When most people think of the Netherlands, they think of Amsterdam with its famous red lights and “coffee” shops. (And probably tulips, too.) But there is much more to the country than those three things. The Netherlands is a country filled with historic brick filled and cobblestone lane cities, interconnected canals, beautiful and vast farmland, iconic windmills, and even some pleasant beaches. It’s one of my favorite countries in the world. Most travelers come to the Netherlands and only party in Amsterdam for a few days, but by doing so, they miss much of what the country has to offer. Spend time exploring get out of the cities and you’ll discover the country that keeps me coming back every year. I highly recommend heading north (especially in April or May when the tulips are in bloom) and also visiting Utrecht to see the country without the crowds!
Transportation – Inter-city train tickets around Holland are cheap and cost between 12-30 EUR, though for super short distances they can be as little as 5 EUR. Amsterdam to Rotterdam is 26 EUR and takes 40 minutes and Amsterdam to The Hague is 7 EUR and takes 50 minutes. Since the country is so flat, biking is the main form of transportation around cities (and for some people between cities). You can rent bikes starting around 10 EUR per day (but most places require a deposit that is returned to you when you return the bike). Intra-city trains, trams, and buses are about 3 EUR for a one-way trip. Taxis are super expensive and should be avoided at all costs.
Activities – Entrance into museums cost about 20 EUR while churches are free to enter. Hiring your own boat for a canal tour is about 24 EUR. A harbor tour in Rotterdam costs 12 EUR.
Money Saving Tips
- Avoid spending on the green – Many people go to Amsterdam to visit the coffee shops. If you choose to do this, don’t think you have to buy “stuff” in each shop. Places will let you smoke as long as you buy a drink or food.
- Get the Museumkaart (Museum Card) – Good for one month for non-residents, this card gets you into museums in Amsterdam and beyond for only 60 EUR. With the Museum Card, you get access to 32 museums in Amsterdam and more than 400 throughout the Netherlands. It’s also good for repeat visits as well! If you’re visiting multiple cities in the country, this is a must!
- Bike – Biking is the cheapest form of transportation. You can rent a bike for only a few dollars a day. However, Dutch cities are also very small and easily walkable.
- Attend a free festival – During the summer, everyone goes outside. Check local city boards for a list of free concerts, festivals, shows, and markets. Once the weather gets warm, the social calendar fills up.
- Use Couchsurfing – It’s a service that lets travelers stay with locals for free. Since a lot of travelers use this service, make your requests for hosts early.
- Cook – Dutch food isn’t going to win any awards. Try a few places and local dishes but cook often (or at least make lots of sandwiches) as your daily costs can shoot through the roof if you eat out a lot. Head to the supermarket, get some food, and save money! You’re not missing out on anything. (Sorry, my Dutch friends!)
Suggested daily budget
45-60 EUR / $46-62 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating and cooking, and using local transportation. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. If you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more, expect this to be higher!)