Dutch Quirk #17: Treat the public footpaths like their personal terrace

It's the best of both worlds.

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #17: Treat the public footpaths like their personal terrace

Imagine this: You have the bikes parked in a row on one side of the street. Then you have the neighbours with their knee-high planters of garden herbs and a wooden bench.

The most beloved space for the Dutch to soak in some sunshine isn’t the garden but the public sidewalk right next to the street.

Pedestrians walking a centimetre away, cars driving by, and bikes passing by their feet don’t bother them. It’s the perfect spot to set up camp with a book and a drink.

What is it?

It’s a popular Dutch neighbourhood habit to use as much area in front of their place or building as possible.

It’s usually among the tenants of the ground floor, but sometimes the whole building joins in on the fun as well.

READ MORE | Dutch Quirk #112: Invite family over to fry food on tiny table-top barbecues

This area, which also happens to be a public footpath, turns into a personal space — usually a summertime terrace (or any good weather really) and a place for adults to splash around in a kiddie pool.

Walk around, and you’ll find the benches are designated for the house cat. Image: Depositphotos.

If a building or a house happens to have a set of outer stairs — that’s a whole other set of possibilities.

We’re talking about a makeshift table for a stereo or afternoon tea. A place where the pets can lie down while the owner unwinds on a foldable chair with their front door wide open.

Why do they do it?

In a country as small as the Netherlands, we know how important it is to use every space as efficiently as possible.

Who wouldn’t want to throw a bench in a sunny spot to soak up some vitamin D in the cold months?

That’s not all there is to it, though. The possibility of a social gathering space right next to your very own front door in itself is tempting.

Why is it quirky?

If you’re the one enjoying the sidewalk and sunshine, then it’s fun to hang out so close to the fridge with everything you like. No need to worry about finding a table or at what time the restaurant closes. It’s the perfect borrel spot. 😋

But if you’re the one on foot, trying to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, bumping into someone’s furniture on the side of the street isn’t exactly convenient.

The silver lining to consider: as a pedestrian, you do get to see a lot of good garden designs and landscaping skills.

Should you join in?

Are you going to be disruptive in any way? If the answer is yes, then we would suggest finding another hangout place, maybe an actual park close by or a friend’s backyard.

But if you want to have a nice mid-sized planter underneath your window with some bright flowers to bring you and others joy, then by all means, go for it.

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Farah Al Mazouni 🇸🇾 🇺🇸
Farah Al Mazouni 🇸🇾 🇺🇸
Farah believes she's been on many adventures during her millennial life, each for a different (sometimes invisible) purpose. The latest adventure whisked her away to Amsterdam for love, and what a magical surprise she found in this city. Armed with imaginary confetti in her pocket, and ready to celebrate all wins, big and small, Farah says "ahla w sahla" or “welcome” to her latest adventure in this wonderland.


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