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From Amsterdam’s canal network to verdant fields inland, Holland holidays combine culture with sheer beauty, and are just a short flight from the UK.

Holland, also known as The Netherlands, embodies the very best of European culture. It’s the home of Vincent van Gogh, countless delicious cheeses, fields of windmills and tulips, and possibly the world's best-known canal network outside of Venice. Cities here are historic, colourful, and welcoming from the second you get off your flight (or ship) through the entirety of your Holland holiday.

You'll notice recurrent colours across the country. Narrow redbrick buildings are prominent in the capital, whilst wide meadows stretch out with vibrant shades of red and yellow as you venture into rural areas.

Stroll through Amsterdam's narrow network of streets, then visit the Anne Frank Museum and discover one of the Second World War's many heart-breaking tales. It's attractions like these, sat beside secluded parks, which differentiate the Netherlands from other countries. Fields here are filled with tulips, flat cycle paths, and a serene aura patent to Holland. Sail the river Rhine, explore Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and you'll soon discover that there's far more to here than just clogs and an untold number of bicycles.

Top holidays in Holland

Culture and history

Dutch culture, in a word, is pragmatic. This is noticeable in speech - they tend to tell it how it is - and in everyday life, valuing practicality more so than other nations. When greeting a Dutch person, body language is very important. Any new acquaintance should be greeted with a firm handshake, whereas other friends should be embraced with three kisses on alternate cheeks. They also tend to be very social, sharing lunch with a table full of friends or colleagues, and tucking into broodjes - bread rolls - and meats and cheeses. Fried food is loved throughout Holland, but easily burned off thanks to the staple method of Dutch transport - the bicycle.

The first inhabitants of Holland -; Celtic and Germanic tribes - lived harmoniously until the land was eventually conquered by the Roman Empire, in around 1 BC. Gradually, the area was settled by Franks and Christianity became adopted. The Netherlands played a pivotal role in Charlemagne's Frank Empire, who pushed forward economic development with agriculture and trade. Come the Renaissance period, Holland was under the control of King Phillip II of Spain. The Dutch didn't like this, entering into a bitter eighty-year war over civic and religious differences.

In 1581, Holland proclaimed independence, although this wasn't recognised by Spain until 1648. The conflicts arose strong patriotic feelings in Holland, and the country began to thrive economically and build up a formidable navy. The Kingdom of the Netherlands was created at the end of 19th century, which at the time included parts of Belgium and Luxemburg. Both nations had separated by the century's close, and the Netherlands moved peacefully into the 20th century. This lasted until World War Two (Holland remained neutral in WW1) and the German occupation of the 1940s. During this time, the Dutch resisted attempts by the Nazis to become part of the Third Reich - a struggle which left a heinous mark on European history. Following years of recovery, today's Holland is a major economic power and plays a significant role on the world stage.

Things to do

The Netherlands offers plenty of stunning attractions, whether you're dreaming of a river cruise along Dutch Waterways or a city break to the national capital. Explore Keukenhof Gardens in springtime and witness millions of tulips in bloom.

Or perhaps you'd rather see yuletide traditions done with a Dutch twist with Holland's take on Christmas Markets. Whatever and whenever you want to visit, Saga's many cruises and escorted tours will take you to a cherry-picked selection of the country's highlights.

Amsterdam

Holland's capital city is also the hub of the nation's culture. Let's start with the Rijksmuseum, a museum of art and historic artefacts in the city centre. It's not far from the Van Gogh Museum, which as you'd expect, is a firm favourite for many holidays in Holland. Museum cards are available - pick one up for discounted entry to the city's many cultural institutions. Visiting Anne Frank's former home is also a hallmark of many trips here, and a poignant reminder of Europe's past. After this, jump on a canal to explore the city's picturesque waterways.

Utrecht

Further inland, Utrecht is one of Holland's unsung jewels. Like the capital, you'll find a variety of museums here, such as the fascinating Railway Museum in the east. Situated in an abandoned railway station, it comprises restored train carriage rooms and a vast collection of railway memorabilia. Aside from this, there's St. Martin's Cathedral. Religion has always been a major part of Utrecht, and this eloquent building is testament to that. The city's Botanical Gardens, although they're on the outskirts, are also worth every second of the journey. Park up, and enjoy a tranquil view like none other.

Rotterdam

Boasting plush hotels and restaurants, Rotterdam is the epicentre of Holland's maritime industry. Its rich history is visible through the Maritime Museum and the vessels which form part of the exhibits. If you'd rather do something more laid-back, then head to Kinderdijk's Windmills, a little over 20 kilometres outside of the city. Walk amongst the collection of 18th century windmills, each of which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Back in Rotterdam, no holiday here is complete without a guided tour of the port. It takes up half of Rotterdam, and upon visiting you'll see a fascinating selection of ships.

Flight time

Flights from London to Amsterdam take between an hour, and an hour and a half.

Currency

Euro -

In Holland they use the euro, which is divided into a hundred cents. Head to a travel agent or post office and stock up before boarding your flight.

Passports and visas

If you're a British citizen, you don't need a visa to enter Holland, only a passport valid for the duration of your stay. Once you've arrived, leave a photocopy in your hotel for safekeeping.

Visit GOV.UK for more advice on passports and visas.

Phrases

Most people in Holland speak excellent English, but it's nice to meet people half-way sometimes. To help make the most of your stay in Holland, here's a few key Dutch phrases you can learn for your holidays:

Hallo - hello

Vaarwel - goodbye

Alstublieft - please

Dank je - thank you

Ja - yes

No - nee

Pardon, wat zei u? - Pardon me (didn't understand)

Ik spreek geen Nederlands - I don't speak Dutch

Timezone

Holland is one hour ahead of the UK - adjust your watch or phone once your flight lands.

Electricity

They use type C and F sockets in Holland. Pick up an adaptor before your flight so you can use British electrical appliances in the hotel.

Language

Dutch -

The main language spoken in Holland is Dutch, closely followed by English.

Tipping

Often, a service charge is already added to your bill when eating out. However if you do want to tip, then leave between 10 and 15% of the bill. The service charged isn't included for hotel workers like porters and cleaners. Leave one or two euros for them if you feel the service merits it.

Climate

As one of our closest neighbours, Holland's climate is very similar to the UK's. The North Sea and Atlantic Ocean both play a big impact on temperatures, creating cold winters and pleasant summers averaging between 17 to 20 degrees Celsius.

Health

As health information can change at any time, we'd advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before your Holland holiday. Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad on their website.

Population and size

17 million people live in Holland, about a third the size of England's population. The country itself, meanwhile, takes up an area of 41,543 square kilometres - about half the size of Scotland.

Smoking

Like the UK, Holland has a smoking ban in place in cafes, bars and restaurants. There may be designated areas for smokers, but as always, adhere to signage and be respectful of those around you.