First-Time Visitor's Guide to Cruises of Holland

We have put together this guide for the first-time visitor to Holland based on the expert advice and insights of our colleagues.

June 2018 • Jules Verne

First time Visitor’s Guide to Cruises of Holland

Holland is one of our closest neighbours and historically one of our greatest allies. This tiny but rich country, which lies just a short hop over the North Sea, offers a great deal to the discerning traveller. Whether your interest lies in culture, architecture, art, botany, cuisine or city exploration, there’s something for everyone on a cruise of Holland.

For those travelling for the first time, the incredible range of things to do, see and experience might seem overwhelming. We have put together this guide for the first-time visitor to Holland based on the expert advice and insights of our colleagues.

Holland or The Netherlands – which is correct?

The country’s official name is the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Holland on the other hand describes two of the country’s largest provinces: Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland (North and South Holland). This area covers many of the country’s best-known cities, including the capital of Amsterdam, the legislative capital of The Hague and Rotterdam. These cities are in fact the three largest in the Netherlands.

Holland: The Basics

Due to its compact size it’s easy to see much of what Holland has to offer even as a first-time visitor.  You can take in everything from the busy vibrancy of the major cities, to the stunning rainbow coloured tranquil tulip fields.

One of the highlights of travelling to Holland is getting to sample the local delicacies. As you pass through the area, you won’t be able to miss the many herds of cows grazing on the lush fields. Many of them are kept by dairy farmers, and the best way to taste the fruits of their labours is in the delicious cheeses they produce. The best known are those from Gouda, but there are many tasty options in a range of vibrant flavours. Each town and city will have a number of shops offering a delightful selection.

Another favourite is stroopwaffels. These are gaining popularity outside of Holland, but there’s no better place to have them the traditional way than in a small local café accompanied by a steaming cup of strong local coffee.

Packing for a trip to Holland

When packing for a trip to Holland, it is generally advisable to pack as you would for a similar time in the U.K. Layers are advisable even in the summer months, as the weather can be a little unpredictable. While cruising it can get a little chillier on the sundeck, so it is worth bringing a scarf and a light jacket.

There’s plenty to see in Holland – we always recommend packing comfortable walking shoes, so you can explore at your leisure. Many of the streets are covered in bricks, so a little ankle support generally doesn’t go amiss either.

Our Holland cruises include a nice dinner on board, and many of our passengers like to pack something a little dressier so they can make the most of the opportunity to get their glad-rags on. Although formal wear is not necessary, a dress is a good option for ladies, and smart trousers and a jacket would be perfect for gentlemen.

Why a cruise to Holland?

Holland is a land marked by its waterways, criss-crossed throughout by rivers, canals and lakes. The low-lying lands allow for stunning views of the landscape even from the water. Plume-like poplar trees mark the edges of the slow-moving waters as they wend their way through the countryside.

Amsterdam is, of course, best explored from the water. A tour of the concentric canals and the smaller channels that connect them is the best way to experience the unique history, geography and geology of the city. Only from the water can you see how the city looked in times gone by and how the shifting layers beneath are causing the buildings to buckle.

Things to do in Holland

The local culture and architecture has been transformed by the devastation of the Second World War, particularly in the larger cities. In places, it is still possible to see the holes where bullets riddled the walls. Many with an interest in history will wish to visit the Anne Frank Museum, where you can see the faithfully restored rooms where the family hid. We recommend you book ahead if this is something you are looking forward to.

Of course, the country is also well known for its connection to flower growing, and there’s no escaping the endless fields, particularly if you visit in March or April. Visiting Keukenhof is particularly charming at this time of year. Over 7 million bulbs are planted annually around the expansive grounds. Exploring the beautiful blooms is often a highlight of any trip.

Thanks to the flat geography of Holland, taking a walk is one of the most pleasant things to do here. The terrain tends to be easy enough to accommodate everyone, and the views can be very rewarding. Whether you meander along a river, nose around the independent boutiques in The Hague, or walk through the incredible art at the Rijksmuseum, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to where to stretch your legs.

If you’ve been inspired to explore Holland, browse our range of tours of Holland.

Alternatively for more inspiration visit our blog where we share travel inspiration as well as first-hand accounts of our tours and cruises.