Life in the Netherlands as an international is pretty great — but armed with these top apps it can be even better.
Check out these 11 of the best apps to have as an expat in the Netherlands. And the best bit? They are all free! Trust us — you won’t regret downloading them!
1. Buienalarm — always be ready for the rain
If you really want to live like a Dutchie, then you need this app. Buienradar is number one on our list, and having it is pretty much a requirement on your Dutch citizenship exam. It sends you a notification if it’s going to rain or snow (which is every five minutes in the Netherlands.) It’ll literally say something like “heavy rain shower in five minutes for a duration of 30 minutes.”
Buienradar is really useful, especially if you’re about to pop out somewhere and it tells you that you’re going to get soaking wet. It also shows you a graph of how much rainfall there is going to be. It’s basically your most accurate weather partner who can show you detailed weather information. And trust us, Dutchies rely on this app A LOT. Save yourself being soaked!
2. Tikkie — IOUs the Dutch way
This app is another staple in Dutch culture. You go out for some drinks with your new Dutch friends, rather than buying rounds at the bar, they will probably “send you a Tikkie” the following day.
Tikkie is an online payment app that allows you to send payment requests via WhatsApp or other messaging services. Once accepted, the money is transferred instantaneously between your bank accounts, making it super handy to streamline those IOUs. Don’t be surprised if you get sent a Tikkie for a small sum, the Dutch are very conscientious when it comes to splitting the bill. 😉
3. DigiD — identification at your fingertips
This app is essential for getting through the sometimes baffling Dutch bureaucracy. DigiD is an online identification that links to your BSN (social security) number and is used by almost every governmental body. You’ll need it if you are filling out your taxes, applying for residency, or applying for any benefits.
You don’t actually need a DigiD to be in the country, but having the app makes your life here so much easier!
4. bunq — the Dutch bank packed with features
So you’ve finally got your head around opening a Dutch bank account and you’re looking for the best bank. We recommend bunq due to the fact that their app is in English, you can open an account before your BSN arrives, and their bank is perfect for Dutchies or internationals. Hallelujah to bunq, our lives are much easier now!
That means you don’t have to make managing your money any more confusing because you don’t understand what it says. So not only does it save time, but it also prevents some silly mistakes and gives you peace of mind when it comes to managing your finances.
5. 9292 — use Dutch public transport with ease
The 9292 app is great as it has all public transport information in one place; it’s like your little travel companion. No need for opening multiple apps in a frantic attempt to try to find out when your next train is. With 9292, you can check times for trains, trams, the metro, and buses. You can also get up-to-date information on delays, cancellations, and weather disruption.
It’s really easy to use, which is always a bonus. You can also personalise it and save your preferences, making the synchronisation of your travel information easier than ever.
6. NS — train tickets in your pocket
NS is the Dutch train network, so this app is ideal for train information. Just as good as 9292 when it comes to public transport schedules, but the NS app also lets you access your train tickets on your phone. You can then use your phone to scan in through the gates and catch your train.
It means you don’t have to worry about buying the train ticket at the station, you don’t have to pay the surcharge for the disposable ticket, and it’s a lot harder to lose the ticket because it’s on your phone. Sometimes the tickets even come at a discount!
Just go into your tickets on the app, bring up the bar code (the app will automatically brighten your screen) and tap onto the gate screens and it should work just fine. Easy peasy!
7. Too Good to Go — reducing food waste in a big way
Want some deliciously discounted food, and help save the planet? Then Too Good To Go might just be your new favourite app. The app teams up with local businesses to make up “Magic Boxes” goodies on their sell-by date for only a few euros.
The idea is to help reduce food waste (did you know that 1/3 of all food is wasted? 😱 ) and get you some tasty treats. The app isn’t Dutch, but is really popular in the Netherlands, with over two million users. That’s not surprising seeing how eco friendly the Dutch are.
8. Party of 4 — your new best friends might be around the corner
Designed by an expat, this app is for couples looking for other couples to hang out with. Perfect if you have just moved to the area and are looking for some double dinner dates.
Party of 4 is currently available for couples in the Netherlands to start finding their ideal brunch buddies. Whether you are new parents looking to share your experiences, or your little ones have already flown the nest, you can find couples in the same stage of life as you and your partner. It’s also the perfect way to make friends while waiting for bars to open! 🎉
9. Flitsmeister — making Dutch driving easy
This app is great if you have a car. It’s saved me getting a lot of speeding tickets in the past. Before I found the app, I already had two speeding tickets. (Please don’t judge me, I promise I’m not a maniac.) But when you are driving in different countries (especially if you are doing a cross-border journey), it’s easy to mess up and get your speed a little off.
Flitsmeister tells you the current speed limit and also lets you know if there is a speed camera up ahead. This way there is absolutely no excuses for speeding (even slightly) and you can drive safely, easily, and save yourself money from those silly fines for not paying attention!
Set for Dutch and Belgian roads, the app is a huge help. It informs you of traffic updates from A to B, speed cameras, speed traps, road reconstruction, incidents, closed roads and if you’re nearing emergency vehicles. Not bad, eh?
10. Google Translate — the entire Dutch language, digitised
It’s kind of an obvious one, but honestly, this app has been a godsend. This is especially so if you’ve just arrived and have absolutely no idea about the Dutch language.
Google Translate allows you to copy and paste Dutch sentences and translate them into English (and other languages). You can also screenshot something on your phone, upload it to the app and it will translate it all for you. You can also hover over your chosen text or take a photo and it will translate it all. This is so helpful if you’re out shopping or when you receive an important letter in the post. Just take a picture of it and you’re away!
Of course, sometimes the translation can be a bit off (a poorly translated letter from the gemeente said that “I was going to die” once). Nine times out of ten, the translation is correct though and if it’s not, you’re in for a laugh. I honestly don’t think I could live without this app now.
11. Duolingo — learn Dutch phrases easily
We’ve sung their praises many times here at DutchReview but it’s true, Duolingo really is great. In case you’ve been living in a cave for a while and haven’t heard of it, here’s the concept.
Duolingo is a free language app in English, which provides you with many different languages that you can learn FOR FREE. It’s really easy to use and you can pick how frequently you want to practice the language by setting goals. This app is perfect for beginners as it starts you off with all of the basic Dutch words that you need to know (like schildpad 🐢). If a free Dutch language app isn’t useful to an expat, then what is?
Now you’re all set…
We hope you found this guide helpful and you’ve successfully got the best apps to have as an international in the Netherlands.
Now you’re set to tackle the big wide Dutch world and explore the lowlands with ease!
What’s the most useful app you’ve downloaded while living in the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments below!
Feature Image: Daria Shevtsova/Pexels
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in February 2018, but was fully updated in April 2021 to bring you the most up to date information.