A Local's Guide to Holland
Happy King’s Day everyone! As Holland is one of our most popular cycling destinations, we thought we’d sit down with our colleague Heleen for a chat about her homeland to learn about King’s Day, the local food and why the Dutch are so crazy about cycling.
On King's Day:
1) Amsterdam is the place to be. All the major cities are great for King’s Day but Amsterdam is the busiest and the best. Some of the biggest DJ’s in the world, like Armin van Buuren or Tiesto, even play free concerts! 2) Orange is the new black. You’ll stand out a mile if you don’t wear orange on King’s Day. Some people take it really seriously and dye their hair orange for the day too, I didn’t go that far! 3) Grab a bargain before the madness. Before all the parties kick off in the afternoon, if we have anything we want to get rid of (clothes, books, jewellery etc.) we set it all out on the pavement in front of our houses in the morning (a bit like a car boot sale). So, if you’re up early enough and want to grab a bargain then go to the residential areas and see what you can pick up. 4) Come back for Carnaval. If you can’t make it to Holland for King’s Day but still want to experience a Dutch party then definitely go to the South of the Netherlands (where I’m from) for Carnaval in February. We don’t have Halloween so this is our time of year to get dressed up in costumes!
5) ‘Hagelslag – it’s like a party on your bread!’ We typically have bread for breakfast but if you want to be really Dutch you need to add ‘hagelslag’, they’re sprinkles that come in white chocolate, milk chocolate or dark chocolate. 6) ‘Speciality beers – don’t fall off your bike!’ There are classic beers that everyone knows like Heineken or Amstel, but if you want something a bit lighter we have blonde beers and even fruity flavours like strawberry and cherry that are really nice too. Some of the speciality beers in Holland are 12% instead of the usual 4% though, so you need to be careful you don’t fall off your bike! 7) Stop off at a snack bar Not the best if you’re on a diet but they’re delicious and very typical in Holland. My favourite things to get are ‘joppiesaus’, a dipping sauce for chips or crisps, ‘kroketten’, meat-filled croquettes, or a ‘frikadel’, which is a sort of minced meat hot dog. 8) Don’t forget coffee and cake o’clock. Another really typical thing to do in the late afternoon around 3 o’clock is to stop for coffee and cake. I really recommend ‘vlaai’ which is a fruit-filled pie and comes in flavours like cherry and apricot (my favourite is plum!).
9) ‘We cycle as soon as we can walk’ in Holland. It’s a big part of our culture and it’s really common for people to just cycle everywhere. Everyone owns a bike and will have a couple of spare bikes in the garage too just in case! If you go you’ll notice that people don’t really wear helmets either. 10) Mind the traffic lights. There are different traffic lights for cyclists so make sure you’re looking at those ones and not the car ones! Also, if you’re from the UK remember that we cycle on the opposite side of the road. 11) Watch out for the fines. Be careful when you’re cycling in big cities as if you’re caught outside of the cycling lanes you can get quite a big fine (we take our cycling seriously!)
There is no better way to immerse yourself in the Dutch biking culture than booking one of our Dutch Bike & Boat tours. This way you can cover more ground than by cycling alone, allowing you to discover interesting towns, cities, museums and art galleries on the way.