DutchPod101.com Blog
Learn Dutch with Free Daily
Audio and Video Lessons!
Start Your Free Trial 6 FREE Features

Archive for the 'Dutch Culture' Category

Dutch Love Phrases: How to Say “I Love You,” in Dutch

Thumbnail

Do you have a Dutch girlfriend or boyfriend, or has an attractive Dutchie caught your eye? Then learning how to express your feelings in the Dutch language is the first step you should take toward creating a new relationship or strengthening the bond between you and your lover.

Of course, there are the basics. For example…

How do you say “I love you,” in Dutch? That’s Ik hou van jou. And how about “my love”? That could be mijn lieverd or mijn liefje

The Dutch may not be the most expressive people when it comes to love, but they do have their own ways of confessing their feelings and revealing their love to someone. With the right words, you’ll come a long way in your relationship—but try not to be too dramatic or clingy. The Dutch are very down-to-earth, and they view excessive romanticism as a mark of desperation. 

Learn to talk about love in Dutch with this useful guide from DutchPod101.com. We’ve provided a variety of Dutch love phrases for every phase of your romantic relationship, from confessing your affection and falling in love all the way to getting married and starting a family. And if that’s still not enough, we’ll even introduce you to some Dutch endearment terms and must-know Dutch love quotes. 

Let’s get to it!

Two Hands Making a Heart Shape Toward the Sun

Impress your Dutch love with these Dutch romantic phrases.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. First Contact: Dutch Pick-up Lines and More
  2. Take it to the Next Level: How Do You Say “I Love You,” in Dutch?
  3. Take it One Step Further: “Will You Marry Me?” and More
  4. Dutch Endearment Terms: “My Love” in Dutch and More
  5. Must-know Dutch Love Quotes
  6. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. First Contact: Dutch Pick-up Lines and More

You’re in a bar and you spot some nice Dutchie you’d like to get to know…but how do you make first contact? While the Dutch value a direct approach in all things, it’s still important to know how to start the conversation. Have a look at these Dutch pick-up lines and other useful Dutch love phrases for when you’ve just met someone.

Kom je hier vaker?
Ik ken je ergens van.
“Do you come here often?”
“I think I’ve seen you before.”

Hoe heet je?“What’s your name?”


Wil je dansen?
Wil je met me dansen?
“Do you want to dance?”
“Do you want to dance with me?”

Wil je wat drinken?
Ik betaal dit rondje.
“Can I buy you a drink?”
“Let me get this round.”
In the Netherlands, it’s not customary that the man pays for everything. Rather, it’s quite common for couples to “go Dutch” and split the bill. However, when you meet someone new, offering a drink can be a good way to show your interest. While it’s less common for a girl to buy a guy a drink, this is definitely an option as well.

Heb je een vriend?
Heb je een vriendin?
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Do you have a girlfriend?”
The Dutch are direct, so they’re used to non-subtle ways of asking if someone is single. You could also ask: Ben je single? (“Are you single?”)

Het was leuk met jou.I
k zou het leuk vinden om je nog een keer te zien.
“I had a great time with you.”
“I’d like to see you again.”

Zullen we nog eens afspreken? 
Zullen we binnenkort wat drinken?
“Shall we meet another time?”
“Shall we have a drink soon?”
In the Netherlands, a common first date is to have drinks together at a bar at night. Going for dinner is far less common, as it can be viewed as awkward if you don’t know the other person very well.

A Man and a Woman Having Dinner Outside at a Nice Restaurant and Clinking Wine Glasses

Are you ready to invite someone on a date in Dutch?

Mag ik je telefoonnummer?
Mag ik je mijn telefoonnummer geven?
“Can I get your phone number?”
“Can I give you my number?”
It’s more common to ask for someone’s phone number than to ask if you may give your number to someone, and both men and women can do so. That said, giving your phone number to someone might be seen as more courteous. If your potential date is interested, they will either return the favor right away or call you later.


2. Take it to the Next Level: How Do You Say “I Love You,” in Dutch?

You went on that first date and many more. You’re in love and ready to take it to the next level. So, what’s “I love you,” in Dutch? And what else can you say to really win their affections? Here are several romantic Dutch phrases you can use to express your feelings.  

Ik vind je leuk.“I like you.”
As mentioned before, the Dutch are not very expressive about their love. Saying this phrase to someone you’ve only just met may be seen as too fast or forward. It’s more common to express this after you’ve seen the other person several times.

Ik mis je.“I miss you.”

Ik heb zin om je weer te zien.“I look forward to seeing you again.”

Ik denk aan jou.“I’m thinking about you.”

Ik ben gek op jou.“I’m crazy about you.”

Je bent zo mooi.“You’re so beautiful.”

Ik ben verliefd op jou.“I am in love with you.”

Wil je verkering met mij?
Wil je een relatie met mij?
Zullen we het officieel maken?
“Do you want to be in a relationship with me?”
“Do you want to be in a relationship with me?”
“Shall we make it official?”
Verkering is another word used to refer to a romantic relationship. Although it’s a common word, it might be perceived as a bit childish. If you’d prefer to stay on the safe side, use the word relatie (“relationship”). It has the same meaning, but it’s a more neutral word.

If you’ve been dating your Dutchie for a while but the relationship has not become “official” yet, then you might want to use the last option.

Ik houd van jou.
Ik houd zielsveel van jou.
“I love you.”
“I love you with heart and soul.”
Fun fact: Dutch people often use the phrase Ik hou van jou, with the d dropped from houd. Although the spelling is officially wrong, it’s a very common way to write the phrase. Where does this habit come from? The d might have been dropped simply because it’s not pronounced when the word is spoken.

A Woman Smiling as She Reads a Christmas Card

Ready to write some love letters in Dutch?


3. Take it One Step Further: “Will You Marry Me?” and More

You’ve expressed your feelings successfully, it’s been reciprocated, and you’re officially in a happy relationship. Are you ready to take it one step further? Here are all the Dutch love phrases you need to steer your relationship toward the future you want. We’ve gathered key phrases for expressing true love in Dutch, meeting the parents, moving in together, getting married, and even having a baby. 

Wij zijn voor elkaar bestemd.
Jij bent de liefde van mijn leven.
Ik kan niet zonder jou.
“We are made for each other.”
“You are the love of my life.”
“I can’t live without you.”
These romantic Dutch phrases are not used very often, so make sure you only say them in the right setting and that they come from the heart. The Dutch don’t take words like these lightly.

Ik wil graag dat je mijn ouders ontmoet.“I would like for you to meet my parents.”
As the Dutch move out of their parents’ place at a relatively young age and often move to another city when going to study, meeting the parents is a big deal in Dutch culture.

Wil je met mij samenwonen?“Would you like to move in together?”

Wil je met me trouwen?“Do you want to marry me?”

A Man on One Knee Proposing to a Woman on a Bridge

Pop the question in Dutch.

Ik wil graag een kindje met jou.“I would like to have a baby with you.”

4. Dutch Endearment Terms: “My Love” in Dutch and More

What’s next, then? You’ll need some Dutch endearment terms to express your love each and every day. In the Netherlands, it’s very common to use endearment terms when talking to the people you love, whether it be your partner or your friends and family.

Lieverd
Schatje
Liefje
Dropje
Lekker ding
Knapperd
“Dear”
“Cutie”
“Little dear”
“Sweetie”
“Delicious thing”
“Beautiful”
These are just some popular options, but there are many more! The same endearment terms also come in a lot of different forms and shapes, such as: lieffie, droppie, schatteke, knappie. It’s all a matter of preference, and many Dutch couples also use personal pet names.

A Man and Woman Embracing Each Other with an Arm Across Each Other’s Backs

What Dutch endearment term would you use?

5. Must-know Dutch Love Quotes

As you might have expected from the not-so-romantic Dutch, there is no overload of romantic love quotes in the Dutch language. And the quotes that do exist tend to have a down-to-earth undertone. That said, here are the most popular quotes about love in Dutch:

DutchDe liefde kan niet van één kant komen.
Literally“Love cannot come from one side.”
EquivalentIt takes two to tango.
This is one of the down-to-earth Dutch love quotes that’s quite popular in the Netherlands. It shows the Dutch attitude about love, which is that love should come from both sides: If you want to make it work, both parties will have to contribute.

DutchDe liefde van een man gaat door de maag.
Literally“A man’s love goes through the stomach.” 
This humorous Dutch love quote may also say something about their not-so-romantic nature. This is a very popular Dutch quote, and it even has its own song.

It can also be used for women, children, or even for animals. People may even say it about their own cat: De liefde van een kat gaat door de maag. (“The love of a cat goes through the stomach.”) 

DutchOngelukkig in het spel, gelukkig in de liefde. 
Literally“Unlucky in the game, happy in love.” 
EquivalentLucky at cards, unlucky in love.
This love quote in Dutch is nearly identical to its English counterpart. Those who always lose in gambling often have a happy love life, and vice-versa.  

What do you think about that? Is it true for you?

DutchOude liefde roest niet.
Literally“Old love does not rust.” 
This beautiful Dutch quote, with an identical English counterpart, also has its own song from the famous Dutch 80s band VOF De Kunst.

They sing: Oude liefde roest niet, maar verdwijnt net zoals jij. (“Old love does not rust, but disappears just like you.”) 

    → Find more love inspiration in our free vocabulary list of quotes on Love. Or go for those bittersweet Break-Up quotes.

6. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

Two Red Heart-Shaped Balloons Floating against a Blue, Slightly Cloudy Sky

You’re ready to find some Dutch love!

In this article, you learned how to say “I love you,” in Dutch and many more useful Dutch love phrases. You’re now prepared to get your flirt on, express your love, and even take it a step further with a solid marriage proposal. You also know what endearment terms to use for your Dutch lieverd (“dear”) and have some old Dutch love quotes to fall back on when you want to spice things up. 

Did we forget any important Dutch love phrases you know? What’s your favorite romantic Dutch phrase or endearment term?

There’s still a lot more to learn, and nothing will make your Dutch lover swoon more than mastering their native tongue. Make sure to explore DutchPod101.com and take advantage of our numerous vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other useful free resources to boost your Dutch studies.

Would you like some 1-on-1 coaching? Then consider upgrading to a Premium PLUS subscription, which will give you access to our MyTeacher service. Here, you can learn more about Dutch love and life with your own private teacher and really master the Dutch language. Through personalized feedback and pronunciation advice, you’ll catch on in no time.  

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch

Why You Should Learn – Dutch

Thumbnail

Learning a foreign language comes with several added benefits, from new business opportunities to a healthier mind. 

But why learn Dutch, specifically? After all, there are plenty of other languages to choose from—some of which are in higher demand and more widely spoken. 

There are many reasons why you should learn Dutch, and DutchPod101 is here to break it all down for you and show you that Dutch isn’t such a hard language to learn. With a little help and guidance, you’ll be able to tackle this fun challenge and advance toward your goals! 

In this article, we’ll go over the 10 main reasons why you should start learning Dutch. We’ve included reasons related to: leisure (travel, friendship, love, culture); business (quality studies, work opportunities); and personal development (benefits of learning another language).

Let’s dive in.

A Guy Studying in a Library

So why should you learn Dutch?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Reasons Related to the Country and the Language
  2. Reasons Related to the Benefits of Learning a Language
  3. Reasons Related to Personal and Professional Aspects
  4. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn Dutch

1. Reasons Related to the Country and the Language

Some of the best reasons to learn Dutch have to do with the properties of the language itself, as well as the countries in which it’s spoken. Let’s take a closer look. 

Reason 1: Learning Dutch is relatively easy.

So, why study Dutch? Because it’s quite easy, especially for English speakers. Here’s what we mean: 

  • Dutch is very similar to English and German.

    If you speak English or German, mastering Dutch will not be too difficult for you. Dutch is very similar to these languages, making it one of the easiest languages for native English or German speakers to learn. Speaking one of these languages—even if not natively—will give you a headstart in your Dutch learning!
  • Dutch people will appreciate your efforts.

    The Dutch are used to foreigners speaking in English with them. So when foreigners (try to) speak Dutch, native speakers are pleasantly surprised and are happy to help. They’ll appreciate your effort, try to speak extra-slow, and help you whenever you get stuck.

    You might need to make it clear first that you really prefer to speak Dutch, as they’ll switch to English out of habit if you don’t. But once that’s cleared up, their willingness to help will turn out to be one of the best things about learning the language.
  • Your pronunciation and grammar don’t have to be perfect.

    The Dutch aren’t too snobby or arrogant regarding their language. Mistakes are okay, and even Dutch natives can be quite sloppy with their own language. Grammar rules aren’t always taken into account, and even the pronunciation isn’t always perfect.

    The Netherlands may be a small country, but it has a lot of dialects and accents from region to region. That’s why there’s no such thing as perfect Dutch pronunciation. Take, for example, the hard g sound in the north and the soft g sound in the south. Of course, you should try to learn Dutch the best you can, but it’s simply okay to make mistakes.

If you’d like to learn more about why learning Dutch is easier than you might think, make sure to visit our full article Is Dutch Hard to Learn?

Reason 2: Dutch is spoken in more places than you might think.

Dutch is the official language of the Netherlands and Suriname, and it’s one of the official languages in Belgium, Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao. It’s spoken in most of the former Dutch colonies and in small emigrant communities all over the world. Dutch is also the parent language of Afrikaans, one of the 150 official languages of South Africa. (Before Afrikaans was officially recognized by linguists, Dutch itself was one of the official languages here.)

So, why learn Dutch? Because there are about 23 million people registered as native Dutch speakers all over the world and another 5 million speak Dutch as a secondary language.

Reason 3: You’ll get to know the rich Dutch culture and history.

When you learn a language, even if you’re just focusing on practical topics such as grammar and vocabulary, you’ll get to know more about the culture and the history of its native speakers.

As your thoughts are shaped by the language you speak, learning the Dutch language will give you some insight regarding how the Dutch think. Learning a language is like opening a window into the Dutch culture, history, and way of life. And if this is too philosophical for you, there’s also a more practical reason why learning Dutch will help you learn the country’s culture and history: It’s the perfect way to be able to connect with the locals. If you can’t have a conversation with the Dutch, how can you get to know their country? 

Yes, of course, many Dutchies speak English, but the culture and history of a country includes its language, sayings, humor, and even songs. So, while learning Dutch, you’ll be able to get to know all these different aspects of the Dutch culture.

Clogs with Tulips in Them, Representative of the Dutch Culture

How well do you know the Dutch history and culture?


Reason 4: Dutch is a funny language.

The Dutch language has a very funny pronunciation with a lot of tricky sounds. It may not be the smoothest or sexiest language in the world, but it has some funny sounds no other languages seem to have. 

Dutch has a lot of vowels, as it uses single vowels, double vowels, and diphthongs. A diphthong is a pair of vowels that, together, make a particular sound that no vowel on its own has. The Dutch alphabet has six vowels (a, e, i o, u, y) and nine diphthongs:

Letter(English) PronunciationExample
aiPronounced as [I] in “I am” in Englishmais (“corn”)
auPronounced like [ow] in the English word “now”auto (“car”)
eiPronounced as the [i] in the English word “find”ei (“egg”)
euThis sound doesn’t exist in English, but you may know it from the French word “beurre.”leuk (“fun”)
iePronounced like [ee] in the English word “bee”mier (“ant”)
ijPronounced exactly the same as the Dutch ei diphthongwijn (“wine”)
oePronounced like [oo] in the English word “pool”moe (“tired”)
ouThis diphthong has exactly the same sound as the Dutch au diphthong. koud (“cold”)
uiThis sound doesn’t exist in English, but it’s a combination of the [a] sound in “man” followed by a long Dutch u.muis (“mouse”)

But that’s not all. The Dutch language even has triple vowels:

Letter(English) PronunciationExample
aaiThis is a combination of the Dutch aa and ie.draaien (“to turn”)
oeiThis is a combination of the Dutch oe and ie.koeien (“cows”)
ooiThis is a combination of the Dutch oo and ie.nooit (“never”)
eeuThis combination will always be followed by the letter w and is a combination of ee and oe.sneeuw (“snow”)


Learning these tongue-twisters may be a challenge, but it will also be fun to master them.

Dutch also has a lot of funny words. They might be the most normal words for the Dutch, but when you translate them directly to English, you’ll notice how crazy these words are: 

  • Boterham literally translates to “butter ham,” but it actually means “sandwich” or “a slice of bread.”
  • Handschoenen literally translates to “hand shoes,” but it actually means “gloves.”
  • Toiletbril literally translates to “toilet glasses,” but it actually means “toilet seat.”

Getting to know these crazy and funny Dutch words will make learning the language even more fun.

A Woman Lying Down and Laughing with Her Hands over Her Eyes

Which of these words made you laugh the most?


2. Reasons Related to the Benefits of Learning a Language

Of course, learning any language can add value to your life. Here are just a few benefits you can expect to gain when you start learning Dutch. 

Reason 5: Learning another language will open up your mind.

Most people don’t give their native language much thought. It all comes naturally, so why think much about it? 

It’s learning another language that will make you start wondering about linguistics. Just like realizing how lovely home is when you’re away from it, you’ll realize how interesting your native language is when you’re learning another one. You’ll discover similarities and differences, and you might even develop a new appreciation for your own language.

So, learning another language will open up your mind to your own language and to the world around it. Especially if you’re a native English speaker (and you’re used to using your native language abroad), learning another language will be an enriching experience culturally, professionally, and personally.

Reason 6: Knowing Dutch will help you learn other European languages.

As we mentioned earlier, the Dutch language is quite similar to the English and German languages. But why is that? 

Dutch is part of the Indo-European family of languages and belongs to the Germanic branch, as do English and German. Dutch has the same Germanic core as the German language, but integrates more Romance loans than the German language does (and fewer than English does). As is the case with German, the vocabulary of Dutch also has strong similarities with the continental Scandinavian languages, but differs quite a lot in text and speech. 

So, knowing the Dutch language will help you learn quite a few other European languages, namely: English, German, Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish. These languages might be quite different (especially in pronunciation), but the similarities they share with the Dutch vocabulary and/or structure will give you a headstart when learning one of these other languages.

Reason 7: It will give your brain a boost.

Learning Dutch not only opens up your mind to your own language and helps you learn certain European languages, but it can also improve the overall health and functionality of your brain.

Learning a second language has many brain-boosting benefits: a better memory, greater multitasking skills, an improved ability to conceptualize, and faster, more decisive decision-making. Learning a new language can even help prevent dementia.

This boost can also help with learning other languages. If you already speak a foreign language, it will be easier to learn yet another language, as your brain is accustomed to the challenges of learning a foreign language. Therefore, bilinguals often find it easier to learn a third language.

A Sketch Drawing of a Brain with Sticky Notes Inside

Memorizing words gives your brain a boost.

3. Reasons Related to Personal and Professional Aspects

If you’re still wondering why to learn Dutch, have you yet considered the potential gains you could experience in your personal and professional life? Here are three more ways that learning Dutch can enhance your life: 

Reason 8: You’ll be able to enjoy studying in the Netherlands.

Speaking Dutch opens up lots of opportunities for education in the Netherlands. With some great universities as well as hogescholen (literally meaning “high schools,” but these are universities of applied sciences), the Netherlands has many study options to choose from. 

In the Netherlands, there’s WO (wetenschappelijk onderwijs, meaning “scientific education”) taught at universities and HBO (hoger beroepsonderwijs, meaning “higher professional education”) taught at hogescholen

The great thing about the Dutch universities is that they offer high-quality education at relatively low costs,  especially compared to the price of big universities in the U.S. and U.K.

Many of these schools have an international or multicultural environment with a wide range of courses in English. So you don’t have to manage Dutch at a high level to study in the country, though knowing the language will give you a richer study experience.

So why study Dutch? Because of the great study opportunities, of course! These are just two great facts about studying in the Netherlands, but there are many more reasons why you should study in the Netherlands


Reason 9: Learn Dutch to enjoy new business opportunities or career options.

The Netherlands has one of the richest and most stable economies in the European Union. There are many international companies located in the country and the Dutch government is very helpful to small businesses, having special measures to stimulate their development. So, there are many business opportunities and career options to enjoy in this small country.

But these many opportunities are not the only reasons to work in the Netherlands. Other great reasons are the high working standards (with a great work/life balance), a good healthcare system, and an excellent standard of living. 

As you can see, working in the Netherlands offers some great opportunities. Although not all companies or positions require a knowledge of the Dutch language, knowing Dutch will still help you find work here and have a better overall experience. 

Even if you don’t want to move to the Netherlands, knowing another language will be a positive selling point when you’re looking for a job in your own country. Learning Dutch will provide opportunities to work for companies that either have ties with the Netherlands or are in contact with Dutch groups.


Reason 10: Improve your relationships and communication with Dutch loved ones and their family.

Last but not least, a great reason to bother learning Dutch is to impress or win over a special someone in the Netherlands.

If you have a Dutch boyfriend or girlfriend, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to talk with him or her in their native language? It would definitely be a great way to impress them, and you’ll also get to know them better as you’ll start to understand their culture and way of thinking. You can start to declare your love to them with a beautiful ik hou van jou (“I love you”). Or give them a Dutch koosnaampje (“pet name”).

Learning the language would also mean that you could start communicating better with your lover’s family and friends. This way, the next time you go to a Dutch birthday party, you could talk with your Dutch in-laws about koetjes en kalfjes (translates literally to “talk about little cows and calves,” which refers to making small talk). This time, you’ll be the one participating in the conversations of your Dutch family, instead of them having to make the effort to speak English with you.

A Man Carrying His Girlfriend Near a Waterfall

Speak Dutch with your Dutch lover.

Even if you don’t have a Dutch lover, wouldn’t it be great to be able to speak in Dutch with your Dutch friends?


4. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn Dutch

In this guide, you’ve learned the main reasons why you should learn Dutch. We’ve shown you many of the benefits of learning the Dutch language, from its practical applications in the business world to the sheer fact that it’s pretty funny at times. Learning any language, in fact, can improve the quality of your life: broader opportunities for study, enhanced brain function, and a more open mind are just a few examples.

Are you still thinking: Why should I learn Dutch? Or do you already know your answer? If so, do you feel ready to start learning Dutch or do you need some more guidance?

Make sure to explore DutchPod101.com, as we have plenty of free resources to help you practice your grammar and many useful vocabulary lists with audio recordings to learn new words.

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS MyTeacher service for personal one-on-one coaching. This way, you can practice your Dutch speaking skills with your own private teacher through interactive exercises and personalized feedback.

Happy learning!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch

Dutch Proverbs & Sayings About Life, Love, and All the Rest

Thumbnail

Proverbs are little phrases of wisdom, passed down from one generation to the next. While some proverbs seem to extend across borders, others are unique to a specific culture or way of living. 

For this reason, learning Dutch proverbs and sayings is a great way to expand your vocabulary and gain cultural insight. These nuggets of practical advice and observations can really serve as a window into the age-old wisdom and traditions of the Dutch. 

They may be old-fashioned, but the Dutch still use these old proverbs on a daily basis. They serve as a reflection of who they are and the values they stand for. 

In this article, you’ll learn thirty of the most common Dutch proverbs about love, success, life, personality, weather, and family and friends. Studying them will help you learn more about the Dutch, while memorizing and using them in conversation is sure to impress native speakers!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Dutch Proverbs About Love
  2. Dutch Proverbs About Success
  3. Dutch Proverbs About Life
  4. Dutch Proverbs About Personality
  5. Dutch Proverbs About Family & Friends
  6. Dutch Proverbs About the Weather
  7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. Dutch Proverbs About Love

Four People Making Hearts with Their Hands

Let’s discover that Dutch love…

They say that love is what makes the world go ‘round. With that in mind, let’s kick off our list with a few popular Dutch love proverbs! 

#1

DutchGa niet op het uiterlijk af.
Equivalent“Never judge by appearance.”
This Dutch proverb is used to warn against falling in love with someone for only their looks. Looks are not the most important thing, so instead of judging someone by their appearance, you should rather have eyes for someone’s personality.

#2

DutchAls de armoede binnenkomt, vliegt de liefde het raam uit.
Literally“When poverty comes in, love flies out the window.”
MeaningPoverty often means the end of relationships.
Having money troubles often causes relationship troubles as well. When there’s stress about money, the tension in a relationship often rises. This is an old Dutch proverb about love that’s used less nowadays, but there’s still some truth to it. It’s most often used in reference to romantic relationships, but can also be used when talking about friendships.


#3

DutchVan liefde rookt de schoorsteen niet.
Literally“The chimney does not smoke from love.”
MeaningYou cannot live on love alone.
This Dutch proverb reflects the typical level-headedness of the Dutch. It may not be that romantic, but it’s true: you cannot live on love alone.

#4

DutchLiefde maakt blind.
Equivalent“Love makes blind.”
This proverb is the same in Dutch as it is in English. It’s frequently used in songs and literature.

#5

DutchIets bedekken met de mantel der liefde.
Literally“Covering something with the cloak of love.”
MeaningThis refers to not discussing something with others, but rather keeping silent and accepting the situation.
It may feel a bit contradictory to the Dutch directness and honesty, but even the Dutch sometimes prefer to keep quiet about something, out of love for the other person. This old Dutch proverb is a true classic and is often associated with motherly love. 

    → Would you like to learn some more Dutch sayings about love? Then have a look at our Dutch Quotes About Love vocabulary list.

2. Dutch Proverbs About Success

Silhouette of Three People Raising Their Arms in Victory Atop a Mountain

Here’s how to achieve success, according to the Dutch.

While success can mean different things to different people, there are some basic truths and words of advice we can all relate to. Here are some Dutch idioms and proverbs related to success and hard work—we hope they inspire you! 

#6

DutchEen kat in de zak kopen.
Literally“Buying a cat in the bag.”
EquivalentTo buy a pig in a poke.
If you buy “a pig in a poke,” it means you’ve just made a bad purchase. The Dutch use this saying when someone buys something that’s very disappointing or breaks down very quickly. 

This saying dates back to when people would buy a pig or hare in a sack, only to come home and find out it’s a cat instead. It’s a bad purchase because you can create a tasty dish with a pig or hare, but not with a cat. The Spanish language has a similar proverb: dar gato por liebre, meaning “to give someone a cat instead of a hare.”

#7

DutchHoge bomen vangen veel wind.
Literally“High trees catch a lot of wind.”
MeaningPeople in a high position face a lot of criticism.
Those who hold a high position have to face a lot of criticism. Just like tall trees, which rise above the small ones and are most exposed to the wind, high-ranking people are exposed to all kinds of judgment, hatred, and envy.

A variant of this Dutch proverb is: Hoge masten vangen veel wind. / “High masts catch a lot of wind.”

#8

DutchAls de berg niet tot Muhammad wil komen, dan moet Muhammad naar de berg gaan.
Equivalent“If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain.”
MeaningIf you cannot get what you want, you must adapt to the circumstances or adopt a different approach.
This is another Dutch proverb that has the exact same meaning as its English equivalent. Both are based on the legend in which Muhammad ordered a mountain to come to him, which did not happen. Afterward, he supposedly uttered the words: “Well, mountain, since you do not want to come to Muhammad, Muhammad will come to you.”

#9

DutchEen ezel stoot zich niet twee keer aan dezelfde steen.
Literally“A donkey doesn’t stub itself against the same boulder twice.”
EquivalentFool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
One should not make the same mistake twice. According to this Dutch proverb, only a fool would do so. 

#10

DutchWie het eerst komt, wie het eerst maalt.
Equivalent“First come, first served.”
MeaningWho comes first is helped first.
This saying means that whoever is first to pick up or buy something can be sure that what they want is still available. Those who come later may be too late, and everything may already be gone.

This old saying originates from the time when wheat had to be brought to a mill to be grinded. So, the one who arrived first with their wheat could count on it being grinded first.

#11

DutchSchoenmaker, blijf bij je leest.
Literally“A shoemaker must not go beyond his last.”
MeaningYou should stick to what you know.
The Dutch might say this to someone who judges something of which he or she has no knowledge.

This old Dutch proverb comes from a story about the famous Greek painter Apelles, who lived in the fourth century B.C. The artist liked to hide behind his paintings so that he could hear what spectators really thought of his artwork. One day, he heard a shoemaker comment on the shoes in one of his paintings, which was missing a shoelace hole. Apelles adjusted his work, but the shoemaker still found something to complain about. Apelles was fed up and said these famous words to the shoemaker: Sutor, ne ultra crepidam. / “Shoemaker, no further than the shoe.”


3. Dutch Proverbs About Life

A Little Girl Throwing Autumn Leaves Up into the Air

Some inspirational Dutch proverbs to help you enjoy life to its fullest…

For time immemorial, people have been asking themselves how to live life well. There are several idioms and proverbs in Dutch on the topic, and studying them can give you a glimpse of how the Dutch view this topic. 

#12

DutchBelofte maakt schuld.
Literally“Promise is debt.”
MeaningIf you promise something, you should honor that commitment.
This Dutch proverb reflects two things the Dutch value highly: honesty and loyalty. If you promise to do something, you have to stick to that promise.

#13

DutchWie goed doet, goed ontmoet.
Literally“Who does good, meets well.”
EquivalentIf you do good, good will be done to you.
This old Dutch proverb is still very true today. It means that if someone does good things for other people, that person can sometimes expect good things in return. It’s sort of a Dutch karma mindset, related to their highly valued honesty.

#14

DutchDoor de bomen het bos niet meer zien.
Literally“Can’t see the forest through the trees.”
EquivalentMissing the forest because of the trees.
When you pay too much attention to details (the trees), you’ll lose sight of the whole picture (the forest). For example, there’s so much information on the internet that it can be difficult to find what you’re looking for. 

#15

DutchGeld moet rollen.
Literally“Money must roll.”
EquivalentMoney is there to be spent.
You might say the Dutch are a pragmatic and responsible group of people, but they also have their impulsive and crazy moments. In the Netherlands, when someone comments about someone else’s (irresponsible) spending, that person may respond: Geld moet rollen. Many people also say this to encourage spending for the sake of the Dutch economy.

#16

DutchNood breekt wet.
Literally“Necessity breaks the law.”
EquivalentNecessity has no law.
The Dutch are quite the law-abiding citizens. Even though they value their freedom, they also know that they have this freedom because people respect the law. However, in emergency situations, things are permitted that would otherwise not be permitted.

#17

DutchEen gewaarschuwd mens telt voor twee.
Literally“A warned man counts as two.”
EquivalentForewarned is forearmed.
This Dutch proverb about life reflects the typical pragmatic and practical attitude of the Dutch. Someone who knows in advance what can go wrong should prepare for it. 


4. Dutch Proverbs About Personality

Someone Holding Two Signs Up, One with a Smiley Face and the Other a Frowny Face

Which Dutch proverb reflects your personality?

No two people are exactly alike, though there are some common personality and character traits we can easily pinpoint in others. Below are a few Dutch proverbs and sayings on this very topic! 

#18

DutchAls je hem een vinger geeft, neemt hij de hele hand. 
Literally“If you give him a finger, he takes the whole hand.”
EquivalentGive him an inch and he will take a yard.
This Dutch proverb refers to the greediness of people. If you help someone one time, they’ll come back for more. If you give someone a little bit of something, he or she will want more and more.

#19

DutchVan een mug een olifant maken. 
Literally“To make an elephant out of a mosquito.”
EquivalentTo make a mountain out of a molehill.
This common Dutch saying refers to people who are exaggerating. The Dutch are very down-to-earth and they don’t really like too much drama. They often use this proverb when someone is turning a small problem into a big one.

#20

DutchAls er één schaap over de dam is, volgen er meer.
Literally“If one sheep crosses the dam, more will follow.”
MeaningIf one person tries something new, others will have the courage to do so as well.
If someone sets an example, there will soon be people who follow that example.

#21

DutchAl draagt een aap een gouden ring, het is en blijft een lelijk ding. 
Literally“A monkey may wear a golden ring, but it will always be an ugly thing.”
EquivalentYou cannot make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.
This is a widely known Dutch proverb, and it may be one of the most amusing ones as it also rhymes. It can refer to someone’s ugly personality: one’s appearance doesn’t make up for their negative personality. But it may also refer to someone who is not very good-looking: if someone dresses nicely, it doesn’t improve the natural appearance of that person. 

#22

DutchBlaffende honden bijten niet.
Literally“Barking dogs don’t bite.”
EquivalentBarking dogs seldom bite.
This common Dutch proverb may be used in reference to actual barking dogs, but it’s also used when talking about “barking” people. People who make the loudest threats are the least likely to take action.

    → Which Dutch adjective describes your personality best? Discover this in our useful vocabulary list, and practice your pronunciation with the included audio recordings.

5. Dutch Proverbs About Family & Friends

A Family at the Mall Eating Ice Cream

Now for some Dutch proverbs that reflect some of the Dutch family values.

Family and friends are the most important people in one’s life, so it makes sense that there would be at least a few Dutch proverbs touching on these unique relationships. 

#23

DutchAls de kat van huis is, dansen de muizen op tafel.
Literally“When the cat leaves the house, the mice dance on the table.”
EquivalentWhen the cat’s away, the mice will play.
Without supervision, people do whatever they like.

This Dutch proverb is often used by parents when talking about their children. When they leave them without supervision, the children will do whatever they like.

#24

DutchBeter één vogel in de hand dan tien in de lucht.
Literally“Better to have one bird in the hand than ten in the air.”
EquivalentA bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
This common Dutch proverb refers to the value of having a few very close friends, rather than having a lot of friends that you hardly ever see. A variant of this saying is: Beter een goede buur dan een verre vriend. / “Better a good neighbor than a distant friend.”

The proverb may also mean that it’s better to have something little than nothing at all. Or that small, concrete results are better than big plans. (There’s the Dutch pragmatism again!)

#25

DutchDe appel valt niet ver van de boom. 
Literally“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
EquivalentA chip off the old block.
Children often resemble their parents. This is a common saying in the Netherlands, often said when a child has the same looks, interests, or talents as their parents.

#26

DutchZo vader, zo zoon. 
Equivalent“Like father, like son.”
Like the previous saying, this one also states that children inherit the characteristics of their parents. There’s also a variant: Zo moeder, zo dochter. / “Like mother, like daughter.”

There used to be a Dutch television program called Zo vader, zo zoon. The program revolved around guessing the father of a son from a group of four. A permanent panel had to try to guess by asking questions and presenting situations that would reveal which one the father was. 

#27

DutchBeter alleen, dan in kwaad gezelschap.
Literally“It is better to be alone than to be in bad company.”
This Dutch proverb already says it all: It’s better to be alone, than to be with bad people.


6. Dutch Proverbs About the Weather

Raindrops Falling on a Body of Water

The Dutch know their rain.

People often use different aspects of weather and the seasons as an analogy for things we experience in life. Here are just a few examples of how the Dutch do this…

#28

DutchHet regent pijpenstelen. 
Literally“It is raining pipes.”
EquivalentIt is raining cats and dogs.
Knowing the Dutch weather, it’s no surprise that the Dutch have a few sayings about the rain. Like its English equivalent, this one is often used when it’s raining very hard. 

#29

DutchNa regen komt zonneschijn.
Equivalent“After rain comes sunshine.”
Although this proverb might refer to the weather, it’s most often used to say that there will be better times after a period of adversity.

#30

DutchDoor wind en weer gaan.
Literally“Going through wind and weather.”
MeaningNothing can stop you.
This saying is a symbolic reflection of the Dutch stamina and their attitude toward facing bad weather. This is directly reflected in the Dutch bike culture. It doesn’t matter if it rains or if the wind blows strongly—the Dutch will take their bike and gaan door wind and weer, or “go through wind and weather.”

    → Expand your Dutch weather vocabulary with these useful lists of must-know terms for summer and autumn.

7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

In this guide, you’ve learned about the most important Dutch proverbs and sayings on a variety of topics. Do you already feel inspired and motivated to learn more about the Dutch language, culture, and history? 

Then it’s definitely time to discover DutchPod101! Our numerous vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other useful free resources are designed to boost your Dutch studies and keep your Dutch learning fresh and entertaining.

Would you prefer some one-on-one coaching? Remember that DutchPod101 also has the MyTeacher service for Premium PLUS members. With this service, you can practice everything you’re learning with your personal tutor. You’ll quickly master the Dutch language through your teacher’s personalized feedback, fun assignments, and pronunciation advice.

Happy learning with DutchPod101!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch

A Practical Amsterdam Travel Guide with Local Tips

Thumbnail

Have you ever visited Amsterdam? It’s the most famous Dutch city, and for good reasons. Beautiful architecture, lovely shops, buzzing nightlife, green parks, and a variety of museums make the city of Amsterdam a place anyone can enjoy. 

Your Amsterdam travels will also be a great opportunity to practice your Dutch. Because Amsterdam is such a touristic city, the inhabitants sometimes get a bit tired of the many tourists (especially in the summer). The best way to gain the respect of Amsterdammers (the people of Amsterdam) is through showing respect for the city and its culture—and learning a bit of Dutch is a great way to do this! Locals will definitely appreciate you trying to speak their native language. If in trouble, though, you can always save yourself by switching to English; many people in Amsterdam speak it fluently.

In this useful Amsterdam travel guide from DutchPod101.com, you’ll discover the best places to visit in Amsterdam. And if you have some extra time, we’ll even give you some great recommendations for places to visit outside of the Dutch capital.


A Canal in Amsterdam

What would you like to visit in Amsterdam?


Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Before You Go
  2. 10 Things You Must Do in Amsterdam
  3. 3 Must-See Places Just Outside of Amsterdam
  4. Survival Dutch for Amsterdam Travelers
  5. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. Before You Go 

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and also its most populated city, with over 800,000 residents. If you’re planning a trip to Amsterdam, then have a look at these useful travel tips! 

When to Go

What’s the best time to visit Amsterdam? The best period to visit this city is from April to May. It’s spring in the Netherlands, which means nice weather and not too many tourists (as may be the case during summer). The next best time to visit Amsterdam is from September to November; this is after the peak tourist season, but the weather may still be pleasant.

So what about summer or winter? The summer in Amsterdam can be beautiful. It’s a fun time with a lot of outdoor entertainment, but the city will be full of tourists. If you don’t mind this, you’re sure to have fun and meet some interesting people. The winter gets quite cold in the Netherlands, so it may not be the best time to visit Amsterdam. That said, the city becomes really idyllic this time of year with all the beautiful lights and Christmas decorations.

Getting Around

Amsterdam is the city of bikes. Be aware that the Dutch don’t play around when it comes to cycling. It’s their main means of transport, so if you choose to cycle your way around Amsterdam, try to adapt the best you can to the fast Dutch bike culture.

Other ways to navigate the city are by foot (the city is not that big), tram, metro, train, or bus. If you want to use the impressive Dutch public transport system, then you can buy a reusable card called OV-chipkaart. You can buy it at the machines at the train stations and just top it up; this is much cheaper than buying individual day or hour passes.

Language

In Amsterdam, you can get by without knowing any Dutch—but the more you learn before your trip, the better! Knowing some basic Dutch will allow you to interact with locals (who will appreciate your effort), read signs and menus, and immerse yourself deeper into the culture. The Dutch do speak very good English, so you can always switch to this language in a pinch. 

Sleeping & Eating

The central area of Amsterdam (with the beautiful canal belt) is one of the most well-known areas of the city, but it’s also one of the most expensive and touristy areas to stay. Consider lodging within one of the beautiful Amsterdam neighborhoods and get a real taste of how the locals live, from Noord (“North”) to Zuid (“South”) and Oost (“East”) to West (“West”). You can also choose to stay outside of the Ring (that’s the highway going round Amsterdam), in Zuid-Oost, Diemen, or Amstelveen. This will be cheaper and it’s a quick trip to town by public transport.

Amsterdam has many restaurants to choose from, but try to stay away from the very touristy ones (like those on the big squares or main avenues). Rather, visit Amsterdam like a local and try out some of the cozy, lesser-known pubs or restaurants. 

Dagschotel (Literally “day dish,” meaning “daily special”) is the dish of the day, and many Amsterdam restaurants feature it on their menu. It’s often cheaper than the other dishes listed. Also keep in mind that while you can find traditional Dutch cuisine in older Dutch restaurants, many of the restaurants in Amsterdam have been influenced by several other cuisines. 

Would you like to save some money? Then make use of the many street vendors selling Dutch classics, such as fries, poffertjes, bitterballen, or herring. Alternatively, you could do your own groceries; Dutch supermarkets have all you need to make sandwiches or other easy meals.

Packing Reminders

A Pink Suitcase on a Bed, Packed with Many Things

What would you pack for your trip to Amsterdam?

The weather in Amsterdam can change quickly between sun, rain, wind, and cold weather—it can all happen in one day! Prepare yourself by packing well. We recommend bringing an umbrella or raincoat and some clothes that will protect you against the (sometimes harsh) wind. If you go in the winter, bring multiple layers, gloves, scarves, beanies, and thick socks.

Don’t forget your EU adapter, either. If you’re from outside the EU, you’ll need it to charge your mobile, camera, or other gadgets.


2. 10 Things You Must Do in Amsterdam

Whether you’re a culture-lover, a shopping addict, crazy about the arts, or a true foodie, you’ll find plenty of excitement in this fun capital city. Following is a summary of the very best sights, activities, and places to visit in Amsterdam.

1 – Discover De Jordaan.

De Jordaan is an old volksbuurt (working-class neighborhood) of Amsterdam. If you’re looking for the true Amsterdam locals, you’ll find them here (although the neighborhood has been gentrified in recent times). It’s located on the outside of one of the major canals and is characterized by pretty streets, cool bars, and fun shops. It’s the perfect neighborhood to stroll around, take pictures of the beautiful bridges and gorgeous houses, shop along the Westerstraat, and have a bite to eat in one of the many hip bars or restaurants.

The great thing about De Jordaan is that it’s very central (and therefore also touristic), but it has kept its authenticity and you can still experience some true local Amsterdam life here.

2 – Take a canal tour.

A Dutch Canal in the Evening

The Dutch canals are beautiful by night

If you want to see Amsterdam in another light, then why not see it from its grachten (“canals”)? Take a canal tour to see the city’s highlights from around the canal belt and learn something about this historical part of the city. Did you know that the Amsterdam canals date back to the seventeenth century?

Many canal tours start near the Centraal Station (“Central Station”), and you have many different canal tours to choose from: hop-on hop-off rides, tours with audio guides, and more. It’s also a great way to get oriented in the city.

3 – Discover Amsterdam by bike.

Amsterdam (and the Netherlands in general) is all about bikes—with reason, it’s called the bike capital of the world. So if you want a true Dutch experience, you should ride a bike in the nation’s capital. It’s a great way to explore the city, both inside and outside the city center. You can either ride on your own or join a bike tour. There are many bike rental shops, so it won’t be hard to rent a bike or find a tour.

Whatever you do, stick to the bicycle lane on the right side of the road and respect the other cyclists. The Dutch can go quite fast when cycling, so try to stay out of their way and never stop in the middle of the bike lane to take pictures.

4 – Have a picnic at the Vondelpark.

Vondelpark is the city’s largest and most popular park. It’s located in southern Amsterdam, close to the famous squares Leidseplein and Museumplein. Amsterdammers and tourists alike love to come here to do sports, have some drinks (there are various restaurants and bars in the park), or have a picnic. In the summer, it’s very common for locals to pack a bag with food (and sometimes even a BBQ), some drinks, and a blanket to have a picnic with friends and family.

Amsterdam has many other parks to visit, including Oosterpark, Sarphatipark, and Westerpark. Though these are less iconic, they’re definitely worth a visit as well. They tend to be less crowded, and locals who live close by visit these parks to meet friends, enjoy the sun, or have a picnic.

5 – Cross the river to discover Amsterdam-Noord.

Amsterdam-Noord is hip and happening. It’s located above the Central Station in northern Amsterdam, and you have to cross the river IJ to get there. But it’s all worth it. Taking the free(!) ferry is already an enjoyable experience, and you can even bring your bike. There are a lot of open-air bars, markets, restaurants, and even festivals to discover in the area. 

Amsterdam-Noord has different areas, so make sure to take the right ferry to the right area. One of the areas that’s booming is the NDSM Werf (“Wharf”), which is a former shipyard that has become a hip hangout. It has many restaurants and bars as well as a huge flea market (IJ-Hallen) that takes place once a month. 

Another area to visit is just in front of Central Station. Here, you can find the iconic EYE Filmmuseum (“EYE Film Institute”), dedicated to cinema and movie making. You can watch a movie here, enjoy its wonderful exhibitions, or have a bite to eat in its fancy restaurant with a great view.

6 – Visit one of the many markets in Amsterdam.

Several Buckets of Colorful Tulips

What tulips would you buy on the Bloemenmarkt?

Amsterdam is home to many markets, from traditional markets to flower markets and vintage markets. The Bloemenmarkt (“Flower Market”) is located on one of the canals and can be enjoyed year-round, with tulip stands in the spring and Christmas decorations in the winter. 

If you like vintage markets or flea markets, you need to add the following markets to your Amsterdam itinerary: 

    Waterlooplein
    Noordermarkt (every Monday morning; on Saturday, it’s a farmers’ market) 
    IJ-Hallen (once a month)

Do you want to visit some traditional Amsterdam markets? Then the Albert Cuyp Markt or Ten Kate Markt are great picks. They feature music and typical Dutch food, such as haring (“herring”). 

And last but not least, the Westergasterrein is a former gas works that has been made into a creative culinary area with a great Sunday market. 

There are even more great markets, but try to visit at least one of the ones we’ve mentioned when you’re in Amsterdam.

7 – Shop at the negen straatjes, a shopping heaven for boutique-lovers.

Do you love to shop? Then the Negen Straatjes is your place to go, boasting many cute shops, gift stores, boutiques, vintage shops, cafés, and restaurants. It’s located at the southwestern end of Amsterdam’s main canal ring, so it’s also a very beautiful area. This alone makes it worth visiting even if you’re not a shopaholic. These nine streets are perfect to stroll through, to have a drink in one of the little cafés, or to buy some non-touristy souvenirs.

8 – Visit the famous museums.

The iconic Rijksmuseum

The iconic Rijksmuseum

There are lots of great museums in Amsterdam, the most iconic of which are Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and the Anne Frank Huis

  • The building of the Rijksmuseum is a landmark in its own right, and inside you’ll find a massive collection of great art and artifacts. It’s the place to find the works of the Dutch masters (such as Rembrandt), and it also provides insight into the period when the Dutch Empire was created.
  • The Van Gogh Museum offers great insight into the life and work of this painter, using interactive exhibits to show the evolution of his skills and inspiration. You’ll find Van Gogh’s most famous paintings here, such as De Zonnebloemen (“The Sunflowers”) and De Aardappeleters (“Potato Eaters”). There are also some temporary exhibitions by painters who inspired him or were close to him. 
  • The Anne Frank Huis shows the house where she, her family, and her friends hid during World War II. It’s a moving experience to see how she lived for several years, and it will tell you more about the war in the Netherlands.

In the summer, the lines for these museums can be very long. Luckily, you can buy your tickets online to reserve your visit for a certain day and time. 

9 – Wander around the different neighborhoods of Amsterdam.

The central canal belt is the most touristic area of Amsterdam, but the city has much more to offer. It’s in the city’s neighborhoods that you can discover its true local life. 

  • De Pijp is a neighborhood in southern Amsterdam, known for its fun bars and great restaurants. You can also find the Sarphatipark and Albert Cuyp Markt here. 
  • Oud-West is a multicultural neighborhood with a bohemian vibe. It’s home to the Ten Kate Markt, the Foodhallen (an inside food market), and many bars, restaurants, and shops. 
  • Oost is another multicultural neighborhood that has become very hip and happening over the last few years. It features a great cultural scene, restaurants, and bars, and it’s also home to the Oosterpark and Amsterdam’s Zoo Artis

There are many other neighborhoods that are worth a visit as you explore Amsterdam. Every neighborhood has its own vibe, architecture, and unique sights. 

10 – Discover the diverse cultural scene of the city.

Amsterdam is a great city for culture-lovers, as it has a diverse cultural scene with great exhibitions, live music, theatre, dance performances, cinema, parties, and festivals. Summer is the best time for travelers to be in Amsterdam if they want to discover the city’s cultural scene. Visit Amsterdam in summer to enjoy its many festivals: music festivals, open-air cinemas, theatre, food festivals, and the list goes on. The city is also known for its parties and great clubs, which you can enjoy all year round.

3. 3 Must-See Places Just Outside of Amsterdam

Amsterdam has so much to offer, but we suggest you try to discover its surroundings as well. There’s a lot to discover close to Amsterdam, so you can easily make a day trip to one of these other great destinations. Here you can discover a quieter way of life, with open fields and the typical Dutch windmills. Or you can discover one of the many other big buzzing cities of the Netherlands. Here’s what to visit near Amsterdam if you have the time!

  • Volendam

    Volendam is located in the northern part of the Netherlands, just above Amsterdam. It’s a true tourist destination as it’s a traditional little fishing town where (some) people still wear traditional clothes. If you want to discover some old Dutch traditions, this is the place to be.
Volendam in the Netherlands

Would you like to visit Volendam?

  • De Zaanse Schans

    De Zaanse Schans is also located above Amsterdam, and it’s an area with a lot of old Dutch houses and windmills. With its picturesque location just beside the water, it truly is a beautiful sight. The historical area dates back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, so it really offers some insight into Dutch history. There are old Dutch shops that you can visit, such as an historical cheese maker and grocery store; you can even tour one of the windmills.
  • One of the other big cities of the Randstad

    Amsterdam is located in the Randstad. This is a megalopolis, or in other words, a collection of large cities in close proximity. In addition to Amsterdam, the Randstad includes three of the other largest cities (Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht) as well as their surrounding areas. This means that there are many interesting cities to visit close to Amsterdam, from the modern Rotterdam to the cozy Utrecht, and still on to the political city The Hague.

4. Survival Dutch for Amsterdam Travelers

Even if you don’t speak much Dutch, it’s always good to greet the locals in Dutch as it will make for a much more positive first impression. Don’t worry, though. You can switch back to English after greeting them—they will still appreciate the effort.

Hallo!“Hello!”
Dag.“Goodbye.”
Bedankt.“Thank you.”
Nee bedankt.“No, thank you.”
Alstublieft.“Please.”
Sorry.“Sorry.”
Erg goed.“Very good.”
Ik wil graag … (bestellen).“I would like to order …”
Hoeveel kost het?“How much is it?”
Waar is de wc?“Where are the toilets?”
Help!“Help!”

    → For more useful Amsterdam travel phrases (or to practice their pronunciation), please have a look at the following resources on DutchPod101.com:


Kunt u dat herhalen (alstublieft)?“Can you repeat that (please)?”
Wat langzamer, alstublieft.“A bit slower, please.”
Sorry, ik begrijp u niet.“I’m sorry, I don’t understand you.”
Spreekt u Engels?“Do you speak English?”


A Man in the Desert without Water

DutchPod101 helps you survive those language barriers.

How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

In this Amsterdam travel guide, you’ve learned about the most amazing places to visit in Amsterdam and the best activities to do in this vibrant city. There’s so much to do and see here, so definitely try to discover it by bike (in true Dutch style). And if you have some time left, go explore some more Dutch gems just outside of Amsterdam.

Are you already excited to visit the Dutch capital? How will you prepare for your trip?

Make sure to explore DutchPod101.com and our multiple vocabulary lists with audio recordings. We also provide many other useful free resources so that you can practice your grammar and learn new words before your visit to the Netherlands.

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. Your own private teacher can help you prepare for your trip with useful Amsterdam travel phrases and more. He or she will also give you assignments, personalized exercises, and recorded audio samples to help you improve your pronunciation. 

Happy learning and safe travels!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch

English Words Used in Dutch: Do You Speak Dunglish?

Thumbnail

Did you know that the Dutch language has close ties with English? 

English words are used in Dutch in many different ways, including through Dunglish (a crazy mixture of both languages) and loanwords. It’s important to know the difference between these two types of English words in Dutch, as loanwords are more widely accepted than Dunglish. 

The good news is that Dutch is full of English loanwords. Having these ‘freebies’ in your memory bank will make learning the language a bit easier. But the language exchange actually goes both ways, and you’ll also find basic Dutch words in English.

Are you ready to discover the ties between the Dutch and English languages with DutchPod101.com? We’ll teach you everything you should know about Dunglish, English loanwords, and common Dutch words in English—and all this in a fun and easy manner!

A Woman with a Laptop Thinking Deeply

Are you speaking Dunglish or Dutch?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Introduction to Dunglish
  2. Dunglish Examples
  3. Loanwords vs. Dunglish
  4. Common Dutch Words in English
  5. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. Introduction to Dunglish

Dunglish is a mixture of the Dutch and English languages. In this section, we’ll give you some insight on its history and usage, so that you really understand what it is and what role it plays in Dutch society.

1 – Its History

In Dutch, Dunglish is also called Nengels or steenkolenengels (“coal-English”). 

Steenkolenengels is a well-known term in the Dutch language, but few people know its origin. It goes all the way back to the early twentieth century, when Dutch port workers tried to speak a creative form of English in order to communicate with workers from the English coal ships.

2 – Its Usage in Dutch Culture

Dunglish is mostly perceived as being the mistakes native Dutch speakers make when speaking English (but it can, of course, also be the other way around).

Dutch people manage the English language relatively well. They learn the language from a young age, as it’s a basic school subject throughout their educational career and it often continues to be practiced in universities where there are a  large number of courses and programs in English. But the English language is also part of the cultural scene in the Netherlands. The Dutch listen to a lot of music in English and watch a lot of English-language movies with Dutch subtitles (as the Dutch don’t dub movies). 

However, they still make mistakes when speaking English. Errors range from mistakes in pronunciation and word order to incorrect conjugation. Even political leaders can be found guilty of speaking some Dunglish. To give a funny example: 

Dries van Agt, the former Dutch prime minister, supposedly once said: “I can stand my little man,” a direct translation from the Dutch saying: Ik kan mijn mannetje wel staan. (“I can stand up for myself.”)

2. Dunglish Examples

To start, let’s have a look at some examples of Dunglish. If the Dutch make these mistakes when speaking English, you’re bound to make them as well when speaking Dutch! 

1 – Incorrect Meaning of Words

Applying incorrect meanings to English words is the most typical Dunglish mistake of all. Words are incorrectly translated, which often leads to some understandable but funny mistakes. 

There is a funny story about a meeting between the former Dutch prime minister Pieter Sjoerds Gerbrandy and Winston Churchill in London. When Gerbrandy shook Churchill’s hand, he supposedly said “Good day,” to which Churchill responded, “This is the shortest meeting I have ever had.” Goedendag (“Good day”) is a common Dutch greeting, but in English it’s most often used when saying goodbye. A logical Dunglish mistake to make if you don’t know this little difference between the two languages.

Because Dutch and English are so similar to each other, incorrect translations are bound to happen. Let’s take the Dutch word eventueel for example: it means “potentially” in English, and not “eventually.” Another example is the Dutch word actueel, which means “current.” It is sometimes mistakenly translated as the English word “actual,” which means “genuine.” 

You can imagine how some humorous mistakes can be made due to incorrect translations like these! 


2 – Word Order

A Woman Standing in Front of a Blackboard that Has Speech Bubbles Drawn on It

Let’s try to avoid these Dunglish word order mistakes.

Another typical Dunglish mistake is to use incorrect word order, as the Dutch and English languages do not follow exactly the same word order. A typical word order mistake the Dutch make when speaking English is saying: “What mean you?” This is a literal translation of the Dutch question: Wat bedoel je? As you can see, the word order is different, which explains this Dunglish mistake. 

These word order mistakes are especially common in questions, as there is a particular difference between Dutch and English question word order. It’s common for English speakers to use the Dutch word doe (“to do”) when asking yes/no questions. Contrary to English, the Dutch don’t use the auxiliary “do” in questions. So don’t use it, otherwise your Dutch question word order will be incorrect. 

For example: “Do you like dancing?”

  • Correct: Houd je van dansen?
  • Dunglish: Doe jij houden van dansen?

Another common word order mistake has to do with not knowing when to split the verbs in sentences. 

This mistake is so prevalent because while the Dutch like to split their verbs, this is not done in English. When there are multiple verbs in a Dutch sentence, one part of the verb will be at the beginning of the sentence and other parts will be at the end. So the complicated Dutch present perfect sentence De jongen heeft in het huis de gele deur met zware verf geverfd, may be literally translated to: “The boy has in the house the yellow door with black paint painted.” However, this should be: “The boy has painted the yellow door in the house with black paint.”

When should you be aware of this verb-splitting in Dutch? Be cautious when using present perfect, past perfect, future simple, future perfect, conditional, and conditional perfect verbs. In such cases, you may need to add a verb to the end of the sentence. Here is the sentence structure for these tenses:

Subject + Working verb + Adverb + (Adjective +) Direct object + (Adjective +) (Indirect object +) Other verb

    → Would you like to learn more about Dutch word order? Have a look at our useful article on the subject and avoid this typical Dunglish mistake.

3 – Verb Conjugation

Aside from verb-splitting, English and Dutch verbs actually share many things in common. This sometimes causes Dutch speakers to conjugate English verbs according to Dutch grammar rules, and vice-versa.

Example of this Dunglish mistake made by Dutch speakers: We drinken het bier

  • Correct: “We drink the beer.”
  • Dunglish: “We drinken the beer.”

Example of this Dunglish mistake made by English speakers: “They kiss each other.”

  • Correct: Zij kussen elkaar.
  • Dunglish: Zij kus elkaar.

Although both languages use the infinitive (kussen or “to kiss”) in the plural form, the infinitive is different, causing confusion for Dutch and English speakers. 


4 – Errors in Pronunciation

As is to be expected, pronunciation mistakes abound between speakers of the two languages. One of the most common Dunglish pronunciation errors for Dutch speakers has to do with the difference between the English sounds ‘th’ and ‘t.’ For example, the Dutch may pronounce “third” as “turd,” “the” as “duh,” and “three” and “tree” as “dreeh.”

Another set of English pronunciation mistakes the Dutch make comes down to the tricky difference between the words “bat” / “bad” / “bet” / “bed” and “back” / “bag” / “beck” / “beg.” The difference between these sounds does not exist in the Dutch language, so they tend to pronounce these words the same way.

However, Dutch pronunciation may be even more difficult for English speakers. Do you remember those tricky diphthongs? A diphthong is the combination of two vowels that, together, make a particular sound—a sound that no vowel in Dutch makes on its own. 

A common Dunglish mistake that Dutch learners make is to pronounce the letters separately, rather than as one fluid sound. Let’s have a look at the nine Dutch diphthongs:

Letter(English) PronunciationExample
aiPronounced as [I], as in “I am” in Englishmais (“corn”)
auPronounced like [ow] in the English word “now”auto (“car”)
eiPronounced as the [i] in the English word “find”ei (“egg”)
euThis sound doesn’t exist in English, but you may know it from the French word “beurre.”leuk (“fun”)
iePronounced like [ee] in the English word “bee”mier (“ant”)
ijPronounced exactly the same as the Dutch ei diphthongwijn (“wine”)
oePronounced like [oo] in the English word “pool”moe (“tired”)
ouPronounced exactly the same as the Dutch au diphthongkoud (“cold”)
uiThis sound doesn’t exist in English, but it’s a combination of the [a] sound in “man” and a long Dutch u.muis (“mouse”)

Another pronunciation mistake English speakers make has to do with the pronunciation of sch as sk (with too much of a k sound).

Let’s have a look at how you should pronounce this: 

Letter(English) PronunciationExample 
schPronounced like an [s] followed by a harsh [ch], as in the Scottish word “loch”schaap (“sheep”)


Netherlands Flag Inside a Speech Bubble

Use these tips to improve your Dutch pronunciation.

3. Loanwords vs. Dunglish

In addition to Dunglish, there are also plenty of English words in the Dutch language that are used on a regular basis. In this section, we’ll discuss the difference between Dunglish and loanwords, and introduce you to some of the most common English words in Dutch.

1 – Loanwords vs. Dunglish: What’s the Difference?

Do you already understand the difference between loanwords and Dunglish? While both are a mixture of the Dutch and English languages, one is correct and the other isn’t. As may be clear from the previous section, Dunglish may be cute but it’s not correct.

So if you want to make use of the English language while speaking Dutch (or vice-versa), then it’s better to use loanwords. These are words that are borrowed from another language with little to no changes—in this case, these are English words used in Dutch with the same meaning and similar (if not identical) spelling. 

And lucky you! The Dutch language is full of English loanwords. It’s easy vocabulary that you don’t even have to study.

2 – List of English Words in Dutch

Some English loanwords in Dutch have become so common over time that they’ve become “Dutch” verbs. Let’s have a look at them:

Checken
 “To check”
Ik wil nog even met jou de route checken.
 “I just want to check the route with you.”

WhatsappenIk whatsapp je nu.
 Literally: “I Whatsapp you now.”
 Meaning: “I’m sending you a Whatsapp message now.”

It literally means “to Whatsapp,” but its meaning more closely relates to “to send a message with Whatsapp.”

Downloaden
 “To download”
Hij heeft de film gedownload.
 “He has downloaded the movie.”

Apart from this funny vernederlandsing (“Dutchification”) of English words, there are also some English loanwords that are directly incorporated into the Dutch language.

AirconditionerKun je de airconditioner aanzetten?
 “Can you turn on the air conditioner?”

Because compound words are so common in Dutch, the English word “air conditioner” is changed to airconditioner. The same thing happens to the English loanword “credit card,” which is written as one word in Dutch: creditcard.

Although the Dutch use the word airconditioner, it’s more common to hear them say the short version: airco.

LaptopIk werk op mijn laptop. 
“I work on my laptop.”

OutfitIk heb mijn outfit voor het feest al klaar liggen.
 “I already have my outfit ready for the party.”

E-mailIk vroeg hem in een e-mail of hij me kon helpen.
 “I asked him in an email if he could help me.”

Happy hourLaten we naar die bar gaan waar het nu happy hour is.
 “Let’s go to that bar where it’s happy hour now.”

HelpdeskIk heb de helpdesk gebeld en ze hebben het probleem opgelost.
 “I called the help desk and they solved the problem.”

As you can see, this is another example of the Dutch turning an English loanword into a compound word. 

JunkfoodIk heb echt zin in junkfood. “I’m really craving junk food.”

Yes, “junk food” has also become one word in Dutch.

With this list of English words in Dutch, you’ve learned some new Dutch vocabulary without having to study for it. Do you know any other English words in Dutch? There are many more, as the Dutch language is greatly influenced by English.

A Woman Studying on Her Laptop with Headphones

Doesn’t this make learning Dutch more fun?

4. Common Dutch Words in English

Did you know that there are also many English words of Dutch origin? It makes sense, as the Dutch were some of the first European settlers in the United States. In Holland, Michigan, and New York’s Brooklyn and Harlem, you can still see some of these Dutch roots.

Let’s have a look at these common Dutch words in English:

“Boss”This word comes from the Dutch word baas, which has the exact same meaning as the English version.

“Yankee”This is the combination of two of the most popular names for boys in the Netherlands at a certain point in history: Jan and Kees, which makes Jan-Kees, leading to “Yankee.”

“Coleslaw”The Dutch word for “coleslaw” is koolsla. Pretty similar, right? It literally means “cabbage salad.”

“Waffle”“Waffle” is taken from the Dutch word wafel, which is pretty similar and has the same meaning.

“Cookie”The English word “cookie” is based on the Dutch word koekje, which literally means “little cookie.”

“Wagon”In the Netherlands, they used to call “wagons” wagens when referring to trains.

“Dollar”“Dollar” originates from the Dutch word Daalder. This is an historical Dutch coin and is also what the Dutch sometimes called their currency before the euro (de Gulden).

“Santa Claus”‘Santa Claus’ is taken from the fictitious Dutch character Sinterklaas, named after St. Nicolaus, a bishop who lived in Turkey.

Some claim that the Dutch settlers in New York City (a former Dutch colonial town) reinvented the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition.

“Deck”The English word “deck” derives from the Dutch word dek, which refers to the floor of a ship. However, the word dek in Dutch can also be used to mean “covering.”

“Yacht”It comes from the Dutch word jacht, meaning “hunt,” and it’s short for jachtschip, meaning “yacht ship.”

Quite a few English words relating to the sea or to sailing are derived from Dutch. For example, “cruise” comes from the Dutch verb kruisen (“to cross”) and “buoy” comes from the Dutch word boei. With the Netherlands being one of the leading seafaring nations, it’s not surprising that the English language has been influenced by Dutch in this particular way.


Two Hands Making a Heart Shape in Front of the Netherlands Flag

Let’s boost your Dutch learning.

How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

In this guide, you’ve learned everything about Dunglish, from its history to its usage in modern times. You’ve also learned why you should avoid it, how to keep from making the most common mistakes, and what makes loanwords different. We even introduced you to some basic Dutch words in English. This just makes learning Dutch a bit easier—after all, it’s free vocabulary you don’t have to study.

Are there any other English loanwords in the Dutch language you know? Or some other basic Dutch words in English?

If you enjoyed this article and want to continue your Dutch studies, keep in mind that DutchPod101 has tons of effective learning materials: vocabulary lists with audio recordings, free resources to boost your studies, and entertaining audio and video lessons for learners at every level. 

Remember that you can also use our Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. When you use this system, you’ll have your own private teacher who can show you other useful ways to use your English knowledge when learning Dutch. Along with pronunciation exercises and personalized assignments, your teacher will review your work and answer any questions you have.

Happy learning on DutchPod101.com!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch

A Useful Guide to Dutch Culture and Customs

Thumbnail

The first step in becoming comfortable in another country is to understand its culture. This will help you avoid the so-called ‘culture shock’ during your stay and make your interactions with natives more enjoyable. Learning about Dutch culture will not only make your experience in the Netherlands that much smoother, but it can also accelerate your language learning!

Well, you’ve come to the right place to learn everything you need to know about Dutch culture and customs. The Netherlands may be a small country, but it has a lot of culture to discover. It’s known for its progressive and explorative spirit, art, architecture, food, and even some special holiday traditions—all of which we’ll cover in this handy Dutch culture guide!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Dutch Cultural Values and Beliefs
  2. Dutch Religions
  3. Relationships
  4. Different Dutch Art Forms
  5. Dutch Food
  6. Dutch Holidays
  7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. Dutch Cultural Values and Beliefs

Every culture has a set of widely shared ideologies that influence the daily lives of its people. Here are just a few key values and beliefs in modern Dutch culture that you should know about.

A- Tolerance (Verdraagzaamheid)

In the Netherlands, tolerance (verdraagzaamheid) is a prominent Dutch cultural value and it’s taught to children from a young age. The Dutch tradition of tolerance revolves around having respect for people’s freedom of choice regarding their attitudes and beliefs. However, there are parts of the Netherlands that are “more tolerant” than other parts. For example, Randstad and other larger cities tend to show a greater degree of tolerance toward others than smaller cities do. Take Amsterdam, for example. Here, the Dutch tradition of tolerance is clearly noticeable in the streets where you can find gay bars, coffee shops, and the red light district.

Many Dutch people are very proud of their country’s progressiveness on social and moral issues, such as LGBTIQ rights, soft drugs, euthanasia, and freedom of speech. However, a more conservative and intolerant attitude has become noticeable in the Netherlands in recent years, with politicians and other people campaigning against migration and other cultures. A study also shows that the younger generations (20-30 years old) are less progressive than the older generations. Nevertheless, many Dutch people still highly value tolerance and open-mindedness. 

B- Pragmatism

The Dutch may be some of the most pragmatic people in the world. 

They’re practical, down-to-earth, and realistic in their way of reasoning and approaching things. They tend to rationalize and analyze everything before proceeding with their actions. In addition, they’re very functional and try to find the “best way” to do something. This makes them very innovative and explorative in their way of doing things, leading to new inventions and progressive business ideas. This may also make them less spontaneous, more frugal, or even “boring,” but the Dutch just love calculating things. This has led them to some great results in business and other sectors.

Don’t worry! The Dutch do know how to have fun and relax; their pragmatic side mostly comes up in work situations.

C- Directness

Because they’re so pragmatic, the Dutch are also quite direct. 

This Dutch directness is well-known among foreigners, who often have to adjust to this behavior. At first, it may come across as rude, but it does have its positive side. Their honesty and direct communication help them achieve the best results in work and relationships.

Dutch people, in general, will let you know what they think. They don’t play games and people are frank if they don’t like something. While there are no lies to save your feelings, at least you won’t be let down by someone’s dishonesty. 

D- Privacy

The Netherlands is a small country with a large population for its size (in fact, it’s the country with the highest population density in Europe). This may be why Dutch culture values privacy so much. 

While the Dutch prefer privacy in their homes and workspaces, this longing for privacy also extends to their interactions with other people. This guarded behavior is only relaxed when around friends, family members, or close colleagues. The Dutch need some time to get to know other people before they open up. Try to respect this need for privacy—with time, you’ll notice a change in this behavior.

The privateness of the Dutch is related to another Dutch cultural value: modesty. The Dutch don’t like to brag about their accomplishments or wealth. They prefer to keep this private so as to promote fairness and equality in Dutch society.

2. Dutch Religions

Compared to many other cultures, religion plays a small role in modern-day Dutch culture and traditions. Still, it’s an important element to consider if you want to gain a complete view of the society. Here’s what you need to know about religion in the Netherlands! 

A- Religion in Dutch Society

The Netherlands previously had a practice called verzuiling (“pillarization“). This is the segregation of religious, social, and cultural groups through the creation of social and political institutions for each group. These groups would have their own schools, hospitals, newspapers, and TV channels. The (political) leaders of each group collaborated with each other to make sure they all had the same rights and functions, creating a smooth and articulated public life. 

This ideological and religious segregation lasted until the 1970s, after which the Netherlands experienced rapid secularization. Nowadays, religion plays a relatively small role in politics and society. However, you can still see remains of this practice in Dutch society, as there remain to be certain schools and media connected to a certain religion.

B- Dominant Religions in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, almost half of the population (42%) identifies with no religion. Aside from that, the religiosity of the Netherlands is characterized by its diversity: 23% of the Dutch population is Catholic, 14% are Reformed Protestant, 7% are Dutch Reformed, and 4% are Muslim.

The rapid secularization of the Netherlands in the 1970s led to a decreasing role of religion in Dutch culture. The only real exception would be communities in the Dutch Bible Belt, which runs through and around the cities of Zierikzee, Dordrecht, Utrecht, Zwolle, and Assen. 

On the other hand, one religion that has been growing in the Netherlands is Islam. The majority of Muslims in the Netherlands come from migrant families from North Africa and the Middle East. The Dutch Muslim population mainly lives in the cities of the Randstad.

    → Would you like to learn more about religion in the Dutch language? Have a look at the useful Religion vocabulary list from DutchPod101.

3. Relationships

One major window into other cultures is how different relationships are expected to be viewed, formed, and maintained. In this section, we’ll tell you all about the Dutch culture and customs regarding family, couples, friends, and colleagues.

A- Family

What Do You Think of the Dutch Family?

The family serves as the foundation of the Dutch social structure. 

However, families tend to be relatively small with only one or two children. Dutch family culture mainly focuses on the nuclear family, and less on the extended kin. This small group of family members remains important and central to the individual throughout their life. Because different members of a family tend to live close to each other, the Dutch do form relationships with extended family members, but to a lesser degree.

However, in the tolerant Dutch society a lot of other living arrangements and family forms are accepted as well. These include single-parent households, same-sex couples with children, and divorced couples that share responsibility for their children.

In Dutch society, independence is very much stimulated and young people are encouraged to leave their home at the age of 18 to study or work. However, this is not always possible due to increasing university costs and housing shortages in the bigger cities of the Netherlands.


B- Couples

In Dutch culture, dating practices are quite similar to those of other North-European countries or the United States. Throughout high school, teenagers socialize with and date peers from school, the neighborhood, or other social activities. 

The Dutch consider it normal to start dating different people at a young age or to have several relationships before moving in together or marrying. Not all couples marry, although the practice has become a bit more popular among younger generations. It’s common for a couple to marry after living together for many years.

The marriage ceremony generally entails two events: a civil registration and a celebration (which is usually a religious ceremony or a wedding party). LGBTIQ couples also have the right to marry. In 2001, the Netherlands was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage.

    → Would you like to find a little Dutch romance? Try our list of the cheesiest Dutch Quotes About Love to express your feelings in Dutch.

C- Friends

Friends play a central role in Dutch culture. As the Dutch are encouraged to be independent from a young age, they’re also encouraged to make lasting and reliant friendships. The Dutch often have friends from primary school, high school, university, work, and so on. They have different groups of friends and often see them separately—it’s not common to mix these different groups.

Do you want to make a Dutch friend? The Dutch may seem a bit cold or distant at first. It might be difficult to move from acquaintance status to friend status. However, when they open up, the Dutch are very loyal friends. So it’s a friendship that is worth the wait (and effort)!

D- Colleagues

In the Netherlands, relationships between colleagues differ from job to job depending on the formality of the workplace or industry. However, Dutch work relationships tend to be formal and quite reserved. They’re not very touchy-feely at work and appreciate it if other colleagues remain at a certain (emotional) distance. 

However, once people have been colleagues for a long(er) time, the Dutch open up and some friendships may develop. It’s quite common to have lunch together or to have drinks after work every now and then. These are the perfect moments to get to know your Dutch colleagues better.

    → Are you going to work in the Netherlands? Then discover our vocabulary list for Talking About the Workplace, with useful audio recordings to improve your pronunciation.

4. Different Dutch Art Forms

The Netherlands has a diverse cultural sector with a wide range of art forms: painting, architecture, music, television, and more. The Dutch art scene has many home-grown influences, and has also been influenced by many other world cultures.

A- Dutch Painting

The Netherlands has quite the painting legacy, with artists like Rembrandt van Rijn and Vincent van Gogh lining the halls of its history. While the seventeenth century painter Rembrandt van Rijn is known for the Night Watch (De Nachtwacht) and his use of light and shadows, the nineteenth century painter Vincent van Gogh is known for the Sunflowers (Zonnebloemen) and his impact on the development of modern art. 

Other great painters from the Netherlands include still-life artist Johannes Vermeer and geometrical pioneer Piet Mondrian. 

If you want to see the masterpieces of these and other painters, you can visit one of the many museums in Amsterdam: 

  • Rijksmuseum (Rembrandt and Vermeer)
  • The Van Gogh Museum
  • The Stedelijk Museum (contemporary art)

There are great museums in other cities as well, such as the Haags Gemeentemuseum (Mondrian) and the Mauritshuis (Rembrandt and Vermeer) in the Hague. Another great option is the Kröller-Muller Museum (impressionism, expressionism) in Otterloo.   

B- Dutch Architecture

The Dutch love architecture, both old and new. In the Netherlands, you can enjoy a lot of architectural pearls, as the Dutch have mastered this art form. This is shown in the country’s architectural landscape, from Pieter Post and his Dutch Baroque works to the twenty-first century practitioners such as Rem Koolhaas. But let’s not forget the De Stijl architect Gerrit Thomas Rietveld either, who designed The Schroeder House in Utrecht, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Rotterdam Is a City with Amazing Modern Dutch Architecture.

C- Dutch Music

The first thing you should know about Dutch music culture is that the Dutch have a strange relationship with music from their home country. Some may not listen to it at all, some may prefer music from abroad, and still others may prefer Dutch music sung in English. Of course, there are also fans of Dutch music sung in Dutch, but the Dutch tend to listen more to foreign music. 

Let’s dissect the music scene a bit:

On the pop and rock music scene, you can find artists who sing in English (Anouk and Kane) and artists who sing in Dutch (Jan Smit and André Hazes). The latter type of music is labeled volksmuziek (“folk music”), and it’s highly sentimental. Other popular Dutch pop, rock, and indie artists that sing in Dutch include Eefje de Visser, Doe Maar, Bløf, and Spinvis.

There’s a booming Dutch hip hop (Nederhop) scene, where rappers like Fakkelbrigade rap in Dutch. 

Last but not least, we have to mention the Dutch influence on electronic music as well, with the most famous names being Tiesto and DJ Hardwell.

D- Dutch Television & Films

The Dutch film industry is relatively small and there is very little international interest in Dutch films. For these reasons, the industry depends greatly on state funding. Popular Dutch movies are: Turks Fruit, All Stars, Soldaat van Oranje, Ciske de Rat, and Alles is Liefde

On Dutch television, you can watch a lot of foreign programs (with Dutch subtitles) and a lot of Dutch sitcoms, game shows, and soaps. The most famous Dutch soap is Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden (“Good Times, Bad Times”), and a typical Dutch TV show is Boer Zoekt Vrouw (“Farmer Looks for Wife”). And yes, as the name implies, it’s a Dutch dating show for farmers.

5. Dutch Food 

Dutch cuisine has several influences from abroad, but there are also some authentic Dutch dishes and unique Dutch food products that you should definitely try when visiting the Netherlands.

A- Top 5 Dutch Dishes

Here is a selection of five delicious Dutch dishes you should definitely try:

  1. Bitterballen
    These deep-fried crispy meatballs are a popular Dutch pre-dinner snack that you’ll find on the menu of a lot of bars and even restaurants. They’re traditionally served with mustard.

  2. AVG
    AVG is short for Aardappelen, Vlees, en Groente (“Potatoes, Meat, and Vegetables”). This true Dutch classic is the base of every traditional Dutch meal.

  3. Stamppot
    Stamppot literally means “mash pot” and it’s a mix of mashed potato and vegetables such as kale, endive, cabbage, carrot, or sauerkraut. It’s often served with meat on the side (or sometimes mixed through) and gravy.

  4. Pannenkoeken
    Pannenkoeken, or Dutch “pancakes,” are thinner than the thick American pancakes but thicker than the French ones. They can be eaten with a wide range of toppings: syrup, powdered sugar (called poedersuiker in Dutch), apple, bacon, cheese, and many other savory or sweet toppings.

  5. Appeltaart
    The Dutch “apple pie” has a delicious cinnamon taste and its apple filling is mixed with raisins and sometimes even walnuts. The true Dutch “grandmother’s” apple pie, oma’s appeltaart, is a classic dessert or a perfect sweet snack during the day.

Would you like to learn how to order food in Dutch restaurants? Then have a look at this practical list of the Most Useful Phrases and Vocabulary for Ordering Food or this Restaurant vocabulary list.

B- Some Unique Dutch Products

Dutch cheese is a national pride. The Dutch simply love their cheese. They mainly eat it on bread—boterham met kaas (“slice of bread with cheese”)—but they also enjoy it as a snack, or blokjes kaas (“little cubes of cheese”). Next time you’re in the Netherlands, try the world-famous Dutch Goudse kaas (“Gouda cheese”). There are a lot of tasty Dutch cheeses to try, but Gouda is the true classic.

Do You Like Dutch Cheese?

You’ll also find that the Dutch have a sweet tooth, so there are a lot of unique Dutch sweets you should try: 

  • stroopwafel (“syrup waffle”) – the most famous Dutch cookie
  • hagelslag – sprinkles which the Dutch mainly use to sprinkle on their bread
  • drop (“liquorice”) – can be sweet or salty

Would you like to learn more about Dutch food? Then you can’t miss our tasty guide to traditional Dutch food.

6. Dutch Holidays 

Even a basic knowledge of the national holidays and traditions will give you a better understanding of the culture of the Netherlands. There are many different Dutch holidays, so we’ll just cover the most important ones here.

A- King’s Day

Koningsdag (“King’s Day”) is celebrated on April 27, three days before the birthday of the Dutch King Willem-Alexander. Prior to this, the holiday was called Koninginnedag (“Queen’s Day”) and celebrated on April 30. It’s a national holiday involving a lot of flea markets, parties, and traditional activities. Every year, the royal family visits a different city. 

    → Check out our King’s Day word list for useful vocabulary about this Dutch holiday!

B- Liberation Day

Bevrijdingsdag (“Liberation Day”) is when the Dutch celebrate their liberation during World War II. It has been celebrated on May 5 every year since 1945 and it was declared a national holiday in 1990. Many cultural activities are planned on this Dutch holiday, such as bevrijdingsfestivals (“Liberation Day festivals”) with music and other activities. 

    → Would you like to expand your Dutch vocabulary? Have a look at our Liberation Day word list and celebrate this holiday like a true Dutchie.

C- Sinterklaas

The Dutch have their own Santa Claus: Sinterklaas. Three weeks before December 5, he arrives by steamboat with his helpers de Pieten. Their arrival is shown live on television, but a lot of children and their parents also go to the docks to see it in person. For the next three weeks, Sinterklaas and his helpers visit children at school or leave behind some sweet treat during the night. Then on December 5 (his birthday), he comes by their houses with even more presents.

D- Christmas and New Year’s Eve

Kerst (“Christmas”) in the Netherlands is celebrated on December 25 (eerste kerstdag, “first Christmas day”) and December 26 (tweede kerstdag, “second Christmas day”). Both are national holidays, spent with family over a nice Christmas dinner (or lunch).

Oudejaarsavond (“Old Year’s Evening”) is mostly celebrated with family and/or friends. People eat oliebollen (“Dutch doughnuts”), drink some bubbles, and set off fireworks. The Dutch also have a crazy tradition on New Year’s Day, where people go to the beach to take a New Year’s Dive (nieuwjaarsduik) in the ice-cold seawater.

What Do You Like the Most about Dutch Culture?

7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

In this Dutch culture guide, you’ve learned the basics concerning Dutch culture and customs, from values and beliefs to relationships and food. Do you feel like you understand the Dutch culture a bit better? Do you think it will inspire you to improve your Dutch learning even more? We encourage you to make some use of the insight and knowledge we’ve provided here!

Make sure to explore DutchPod101.com and our multiple vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other free resources. Our aim is to help you understand the Dutch language and culture even more. 

Remember that you can also use the DutchPod101 Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching so that you can really master the Dutch language. You’ll have your own private teacher who will help you with your pronunciation, review your work, and discuss any Dutch cultural topic you want to know more about. 

Happy learning!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch

A Tasty Guide to Traditional Dutch Food

Thumbnail

What better way to explore a culture than through its foods? You can’t say you know a country—or a language—if you don’t know something about the foods associated with it. So if you really want to get to know the Dutch, you must become familiar with Dutch food as well.

Dutch food and cuisine may not be the most famous and it may not be the most delicious either, but it does have its charm. It’s flavorful, it’s great for those chilly winter days, and it reflects how the Dutch love to enjoy life with a nice hot plate of soothing food, a savory snack, or something sweet. There’s something out there for every taste preference. 

Ready to dive into the unfamiliar world of traditional Dutch food with us?

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about Dutch delicacies: from Dutch foods you must try in a restaurant to one of the best Dutch food recipes to make at home. 

Eet smakelijk! (“Enjoy your meal!”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Let's Cook in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Must-Try Dishes in Dutch Restaurants
  2. Unique Dutch Products
  3. Food Vocabulary
  4. Bonus: A Simple Dutch Recipe For Those Delicious Stroopwafels
  5. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. Must-Try Dishes in Dutch Restaurants

While you’re in the Netherlands, it may be hard to find traditional Dutch food in most restaurants. As typical Dutch food isn’t very classy, the Dutch often prefer going to restaurants with cuisines from other countries. However, the old Dutch food is making a comeback, and you can find it more often (sometimes with a little twist) in the more hip-and-happening restaurants and bars. 

Below are some Dutch food specialties you should absolutely try if you stumble upon them on the menu! 

A- Appetizer

Bitterballen

Try This Ultimate Dutch Pub Snack!

Do you know what bitterballen are? They’re deep-fried crispy meatballs! 

It’s a delicious Dutch pre-dinner snack that’s very popular and found on the menu in many bars and restaurants. The Dutch love to eat it when they’re having some drinks or waiting for their meal. These delicious, deep-fried crispy meatballs are traditionally served with mustard. It’s truly the ultimate Dutch pub snack!

B- Main Course

Snert

Snert: The Perfect Dish After a Long, Cold Day.

Snert (“pea soup”) is a true traditional Dutch food. It’s a thick, hearty green stew of split peas, vegetables, and meat. 

The soup is mostly served a day after its preparation because that gives it time to thicken. While snert may not be the most attractive name for a dish, it’s actually a delicious soup that’s a meal in itself. This is a typical Dutch food item during the cold winter, especially popular after ice skating. It may be hard to find in Dutch restaurants, but you can still find it in some of the older places. Another name for snert is erwtensoep.

AVG

Are You a Fan of the Dutch AVG Classic?

AVG is short for Aardappel, Vlees, en Groente (“Potato, Meat, and Vegetables”). This might be the most classic thing to eat in the Netherlands as it’s the base of every traditional Dutch meal. It’s served in a lot of Dutch households, with the kind of meat or vegetables used differing from day to day. 

A lot of the traditional Dutch foods have been influenced by farmers, so the meals are quite simple yet tasty and filling—everything you need after a day of hard work in the outside air. Take the next dish, for example.

Stamppot

This Is a Dutch Hutspot, a Stamppot Variation with Carrot.

Stamppot literally means “mash pot” and it’s a mix of potato mash and vegetables that may or may not be leftovers. There are special combinations to accommodate different preferences. The vegetables typically used in this mix are kale, endive, cabbage, carrot, or sauerkraut. It’s often served with meat on the side (or sometimes mixed through) and gravy. This is the ultimate comfort food, and one of the most popular Dutch winter recipes. 

Hachee

When Would You Like to Eat Some Warm Hachee?

Hachee is a tasty Dutch stew with meat, fish, or poultry and vegetables in a thick gravy sauce with laurel leaves and cloves. It takes quite some time to make hachee, as it simmers for a long time—but this long process also results in a very tender meat. It’s an old Dutch food that was originally a peasant dish, invented to use up leftovers. 

As you might have noticed, its name sounds French. It comes from the French verb hacher which means “to chop,” referring to the preparation of the vegetables and meat.

Pannenkoeken

The Dutch Pancake Is Nothing Without Its Delicious Toppings!

Pannenkoeken, or Dutch “pancakes,” are different from any other type of pancake. They’re thinner and more crepe-like than the thick American pancakes but thicker than the French ones. 

What’s even better is that you can eat them with a wide range of toppings: syrup, powdered sugar (called poedersuiker in Dutch), apple, bacon, cheese, and a lot of other savory or sweet toppings. You can even find special all-you-can-eat pancake restaurants in the Netherlands. The Dutch typically eat pancakes for dinner, so it’s not a breakfast food like it is in some other countries.

But that’s not all! There’s another special variation of this traditional Dutch recipe: small pancakes called poffertjes. These are little fluffy round pancakes, often served with butter and powdered sugar. You may find them in pancake restaurants or street markets.

C- Dessert

Appeltaart

Discover Why the Dutch Apple Pie Really Is Different from All Other Versions Worldwide.

Appeltaart means “apple pie,” and the true Dutch “grandmother’s apple pie” (oma’s appeltaart) is a classic dessert and makes for the perfect sweet snack during the day. This apple pie has a delicious cinnamon taste and its apple filling is mixed with raisins and sometimes even walnuts. And if that’s not enough, it’s often served with whipped cream and/or vanilla ice cream. If you want to try a truly Dutch dessert, this is the way to go.

Vlaai

Don’t These Little Vlaaitjes Look Beautiful?

Vlaai is a sweet pie that originated from the province of Limburg, making it a real classic from the southern Netherlands. Its classic version has a yeast pie base, a filling of creamy custard, and a crumbly topping. However, nowadays, there are several different vlaai fillings: chocolate, rice pudding, apples, bananas, strawberries, and the list goes on. If you want to try a traditional Dutch vlaai, you have to try it in Limburg, the proud province of this special pie.

2. Unique Dutch Products


Now that you’ve learned about the must-try Dutch dishes, it’s time to dive into some lesser-known (but equally delicious!) foods in the Netherlands. The Dutch love to snack on sweet and savory foods alike, so let’s see what their favorites are! 

A- Sweet Foods

Stroopwafels

Do You Already Know This Classic Dutch Food?

The stroopwafel (“syrup waffle”) is definitely the most famous Dutch cookie, and it’s famous for a reason! If you were in the Netherlands and could only eat one Dutch sweet treat, then it should definitely be a stroopwafel

This cookie consists of two thin waffles stuck together with a layer of sweet syrup. If you can find a newly baked, hot stroopwafel at a street market or bakery, then go for it. If not, the supermarkets also sell them in packages and those are quite delicious as well.


Hagelslag

Dutch Sprinkles Are Great on a Slice of Bread.

Hagelslag are sprinkles, which the Dutch mainly use to sprinkle on their bread (although you can also use it on many other types of food). Chocolade hagelslag (“chocolate sprinkles”) are the most popular, but there are also other flavors. 

Imagine this: a nice fresh slice of bread with some butter (to keep the sprinkles on) and delicious hagelslag. Yes, the Dutchies know what they’re doing and how to enjoy their bread. They mostly eat this for breakfast or lunch. 

Drop

Will You Love Drop as Much as the Dutch Do?

Drop (“liquorice”) is an old Dutch food—and it may not be the liquorice you know and love. It can either be very sweet or very salty, making it versatile as a sweet or savory food. You might have to get used to the Dutch version of liquorice due to its strong flavors. The Dutch love their drop and will probably offer some to you in informal settings. Definitely try it, but be aware and approach it with caution.

Oliebollen

In the Netherlands, It’s Not NYE without an Oliebol.

Oliebollen literally translates to “oil balls.” Although it may not sound very delicious, this New Year’s Eve classic is a classic for a reason. 

They are deep-fried balls of dough dusted in powdered sugar; they taste quite like a donut. There are different varieties of the oliebol, and they can come with or without raisins inside. People make it in their homes on New Year’s Eve, but you can also buy them at food stands on the streets in December.

B- Savory Foods

Patat

What Sauce Would You Like on your Dutch Fries?

Patat are thick Dutch fries, but they’re like no fries you’ve eaten before. You can’t leave the Netherlands until you’ve tried some! They come in a cone and can be eaten with great combinations of sauces. 

The Dutch make the craziest combinations. For example:

  • patat speciaal (“special fries”) – fries with a mix of (curry)ketchup, mayonnaise, and onions
  • patatje oorlog (literally “little war fries”) – a mix of peanut sauce, mayonnaise, and onions

Haring

Not Everybody's Favorite, but It Might become Your Favorite Dutch Food!

The rauwe haring (“raw herring”) is not everybody’s favorite, but this raw fish is a true Dutch classic! You should definitely give it a go. 

You can spot the haringkarren (“herring carts”) on a lot of busy streets. They serve haring met ui (“herring with onion”) or on bread with pickles and onions (broodje haring). The best time to eat haring in the Netherlands is between May and July, because the haring is sweetest during this time.

Gouda kaas

The Dutch Love Their Gouda Cheese.

Our unique Dutch food list wouldn’t be complete without the famous Dutch Goudse kaas (“Gouda cheese”). The Dutch are quite serious about their cheese and you’ll quickly notice this when visiting a Dutch cheese market, shop, or even a supermarket. 

There are a lot of tasty Dutch cheeses to try, but Gouda is the true classic. The Dutch mostly eat it on their bread, boterham met kaas (“slice of bread with cheese”), but they also enjoy it as a snack, blokjes kaas (literally “little cubes of cheese”). Needless to say, this goes perfectly with a nice cold beer.


3. Food Vocabulary

Now that you’re good and hungry, let’s go over some practical words and phrases you’ll need to talk about, order, and prepare food!

A- Talking About Food

  • Ik heb honger. (“I’m hungry.”)
  • Ik ben vol. (“I’m full.”)
  • Ik sterf van de honger! (“I’m starving!”)

  • Ik houd van kaas. (“I love cheese.”)
  • Ik vind kaas lekker. (“I like cheese.” / Literally: “I find cheese tasty.”)
  • Ik houd niet van kaas. (“I don’t like cheese.”) – The word used here means “love,” but in a casual way.
  • Ik vind kaas niet lekker. (“I don’t like cheese.”)

  • Ik eet geen vlees. (“I don’t eat meat.”)
  • Ik ben vegetariër/veganist. (“I am a vegetarian/vegan.”)
  • Ik ben allergisch voor noten. (“I’m allergic to nuts.”)

  • Mijn favoriete gerecht is stamppot. (“My favorite dish is stamppot.”)

B- Cooking

Ingredients

  • Zout (“Salt”)
  • Peper (“Pepper”)
  • Suiker (“Sugar”)
  • Water (“Water”)
  • Melk (“Milk”)
  • Olijfolie (“Olive oil”)
  • Eieren (“Eggs”)
  • Bloem (“Flour”)
  • Fruit (“Fruit”)
  • Groenten (“Vegetables”)
  • Vlees (“Meat”)

Utensils

  • Een pan (“A saucepan”)
  • Een koekenpan (“A frying pan”)
  • Een oven (“An oven”)
  • Een mes (“A knife”)
  • Een snijplank (“A cutting board”)

Cooking Verbs

  • Koken (“To cook”)
  • Stoven (“To stew”)
  • Bakken (“To bake”)
  • Braden (“To roast”)
  • Frituren (“To fry”)
  • Snijden (“To cut” / “To slice”)
  • Schillen (“To peel”)
  • Raspen (“To grate”)

C- Ordering Food

  • Het menu. (“The menu.”)
  • Een tafel voor twee. (“A table for two.”)
  • Een glas water, alsjeblieft. (“A glass of water, please.”)
  • Een voorgerecht (“A starter”)
  • Een hoofdgerecht (“A main course”)
  • Een dessert (“A dessert”)

A dessert can also be called nagerecht, literally meaning “after dish.” This makes sense, seeing as voorgerecht literally means “before dish.”

  • De rekening. (“The bill.”)
  • De fooi. (“The tip.”)

4. Bonus: A Simple Dutch Recipe For Those Delicious Stroopwafels

Have you tried stroopwafels already and gotten hooked? Or would you love to try them someday but won’t be traveling to the Netherlands anytime soon? Either way, treat yourself at home with one of the best Dutch food recipes you could imagine!

Hold your horses, you do need a waffle cone machine or waffle iron for this recipe. Do you have one at home? Lucky you. Now you can try this delicious Dutch recipe at home.

Preparation time: 40-65 minutes
Baking time: 10-20 minutes

Ingredients

For the waffles:

  • 500 grams of flour
  • 250 grams of melted butter
  • 150 grams of white caster sugar
  • 50 grams of yeast
  • a little bit of lukewarm milk
  • an egg

For the filling:

  • 500 grams of syrup
  • 300 grams of dark brown sugar
  • 75 grams of butter
  • a teaspoon of cinnamon powder

Preparation

There are two secrets to preparing the best stroopwafel:

    ★ You can only process the waffles warm, otherwise they break. 
    ★ The butter and sugar have to be worked through the syrup, making it even stiffer and stickier.

The preparation also consists of two parts: baking the waffles and making the filling. 

Make a batter with the waffle ingredients; it will be a fairly firm mass that you’ll have to knead together. Let the dough rise for 45 minutes, preferably in a moist-warm place. Knead it again and then divide the dough into small balls.

Then prepare the filling. Heat the syrup and mix in the other ingredients. 

Then put a ball of dough into a waffle iron and bake it on both sides. Use a knife to lift the waffle out of the iron and cut the waffle open while it’s still warm. Yes, this is the tricky part. If you wait too long, the waffle will break. Spread the filling on one waffle half and press the other half onto it.

Eet smakelijk! (“Enjoy your meal!”)

Enjoy Your Meal!

5. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

In this guide, you’ve learned all about Dutch cuisine, from the must-try Dutch dishes to a delicious stroopwafel recipe.

Did we forget any typical Dutch food you know of? If so, feel free to drop us a comment below! 

Would you like to learn more Dutch food recipes or receive a bit of help in discovering more about the wonderful world of Dutch food?

DutchPod101 has multiple vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other useful free resources that will help you discover traditional Dutch food and cuisine. Practice those useful words and let your taste buds take you on a wild ride of delicious Dutch food.

If you’d like to boost your language studies, you can also use DutchPod101’s Premium PLUS MyTeacher service. Your own personal teacher can help you discover even more about Dutch food and cuisine with one-on-one coaching. Through personalized feedback and pronunciation advice, your teacher will also help you increase your understanding of the Dutch language and culture. 

Happy learning (and happy dining)!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Let's Cook in Dutch

30 Inspirational Dutch Quotes With English Translations

Thumbnail

Why do people love inspirational quotes so much? Life is full of them. You see them on social media, in commercials, printed on T-shirts, painted on walls, and even tattooed on people’s skin. There’s something very appealing about these quotes: they represent people’s attitudes, stories, mindsets, histories, and more. Deeper still, they represent cultures. So when you learn quotes from another language, it’s like you’re looking through a window into another culture. 

What kind of Dutch quotes would you like to learn? Whatever you want, we have it. In this article, we’ve listed thirty Dutch quotes with English translations that will teach you more about Dutch culture and traditions, as well as the typical (often down-to-earth) Dutch attitude. You’ll also find a few quotes that are popular in English and have been translated into Dutch so you can get the best of both worlds.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Quotes About Wisdom
  2. Quotes About Success
  3. Quotes About Love
  4. Quotes About Life
  5. Quotes About Family & Friends
  6. Quotes About Learning
  7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. Quotes About Wisdom

We can all reach a point where we feel stuck or unsatisfied with our lives. So let’s start with a handful of simple Dutch quotes that offer valuable words of wisdom to get you back on the right path. 

#1

DutchMeten is weten.
Literally“Measuring is knowing.”
EquivalentMeasuring things brings knowledge.
This is one of the most common Dutch wisdom quotes, and it represents how the Dutch like to do things: with precision and preparation, and never too hurriedly. 

#2

DutchHaastige spoed is zelden goed.
Literally“Hasty speed is never good.”
EquivalentHaste makes waste.
Another popular quote in the Netherlands, this is used in a wide variety of situations: from parents to children, from teachers to students, and among friends.

It’s often used as a light reprimand, often delivered with a wink (real or imaginary).

#3

DutchWees de verandering die je in de wereld wil zien gebeuren.
Literally“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Nearly identical to its English counterpart, this is a true inspirational quote. It’s not used quite as often in Dutch as it is in English, though a true Dutch idealist would definitely love this quote. 

In the Netherlands, this quote is used to inspire others to live responsibly.

#4

DutchJe kunt nooit een oceaan oversteken, als je niet het lef hebt om de kust uit het zicht te verliezen.
Literally“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
While this isn’t a very common quote in Dutch, it’s such a beauty. It’s deep, it’s true, and it tells you all about the need to sometimes take a risk and let go of your safety blanket. 

As you may notice, many Dutch quotes are related to the sea and water. This is because of the Dutch’s naval history, their close relationship with water, and their expertise in water management.


2. Quotes About Success

Do you have big plans for the future or an upcoming project you’re concerned about? These motivational quotes in Dutch will inspire you and clue you in on how to achieve success.

#5

DutchOm te slagen in het leven heb je twee dingen nodig: onwetendheid en vertrouwen. 
Literally“To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.”
While this quote is originally from Mark Twain, you may also hear the Dutch version in the Netherlands. It suits the Dutch attitude: confident, direct, and maybe a little bit clumsy.

#6

DutchStreef niet naar succes als dat is wat je wilt; gewoon doen waar je van houdt en in gelooft en de rest komt vanzelf.
Literally“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.”
This quote also falls in line with the Dutch attitude: understanding that success is not everything. Do something the best you can and enjoy it as much as possible. Only then will you succeed.

#7

DutchVoor de wind is het goed zeilen.
Literally“Sailing is good before the wind.”
EquivalentIt is easier to be successful under favorable conditions.
Another quote that has to do with the sea, boats, and water. 

It perfectly depicts the level-headedness of the Dutch, who realize that a person’s efforts alone do not result in success. Better conditions make it easier to succeed by giving you a head start. 

#8

DutchElk nadeel heeft zijn voordeel. 
Literally“Every disadvantage has its advantage.”
The Dutch love this inspirational quote. Every bad thing has something positive. The trick is to find the good in the bad. 

The world-famous Dutch soccer player Johan Cruyff loved to use this quote with his Amsterdam dialect: Elk nadeel heb se voordeel.

#9

DutchOpgeven kan morgen ook nog.
Literally“You can always give up tomorrow.”
There is some power in this Dutch quote. You can always give up another day, so why give up today?

It tells you a bit about the Dutch go-getter mentality (doorzetter mentaliteit): keep on trying without giving up or making a fuss.   
Inspire Yourself with These Dutch Quotes about Success

3. Quotes About Love

The Dutch are not the most romantic people in the world, so there’s no overload of romantic love quotes in Dutch. The few love quotes they do have tend to possess a down-to-earth undertone. Let’s have a look at these Dutch love quotes with English translations.

#10

DutchDe liefde is als de wind, je kunt het niet zien maar wel voelen.
Literally“Love is like the wind; you can’t see it, but you can feel it.”
This is a beautiful love quote that, unfortunately, is not so widely used in the Netherlands. Will you be the one to change this?

#11

DutchDank je dat je altijd mijn regenboog na de storm wilt zijn.
Literally“Thank you for always being my rainbow after the storm.”
EquivalentThanks for always being my sunshine after the rain.

#12

DutchDe liefde kan niet van één kant komen.
Literally“Love cannot come from one side.”
EquivalentIt takes two to tango.
This down-to-earth love quote is quite popular in the Netherlands.

It has a nice ring and some truth to it: if you want to do something together, each party will have to contribute.

#13

DutchDe liefde van een man gaat door de maag.
Literally“A man’s love goes through the stomach.” 
EquivalentThe way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
This humorous quote, quite popular in the Netherlands, may say something about the not-so-romantic nature of the Dutch. It even has its own old Dutch song.

Of course, you can replace “man” for women, children, or even animals: De liefde van een kat gaat door de maag. (“The love of a cat goes through the stomach.”) 

#14

DutchOngelukkig in het spel, gelukkig in de liefde. 
Literally“Unlucky in the game, happy in love.” 
EquivalentLucky at cards, unlucky in love.
This is one of those love quotes in Dutch with a nearly identical English equivalent. Those who always lose when gambling often have a happy love life. 

What do you think about that? Is it true for you?

#15

DutchOude liefde roest niet.
Literally“Old love does not rust.” 
This beautiful Dutch quote has an identical English counterpart, as well as its own song from the famous Dutch eighties band VOF De Kunst.

They sing: Oude liefde roest niet, maar verdwijnt net zoals jij. (“Old love does not rust, but disappears just like you.”) 
Did You Feel the Love with These Dutch Love Quotes?

4. Quotes About Life

Life is a great mystery, and yet there are some universal truths to be found. Read through these Dutch quotes about life to gain insight into the Dutch view of this phenomenon.

#16

DutchHet leven gaat niet altijd over rozen. 
Literally“Life doesn’t always go over roses.”
EquivalentLife is not always beautiful.
This Dutch life quote is a great reflection of the Dutch culture and mindset: direct, honest, and realistic. 

#17

DutchHoop doet leven. 
Literally“Hope makes you live.”
EquivalentAs long as you’ve got hope, there are possibilities.
This quote has a nice ring to it. It’s short but also quite powerful.

The Dutch often use this quote when speaking about love, life, or dreams.

#18

DutchGeld maakt niet gelukkig. 
Literally“Money does not make you happy.”
EquivalentMoney can’t buy happiness.
This Dutch quote has a very similar English counterpart and is very popular in the Netherlands. 

It also reflects the aspect of Dutch culture that realizes money isn’t everything, and that there’s more to life than material wealth. 

#19

DutchHet is zoals het is. 
Literally“Things are the way they are.”
EquivalentIt is what it is.
This may be the most Dutch quote out there. It’s down-to-earth, without drama, and very realistic. Things are just the way they are and you have to accept it. 

#20

DutchWat er ook gebeurt, altijd blijven lachen. 
Literally“Whatever happens, always keep smiling.”
This Dutch quote became famous through a popular Dutch clown duo: Bassie & Adriaan.

They had a very popular children’s TV show from the late seventies to the end of the nineties. They even have a song about this positive quote.

5. Quotes About Family & Friends

Express Your Love of Your Family with These Dutch Quotes

Family and friends are life’s greatest joys and necessities. These Dutch quotes about family and friendship offer some cultural perspective on how the Dutch perceive these crucial relationships.

#21

DutchOost west, thuis best. 
Literally“East, West, home is best.”
This Dutch quote is very popular in the Netherlands. It emphasizes that you have to appreciate where you’re from. You can travel all you want, but there is just no place like home.

#22

DutchGezelligheid kent geen tijd.
Literally“Coziness knows no time.”
This is one of the classic Dutch quotes about friendship. It just means that when you’re having fun, you shouldn’t worry about the time. So if you’re having fun drinking with friends, don’t worry about going to sleep a bit later.

Yes, the Dutch know how to have fun and be cozy together. They even have a special word for it: gezelligheid

#23

DutchDe appel valt niet ver van de boom. 
Literally“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
EquivalentA chip off the old block.
This quote means that children often resemble their parents. It’s a common saying in the Netherlands, often used when a child has the same looks, interests, or talents as their parents.

#24

DutchIn nood leert men zijn vrienden kennen.
Literally“In distress, people get to know their friends.”
When you’re in trouble or in a difficult situation, you’ll know who your true friends are. They’re the people that will be there for you no matter what. 

#25

DutchElk huisje heeft z’n kruisje. 
Literally“Every house has its cross.”
EquivalentEvery home has its own worries and problems.
This quote means that there is trouble in every house or family. This Dutch expression has been used since the seventeenth century. 

The house in this quote represents a family. The cross represents the difficulties and griefs that everyone inevitably faces in their life, such as illness, loss of loved ones, and setbacks. This is represented as a cross because of the horrible punishment of crucifixion from the past.

    → Would you like to learn more? Have a look at our vocabulary lists of quotes on Family and Friendship.

6. Quotes About Learning

Let’s close this article with the best quotes in Dutch for language learners: those about learning! 

#26

DutchTalenkennis is de deur naar wijsheid.
Literally“Knowledge of languages is the doorway to wisdom.”

#27

DutchIn het leven en ook in de taal zijn nuances alles.
Literally“In life and also in language, nuances are everything.”
This Dutch quote is from Louis Couperus, a Dutch novelist and poet who lived from 1863 to 1923. His famous works span a wide variety of genres: lyric poetry, psychological and historical novels, novellas, short stories, fairy tales, feuilletons, and sketches.

#28

DutchMen is nooit te oud om te leren. 
Literally“People are never too old to learn.” 
This is a popular Dutch learning quote, telling people to never get discouraged about learning something.  You’re never too old to learn something new.

Let’s live up to this inspirational quote. You’re never too old to start learning Dutch. You can do it!

#29

DutchOp een oude fiets moet je het leren. 
Literally“You have to learn it on an old bicycle.”
EquivalentTeaching materials are rarely new.
Although things may be renewed or modernized, the base often stays the same. A bike is a bike. Learning a language is learning a language. It has been done for ages and modern tools may make it a bit easier, but in the end we use the same kind of teaching materials.

#30

DutchLeren doe je met vallen en opstaan. 
Literally“You learn by falling and getting up.”
EquivalentYou learn by trial and error.
This Dutch learning quote reveals a lot about the Dutch mentality: you learn by doing and trying. Don’t expect to succeed at once. You’ll learn with time. 
Did These Dutch Learning Quotes Inspire You to Learn More Dutch?

7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

In this guide, you’ve learned the most important and inspirational Dutch quotes with English translations on a variety of topics: from wisdom to success, from love to life, from family to friends, and beyond. 

Did we inspire you? Are you motivated to learn more about the Dutch culture, history, and language?

Then DutchPod101.com is the place to be. With our multiple vocabulary lists featuring audio recordings and other useful free resources, you’ll definitely boost your Dutch studies from day one. Practice is key! And remember: Leren doe je met vallen en opstaan. (“You learn by trial and error.”)

Would you like some one-on-one coaching? Remember that DutchPod101 also has the Premium PLUS MyTeacher service. Here, you can discover more about Dutch culture with your own private teacher and really master the Dutch language. Through personalized feedback and pronunciation advice, you’ll definitely get the hang of it. 

Happy learning on DutchPod101.com!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch

32 Useful Dutch Business Phrases You Should Know

Thumbnail

Can you imagine going to a meeting in the Netherlands’ business world without having any idea about Dutch business customs? Or going into a formal situation and not knowing how to use the formal “you”? (Yes, it’s U, but do you know how to conjugate it?) 

The business world varies from country to country, and even within a single country, there’s a big difference between the formal and informal worlds. So although you can handle yourself in the Netherlands in casual settings, you might need to study business Dutch phrases and get some useful tips on Dutch business etiquette before starting work there.

Spare yourself all of the awkward situations by getting prepared with these thirty-two useful Dutch business phrases. In this guide, you’ll learn all the phrases you need for a variety of work-related situations, from nailing your job interview to going on business trips. 

Let’s get down to business in the Netherlands!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Business Words and Phrases in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Formal Greetings, Introductions, and Goodbyes
  2. Nailing a Job Interview
  3. Interacting with Coworkers
  4. Sound Smart in a Meeting
  5. Handling Business Phone Calls and Emails
  6. Going on a Business Trip
  7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. Formal Greetings, Introductions, and Goodbyes

Before we dive into the more-specific Dutch business phrases, let’s first cover the basics: the formal greetings, introductions, and goodbyes. We’ll even let you know which form of “you” to use.

1- Greetings

When greeting someone, a handshake is the way to go in formal situations. So, when meeting someone in a business setting, give that person a handshake and combine it with one of the following greetings:

1. Dag. (“Hello.”) 

This is the perfect basic greeting, and it works in almost any situation. It’s neither too formal nor too relaxed, so you can’t go wrong with it.

2. Dag, aangenaam kennis te maken. (“Hello, nice to meet you.”) 

This is the perfect formal greeting when you’re meeting someone for the first time.

3. Goedemorgen. / Goedemiddag. / Goedenavond. (“Good morning.” / “Good afternoon.” / “Good evening.”) 

Of course, you should use these according to the time of day (until twelve p.m., until six p.m., and until twelve a.m., respectively).

2- Introductions

You’ve said your greetings, so now it’s time to let them know your name:

4. Ik ben ___. (“I am ___.”)

Simply put your name in the blank. For example: Ik ben Robert Green or Ik ben Valentina Blanco.

It’s not the most formal introduction, but it is the most common one. Using your first and last name makes it more formal (and it’s also the norm in the Netherlands’ business world to introduce yourself with your last name). 

3- Goodbyes

The Handshake Is the Way to Go

The conversation is over, so make your good impression last with a smooth goodbye. In general, it’s polite to shake hands while saying one of these goodbyes:

5. Dag. (“Goodbye.”) 

Yes, this also means goodbye. It’s a basic Dutch goodbye that can be used in almost any situation, including many business settings.

6. Tot ziens. (“See you.”)

Although it doesn’t sound very formal in English, in Dutch, this goodbye can definitely be used in more-formal situations. People use this phrase when they know that they’ll see the other person again (not hypothetically; the Dutch take these things quite literally).

7. Het was leuk u te ontmoeten. (“It was nice to meet you.”) 

This is a friendly thing to add when saying your goodbyes to someone you’ve just met for the first time. But be aware that it’s not appropriate for all situations. Dutch people are not fake, so only use it when you’re being real.

4- Jij or U?

You now know how to greet, introduce yourself, and say your goodbyes in Dutch. But before moving on to more-complicated Dutch business phrases, we want to clear up any doubts about the Dutch “you.”

In Dutch, there are two distinct pronouns for “you”: Jij (casual “you”) and U (formal “you”). Whenever in doubt, you can’t go wrong with U. This is especially the case when you’re talking to someone older than you.

In the Netherlands, there are no strict rules on when to use which pronoun; it depends on the people, the business, or the branch of work you’re in. A simple rule is to follow the lead of the other person. If they use Jij when addressing you, answer with Jij. Otherwise, just stick to the formal U

2. Nailing a Job Interview

If there’s one situation where you’ll need to up your Dutch business phrases game, it’s definitely a job interview. 

The great thing about job interviews is that you normally have a few days to prepare for it. This gives you plenty of time to look up all of the Dutch phrases for business you think you’ll need to express who you are and what you do. If you want a head-start, make sure you check out our special introduction article.

Optimize your skills even more with these useful Dutch business phrases for nailing a job interview:

8. Ik heb jarenlange ervaring met ___. (“I have years of experience with ___.”) 

9. Ik onderscheid me in mijn werk door ___. (“I distinguish myself in my work by ___.”)

10. Ik ben geïnteresseerd in deze baan omdat ___. (“I am interested in this job because ___.”)

What should you do if you don’t understand the interviewer? Ask him or her to repeat the question (but don’t ask too many times):

11. Zou u uw vraag nog een keer kunnen herhalen? (“Could you repeat your question, please?”) 

Now it’s time to end the conversation with an appropriate job interview goodbye (with a handshake, of course):

12. Bedankt voor het gesprek. (“Thank you for the conversation.”)

Let’s Nail Your Dutch Job Interview

3. Interacting with Coworkers

You aced your interview and you’re starting your new job in the Netherlands. Hurray! Now we’ll give you some common business phrases in Dutch that you can use to interact with your coworkers.

So, you’re new at work and you need some help (understanding how a system works, how to use the printer, or how to make the coffee machine work):

13. Zou je/u mij kunnen helpen? (“Could you help me?”)

Whether you use jij or u depends on your workplace, so follow your colleagues’ lead. The same applies to the next phrase, which you can use if you want to praise someone’s work:

14. Ik ben erg blij met jouw/uw werk. (“I am very happy with your work.”) 

This is a more formal compliment that you can say to some of your employees. 

15. Goed bezig! (“Doing good!”) 

This is a more casual compliment that works well with coworkers.

16. Bedankt voor de fijne samenwerking. (“Thank you for the nice collaboration.”) 

This phrase is most appropriate after you’ve finished a project with someone, and not if you’re going to keep on working with that person.

Are you feeling comfortable with a certain coworker and would like to ask them out for a drink after work sometime? Then the following phrase will come in handy:

17. Heb je zin om na werk wat te drinken? (“Would you like to have a drink after work?”)

Doing business with Dutchies isn’t all about time spent in the workplace; it’s also about forming relationships. In the Netherlands, it’s quite common to drink after work on Fridays with colleagues. There’s even a word for it: vrijdagmiddagborrel (“the Friday afternoon drinks”). Depending on where you work, though, this afternoon drinking session could take place on a different day.

Get Friendly with Your Dutch Coworkers

4. Sound Smart in a Meeting

Would you like to sound smart in a meeting? All you need are some smooth but common business phrases in Dutch.

If you’re participating in a Dutch business meeting and would like to pitch an interesting idea or solution, throw in one of the following phrases:

18. Ik geloof dat we wel tot een compromis kunnen komen. (“I believe we can find a compromise.”)

19. Ik denk dat ik wel een oplossing kan voorstellen. (“I think I can suggest a solution.”)

If you’ve just finished your pitch or presentation, then end it with the following phrase:

20. Heel erg bedankt voor jullie aandacht. (“Thank you very much for your attention.”) 

Use jullie (“you,” plural) if there are several people in the meeting; if not, use uw in its place.

Is there something you would like to discuss in the next meeting? Then you can use this phrase:

21. Kunnen we dit tijdens de volgende vergadering bespreken? (“Can we discuss this matter during the following meeting?”)

By using even just one of these bad boys, you’ll definitely make an impression with your professional Dutch and your ability to get to the point and present your ideas.

5. Handling Business Phone Calls and Emails

Handling communication in Dutch business settings may be challenging, and you might struggle with which words you should or shouldn’t use.

To give you a head start, here are some phrases you’ll need when writing a Dutch business email:

22. Geachte heer, mevrouw, (“Dear Sir / Madam,”) 

You can start an email this way if you don’t know the name or gender of the person you’re writing to. If you do know the person’s name, you can write, for example: Geachte meneer Janssen (“Dear Mr. Janssen”).

Now that you’ve used the perfect formal email greeting and introduced yourself, you should continue with the following phrase to explain why you’re writing this email:

23. Wij schrijven u naar aanleiding van ___. ( “We are writing to you regarding ___.”) 

And to end the email in a polite way, use the following phrase:

24. Mocht u meer informatie willen, kunt u altijd contact met mij opnemen. (“If you require any further information, feel free to contact me.”)

Manage Those Phone Calls Like a Pro

Let’s now continue with some useful Dutch for business phone calls:

25. Hallo, u spreekt met ___. (“Hello, you are talking with ___.”)

26. Spreek ik met ___? (“Am I speaking with ___?”)

27. Ik bel u vanwege ___. (“I am calling you because ___.”)

What if someone is calling you, and you’re unsure of what to do or how to connect them with someone else? Just use this phrase and put them on hold:

28. Een momentje alstublieft. (“Please wait for a moment.”)

6. Going on a Business Trip

Last but definitely not least, what phrases do you need to know for going on a business trip to the Netherlands

Let’s first have a look at some phrases that can be useful in your hotel or during other moments of your business trip:

29. Ik heb een kamer gereserveerd. (“I have a reservation [for a room].”)

30. Ik ben hier voor zaken. (“I’m here on business.”)

31. Accepteert u credit cards? (“Do you accept credit cards?”)

If your host has been especially helpful and kind to you, then definitely use the following phrase when saying your goodbyes:

32. Bedankt voor de gastvrijheid. (“Thank you for your hospitality.”)

    → Would you like to learn more business Dutch phrases? Have a look at our lesson library and learn business Dutch for beginners alongside other useful words and phrases.

7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

Let’s Get Down to Business in Dutch

In this guide, you’ve learned all about business Dutch phrases, from the basics to useful phrases for job interviews, interactions with coworkers, meetings, emails, phone calls, and business trips. Which of these common business phrases in Dutch will you use the most?

Are you ready to get down to business in the Netherlands? Or would you like more help first?

DutchPod101 has many free resources, such as vocabulary lists with audio recordings, to help you prepare for any business setting.

Or do you prefer a private teacher? DutchPod101 also offers personal one-on-one coaching with our Premium PLUS MyTeacher service. Boost your Dutch with your private teacher’s interactive exercises, personalized feedback, and useful tips.

Happy learning, and good luck in your business endeavors!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Business Words and Phrases in Dutch

The Dutch Carnaval: Who Wants Another Beer?

If you grew up celebrating Halloween, then you already have a good idea of the main component of Carnaval celebrations in the Netherlands: dressing up in costume! But what about the bar-hopping? Or the insane float parades? And how exactly did this holiday originate? 

In this article, we’ll discuss the key aspects of Carnaval in the Netherlands and provide you with a list of useful vocabulary to know for the holiday. Enjoy!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch

1. What is Carnival in the Netherlands?

A Giant Clown Float

Carnival (also spelled Carnaval) is a three-day Christian celebration observed in several countries around the world. The Dutch Carnaval is mainly celebrated in the nation’s southernmost regions—especially in Limburg and Brabant—which are largely Katholiek (Catholic)

The holiday originated from a pagan tradition that encouraged heavy feasting prior to winter food shortages. Over time, Carnival became more associated with Catholicism and eventually came to be celebrated as a way to indulge and use up perishable food before Lent.

However, even in the more religious regions of the Netherlands, Carnival has lost most (if not all) of its religious meaning. From a social point of view, the holiday is also a time to reverse societal roles: those who are poor can mock the rich by wearing silly clothing, people can show defiance toward authorities, and everyone is expected to dress like—and become—a different person or character for the duration of the holiday. 

Carnival in the Netherlands is really just a time of fun, laughter, and letting go of one’s daily worries and frustrations. It can be a crazy time, but also an opportunity to make great memories! 


2. Dutch Carnival Dates

Because the dates of Carnival depend on the dates of Easter and Lent, it takes place on a different day each year. The holiday immediately precedes the other major religious holidays of Vastenavond (Shrove Tuesday) and Aswoensdag (Ash Wednesday). For your convenience, here’s an overview of its start and end dates for the next ten years. 

  • 2021: February 14 – February 16
  • 2022: February 27 – March 1 
  • 2023: February 19 – February 21
  • 2024: February 11 – February 13
  • 2025: March 2 – March 4
  • 2026: February 15 – February 17
  • 2027: February 7 – February 9
  • 2028: February 27 – February 29
  • 2029: February 11 – February 13
  • 2030: March 3 – March 5

3. Traditions for the Dutch Carnival 

Men Hanging Out at a Pub

This vibrant traditie (tradition) begins once a “key to the city” has been given to the Carnival Prince, a member of the region who has been chosen by the Carnival Committee. Once the keys have been handed over, it’s time to unlock the fun! 

From this moment on, you can find myriads of people in any given kroeg (pub). Drinking is a major part of this holiday, and rightfully so—Carnival is meant to be a time of lightheartedness and jest. It’s also the perfect occasion to feesten (party) and don a unique kostuum (costume). Many people verkleden (dress up) as clowns, jesters, royalty, animals, food items, and even as the opposite gender!

People perform a popular dance during this holiday called the Polonaise. This is a traditional Polish dance (Polonais is French for “Polish”), and it was first incorporated into Dutch Carnival celebrations in the 1400s. It is a slow style of dance done in triple meter. Another popular dance style is the hossen, during which a group of people jumps up and down together. 

If you want to experience a Carnival parade, the Netherlands will have plenty of them! Special Carnival associations often put on parades featuring outlandish floats, which often depict political and/or religious leaders, as well as recent events, in a less-than-stellar light. Many of the parades will start at 11:11 or 12:11 (because eleven is seen as a fool’s number), and you can find these parades in most southern and eastern regions. Keep reading for additional information on where to visit for the best experience. 

4. Best Places for Carnival in the Netherlands

Are you planning to visit the Netherlands for Carnival in the near future? Then you should prepare your trip in advance by deciding which locations you’ll want to hit! Keep in mind that, during the three days of Carnival, all participating cities change their names. 

Here are a few Limburg and Brabant Carnaval celebrations you shouldn’t miss.

Maastricht 

  • Carnival Name: Mestreech 

The Maastricht Carnival celebrations are the largest in the entire country, with a range of events and activities to take part in. If you want to experience a lot of festivity in a shorter amount of time, this is the place to be! 

The most notable event is the eleven shots fired at exactly 12:11 in the afternoon of the first celebration day, which takes place after the raising of the Prince’s Flag. From that point on, you can look forward to an exciting, largely outdoor Carnival experience. From a brass band competition to dancing, parades, and family-friendly events, there’s something for everyone! A short hour’s drive away, you’ll also find plenty of celebrations going on in Eindhoven. 

Tilburg 

Tilburg is most known for its orchestras, concerts, and pub crawling—the perfect combination, don’t you think? Of course, you can also enjoy watching the Tilburg Carnaval parade with a drink (or two) in hand! 

Den Bosch

Den Bosch may simultaneously have the most family-friendly and the most unique celebrations in the Netherlands. It’s notorious for its Youth Carnival, featuring a parade geared toward younger audiences (no inappropriate floats like you’re bound to see in other parades). To end the Den Bosch celebrations, a doll dressed as a farmer is buried; this is a symbolic show of respect for someone named Knillis who is said to have founded the city. 

Venlo

  • Carnival Name: Jocus Riék

The first thing you should know is that while Maastricht might have the largest celebration, Venlo has the oldest. If you visit Venlo for Carnival, you can look forward to 12+ parades, a Boétezitting event, and a farmer’s wedding event. Check it out! 

5. Vocabulary to Know Before Carnival

Traditional Dutch Wooden Shoes with Tulips in Them

To conclude, let’s take a look at some useful vocabulary associated with Carnival in the Netherlands:

  • Kermis (Fair) – feminine noun 
  • Kroeg (Pub) – masculine noun 
  • Kostuum (Costume) – neuter noun 
  • Vastenavond (Shrove Tuesday) – masculine noun 
  • Verkleden (Dress up) – verb
  • Limburg (Limburg) – neuter proper noun 
  • Praalwagen (Float) – masculine noun 
  • Katholiek (Catholic) – adjective
  • Traditie (Tradition) – feminine noun 
  • Polonaise (Polonaise) – feminine noun 
  • Aswoensdag (Ash Wednesday) – masculine proper noun 
  • Feesten (Party) – verb
  • Kater (Hangover) – masculine noun
  • Brabant (Brabant) – neuter proper noun 

If you would like to practice your pronunciation, head over to our Carnival vocabulary list, where you’ll find recorded audio pronunciations of each word! 

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed our article on Carnival in the Netherlands and that you’re craving even more cultural knowledge now! 

Do you celebrate Carnival in your country, or maybe a similar holiday? Tell us about it in the comments! 

If you can’t wait to feel the Netherland’s soil beneath your feet, but don’t yet feel confident in your language skills or cultural know-how, you’re in the right place. Here are some more blog posts from DutchPod101.com we think you’ll enjoy:

And this barely even scratches the surface of everything we have in store for our students! Create your free lifetime account today to gain access to hundreds of video and audio lessons, themed vocabulary lists, and our spaced repetition flashcards. It’s our aim to make learning Dutch fun, easy, and effective. 

Happy learning from the DutchPod101.com team!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch