So I recently spent three weeks in the Netherlands, my first trip there! What I love about a long break is that you don't have to rush around trying to fit everything in, and return home more exhausted than you left!
I was based in The Hague for my time there, so a good chunk of my tips focus around that beautiful city, but I did take a few day trips up to Amsterdam, and got to visit quite a bit of the countryside as well, which was really lovely!
My absolute favourite part about this city was the HUGE park right in the middle of it - they basically have an entire forest right smack bang in the middle of town (called Haagse Bos)!! It's so much fun to spend a day on your bike, cycling around, finding the gorgeous lakes to read by, and enjoying a picnic.
I was luckily there while the Japanese garden was open - something that only happens for two weeks out of the whole year! So that was a real treat. The park area around the Japanese garden is also absolutely stunning though.
There were two great spots that I really enjoyed for people watching and general sunset vibes - The Plein and Grote Markt.
Little V has an amazing atmosphere inside (and the decor, wow!), and yup, you can eat all of the amazing Vietnamese food there :)
Another great spot in The Hague is Mama Kelly - it's a bit off the beaten track in a more industrial side of town, but very interesting and hip when you get there, and the lobster is AMAZING!
Also stop off for an after dinner drink at Kompaan - just around the corner from Mama Kelly with views of the dock.
A trip to The Hague would not be complete without a visit to their beautiful beaches - which can be enjoyed from one of the many (and I mean, many!) deck restaurants by the pier, though these spots tend to be a little touristy and cheesy. Get off the beaten track a bit by stopping off at Zuid or Staat instead.
Not to miss in The Hague: a visit to The Peace Palace, biking up and down the embassy roads (such beautiful houses to peek at!), high-end shopping at The Passage (if that's your kind of thing) and the Harry-Potter-esque parliamentary buildings around the Binnenhof.
Quite possibly my favourite town we visited in the Netherlands was actually this small little spot called Leiden. It's very easy to reach by train, and on a hot summers day there's a multitude of gorgeous canal-side restaurants to stop off at for drinks and snacks. The parks along the canal are also lovely for a picnic lunch, and the town is bursting with beautiful old buildings and an amazing fort!
Amsterdam would not be complete without a trip to the floating flower market - though this is best viewed during tulip season of course!
I had a delish solo lunch one day at Stach - just down the road from the Rijksmuseum - sitting in the window, watching the world go by.
And of course, a visit to the beautiful building that is the Rijksmuseum! There's a ton of amazing museums in this area - my advice is to look them up online and choose which best suits you and BOOK YOUR TICKETS ONLINE. Trust me on that last one, you'll save yourself hours of standing in queues!
Pllek is worth waiting for the ferry (it's free!) to the other side of the river. Give yourself a whole evening at this spot, it's packed with gorgeous spots to lie out in the sun!
One of my fave parts of Amsterdam was the Nine Streets neighbourhood - packed with gorgeous boutiques, little cafes and endless canals to wander up and down! Visit Ace & Tate to order prescription glasses and sunglasses for 99 euros! What a win.
Lunch at a spot called Blue Amsterdam for stunning views of the city.
Other must dos: the Anne Frank house, Stedelyk museum, a canal cruise, cocktails and a view at Volkshotel, a visit to the red light district. It's also worth checking the DJ list at Jimmy Woo or Club Air if you'd like a high end night club evening.
Get out of the big cities! This country runs on very well organised public transport (you can pick up an OV card at the airport, which is just like an Oyster or Metro card, and will allow you on to pretty much every form of transport), the signs are generally always in English, or at least pretty much EVERYONE I chatted to spoke English! And then once you're in a town you can easily pick up a couple of bikes to rent.
Speaking of renting bikes, this is a MUST! It's flat and safe and easy, and so much fun!
Everyone speaks English, so don't worry about trying Afrikaans on them, they tend to think you're a little silly if you speak Afrikaans.
Take a nice variety of light layers! The weather changes freakishly fast, and a hot day of 33 degrees can drop suddenly down into the low teens at night time. I had a backpack with a couple of light, but warm (think 'heat tech', or those gorgeous light down Uniqlo jackets!) ready to go for the evening.