15 dang smart things Dutch people do

You ask any Dutchie and they’ll tell you, they’re a pretty smart group of people. Whether it’s hot tips on how to save money or how to get furniture up those narrow staircases, the Dutch are constantly coming up with life hacks. 

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 come prepared. Whether it’s constantly checking Buienradar (the Dutch rainfall app) before they leave the house, to carrying rain trousers just in case of an unexpected shower, the Dutch are masters of being in or cycling in the rain. Anyone who has attempted to hold an umbrella while trying not to crash their bike can confirm this is no easy feat. 

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. 

Take aim and fire! Image: Udo Ockema/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

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😉). It also explains why every other Dutchie you meet is studying water management.

As a quick explanation, the Dutch built up land from the sea by creating a number of dikes which are barriers used to hold back a body of water. This started off in the Middle Ages but increased tenfold during the Dutch Golden Age, where they honed their skills in hydraulic engineering. 

READ MORE | 7 things the Dutch are ridiculously good at

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, even fridges between bikes? Yes, it is both as mad and impressive as it sounds.

In a holiday rendition of this skill, Dutchie also happen to move 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 spearkers 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 languages from preschool age. 

READ MORE | Why are the Dutch so good at speaking English?

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. 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 friend’s birthdays in the same room that you *achem* “attend to business”, it’s actually pant-droppingly clever. How else are you going to remember to get your tante 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

Since the canal houses in the Netherlands are so narrow, you need a way to get furniture up those deadly staircases. That’s where the hanging hook comes in. 

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 into your big Dutch windows. All of a sudden Dutch architecture is making sense, right?

Not just for decoration it turns out! Image: Arch/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

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 “jar 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 

READ MORE | 15 weirdly cute things Dutch people do

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.

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

While we’re talking smart apps, we have to mention iDeal: the online payment system that links to your Dutch bank account. No more typing in that long credit card number, which you’ll find yourself doing less anyway since some sites only take iDeal payments.

READ MORE | 7 reasons the Dutch don’t do debt

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. 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 shallower water in the spring to breed. The only person who might not think this is so clever is the poor lock keeper 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 (wat leuk!).

We need more of these in the world. Image: rutgerdenhertog/Supplied

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 

The Netherlands has a reputation for being progressive when it comes to sex and drugs. Tourists flock to the country for many reasons, including visiting coffee shops and the red light district. But these progressive attitudes are more than just a tourist trap. 

When debating with the Dutch, no topics are off the table. Openly talking about sexuality and gender politics lead 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, 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!

Feature Image: rutgerdenhertog/Supplied

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in August 2021, and was fully updated in December 2021 for your reading pleasure.

Chloe Lovatt 🇬🇧http://globeshuffler.wordpress.com
A British native, Chloe has a love for other languages and cultures, having lived in Spain before moving to the Netherlands. She is keen to explore the Dutch landscape, cultural spots and — the most important — food! After being here for a few months she already has developed a mild addiction to kibbeling.

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  1. I used to live in Cuba, and I think they can rival the Netherlands in doing everything by bike. I saw all sorts of surprising things being transported by cyclists there, and it´s not uncommon to see a family of four or five on one bike. Dutch people have nice flat terrain for cycling; Cuba has better weather. Unless there´s a hurricane, in which case we try not to go out at all. Hope to do some Dutch cycling while I´m still not too old, but I live in Spain so have to wait for now.


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