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Zaanse Schans, just north of Amsterdam. A must see place

 

 

When you think of popular tourist and holiday destinations in Europe, which places are instantly conjured up in your mind’s eye?

Do you envision the romantic city of Paris, topping off the wonderful and cultural country of France? Maybe you think of the sun-kissed beaches of Spain and Portugal?

While these are indeed beautiful parts of the world, let alone the continent, Europe has so many hidden gems which to many, have been unexplored for lifetimes. One such example is the one I’m going to be talking to you about today, and that is the Netherlands.

If you’ve never been to the Netherlands but have been mulling over the idea, as soon as you are able to do so, stop thinking about going and just go! Seriously, it’s an absolutely stunning part of the world and there is also plenty to do. I make a point of visiting the Netherlands yearly since I have relatives and friends living there and I can’t recommend it enough.

Need a little more persuasion? No problem. Here are se7en good reasons to visit the Netherlands.

 

The canals of Amsterdam

Here in the UK, it’s safe to say that you can find some of the best canal networks on the planet. From the Leeds-Liverpool, to the Grand Union, we are really spoilt for choice.

Do you know who else has a stunning canal network, and one which controversially, may even be better than the UK’s? Amsterdam, which is of course the capital of the Netherlands.

The canals were instrumental in building the Netherlands during the industrial revolution, and now they’re hugely popular amongst tourists, holidaymakers, and locals alike.

And since we’re on the subject of canals, I have to mention you can travel almost anywhere in the Netherlands by sailing on a canal. I for one find that equally amazing and useful.

Coming back to the canals of Amsterdam, may I suggest enjoying a trip on a water taxi as you take in the quaint city and your surroundings, before stopping off for a bite to eat in one of the city’s famous cafes?

Amsterdam Canal
My favourite spot in Amsterdam

 

The tulips

Whereas it’s true that flowers can make anything look nicer, you simply will not believe your eyes when you gaze upon the natural beauty that is the tulip fields of the Netherlands.

Dutch tulip fields are like something out of a fantasy epic. You’d half expect to see a magical unicorn emerging from them before flying off into the distance (unicorns can fly, right?)

If you want to see this natural beauty, be sure to visit in the spring, as for around 9 weeks each year, the Keukenhof, also known as the Garden of Europe, showcases a sea of colour in its 32-hectare plot consisting of over 800 varieties of these beautiful flowers.

A little inside tip to really see the tulips at their best is to visit between the middle of April and the middle of May.

tulip field

 

It’s heaven for cyclists

Okay, if you’re against cycling you might want to skip this one. For everyone else, though, here is my third reason to visit the Netherlands.

Since this is the Nertherlands we’re talking, you have to know there are bike lanes literally everywhere. If you wish to travel from city A to B, there’s surely a good number of bike lanes to choose from. This only makes me appreciate this beautiful country more!

Because of that, the Netherlands is one of the greenest, literally and figuratively, countries in the world because the preferred method of transport is in fact bicycle.

Close to 1 in 2 people in the country rides a bike as their primary mode of transportation and in many cities the bicycles actually outnumber the people so hiring one is not an issue.

Cycling is a great way to see the Netherlands in all its glory, plus it’s also a great way to get fit and healthy too.

bike lanes

 

It’s an artist’s dream come true

The Netherlands is considered by many to be the art capital of the world.

As you might expect, it is indeed the perfect destination for anybody with a keen interest in art.

Every single period of Dutch history has been encapsulated by innovative and iconic artistry and when you consider the sheer amount of world-famous artists produced by the country, you’ll know exactly why that is.

From Vermeer toVincent Van Gough and Rembrandt van Rijn, the Netherlands certainly has creative blood flowing through its metaphorical veins.

If you’re in the mood to gaze upon some true masterpieces you’ll also be pleased to learn that there is likely to be at least one art gallery in every city in the Netherlands, and certainly every major city.

From contemporary, to modern, and everything in between, you’ll find plenty here to gaze upon and get your own creative juices flowing.

rijksmuseum

 

The food!

If you’re a greedy glutton like myself, sorry, a food enthusiast I should say, then the food alone will make your trip to the Netherlands well worth it.

The Netherlands may not be famous for any iconic local cuisines, and whilst you’ll certainly struggle to find iconic dishes synonymous to them like paella is to Spain, or Fish and Chips here in the UK, you’ll certainly find some truly delicious snacks and baked goods to tuck into.

Now, the food you’ll find in most places likely won’t be Instagram-worthy, but it’s certainly worthy of your mouth.

For example you’ll encounter snacks such as ‘Stroopwafels’ which is a biscuit-like waffle consisting on two layers with a generous layer of sweet syrup inside. And let’s not forget the oliebollen also known as Dutch doughnuts.

And since we’re on the subject of sweets, for a guilty pleasure that will blow your mind, do yourself a favour and buy a carton of scrumptious Vla from an Albert Heijn. I can promise you won’t regret it.

Oliebollen

 

The locals

Now, without pointing fingers at other countries, it’s safe to say that some countries have a reputation for being rude, arrogant, and aversive to tourists.

You will be very glad to hear that the Netherlands is definitely NOT one of those countries.

The Dutch are amongst the friendliest people you will ever encounter and as soon as you set foot in the country, you’ll be made to feel welcome and right at home.

Right now, we need a lot of positivity and when you encounter the smiling and happy locals of the Netherlands, you’ll instantly feel more positive than ever.

amsterdam crowds

 

Cheese and beer

What could be better than enjoying a delicious hunk of cheese or sipping on an amazing craft beer? How about eating cheese whilst sipping on beer at virtually the same time?

The Netherlands make some truly cracking cheeses, with Edam and Gouda proving especially popular.

Despite these mild and creamy cheeses being so popular, you’ll also find plenty of other varieties to enjoy on sandwiches, crackers, biscuits, wraps, pizzas, burgers, bagels, fries, potatoes, pies, or simply on their own.

To really top things off, the craft beer scene in the Netherlands has really taken off over the last decade and now you’ll find beer markets, festivals, and breweries offering tours and samples.

Great, huh?

gouda cheese

 

I, for one, will never stop praising the Netherlands. I can’t wait for this whole situation to be defused – plane tickets to Amsterdam are in order! Did you know SAIL Amsterdam is supposed to take place this summer!?

Until then, stay healthy, plan your next vacation and don’t stop wondering  (even if it’s just in your head for now)!

 

 

 

Photo sources:  0, 1, 2, 3, 4

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