But what clever things are particularly Dutch? Here are just a few of the smart things Dutch people do — with a little help from our readers.
1. Be ready for rain on any occasion
If you live in a country that gets as much rain as the Netherlands, you learn to always be prepared.
Whether it’s constantly checking Buienradar (the Dutch rainfall app) before they leave the house, or carrying rain trousers just in case of an unexpected shower, the Dutch are masters at managing all things rain.
2. Put huge bins on cycling paths
Picture this, you’re riding along on your second-hand student bike, but you’ve still got that pesky wrapper from that frikandelbroodje you had for lunch.
Lucky for you, in some cities, the Dutch have already thought about that — and conveniently placed large round rubbish bins along the cycle paths.
It stops littering and makes you feel like you’re playing some kind of Olympic sport which the Dutch would obviously come out on top 🥇. Go for a ride and a shoot when you need a small win and want to feel like Michael Jordan.
3. Make a country by building dikes
As an old saying goes, “God created the world, but the Dutch created the Netherlands.” And okay, this is something the Dutch did a long time ago, but it’s still pretty “dam” impressive (pun intended😉).
… and it also explains why every other Dutchie you meet is studying water management.
READ MORE | 7 things the Dutch are ridiculously good at
As a quick explanation, the Dutch drained land from the sea by creating a number of dikes which are barriers used to hold back a body of water.
This practice started in the Middle Ages but increased tenfold during the Dutch Golden Age when they honed their skills in hydraulic engineering.
4. Master using a bike as a moving and delivery system
While we’re on the topic of bike-based multitasking, the Dutch seem to balance as much as humanly possible on the back of a bike.
Have you seen Dutchies towing suitcases, sofas, and even fridges between bikes? Yes, it is both as mad and impressive as it sounds.
In a holiday rendition of this skill, Dutchies also happen to transport Christmas trees using a bike. 🎄
5. Teach languages from a young age
You may have already twigged that the Dutch are the best non-native English speakers in the world since they seamlessly switch to English at the drop of a hat.
But how do they get to be so good at languages? Well, that’s because they start learning new languages from preschool already.
It’s really common in the Netherlands for children to attend bilingual, or trilingual kindergarten. This is such a smart thing to do while children are young and their brains are more adept at learning languages.
READ MORE | Why are the Dutch so good at speaking English?
So don’t be surprised if a Dutch child starts talking to you in English — they’re super evolved.
6. Hang a birthday calendar in the toilet
While it may seem slightly strange to think about your family and friends’ birthdays in the same room that you *ahem* “attend to business”, it’s actually pant-droppingly clever.
How else are you going to remember to get your aunty Inge her 60th birthday card if you’re not reminded every time you pee?
You also might’ve been tempted to add your name to an unsuspecting family calendar after a few too many biertjes.
7. Hoist furniture into a house using an external building hook
Don’t worry, it’s not as morbid as it sounds.
They are those large hooks you may have seen outside old Dutch houses. They’re used to pull furniture up by a rope pully system, which nowadays most Dutch van rentals offer for just a few euros.
You then guide the furniture through your big Dutch window. All of a sudden Dutch architecture is making sense, right?
8. Have a jar scraper for that last bit of peanut butter
No one likes waste, especially not the Dutch. So, of course, they invented the flessenlikker.
This is the Dutch device, which literally translates to “bottle licker,” that ensures you can get the last drop of sauce out of every bottle.
READ MORE | 14 downright stingy things Dutch people do
It was invented in the 60s when food manufacturers started packaging more food in glass containers. It’s now a staple of Dutch homes, so don’t be offended if they ask you to grab their flessenlikker. 😂
9. Make bus stops bee-friendly
Bus stops for bees sound like something out of Sesame Street, but this cute Dutch concept was brought to improve the air quality in Utrecht.
Over 300 “bee stops” were created by putting grass and wildflowers on the top of bus stops.
READ MORE | 15 weirdly cute things Dutch people do
These wild gardens encourage bees to pollinate the flowers and increase the biodiversity of the city. Who said you can’t save the bees and look gorgeous at the same time? 💁♀️
10. Use apps to keep track of who owes what
If you’ve been in the Netherlands for more than a minute, you’ll have heard of Tikkie. The Dutch app makes it incredibly easy to send people money.
Yes, you will get messages asking you for €0.50, but you’ll find yourself saying, “I’ll send you a Tikkie,” in no time.
You’ll never have to argue about splitting the bill again — you can be the hero and still get paid back when you send your hungover Tikkies the next day.
11. Having the iDeal alternative to credit cards
No more typing in that long credit card number, which you’ll find yourself doing less anyway since some sites only take iDeal payments.
The danger is it makes it far too easy to spend money, but at least you won’t rack up a hefty credit card bill.
READ MORE | 7 reasons the Dutch don’t do debt
Goodbye savings, hello debt-free shopping. 💸
12. Give fish doorbells so they can migrate through canals
Yes, you did read that right. Earlier this year, a canal lock in Utrecht became the home of the world’s first fish doorbell.
Okay, it’s not a doorbell in the traditional sense.
Instead, underwater cameras at the Weerdsluis are used to show how many fish are waiting at the lock. People watching online can press the doorbell when they see fish in the queue.
This might sound like something out of a Monty Python sketch, but it has been integral to helping fish migrate between water depths. The native fish need to be in deeper water over the winter to keep warm and in shallower water in the spring to breed.
The only person who might not think this is so clever is the poor lockkeeper, who has to keep explaining to people there isn’t an actual doorbell.
13. Build wildlife bridges for animals to cross highways
Have you spotted those beautiful bridges carved out of nature? As well as being stunning structures, ecoducts are a pretty smart invention.
They’re used by wild animals to help them cross safely over busy roads.
There are over 600 ecoducts spread across the country to let wild boar, deer, and other furry friends cross highways.
14. Openly talk about taboo topics
When debating with the Dutch, no topics are off the table.
Openly talking about sexuality and gender politics led to the Netherlands being the first country to legalise gay marriage. Of course, there is still progress to be made on a lot of fronts, but the Dutch are at least open to discussing the big topics.
Unless it’s about having anything other than a sandwich for lunch — there’s no room for debate there, apparently.🥪
15. Have two Christmas Days
Because why have one when you can have two? The more festivities, the better.
Now, we’re not talking about Sinterklaas, that’s a whole other kettle of fish. We’re talking about the fact that the Dutch do all the feasting and present opening on Christmas day with one side of the family, then do it all again the next day with the other side.
So that’s two Christmas dinners, two lots of presents, and twice as many confused relatives when you explain what you “actually” do for work.
You’ll never have to argue about whose folks you’re going to, but you will be exhausted after two days of small talk and family politics.
What smart things have we left off the list? Tell us in the comments below!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in August 2021, and was fully updated in July 2023 for your reading pleasure.