General Information about the Netherlands
Banks & Post Offices
Most banks and post offices are open from Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Only major banks and post offices are open on Saturday. GWK Travelex is open every day of the week. Most GWK Travelex offices are located nearby train and bus stations.
Holland has a mild, maritime climate. The summers are generally warm with changeable periods, but excessively hot weather is rare. The winters can be fairly cold with the possibility of some snow. Rainfall is prevalent all year
All major credit cards are accepted widely, but not everywhere. If in doubt, ask in advance. Cash-on-card services are available from selected American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and VisaCard addresses. These cards are also accepted by all GWK currency exchange outlets and Change Express Offices.
Holland is one of the seventeen euro countries. Even though all of these countries issue their own euro coins, all coins and notes are legal tender in all euro countries. There are eight coins (€ 0.01, € 0.02, € 0.05, € 0.10, € 0.20, € 0.50, € 1 and € 2) and seven notes (€ 5, € 10, € 20, € 50, € 100, € 200 and € 500). Very few shops, restaurants, etc., accept the € 500 note. Small shops and supermarkets do not accept the € 200 and € 100 notes either. When you pay in cash, the amount is rounded off to the nearest € 0.05.
The voltage on outlets in Holland is 230 volts. Hotels may also have a 110-volt or 120-volt outlet for shavers. Travelers are advised to bring along a power converter and an adapter for round two-prong plugs with side grounding contacts.
Emergency services (police, fire services and ambulance): 112
Police (non-emergencies): 0900 8844
Health Care Insurance System
The medical care sector in The Netherlands is based on a referral system which requires patients to see a local general practitioner first. Medical specialists will generally only see those patients who have been referred to them by a general practitioner.
The Dutch National Health Service does not cover visitors to the Netherlands. It is therefore recommended to obtain an estimate of the cost involved before receiving any services. It is also important to telephone the doctor's office for an appointment.
Holidays in Holland
Every country has its own holidays. The most famous holidays in Holland are Sinterklaas (December 5th) and Kings Day (April 27th). Sinterklaas is celebrated in December, with children receiving presents when they have been good. Kings Day is when the Dutch celebrate their kings birthday. It is a national holiday celebrated mainly in the streets with many music acts and draws many tourists every year
Holland has numerous places where you can use a computer with internet access, including internet cafés, libraries and almost any hotel. Nowadays many restaurants, lunch rooms, coffee shops and cafes also offer free WiFi services. Travelers from the European Union can use their own data plan without roaming costs
Water dominates the Dutch landscape. Three big European rivers (Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt) reach the ocean via the Netherlands and create an important delta. 26% of the Netherlands is under sea level. During an age-long battle against the water, the Dutch constructed a water system consisting of dykes, polders and weirs. However, the Netherlands offers more variation than the familiar green, flat polder landscape with black and white cows.
The official language is Dutch. The population of the province of Friesland has a choice between Dutch and Frisian, the only officially recognized regional language. Many Dutch people also speak German and English.
Most shops are opened every day from around 9 a.m. until 5.30 p.m. On Monday mornings, shops often dont open until around noon. Most towns and cities have a shopping night when shops are opened until 9 p.m. This is usually on a Thursday.
Every Dutch city has its own rules for shopping on Sundays. Dates are available at the local tourist information (VVV). In most big cities, supermarkets are open every day until 10 p.m., except on Sundays when they close around 5.30 p.m. In other parts of the country, supermarkets are usually opened until 8 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays, with varying opening times on Sundays.
Things to try
- Zoute haring (salt herring), eaten raw, purchased at the local market. Grab it by the tail and drop it in your mouth. To be eaten with chopped raw onions.
- Kroket (Croquette). Ground meat and herb stew in a bread crumb crust and then deep-fried, usually eaten with mustard.
- Snert/Erwtensoep (Pea soup). Traditionally served with a very dark rye bread and bacon.
- Stroopwafels (syrup waffels). A type of cookie that can be purchased at any supermarket but best eaten warm from a market stall.
- Drop (licorice). Candy! Avaialable in many different flavors and shapes. Try both the zoete (sweet) and zoute (salty).
- Poffertjes (miniature pancakes). Traditionally served with butter and icing sugar.
- Stamppot (Meshed pot). A potato and vegetable mash, to be had as dinner with a rookworst (smoked sausage), bacon or some stew. Typically served in the winter in rustic venues or cafes.
- Hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles): Children in the Netherlands are among the happiest in the world according to UNICEF, and I totally understand, because do you know what they eat for breakfast? Chocolate sprinkles!
The Netherlands is two-hours ahead on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), one-hour ahead Central European Time (CET) and seven-hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Time.
|Hi / Bye||Hoi / Hallo / Daag / Doei|
|Please||Alstublieft / Alsjeblieft|
|Thank you||Dank u wel / Dank je wel|
|You're welcome (don't mention it)||Graag gedaan|
|Yes / No||Ja / Nee|
|How are you?||Hoe gaat het?|
|What's your name?||Hoe heet je?|
|My name is (I'm called)...||Ik heet...|
|Nice to meet you.||Aangenaam (kennis te maken)|
|Where are you from?||Waar kom je vandaan?|
|I am from the Netherlands.||Ik kom uit Nederland.|
|Do you speak English?||Spreek je Engels?|
|I (don't) understand.||Ik begrijp het (niet).|
|I'd like...||Ik wil graag...|
|Have fun!||Veel plezier!|
|Good luck!||Veel succes!|
The tap water in Holland is of excellent quality and you can drink from any tap, unless explicitly stated otherwise. Bottled water is available at all supermarkets, snack bars and kiosks.
Weights & Measures
Holland uses the metric system and therefore uses meters as its measurement for length, liters for liquids and kilos for weight. This is different from countries that use the Imperial System. The conversions between these two systems are:
Kilometers & miles
1 mile = 1.609 kilometers / 1 kilometer = 0.621 miles
Liters & gallons
1 gallon = 4.546 liters / 1 liter = 0.220 gallons
Kilos & pounds
1 pound = 0.453 kilos / 1 kilo = 2.204 pounds