When travelers think of Holland, they automatically think of Amsterdam. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Amsterdam. I traveled there often when I lived in Belgium, and I love the late night parties, canal walks, and the awesome café scene. However, there is so much more to see and do in Holland beyond this great city. Experience the hipster vibes of Rotterdam, the foodie haven that is Gouda, and the laid-back vibes of one of the most northern Dutch cities, Groningen. Here’s my guide on getting around in Holland and beyond if you’re making the Kingdom of Oranje your base country for your Eurotrip.
Flying to Holland
As an American, you don’t need a visa to go to Holland if you plan to stay for 90 days or less. You can find more entry requirements for the Netherlands here. Most large carriers like KLM, United, Delta, and American Airlines have plenty of direct routes from the major American hubs, and they arrive at Amsterdam Schiphol, the country’s main airport. If you’re traveling to other European destinations from The Netherlands, look at flying into smaller airports like Groningen, Rotterdam, and Eindhoven, where you can get great deals from low-fare carriers like WizzAir, RyanAir, Transavia, Nordica, and others.
Dining Traveler Tip: all of these airports are easy to get to via train or bus.
Taking the Train Through Holland
Trains offer the easiest and most affordable way of getting around in Holland. The Dutch train system is incredibly efficient and it gets you to your destination quickly. This is especially true in the Randstad, the area that covers the most populated Dutch cities: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht. Trains are also a great way to get to neighboring countries like Belgium, France, and Germany. You can get from Amsterdam Schiphol to Brussels in less than two hours and to Paris in less than four.
Dining Traveler Tip: GoEuro has a great train guide that incorporates all of the rail systems associated with the destination. The website also offers a price and schedule comparison with other services, such as buses and planes.
Driving in Holland
Getting around in Holland can be quite tricky. The driving itself isn’t an issue, but parking can be incredibly expensive in big cities like Rotterdam and Amsterdam, where it can cost as much as 10 euros an hour. However, having a car can give you the flexibility to discover off-the-beaten path destinations that are oh-so charming. For instance, you can buy fresh Dutch cheese straight from the farmer near Gouda, discover the charming town of Giethoorn, or eat fresh seafood off the coast of Zeeland.
Dining Traveler Tip: If you’re looking to discover the country by car, look into staying in smaller towns that have local hotels with free parking.
Biking and Taking Local Transit in Holland
When traveling within the city, there are plenty of ways to get around by city bus, tram, underground, and bike, the Dutch-preferred mode of transportation. If you get confused, there’s always someone at the station willing to help you out. Don’t despair, since most Dutch people speak English.
If you really want to go native, rent a bike and truly discover the cities like a local. There are many delightful little alleys in cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht, and The Hague that you can easily find by bike. It’s normal to feel a bit intimidated at first, so read a local guide to cycling to get your bearings.
Getting around in Holland and beyond is easy, affordable, and fun. Traveling across the country is safe, and people are friendly and helpful. I recently traveled across the country for two weeks at seven months pregnant and felt very safe. Have you traveled across Holland? What are your tips?
Disclaimer: this post was sponsored by GoEuro. As always, opinions are my own