Best time to go: mid-April to mid-October. Rain is frequent throughout the year. The fog and mist can be very cold during the colder months.
Best for: Medieval Architecture, Museums & Galleries, Tulips
The Netherlands is a lively mix of tradition, in the form of windmills and tulips, and fast-paced modern European life. The Netherlands is an ideal destination for those who enjoy pursuits like cycling or walking without over-exerting themselves.
A glass-topped boat tour round Amsterdam`s many waterways and harbour is an excellent way to see the city`s most interesting areas. Another option is to take the Museum Boat.
Stroll around the historic city of Gouda, following the Cheese Map (available from the local tourist office) which leads visitors around the various landmarks, including the Weighhouse Museum, associated with cheese making in the city.
Take a trip to the Hoge Veluwe national park near Arnhem, with its underground museum dedicated to subterranean life, and also visit the Kröller-Müller Museum.
For up to date Health & Visa information click here
Capital: Amsterdam (AMS / SPL)
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Language: Dutch. Frisian is spoken in Friesland. English is widely spoken.
Dialling code from SA: +31
Time Zone: GMT / UTC +1 (1 hour behind South Africa)
Daylight Savings Time: from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October: UTC / GMT +2 (same time as South Africa)
Side of the Road: Right
Plugs: 230 volts AC, 50Hz. Two-pin European-style plugs are in use
Drinking Water: Mains water in hotels and towns is safe to drink.
Health: There are adequate and well-equipped medical facilities, however visitors are required to pay for these services. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended. If you require any medication on your travels it is best to bring it with you, in the original packaging, with a signed and dated letter from your doctor detailing exactly what it is and why you need it.
Customs: Normal social courtesies. The Dutch have tolerant attitudes, and are known for their directness. Orange is related to the Royal Family and the national identity of the country, it is frequently worn during sport events.
Local Offences / Laws: The use of cannabis is allowed in designated coffee shops only. The trafficking, possession and use of drugs (including cannabis outside of licensed premises) is illegal and carries prison sentences. Smoking in public is prohibited. Individuals over the age of 14 need to carry identification.
Travel Tips / Warnings: There have been reports of a scam whereby “plain clothes policemen” who claim to be investigating credit card fraud and counterfeit currency will approach tourists and ask to see credit cards and cash. Visitor passes are offered by some cities and offer free / reduced admission to museums and attractions.
Duty Free: The Netherlands is within the European Union. If you are travelling from the UK, you are entitled to buy fragrance, skincare, cosmetics, Champagne, wine, selected spirits, fashion accessories, gifts and souvenirs – all at tax-free equivalent prices.
If you are travelling from within the EU, there is no limit on the amount or value of goods you may import, providing your goods are for personal consumption. Goods imported for commercial purposes are subject to duty and the following guideline amounts are in place to determine whether this is the case:
• 800 cigarettes or 400 cigarillos or 200 cigars or 1kg of tobacco.
• 10L of spirits over 22% volume, 20L of alcoholic beverages less than 22% volume, 90L of wine (no more than 60L of sparkling wine) and 110L of beer.
If you are arriving from a non-EU country, the following goods may be imported into the Netherlands by persons over 17 years of age without incurring customs duty:
• 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.
• 4L of wine and 16L of beer and 1L of spirits over 22% volume or 2L of alcoholic beverages less than 22% volume.
• Other goods up to the value of €430 or €300 if arriving by private aircraft or yacht.
Prohibited Imports: Counterfeit goods, endangered plant and animal species, arms and ammunition, narcotics, antiques without an export permit from the country of origin, and uncertified plants, meat and dairy products from outside the EU.
Prohibited Exports: Counterfeit goods, uncertified plant and animal products, endangered plant and animal species, arms and ammunition, and unlicensed cultural artefacts.