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Netherlands - Traveling

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Entry requirements

Organizing your trip

Means of transport recommended in town

Taxis are relatively expensive. They know all the destinations within the city (and outside) especially the very touristic ones. In general taxi drivers have a decent command of the English language. Other ways of getting around in the city are by tram (in cities such as The Hague and Utrecht) and metro (only in Rotterdam and Amsterdam). Traveling by bike is also possible, there are special bicycle paths in most cities.

Means of transport recommended in the rest of the country

There are excellent international links to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Rental cars are available at numerous locations; the downside of using a car is that there are a lot of traffic jams in the Randstad (en anglais) area, especially in the morning and evening when people go to and return from work. Parking a car in the city center is hard especially when you are not willing to pay for a parking spot. Even though all the road signs are in Dutch it is not very difficult to find your way around.
The train can be used to get from city to city. The train network is quite extensive and the trains run frequently. This frequency compensates for the number of stops.
Rail companies: Dutch Railway
Airlines
Name Type Domestic flights International flights
KLM Major Yes Yes
Transavia Major Yes Yes

Traveling by yourself

Recommendation: The highway network is dense, free and well-maintained but it is often jammed (truck traffic). Secondary roads can be taken... unless you are in a hurry. Exceeding the speed limit is severely punished (fine, disqualification from driving, seizure of vehicle). Because of the high risk of accidents due to numerous cyclists in the cities, drivers who are not used to such situations are advised to be even more careful when turning right. Tramways have right of way, it is therefore necessary to look right and left before moving in any direction on the roads, either when walking, driving or cycling.
Road maps: Google Maps
Find an itinerary: Via Michelin

Visiting

Different forms of tourism

Historical: There are a lot of historic sites to see, mainly in the big cities but also in the country side. Think of the Waterlinie and the Canals of Amsterdam.
Nature: There are a number of parks, such as de Keukenhof and other nature parks such as de Veluwe. Some Dutch sites are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, consult the website to see which they are.
Religious: All religious sites in the Netherlands.
Thermal: None.
Beach: All costal activities.
Winter sports: None outdoor, apart from when there is a rigorous winter, then ice skating outside is popular (Elfstedentocht); indoors there is skiing and ice skating.
Outdoor activities: Cycling, walking, swimming, golf.
Shopping: Special purchases include Delft (between The Hague and Rotterdam) blue pottery and pottery from Makkum and Workum, costume dolls, silverware from Schoonhoven, glass and crystal from Leerdam and diamonds from Amsterdam. Shopping hours: Mon 1100-1800; Tues-Fri 0900-1800; Sat 0900-1700. In Amsterdam, Rotterdam and other big cities, supermarkets are open from 0800-2000/2100. In large city centres, shops are open Sun 1200-1700. Shopping malls are also open on Sunday. Some cities also have late-night shopping on Thursdays or Fridays.
Tourism organizations: Netherlands Tourism Board

Living conditions

Health and safety

Health precautions: There are no obligatory vaccinations or any recommendations.
For further information on sanitary conditions: The World Health Organization webpages devoted to the Netherlands

Time difference and climate

Map of the time zone: Amsterdam, Rotterdam (GMT+1 in winter, GMT+2 in summer)
Summer time period: Summer time from March to October
Climate: Mild, maritime climate. Summers are generally warm with changeable periods, but excessively hot weather is rare. Winters can be fairly cold with the possibility of some snow. Rainfall is prevalent all year.

Eating

Food specialties: Among others, the Dutch specialties are:
Boerenkool: curled cabbage with smoked sausage
Hutspot: Dutch stew
Haagse Bluf: whipped eggs
Speculoos: traditional Saint Nicolas cake
Borstplaat or the fondant: titbit, mainly eaten between Saint Nicolas and New Year's day.
Anijsmelk: aniseed milk: one of the favorite drinks of the Dutch just as hot chocolate is.
Bisschopswijn: heated wine
Boerenmeisjes: apricot brandy.
Drinks: Beer, wine and sodas.
Dietary taboos: None

Speaking

Getting some knowledge: Some basic Dutch can be found here.
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