Netherlands vs. Holland

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What is the difference between Holland and the Netherlands? The Netherlands consists of 12 provinces but many people use “Holland” when talking about the Netherlands.

  • The two provinces of Noord- and Zuid-Holland together are Holland.
  • The 12 provinces together are the Netherlands.
  • Holland is often used when all of the Netherlands is meant.

The official name of the country is the Kingdom of the Netherlands. King Willem-Alexander is the king of the nation. Holland actually only means the two provinces of Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland. However, the name Holland is often used when all of the Netherlands is meant.

A brief history of the Netherlands and Holland

Between 1588 and 1795, the area currently representing the Netherlands was the Republic of Seven United Netherlands. The republic was conquered by French troops in 1795 and became the Batavian Republic. Napoleon appointed his brother Louis as king in 1806, turning the country into a kingdom. The Netherlands remained a kingdom after Napoleon’s defeat. At that time, the area called “Holland” made the biggest contribution to the entire nation’s economy and wealth. As such it became the commonly used name to indicate the entire country.

Nature in Holland

Holland is known as a flat country. As such the landscape is perfect for cycling and walking tours. The countless nature parks, each with its own character, offer up wonderful landscapes. You could visit Oostvaarders Plassen or the Hoge Veluwe, for instance, and explore the unique flora and fauna.

Holland also boasts a long coastline with beautiful beaches. Because there is so much water, the Netherlands is at risk of flooding. The authorities have implemented measures like the Afsluitdijk and Delta Works, unique structures that are definitely worth visiting. 

Typically Dutch

When you think about Holland, you probably think of tulips, windmills and cheese. These and other icons can be found throughout Holland. Friesland and Zeeland are wonderful provinces for cycling tours, Noord-Brabant and Gelderland are the place to discover art by Vincent van Gogh, Bosch and other Dutch masters, and traditional cheese can be enjoyed in Limburg. Unique in Holland: Drenthe boasts prehistoric remains, such as the megalithic tombs called hunebeds.  If the weather turns cold enough, ice-skating enthusiasts can register for the Elfstedentocht. This route on natural ice takes you to eleven Friesian cities. If there is no ice, the cities are well worth a visit even when the weather is good.

Holidays in Holland

Every country has its own holidays. The most famous holidays in Holland are Sinterklaas and King’s Day. Sinterklaas is celebrated in December, with children receiving presents when they have been ‘good’. King’s Day is when the Dutch celebrate their king’s birthday. It is a national holiday celebrated mainly in the streets with many music acts and draws many tourists every year

City trip in Holland

Are you looking for a great city for a weekend trip? Holland has many cities that offer plenty of entertainment with historic architecture, museums, city parks, and restaurants and cafés. You can visit Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Den Haag, Maastricht or Haarlem, for instance.

Visiting Holland becomes even more special if you spend the night in a wonderful location. And there are plenty of those. Check out our selection of hotels, both in cities and in smaller villages and natural surroundings. 

Six must-see spots to visit during your holiday with a rail pass

Travel cheaply and conveniently by train through Holland and the rest of Europe with Eurail and Interrail. We have selected the best places to visit in Holland by train for you.

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All about the Netherlands

Learn all about the Netherlands and Holland. Facts, figures and fun things to know.