Sitting above Belgium, with Germany to the east and the North Sea to the west, the Netherlands is one of Europe’s powerhouses when it comes to art and culture.
Also known informally as Holland, the Netherlands – which translates as ‘lower lands’ – has a truly remarkable landscape. More than half the country is below sea level, and much of it has been reclaimed from the sea. Drainage ditches and canals are a common sight in the Netherlands and as you might expect, it is incredibly flat. The North Sea winds rush in from the west and churns the turbines of the windmills that are dotted across the landscape.
Such a landscape lends itself to agriculture and once you head out of the cities, the land gives way to farms and fields and fields of tulips, which burst into colour in the spring.
Amsterdam has long been a city break favourite, with its wealth of museums, contemporary culture and pretty canals. Its museums and galleries are filled with the works of the Dutch Masters – Rembrandt, Vermeer and Frans Hals – as well one of the world’s most influential artists, Van Gogh. The Netherlands definitely isn’t a place stuck in the past – there is much to be admired about modern day Dutch design and there are plenty of galleries, trendy coffee shops and boutiques to explore, both in Amsterdam and the Hague.
Outdoor lovers will love hopping on a bike to explore and heading out the coast where windswept sand dunes and beautiful islands await.