The Common Question To Avoid Asking Strangers While On A Trip In The Netherlands

The Netherlands is an incredible place to visit, from its charming canals to the proliferation of windmills, dykes, and cafes. You can visit the 800-year-old tourist-favorite Amsterdam (bring comfortable walking shoes), take some day trips outside of the city, like the Waterland villages of Edam, Volendam, and Marken, and see some astonishing art and architecture. The people are usually pretty straightforward and pragmatic, and many speak English. However, there is a conversational faux pas that you should keep in mind. It's considered rude to ask what someone does for a living in the Netherlands, or anything that references a class system or hierarchy, money, or assets. In fact, personal questions in general are to be avoided when first meeting strangers.


Personal questions aren't the only way to start a conversation, of course. There are topics like weather and sports to chat about, the beautiful things you've seen, or a request for good restaurant recommendations. It's also worth trying out a few Dutch phrases which you can learn on Duolingo or other language apps for travelers. But there are even more things you should know about the Netherlands before visiting for the first time. 

What to know about Dutch culture

There are other things to keep in mind when visiting the Netherlands, and one of them is punctuality. It's expected that you'll be on time to any appointments, and if you're going to be even a little late, call to let people know. When meeting someone for the first time, a handshake is very important. While friends will often kiss each other on the cheek three times, formal and new acquaintances should shake hands and introduce themselves with their full names. (Speaking your name clearly is also good phone etiquette in the Netherlands.) 


Showing up at someone's home unannounced is something thing to avoid. If you're invited, however, make sure to bring a small host gift, but not something expensive because it can make people feel uncomfortable. Avoid lilies and chrysanthemums as they signal mourning. When dining, large tips are not expected, though many people tend to round up a bill or leave around a 10 percent tip for good service. 

Another thing to avoid is bragging or boasting about your accomplishments. While it's pretty common in America to have a discussion about something wonderful that happened to you, it's considered rude in the Netherlands. Finally, look people in the eye, as it is part of the communication style .