Time Zone: EST/GMT+1
Tipping: No service charge is included in Holland, 5-10% is a standard tip to leave.
The landscape might be flat and its traditional shoe might be wooden, but that's no reason to think that Holland is dull. From Christmas markets hosted in caves and exuberant Amsterdam to its war time past and fields striped with tulip blooms, on coach trips to Holland you'll discover that this is a country of great diversity.
Various short breaks by coach to Holland are available, ranging from 3 to 5 days and covering the key highlights, with longer holidays featuring the likes of neighbouring Austria, Belgium and Germany. A series of breaks allow visitors to discover the faces of vibrant capital Amsterdam with its narrow, buzzing streets, romantic canals and high concentration of world-class museums (with over 60 the city has the highest museum density in the world), or experience Dutch charm and hospitality at its best in Rotterdam. Throughout April several trips to the Dutch Bulbfields and Keukenhof depart; this 32 hectare garden is called the 'greatest flower show on Earth' and with some seven million bulbs planted every year its jaw-dropping beauty never ceases to amaze.
Thanks to Holland's part in the failed Operation Market Garden of World War II, dedicated battlefield tours are also available encompassing Arnhem and Nijmegen. As well as visiting key points in the operation, tours feature a specialised guide covering sites of interest like the National Liberation Museum at Groesbeek, Groesbeek Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, the 1st Airborne Museum and even the place where some soldiers earned a coveted Victoria Cross. Other war orientated tours tell the story of Anne Frank and Oscar Schindler.
Every year Maastricht also comes alive thanks to its native 'waltz king' Andre Rieu, who performs concerts in his home town against the eye catching backdrop of Vrijthof Square. Come November and December, Valkenburg is another Holland hot spot, with its twinkling Christmas market in the unique underground setting of the Velvet Cave.
The beauty of travelling in an escorted tour is that you'll be in the safest hands when it comes to holidaying in foreign lands. However, to help you have an enjoyable holiday in Holland, take a look at these useful tips and advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO):
Health and Travel Insurance
Local Laws and Customs
Health and Travel Insurance
Before leaving to go to Holland you should ensure you have applied for a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). It is not a substitute for medical insurance, however it will allow you to access state provided medical treatment should it become necessary whilst you are away. Any treatment will be given on the same terms as the Dutch nationals. The EHIC does not cover the cost of on-going medical treatment, non-urgent medical treatment or repatriation. For that reason, it is important to ensure you have access to additional funds which can cover the cost of treatment and also adequate travel insurance. Most tours offer the chance to purchase one-trip travel insurance at the time of booking.
If you need to call for an emergency service during your trip dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. If you are sent to a medical facility for treatment you should always contact your insurance company immediately.
Take care when in Amsterdam as it is a popular area for pickpockets and bag snatchers. Be vigilant when riding on trains and trams as thieves may often work in a gang. Be cautious of opportunist thieves who may try to steal from you whilst in a restaurant, having distracted you.
Should you become a victim of theft report it to the nearest police station and ensure you are given a police report. Be aware of criminals using fake police identities who approach tourists and ask to see their money on the pretext of investigating counterfeit money and cards. If this happens ask to see police ID and examine it carefully (note that Dutch police do not carry shiny badges).
Avoid all involvement with drugs of any kind and stay away from dark alleyways particularly at night.
Always buy your own drinks and keep them with you to eliminate the risk of your drink being spiked. If you are in a group, make sure you leave venues together to ensure that no one is left behind.
Local Laws and Customs
Everybody aged 14 and up must be able to present ID upon request. British nationals can use their passport for this purpose; a photocopy will suffice in some cases, however the police may wish to see the original document.
Never carry or use drugs. In The Netherlands there is a perception that they are tolerant to the use of 'soft drugs'. However, in reality all drugs are prohibited and this level of tolerance only exists in designated premises in the major cities. You can receive a prison sentence for both possession of prohibited substances and also for buying them from outside these designated areas. Both buying and smoking 'soft drug'’ in public areas is an offence in Amsterdam. There are however specifically designated cafes where using cannabis is tolerated. Despite being popular, the sale of both fresh and dry psychoactive mushrooms is forbidden. Always be extremely careful as concoctions of alcohol, cannabis and wild mushrooms have resulted in several deaths.
Holders of British passports, which are considered 'British Citizen', do not need a visa when entering the Netherlands. If you possess another type of British nationality, you must check the different entry requirements with the Netherlands Embassy in London. When staying for up to 3 months your passport must be valid for the entire duration of your stay; you do not need any additional period of validity beyond this.
Any other nationality looking to visit the Netherlands must contact the local embassy to check visa requirements.
Any other nationality looking to visit Holland must contact the local embassy to check visa requirements.
For further information about Holland please go to the Official Tourism Website: http://www.holland.com/uk/tourism.htm
Holland is a fabulous country to explore, here are a few ideas of the places you could visit and what you can do when you get there:
Amsterdam is brilliant for that weekend away, being not too far from us in the UK we love to visit Amsterdam and experience their cultures. Amsterdam is almost a village compared to London or Paris but it doesn’t lack creativity or vibrancy! The floating city made from 165 waterways connected by 1,281 bridges really is a beautiful destination.
Keukenhof Bulb Fields
The Dutch Bulb fields of Holland are most beautiful between March and May where there really isn’t a dull colour on display. The Bulb fields have been billed the Greatest Flower Show on earth! With over 60 years of history and over 7 Million bulbs being planted as well as 25,000 bulbs to create an amazing horticultural statue of liberty! Doubt you will see this anywhere else.
The Christmas markets of Valkenburg will make your Christmas extra special with their cosy Christmas market in a velvet cave. Valkenburg is considered to be the largest and oldest underground Christmas market and hosting such activities such as, the Christmas Parade, magical activities as well as the usual stalls set up. So why not join them this year for their 26th opening!
There is a huge selection of places to visit in Arnhem that will amuse the whole family when on holidays to Holland. If you would like to see wildlife up close without visiting them in their natural habitat, a visit to Burgers' Zoo and Safari Park which was first opened in 1913, is a must. For those who like to pay homage to fallen war heroes, visit the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery, also known as the Airborne Cemetery, and is home to 1,759 graves from the Second World War. Make a point of visiting the Netherlands Open Air Museum and the Arnhem War Museum before you leave the area
If you're looking for the perfect city that combines your love of art with all things wonderful? You can't go wrong with Maastricht. Located in southern Holland, Maastricht boasts a wide variety of stunning historic districts all hosting wonderful restaurants providing many taste-tingling treats. The beauty of visiting Maastricht is that you can explore its entirety on foot so make plans to visit Vrijthof Square, the Caves of St Pieter and the awe-inspiring merchant houses – and that's just for starters!
One of the oldest cities in Holland, Nijmegen is simply beautiful with its stunning waterfront set against the backdrop of its city centre, you cannot fail to be amazed. There's a plethora of historical and modern buildings in addition to stunning countryside beside the River Waal, all waiting to be explored by you. Discover the history of Nijmegen at the Valkhof Museum, admire the Carolingian Chapel, Grote Markt and the St Stevenskerk Courtyard.