Netherlands

An idyllic countryside, dotted with picturesque windmills, dykes and little churches, with extensive green meadows and black-and-white cows is the most common idea of how the Netherlands look like. And indeed, agriculture does play an important role in the Dutch economy – this small country about the size of southern England is the world’s third importer of agricultural goods. There are many other curiosities about the Netherlands – it is the most densely populated European country and half of its territory lies at or below sea level. In addition, the Netherlands is a great place for tourism, offering splendid historical towns and a number of attractions.

A great majority of tourists choose Amsterdam, the Netherlands’ extraordinary capital, as their first destination. No wonder – its  outstanding architecture make it exceptionally attractive for sightseers and the network of charming grachten (canals) adds to  Amsterdam’s unique character. While in Amsterdam, you should visit the Spui Square, the Oude Kerk church, and the Warmoesstraat and Zeedijk districts with two mediaeval timber houses. There is also  plenty of fascinating museums to visit in Amsterdam – head for Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum to admire the paintings of Rembrandt, Vermeer, or Van Gogh, or choose Tulip Museum, Sex Museum or Science Centre NEMO if you're searching for something unusual. Amsterdam is also a great destination if you're look for good fun, active nightlife and great shopping. Other lures for visitors is the tolerant attitude towards cannabis and the famed red light quarters where prostitution is legal.

Anyway there are many other interesting places not to be missed during your Dutch adventure. Why not travel to the west of the Netherlands, a region dotted with interesting historical landmarks, abundant in extraordinary cities, such as Leiden, the birthplace of Rembrandt with a  beautiful old town or the vibrant port city of Rotterdam. The Hague,  the administrative and political heart of the Netherlands houses  the ever popular Madurodam amusement park, and offers  visitors a wide variety of tourist attractions and historical sights. Visit Mauritshuis Museum in the Hague to see the ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ and make sure if she really resembles Scarlett Johansson.  Pottery-producing Delft and  maritime Haarlem are also worth  keen attention. Besides the big cities of Randstad (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht), life moves more slowly, and the southwest part of the country is typically agricultural.

There are several symbols of Dutch culture which are widely recognised. First of all – tulips, cultivated on a large scale since the 17th-Century tulipomania. To enjoy rows upon rows  of flowers, visit Aalsmeer Flower Auction. Dutch pottery, especially Deftware and Gouda pottery, are known for its beauty and traditional methods of production. An inherent element of Dutch folklore – clogs – the poplar or willow wood shoes, are available in many souvenir shops. The Netherlands is also known for its excellent cheese, particularly Edam and Gouda. Other characteristic elements of Netherlands’ image are  fields crossed by dykes, with many quaint windmills all around. If you want to enjoy a lot of windmills concentrated in one place, go to the Kinderdijk park.

The Netherlands offers a wide range of attractions and its trademark culture is certainly worth exploring. Fascinating old cities, picturesque countryside, rich traditions, seasonal events, unique scenery, windmills, art galleries, museums, coffee shops, bars, restaurants – whatever it is you want you'll find it in the Netherlands. Nestled between Belgium and Germany, it is quite easy to reach from France and Great Britain. Modern transportation networks and numerous airports provide simple and quick transportation to and from the Netherlands within all Europe and the other continents.