From Dutch Nederland, literally “lower land”); said to have been used by the Austrians (who ruled much of the southern part of the Low Countries from 1713 to 1795), by way of contrast to the mountains they knew, but the name is older than this. The Netherlands formerly included Flanders and thus were equivalent geographically and etymologically to the Low Countries. [online etymology dictionary]

Places to Meet People

Places to Meet People

Amsterdam Beer Meetup Group – The Amsterdam Beer Meetup Group is a non-profit beer club that meets in and around Amsterdam to consume quality alcoholic beverages. We strive to find the best pubs around and share our discoveries. If you’re ready to assist in our noble mission, join us for a drink. Anyone fun and respectful is welcome. [meetup]

Amsterdam Board Game Group – This is a group for anyone interested in playing board games in the Amsterdam area. I started this group because I’m looking for others to play these kind of games with. We are regularly scheduling events that bring together gamers all around the city. [meetup]

Amsterdam Football and Basketball – We play a casual game of football (soccer / futsal) or basketball at various indoor and outdoor locations in Amsterdam, several times a week. [meetup]

Amsterdam Mix Meetup – We wanted to find a name that truly represented the melting pot of Amsterdam and our desire to create a place where artists and people of all cultures and backgrounds can gather. It is a great mix that we want to see grow and give birth to many wonderful ideas. [meetup]

Dutch Storytelling Community – Storytelling is a skill you can use in every part of your life. This Meetup will help you write and tell awesome stories. For your pitch, to up your sales game, or just for fun! [meetup]

Keep the Moment Photo Club – This club is for people with a passion for photography. We have outings to see exhibitions or to photograph different scenery. We explore the country and art. Every two month we come together to meet, to exchange and to get inspiration from each other. [meetup]

Open Relationships: A discussion group – This group provides a safe place to explore the theory and reality of open relationships and polyamory. We’ll explore the differences between polyamory, swinging, polygamy and open relationships, how to open your relationship, and how to deal with problems that may arise, including jealousy. [meetup]

Rotterdam Board Games Group – This group is for having fun, meeting new people, and playing board games! The focus is on the social side of board gaming (but of course we all want to win!). Meetings are mostly in the Rotterdam city center but can also be in nearby places. [meetup]

Rotterdam Culture Meetup – Get together and share what you love! This group offers a network for people who are interested in cultural events. Meet up with people who share your interest, or introduce people to your passion. [meetup]

Rotterdam Photo Club – Connect, share, learn, improve. Whether you are a beginner, pro or photo enthusiast, you can join this group, to share your work, learn from one another, improve your techniques, expand your skills and connect with each others. [meetup]

How to Find a Date

How to Find a Date – is the best online dating site in the Netherlands.The site is a member of the international Meetic network and is the largest, most popular Dutch dating website. Lexa was started in 2002 and currently has over 1.6 million members. [visa hunter] – is the Dutch version of the popular dating website of Parship and is the second best dating site in the Netherlands. It was launched in 2001 in Germany, but went on to become an international site in 2002. The site has grown over the years and is now used in many European countries including England, France, Italy, and more. [visa hunter]

Walking Tours

Walking Tours

Netherlands Tours – Your guide is eager to customize a private Netherlands tour that reflects your unique interests in his splendid homeland. [tours by locals]

Free Things to Do

Free Things to Do

Afsluitdijk – Drive or cycle across the Afsluitdijk, a 30km (19 mile) barrier built in the 1930s to close off the Zuiderzee from the North Sea, creating the now freshwater IJsselmeer. Motorists can stop at a lookout point halfway across the road linking Friesland with Noord-Holland. [world travel guide]

Amsterdam – Holland’s emblematic capital brims with romance, culture and kicks. Take a candlelit cruise along the canals, lined with narrow-fronted buildings dating from the city’s heyday as a trading centre, browse the paintings of the Dutch masters at the Rijksmuseum or join the punters prowling the alleyways of the Red Light District. [world travel guide]

Amsterdam Arena – Enjoy a football match at one of the top Dutch stadia, Amsterdam Arena, home of the famous Ajax, PSV’s Philips Stadion in Eindhoven or De Kuip, in Rotterdam, where Feyenoord play. [world travel guide]

Arnhem – Take a trip to Arnhem, in southeastern Holland, scene of WWII’s ‘Operation Market Garden’, in which the city’s Rhine crossing proved a ‘Bridge too Far’ for the allied forces attempting to bring an early conclusion to hostilities. [world travel guide]

Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer (the Aalsmeer Flower Auction) – Get up early to witness trading at Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer (the Aalsmeer Flower Auction). Close to Schiphol airport, the auctions take place in five halls at what is the world’s largest commercial building at 999,000 sq m (10.7million sq ft). It’s best to arrive by 7 am; Thursdays are busiest. [world travel guide]

Boat tour – Take a glass-topped boat tour round Amsterdam’s many waterways and harbour. It is an excellent way to see the city’s most interesting areas. Another option is to take the Museum Boat, which links most of the major cultural attractions. [world travel guide]

Cheese markets – Enjoy the spectacle of one of Holland’s cheese markets. The best are Waagplein, in Alkmaar, where every Friday from mid-April to mid-September, thousands of wheels of cheese are lined up in rows by the central weighing house, taste-tested and carted away by guildsmen in traditional costume. [world travel guide]

Corpus Experience, Leiden – Explore the interior workings and health of the human body at Corpus, a new visitor attraction near Leiden. The attraction also incorporates a medical information centre with changing exhibitions. [world travel guide]

Delft – Watch the skills of the porcelain makers at the Royal Delft pottery, in the town of Delft. Also home town of Johannes Vermeer, it now features a centre dedicated to the painter of The Milkmaid and other masterworks of light. [world travel guide]

Diamond trading – Visit one of Amsterdam’s diamond traders, and watch craftsmen cutting and polishing the precious stones. Among the best known is Gassan, in Nieuwe Uilenburgerstraat, where stones can be selected and mounted in jewellery on the spot. [world travel guide]

Dutch National Railway Museum – Relive history at the expanded and renovated Het Spoorwegmuseum, at Maliebaanstation in Utrecht, with its extensive collection of historic rolling stock and memorabilia. [world travel guide]

Gouda – Stroll around the historic city of Gouda, following the Cheese Map, which leads visitors around the various landmarks, including the Weighhouse Museum, associated with cheesemaking in the city. [world travel guide]

Haarlem – A brief train ride from Amsterdam, Haarlem makes a serene alternative to the capital. Its beautifully preserved historic core centers on the Grote Kerk, a magnificent Gothic church. Admire the paintings of 17th-century master Frans Hals, then zip over to Zandvoort, a major beach resort. [world travel guide]

Hoge Veluwe National Park – Take a trip to the Hoge Veluwe National Park near Arnhem, among whose attractions is an underground museum dedicated to subterranean life, and the Kröller-Müller Museum which contains 280 Van Gogh paintings as well as numerous other works. Bicycles are available free of charge to visitors. [world travel guide]

Leiden – A longtime intellectual center, Leiden ( is the site of the country’s first university, dating from 1575. Among the dozen museums dispersed along its canalways is De Lakenhal, with masterworks by native son Rembrandt van Rijn, and the Boerhaave natural sciences museum, which holds the microscopes used by van Leeuwenhoek. [world travel guide]

Maastricht – Head to the far southeast of The Netherlands to see the medieval architecture of Maastricht, Holland’s oldest fortified city. Highlights include the basilica churches of Our Lady and St Servatius, and spectacular caves in the surrounding hills. [world travel guide]

Madurodam – Enjoy a miniaturised flavour of the whole of The Netherlands at Madurodam, which replicates many aspects of the country in 1:25 scale, incorporating windmills, a cheese market and what is claimed as the world’s most extensive miniature railway. [world travel guide]

Museums and galleries – See some of the many great works of art, including those of Dutch painters such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Vermeer displayed in Amsterdam’s many museums and galleries, including the Rijksmuseum. [world travel guide]

Nationaal Park Zuid Kennemerland – Cycle or hike through the Kennemerland national park, a unique ecosystem skirting the coast west of Haarlem. Paths weave through woods, by lagoons, and up along massive dunes, which stretch 20km up the coast. Bright blooms enhance the golden sands in spring. [world travel guide]

Rent a bicycle – Rent a bicycle and join the Dutch on the country’s most popular form of transport. There are around 17,000km (10,600 miles) of designated cycle tracks around The Netherlands, which due to its generally flat landscape, is ideal. [world travel guide]

Rotterdam – Standing at the mouth of the Rhine river, the port of Rotterdam is a showcase for innovative architecture. Ride the high-speed lift up Euromast in Rotterdam, and dine at a height of 100m (328ft) overlooking the world’s biggest harbour. [world travel guide]

Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis) – The Royal Palace, which dates from 1648, was originally Amsterdam’s town hall; it is regarded as the most important cultural and historical building from 17th-century Amsterdam. [world travel guide]

The Hague – Seat of Dutch government and royalty, as well as of the International Court of Justice, Den Haag thrills architecture fans with its rich catalogue of palaces and government buildings. [world travel guide]

Tulips at Keukenhof Gardens – With some 4.5 million tulips and 15 kilometers of footpaths, Keukenhof gardens, south of Haarlem, makes the ultimate outing for ogling Holland’s famed flower. [world travel guide]

Utrecht – Home to Holland’s biggest university, Utrecht boasts a youthful, active vibe. The old centre, laced by canals, is a pleasure to stroll. Climb the elegant tower of the 14th-century Dom (cathedral) tower or visit the town’s many museums, including one dedicated to the work of Dick Bruna, creator of Miffy. [world travel guide]

Wadden Islands – Explore the Waddeneilanden, an island chain off the coast of Friesland. Served by regular ferry services in summer, the five isles are fringed on their North Sea side by fine sand beaches. Cycling is the accepted way to get around and wadlopen (hiking the mud flats at low tide) is a popular activity. [world travel guide]



Late January–early February: Rotterdam International Film Festival – This Dutch festival has built an international reputation over three decades for presenting quality independent films. During more than 10 days, huge numbers of film buffs find their way to cinemas around the city centre to watch one or more of about 300 films shown on some 15 screens. In 2017 the festival runs from 25 January to 5 February. [expatica]

February: Carnival (Mardi Gras), Maastricht – This Dutch town stages one of Europe’s biggest and most lively carnivals. For three days, from 26 February to 28 February 2017, the ‘Prince of Fools’ (Prince Carnival) and his entourage lead the city and the celebrations, with increasing numbers of people preparing costumes, materials and floats for the grand Carnival parade (Boonte Störrem). A number of Dutch cities host Carnival celebrations, parades and a range of vibrant events; get all the information you need in Expatica’s guide to celebrating carnival in the Netherlands. [expatica]

March: Opening of Keukenhof Gardens (near Lisse) – The greatest flower festival on earth blooms with spectacular displays of tulips and narcissi, daffodils and hyacinths, bluebells, crocuses, lilies, amaryllis, and many other types of flower at this 32-hectare (80-acre) garden in the heart of the bulb country. There will be around eight million flowers on view in a spectacular display from 23 March to 21 May 2017, in what is much more than just a tulip festival. [expatica]

March: Festival of trees (Boomfeestdag) – On the third Wednesday in March each year, the Netherlands celebrates this festival nationwide by encouraging children in Basisschool to plant trees in parks, streets, squares and rural areas. [expatica]

April–May: National Restaurant Week – This is a Dutch festival for foodies, where you can dine in some of the top restaurants in the Netherlands for up to 50 percent off of food and drink. It’s important to book early as places fill up in advance. [expatica]

April–early May: Flower Parade (Bloemencorso), Noordwijk to Haarlem – A procession with about 20 floats staging giant dolls made of flowers in addition to jugglers, dancers and players make their way in a 42km route from Noordwijk to Haarlem. After completing the course of some 12 hours, their arrival marks the start of well-deserved celebrations. This Dutch festivals is held from 22 April (parade) to 24 April (exhibitions) in 2017. [expatica]

May/June: The Hague Festival – This is the umbrella name for several huge festive multi-disciplinary art events — more than 200 — in several venues all over the city. During the festival days, the city becomes a centre for hundreds of enthusiastic visitors, locals and tourists who enjoy the great variety of shows. Check for 2017 dates. [expatica]

Public Transit

Public Transit

Bus – Buses are a common sight in the Netherlands. Most run at least every 30 minutes during the day and all of them accept the OV-chipkaart. Buses run between cities and smaller towns as well. The government wants all public buses to be clean and economical by 2020. In addition, the Dutch government  have ensured that bus networks are easily accessible to people with a physical handicap. [just landed]

Light rail – Light rail lies somewhere between a train and tram, and are not found often in the Netherlands. Light rail travels cover longer distances than the tram but are slower than a train and it stops at more places. Light rail is therefore suitable for regional routes but not for long distances. [just landed]

Train – Trains are one of the safest modes of transport and the number of passengers using the trains is growing. It is the perfect way to travel between cities, as roads are often jammed. Expansion of the railway network, better travel information and Internet available on board all make the train an attractive option. [just landed]

Tram – You can find trams in the bigger cities such as Amsterdam, the Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht, as they are suitable for the transportation of large numbers of passengers. The Dutch government believes that the bus is sufficient for fewer passengers. Trams run from approximately 6am until 12.30am. [just landed]

Underground (Metro) – Of the four large cities mentioned above, only Amsterdam and Rotterdam have an underground line. It runs from approximately 6am until 12.30am and it is possible to use your OV-chipkaart in the metro as well. The metro runs throughout the whole city and is relatively cheap compared to the salaries of the Dutch citizens. According to many, it is the best form of transport as driving and parking in the city can be a nightmare. [just landed]

Professional Groups & Events

Professional Groups & Events

Amsterdam Java User Group – This is Java User Group for everyone interested in Java, Web Development, Free and Open Source Software who are located in Amsterdam or Netherlands. [meetup]

Amsterdam  Python Meetup Group – A group for anyone interested in Python, Django, cloud computing, deployment, provisioning, virtualization and related technologies. We’ll meet up every two months at venues in and around Amsterdam, including the HQ of hostingcompany Byte. All skill levels are welcome! [meetup]

DevOps Amsterdam – Bringing together developers and operations people united in a common goal: destroy silos and remove obstacle to deploy and maintain awesome software and reliable infrastructures. [meetup]

Docker Randstad – Meet other developers and ops engineers using Docker. Docker is an open platform for developers and sysadmins to build, ship, and run distributed applications. Consisting of Docker Engine, a portable, lightweight runtime and packaging tool, and Docker Hub, a cloud service for sharing applications and automating workflows. [meetup]

Inspiring Entrepreneurs Open Coffee – Twice a month we organize a – free – meetup for entrepreneurs. [meetup]

Peace & Justice .net -TheHague young nonprofit professionals – Our goal is to connect all young nonprofit professionals in The Hague, to support their development by providing opportunities for skill-building, information sharing, and networking. We organize career and networking events, conferences, and workshops. [meetup]

Rotterdam Startup Founder 101 – Are you looking to start your own company? Are you trying to make the transition from an employee to an entrepreneur? [meetup]

Rotterdam Startups – The Rotterdam Startups Meetup group is where we try to gather everyone affiliated with the Rotterdam Startup community. We host monthly Rotterdam Startup Meetups, you are welcome to join and visit our Meetups and as long as you’re serious, we’ll make sure it’s worth it! [meetup]

TED The Hague – At TEDxTheHague we enjoy TED Talk videos to spark discussions in a small group. Guests bring their curiosity, open minds and their own ideas to share. [meetup]

Young Professionals of Den Haag Meetup Group – Welcome to the new Young Professionals of Den Haag Meetup! We think this kind of group has been much needed in Den Haag. Why should Amsterdam have all the fun? [meetup]

Language Exchange

Language Exchange

Ams Expats United (locals welcome) – Social activities to connect people from all over the world (Expats and Locals!) while having a great time. Let’s have fun together! Everybody is more than welcome ? [meetup]

Amsterdam Expat – Based in Amsterdam, we are the biggest and coolest expat community in the Netherlands. Hosting several events every week we get people together with different nationalities and backgrounds, promoting good vibes, friendships and great opportunities specially for newcomers. [meetup]

Amsterdam Girl Gone International – We are a vibrant international community of female globe hoppers 21-45 living, working, traveling or studying abroad. In cities all over the world we have hubs and we hold at least one main Girl Gone International event a month to meet new like minded friends, swap stories, connect and enjoy a few drinks in hip venues throughout the city. [meetup]

Amsterdam Language Cafe – Come practice your foreign language skills (Dutch, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Norwegian, Japanese, Russian, Arabic, etc) with other internationally minded people at our Amsterdam Language Cafe! [meetup]

Café des langues Den Haag (Polyglotes) – How about meeting in a cosy café with a drink in your hand, speaking your favourite language or language you wish to improve? The idea of Café des langues (based on a Luxembourgish model) is to  choose your table depending on the language you wish to practise ( and availability of the participants, for example French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, German…). [meetup]

Chinese Language & Culture Meetup – This group is for anybody who wants to share their interests in Chinese language & culture. Any Chinese learners can join to practice mandarin with native speakers or other learners. The members include native Chinese teachers, students & professionals, thus plenty of opportunities to practice. [meetup]

Easy Dutch 4 Expats – Introduction to the Dutch language and culture for busy ppl. Using theatre sports and games we learn some common Dutch words, phrases. [meetup]

Expat Meetup Culti Style The Hague, Leiden & Rotterdam Area – The Expat Meetup Group of Zuid Holland exists for the sole purpose of casual get-togethers in a friendly environment where everyone feels welcome. Meetups in this group are all about meeting people in a laid back and social atmosphere. [meetup]

Expat Republic Den Haag – This group is for Expats and Internationals living in the Den Haag (The Hague) area. Ourevents are aimed at helping you connect with one another and have a great time! [meetup]

LGBT Groups

LGBT Groups

Amsterdam LesBian social club – Let’s get together to meet, chat, dance, talk, eat, do sports, have a picknick or just hang out with other lesbian and bisexual girls and ladies. [meetup]

Amsterdam LGBT Squash Meetup – Rainbow Squash Amsterdam is an active straight-friendly squash club for gays and lesbians who come together to play squash. Our aimes are that both men and women feel at home in the club, every level from beginners to advanced players are welcome and that sportiness and fun are the priorities. [meetup]

COC Rotterdam – This organisation cares for the interests of the LGBT group in the region. COC is a national organisation with also representation in Rotterdam. In this city the organisation has about 450 members and it provides to the public information, counseling and advice about all aspects of homosexuality. [gay rotterdam]

Erasmus Pride – Erasmus Pride is the LGBT network for staff and students of the Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Erasmus Medical Centre. By having this network and by organising various educational and social activities, Erasmus Pride wants to promote emancipation of this group within both the University and the medical centre. [gay rotterdam]

Gay & LesBian Social The Netherlands – We are a bunch of friendly faces who are about meeting likeminded Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people and having a good time. [meetup]

Hoflounge – Every first Sunday of the month, bar-restaurant Het Heden is filled with smart dressed hipster gays and their friends who enjoy tunes, food & bubbles. [queer aan zee]

Humanitas Rotterdam / Roze Salons – Humanitas Rotterdam is supporting “pink” elderly people in the city. The organisation offers guidance as well as nice activities for this group. The Roze (pink) Salon Rotterdam is one of the events where ‘pink’ elderly persons gather in a casual atmosphere. [gay rotterdam]

Kringen Haaglanden – A ‘Kring’ (circle) is a group of gays, lesbians, or bisexuals who meet once a month, at home. [queer aan zee]

Plons – Gay, heterofriendly, swimming club. Has professional trainers. Swimming on Tue, Wed, Fri and Sun in district Bezuidenhout, Scheveningen, and Ypenburg. Organises social activities like BBQ on the beach for their members. [queer aan zee]

QUEER CULTUReUTRECHT – CuLGTBQ in Utrecht! A meetup group to bring together the wonderful non-straight / queer / non binary people around Utrecht who are not often found in the club scene. [meetup]



Places in Netherlands

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