on most street markets and specialized stalls.
  • Unadorned chocolate bars (Pure chocolade).
  • Limburgse vlaai (predominantly in the Southern Netherlands), dozens of kinds of cold sweet pie, usually with a fruit topping.
  • Liquorice (drop) is something you love or hate, you can buy all kinds of varieties. You can get it from sweet to extremely salty (double salt) and in a hard or soft bite.
  • Tompouce (a mille-feuille or Napolean), sold in most bakeries.
  • Nonnenvotten (a Limburgish braided doughnut sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. Usually seasonal in the winter).
  • Kruidnoten taste like a small cookie and are is originated from the ‘Sinterklaas’ tradition. Available in supermarkets, bakeries and other candy selling stores from September until the fifth of December. Try the other Sinterklaas candy as well, such as Pepernoten or taai-taai.
  • Oliebollen are deep fried dough balls, that are sold at bakeries and street stalls in the last weeks of December (because it’s a new years eve tradition). At most fairs it’s being sold as well throughout the year.

Breakfast or Lunch[edit]

A typical Dutch breakfast or lunch is a simple slice of bread or bread roll with butter and a slice of cheese or ham with a glass of milk or a Dutch coffee (dark, high caffeine grounds, traditionally brewed). The following typical Dutch products are often placed on the bread roll:

  • Dutch cheese is particularly famous, especially Gouda, Edam, Leerdammer, Maaslander and Maasdam.
  • Chocolate spread (like Nutella).
  • Dutch peanut butter which is considerably different from e.g. US peanut butter. Dutch peanut butter is also the basis for Dutch Indonesian or ‘Indo’ saté (satay) sauce which also contains lots of Asian herbs and spices.
  • Chocolate sprinkles (Hagelslag), sprinkled on top of buttered slices of bread (much like jam). If you want to be adventures: try a slice of bread with Dutch peanut butter and chocolate sprinkles.
  • Kroket (a round roll of ragout covered in breadcrumbs and deep-fried) served in a bread roll (broodje kroket) as lunch; best spiced up with mustard (not mandatory, though).


A conventional Dutch meal consists of meat, potatoes and some type of vegetable on the side.

  • Raw herring (haring), which is actually cured in salt. It’s available both from ubiquitous herring stands and fancy restaurants, usually served with chopped onion and occasionally even plopped into a bun to make broodje haring. New herrings (Hollandse Nieuwe) is a special treat available around June.
  • Mosselpan (mussels), boiled with vegetables (carrots, onions, celery, leek and different spices and herbs) and eaten with cold dip (garlic, cocktail). It’s cooked and served in a big dark pot. Usually only eaten between July and May.
  • Pea soup (erwtensoep or snert), made of green peas and smoked sausage. Can be very hearty and a meal itself if there are enough potatoes and other veggies mixed in.
  • Kroket (a round roll of ragout covered in breadcrumbs and deep-fried), is the most typical Dutch street snack. You can buy them at any snackbar or frituur and at several places you can buy them from a vending machine built in the wall. Also served with French fries (which you should try with mayonnaise!) on the side as a regular street meal (friet met met een kroket).
  • By ordering a Kapsalon you will get a big meal (1800 kcal) containing French fries covered with döner or shawarma meat, grilled with a layer of Gouda cheese until melted and then subsequently covered with a layer of dressed salad greens. The term kapsalon literally means, “barbershop” in Dutch, alluding to one of the inventors of the dish. This meal is sold in döner restaurants and most of the snackbars.
  • Borecole mash pot (boerenkool), mashed potatoes with borecole (kale), often served with a sausage or ‘rookworst’. Most locals only eat this during the winter.
  • Asperges Flamandes. White asparagus with Hollandaise sauce, ham, crumbled hard-boiled egg and served with boiled new potatoes. Highly seasonal and usually only eaten between spring and summer.
  • Dutch Sauerkraut (zuurkool), mashed potatoes with sauerkraut.
  • Hotch-potch (hutspot), mashed potatoes with onions & carrots. Served with slowly cooked meats or sausage.
  • Stoofvlees is the slowly cooked meat eaten with hutspot.
  • Endive mashed pot (stamppot andijvie), potatoes mashed with endive and bacon.
  • Rookworst (literally “smoked sausage”), available to go from HEMA department store outlets, but also widely available in supermarkets. Best served on a bread bun or as a dish with mash pot such as Borecole, Hotch-Potch, Endive or Sauerkraut mash pot.
  • Dutch pancakes (pannenkoeken), which are either sweet (zoet) or savoury (hartig) in variety of tastes, like apple, syrup, cheese, bacon etc. Eat them in pancake houses (pannenkoekenhuizen)
  • Food from former colonies like Indonesia and Suriname. Many traditional dished from these countries have become part of the Dutch kitchen or even staple foods.


As Dutch people usually eat Dutch food at home, most restaurants specialize in something other than local fare. Every medium-sized town has its own Chinese/Indonesian restaurant, often abbreviated as Chin./Ind. restaurant, where you can eat a combination of Chinese and Indonesian dishes. Usually you get a lot of food for a small amount of money. Do not expect authentic Chinese or Indonesian cuisine though, the taste has been adapted for Dutch citizens. These restaurants have been influenced by the Dutch East Indies (currently Indonesia) from when they were a colony of the Netherlands. Typical dishes are fried rice (Indonesian: nasi goreng), fried bakmi (bami goreng) and prawn crackers (kroepoek). A suggestion is the famous Dutch-Indonesian rice table (rijsttafel), which is a combination of several small dishes from the East Indies, not unlike the nasi padang of Indonesia. Most of them have a sit-in area and a separate counter for take-away with lower prices.

Besides Chinese/Indonesian, the bigger cities offer a good choice of restaurants with Middle Eastern cuisine for a bargain price. Popular dishes are shawarma (shoarma), lahmacun (often called Turkish pizza) and falafel. The Argentinian, French, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Spanish, Surinam and Thai cuisines are also well-represented in the Netherlands.

Modern Dutch restaurants serve good quality food and are relatively expensive compared with surrounding countries. Most of the time, profit is made from the drinks and the desert, so be careful ordering those if you are on a budget. In the Netherlands, going to a restaurant is generally not seen as a quick way to eat food, but as a special night out with friends or family, which can take a couple of hours. Service fees and taxes are included in the menu prices. Tipping is not mandatory and seen as a sign of appreciation, not as means to make up a tiny salary. In case you do want to tip as a rule of thumb rounding up to the next Euro is normal or 10 percent.

Since 1 July 2008, smoking has been banned in all restaurants, cafes, bars, festival tents and nightclubs. Smoking is allowed only in separate, enclosed, designated smoking areas in which employees are not allowed to serve. Staff may enter such smoking rooms only in emergency situations.

In restaurants the portions of food are not big, because usually people eat 3 dishes (starter, main, dessert).
Drinks are served in small glasses and there are no free refills.

The local website Iens[[41]] is used by a lot of locals to judge (almost all) restaurants in the Netherlands. There is also an English version of the website here[[42]], but you can also let the grades (1 is worst, 10 is best) speak for themselves.


Fast food vending machines at Febo

A mashed potato and mushroom kroket

In town centres, near public transportation areas or even in more quiet quarters you can find a snackbar, sometimes known as frituur or cafeteria. These snackbars are pretty much the antithesis of high cuisine, but their snacks are considered typical for the country, and many Dutch expats miss them the most when going abroad. The popular Febo [43] chain’s outlets are basically giant vending machines, just slot in a euro or two and take out the snack of your choice.

The most popular snack is French fries, known as patat in most of the country and as friet in the Southern Netherlands. The “standard” way is to order them with mayonnaise (patat met), although the local mayo is not the same as you’d get in France or most of the rest of the world: it is firmer, sweeter and contains less fat, whilst remaining just as unhealthy. Other sauces are tomato ketchup, curry ketchup (unlike regular curry, tastes more like ketchup), Indonesian peanut sauce (satésaus), cut raw onions (uitjes), special (speciaal, a combination of mayonnaise, curry ketchup and optionally cut raw onions) and war (oorlog, a combination of mayonnaise, peanut sauce and optionally with cut raw onions).

The following fried snacks are considered typical for the country as well:

  • Croquette (‘kroket’), a crispy roll filled with ragout. Can be ordered on bread as well.
  • Frikandel, a long, skinless and dark-coloured sausage, kind of like a minced-meat hot dog. Can be ordered on bread, or as speciaal (with mayonnaise, curry ketchup and cut raw onions).
  • Kaassoufflé, cheese snack popular with vegetarians, can also be served on bread.
  • Bear’s claw (berenklauw), often called bear’s snack (berenhap) or bear’s dick (berenlul), is a sliced meatball with fried onion rings on a wooden skewer, often served with peanut sauce (pindasaus).


Vegetarians should not have any major trouble. 4.5 percent of the Dutch population is vegetarian and most restaurants have at least one vegetarian option on their menus or can make you one if you ask for it. Most supermarkets sell vegetarian products or even have a part of their supermarket dedicated to vegetarian products. It is advisable to specifically mention what you do and do not eat (meat, fish, dairy, eggs) as not everyone has the same definition of vegetarianism. Finding a vegetarian option in a fast food restaurant might provide more of a challenge. Chip shops that sell veggie burgers are the exception rather than the rule; chips and kaassoufflés are often the only options.

Drink[edit][add listing]

As of January 1st 2014, the legal drinking age is raised to 18, and anyone caught drinking underage will be fined €130,-
Bar’s and Cafe’s receive a tenfold fine, so expect severe ID checks.
Beverages with an alcohol content lower than 0.5% aren’t counted, anybody can buy then, and they may be called “alcohol free” or in the case of beer “malt bier”.

It’s illegal for youth under 18 to buy alcohol and in liquor-shops or supermarkets they can ask for an ID before buying. Usually if you are below 20 you are required to show an ID.
For most festivals people between 18 and 20 need to get an wristband before buying alcoholic drinks.


Wieckse Witte, a popular white beer (witbier)

Although the Dutch beer “Heineken” is one of the world’s most famous beers, it is just one of the many beer brands in the Netherlands, and many Dutchmen consider it to be only a second-rate pilsner. You can get all kinds of beers from white beer to dark beer. Popular brands are Heineken, Grolsch, Brand, Bavaria, Amstel etc. There’s a certain regional variety in the beers you’ll find; whereas, in the Western Netherlands, many pubs serve Heineken or Amstel, pubs in Brabant will generally serve Bavaria or Dommelsch, in Limburg Brand and in Gelderland Grolsch.

In addition to the usual lagers, try Dutch white beers (witbier), which are flavoured with a spice mix called gruit and thus taste different from the better-known German varieties. Fruit-flavoured varieties (such as Kriek) are also available.

Traditional beers come from monasteries in the Southern Netherlands (Brabant and Limburg) or Belgium. You can visit a traditional beer brewer in for instance Berkel-Enschot (just east of Tilburg) at the ‘Trappistenklooster’. It needs to be said that the brewery is now owned by the big brewer Bavaria, so it’s not so traditional any more.

There are also a lot of excellent small and micro breweries (Brouwerij ‘t IJ, Brouwerij de Molen, Brouwerij de Prael etc.), if you’re a beer lover in Amsterdam consider visiting the beer shop “De Bierkoning” near “De Dam” (central square of Amsterdam), it has over a thousand beers, about half of it is Dutch and “Brouwerij ‘t IJ”.

Most breweries nowadays also produce a non-alcoholic variant of their beers, like Bavaria Malt or Amstel Malt, which contain sometimes 0% or less than 0.5% alcohol and are very suitable for people who would like to drive and don’t drink (or sometimes called “de Bob” as promoted in its campaign) or pregnant women.

Travellers coming from the British Isles and hoping to find a decent pint of ale will be sorely disappointed; unfortunately the Dutch beer market is utterly dominated by pilsner.

Bitters and gin[edit]

Also popular in winter are alcoholic bitters. Originally from the province of Friesland the bitter called Beerenburg is served in the entire country. Most other regions also produce their local, less famous variants of a bitter.

  • Orange bitter (Oranjebitter), this bitter liquor is drunk only on King’s Day (Koningsdag)
  • Dutch gin (jenever or genever), the predecessor of English gin. It’s available in two types, called oude (old) and jonge (young), which have nothing to do with aging, just the distillation style. The more traditional “old-fashioned” oude is sweeter and yellowish in colour, while jonge is clearer, drier and more akin to English gin.
  • Beerenburg (Beerenburg), is an alcoholic drink, made by adding herbs to jenever. It has an alcohol percentage of around 30%. The original Beerenburg was made halfway through the 19th century with a secret mixture of spices of the Amsterdam spice merchant Hendrik Beerenburg, to whom it owes its name. Despite it being “invented” in Amsterdam, it is considered typically Frysian.

Tea and coffee[edit]

Dutch drink black or green tea, and it comes in many different tastes, from traditional black to fruit infusions etc. Luckily, if you’re British, you get the teabag served with a cup of hot (but never boiling) water, so you can make your own version. Milk in your tea is almost unheard of and given only to children. Sugar or occasionally honey is often served with it to add by yourself.

Coffee is almost compulsory when you are going to visit people. One of the first questions when coming through the door is often “Koffie?” and it is served in small cups (a half mug) with cookies.

If you’re from the States or Canada, you can drink one cup of Dutch coffee in the morning and add water the rest of the day! If you order ‘koffie verkeerd’ (which means “coffee the wrong way ’round”) you get a cup of more or less half milk and half coffee, more like the French ‘café au lait’ or the Italian ‘caffe latte’.

Hot chocolate[edit]

Hot chocolate with whipped cream is a winter tradition in the Netherlands. It really fills you after a cold walk. In the summer you can also get it in every decent bar, however sometimes it’s made from powder as opposed to the traditional kind (regular chocolate melted and mixed with hot milk), and tastes like the best drink you’ve ever had.


Gapers (Black Moors Head)

Gaper on Van der Pigge shop in Haarlem

These are an ancient symbol for a pharmacy in the Netherlands. They look like people yawning (Gapers means Yawners in Dutch), but really they have their mouths open to take medicine. Sometimes a pill can be seen on their tongue. These symbols were once common in the Netherlands, especially in Amsterdam. Today they are very rare on buildings.

Usually the head is of a black man or Moor. This is because in the 15-17th centuries, pharmacists would travel through the country with an assistant trying to sell their medicines. Before an audience the pharmacist would give a pill to his assistant. These were often Moors. The assistant would pretend to be much better.
So pharmacies became known by the assistant’s head.
Today some bars and restaurants are named after Gapers. There is also a large collections of them in the Netherlands Drugstore Museum in Maarssen.

The Netherlands is renowned for its liberal drug policy. While technically still illegal because of international treaties, personal use of (soft) drugs are regulated by the Ministry of Justice under an official policy of gedogen; literally this means to accept or tolerate, legally a doctrine of non-prosecution on the basis that the action taken would be so highly irregular as to constitute selective prosecution. This does not mean the Dutch are all permanently high; in fact drug usage is much lower in the Netherlands than it is in countries with more restrictive policies. Much of the clientèle of the coffeeshops (see below) are in fact tourists. Be sure you are among like-minded people before lighting up a spliff. However: it is customary to smoke only inside coffee shops or in private places; using drugs in public streets and being excessively high is considered impolite, so, try to maintain a certain discipline.

If you are 18 or older, you are allowed to buy and smoke small doses (5 g or less) of cannabis or hash. For this you have to visit a coffeeshop, which are abundant in most larger towns. Coffeeshops are not allowed to sell alcohol. Minors (those under 18) are not allowed inside. Coffeeshops are prohibited from explicit advertising, so many use the Rastafarian red-yellow-green colours to hint at the products available inside, while others are more discreet and sometimes almost hidden away from plain view.

When the Dutch gedoogbeleid (“tolerance policy”) began in the 1970s, coffeeshops were dumpy little places where a few hippies sold pot to each other from shoe boxes in their basements. Today, for better or worse, coffeeshops have grown into extremely sophisticated businesses that serve thousands of customers monthly. Their success, however, is not without controversy; some coffeeshops are operated by organized crime syndicates and serve as money-laundering operations, and many Dutch consider their presence, and the accompanying throngs of foreigners, to be a nuisance. This has caused a backlash; now many coffeeshops have closed and magic mushrooms are (mostly) banned. The “wietpas” (“weed pass”), which used to be a mandatory pass to be able to buy weed, is no longer in use. It was introduced in 2012 to prevent foreigners from buying drugs, as to reduce the problem of drug tourism. This problem, however, still exists and has led to local laws in major cities in the southern provinces of Limburg, North Brabant and Zeeland preventing non-Dutch citizens from entering a coffeeshop. Since failing to comply with the law can mean instant closure and criminal charges, coffeeshops enforce this strictly. When in doubt, ask the bouncer. If rejected, do not make a scene: no really means no. Do not try to get others to buy drugs for you, this will get you in trouble with law enforcement. While it has become harder for foreigners to buy weed in the Netherlands, the use of drugs is still legal, also for foreigners.

Beware that cannabis sold in the Netherlands is often stronger than varieties outside, so be careful when you take your first spliff. Be particularly wary of cannabis-laced pastries (“space cakes”) as it’s easy to eat too much by accident — although there are also unscrupulous shops that sell space cakes with no weed at all. Wait at least one hour after eating!

Hallucinogenic (“magic”) mushrooms, once legal, are banned as of December 1st, 2008. However, “magic truffles”, which contain the same active ingredients as magic mushrooms are still technically legal and are sold in some Amsterdam head shops.

It is forbidden to drive any motorized vehicle while impaired, which includes driving under the influence of both illegal and legal recreational or prescribed drugs (such as cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis and mushrooms) as well as alcohol, and medication that might affect your ability to drive.

Buying soft drugs from dealers in the streets is always illegal and is commonly discouraged. The purchase of other (hard) drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine, or processed/dried mushrooms is still dealt with by the law. However, often people who are caught in possession of small amounts of illegal drugs for personal use are not prosecuted.

The act of consuming any form of drugs is legal, even if possession is not. If you are seen taking drugs, you may theoretically be arrested for possession, but not for use. This has one important effect; do not hesitate to seek medical help if you are suffering from bad effects of drug use, and inform emergency services as soon as possible of the specific (illegal) drugs you have taken. Medical services are unconcerned with where you got the drugs, they will not contact the police, their sole intention is to take care of you in the best way possible.

At some parties, a “drug testing desk” is offered, where you can have your (synthetic) drugs tested. This is mainly because many pills contain harmful chemicals in addition to the claimed ingredients; for example, many pills of “ecstasy” (MDMA) will also contain speed (amphetamines). Some pills don’t even contain any MDMA at all. The testing desks are not meant to encourage drug use, since venue owners face stiff fines for allowing drugs in their venues, but they are tolerated or ‘gedoogd’ since they mitigate the public health risks. Note: the desk won’t return the drugs tested.

Please note that there are significant risks associated with drug use, even in the Dutch liberal climate

  • while marijuana bought at coffeeshops is unlikely to be hazardous, hard drugs like cocaine and heroin and synthetic drugs like ecstasy are still illegal and unregulated. These hard drugs are likely to be in some way contaminated, especially when bought from street dealers.
  • some countries have legislation in place that make it illegal to plan a trip for the purpose of committing illegal acts in another jurisdiction, so you might be apprehended in your home country after having legally smoked pot in the Netherlands.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

A wide range of accommodation is available, concentrated on the major tourist destinations. They include regions popular for internal tourism, such as the Veluwe. In non-touristy areas, accommodation may be very limited.

Prices are generally high. Budget accommodation starts at around €20 per person and prices go upwards from there. Seasonal demand affects availability and can cause prices to rise dramatically, especially in Amsterdam.

Official Dutch Youth Hostels are called “Stay Okay” [44], but they are not as widespread as in Great Britain. Also there is no kitchen available for guests, so either you eat what’s on menu or you eat out. Besides the Official Dutch Youth Hostels there are plenty of other hostels spread around the country. Popular are The Flying Pig Hostels [45] in Noordwijk and Amsterdam, which do provide a kitchen for one’s own use and they have a liberal smoking policy.

Another option is staying at a bed & breakfast. There is a wide choice in the big cities, but there are also plenty to be found in the smaller towns and villages. Prices are generally €40-100, depending on the number of occupants and the season. Bed & breakfasts may not offer all the facilities that bigger hotels do, but the service is generally friendly and personal. Also, many bed & breakfasts are to be found along popular hiking trails and cycling paths.

Short-term apartment rental is available in cities, but may not be legal. While most have a 3 night minimum stay, the process of making reservations and checking in is generally identical to that of staying in a hotel, the notable exception being that most require a credit card deposit, and the balance payment in € on arrival.

Vacation rental homes are popular in the Netherlands, especially in rural areas. These small homes come in broad varieties: they can be simple or luxurious, individual places or part of large parks with lots of identical homes and they are operated by private owners as well as large chains. Traversia has the largest collection of vacation rentals in the Netherlands, by Dutch owners [46]. Large chains of vacation rental home parks are Center Parks and Landal Greenparks. Where privately owned options can sometimes provide a more authentic, local experience (e.g. located in old, timber-framed houses in South Limburg), the parks will offer additional services, restaurants and swimming pools. In most cases, you have to book at least a weekend. Although generally not very cheap, they have kitchens and therefore allow for self-catering.

If you are travelling by bicycle or by foot, there is a list of 3600 addresses where you can stay at private homes with bed and breakfast for no more than € 18,50 per person per night, although you must also pay € 9 for membership of this scheme. It is called Vrienden op de fiets [47].


The Netherlands has many universities. The country has recently converted their own titles into the bachelor/master system.
There are two types of tertiary education:

  • Universities (focussing more on theoretical knowledge, aka “Universiteit”)
  • Universities of Applied Sciences (focussing more on practical knowledge, aka “Hogeschool”, despite the usual English name, not universities according to Dutch law)

The Times Higher Education Supplement ranks 11 universities among the top 200 in the world.

English speaking students will have no problems finding suitable courses. A total of 1,456 courses are taught entirely in English.
There is also the added advantage that most locals under the age of 30 are reasonably able in English.

For international students, several scholarships are available.
They can be found on the Nuffic website [48]. Here you will also find information regarding courses, institutions, housing, formalities, culture, traineeships and possible difficulties.


Work opportunities for those from outside the European Union are very restricted. Only when an employer can prove they’ve searched in the EU, they are allowed to hire a non-EU citizen. Official policy is to deter all non-EU immigration, unless there is an economic necessity.

Citizens of certain non-EU countries are permitted to work in the Netherlands without the need to obtain a visa or any further authorisation for the period of their 90 day visa-free stay – for more information see the ‘Get in’ section above.

Students from other European countries are eligible for study financing only when they have a fixed 32 hour/month work contract or when they have lived in the Netherlands for five years.

Since 2005, the Dutch law enables what they call “knowledge immigration” the idea is to allow local companies to “import” foreign employees to work in the Netherlands. The process is straightforward and takes between 4 to 10 weeks.

Stay safe[edit]

The Netherlands is generally considered a safe country. However, be alert in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and other large cities that are plagued by pickpockets and bicycle theft, violent crimes are very rare.

Police, ambulance and fire brigade have one general emergency number 112. There is one police force, organized in 25 police regions. Visitors will deal with mostly the regional police. Some specialized forces, such as the railway police and the highway police on main roads, are run by a separate national force (highway police being the KLPD – Korps Landelijke Politie Diensten, and railway police being the spoorwegpolitie). When calling 112, if you can, advise on what emergency services what you need. When you need police but there is no life in danger or crime being executed, you call +31900-8844, with this number they will come quickly but without sirens. If you want to report a crime anonymously [49](e.g. because you are in fear of reprisals or a confrontation with the perpetrator) you can call +31800-7000.

Border controls and port and airport security are handled by a separate police force, the Marechaussee (or abbreviation ‘KMar’ – Koninklijke Marechaussee), a gendarmerie. They are an independent service of the Dutch armed forces (making them a military service, not a civil one). City guards have security tasks among their duties in most cities such as issuing parking and litter fines. They often have police-style uniforms to confer some authority, but their powers are limited. For instance, only the police carry a gun.

Prostitution in the Netherlands is legal since 1988 if the prostitute consents. Pimping or otherwise exploiting women against their will is a crime. Illegal prostitution in hotels can be raided by the police and the client as well as the prostitute can be fined or be put in jail. Hotel personnel are obliged by law to notify the police if they suspect these kinds of illegal activities. Having sex with a minor (18 for prostitutes, 16 for other people) is also illegal.

European Network against Racism, an international organisation supported by European Commission reported that, in the Netherlands, half of the Turks reported having experienced racial discrimination. The same report points out a “dramatic growth of Islamophobia” paralleled with anti-Semitism. These attitudes are however almost entirely to do with migration concerns, and, being people famed for their tolerance, the Dutch are very unlikely to treat visitors any differently based on their ethnicity.

Unsafe parts of cities
In the larger cities, certain areas are considered unsafe at night. A few are also unsafe in daylight (but only relatively so; the chances of you getting in trouble in one of these areas are still very small):

  • Amsterdam: Kolenkitbuurt, Overtoomse Veld, Amsterdam-Zuidoost, Osdorp
  • The Hague: Morgenstond, Schilderswijk
  • Deventer: Heechterp/Schieringen, Rivierenwijk
  • Eindhoven: Woensel West
  • Leeuwarden: Heechterp/Schieringen
  • Maastricht: Noord-Oost
  • Nijmegen: Hatert
  • Rotterdam: Bloemhof, Hillesluis, Oude Noorden, Oude Westen, Pendrecht, Spangen, Tarwewijk, Tussendijken
  • Utrecht: Kanaleneiland, Ondiep
  • Zaanstad: Poelenburg

Stay healthy[edit]

  • The Netherlands has some of the best ‘tap water’ in the world. It is even considered to be of similar or better quality than natural mineral or spring water and is distributed to every household and controlled by ‘water authorities’. Food (either bought in a supermarket or eaten at a restaurant) shouldn’t pose any problem either. The health care system is up to par with the rest of Europe and most cities have hospitals where usually most of the staff speaks English (at least all medical staff). In general, it’s a case of common sense.
  • In summer, open air recreational (mainly fresh water) swimming areas might suffer from the notorious blue algae, a rather smelly cyanobacteria which when it dies, releases toxins into the water. When these occur, a signpost at the entrance to the area or near the water should tell you so by stating something like “waarschuwing: blauwalg”. If in doubt, ask someone.
  • When walking or camping in forests and dunes be aware of ticks and tick-carrying diseases such as Lyme disease. It is advisable to wear long sleeves and to put trousers into your socks.
  • Prostitution in the Netherlands has been legalized to a certain degree, but even when indulging into these practices at brothels or other locations in the Netherlands where sex is sold do always use a condom since STDs are still a problem in this industry.


The Dutch are among the most informal and easy-going people in Europe, and there are not many strict social taboos to speak of. It is unlikely that Dutch people will be offended simply by your behaviour or appearance. In fact it is more likely that visitors themselves will be offended by overly direct conversation. Nevertheless, the standards for overt rudeness and hostility are similar to those in other western European countries. If you feel you are deliberately being treated offensively, then you probably are.

The exception to this openness is personal wealth. It is considered vulgar to for instance reveal the height of your salary, so asking somebody about this will be considered nosy and will probably just get you an evasive answer. Likewise, it’s not advisable to be forceful about your own religion or to assume a Dutch person you’ve met is a Catholic or a Calvinist, since most people do not adhere to any faith at all, and the country has a long, proud history of cultural and religious tolerance. In urban areas it is not considered rude to ask somebody about this, but you’ll generally be expected to be entirely tolerant of whatever the other person believes and not attempt to proselytize in any way. Openly religious behaviour is usually met with bewilderment and ridicule rather than hostility. An exception is the Dutch Bible Belt which runs from Zeeland into South Holland, Utrecht and Gelderland, and consists of towns with many strong Dutch Reformed Christians, who are more likely to be insulted by different religious views. Openly nationalist sentiments are likewise viewed with some suspicion among the general public, though there are a number of nationalistic celebrations like King’s Day (Koningsdag, April 27th) and during football championships. Mostly though, these nationalistic celebrations are mostly used as an excuse to party together rather than being true “nationalistic” events.

Social etiquette[edit]

Meeting and parting[edit]

When meeting and parting for the first time, shaking hands is the default position between both men and women. When someone is introduced, he/she will shake hands and state his/her name. At the next meeting, shaking hands is not necessary, but in business situations it is common.

In the Netherlands, cheek-kissing is in certain regions and social circles a common way of greeting among women and between women and men.It is only done among people who know each other rather well. Men don’t kiss other men on the cheeks. Men and women, and women among each other, will do it more often. Two men will generally shake hands. Kissing is particularly suitable for informal occasions, and is also common practice when congratulating someone. Hand shaking is more appropriate for formal occasions. The cheek-kissing is not compulsory. If someone does not want to be kissed, he or she extends the hand for a handshake. This will not be considered odd or rude.

Dutch people will kiss three times alternating right and left cheeks. This could lead to awkward situations for Anglo people, being used to just two kisses. It is alright or sometimes even more acceptable to just press the cheeks to each other instead of actually kissing. Also, always kiss on the cheeks instead of giving air-kisses.

Phrases saying hello or goodbye differ between regions, but are generally understood everywhere. However, the use of dialectal forms, for example the Brabantic “houdoe”, Limburgish “haije”, Gronings “moi”, and the Frisian “‘goeie'” links the speaker to that region.

Addressing people: formal and informal[edit]

Dutch people quickly start calling people by their first name. In the Netherlands, a younger person, a child, a relative, a friend, or an acquaintance are addressed with an informal “je/jij” (“you”). The formal “u” is used to address people one does not know, or is only slightly acquainted with. “U” is also used to address a higher-ranking businessperson, although it can soon be replaced by the informal “je.”

When meeting someone in the Netherlands for the first time, they are generally called sir or madam, but one will soon be asked to refer to them by their first name. In other countries, it takes much longer for people to associate on a first name basis. There is no special rule that tells how to deal with this, it is safe to follow the lead of the other person. When one introduces him/herself with just their first name, it is safe to assume that they prefer to be addressed with the informal “jij/je”.

The Dutch do not use titles when they speak to someone. In writing, one can state the title, but only in an official letter. The only exception is the Dutch King and Queen, which will always be referred to as His and Her Majesty. However, the current King, Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, has stated that people can address him in any way they feel comfortable with.

When making a phone call, always state name (and, if appropriate, company name). Even when one calls a cab, order a pizza, or ask for information, it is polite to mention one’s name.

When receiving a call, one does the same: pick up the phone and state the name. When a Dutch person answers the phone, he/she will identify him-/herself by stating their first name and/or last name. The name is usually preceded by “met” (“You’re speaking with.”) The caller is expected to identify him- or herself as well, before starting the conversation or asking to speak to another person.

When making a phone call, first ask if the call is convenient. If it isn’t a convenient time, offer to call back later. It is best not to make personal calls before 09:00 or after 22:00 (9:00 am/10:00 pm). On Sundays, one is expected not to call before 10:00. It is also better to avoid dinner time (18:00–19:30, 6:00-7:30 pm).

Table customs[edit]

When invited to a lunch or dinner, the Dutch will make it clear that you are their guest and that they intend to pay the bill, otherwise expect to “Go Dutch” and pay your fair share. No one will be embarrassed at splitting the bill.

A waiter or waitress is beckoned by slightly raising a hand, making eye-contact or calling “Ober” (“Waiter”) or “Mevrouw” (“Waitress”), but not too loudly. Snapping fingers is considered very rude.

It is also considered rude to leave the table during dinner, even to go to the bathroom. During a long dinner, one may leave the table between courses to visit the bathroom. It is polite to ask if one may be excused. When one has finished eating, one places the fork and knife next to each other at the 3:15 position on the plate with the sharp end of the knife towards oneself and the tips of the fork down. When invited for a meal in someone’s home, people are expected to eat all the food on their plate. It’s better to take multiple portions of food rather than too much at once and not eating all of it (which is considered wasteful or a sign that the food didn’t taste well). The Dutch will invite only very close friends and relatives they feel close to for a home dinner. It might take a long time of friendship before this will happen or it might never happen at all.

Table manners are important to the Dutch and if one breaks this etiquette, the Dutch might make remarks about it. During the entire meal, the fork is always held in the left hand when used. Knife and spoon are held in the right hand. The knife is not put down after the carving of the meat/fish. Both knife and fork are used together to eat. The napkin is placed on the lap. Eating with one’s mouth open, burping, smacking, and making other eating noises are considered uncivilized. Putting new food in the mouth, drinking or speaking while there’s still food in the mouth is considered rude. The Dutch frown upon breaking these basic rules. Bread is allowed to be eaten by hand. Soup is eaten with a spoon and not to be drank. Becoming tipsy is only acceptable when the dinner is held with close friends. When one does not wish to eat certain foods, it is appreciated when the host is told in advance.

In the Netherlands, men and women are equal, which means that women enjoy the same privileges as men. Enjoying lunch or dinner with a (male or female) friend will very often end up in Going Dutch (splitting the bill). When one invites someone, or if one is invited, it is only in corporate situations to be expected that the one who does the inviting pays for dinner. Otherwise bills will be split up, even sometimes when people are on a date. It is a way of showing that one is independent and self-reliant, which is highly valued in the Dutch society and insisting to pay the bill for the other party might be considered slightly offensive by the other party.

In the Netherlands, everyone receives a basic salary, tipping is optional. For example:

  • in a hotel, €1-2 to a porter, room service, or cleaning lady at the time of service.
  • in restaurants and cafés, 5-10% of the total bill. Leaving some small change on a restaurant table is common. Most Dutch restaurants and cafés collect all the tips received during the evening and split the amount among everyone working that evening (also kitchen/cleaning staff). If one is not satisfied with services rendered, he/she does not have to tip.
  • tips are generally not expected in bars, but are not uncommon.


Within Dutch society nudity is less sexualized as in for example the Anglosphere and resembles more the views of other Northern European cultures on nudity. Saunas, gyms and swimming pools are often visited by families and therefore always mixed. (In public saunas keeping one’s clothes or bathing suit on is strictly forbidden. It is considered inappropriate and unsanitary, therefore it is good manners to undress. Nudity is the norm.) Some saunas do offer special men-only or women-only evenings. At the beach and on the terraces along it, the Dutch are as sparsely clothed as possible. Do not get offended by this because to the Dutch this kind of beach dress is completely normal. Women, also older women, may also (sun) bathe topless on most beaches in the Netherlands. The Netherlands has some nudist beaches.

Weddings can range from small private affairs to elaborate parties, depending on the preferences of individuals. Dutch law only recognizes weddings as legally binding when performed by a government official, but a church ceremony may be included in the wedding festivities. Most people have a civil wedding, often conducted in the town hall. In the Netherlands there is a statutory requirement for couples intending to marry to formally register that intention with officials beforehand; allowing people who may object, time to learn of the intended marriage. This process is called “ondertrouw”.

Spitting is considered very rude.

The majority of the Dutch are irreligious and religion is in the Netherlands generally considered as a very personal matter which is not supposed to be propagated in public.

Gay and lesbian travellers[edit]

As mentioned above, the Netherlands is quite liberal when it comes to homosexuality and by far is considered to be one of the gay-friendliest countries in the world. The Netherlands has a reputation of being the first country to recognize same-sex marriage, and openly displaying your orientation wouldn’t cause much upset in the Netherlands. However, even a gay friendly country like the Netherlands has room for some criticisms of homosexuality, but this varies depending on where one travels. Regardless, with violence and discrimination against gays being rare as well as the legal status of same-sex marriage in the Netherlands, this country may be considered a gay utopia and should be safe for gays and lesbians (except sometimes in religious neighbourhoods in the major Dutch cities, after big football matches or in demonstrations if there is a violent attitude in general). Be careful with openly kissing though, as it is not accepted, not even for hetero couples.
(Be very careful, as in recent times incidents with Gay/Lesbian couples are on the rise due to “hate-crimes” done by individuals. Be alert when walking at night or through parks. If you do not trust it, do not walk hand-in-hand or be “openly gay”. People have been hospitalized.)


The international calling code for the Netherlands is 31. The outbound international prefix is 00, so to call the US, substitute 001 for +1 and for the UK 00 44 for +44.

The cellular phone network in the Netherlands is GSM 900/1800. The cell phone networks are operated by KPN, Vodafone and T-Mobile; other operators use one of these 3 networks. The networks are high quality and cover every corner of the Netherlands. With the exception of some low-end service providers, all mobile operators support GPRS.
KPN, Vodafone and T-Mobile offer UMTS (and HSDPA) service in almost all parts of the country.

There are few public phone booths left in the Netherlands. They are mostly found at train stations. Telfort booths accept coins, whereas most KPN booths accept only prepaid cards or credit cards. Some new public phones have been installed which accept coins again.
Be aware of public phones in a more public area as well as the same types in a more public-private area, where tariffs (per unit or amount of calling time) can differ.

(National) Directory Inquiries can be reached -since 2007- on 1888, 1850 and various other ‘Inquiry-operators’. Rates differ by operator, but are usually rather high, more than €1 per call, as well as per-second charges.

International Directory Inquiries can be reached on 0900 8418 (Mon-Fri 8AM-8PM, €0.90 per minute).

Phone numbers can also be found on the Internet, free of charge, on [50], De [51] and for opening times visit [52].

0800 numbers are toll-free and for 09xx numbers are charged at premium rates. Mobile phones have numbers in the 06 range, and calls to cell phones are also priced at higher rates.

If you’re bringing your own (GSM) cell phone, using your existing plan to call (or receive calls) whilst in the Netherlands can be very expensive due to “roaming” charges. Receiving phone calls on a cell phone using a Dutch SIM card is free in most cases; charges apply if you’re using a foreign SIM card, as the call is theoretically routed through your country of origin. It’s cheaper to buy a pay-as-you-go SIM card to insert into your GSM phone, or even to buy a very cheap pay-as-you-go card+phone bundle. For example: lyca [53], lebara [54], ortel [55] and vectone [56] are providers that specialize in cheap rates to foreign countries. [57] targets those travelling through multiple countries.

To enjoy cheap international calls from the Netherlands you can use low-cost dial-around services such as Qazza [58], BelBazaar [59], pennyphone [60], SlimCall [61], telegoedkoop [62], beldewereld [63], teleknaller [64]Dial-around services are directly available from any landline in the Netherlands. No contract, no registration is required. Most dial-around services offer USA, Canada, Western Europe and many other countries at the price of a local call so you can save on your phone expenses easily. They also work from public payphones.

Internet cafés can be found in most cities, usually they also provide international calling booths. Many public libraries provide Internet access.
Wireless Internet access using Wi-Fi is becoming increasingly popular and is available in many hotels, pubs, stations and on Schiphol, either for free, or at extortionate prices through one of the national “networks” of hotspots.

This country guide is usable. It has links to this country’s major cities and other destinations (and all are at usable status or better), a valid regional structure and information about this country’s currency, language, cuisine, and culture is included. At least the most prominent attraction is identified with directions. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!



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