Travel to the Netherlands—Where to Go and How to Budget for your Trip
How to get the most out of your Dutch adventure and return with plenty of cash to spare!
10 min read
The sixth happiest country in the world and populated by more bikes than people, around 20 million tourists travel to the Netherlands each year in search of a fantastic Dutch getaway. Whether you prefer an adrenalin-packed vacation, a city break, or a family-friendly trip, you’ll find what you’re looking for in the Netherlands. Not sure where you should start? Here are the best places to visit in the Netherlands—and how to budget for your trip!
Planning your trip to the Netherlands
Before you travel to the Netherlands, you need to cover the basics. This means:
- Getting up-to-date with the Netherlands’ COVID-19 travel restrictions
- Finding the best places to visit in the Netherlands to match your needs
- Setting up your travel budget
Luckily, we’ve got your back. In this article, you’ll discover how to do all of the above. Before you know it, you’ll be admiring one of the country’s 1,000 windmills while devouring a syrupy stroopwafel and sipping on a little glass of Jenever, also known as ‘Dutch gin!’
Covid travel restrictions
All travelers entering the Netherlands from the EU or Schengen area no longer have to provide proof of vaccination or a negative test when entering the country. However, travelers from outside the EU or the Schengen area may have to bring proof of a negative test result if they’re not on the Netherlands’ list of the EU’s ‘safe countries,’ or they don’t have proof of vaccination or recovery.
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Budget your trip to the Netherlands
Nothing beats the feeling of being financially prepared for your vacation. Knowing that you can cover the cost of any hiccups that may happen along the way can be deeply reassuring. So, before you land on Dutch soil, first take some time to work out how much cash you’ll need while you’re there. This means researching how much accommodation, transportation, entertainment, and food cost in your chosen destination. A useful tip is to use the baseline of how much you pay for food at home to get a rough idea of how much you’ll spend while in the Netherlands. Of course, this will vary if you’re traveling solo, as a couple, or as a family—and depend on how extravagant you want to be while you’re there!
Once you have a rough idea of how much you should save, the next step is to identify areas where you can start making some savings. To begin, go through at least three months of recent bank statements. This will help you understand how much money you have coming and going out of your account each month. From here, identifying areas where you can make some savings often becomes much clearer. The easiest expenses to tackle are what’s known as your “variable costs,” i.e., your less essential expenditures such as subscription services, eating out, and unused memberships.
If the idea of creating a budget seems overwhelming, you’re not alone. A great starting point is the 50/30/20 budget. It’s a simple budgeting method that has helped many people gain control over their finances.
Managing your money when traveling to the Netherlands
Before you travel to the Netherlands, it’s important to make sure you know how to take money out while you’re there—and what to do in case of an emergency.
Using your debit card in the Netherlands
In general, Dutch ATMs will accept most foreign debit cards, but it’s always a good idea to confirm this with your bank before you go. It’s also smart to tell your bank that you’re planning to travel to the Netherlands so they don’t block your card while you’re away. Banks occasionally do this as a security measure if they suspect that your card is being used fraudulently.
Foreign transaction fees abroad
When using your debit or credit cards in the Netherlands, your bank can charge you foreign transaction fees. These fees are often incurred when using a currency different from the currency in your ‘home’ country. In addition, some banks also charge a 1.5% currency conversion fee on top of any transaction that takes place on the weekend. This is so that the bank can protect itself against any fluctuations in the exchange rate. In general, it’s best to ask your bank what fees you can expect to incur when using your cards in the Netherlands.
Losing your debit card while traveling
If you lose your debit card while traveling, act quickly and contact your bank immediately. The quicker the better as canceling your card stops any potential fraudulent activity from taking place on your account. In some cases, your bank may be able to send you an emergency card to a fixed address while you’re traveling so you can still access your money.
Get insured when traveling to the Netherlands
For peace of mind when traveling abroad, consider getting travel insurance to cover any health emergencies or cancellations while you’re away. This can save you a considerable amount of money and can help to reduce any travel anxiety both before and during the trip. There are many insurers to choose from, the important thing is to make sure you choose a plan that makes sense for you.
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Where to stay and what to do in the Netherlands
There are many incredible places to visit in the Netherlands, but where you should go depends on the type of vacation you want to have. As the Netherlands offers such a variety of different experiences, you’re certain to find what you’re looking for. Here are some of our top places to visit in the Netherlands to point you in the right direction.
The family-friendly vacation: Delft
If you’re looking for a family vacation, one of the best places to visit in the Netherlands is the quaint university town of Delft. Packed with museums, canals, cafés, and child-friendly activities, the home of the iconic Delft Blue pottery is an absolute must. The city is built around a system of canals which kids will love exploring by tour boat. But, if you’re looking for something a little more hands-on, head to De Grote Plas lake northeast of the city. Here you can rent a rowing boat, pedalo, or stand-up paddle board from the Knus center on the lake.
If the weather turns, the Museum Prinsenhof is just a 20-minute walk away from Knus. Here, kids can become detectives as they attempt to solve the murder of William of Orange! Further south, the Avontura Delft indoor playground is a kiddie paradise whereas Monkeytown in southeast Delft caters to slightly older children with an indoor playground, laser tag, and a 5D cinema. From here, the interactive Science Centre Delft where kids can build robots, design birdhouses, and create polystyrene sculptures while learning about science is only a ten-minute walk away.
Slightly further afield, Miniworld Rotterdam, home to a delightful miniature replica of Rotterdam, is 15km from Delft city center, and Jumpsquare Rijswijk, the largest trampoline park in the Netherlands is only 8km away. For particularly hot days, head to the Duinrell amusement park and Duinrell water park which offer rollercoasters, water slides, toboggan runs, and multiple playgrounds.
For the adventure traveler: Haarlem
Just a 30-minute drive west of Amsterdam lies Haarlem, a medieval trading port, famous for its tulip fields, cobblestone streets, and ‘hofjes’—charming small courtyards surrounded by old almshouses. However, beyond being a delightful historic city, Haarlem offers adventure travelers plenty of opportunities to get the adrenaline flowing. Within the city, you can rent a bike and pedal over to Amsterdam in just over an hour. Alternatively, you can kayak and paddle board along the river Spaarne which cuts through the city center, and if you fancy a full-body workout, the climbing wall Haarlem and Boulderhal de Fabriek are two climbing gyms right next to each other in the north of the city.
But, Haarlem’s big draw for adventure enthusiasts is that it’s positioned right on the edge of the Nationaal park zuid-kennemerland. Walking-enthusiasts can walk for hours along the many different routes through the park which wind through forests and over the top of sand dunes. If you want to explore the park on four feet rather than two, there are several horse riding schools nearby where you can ride through the forests and up and down the Netherland’s west coast. On hot days, cool off with a swim in the Het Wed lake which can be found near the park’s Koevlak entrance, or check out one of the surf and kitesurfing schools on Zandvoort Beach, just on the west side of the park.
A culture lover's dream: Amsterdam
The Netherlands’ most popular tourist destination and the capital of the country, Amsterdam is known for its striking architecture, canals, world-famous museums, and lively nightlife. To begin, no culture-lovers visit to Amsterdam would be complete without a trip to Museumplein, a hub of fantastic museums located in the city center. Here you’ll find the Rijksmuseum, home to Dutch masterpieces by Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Rubens, as well as the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, and The Royal Concertgebouw, Amsterdam’s prestigious concert hall. Just a few minutes northwest of the Museumplein, you’ll find yourself in Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s largest park and the perfect spot for a picnic or a leisurely stroll.
Thirty minutes north of Vondelpark is Jordaan, one of Amsterdam’s most endearing neighborhoods. The quarter’s narrow streets lined with boutique shops, art galleries, gardens, upmarket restaurants, and bars are the perfect place to while away a couple of hours. In the center of Jordaan, you’ll find De Negen Straatjes (The Nine Streets), a neighborhood within a neighborhood, filled with quaint cafés and eateries. Not far from Jordaan, the 17th-century canal house where Anne Frank lived and hid during the occupation is now a museum and educational center which is also well worth a visit. To the southwest of Jordaan, the Oud-West neighborhood is home to De Hallen, a refurbished industrial building, now home to a cinema, boutique hotel, and many independent stores. When hunger strikes, the complex also includes the Food Hallen—an upmarket food hall comprised of 30 stalls and bars.
One of the easiest ways to travel around the Netherlands is to take advantage of its fantastic rail network. Most trains are operated by Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways) and are generally punctual and fast. NS trains will get you to most places in the Netherlands with its Intercity lines operating between cities and the Stoptrein routes operating on a local level and connecting most of the country. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, the Netherlands also has a great bus network that can also get you across the country, usually for a fraction of the price of a rail ticket.
However, if you decide to explore the Netherlands by car, car rental companies like Avis, Sixt, and Europcar have got you covered. But be sure to use a price comparison site such as Kayak, Expedia, or rentalcars.com to find the best deal out there. Additionally, in some of The Netherlands’ bigger cities, you’ll be able to hire a car for short trips using car rental apps such as SHARE NOW, MyWheels, and SnappCar. For even shorter trips, you can hop on a scooter from Felyx or an e-scooter from Dott.
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