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What Not to Do in the Netherlands

Five Things Tourists Should Stop Doing in the Netherlands – As Told by a Dutchman

You may have heard that natives of the Netherlands do things a bit differently. The Dutch are (undeservedly) rated as some least friendly people in the world. However, as a citizen of the Netherlands, I’d like share a few things tourists do that are sure to upset any local. In no particular order…

Netherlands Cycles

Getting in the Way of Cyclists

Have you heard that cyclists rule the streets of Amsterdam? The Netherlands is a country where people love to travel on bikes, and they prefer everyone who travels there do the same.  We hate tourists who stand in our way so always look out for them or you will likely get biked over. We also hate it when tourist riders are not aware of our traffic rules and do not ride in the designated red lanes.

Netherlands Piet and Sint

Criticizing Zwarte Piet

The Dutch expect that tourists show the same respect to our Sinterklaas traditions and Zwarte Piet as we give to Santa Claus, reindeer and elves. Any tourists who dares speak ill of them might receive a legitimate death threat. Yes, Dutch are that serious about it. We expect the same mutual respect given to our beloved Zwarte Piet as we give to others. We are the most tolerant people you will ever find, but if you ask condescending question about Zwarte Piet, get ready to face deportation, denial or anger.


Mismanage Time

The Dutch hate it when people show up as a surprise. We expect tourists to accept that our national pastime is to make schedules, follow them regularly and demand that everyone else do the same. We want tourists to notice how structured our lives are, and at least attempt to follow suit. Never just walk up to a Dutch household unannounced just because you were in the neighborhood.


Poor Service Industry Manners

Whether you are at an overpriced eatery or shop, you should be both careful and thankful. Careful because you should wait your turn and exude patience and thankful because they are letting you visit. Unlike the US, you generally need to wait until the staff is ready to speak with you. Don’t dare interrupt their daily routine and ask them trivial questions. How much is this? Is it possible to see the menu? These are both questions that should only be asked when the staff has acknowledged you.


Disagreeing with Locals

Get used to what the Dutch have to say, as they have all attended the University of Google. The Dutch are never wrong. When they say something it is a fact. You are wrong, they are not.