Current Dutch Culture


The Netherlands is a culturally very diverse country, with inhabitants from all over the globe. Especially in the large cities: Amsterdam for instance has people from 170+ nationalities living there.

The original inhabitants are (in)famous for being straightforward, very direct and speaking their minds, which foreigners sometimes might see as rude. But don't worry! It's (usually) not meant that way! :-) One of the other main characteristics of Dutch people is that they're very down-to-earth. Show-offs and people who brag about how much money they're worth are usually put to their place. There's a Dutch saying (Doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg!) which would literally translate into something like: ''Just act normal, then you're acting crazy enough as it is!''.

The Dutch are very open to other cultures; something that reflects on the cuisine as well. Traditionally, a standard evening meal would consist of potatoes, vegetables and a piece of meat, but foreign products and ingredients are more and more added to the daily cooking.

As it being such an open and internationally orientated country, almost everyone can make him- or herself understandable in English and/or another language, besides Dutch. That doesn’t mean that the residents won’t appreciate it when you, as a foreign traveler, try to speak Dutch. You’ll probably find though that people tend to rapidly switch to English, since they feel that to be easier and faster.

When meeting a Dutch person, it’s very common to shake hands or when you know someone better, to give that person three ‘’kisses’’ on the cheeks. A big no-no is to ask someone how much money he or she makes in a year! Asking that would be considered VERY rude and would end up in getting a snappy answer like ‘’none of your business’’.

The Netherlands is also well known for it’s liberal attitude towards specific subjects, such as gay rights or marriage, euthanasia, soft drugs, freedom of speech, abortion etc. That doesn’t mean that locals can’t get extremely upset sometimes when it comes to ‘’drug tourism’’. Smoking a joint in public is not recommended and could give you a lot of angry faces. Locals in Amsterdam for instance love tourists, but can’t stand people who only go there to get stoned and/or drunk. As in all liberal societies, there are two sides of the medal. Yes, you allowed to do and say a lot but you also have to get along and compromise and be diplomatic to keep the peace.