Things That You Need To Know Before You Travel In The Netherlands.
YOU CAN GET FREE WATER IF YOU KNOW WHAT TO ASK
Water is tricky. You CAN get free tap water, but you need to be very specific in saying I’d like brown water or tap water. This is not America, so when you receive said tap water, it will probably be in the smallest cup that you’ve ever seen in your life and there’s no refills unless you ask. (Maybe I’m always quite thirsty). Also, it’s not always ice cold.
The better move is to ask if you can have a pitcher of tap water (if you’re with a group), but you will not usually receive this. If you just say water, they’ll bring you a small bottle that is non-refillable and that you’ll be charged for. Sometimes, they outright refuse and just tell you that water is not available.
TULIP SEASON IS ONLY ABOUT 6-8 WEEKS
The Dutch tulip season is only 6-8 weeks and it’s not 100% guaranteed. A lot of people email me asking if the tulips will be in bloom during their trip to the Netherlands. I find that mid-April is the safest time as it can be early some years (like with 2018) to see any blooms before that. Similarly, early May is really the end of it. If you want to see tulips during the rest of the year, consider going to the world’s largest flower warehouse (Flora Holland) or the Bloemen market in Amsterdam to buy bulbs.
THE DUTCH TRAINS
The Dutch trains are fantastic, so don’t be afraid to use them. It’s a little less than five euros for a ticket from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam. If you really want to take a cab, consider taking the train to Amsterdam before picking up a cab by Centraal. You’ll end up saving a lot of money and you’re less likely to be ripped off by a cab as the taxis by Schiphol love ripping tourists off.
The Netherlands is small, so only twenty minutes can take you to a beautiful city nearby, such as Haarlem or Utrecht. If you need to buy your ticket, give yourself 5-10 minutes ahead as there can be a line for the machine and there might be a long walk to the track. Similarly, sometimes they are delays/cancellations, so give yourself extra time (20+ minutes) if it’s something important that you must be on time for.
AMSTERDAM IS NOT LIKE THE REST OF THE NETHERLANDS
This is a big one. As a naive Eurorailer, I visited Amsterdam for three days. I came back home telling everyone that I had been to the Netherlands. The best analogy that I have is that you’re visiting only Chicago and you say that you’ve seen America. I love Amsterdam, but the city center has been lost to mass tourism and hen parties. This is not the case in other Dutch cities that you can see on a day trip from Amsterdam, including the Hague and Utrecht.
The thing is that the Netherlands is a small country with a lot of interesting regions and they’re also way cheaper to travel in. In these cities, including my new home city of The Hague, the beautiful and historic city centers are for everyone, but especially people who live in the city. You’ll get more of a sense of history and Dutch culture here too! Click for my favorite day trips from Amsterdam!