One of the most vibrant and fascinating countries in Europe, The Netherlands is an exciting choice for a holiday. It's a lush country with charming traditions and interesting cities, each one unique in its own way.
Amsterdam, with its quaint cobbled streets lined with tall skinny buildings, many canals and bridges, is one of the most popular places to visit in the Netherlands, and with good reason. It's home to many museums full of masterpieces by legendary artists such as Rembrandt and Van Gogh, as well as historical places like Anne Frank’s house. Cycling is a popular pastime here, and this extraordinary little city’s culture, nightlife, excellent restaurants and charm is what makes holidaymakers return time and again.
What we love about holidays in the Netherlands
- Delft is famous for its iconic blue and white pottery, and its historic centre is charming.
- Amsterdam’s iconic canals, which have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, are a must to explore.
- The Hague is home to the International Court of Justice. You can also see famous Dutch landmarks in miniature there, at Madurodam park.
- See incredible artworks by Dutch masters such as Hieronymus Bosch, van Gogh and Rembrandt.
- The Netherlands is famous for its windmills, tulips and cheese – be sure to sample some Gouda and Edam.
- Discover quaint traditional towns and villages and explore the rich Dutch history.
- Its cuisine is delicious and quite unique.
- The nightlife is vibrant and fun.
The Netherlands is a delightful place to explore, with many options for a fabulous holiday. It offers an assortment of attractions including amusement parks, museums, zoos and ski resorts, not forgetting its rich history and culture. Find fields of colourful tulips, explore traditional cheese markets, cruise numerous waterways and sample traditional dishes. Thompsons Holidays can create the perfect holiday package for you, whether you’re travelling on a budget, with family, friends or on a romantic getaway.
Things to do in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a fascinating destination for a holiday, with many places to visit and things to do. Its eclectic capital city, Amsterdam, is full of canals, cyclists, museums, restaurants and bars. Further afield you’ll find postcard-pretty towns and villages as well as cities worth exploring, like modern Rotterdam and distinguished The Hague.
Don’t forget the fantastic shopping and fabulous food, especially the street food (you have to try fresh herring, sweet poffertjes and stroopwafels from a street vendor). With its vibrant nightlife, there’s always somewhere to party in the Netherlands – and cycling will keep you fit, wherever you’re visiting.
Things to do in the Netherlands
- See Amsterdam from the water as you cruise its canals.
- Explore the open-air museum of Zaanse Schans, a replica of a traditional 17th Century Dutch village.
- Have fun in the country’s largest amusement park, Efteling in Kaatsheuvel.
- See the 18th-century windmills at the UNESCO-listed village of Kinderdijk.
- Explore the 12th-century hilltop castle in historic Valkenburg.
- See how cheese is made in Edam.
- Try on traditional Dutch clogs in the little fishing village of Volendam.
- Discover the art masterpieces in Amsterdam’s legendary Rijksmuseum.
- Visit Rotterdam’s charming old harbour.
- Go shopping in Delft’s main traditional market.
- Go cycling in the countryside.
- Take a tour through the fascinating Dutch National Railway Museum in Utrecht.
This small country has many hidden gems to show you as well as its legendary windmills, tulips, cheese and chocolate. So take time out to explore at leisure and discover its iconic charm. Thompsons Holidays can put together a holiday package especially for you, depending on whether you’re bringing the kids and making it a family holiday, or you're travelling with friends.
Know before you go...
- The Netherlands is a popular year-round destination with long hot summers and cool winters.
- The best time to visit The Netherlands is April and May (spring), and September to November.
- High season (summer) is June to August; winter is December to March.
- You will fly from Johannesburg to Amsterdam.
- There are daily flights to and from Amsterdam and Johannesburg. The flight duration from Johannesburg to Amsterdam is 11 hours, 20 minutes.
- South African passport holders require a Schengen visa to enter The Netherlands.
- Passports should be valid for at least 3 months after travel.
- The Netherlands is on Central European Time, 1 hour behind South Africa during the winter (November to March) and the same time as South Africa in the summer months (last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).
- The official currency is the Euro (€ or EUR).
- Credit cards are widely accepted & ATMs are prevalent.
- Tipping is an accepted custom.
- Food is reasonably priced in The Netherlands compared to other European countries.
- Dutch is the official language.
- English is widely spoken.
- Christianity – either Catholicism, Protestantism or Dutch Reform – is the dominant religion. Other religions include Judaism, Calvinism and Islam.
- The water in the Netherlands is the cleanest in Europe. Alternatively, bottled water is readily available.
- Vaccinations are not currently required but do check with your travel clinic before you go.
What must I pack?
- Depending on when and where you visit, lightweight clothing for summer, warm clothing for winter including rain gear. Choose items that can be layered.
- Comfortable walking shoes.
- Sunscreen, lip balm, hat and sunglasses for summer holidays.
- Mini first aid kit and regular prescription medication.
- Hand sanitiser and insect repellent.
- Travel adaptor.
- The Netherlands has an excellent transport system, including metro, tram, trains and buses.
What can I do to be a responsible traveller?
- Wherever possible, buy local food and souvenirs and support local artisans.
- Avoid single-use plastic; rather take fabric shopping bags with you and use refillable water bottles (when local drinking water is available).
- Respect each other's cultures and customs and avoid imposing your beliefs.
- Do not support animal encounters and wildlife activities that are harmful or unethical.
- Always have a map (or app) on hand, especially when travelling at night.
- Be safety conscious: don’t display cash or valuables. Leave jewellery and expensive watches at home.
- Keep your belongings safe – use the hotel safe for passports and valuables and watch out for pickpockets and bag snatchers when out and about.
What do I do in an emergency?
- If passports or valuables are stolen, report the theft to the hotel/police immediately.
- Contact the Thompsons Holidays 24-hour care line to assist.
Out of season
We’re sorry! The holiday you’re looking for is not in season. Luckily, we have loads of other exciting options. Take a look!