|Discover the many secrets of this gently beautiful country and its masterpieces, canal towns and windmills.
Revel in the welcoming yet wry culture at a cafe, then bike past fields of tulips.
The Dutch themselves seem oversized (actually they are statistically the tallest nationality on the planet.) Gregariousness, thrift, good sense, and wry humour are all national traits, as is no-holds-barred honesty. This is not the country for the neurotic to ask: ‘Do you think I look fat in this?’ (Not that this can be much of a worry in the best place to ride a bike on the planet.).
|Other places as old as Amsterdam have evocative beauty and come in a variety of sizes: Edam, Haarlem, Delft and Deventer to name just some of the smaller delights. Moving up the league tables in size, there’s the canal towns of Leiden, Haarlem and Utrecht. And Rotterdam is a modernist feast all its own.|
|Perhaps the best way to get to the heart of the Netherlands is to do as the Dutch do. Join them in the city centres of classic towns as far flung as Groningen, Maastricht and Den Bosch, lively places filled with cafes that heave with happy Dutch socialising on a sunny day. Or join them on the thousands of kilometres of bike routes as they add not a molecule of carbon to the atmosphere while riding through the lush countryside and past sweeping watery vistas at sea (or is it see?) level. You don’t have to travel far to find a lot.|
|In the world of art the Netherlands has given us Rembrandt and Van Gogh. Sure, there’s also Frans Hals, Hieronymus Bosch and Piet Mondrian – but when you’ve got the first two, why mention the rest? (OK that Vermeer guy, he’s big…).|