Welcome to the Netherlands

Architecture & Art

Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh, Frans Hals, Hieronymus Bosch, Piet Mondrian, and MC Escher's legacies, as well as modern Dutch works, adorn the walls of the Netherlands' world-renowned institutions.

From Romanesque and Gothic medieval magnum opuses to Dutch Renaissance creations, revolutionary Golden Age gabled houses and engineering endeavors such as canals, neoclassicism, Berlage and the Amsterdam School, functionalism, modernism, structuralism, neorationalism, postmodernism, and neomodernism, with trailblazing structures making their mark on the cityscapes, the Dutch influence on construction spans more than a millennium.


The famous landscapes of the Netherlands are shaped by geography. More than half of the pancake-flat terrain is below sea level, and 20% has been reclaimed from the sea, resulting in a plethora of polders (drained land). Windmills have been powered by unbroken North Sea winds since the 13th century, moving water over dykes and grinding flour among other things. Agriculture covers almost two-thirds of the land, including tulip fields.


Cycling in the Netherlands is a joy due to the flat terrain and spectacular scenery (headwinds notwithstanding). Cycling is ingrained in the culture, and inhabitants live on their fiets (bicycles): more than a quarter of all journeys in the country are made by bike, with the percentage climbing to more than a third in major cities.

It's a breeze to enjoy the wind in your hair freedom of cycling. Bike rental shops abound, and the Netherlands is crisscrossed by 32,000 kilometers of cycling trails, including the Dutch cycling' superhighways,' the long-distance LF routes. Take a set of wheels and go exploring.

Culture of the Café

When the Dutch say café, they are referring to a bar, of which there are thousands. Cafés are spaces for introspection and fellowship in a country where socializing and conversation are valued more than drinking. Many cafés have outside terraces, which are lovely in the summer and, in the winter, are occasionally covered and heated. Most offer food, ranging from bar nibbles to delectable meals. A bruin café (brown café), called after the nicotine stains of centuries past, is the most atmospheric way to experience the Dutch condition of gezelligheid (conviviality, coziness).

I adore the Netherlands because of its visionary architecture, vintage-meets-modern fashion, and interiors, street markets offering rainbows of fresh flowers, haring (raw herring), caramel-filled stroopwafels (waffles) and cheese, and borrel (drinks) at canal-side cafés. But it is the country's character that I admire the most. If something doesn't exist, the Dutch will design it, build it, manufacture it, recycle it, craft it, launch it (the Netherlands is one of the hottest start-up hotspots in the world), and make it a reality. There's a feeling that anything may happen here (and it invariably is).

The flag of the Netherlands

The Dutch flag is a horizontal red, white, and blue tricolor. It appears that everyone in the Netherlands has raised their flags for King's Day and Liberation Day. When their child passes their final exams, many Dutch parents fly a flag with a school bag on the pole. The flag also flies above the king's palace when he is at home. At sunset, it is customary to lower the flag. All flags are flown at half-mast on Remembrance Day.

The Royal Family of the Netherlands

The Netherlands has been a kingdom since 1815 and is formally known as the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Since 2013, King Willem-Alexander has served as the Dutch Head of State. His wife, Queen Maxima, is present at several important events and has her responsibilities. Many Dutch citizens admire the royal family. On April 27, the King's birthday is commemorated around the country. 

Cloudy skies and pastures

The weather is a popular topic of discourse among the Dutch. There are several different words for rain, ranging from miezer (drizzle) to pijpenstelen (rain) (pipe stems, cats, and dogs). It can be hot in the summer, and it can snow and ice in the winter. The shifting weather also provides stunning scenery, such as the lush green fields with grazing cows and a sky filled with towering clouds. That's the Netherlands, by the way! In our country, though, you can find hills and dunes, wetlands and high moorlands, historic woods, and even mountains.

The water and the Dutch

The Netherlands has a strong water connection. It has a coastline that stretches over 450 kilometers along the North Sea. The Netherlands is submerged to the extent that 26% of the country is below sea level. The Rhine, Meuse, and Scheldt are three significant rivers that run through the country. There are almost 4,400 kilometers of navigable rivers, canals, and lakes in the area. It's a miracle we haven't drowned yet. And it hasn't always been like this! The Netherlands has been fighting water for centuries, with dikes, waterworks, and reclamation projects. A complete new province, Flevoland, has been reclaimed from the water in order to generate more living space and agricultural land. Water sports and lovely wetlands are also among our favorite pastimes.