Making Dutch friends as an international: our 21 best tips

Ready to win a Dutchie's heart? 👯‍♀️

The Netherlands has amazing perks (a healthy work-life balance, good public transportation, yummy fried snacks, anyone?), but making friends as an international? That can be tricky.

Whether you’ve just moved to the Netherlands or you’ve been living here for some time, making a local friend isn’t always easy. But het komt wel goed (it will be alright), here are some tips and tricks to make it easier to socialise with Dutchies and break into their circle.

1. Step out of the international bubble 

If you’re planning to stay in the Netherlands long term, it’s worth the effort to step out of the international comfort zone and invest in local friendships. 

Talk to your Dutch classmates and colleagues, and attend Dutch events. Welcome them into your bubble, and they might let you into theirs — or heck, you might create a whole new bubble of your own! 

Two-male-students-walking-together-after-university-class-in-the-Netherlands-getting-to-know-each-other
Go talk to your Dutch classmates and ask them to hang out; they won’t bite! Image: Pexels

2. Join Dutch social clubs

Looking for something to do on a weekly basis? While it may be tempting to join solely international social clubs, try to opt for one that is more local. 

There are many websites out there that offer social clubs, such as Meetup or Expat Centre — just make sure to sign up for those that welcome Dutch people too! 🥂

Social-club-in-the-Netherlands-group-of-people-playing-instruments-singing-and-socialising-together-making-Dutch-friends
Get ready to mingle, get out of your comfort zone, and bond over the same interests! Image: Freepik

3. Embrace Dutch directness

Have you ever met a local who says something that sounds like an insult? Dutch bluntness can throw you off. 

But that’s just Dutch people being, well, Dutch. If you can’t beat them, join them! Ask how their divorce is going, tell them their hair looks weird today — get direct, then at least you’re on the same level.

READ MORE | We asked readers about their experiences with the infamous Dutch directness 

And hey, they might even decide that this international noob is worth being friends with.

4. Learn some Nederlands

There is nothing worse than when you’re with a group of Dutch people, and you can’t join the conversation due to the language barrier. 

READ MORE | The top 16 free ways to learn Dutch

You don’t have to become fluent in Dutch (it’s a hard language to master, we know), but just understanding the basics can get you far. By simply saying hoi or hoe gaat het (how are you), you’re proving to the Dutch that you’re trying — and you want to be friends. 

photo-of-woman-speaking-dutch-in-cafe-with-green-plants-to-friend
A little Dutch goes a long way! Image: Freepik

5. Know the Dutch rules of body contact

 Dutch people are known to be inviting and open-minded — but showing affection? Not so much. The first rule of body contact: do not hug.

Be mindful of this guideline. While hugging is a nice way to be greeted by someone, you might lose some bonus points if you hug your potential Dutch friend. 

Instead, either ask them if you can hug them or go for the common, less intense three-kiss policy to avoid any disaster. 😚

Close-Dutch-friends-hugging-other-people-greeting-each-other-by-holding-hands-at-home
Hugging someone you’re not close to? Dutchies say: not just yet! Image: Freepik

6. Invite your Dutch friend for a coffee

Have you made acquaintances with a Dutch person and want to get to know each other better? Go to a café together for some lekker koffie! ☕ 

After all, Dutchies love their coffee. According to recent statistics from the International Coffee Organization (ICO), the Dutch are among the world’s 20 biggest coffee drinkers, ranking in 5th place, and drinking up to four cups of coffee per day. 

A warm cappuccino? That’s sure to draw a Dutchie or two in. 

photo-of-women-sitting-on-Dutch-terrace-after-inviting-a-Dutch-friend-for-coffee
Invite your friend over for a nice cup of coffee outside in a Dutch café! Image: Depositphotos

7. Become the ultimate planner            

Forget being spontaneous and meeting a Dutch friend last minute or arriving at a friend’s house unannounced. 

The Dutch value their spare time and like to create a well-structured and balanced life, which means checking their agenda before they confirm meeting up. 

Time to join in with this Dutch custom and whip out a planner of your own, trust us, they’ll appreciate it. 📔

8. Be open-minded — the Dutch love to debate!

One of the biggest turn-offs for a Dutch person? Having a small and narrow mind. The Dutch love to debate and are always up for a good discussion, from politics to the news. 

The Dutch believe in expressing your own opinion as long as you’re respectful of theirs. So, don’t be afraid to join in these debates and make some enemies — which can turn into friends as a result. 

Two-females-debating-together-outside-a-Dutch-cafe-making-friends
Dutch people can be very argumentative; join in and enjoy the rebuttal! Image: Freepik

9. Join a sports club 

Put yourself out there by joining a Dutch sports club or association. 🤺

The Netherlands has about 25,000 sports clubs spread across the country, ranging from yoga to running, cycling, fitness, and even fierljeppen

READ MORE | 15 international sports you can easily play in the Netherlands

Joining a sport is a great way to meet some Dutchies and put your Nederlands to practice. There’s no better way to forge some strong friendships than by sharing some blood, sweat, passion, and tears.

photo-of-girls-exercising-together-at-a-sports-club-in-the-Netherlands-making-Dutch-friends-at-the-gym
Get active and make a friend along the way! Image: Freepik

10. Be shameless and just start talking! 

At the end of the day, you’re just going to have to be confident and strike up a conversation with a Dutchie — in Dutch. Oee echt eng!  

The more you practice, the less scary it will be. Talk to people around you: your local barista, your neighbour, that person you regularly see at the gym. 

Don’t know what to talk about? Maybe just complain about the weather; it’s always a popular topic of conversation.

A-man-and-woman-talking-outside-making-Dutch-friends-through-engaging-conversation
Don’t be afraid to practice your Dutch with someone! Image: Freepik

11. Attend those borrels after work 

One of the best opportunities to make a Dutch friend is by attending the after-work borrels, also known as vrijmibo (Friday afternoon drinks.)

Those borrel evenings with colleagues are very important when it comes to getting to know and forging friendships with your co-workers. 

So, make the effort and get to know your colleagues in a non-working environment. Less stress, more drinks, more friends. 🍻

Group-of-coworkers-after-work-borrelen-together-at-a-Dutch-bar-with-beer-and-nachos
A mix between business networking and social interaction with colleagues: borrelen! Image: Freepik

12. Be positive about their country

Nobody likes it when a foreigner says negative things about the country they’re living in, and the Dutch are no exception. 

Instead of going, “you know what the Netherlands could improve on?” or “I hate the way…” try communicating what you like about living here (hint: great social benefits, advanced healthcare, vibrant nightlife, mouthwatering restaurants).

READ MORE | 7 reasons why living in the Netherlands will change your life

Flattery is certainly an easy way to friendship. 

13. Ask a Dutchie to come over to your place

What better way to get to know your new Dutch friend than in the cosiness of your own home? Invite them over for an afternoon tea or a home-cooked meal. If the Dutch love anything, it’s being gezellig. 🏡

By showing the Dutch your warm hospitality and the willingness to make an effort, how could they not want to be your friend? You know you’ve made it when they invite you over to their place in return!

Group-of-friends-looking-happy-and-toasting-with-wine-eating-dinner-together-at-home-making-Dutch-friends
There is nothing cosier than inviting a friend over for dinner! Image: Freepik

14. Approach them — don’t expect them to reach out first

Don’t wait around until you’re approached by a Dutchie, or else you’ll be waiting for a long time. The Dutch are not known to be conversation-starters. Instead, don’t be afraid to make the first move! 

Found someone that you want to get to know better? Don’t implement the three-day rule (that’s sooo 2000s). Text them and ask if they would be free to meet up for a drink or lunch! 

The worst thing that can happen is they simply don’t reply, or they decline — you have nothing to lose here.

Girl-typing-message-on-Whatsapp-to-a-new-potential-Dutch-friend
Go text that potential new Dutch friend to hang out! Image: Depositphotos

15. Join a taal café

Want to practice Dutch and meet a friend as a result? Try joining a taal café (language café). Important to keep in mind: you need to have a language level of at least A1.

A language café is not like actual Dutch lessons. Instead, you simply talk to each other in Dutch while sipping a cup of coffee or tea. ☕ Check out Meetup or libraries in your area to sign up!

Two-women-in-a-library-talking-to-each-other-in-Dutch-and-sipping-coffee-making-friends-through-learning-Dutch-together
The easiest way to practice Dutch is with a friend! Image: Freepik

16. Pay for the next round 

When Dutch people are together in a group, it’s normal to take turns paying for the next round of drinks. Just because you’re an international doesn’t mean that you don’t have to tag along in this custom. 😉

Show your Dutch spirit of hospitality by paying for the next round of beer. 

Group-of-young-people-toasting-with-their-beer-glasses-at-a-Dutch-pub-making-friends-through-social-hangouts
Cheers to beer and making new friends! Image: Pexels

17. Be a true Dutchie!

Show you want to fully integrate into Dutch culture by trying traditional Dutch things! 

Invite your new Dutch friend to tag along with you and let them show you what the Netherlands has to offer — celebrate King’s Day, share your Hello Fresh subscription, be brave and join the Nieuwjaarsduik (New Year’s Dive), or get dressed up for Carnival! 🤡

picture-of-a-woman-in-orange-clothing-celebrating-Dutch-kingsday
Be one of them! Image: Depositphotos

18. Start dating a Dutch person

If you ask us, one of the easiest and quickest ways to make Dutch friends is by dating a Dutch person

Then you can just steal your partner’s friends, and gradually become their favourite, no big effort involved! 😉 

READ MORE | 15 things to expect on a date with a Dutchie

All kidding aside, your partner will be introducing you to his/her friends, so it’s the perfect opportunity to embark on some new Nederlandse friendships. 

Romantic-couple-Dutch-man-and-international-woman-sitting-outside-a-cafe-together
Want to make a Dutch friend quickly with no effort required? Date a Dutch person! Image: Freepik

19. Cycle together

It might sound a little cliché but Dutchies cycle every day, why not join in, make some friends, and get in some exercise as well? Cycle to work or an event with a Dutchie. 

Want to take it to the next level and take a biking tour? After a long day of biking, you need a place to relax, and that is where Vrienden op de Fiets comes in handy. The hosts offer their home for a night, and you never know, you may make a friend for life.

READ MORE | Friends on the Bike: what is it, and how does it work?

Three-people-biking-together-in-Amsterdam-with-other-bikes-next-to-them-making-Dutch-friends-through-biking
Friends that bike together, stay together! Image: Freepik

20. Embrace common interests

Make a friend while pursuing a hobby. Whether it’s a language course, comedy night, cooking classes, volunteer work in the community centre, or just tangling up some balls of wool in an attempt to make a scarf, these events will surely make you socialise with like-minded Dutchies.

Sites such as We are what we do or Airbnb Experiences can help you get that foot in the door for social networking with locals. 

Group-of-young-people-in-a-kitchen-for-a-cooking-class-in-the-Netherlands-with-cooking-instructor-in-the-middle
Cooking classes are a great way to make new Dutch friends AND put your cooking skills to practice! Image: Depositphotos

21. Stay positive — it’s not easy, but it’s possible

Making a local friend starts by integrating with the Dutch — and that’s not going to happen overnight. However, over time, it will. So geen stress (no stress) if you’re one year in and don’t have a Dutch friend yet. 

The best thing about Dutch people? They’re incredibly loyal friends  — once you’re in, you’re in!  ✨

Group-of-smiling-Dutch-friends-taking-a-selfie-together-in-Amsterdam-on-their-bikes
Dutch friends aren’t easy to make, but once you make them, they’ll probably be for life! Image: Depositphotos

Remember — Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither are new friendships. Keep putting yourself out there, and we are confident a Dutch person will value your effort. 

What is your experience in making Dutch friends as an international? Tell us in the comments below!

 

Feature Image:Freepik
Francesca Burbano
Francesca Burbanohttps://burbanofrancesca.journoportfolio.com
Francesca is an international at heart but moved to the Netherlands to get her degree in media and communication. While she's not a big fan of the cold weather and biking (for good reason — she's been hit by bikes three times already), she fell in love with the canals, bitterballen, and the 'gezelligheid' of Dutch culture. When she's not writing, you'll find her reading thriller books, hitting her personal records at the gym, and cuddling up with her Ragdoll cat.

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