Leisure activities in the Netherlands

leisure in the Netherlands
Updated 2022-08-19 13:03

Despite being a small country, the Netherlands has so much to offer, especially in terms of leisure. Seeing as you get at least 20 paid days off by law if you work full-time, you should put these days to good use.  

Are you wondering what to do with your statutory holidays and 8% holiday pay as well? We'll give you some suggestions of how to get the most out of your free time during your stay in the Netherlands.

Things to see and do in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is home to several national parks, including Zuid-Kennermerland National Park (near Haarlem), Alde Feanen (in Friesland), and Maasduinen (in Limburg). Don't expect to see lush forests, though. The Dutch geography makes it that the national parks usually feature dunes and sand, not huge oak trees. In these national parks, you can walk, hike, and bike. You can find hiking and bike routes through Natuurmonumenten's website.

If you'd really like to get in touch with nature during your stay in the Netherlands, you can consider camping. You'll need to call or email ahead of time to reserve a space and to inform the campgrounds of how long you'll be staying. The campgrounds will differ in the amenities they offer, so be sure to check beforehand. For example, some may have electricity and running water while others won't. And the condition of the bathrooms and showers can range from rustic to modern.

If you'd like something in between, you can always rent a cabin. The price will depend on if you're using a tent or camper and how many people are staying.

Shopping in the Netherlands

Every city will have its own high street where you can find anything ranging from produce stores to clothing stores. This is where you'll do the majority of your shopping in the Netherlands.

If you come from a larger city in your home country, you may be used to convenient business hours, such as 9:00 am until 10:00 pm, every day of the week. However, this isn't the case in the Netherlands. Most Dutch shops close on Mondays and have shorter business hours, such as 9:00 am until 5:00 pm. Make sure you plan around this to avoid disappointment.

Eating out in the Netherlands

If you're in the mood for some fast food, but want to do it like a true Dutchie, try going for a “kapsalon”. Usually, “kapsalon” means “hair salon”, but in this case, it's fast food. You get a small tray of fries, kebab, Gouda cheese, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers. Then, it's slathered in either sambal, garlic sauce, or both. Don't eat this too often, though, as one tray can be as much as 1,800 calories!

Otherwise, there are other global classics around, such as McDonald's, Burger King, and KFC.

If you're looking for something fancier, there's always the option of sit-down restaurants. At most restaurants, you can just walk in. But to be on the safe side, you should make a reservation, especially on weekends.

Sports in the Netherlands

The Dutch love to keep active; this is evident in their enthusiasm for biking everywhere. If you're interested in doing any type of sport, you're bound to find a local club nearby. If you're lucky, you may even find one specifically for expats.

Some popular sports the Dutch like include cycling, swimming, soccer, rowing, and skating.

Family activities in the Netherlands

If you have moved to the Netherlands with children, here are some great places to bring them:

  • Madurodam: This attraction in The Hague features miniature replicas of Dutch cities and landmarks.
  • Efteling: This is a theme park located in Kaatsheuvel. It's like the Disneyland of the Netherlands, especially since it has a nature and fairytale theme.
  • Toverland: This is also a theme park but located in Sevenum. Find lots of rides and attractions here.

You can also bring your kids along to many of the activities listed above.

Fun fact: The Red Light District is so tourist-filled now that many people visit it as a family. If you're more open-minded, you can take your kids to the RLD for an educational experience.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.