Windmills, clogs, bicycles, tulips and low-lying flatlands – surely there's more to this former naval power than the stereotypes suggest? Of course. But word got out about the bicycles for good reason: the Netherlands has around 22,000 kilometres of dedicated cycle paths; children grow up on the back of bikes and city cycling certainly doesn't faze the locals! This is one of the world's most densely-populated countries too but it never feels like it; perhaps it's the all-pervading relaxed and liberal attitudes of the Dutch.
A mix of bustling cities and sprawling countryside
The capital, Amsterdam, has come a long way since its 12th-century fishing village origins and is culturally and architecturally rich. The work of the Dutch Masters is proudly displayed here and the canals are beautiful to cruise and walk by. Further afield, many of Utrecht's medieval structures remain; Leiden was Rembrandt's birthplace and is home to the oldest university in the Netherlands. Maastricht is one of the country's most beautiful cities. For a sense of wild places, be sure to explore the pretty Hoge Veluwe National Park in the Gelderland province.
Wherever your holiday in the Netherlands takes you, you're bound to leave more relaxed than you arrived and the Dutch will be very pleased for their role in that.