Are you planning your trip to The Netherlands? That’s awesome! You probably wonder what the country is famous for so you don’t miss out on the famous Dutch things!
The Netherlands is famous for:
- Historic Windmills,
- Canal belt in Amsterdam,
- Anne Frank
- Water management,
- Delft Blue pottery,
- Gouda Cheese & Cheese Markets,
- Historic painters like van Gogh and Rembrandt,
- Heineken Beer,
- One of the biggest exporters in the world,
- Being the tallest people in the world
- Wooden Clogs,
- Flower Fields,
- Dutch Tulips.
The Netherlands is one of the smallest countries in the world, but as you can see, it is famous for many things. In this article, we will tell you more about these facts, when and how to visit, and many other interesting details. Ready to learn more about our home country? Let’s dive in!
The Netherlands Famous Landmarks
Did you know The Netherlands is one of the smallest countries in the world? The country’s surface is only 41.543 km2. You can quickly drive from West to East in a few hours, reaching the borders of Germany or from North to East while arriving in Belgium. A big misunderstanding is that Amsterdam is the country, that’s not correct. Let’s settle this right away.
Amsterdam is the capital of The Netherlands, although the city is even more famous than the country itself. Both the country and the capital are perfect for a visit. It is great to do a roundtrip in The Netherlands, one of our articles about The Netherlands you mind find interesting is How Many Days Do You Need in The Netherlands?
Let’s get back to the famous landmarks of the country.
When people think of The Netherlands, they often describe a picture of a picturesque countryside with many windmills. And in a way that picture is correct. For a long time, windmills were very common and found in every city and village.
The windmills functioned as a factory for producing several products like flour, grain, spices, sawing wood, and many more. Other windmills operated as pumps to prevent the country from flooding.
Today you can still find over 1000 historic windmills in The Netherlands, from which many are still active! The most famous windmill areas are Zaanse Schans, close to Amsterdam, and Kinderdijk, which is close to Rotterdam and a Unesco World Heritage site.
Both areas are unique to visit. Zaanse Schans was the first industrial area in Western Europe, dating back to the 17th century. And Kinderdijk was one of the first innovative water management systems introduced to prevent the country from the constant threat of rising sea levels.
When you want to visit the windmills while in The Netherlands, we recommend reading our article Where is The Best Place to See the Windmills, which is a comprehensive guide about the historic windmills, some of our favorite places to visit, and useful information with different route maps.
Canal Belt in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the most famous city in The Netherlands, and while the city is renowned for many things, the canal belt is maybe the most unique. The Amsterdam Canal Belt is also a Unesco World Heritage site and was created during the 17th century, which is known as the Dutch Golden Age.
The city of Amsterdam is built on wooden poles in the water. The canal belt consists out several canals connecting the most important parts of the historic city with the closest historic seaport. Canal belt is a unique form of architecture, famous for its surrounding canal houses. Which they originally built to provide housing for the working class, and today developed in one of the most expensive homes in the Amsterdam housing market!
One of the best things to do while visiting Amsterdam is exploring the city with a canal cruise alongside the canal belt. Did you know we wrote several articles about Amsterdam? We recommend reading What is Amsterdam Best Known For and Best Things to do in Amsterdam before you visit the city.
Dutch Water Management
One of the Unesco World Heritage sites is Kinderdijk, the windmill area we told you about earlier. It is part of a massive water management system that prevents flooding. You might wonder, why is that important? Well, The Netherlands is a flat country, and most of the country is located below sea level. So with the constantly changing water levels and rising sea levels, it is crucial to protect the country from these threats.
Building dikes, dams, and innovative water management systems, the expertise of the Dutch dates back to as early as the 11th century!
Today the Dutch are renowned for this expertise and advise countries all over the world how to deal with water and rising sea levels.
Delft Blue Pottery “Delfts Blauw”
Delft is a small city between The Hague and Rotterdam, and one of the most important cities in Dutch history. It was in Delft where Willem of Orange is assassinated 1584, after successfully leading the revolt against the Spanish suppression, which eventually resulted in the Kingdom of The Netherlands we know it today.
Delfts Blauw became many years later famous. This earthenware and pottery are known as Delft Blauw (Delft Blue) because during its heydays in the 17th century, most factories producing this product were located in Delft.
Did you know this blue pottery is originated in China? The Dutch explorers of the Dutch Eastern Company brought it back to The Netherlands, and quickly it became a symbol of wealth.
You can find out more about Delft Blue and the city of Delft in our article How Many Days do you need in Delft?
Gouda Cheese & Cheese Markets
If there’s something we know how to make in The Netherlands, then it’s cheese. You can find Dutch Cheese in every corner of the world. It is one of the most exported products in the country. Every year there’s around 3.5 billion Euro of Dutch Cheese exported to countries outside The Netherlands. Germany and France are the biggest buyers of the Dutch Cheese.
The most well-known Dutch Cheese in the world is Gouda Cheese. The term Gouda Cheese is referring more to a style of cheesemaking then a specific kind of cheese. Gouda Cheese is available in many different variations. Some of these variations are young cheese, which is only 4 weeks old, matured cheese around 10 – 18 weeks old, and old cheese, which aged for 12 months or longer.
Gouda is not a protected term or brand. However, cheese with the name Gouda Cheese is protected by European Law. Brands like Boerenkaas (Farmercheese), Noord-Hollandse Gouda, and Gouda Holland, are all protected brands that can only be made in The Netherlands, and they can only use milk that is produced by Dutch Cows.
Dutch cheese markets are one of the most famous traditions in the country — markets where the cheese farmers are selling their cheeses in the cities. A simple concept, worldwide known, but the cheese markets are still interesting to visit, mainly because it feels like stepping back in time. The farmers always dress up in traditional clothing. Great fun to visit!
The most traditional cheese markets are in Alkmaar, close to Amsterdam, and Gouda, which is closer to Utrecht.
In Alkmaar, you can visit the cheese market every Friday, between March 27th and September 25th. For more information about the Alkmaar cheese market and how to get there, you can visit their website.
The Gouda Cheese market opens every Thursday between April 2nd and August 27th. Gouda is straightforward to reach with public transport from every major city in The Netherlands. The market is free of entrance. It is possible to show up between their opening times, walk around, and taste and buy some traditional Dutch Cheese.
Location: Markt Square, Gouda
Dutch Historic Master Painters
History of The Netherlands dates back for centuries. However, the kingdom of The Netherlands, as we know it today, was established at the end of the 16th century. This was also the time where the Dutch economy started to grow, with the heydays of the renowned Dutch Eastern Company during the 17th century. Not only the economic wealth was increasing, but it was also the time where Dutch painters and creatives could flourish and explore themselves. Which resulted in unique paintings, sculptures, and much more art.
Many painters from that period are still worldwide known today. Dutch painters belonging to some of the best painters ever lived in the world.
A few of the most famous Dutch artists are Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh, and M.C. Escher. These names are just a short selection of well-known Dutch artists who lived between the 16th and 20th centuries and were from significant influence worldwide.
All over The Netherlands, you can find several museums and art galleries dedicated to these artists. When you’re interested in learning more about Dutch art history, we recommend visiting some of these museums.
Rembrandt van Rijn
Rembrandt is probably the most famous Dutch painter ever lived. He is best known for its paintings as Night Watch, Anatomy Lesson, The Jewish Bride, and much more. Rembrandt lived between 1606 and 1669. He was born in the city of Leiden but died in Amsterdam.
Several museums dedicated to the works and life of Rembrandt. The museum where you find most of his famous works is Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Rijksmuseum is the Dutch National Art Museum located in Amsterdam. The best works of all the great Dutch masters are on display at the Rijksmuseum. You can read more about Rijksmuseum, and the best way to visit in our article What is Amsterdam Best Known For?
Vincent van Gogh
World-famous Vincent van Gogh lived a few hundred years later than Rembrandt, but maybe had a greater influence in the art world. He is known as the father of the artform impressionism. Van Gogh was very active as a painter, in the last ten years of his life, he produced over 2100 different works. He spent most of his time between The Netherlands and France. Van Gogh didn’t always get the recognition of his art that he deserved. After a life suffered from depression and mental illness, Vincent van Gogh took his own life at the age of 37.
In the years that followed, people started to recognize his works and unique art form. Today the works of Vincent van Gogh are one of the most expensive works ever sold in the world. You can find the largest collection of his original works in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
Visiting the van Gogh Museum is a great thing to do while in Amsterdam, you can read more about this museum and other unique things to do in Amsterdam in our article How Many Days Do You Need in Amsterdam?
Maurits Cornelis Escher lived in more recent years. He died in 1972 and was one of the most renowned and famous graphic artists ever lived. Escher is best known for his work, where he plays with perspective and perpetual motion, resulting in artworks the mind can’t directly understand at first sight.
You can find museums dedicated to the works of Escher all over the world. However, the most extensive museum with different works is located in The Hague, in The Netherlands. It is a unique visit while in The Hague. The museum houses in a former Royal Palace in the city’s historic center.
Are you visiting The Hague, while in The Netherlands? We recommend doing so! There’s much to see and do in the Dutch Royal city. We wrote several articles about The Hague, the city we lived ourselves for many years. Make sure to read the Best Things to do in The Hague, to prepare for your next trip!
We all love a fresh beer from time to time. One of the beer brands that’s worldwide known is Heineken, our Dutch pride! The company started in 1873 in Amsterdam and quickly grew to one of the biggest beer brands in the world. In the first years of the company, the beer won some major international prices, which helped with the exposure of Heineken Beer.
More recent Heineken is known as the sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, the world’s largest international football competition, and the FIA Formula One Championship.
Heineken Beer is being produced in Zoeterwoude, a small village close to Amsterdam. The company has different factories all over the world, making it easier to sell the beer at different continents. Heineken Beer is available in 170 countries over the world, and annually they produce, on average, 2.7 billion liters of beer.
When you take into account the other beer brands that belong to the Heineken Group, this number increases massively to around 16.5 liters of beer produced every year in the world.
So with Heineken as the most famous Dutch beer ever produced, of course, you’ll find a museum about this brand in Amsterdam. And it’s not your everyday museum. Heineken Experience is a museum you can visit, which brings you into the world of Heineken, and you’ll learn more about the history, the brewery process, and of course, you can taste a few of the unique beers!
It is great fun to visit while in Amsterdam! Read more about Heineken Experience and other things to do in Amsterdam in our article; What is Amsterdam Best Known For?
One of The Biggest Exporters In The World
Did you know The Netherlands is one of the smallest countries in the world? It is not in the top 10 smallest countries in the world, but still. Compared with the United States and Canada, The Netherlands is just a tiny spot on the globe.
Despite being a small country, The Netherlands is world-famous, not only because some of the best football (soccer) players in the world are coming from The Netherlands. And the fact that we hold many world-records in sports. It is also because The Netherlands is one of the world’s biggest exporters. According to Worlds Top Exports, The Netherlands shipped over 723.3 Billion US Dollars in 2018!
The export drift of Dutch people is dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. During this period, the Dutch Eastern Company became the largest trade company in the world. Trading spices and goods that were coming from South East Asia and introducing them to the western world.
Being The Tallest People In The World
On average Dutch people are 1.75meters (5.7ft) tall, making them the tallest people in the world. Dutch men are reaching a height on average of 1.83meters (6ft). And women a height of 1.68meters (5.5ft). I’m a bit taller than average with 1.93meters (6.3ft), but that’s not making me the tallest Dutch men ever lived.
Albert Johan Kramer was the tallest Dutch man ever lived, with a height of 2.42meters. He lived between 1897 and 1967. However, the tallest man in the world is not coming from The Netherlands. The world’s tallest men, according to Guinness World Records, is Sultan Kösen, coming from Turkey, and reaching a height of 2.51meters (8ft).
When many people think of traditional Dutch footwear, wooden clogs is the first thing that comes in mind. Unique shoes that are popular with farmers. Of course, clogs are used worldwide, but for a long time, they were very popular in The Netherlands.
Farmers typically liked to wear wooden clogs, because it was an easy fit, and they protected the feet during the heavy work.
Today Dutch wooden clogs are one of the most popular souvenirs for tourists, you can find them in every souvenir shop, decorated with different logos, colors, and the typical dutch tulips. You can find clogs to wear, for decoration, as a keychain. They are available in almost every size possible!
Wearing clogs is not common today within the Dutch culture. We walk on ‘normal shoes’ nowadays 😉
Probably one of the most “instagrammable” places to go in The Netherlands. People from all over the world come to see the Dutch flower fields during the bloom period between April and May. As one of the largest exporters in the world, the export of flowers is in the top 5 of the most exported products from The Netherlands. We are the largest exporters of flowers and flower bulbs worldwide.
You’ll find the many flower fields between Amsterdam, Leiden, and The Hague. And in the province of Flevoland. It is truly a must-see while visiting The Netherlands. Make sure to go seeing the flower fields between April and May. During this period, you can experience the beautiful sea of colors while walking around these amazing fields.
The Netherlands and flowers are going back for a long time. It is one of the products that make the country famous, and you can find out more in our article Why is The Netherlands Famous for its tulips. Tulips are the national flower of The Netherlands.
A tulip is the national flower of The Netherlands. And it’s worth to mention it as one of the things that The Netherlands is famous for. As we said, we are the world’s biggest producer of flowers and flower bulbs. Everywhere in the world, you can find Dutch flowers and tulips. It is also one of the unique things people want to see while visiting The Netherlands.
The flower industry is one of the biggest agriculture industries in the country. It is not only beautiful to visit the many flower fields, but there are also many events with large flower parades that are worth a visit between April and May. And the most famous of all is not even a simple flower, it is the largest flower garden in the world; Keukenhof, located in a small village between Leiden and Amsterdam.
Did you know Keukenhof plants over 8 million flower bulbs every year? These flower bulbs are a gift from the Dutch flower growers, making Keukenhof a unique showcase of the Dutch Flower industry. The Keukenhof gardens are open for 8 weeks a year, roughly between the end of March en May. Exact dates vary every year. Annually, they attract millions of visitors from all over the world that come to admire the beautiful flourishing tulips and other unique flowers. We explain much more about Keukenhof in our article What is Keukenhof Famous For. A recommended read before you visit!
Read more about The Netherlands
As you might know, we are from The Netherlands. I love to tell you more about our country and the fun things do, the best places to go, our typical Dutch culture, and many more interesting facts. I wrote many articles you might find helpful with planning your visit to The Netherlands. You can find the complete list of articles on The Netherlands page.
Some articles you might find interesting, and we recommend as a related article are;
- What Are Some Interesting Facts About The Netherlands?
- 26 Best Cities You Should Visit in The Netherlands
- Best Time to Visit The Netherlands
- 14 weird things about Dutch People
The Netherlands Packing Guide
Did you already plan a trip to The Netherlands, or are you still planning? Either way, knowing what to pack before you leave for your next trip is essential. To help you in the best way possible, we created a packing guide for The Netherlands.
This packing guide contains all the basic items you need to bring on your trip to The Netherlands. And also tips and recommendations for every season and different weather conditions.