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Backpacking in the Netherlands

A backpacker trip to the Netherlands will take you to a country that has been fighting an eternal battle with water since its birth. No country gains more land from the sea through modern technologies than the Netherlands. Basically, the land area increases from time to time, while in most other countries it decreases due to rising water levels. Why do we say Holland to the Netherlands in the first place? But these are completely different terms. If you go to Holland, a part of the country, you go to the Netherlands. But this is not the case the other way round. Holland lies west of the North Sea on the Ijsselmeer. And the most fascinating thing is that most of Holland is below sea level.

Backpacking in Holland - Windmuehlen

Backpacking in the Netherlands – windmills

In the Netherlands, a country that is so green on all advertising brochures, you will find yourself in one of the most densely populated countries in the world. But you can hardly feel it. You won’t meet any mountains either. But much, much water. About one fifth of the country is covered with sweet and salty water. Canals, dikes, even whole sea were laid out by the Dutch in the course of their quite short history.

Every Dutch province – 12 European plus a few overseas provinces – has a lot to offer in terms of landscape, despite the lack of mountain regions. Pure culture and beaches as far as the eye can see. Lush green meadows, canals where you can skate hundreds of kilometres in winter, a diverse island world, modern architecture, breathtaking art, cheese markets, fishing villages, coffee shops and much more will be part of your backpacking adventure through the Netherlands.

As Germans you travel to the land of an arch-enemy. Luckily, the younger generation doesn’t see this so closely anymore. Nevertheless, it is better to behave cautiously, because Germans can be met with resentment. As a rule, however, you don’t have any problems as guests.

Travelling in the Netherlands is as easy as in Germany and you can also calculate the cost of living and travel expenses at the same level as at home. This also applies to accommodation, of which there are all kinds. It can be a little more expensive in the Caribbean overseas territories Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. Buses, trains, planes, and bicycles will take you anywhere. As it is anyway a good idea to discover the cycling country on the bike. But if you think that this is easy because of the missing mountains, you should fight against a really stiff breeze.

Have a look at the bustling city Amsterdam with its many museums or penetrate the river and swamp landscape De Hollandse Biesbosch. Also worth seeing is the nature reserve on Texel and the Oostvaardersplassen with their large herds of wild animals. You shouldn’t miss a cheese production or a visit to the endless tulip fields.

Backpacking in Holland - Tulpenernte

Backpacking in Holland – tulip harvest

Culture in the Netherlands

The Dutchman is regarded as one of the most uncomplicated contemporaries of all. This does not necessarily apply to German travellers. Otherwise, however, the Dutchman stands for cosmopolitanism and tolerance, although there have also been some socio-political setbacks in this respect in recent years with the emergence of nationalist tendencies. Of course, not all Dutch women look like Mrs Antje, who serves delicious cheese with blonde hair. But many locals are already tall and blond.

To be Dutch also means to be German. The locals may not like that, but the Dutch royal family is more German than Dutch in tribal terms. Just don’t say it to anyone. Oh yes and anyone who thinks that the Dutch wooden treaders, the “clogs”, are a plant of their own is mistaken. The shoes have French roots. But don’t mention it to any Dutchman on your backpacker tour.

More Backpacker information about the Netherlands

The Netherlands is not a cheap tourist destination, but it is not more expensive than home. During the high season, prices can rise in the tourist resorts, but that’s the same worldwide. Between 35 and 60 euros a day should be enough to get everything, including the museums, and to live well. Moreover, take advantage of the regional savings offers. An old trick is: stay away from the tourist centres if you want to consume something and go three corners further.

The Netherlands also has some highlights for backpackers. Discover them by bike, by train or whatever you like. Depending on the season, think of the right backpacker travel equipment and gear. Choose from cultural, geographical or sporting activities. Or combine them.

The Netherlands is not a low budget backpacker country. If you travel in summer, you may be paying a proud price for an overnight stay. As always and everywhere, the main season and the absolute tourist magnets apply when it goes to avoid. Life on the Dutch beaches can be a bit more expensive in summer.

The Netherlands may not be the same as France in culinary terms, but look forward to specialities. You can’t just leave a Dutch Gouda behind.

On your backpacker tour through the Netherlands you can expect some specialties from the inhabitants and exciting insider tips. Surely you can leave your mountaineering equipment at home on a trip to the Netherlands. But biking is worth it.

As a German citizen you have no stress when entering the Netherlands. Pay attention to the friendly papers and look which travel illnesses there are particularly on the Caribbean islands. In Holland itself you will find first-class medical care.

Backpacking in Holland - In Amsterdam

Backpacking in the Netherlands – Amsterdam

Backpacker Route in the Netherlands

On your backpacker trip through the Netherlands you can explore the country in many different ways. Choose the sporting option and go surfing, biking or ice skating. Or you can opt for a cultural discovery tour. The best thing to do is simply a combination of both. Some destinations, apart from the overseas departments on the Caribbean islands, you should definitely visit to get a deeper insight into the culture of the country. This includes at least a visit to the metropolis Amsterdam. Let’s see what else is attractive about the backpacker adventure in the Netherlands.

Route 1: The classic (you don’t have enough time)

  • 1-3 days at least to discover Amsterdam and its numerous museums, canals, red light districts, coffee shops and much more.
  • 1-2 days in the capital The Hague. Also there the places of interest are lined up.
  • A few days Rontje Pontje (bicycle tour) by the Dutch Zeeland undertake.
  • One week visiting North Sea islands Texel, Vlieland, Ameland, Terschelling.
  • One week exploring southern Holland with Noordwijk aan Zee and Rotterdam.
  • One week cycling in Drenthe through the old moors.
  • 2 days Flevoland
  • One week Ijsselmeer and Friesland

Route 2: Backpacker Intensive Trip (up to 40 days and more)

  • 1-3 days at least to discover Amsterdam and its numerous museums, canals, red light districts, coffee shops and much more.
  • 1-2 days in the capital The Hague. Here, too, the sights are lined up.
  • A few days Rontje Pontje (bicycle tour) by the Dutch Zeeland undertake.
  • One week visiting North Sea islands Texel, Vlieland, Ameland, Terschelling.
  • One week exploring southern Holland with Noordwijk aan Zee and Rotterdam.
  • One week cycling in Drenthe through the old moors.
  • 2 days Flevoland
  • One week Ijsselmeer and Friesland
  • 4 days Gelderland with the cities of Arnhem and Nijmegen
  • 2 days old town Maastricht
  • 2 days Utrecht
  • Enjoy a week of dream beaches in Kamperland Burgh Haamstede, Renesse and De Koog
  • 2 days mills of Kinderdijk
  • 2-5 days boat trip on the river Maas near Grave
  • 2 days National Park De Alde Feanen
  • 1 day tulip fields in Middelharnis

Travel times in the Netherlands

There is not too much to say for a German backpacker about the travel times in the Netherlands. Have a look at the weather forecast for the West Frisian island on the German North Sea coast and you know what it looks like on the Dutch side. The climate is similar to Germany, not to say quite the same. But this is only true up to the middle of Germany from the North Sea along the Rhine. Mountains, down winds, hairdryers and the like are not a term for the Dutchman, simply because there are no mountains. You can visit the country all year round with the right equipment. Even a short weekend trip is worth it.

Backpacker Budget in the Netherlands

Budget in Holland

Budget in the Netherlands

What can you say about the budget in the Netherlands for a backpacker trip? Basically you can expect the same prices as in Germany. That goes for the food, as well as for the overnight stay and the transport. You should already have 50 Euros at your disposal per day. It’s cheaper, but some sightseeings cost entrance.

In the high season it becomes more expensive in the tourist places and who looks for transport deals, who comes away cheaper. You know everything. Ok, here are a few tips on how to make your way through the Netherlands at a reasonable price. Have a look at the website and plan your trip there. At least you’ll get a good overview of your budget and costs. You know what the prices are for all public transport. Driving a taxi is quite expensive in Holland, by the way. Besides, taxis don’t stop everywhere.

Bus driving in the Netherlands

If you want to travel through the Netherlands by bus, which is an inexpensive option, provided you don’t take the 1st class, then you can get through with a so-called OV-chipkaart well and inexpensively. This innovative smart-card system OV-chipkaart is not only valid for the train but also as a combined payment system for the metro, buses and trams.

You can choose between 2 cards, both of which you can buy at the ticket machines or at the counters. You can refill the card from your bank account. This is quite practical. You’ll also benefit from numerous discounts. Here is the OV-chipkaart website.

Domestic fares in the Netherlands

It is not worth booking a domestic flight when backpacking through the Netherlands. You can even cover the longest distances within the country by bus in just a few hours.

Rail travel in the Netherlands

If you are not already in possession of an Interrail ticket, you should check out the Dutch railway site Nederlandse Spoorwegen ( for offers. You can pay with the above mentioned card. Have a look at off-peak travel or what the discounted deals in the Netherlands are called, dal voordeel Abonnement around. Sometimes you can get up to 40 percent discount depending on season and destination.

A website that informs you about the Dutch transport system and prices: Hitchhiking and biking are alternative, inexpensive ways to travel. In winter, you can even skate hundreds of miles across frozen canals, streams, rivers and inlets.

Backpacker accommodations in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands there is just about every type of accommodation. This starts with the simplest campsites and ends with the sophisticated 5-star hotel complexes. As a backpacker you can also choose between budget accommodations. Sometimes a simple and clean hotel room can be cheaper than a bed in a hostel. Especially if you are not alone on the way. Families like to spend their holidays in holiday parks.

This is not necessarily the first backpacker address. There are campsites in the camping nation, however, at every corner. You can also stay overnight on houseboats. Look around for nice holiday cottages, from which you can also start day trips with your backpack. You can find rustic or modern hostels, simple guesthouses and stylish or inexpensive apartments in the well-known private websites. Hostels are also spread all over the country and especially in the cities.

The prices for an overnight stay in a bed in a Dorm are not completely without, as you can recognize according to a statistic of Hostelworld. These are pure average prices.

  • Amsterdam Euro 37.12
  • Rotterdam Euro 24.42
  • Utrecht Euro 22.19
  • The Hague Euro 25.58
  • Eindhoven Euro 28.50
  • Haarlem Euro 28.75
  • Maastricht Euro 30.16
  • Groningen Euro 27.50
  • Delft Euro 22.75
  • Nijmegen Euro 27.00

An alternative are B&B addresses and pensions in Holland and the whole Netherlands. If you can afford or want something very special, you can also stay overnight in the Netherlands in windmills, on the water of sipping houses, in ancient country houses and even in tree houses during backpacking.

Camping in the Netherlands

Camping is a national sport in the Netherlands. The spectrum ranges from simple campsites to 5-star glamping sites. If you don’t have a tent, you can rent entire chalets or fully equipped caravans on some sites. Outside the season, this can be an alternative. The prices for an overnight stay in the middle price range are also not higher than those in the dorm of a hostel. However, camping in the wild is not an option in the Netherlands.

Backpacker Trips, Tips & Highlights in the Netherlands

In any case, you should take a break during your backpacker trip through the Netherlands in Amsterdam. The city is dotted with museums and exudes an incomparable charm. According to statistics, the city boasts more than 7500 listed buildings and historical monuments. The Anne Frank Museum is a must. A trip on the canal ring, which has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, should also be on your backpacker’s agenda.

Look around in a real cheese shop and visit one of the many windmills. Culture fans not only have to go to the Van Gogh Museum, but can also enjoy rock and pop sounds at the Indian Summer Festival in the first week of June or at Pinkpop, a festival in the province of Limburg, or at the PITCH Festival in Amsterdam. The latter is dominated by folk music.

Backpacking in Holland - Sonnenuntergang

Backpacking in the Netherlands – sunset

Backpacker Highlights in the Netherlands

One of the absolute backpacker highlights during a visit to the Netherlands is a bicycle tour, preferably through Amsterdam or along the sea. You should also visit one of the many weekly markets in the city centres. No Holland without tulips. But you have to wait for the flowering time, otherwise the optical kick is missing. There are also flea markets everywhere.

If you want to shop, take a look at the range of goods in the department store chains Vroom & Dreesmann or Hema. Take a little hike in the clogs (wooden shoes). Stoneware from Delft is one of the best in the world – but it has to be real. Rent a houseboat and go water sports on the West Frisian islands.

Backpacker insider tips in the Netherlands

Connoisseurs of the scene claim that in Utrecht you can experience the nightlife in Club House and Discos at much lower prices than in Amsterdam with at least the same offer. If you don’t want to crowd into the Van Gogh Museum, you can enjoy the peace and quiet of the Kröller-Müller Museum. The OV-Chipkaart is an insider tip to make better use of local transport. More about this in the menu item “Backpacker Budget in the Netherlands”.

Pure shopping is on the Amsterdam 9 StraatjesRoute. There are also beaches in Amsterdam. The locals romp around on the beaches Zuid, Strand West and Strand IJburg. House distilled Jenever you can enjoy for example in the tasting room Wynand Fockink. If you’re an art fan, take a Sunday detour to Spui Square in Amsterdam. There’s a regular open-air art market there.

Backpacking in Holland - Amsterdam

Backpacking in the Netherlands – Amsterdam

Food & Drinks in the Netherlands

When it comes to food, you can look forward to some exciting and varied culinary delights on your backpacker trip through the Netherlands. Meat and fish, cheese and seafood are on the menu for the protein fanatics, but also the sweet-toothed will get their money’s worth. Of course, there are all kinds of fast food and junk food chains in the Netherlands, but why not try the local specialities, which can vary from region to region?

Generally it can be assumed that the local dishes are often quite nutritious. This also has a lot to do with the culture and hard work that the Dutch used to have to do. Nevertheless, due to their former position as a colonial power, exotic influences from Indonesian or Surinamese cuisine mix with the local specialities.

Food in the Netherlands

On your backpacker trip through the Netherlands you have to try the many cheese delicacies, which taste much better on the spot than from the German supermarkets. You can get the best cheeses at the weekly markets or in the deli shops. Depending on the location you have to distinguish between the Frisian cuisine, the Groninger cuisine and the Dutch cuisine. Eel salad with apple cabbage is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, honey bread from Flanders is more likely. French fries should also come from the region. Or do they have anything to do with Belgium?

Anyway, Belgium hasn’t been around that long. Tasty are croquettes with North Sea crabs, Nasi Goreng in Dutch style and then all the desserts and sweets like Poffertjes (sweet pancakes), Stroopwafels or Taai-taai (pastry varieties) Oliebollen, Hagelslag, Beschuit and Kandeel. When you order your afternoon coffee in a restaurant or coffee house, you say: “kopje koffee met gebak or ein toetje. “Cheese is not eaten for breakfast in the Netherlands, by the way.

Drinking in the Netherlands

The Dutch are beer cows. Of course, some of the world’s largest breweries are located there. The most famous is Heineken. The company also owns the former competitor brands Amstel and Brand. Grolsch is also quite good. If you want to get on the harder side, you can go for the 35% juniper brandy Jenever.

There are several kinds of them, which all have their followers, among them also Oude Genever, Jonge Genever and Citroenjenever. If you want to learn more about the jenever culture, visit the jenever museum. Tea is also enjoyed in the Netherlands. This also has a lot to do with the historical roots as a colonial power.

Backpacker Visa and Vaccinations in the Netherlands

Since the Netherlands is part of the EU and has therefore agreed to the Schengen Agreement, you as a German citizen normally have no problems entering the country. But make sure that your backpacker trip to the Netherlands is fully up to date in order to avoid problems.

According to the Foreign Office, you will need the following entry documents in order to enter the Netherlands without any problems. German citizens can enter the Netherlands with the following documents:

  • Passport: Yes
  • Provisional passport: Yes
  • Identity card: Yes
  • Temporary identity card: Yes, must be valid.
  • Children’s passport: Yes
  • Still valid child ID according to old model: Yes
  • Important also: Every child needs his or her own ID document.

Those wishing to travel to the Caribbean overseas territories of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten need a valid passport or identity card. A visa is not required.

Medical Information & Vaccinations for the Netherlands

If you enter the Netherlands by land, you won’t even be stopped at the border. If you travel by plane directly to the Caribbean Islands from a yellow fever area, you may encounter problems. Make sure that you have updated the usual vaccinations according to the Robert Koch vaccination calendar. Dengue fever is known on the Caribbean islands. On the islands, you should take similar health precautions to a normal tropical visit to Asia or South America.

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