Dordrecht New harbor and Grote Kerk sitting at the water's edge
© Ernst Wagensveld via NBTC

This is NL

The Netherlands, a land of water. Water is omnipresent here, it has shaped this country, and so have the wide expanses that characterize its landscapes. In the articles in this collection, we delve into the Neth-erlands’ heritage and its past, but we also ponder the present and even look into the future. From old masters to ‘new Dutch’: this is the Netherlands.

The battle with water

A great part of Dutch heritage is intertwined with the land and particularly with the nation’s ‘battle with the water’. This small country, largely below sea level, has always been fighting to keep habitable land and even to gain more of it. This is the source of a centuries-old tradition of innovation, from dykes through windmills to steam-powered pumping stations. Read our story about water in the Netherlands.

There are more ‘typically Dutch’ things that have evolved as a direct or indirect consequence of the way this country is shaped. Its famous cheese wouldn’t taste the same if the cows weren’t grazing on grass grown in the clay soil of the polders. The tulips, just as famous, can only be grown on the scale they are because of the Dutch climate and the sandy soils of the flower bulb region and other parts of the country, such as Zeeland. Read more about the blooming Netherlands.

A bicycle paradise

Another Dutch icon: the bike. Visitors often reach for their cameras when they first see the vast ranks of bikes parked at Dutch transport hubs. The bike is firmly established as a favorite mode of transport for the majority of the population in the Netherlands, and of course, that’s a lot to do with the flatness of the land, ideal for cycling. Before the arrival of e-bikes, each little hill could present an obstacle to cyclists, and the Dutch sometimes forget how special it is that they have all these level bike paths to zoom along on everywhere. Cycling in the Netherlands happens with children on front and back seats and in all weathers.

If you’d like to explore the Dutch landscape for yourself, read our stories about nature in the Netherlands. We’ve already mentioned the polders and the tulip fields, but there is so much more to discover. From the marl caves in South Limburg to the Wadden islands all the way up north, via the forests of the Veluwe in the center of the country, you can find a wide variety of natural features in the Netherlands. Even ‘mountains’ –at least according to the Dutch themselves!

Couple on electric bikes in the forest

Dutch Masters

Back to the heritage theme. Just as closely connected to the country’s image as the polders, the tulips and the bikes are Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh. The Dutch masters and their successors are part of Dutch identity. This small country has brought forth a surprising number of world-famous artists. Read more in our article about Dutch heritage.

Lovely, all this cultural history, isn’t it? But is the Netherlands still relevant now? Glad you’re asking. This is a country defined by its spirit of innovation, a country where engineers and designers are never afraid to break new ground and turn the boldest ideas into reality. Explore this topic in our ‘New Dutch’ feature.

From Dykes to Design: The Netherlands in 7 stories

The windmills of Kinderdijk in the light of morning glory with a sunrise.
Category: Story

Dutch heritage: a perfect blend of culture and landscape

Curious about Dutch heritage? Take a look at this guide and be amazed by all the beauty our country has to offer.

Cyclist through the forest in autumn colors with reflection in the water
Category: Story

Where to enjoy the stunning natural beauty of the Netherlands

A guide filled with extraordinary places to enjoy nature in the Netherlands to the fullest.

DDW 2022 Centre Kazerne MagneticMoment
Category: Story

New Dutch: a different perspective of The Netherlands

Forget windmills, tulips, and canals. This guide gives you an overview of the modern, progressive, and sustainable Netherlands as we know it today.

Red tulip field in Flevoland
Category: Story

Blooming Netherlands: a rich bouquet of stories

Tips for seeing the most beautiful flowers in the Netherlands.

Aquaduct Veluwemeer, aerial view from the drone. A sailboat sails through the aqueduct on the lake above the highway.
Category: Story

Where are the best places to enjoy the lakes and waterways of the Netherlands?

Which location in the Netherlands best shows our national obsession with water? Which locations are not to be missed? Find out in this guide!

Couple bike along the Lauwersmeer
Category: Story

Hop on your bike and discover Dutch cycling culture. Top tips and places to enjoy

Where, when and how? We'll give you all the answers for the best cycling experience. What are the coolest places? How safe is it? Read all about it in this guide!

Woman views painting The endangered swan at Rijksmuseum. Painted by Dutch artist Jan Asselijn ca. 1650
Category: Story

Dutch Masters: art is everywhere in the Netherlands

The iconic works of our Dutch Masters can be seen throughout the Netherlands. But where are the best places to see their work and learn more about these titans of art?