Holland, Europe’s gentle giant of a tiny nation
Though Amsterdam is a Dutch showstopper, tourism in the Netherlands extends well beyond its capital city. Savvy travellers take one of the many flights and then hop on a bike through Holland’s pancake-flat countryside, over crisscrossing canals, along fields of tulips and past pretty vintage windmills.
Why take a ferry to the Frisian Islands when walking is so much more fun? Wadlopen, or “mud-walking,” is a strenuous and popular Dutch activity that’s quickly becoming beloved by tourists. Groups of trained guides, like Stichting Wadloopcentrum Pieterburen, offer walks in these mud flats from 5 km to an arduous but invigorating 20 km.
Kinderdijk makes visitors feel as though they’ve walked into a Rembrandt painting. A series of 19 windmills dating from the 18th century rise up from the marshes, creating a starkly beautiful portrait of the Dutch countryside.
The Netherlands’ largest and most prestigious museum, Rijksmuseum is dedicated to art and history in Holland from 1200 to 2000. Fully reopened in 2013 after a 10-year, €375-million renovation, it houses works by Dutch masters like Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Vermeer.
One of the most visited attractions in Holland, Keukenhof is the world’s biggest flower garden. Seven million bulbs are planted here annually. Open from March to mid-May, it’s a must-see.
Food in Holland
Open since the 1940s, Van Dobben is a fantastic little Amsterdam diner serving traditional meaty Dutch fare like pekelvlees (similar to corned beef) along with kroketten, or Dutch croquettes.
Wilde Zwijnen means wild boar, and this out-of-the-way eatery’s rough-hewn wooden tables and sparse decor do provide guests with a heartily rustic experience. Amsterdammers love that it’s not inundated by tourists, and tourists love getting a taste of authentic contemporary Dutch cuisine.
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