There are many free things to do for family when in the Netherlands (as well as for singles and couples). Gratis, or free (stuff), is a favorite thing of the Dutch people. Until now, this value is very visible in many aspects of the Dutch culture, whether it is giving good quality, second hand items for free, giving free stuffs on your birthday (see my blog in this link), or having free entrance to some museums and attractions. Thus, if you are on a tight budget, there is no need to pay for expensive attractions or museums to discover this lowland country. You can do most of them for free. In this blog, I will discuss some of the free things to do in the Netherlands for a truly Dutch experience.
Free things to do for family in the Netherlands
1. Visit the nature parks.
The Netherlands has many renowned nature parks that are free to visit for visitors. These could be the Veluwe, De Biesbosch, National Park Lauwermeer, Utrechtse Heuvelreug, and many more. See this link from Dutch Review for the lists of these nature parks. These nature parks are scattered throughout the country so you will surely be close to one of them. The free things to do in the Netherlands’ nature park include walking, biking, discovering various animal and plant species, and enjoying picnics with family and friends.
2. Visit the Dutch beaches.
The beaches in the Netherlands are also popular attraction, not only for locals, but also for many tourists. The western part of the Netherlands is facing the North Sea, and thus have a long stretching white sand coast. The Netherlands also has five islands to the north that are beautiful in its own way. See my blog about the Family holidays in the Dutch beaches for more information about the popular beaches to visit. Note that the visit to the beach is for free, some beaches have less visitors while some can be very busy. All you have to do is find your own space, relax and admire the beauty of the Dutch beach. The free activities to do for family in the Netherlands’ beaches include sun bathing, volleyball, swimming, making castle sands, reading books, or simply relaxing while doing hands off parenting with kids.
3. Do bike tour with your family.
Biking is also one of the nice free activities to do for family in the Netherlands. This lowland country has special bike lines to make biking safe for everyone. Biking allows you to go to many places without worrying about the cost of gasoline (since it is for free). It also enables you to breath fresh air and to make sure that you are in good health. For others who are into biking sport, they often use biking as the only means of traveling throughout the the Netherlands as well as in other European countries. Special bikes can be used for family such as the bakfiets (cargo bikes) for family with children, or children seats attached in front or back of the bikes. Want an inspiration for a bike tour, check my blog on Tour villages along Nederrijn by bike during summer.
4. Enjoy picnic with family and friends in the park or nature views.
Since the Netherlands is rich with parks and nature sights, you can almost do picnic anywhere. You can do picnic close to the close-by parks, river, beaches, forests, or in the grass field with beautiful nature views. Preparing for picnic doesn’t cost much as compared to eating in restaurants, plus it is cozy to eat in the nature.
5. Visit (animal) farms.
Most of the (animal) farms in the Netherlands are free to visit. In fact, if you are in any town or city, check if they have stadsboerderij (city farm) because these farms are free to visit and are subsidized by the gemeente (city or municipal/town halls). Children can discover animals and enjoy play ground for free. In some commercialize farms, visits are also often free on a condition that you are not allowed to bring consumables and instead buy your food or farm products in the farm. Curious about what you see and can do in the farm, see my blog Geintenboerderij Riddamerhoeve for example.
6. Do outings in the market.
Every city or town has their own market. Going to the market makes you integrated in the daily lives of the Dutch. The free things to do in the market include enjoying some food tasting (most have free tasting of cheeses, bread, etc.), enjoying the view of the city center, or simply relaxing while drinking coffee in the market.
7. Visit free museums and castles.
One way to learn the history of the Netherlands is by visiting museums and castle. Most museums have entrances but there are also some that are for free or open for public. Check out this link from Dutch Review for some of the free museums to visit. Alternatively, you can also visit some castles. Some are for free, unless you enter a castle museum. Going on a castle is good for photo shoots and for experiencing how the noblemen lived in the past.
8. Enjoy free parties or activities on national celebrations.
The Netherlands has lots of free parties and activities during national holidays. Most of the gemeente provide budget on this, while some volunteer groups sponsor activities, to make sure that everyone can enjoy the national celebration for free. Some of the big celebrations to look out for every year include the King’s day (April 27), Liberation day (May 4-5), Sinterklaas (2nd week Novermber – December 5), Christmas (December 24-26) and New Year (December 31). Free activities to do for family during these celebrations include enjoying the free play ground for children, free concerts or music events, and free food (especially during Christmas).