Get to know Holland
From Amsterdam’s historic canal network to verdant fields inland, the Netherlands (often referred to as Holland) effortlessly combines culture and history with the simple beauty of the great outdoors.
The Netherlands embodies the very best of European culture. It’s the home of Vincent van Gogh, countless delicious cheeses, fields of windmills and tulips, and possibly the world's prettiest canal network (don’t tell the Venetians). Cities here are historic, colourful, and welcoming from the second you step onto the cobblestones.
You'll notice recurrent colours across the country. Narrow redbrick buildings are prominent in the capital, whilst wide meadows stretch out with vibrant shades of red and yellow as you venture into rural areas. Rivers, canals and waterways criss-cross the country, making river cruises the perfect mode of travel. Focus on the Netherlands, divert into neighbouring Belgium, or combine Holland with a journey along the mighty Rhine, taking you south to explore Germany’s grand castles and half-timbered towns.
Amsterdam’s historic centre is beautiful, with neat rows of gabled townhouses edging tree-lined canals. Wander through the Nine Streets district to find cosy cafes and cool boutiques selling homewares and clothes by Dutch and Scandi labels. When it comes to museums and galleries, you’re spoilt for choice – highlights include the huge Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum.
These lovely gardens near the town of Lisse are at their most beautiful in the springtime, when thousands of tulips burst from the ground and carpet the fields in a rainbow’s worth of colours. Many river cruises will have special spring departures to coincide with the tulip season, giving you a full day at the gardens to appreciate the blooms.
Spring is the time to visit for the tulips – they tend to bloom mid-April to early May, though this does fluctuate depending on the weather. Summer is glorious, with long days and al fresco dining – expect temperatures similar to the UK. Rainfall is fairly high year-round, so be sure to pack a raincoat or umbrella in your case.
Flight time from the UK to Amsterdam is around an hour.
The Netherlands is two hours ahead of GMT.
Dutch is the official language. English is widely spoken in tourist areas.
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