Without a doubt, the first thing you must master while in the Netherlands to “do as the Dutch do” is to cycle! The Dutch travel by bike as much as possible, which is why the Netherlands has more bicycles than its inhabitants! So, if you want to blend in during your visit, you must get on a bike. There’s simply no better way to immerse yourself in Dutch culture because the best stories the Netherlands has to tell are discovered while cycling. The Netherlands boasts 37,000 kilometers of cycle paths, and they will lead you to the most interesting spots. A bicycle takes you to places a car cannot reach. Where else will you be able to ride a bike through flowering tulip fields?
It is important to note that the country has been known as one of the world’s safest cycling countries for years. Cycling is safe in the Netherlands because the Dutch are used to cyclists and pay attention to them in traffic. Furthermore, the cycle paths are mostly separate from the road, so you won’t have to worry about speeding traffic. The Netherlands is taking the lead in Europe in terms of innovations to make cycling safer.
When you hop off your bike, you should head to the water next. The Dutch have been living below sea level quite comfortably for centuries now and have learned to take advantage of the wonderful world of water. There are many fantastic ways to enjoy the water and see how it contributes to the Netherlands – and vice versa, because the Netherlands is a country of water.
If you want to do as the Dutch do, paddleboarding is the way to go. Head to a lake, river, or better yet, a canal and find a stand-up paddleboard (SUP for short). You’ll see the water and the land from a completely different perspective and will surely find yourself among locals. Haarlem and Den Bosh both have many small paddleboarding businesses. It’s wonderfully refreshing activity and perfect for a nice day.
Another sporty way to enjoy the water is by heading out in a canoe. You can do this in many different places, but absolute must-sees are the National Park De Biesbosch, near Dordrecht, and National Park Weerribben-Wieden, in the province of Overijssel. The latter is one of Europe’s largest wetland areas and has a delightful maze of small rivers. These parks consider themselves to be the ultimate canoeing paradise. Who could blame them?
Finally, the Dutch truly believe in going local when it comes to dining. A perfect example is De Nieuwe Winkel in Nijmegen, which epitomizes a new kind of cuisine: botanical gastronomy. With a focus on the use of plants and plenty of flavor, this restaurant experience paints a much more diverse picture of food than many expect. De Nieuwe Winkel has been awarded two Michelin Stars, one of which is Green. The Green star was awarded for playing a pioneering role in the field of sustainability, and that is truly Dutch!