4 things that are hard to find in the Netherlands

Do you ever arrive in a new place and expect things to work just as you’re used to? Yes, I’ve made that mistake as well. Things that may seem simple, like the opening and closing hours of shops, we often take for granted.

In day-to-day life, this means you sometimes end up searching and searching for certain things that seem normal to you, but with no success on the horizon. Especially in the Netherlands, there are just some things that are harder to find here. 🔎 Here are a few examples:

1. A café that’s open before 9 AM

Picture this: you’re ready to start yet another home office day and fancy a nice cup of coffee. I mean the really good kind of coffee — the kind that you don’t get from your own coffee maker perhaps. ☕

Well, the possibility of a nice café being open (yes, the one that says “coffee roasters” and has eight different kinds of beans from pretty much all across the world) before 9 AM might prove to be a bit tricky.

READ MORE | Dutch coffee culture — is there such a thing?

Unless you are ready to conform to a pretty average cappuccino in the typical franchise place, you’re out of luck! I have nothing against them, but they might not even have the barista oat milk you like. Oh, the horror! 😱

As a result, you are left with no caffeine in your system for the first couple of Zoom meetings.

2. A convenient place to print stuff

Another great mystery: why is it that if you don’t own a printer, you have to walk for what seems like a lot (but is probably just two kilometres) to the one and only copy place available in a 10-kilometre radius?

Okay, I might have really bad luck, but I just find it weird. I live pretty much in the centre of The Hague and my only option for printing is definitely not nearby. Although for a minute there I was sure I had another place closer, only to be rejected because they only cater to businesses who buy in bulk.

READ MORE | Living in the real capital of the Netherlands: The Hague

Um…did I miss the memo where regular people don’t need photocopies or printers anymore? 🤔

3. Closing stores after 6 PM

Okay, this one is not entirely true. On Thursdays, for example, shops, along with other unrelated establishments such as the local municipality (gemeente), do close later than 6 PM (about 8 or 9 PM). What is it about Thursdays? 📆

sorry-we're-closed-sign
Everything closes after 6 PM in the Netherlands. Image: pitamaha/Depositphotos

Bottom line, if you don’t plan your shopping for that specific day or for the weekend, you will find yourself running towards the store the minute you sign off your daily work-related duties, which end around 5 PM for most people.

If you somehow manage to make it before closing time, you end up rushing through your options… and, honestly, who wants to shop like that? 🙄

4. A place open before noon on Monday

I have to say, I don’t know if I feel envy or admiration for these folks — maybe a combination of both?

Most of the retail businesses, convenience stores, hairdressers, and pretty much everyone else are either closed on Mondays (which is fair enough, when they are open on Saturdays and/or Sundays), or they decide to only open at noon.

Yes, noon. I guess opening your store early on a Monday is simply too traumatic after a long weekend? 🤷🏼‍♀️

Maybe this is just another memo I didn’t get, but when you grew up in a country where the supermarket opening hours are Monday to Sunday from 7 AM to 11 PM, 365 days a year (it’s called shifts, friends), well… this kind of stuff comes as a bit of a surprise.


While it’s fun to “complain” about these things that feel so different from our home countries, I feel like it goes without saying that little details like these are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Especially with the stressful pandemic, we’re all going through a lot right now.

I encourage you to always see the positive side of the circumstances life throws at you, at all of us really. We got this! Keep holding the light wherever you go. ✨

What do you struggle to find in the Netherlands? Tell us in the comments!

Feature Image: fransz/Depositphotos

Laila Robles Martínez
Laila Robles Martínez
Laila is a journalist born and raised in Mexico City, and has lived in Canada (a semester in high school counts, right?), Spain (where she met the love of her life and completed her Master’s Degree in Humanities) and most recently, The Netherlands. She has great passion for exploring new cultures, mothering her beautiful three-year-old son, tasting all kinds of vegan treats and, of course, writing.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. It has been a while since my short-term stay (summer of 2015) but I never found good Mexican food. Perhaps this has changed.

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