There is plenty to do in The Netherlands in winter. The climate might not be at its most welcoming but if you’re lucky the sun will come out, the crowds will have disappeared, and you’ll have the place to yourself.
1. Take to the Ice
The Dutch go skating mad come winter, when Amsterdam’s Leidseplein and Museumplein are converted into ice rinks. They are surrounded by cafés to defrost in after a sojourn on the ice. Try Café Cobra on Museumplein for warming soups and zopie (mulled wine).
2. Art without Jostle
The same great artworks with only quarter the crowds; grab the opportunity to explore the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk, and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the gorgeous Mauritshuis in Den Haag, and the Franz Hals Museum in Haarlem.
3. Cheaper All Round
Both flights and hotel prices in Holland come down over the winter so get searching to come up with great travel deals.
4. Festival Time
Come February 9–12, Chinese New Year is celebrated with street parades and fireworks in Amsterdam. The China Light Festival runs from December 7 to February 14, 2013, at Euromast Park in Rotterdam and sees scores of Chinese light sculptors turning the gardens into a sparkling wonderland.
5. Eat Dutch
Keep out the winter chill with hearty Dutch dishes erwtensoep (pea soup) and stamppot (mashed potatoes cooked with sauerkraut) eaten with rookworst (smoked sausage). If you’re after spicy food, order rijstaffel in cosy Indonesian restaurants. For a sugar hit, buy pannenkoek (pancakes), stroopwafels (wafers oozing with syrup), and oliebollen (donuts) from street vendors.
6. Get cycling
Keep warm and get fit while biking the backwaters of Zeeland, quiet without their summer visitors. Cycle alongside the North Sea at Zandvoort and follow the trails of De Hoge Veluwe National Park to spot red deer.