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5 Myths About the Netherlands

Date:07 August 2021
It was acually sunny 5minutes before this photo was taken, and sunny 10 minutes afterwards! #DutchSummers
It was acually sunny 5minutes before this photo was taken, and sunny 10 minutes afterwards! #DutchSummers

If you are travelling to the Netherlands for the first time, you might expect the people to live in windmills, eat cheese non-stop, wear wooden clogs and communicate through a harsh series of guttural noises all while riding bicycles. This is not reality…mostly. Before you rush out and buy a new set of clogs, I would recommend that your read through these popular myths about the Netherlands.


1) “I can’t wait to attend the University of Groningen and live in Holland,” said a student who is in for a surprise.

Although many people refer to the Kingdom of the Netherlands as Holland; in reality, ‘Holland’ is the name of only two of the twelve Dutch provinces (North- and South-Holland). Holland is roughly 200kms away from Groningen, so if you’d like to visit Groningen sometime, be sure to leave Holland to do so.


2) “The Netherlands is the only country where you cannot sneak up on anyone, because everyone wears wooden shoes, you can always hear them coming,”

One of the biggest myths about the Netherlands is that everyone wears clogs (Dutch: klompen). It is true that around 3million clogs are made every year, but most of them are sold to tourists. Although some Dutchies might use clogs in the garden or during some farm work, you will probably not encounter people wearing them in the streets of Groningen. So, maybe hold off on ordering a pair just yet.


3) “I’ve heard that Dutch people dance around tulip fields and everywhere you look, there are tulips.”

Yes, it is true that the Netherlands is the biggest exporter of tulips in the world, you shouldn’t expect everything to be covered in tulips all year round. You can go and see the beautiful tulip gardens and fields in places like Keukenhof. But you’ll most likely only encounter this iconic flower at the flower market or in the supermarket. There’s no need to worry about waking up being surrounded by tulips because you slept with the window open… although that does sound like a great dream. Unless you’re allergic to pollen, then that would be a nightmare.


4) “My friend’s daughter’s dog walker’s cousin told me that you can’t leave your house without smelling cannabis.”

While the Netherlands is known all over the world for its ‘relaxed’ drug policies and tourists often think that there is a koffie shop (which sells… umm, very strong cappuccinos) on every corner. Surprisingly, cannabis is still illegal – it has just been decriminalised, which is probably why the overwhelming majority of the Dutch do not consume it. In fact, consumption of marijuana in the Netherlands is lower than Italy, the Czech Republic and Canada!


5) “Everyone in the Netherlands is super tall, blonde and blue-eyed.”

The Netherlands does in fact have the tallest height of people on average in the world, not everyone you’ll meet is a giant! People come in all shapes and sizes in the Netherlands, especially in Groningen, due to the large international population, you’ll be sure to find plenty of people under 180cm with many different styles. (I am aware of the irony that I am from South Africa but blonde, tall and blue-eyed telling you that there is a lot more diversity than people that look like me…)


I hope these debunked myths help you realise that there is in fact more to the Netherlands than a bunch of tall Hollanders carrying flowers and clogging around a canal.


Let us know in the comments below if there are any myths you’d like to debunk!


About the author

Hi there! I am Luc, a South African student of International and European Law. In my spare time you will find me consuming Netflix, playing guitar and singing, cycling around, spending time with friends and whispering “what a cutie” to every dog and cat that happens to walk past me in Groningen!


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