3 min1 July 2022

How to avoid cultural faux pas in the Netherlands?

When going to a foreign country, it is very easy to commit a cultural faux pas. After all, each country has its own customs, and we, as foreigners, often do not know them well. Therefore, in order to help you avoid awkward situations in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, we have prepared this article so you can avoid them. With us, you will be better prepared to meet the Dutch! Are you curious what is considered a lack of culture or quirk in the Netherlands? Keep reading!

Dutch hospitality

Dutch hospitality is rather… economical. Do not expect a richly set table and the hosts who run around among the guests constantly trying to please them. First of all: you do not come here spontaneously, just because you were passing by. You always have to make an advance announcement, even to family members! Secondly: it is not appropriate to come to the guests empty-handed – you should have wine, something sweet or flowers with you. Third: it is said that the guest can drink two coffees and eat one cake. Maybe not literally “one piece”, but gluttony or a request for an extra cake may be badly received by the Dutch. Fourth: don’t take your shoes off when you enter someone else’s house. Fifth: yes, you’re not hallucinating – there is a calendar in the bathroom with all important dates marked. You might be surprised, but just think how practical it really is.


In some countries, you don’t need too much familiarity to greet each other with a hug or a kiss. In others, we greet each other with a handshake – always. There are also countries where the pinnacle of male elegance is kissing a woman’s hand. Don’t you dare try these things on Dutch and Dutch women! Especially kissing women on the hands – no one here knows this custom and certainly will not look at it with a kind eye. When it comes to handshakes, such a greeting is used in formal professional situations rather than on a daily basis.

At work

If you work in an office job where you can go get something to drink at any time and there are other people in your room, ALWAYS ask them if they want something to be brought for them. This is very important, even if they always say no, it is expected to ask. You can also make mistakes at work that will be forgiven, but one thing you will never forget: no cake on your birthday. You can bake it, you can buy it, but you have to bring it. If a Dutch friend invites you to a birthday party, remember two things: do not be late and make birthday wishes not only to the birthday person but also to their relatives.

We hope that we have covered the topic well enough to make you feel more confident in the Netherlands around the Dutch! And we wish you epic blunders to stay away from you!


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