The Netherlands Travel Guide
The Netherlands is often confused with Holland. Although both names are generally acceptable, the official name of the country is in fact The Netherlands. Holland only refers to a certain region of the country. Today, The Netherlands boasts an average of 14 million international visitors each year. They also have a domestic population of over 16 million people, making it one of the most densely populated countries in Europe.
When traveling to The Netherlands, a trip to the capital of Amsterdam is undoubtedly in order. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world; and one of the most liberal as well. During my stay there, I felt free to do whatever, whenever without feeling any judgment from others. This is great as there is so much to see in Amsterdam, especially if you’re an art lover or history buff. Popular museums to check out include: The Rijksmuseum, The Van Gogh Museum, The Rembrandt Museum and Ann Frank House. But I highly recommend going on a walking tour or a canal tour to learn about the city’s rich history.
Travelling sustainably around Amsterdam is also quite easy. Bicycles are the number one form of transportation for locals. In fact, there is an estimated 800,000 bikes in the city! And despite what looks like chaos with streets filled with cyclists, pedestrians, cars, buses and more, Amsterdam offers one of the most organized and well thought-out transportation systems in the world. Sidewalks are clearly marked, as are bicycle lanes. Bicycle lanes are in a single direction to avoid collisions with other cyclists as well as vehicles. The street car (or tram) is also used as a mode of public transportation, which provides a low-carbon alternative to buses and subways. Amsterdam is also a fairly walkable city. Therefore, getting around Amsterdam with a low carbon footprint is easily achievable.
The city of Amsterdam is famous for its liberal stance on marijuana where recreational use is legal. “Coffeeshops” are spread throughout the city where you can legally purchase cannabis. The government’s drug policy however only allows these coffeeshops to sell cannabis under strict conditions. Otherwise, it should be noted that it is absolutely illegal for individuals to sell, produce or import/export marijuana. Therefore, should you choose to purchase cannabis while in Amsterdam, it is best to only purchase it off of reputable stores or coffeeshops.
Another attraction in Amsterdam is the infamous Red Light District. Sex clubs, brothels and red-light windows are all commonplace here. Operating these kinds of businesses has been legal since 2000, of course under strict conditions. These regulations have been put into place to reduce the exploitation of sex workers and to protect them from injury. However, despite efforts to provide a safe environment for sex workers, the sex tourism industry in Amsterdam continues to attract illegal activities such as human trafficking, child prostitution and organized crime. So although purchasing these kinds of services may mean helping a single mother put food on the table, there’s also a risk that you may be feeding money into an illegal sex tourism industry. And because it’s difficult to discern the difference, we recommend abstaining from purchasing services found in the Red Light District.
A trip to The Netherlands isn’t just a trip to Amsterdam though. Other wonderful cities to visit include Den Haag, Rotterdam, and Leiden. Some of The Netherlands most ancient cities, such as Nijmegen, Maastricht, Stavoren, Middleburg and Devent, are historical and cultural gems, showcasing architecture of truly ancient times.
For more on The Netherlands, including their environment, food, language and etiquette, we recommend reading more at: https://ethical.travel/europe/the-netherlands/