What is Culture Like in The Netherlands?

When you are visiting a new country, it can feel like walking into a new world! Everything is so different, the people are different, the food is different, and the culture is different! This can definitely be seen is what culture is like in The Netherlands! The Netherlands is an amazing country with an amazing culture. The official language in The Netherlands is Dutch. Dutch is quite similar to German, while borrowing some words and terms from both French and English. The second language in The Netherlands is Friesian, which is spoken in the province of Friesland by approximately half-million people. But if you do not speak these languages, do not worry! 90%-93% of Dutch people can speak English almost perfectly!

Dutch Social Etiquette

Consider that what you are about to read below is the general known social etiquette, but it does not mean that it is followed by absolutely everyone in The Netherlands

  • Greetings: The Dutch are known to either shake hands when greeting each other or, if they are close, they kiss the cheek three times, starting with the left cheek. However, when you are very close to someone, it is more known that you give a singular kiss on the left cheek and a simple hello.
  • Scheduling: The Dutch are known for living through schedules and following them very well. Do not be surprised if your Dutch friend schedules dinner with you a couple of weeks prior.
  • Manners: Dutch people are known to be very honest and direct. What might seem rude in one culture is simply being open and honest to the Dutch and not meant to be rude in any way.
  • Speaking a different language: If you greet someone in Dutch, do not be surprised if they answer in English. The Dutch are very good at English, and most are fluent! But do not be shy to attempt to learn the language!
  • Gift giving: Typically, if you are invited to a Dutch home, it is customary to give a gift to the host. This can include flowers, chocolates or a bottle of wine.

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Dutch Culture

Dutch Food

Typical Dutch food is not too diverse. It usually consists of vegetables and meat. However, the Dutch do have some foods and snacks that are very popular within the Dutch community:

  • Poffertjes: These are small pancakes that are usually served with melted butter and sprinkled with icing sugar.
  • Haring ‘Hollandse Nieuwe’ This consists of pickled fish. Definitely not for everyone, but the Dutch seemingly enjoy it. It consists of raw herring that is coated in a preserving liquid made of vinegar, spices and cider. They are served as a snack and are usually served with onions and pickles.
  • Pannenkoeken: The Dutch have a special place in their heart for their pancakes. These can be made either sweet or savoury.
  • Oliebollen: These Dutch doughnuts are definitely not known as being a very healthy dish, but very delicious. They are balls of dumpling batter fried in hot oil and then sprinkled with icing sugar.
  • Bitterballen: Eating some greasy bitterballen before a night out is a go-to for many people living in The Netherlands because of their heaviness and greasiness. They consist of balls of thinly chopped beef or veal that are spiced with a variety of spices and rolled in bread crumbs, and then fried.
  • Stamppot: Potato mash and leftovers or other ingredients like kale, endive, cabbage or sauerkraut. Often served with meat on the side (smoked sausage) and gravy.
  • Stroopwafel: Is a unique kind of cookie. It is a waffle made from baked batter and sliced horizontally. The two thin layers of the waffle are filled with sweet and sticky syrup in between.
  • Kroket: Is a deep fried roll with meat ragout inside, covered in breadcrumbs.You can eat a ‘kroket’ as a snack, but most of the time they are served on sliced white bread or hamburger buns with mustard on the side.
  • Patat: The Dutch version of French Fries has many different words: ‘Friet’, ‘Frites’, ‘Patat’ or ‘Vlaamse frieten’. They are thicker than the normal French Fries and invented in the northern part of Belgium. The Dutch really like them especially with a lot of toppings such as mayonnaise, tomato ketchup, curry or peanut sauce.
  • Drop: With more than 2 kilograms per year per person the Dutch consumption of licorice is the highest in the world. ‘Drop’ comes in different flavors and sizes, but basically there are two major differences: salty licorice and sweet licorice.
  • Hagelslag: Is sprinkles that is used in sandwich fillings or as a topping on desserts. Hagelslag come in many different flavours, chocolate being the most common.
  • Lekkerbekje / Kibbeling: ‘Lekkerbekje’ and ‘Kibbeling’ refer to battered and deep-fried white fish, commonly codfish or whiting from the North Sea. The only difference between these two is that ‘kibbeling’ is cut into chunks, while ‘lekkerbekje’ is not.
  • Kapsalon: Is a popular Dutch street food dish consisting of French fries topped with meat such as shawarma or kebab, various types of cheese (typically Gouda), salad greens, and various sauces (typically garlic sauce). Kapsalon also means hairdresser in Dutch.

Working in The Netherlands

Are you moving to The Netherlands and want to find work? We have you covered.

Weather in The Netherlands

The Netherlands is very well-known for its rainy and windy weather, however it does not rain as much as many would expect. The weather in The Netherlands is known as very unpredictable and can most definitely change your day-to-day plans very suddenly. To check the day-to-day weather, it is best to use sites like Buienradar and KNMI.

The climate of the Netherlands is influenced by the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, so it's cool, cloudy and humid for most of the year.

  • Winter: From December to February, is cold but not freezing, with daily average temperatures ranging from 2.5 °C (36.5 °F) to 4 °C (39 °F).
  • Spring: From March to May, is a cool season, characterized by a slow increase in temperature. In April, snow showers can still occur, while in early May, the maximum temperature can remain around 10 °C (50 °F). In May, the average maximum temperature is around 18 °C (64 °F).
  • Summer: From June to August, the temperatures are generally pleasant. Cool and rainy days are quite frequent, with maximum temperatures below 20 °C (68 °F), however, they alternate with warmer days, with the sun peeping through the clouds and the temperature exceeding 25 °C (77 °F) in the early afternoon. The Dutch summer is similar to that of London, UK. On average, the maximum temperature hovers around 22/23 °C (72/73 °F) in much of the country and around 21 °C (70 °F) on the coast, and it normally reaches 30/32 °C (86/90 °F) only two or three days per month.
  • Autumn: From September to November, the weather starts to gradually cool down, but the wind starts to pick up! The average tempature at this time of year is 14 °C (57.2 °F).

Dutch Culture

Residency in The Netherlands

Information about BSN numbers, visas and more.

Dutch National Holidays

What are the Dutch national holidays? It is said that The Netherlands is one of the most irreligious countries in Europe, therefore there are a lot of holidays that won't be celebrated, or you won’t have days off as the Dutch do not celebrate many religious days. However, they do have bank holidays and celebrate national Dutch holidays such as:

  • New Year’s Day - Nieuwjaarsdag
  • Good Friday - Goede Vrijdag
  • Easter Sunday - Eerste Passdag
  • Easter Monday - Tweede Paasdag
  • Kings Day - Koningsdag
  • Liberation Day - Bevrijdingsdag
  • Ascension - Hemelvaartsdag
  • Whit Sunday - Eerste Pinksterdag
  • Whit Monday - Tweede Pinksterdag
  • Christmas Day - Eerste Kerstdag
  • Second Christmas day - Tweede Kerstdag

These are usually the national Dutch holidays, but one that is the most important one for the entire country is King’s Day. King’s Day, in The Netherlands, is the day to celebrate the birthday of the King. They all wear orange, nobody is working, everyone is out and about on the streets or on boats and drinking all day and partying. Typically, the streets are covered in a sort of “garage sale” where most households go out and sell their toys or any furniture they want to get rid of. During the day, everyone has speakers on the streets where loud music is being played and at night people go out to a club or a party to celebrate King’s Day. If you really want to experience a real Dutch national holiday, it would be King’s Day!

So, what is the culture like in The Netherlands? Overall, the culture in The Netherlands is very independent, open-minded and friendly. For expats, it can be very shocking at first, to experience the Dutch culture because everyone is very much in their own business, and it is a fast-paced country, but once you get used to it and integrate in the Dutch society, it is quite a comfortable lifestyle.

Living in The Netherlands

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Dutch Culture

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many Tulips does The Netherlands export each year?

  • Around 2 billion of these Tulips are exported to many countries worldwide, with this number, the Tulip is the most exported flower in The Netherlands.

  • Is The Netherlands below sea level?

  • Almost a third of The Netherlands is situated below sea level. The lowest point below sea level can be found in 'Nieuwekerk aan den Ijssel' and is 6,76 meter below sea level.

  • Why are the Dutch so tall?

  • The Netherlands is known for being the tallest country in the world. Most scientist assume that a diet rich in milk and meat played a major role.