5 clichés about the Dutch that are absolutely true

We can't deny these clichés.

There are many clichés about the Dutch. Some can be damaging, some are downright wrong, and some have a grain of truth to them.

After living here for a year, I have narrowed down to five clichés about the Dutch that are, in most cases, absolutely true. 💁

1. They are super frugal

Ever heard the expression “going Dutch?” While not all dates turn out this way, you’re more likely to end up paying for at least some of your own meals if you date a Dutchie.

READ MORE | Tikkie etiquette: the do’s and don’ts of asking for money in the Netherlands

Being goedkoop (cheap) is frequently seen as a big selling point for many products and services in the Netherlands.

photo-of-person-paying-with-card-on-machine
The Dutch cliche about stinginess can ring true sometimes. Image: Freepik

Dutch people love a bargain (but who doesn’t?), and sometimes this trait doesn’t always come across so well.

READ MORE | 14 downright stingy things Dutch people do

However, some people might just see this as being more frugal and less materialistic than other nations.

And it certainly doesn’t have to mean that they have less fun! Perhaps not spending as much money leaves more room for other ways of enjoying life.

2. They are obsessed with bikes

Ahh yes, the bicycle is another cliché about the Dutch.

bike-with-stuff-in-front
The humbled bakfiets — a common sight on the streets of the Netherlands. Image: Depositphotos

Although not invented by the Dutch (it was German inventor Karl Drais who invented the precursor to the modern bicycle in 1817), this two-wheeled mode of transport is a hallmark of the Netherlands.

Perhaps it’s because it’s so small and flat and, therefore, relatively easy to manoeuvre with two pedals.

READ MORE | The flying Dutchies: 8 marvellous things about the Dutch and their bikes

Or, perhaps it’s because bicycles save space and are environmentally friendly.

But the point is, if you want to fit into Dutch life, you should probably get a bicycle.

This can be a good thing if it is making exercise and freedom more accessible for those who are less mobile.

READ MORE | Dutch Quirk #3: cycle more than they walk

It also means that older generations are suddenly much speedier than they’re used to, so keep your wits about you.

3. Frank Dutch uncles are a real thing

Ever heard of a Dutch uncle? No, I don’t mean a tall, distant relative called Jan or Matthijs.

This is another stereotype from abroad, which is noticeable if you come from a polite-to-the-point-of-passive-aggressive culture like the UK.

old-dutch-people-using-swear-words
This Dutch uncle won’t hesitate to tell your aunt her outfit looks terrible! Image: Depositphotos

The Dutch are direct, blunt, no-nonsense people. They won’t pretend to like something just because they think it might offend you.

On the one hand, it is very “refreshing”, as you will know exactly where you stand — but it can also come as a bit of a shock.

READ MORE | Dutch Quirk 42: Be overwhelmingly direct and never beat around the bush

It might seem a little harsh at first, but you should get used to it if you plan to spend any amount of time in the Netherlands.

4. They love — and I mean LOVE — cheese

I love cheese. I have always said, “I could be a vegan if it weren’t for cheese.”

People-carrying-cheese-wheels-in-the-alkmaar-cheese-market
Cheese, beloved cheese! Image: Depositphotos

Maybe I thought I would fit right in, and in many ways, I do, particularly when it comes to kaas.

READ MORE | Dutch cheese varieties: the comprehensive (and cheesy) guide

But be warned, if you are a strict vegan, the yellow stuff is everywhere: from delicious kaassouffles (cheese souffles) to boterhamen (sandwiches), you’d better get used to it because the Dutch put it in pretty much everything.

5. They are ridiculously tall

This is probably the most obviously apparent one of the clichés about the Dutch when you arrive in the Netherlands.

The Dutch are officially the tallest nation in the world — but we’re still shocked at how tall some people are here.

Many of us come to the Netherlands being average or above average height, but here…we’re dwarfed in comparison to the average Dutch person.


Of course, not all clichés and stereotypes are true, but we’ve found that these five are accurate across the board.

Do you think these clichés about Dutch people are true? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Feature Image:Depositphotos

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18 COMMENTS

  1. I think an important one is missing: Dutch Stubborness – There’s no more stoic people than the Dutch. It’s “maybe” somewhat related to frankness but it goes far beyond that. If a Dutchman has set his (or her) mind to something, it’s going to happen. It’s how half the country was drained and made into a tiny, but sprawling, nation; how the Dutch kept an 80 years long guerilla war against the Spanish going until the latter said “F#ck it! Keep your soggy soil, flat piece of land then!”; refuse to accept common morality/ethics as the rest of the world and (thankfully!) stick to their own (gay marriage, soft drugs and so forth); most importantly – have you ever fought a Dutchman on any kind of issue they disagree with? It’s not just the frankness, you’d need a gun if not bigger to convince a Dutchie they’re wrong…

    OH! And the (arguably) disgusting food reputation we have, I of course love most of it, but to the foreigner it’s all a wee bit of a giant, steaming mess and from an international “haute cuisine” perspective they’re not wrong!

    • Dutch people understand the English, French, German and American points of view and they are right more often because they have a high IQ and are multi lingual. We are very sorry other people are not up to that level of comprehension, and are unable to synthesise differing views because we like to communicate too. I left the Netherlands when I was 3 years old and I live in Australia and Thailand and speak better English than Dutch but Dutch humour is much better than any English language humour, if you can understand it.

  2. Okay, as a Dutch person living in the States, can I just add that I have never, no NEVER seen so many dishes with cheese (disgusting cheese may I add) as here in the States? Cheese on a tuna sandwich? Something the Dutch would never do! But being tall, yes this is true. It took a move to another continent to be considered ‘tall’. I am the shortest in my family and not considered tall at all, but here in the US people call me tall even if I wear flats! I love it!

    • Edith schriever.. Some and I mean some americans in a dinner might put cheese on a tuna melt sandwich or cheddar on a tuna sandwich which is no worse then ALL dutch people do by putting disgusting tuna on a “SCHWARMA” Pizza which you guys actually believe is a pizza. Talk about down right disgusting. Sorry to say but dutch food is some of the plainest boring disgusting food in Europe and I have had them all. Its a absolute disgrace what you guys even call pizza! Its schwarma pizza its not even real pizza tomato sauce. Yet you guys are a few hours drive from the holy grail of pizza countries in the world. How can you screw up a pizza leave it to the dutch.. We wont even begin to talk about what the dutch call “MEXICANS” food.. You think putting paparika on a ground up deep fried piece of mystery meat is a mexican dish I have to stop from laughing. This is the funniest one of them all the Dutch actually dress up in their sundays best cloths and go to eat dinner at “taco bell” lol like its some fine dining experience or fancy place to eat! Its american fast food that poor college kids eat in the USA. Yet the dutch think they can brag to their friends that they ate at the local 3 or 5 taco bells that the netherlands has. Talk about cheese the dutch only know 50 kinds of cheese of the same variant nothing actually different from each type. They are all basically the same. The reason you call American cheese bad is because you most likely sound like some poor foreign student studying in the united states who eats at cheap Dennys restaurants or dinners on the east coast. Try going to a decent restaurant and eating better cheeses. Am I totally mean about the dutch no I will say they make dam fine bread or kibbling or pintakaas. Yes the dutch are tall and we know your tall so stop bragging your tall in the usa no one cares and if anything you stand out like stork lost in a sea of people.

  3. […] Second of all, you are probably going to have a much more “real Dutch” experience rather than a simply international one, compared to your exchange. Note that this is not a bad thing! Many of your colleagues are from the Netherlands, and maybe you have more dutch roommates than internationals, not living in an international student house anymore. This means you could be not exposed to new cultural differences every day, but on the other hand you will learn a lot more about culture, traditions and behavior of your second home. I promise that the many stereotypes (being cheap, or not able to flirt… ?) are not true. (Bluntness, on the other hand, is a real thing here!)  […]

  4. As a Dutch born, but now living in Canada, I like to mention the following. I’m a senior now but lived my first 28 years in Holland.
    Then, people were not tall. At least not a tall as I heard they are now. Sure, there were tall people, but the nation with the tallest people? No way…….
    I am talking about the 50’s – 70’s……….
    Heb een heerlijke dag allemaal………❤️??

  5. Pretty accurate. But I always thought the expression Dutch uncle in fact referred to a stereotype about Germans. They supposedly liked to tell you off. Not the same thing as Dutch bluntness.

  6. Dutch people in most of the Netherlands are tall and blonde, but it’s not a nationwide trait. Go down to Limburg or Noord Brabant and the locals are mostly quite short – more like Belgians which historically they’re ethnically closer too.

  7. No now mentioned A DUTCH OVEN or what the call in the North of ENGLAND a Jacuzzi.

    I have never met a tighter bunch of people in all honesty.

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