From modern, efficient Dutch trains to a steam locomotive on a heritage line, travelling by train across the Netherlands has its appeal.

Covering 41,543km², almost twice the size of Wales, the Netherlands is a relatively small country but with a big profile. To some, it conjures up the serene images of colourful tulips and whirling windmills in picturesque villages, but to others, it is the great experience of visiting the world-class museums in Amsterdam and Rotterdam that put a smile to one’s face. And thanks to the country’s modern and extensive rail network, you can travel from the countryside to any of the city with ease, giving you plenty of opportunities to discover beautiful places and immerse in the diverse culture of the Netherlands.

UK Railway Holidays

The Netherlands at a glance

explore amsterdam on a dutch railway holiday

Capital: Amsterdam

Language: Dutch

Money: Euro

While giving a standard 10% tip isn’t a common practice, most people do round up the bill or leave small change.

  • New Year’s Day – January 1 
  • Good Friday – date varies
  • Easter Monday – date varies
  • Kings Day – April 27
  • Liberation Day – May 5
  • Ascension Day – (date varies)
  • Whit Sunday (date varies)
  • Christmas – December 25
  • Boxing Day – December 26

Goedemorgen (good morning), dank u (thank you), graag gedaan (you’re welcome)

Exploring The Netherlands

dutch railway holiday shutterstock 1800795931

There is a saying in Dutch, “God schiep de aarde, maar de Nederlanders schiepen Nederland”. It means “God created the earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands”, referring to their relentless fights against sea water and turning marshes into arable land in a low-lying delta that the country occupies. Efficient water and flood management is key to prevent 65% of the country from flooding daily and accordingly, keeping roads open and railway lines operational. With renewed concerns about rising sea levels, the battle against water will only amplify.

Fresh salad, thick pea soup, herring fillets, creamy stew, rye bread and a wide variety of cured meats and artisanal cheeses are typical staples of the Dutch, but colonial influences have seen Indonesian and Suriname dishes remain popular. Dutch cheeses are celebrated worldwide, and naturally visitors will get to enjoy Gouda, Edam and Leyden, the latter is a type of semi-hard cheese flavoured with cumin or caraway seed.

Like its neighbour Belgium, the Dutch have a long history of brewing beer with its origins firmly rooted in mediaeval monasteries where monks would spend time perfecting various recipes. Today, Heineken is the most famous Dutch beer brand. Established in 1873, Heineken was a pioneer in developing the unique A-Yeast for ‘bottom fermentation’, a process in which the yeast works slowly at a low temperature and thereby giving Heineken the characteristic taste balance. Apart from Heineken, other big names include Amstel and Grolsch. In recent years, craft breweries have also sprung up, giving visitors plenty of options when it comes to enjoying a refreshing pint or two.

Closed to the North Sea, the Netherlands has a maritime climate with cool and rainy summers and mild winters. Rainfall is moderate, averaging 850mm (33 inches) a year, and  fairly distributed throughout the year – although autumn (September to November) tends to be wetter than other months.

Spring (March to May) starts off cool, with an average high of 8°C (46°F) but the temperature climbs steadily to 16°C (61°F) by May. April and May are the best months to visit the Netherlands, especially if you intend to catch the glorious blooms at Keukenhof Gardens where more than seven million tulip bulbs are planted each year.

Summer (June to August) is pleasant, with daily means swing between 17-19°C (63-66°F). Some days are cloudy and rainy, but when the sun shines, the locals would congregate outside to enjoy and have a great time. Summer is also a good time to visit the Netherlands.

Autumn (September to November) is often the wettest period, with an average of 10 rainy days each month. Take a raincoat with you.

Winter (December to February) is cold, wet and dreary, but festive markets in December are rather magical and they tend to attract tourists. Temperature wise, the average high in December is 6°C (43°F) while the average low is 2°C (36°F).

For the hotter months: cotton clothing, along with a light jacket or sweater for the cooler evenings.

For the colder months: warm clothes and waterproofs.

When England, Germany and Belgium started building railway tracks in 1831, King William I decided that the Netherlands shouldn’t be left behind and the Dutch government would provide funding to construct railways. In 1839, the railway between Amsterdam and Haarlem was opened, with Arend and Snelheid as the first locomotives (imported from England) to pull the first trains. Today, there is a replicate of Arend in the Railway Museum in Utrecht.

In 1887, the line Hoorn-Medemblik was opened, which has been revived as a top tourist destination in recent year, with the steam train (NS 7742) and restored carriages as the main attractions. Boarding the steam train that passes through old stations and beautiful scenery is certainly a highlight for any rail enthusiast.

  • The Diary Of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • The Dutch Republic in the Seventeenth Century by Maarten Prak
  • Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
  • Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach

Why choose PTG Tour’s escorted rail tours through The Netherlands

  • Established in 1998, PTG has evolved into a leading tour agency offering rail-based holidays with a focus on culture and heritage.
  • You can choose from a diverse product range, based on your preference and budget.
  • Your escorted rail tour comes with a professional tour leader who will take great care of you, plus local guides when applicable.
  • All hotels and restaurants included in your package are vetted and approved by the local teams.
  • You can travel in confidence as all of our tours are ATOL and ABTA protected.