Geography Trips for Schools to the Netherlands
Known as the land of windmills, cheese and clogs, there’s so much more on offer in the Netherlands. This close-to-home destination offers an excellent range of interesting and relevant geographical experiences. Physical geography topics include global climatic change, coastal sea defences, river flood defences, ecosystems and landscapes of glacial deposition, while human geography topics cover urban change, agriculture, globalisation and world trade.
Visit the capital to see how cosmopolitan Amsterdam is being transformed into a sustainable living environment, stop at Europort to understand the complexity of globalisation or take a trip to the Delta District to learn about coastal sea defences.
Why the Netherlands?
Geography teachers who travelled to the Netherlands rated their overall tour experience as 5 out of 5 and 100% said they would recommend it to a fellow teacher. Ms Karen Heptinstall of Emmanuel College described it as, “An action-packed study visit that allowed students to experience the Netherlands through a combination of educational and leisure activities.”
Did you know?
With a population of almost 17 million people, the Netherlands is the most densely populated country of the European Union and one of the mostly densely populated countries in the world.
Our quick, online quote form allows our specialists to provide you with a bespoke quotation for a trip tailor-made to your group’s individual requirements.
The Netherlands Fact File
All ages and stages of secondary education
Flight or coach
Amsterdam Airport Schipol
Flight duration from UK:
Approx. 1 hour 5 minutes
Time by coach from Calais:
Best time to visit:
All year round
Coastal Systems & Landscapes
Ecosystems & Biodiversity
Glacial Systems & Landscapes
Globalisation & Global Systems
River Systems & Landscapes
Water & Carbon Cycles
Weather & Climate
The Netherlands Geography Recommended Visits
The Netherlands’s diverse geographical landscapes make it the ideal destination to enhance your student’s understanding of a range of topics on the Geography syllabus. Discover just some of the geographical excursions we can build into your bespoke school trip itinerary.
Visit Neeltje Jans to give your students the chance to consider aspects of the rising temperature trend in North Sea temperatures and sea level rise, measured and predicted, around the Dutch coast. The implications that these changes have for a low lying country such as the Netherlands are outlined. Although looking at a Dutch case study, this topic can be extended to a global scale where many other regions of the world face similar challenges (including many coastal areas around the UK). This topic considers the huge proportion of the Netherlands that is at risk from sea inundation and the effects this would have upon the country if the Dutch sea defences were to fail.
In order to indicate the potential disaster this could create in the future (socially and economically), consideration is given to the 1953 Flood Event, an event that instigated the Delta Plan. A visit to the Delta Expo encourages students to consider the role of hard engineering, the concrete dykes and dams that were built as part of the Delta Plan.
A visit to the Watersnood Museum is a revelation in many ways. Housed within four original concrete caissons used to stem the 1953 floods, a visit here is most captivating. All exhibits help to understand the flood events of the past and the planning to prevent such events in the future. Many installations graphically reveal the impacts the events of floods have upon humans and human activities. Following a film of the 1953 Flood Event, a guided tour encourages students to ask questions and offers a great deal to be learnt.
Geography Study Handbooks
Coastal Defences: Delta Plan: Hard Engineering
Trends in seawater temperatures are first displayed with the projected rise in sea levels around the Netherlands. The total extent of the area of the Netherlands at risk from rising sea levels is shown before then focusing in on the Delta District as a case study. The Great Flood of 1953 is next described and explained with the help of many interactive tasks. Once the implications of a major flood event are fully appreciated, the Delta Plan’s constructions and how they operate is then elaborated upon. An economic, social and environmental assessment task is then provided to highlight the pros and cons in each of these three aspects of the Delta Plan’s impact. This study unit then fits perfectly with an on-site visit to the Delta Expo, the Exhibition and Information Centre, providing a background as to what will be seen at Delta Expo as well as many on-site activities with which to engage to further understand and appreciate the Delta Plan.
This topic considers the trend in rising North Sea temperatures, as well as measured and predicted sea level rise, around the Dutch coast, with a visit to the Dutch coastal town of Monster. The implications of these changes for the Netherlands are outlined and the need for action in order to protect the country for at least the next 200 years. This topic considers the enormous importance of the sand dune belt of the Holland Coast, north of the Delta District, as a defence from North Sea invasion. The loss of such sand dunes through periodic major storms or continuous longshore drift is considered along with the consequences.
The role of soft engineering is then considered, in order to maintain the coastline at the same position as measured in 1990. The techniques of beach/sand nourishment and deep water reefs are explained. In each case, the positive and negative effects of both these techniques are considered, with regards to their social, economic and environmental impacts.
Geography Study Handbooks
Coastal Defences: Soft Engineering:
The location and nature of the Holland Coast are first introduced. The problem of beach sand loss in this area is then exemplified by looking at the case study of Egmond aan Zee where the position of the coast has been in retreat for centuries. The present day “Hold The Line” Plan is then explained.
The two techniques of beach nourishment and deep water reefs are both illustrated and then evaluated in terms of their economic, social and environmental aspects (as well as their long term sustainability). This study unit prepares students for their on-site visit to Monster, providing background as to what will be seen at Monster and with many activities to observe and record in order to gain a very full appreciation and understanding of this very real geographical issue facing the Netherlands.
The River Rhine
Consider the causes and effects of flooding on the River Rhine and its major distributaries with a visit to the river itself. The changing nature and pattern of precipitation in the river’s catchment area are looked at, alongside the idea of land subsidence, another major factor in increasing probability of significant river floods.
The movement of water in a natural hydrological cycle is looked at using the many transfers and stores involved and showing how they interlink. Human influences on the natural hydrological cycle are then introduced i.e. changing land uses and the canalisation of the river with an emphasis on how they increase the likelihood of flood events. The ‘near flood’ of 1995 near Nijmegen is used to illustrate the seriousness of the situation and emphasise the need for sustainable action to diminish the flood threat in the immediate and long term future. Finally, the use of dykes (hard engineering) and ‘relinquish the floodplains’ (soft engineering) are considered as solutions to reduce the flood risk dangers.
Geography Study Handbooks
River Defences: The River Rhine
Introductory tasks immediately involve the students in thinking about changes in the Rhine’s catchment area and how they are increasing the risk of river floods in the river’s lower course. The extent of the Rhine’s river basin is then shown as is the water cycle as a natural system. Variations in the Rhine’s discharge are then graphed to illustrate the significant, but usual, annual/monthly variations. Discharge figures are then plotted for the 1995 Near Flood event to further emphasise the river’s discharge variability has been becoming worryingly greater. Then the human factors that are now influencing the river’s discharge rates are considered – changing the land use of the river’s catchment area (e.g. deforestation) and the canalisation of sections of the Rhine. The case study of the 1995 Near Flood is further considered to illustrate the human impact of such events and to encourage empathy. To conclude, the study unit illustrates the many mitigation techniques now being used to reduce the threat of future floods e.g. raising dykes and allowing floodplain inundation.
Coastal Sand Dunes
Visit the Meijendel sand dunes to consider several land uses that are made of the sand dunes and appreciate how there could be social, economic and environmental conflict. However, good management and action plans can help to resolve potential conflicts in a sustainable way by perhaps involving compromise.
Students can then consider the natural environment of a coastal sand dune belt with the changing geographical growing conditions considered with regard to the vegetation found at progressively greater distances from the sea. Having then considered land uses generally of the coastal sand dune belt, two specific uses are looked at in more detail – fresh water extraction and recreational use. In both cases, the conflicts that they can spark are indicated, as well as the ways they are managed sustainably.
Geography Study Handbooks
The Meijendel Coastal Sand Dunes
Introductory mapwork provides a basic knowledge of the location and nature of the Meijendel Coastal Sand Dunes. The multi-purpose use of this sand dune area is then introduced and a table completed to show the nature of the benefits that each brings; this also suggests that conflicts between these uses is likely. The nature of this ecosystem is then considered, relating each psammosere biome to its location along the coastal edge. Two uses of the sand dune belt are then taken and looked at in more depth; fresh water extraction and recreation. The danger of too much fresh water extraction is explained as are the various techniques being adopted to mitigate this and to ensure a sustainable resource; a Summary Table allows students to evaluate their thoughts on this. Recreation is then looked at from two standpoints; (a) the ability of such a sensitive/delicate ecosystem to sustainably support various leisure activities and (b) the conflicts that can arise between/amongst different groups of recreational users. On-site activities include a prepared Visitor Survey, tasks and a table to record information for making a beach transect/profile and a set of tasks to investigate footpath erosion. Collation tables and diagram frameworks are provided for the displaying of all gathered data for analysis.
Noordwijk Coastal Defenses & Tourism
As a coastal resort it is important that Noordwijk aan Zee retains a high quality beach for its visitors and therefore its economy as well as a protection for the town itself. The methods employed here are “hidden” and non-visually impacting but their effect is impressive. This topic can be used either by groups staying in Noordwijk or by groups seeking an example site to illustrate the aspects of soft coastal engineering. This SU is more limited in scope than others and it can be used as a “stand alone” SU or in association with the other, larger, related SUs.
Tourism: A Coastal Resort Evaluation
This visit encourages you to look at Noordwijk’s past, present and future in order to evaluate its present day health as a tourist resort. This topic can be used to allow everyone to become familiar with the layout and facilities of the resort and to tackle some very relevant geography, topics and skills.
Geography Study Handbooks
Noordwijk’s Coastal Defences
In this Study Unit it is straight into doing! For groups staying in Noordwijk it is a particularly useful SU as it not only offers a focused set of tasks but it also allows students to get their bearings in the settlement. Teachers need to generally set the scene, explaining to the students what the issue is, i.e. global warming, sea level rise and a country at risk, and the basic idea of how soft engineering is being used to make this area of coastline sustainable for human settlement and use. Activities involve a walk along the promenade walkway, on top of the newly raised sand dunes, and/or a walk along the Koningen Wilhemina Boulevard that runs parallel to it. During this easy stroll, guided observations are made with information being recorded on to the prepared pages. Looking, seeing and interpreting is asked for to gain the necessary information.
Noordwijk & Tourism: A Coastal Resort Evaluation:
Firstly, the Study Unit provides a bit of background to the resort of Noordwijk. Then the Butler Model of Resort Development is considered which then serves as a useful tool to evaluate Noordwijk aan Zee’s present state as a tourist resort; is it in decline or is it rejuvenating and what is the evidence? Once on-site, an old image and a present day image of the resort are provided and changes are noted and annotated. Then an evaluation is made of a set of statements taken from a recent Tourist Office Brochure and how each pupil/student agrees with each statement.
The Hoge Veluwe National Park
The Hoge Veluwe National Park is one specially protected part of a much larger area known as the Veluwe, a National Landscape. The Hoge Veluwe National Park covers 5,500 hectares out of the whole Veluwe’s area of 90,000 hectares. The area is characterised by low, rolling relief, typical of an area of lowland glaciation. Sands and gravel from meltwater rivers (fluvio-glacial deposits) form the basis of this landscape and the vegetation is heath along with mature pine and oak woodland. It is a beautiful area and offers a haven of tranquillity in a country with a high population and urban density.
The topic has several aims. One aim is to understand how the natural environment of the The Hoge Veluwe National Park has been created by the depositional action of rivers and ice over hundreds of thousands of years and then to gain knowledge about the inter-connection between the life above ground (flora and fauna) and the life below ground (topsoil, subsoil, water table) in this particular set of ecosystems. It offers a great opportunity to gather some primary data from visitors and evaluate the area’s ability to cope with tourism and recreational use.
Geography Study Handbooks
The Hoge Veluwe National Park: Aspects of a Glacial Lowland Ecosystem
After some location maps, the study unit provides background to the fluvial and glacial depositional processes that have created this lowland landscape and the ecosystems that have evolved on them since. Once on-site, the Museonder is an underground, interactive exhibition, built on three levels displaying aspects of the land/topsoil, the sub soil and finally the water-table beneath. A video programme is an optional introductory inclusion, to set the scene. During the visit to the Museonder, students are asked to make observations and to record answers into their study handbook. There are 800-900 bicycles available for free use within The Hoge Veluwe National Park. An easy cycle circuit lets the pupils travel over the types of landscape described and explained in the pre-visit activities and appreciate the reality of an area of lowland glaciation. Whilst out on the cycle run, teachers can stop several times and point out aspects of the landscape and other features to the pupils. Such features may include the nature of the landscape and its landforms or the nature of the vegetation, its adaptations to the climate and/or its part in the nutrient cycle. Further, a visitor survey is provided to allow some primary data gathering as well as testing a suggested hypothesis i.e. that the visitors on the particular day of a survey fit the average visitor profile for this park.
Spend a day in the country’s capital city of Amsterdam, known for its artistic heritage, rich history and vibrant culture. Visit the Amsterdam Arena, home to Ajax FC, where a one and a half hour guided tour takes you through the stadium, press room, control room and trophy room explaining the impact of this stadium on the city. This visit can also be teamed up with a trip to the Ajax Museum which gives you an insight into the club’s history.
The Van Gogh Museum also offers a great visit where students can learn more about the famous Dutch painter and see many of his famous works on show in this museum either through a guided or self-guided tour. The museum boasts the largest and most varied Van Gogh collection in the world and is definitely a must see for any visitor to Amsterdam.
One of the most famous historical figures linked to this city is Anne Frank, whose diary is one of the most well-known Jewish accounts of the Holocaust. The original house where the Frank family hid during the Nazi invasion of Europe makes for an interesting visit as students can step behind the original bookcase and climb the narrow stairs up into the annex where Anne, her family and four other Jewish people hid.
Take to the water for a great way to appreciate the nature and layout of the older part of Amsterdam and its many canals. Audio guided canal cruises last around one hour and depart from Pier Number 3, Damrak. The cruise takes you by the city’s most spectacular building highlights such as the merchants’ residences, churches and warehouses dating from the city’s Golden Age. Boats are covered and have a capacity of 70 to 120 guests.
Geography Study Handbooks
Urban Change: Amsterdam
Topics encountered in the study unit include the Randstad and the pressure on keeping some green land around the Dutch urban areas. The growth of Amsterdam is also outlined in order to give some context to urban change/renewal. The challenges of the city’s physical site are also discussed i.e. the weak, sedimentary, unconsolidated layers that underlay the city. After this, four aspects of urban change are outlined; conservation, redevelopment, reclamation and the new developments taking place on the South Eastern suburban edge. Throughout, there are plenty of interactive tasks, not only to provide knowledge to the students but also to provide the all important context to the types of, and reasons for, urban renewal at the present time.
Learn more about Europort with a 75-minute guided boat tour around the port. Students will be introduced to the extent of Europort’s world trade and the interlinked logistics that are involved in making this trade possible. Europort is an excellent example of a major port complex with its associated activities and facilities. It also covers the sheer extent, nature and source of cargoes that are involved in international trade; the interdependence of nations through trade and the geographical locational factors and facilities that are needed to allow this trade to flourish and expand.
As well as the boat trip, ascend the Euromast for a panoramic view over the vast area, take a guided coach tour to and around Europort or enjoy a visit to the new Maasvlakte Visitors’ Centre, ‘Futureland’.
Geography Study Handbooks
The global context of Europoort is firstly illustrated, showing its importance amongst the other great ports of the world. Then Europort’s trade connections and the types of vessels involved in its product imports and exports are examined. The locational factors that encouraged Europort to develop and expand here are also considered, along with the growth phases of the port’s development including the developments far out to the west of the port’s original area, on the Massvlakte. The port’s hinterland is also considered, along with an evaluation of both barge and road haulage to and from Europort.
Aalsmeer Flower Market and Aviflora
A visit to Aalsmeer Flower Market and Avilflora concentrates on the marketing of horticultural and market gardening products of the Netherlands, especially cut flowers and pot plants earning almost £5 billion annually. You’ll visit the Aalsmeer flower auction, the largest flower auction in the world, where the complexity and scale of this industry will be fully appreciated. Students can appreciate and understand the links between geography, agriculture, business and economics. It is certainly a colourful visit!
This really has to be an early morning visit as the Auction Building and the Auction Halls are particularly busy around 8.30am. Use the listening posts and take down pieces of information; look and observe the many facets of the operation of the Aalsmeer Flower Auction (a ‘tick table’ within the study unit assists with this) and observe the auction halls in order to fully understand how the auction works and to understand the Dutch auction method.
Additionally, it’s possible to have a visit to Aviflora, a company that buys flowers from the Aalsmeer Flower Market for processing and supplying to its florist outlets.
Geography Study Handbooks
The Aalsmeer Flower Auction Visit
This study unit first of all gives some background to the horticultural industry in the Netherlands and the country’s suitability for this industry (e.g. soils, centrality/accessibility, rich market area, etc.). Then information is provided on the Aalsmeer Flower Auction (AFA). The visit that will later be made to the AFA will emphasise the enormous scale of this aspect of the horticultural industry in the Netherlands. The visit involves the use of a prepared questionnaire with the manager/workforce.
Clara Maria Cheese Farm Clog Factory
This farm near Amsterdam produces cheese and clogs the traditional way. You can watch this process and help the farmer with the cheese making and of course have a taste of the home made cheese! Before the cheese demonstration you pass through the clog making factory and learn about the differences in clog wear. Visitors can also visit the Riga Ranch Horse Dairy, situated 20 minutes away. Guests can experience and taste horse-milk.
Walibi Theme Park
If you’re after something to give your students a day off from all things geography, Walibi is the place to go! This adventure-filled theme park on Flevoland Polder is home to over 40 attractions. Negotiate daredevil rides and thrills, get soaked on the Waikiki Wave and Crazy River and choose from six roller coasters, including the Robin Hood, Xpress and Goliath mega-coaster. With names like these, you know it’s going to be good!
Windmill Museums – Kinderdijk and Zaanse Schans
The Netherlands is synonymous with windmills, so it’d be a shame to visit the country without finding out more about their history, uses and significance to the Dutch culture and, more importantly, the preservation of the country.
Close to the village of Kinderdijk there are nine impressively well-preserved windmills. Like many windmills, these ones were used to drain water from polderland, land lying below sea level, showing the power and usefulness of wind.
The Kinderdijk Foundation preserves the windmills and the area in which the windmills are situated and, in 1997 the mills of Kinderdijk became a World Heritage Site, such was their cultural and industrial importance. A guide can take you around the windmills, the museum mill, the windmill workshop and discuss with you the surrounding landscapes.
Fifteen minutes from Amsterdam, the Hoge Veluwe National Park is a unique part of the Netherlands. It’s a characteristic residential community on the River Zaan, with wooden houses and windmills from the 17th and 18th century. There are five mills, three of which can be visited. The De Zoeker oil mill is the last remaining oil mill still in everyday use. There is also a museum shop, a clog maker’s workshop, a tin foundry, a bakery, a cheese dairy and a museum with period rooms. You can also take a round trip by boat on the River Zaan.
The Batavia Yard is a shipyard which specialises in reconstructed ships from the Golden Age which have significance to Dutch maritime heritage. The shipyard uses vocational reintegration and work experience projects to encourage unemployed people to play their part in reconstructing the ships.
The yard houses a wonderful reconstruction of a 17th century ship which was reconstructed using traditional materials and traditional methods. The ship now sits in its own dock basin and you can wander all through it. A second such ship is on the stocks allowing an insight to construction techniques. There is a maritime museum nearby which will display the ships that appeared from the Ijsselmer as the polders were reclaimed.
Bespoke Geography Trip Student and Teacher Resources
Our Netherlands study handbook offers a choice of study units that can be used at a variety of excursions, plus optional activities to give your students a real hands-on experience.
How does it work?
Study handbooks comprise a Student Handbook and its corresponding Teacher Guide made up of destination specific study units all of which are in full colour and contain a mixture of maps, diagrams and text. The student handbook offers a variety of pre- and post-visit activities/information as well as interactive on-site tasks.
Your study handbooks will be custom-made to match your itinerary which has been agreed with the team at Rayburn Tours.
The Netherlands Study Handbook Ratings
Usefulness of Teacher Resource:
Usefulness of Student Guide:
It will contain a selection of the Study Units listed below.
- Climate Change Implications COASTAL Defences HARD
- Climate Change Implications COASTAL Defences SOFT
- Climate Change Implications RIVER Defences HARD & SOFT
- Coastal Sand Dunes
- Lowland Glaciation & Ecosystems The Hoge Veluwe National Park
- Noordwijk Tourism & Coastal Resort Evaluation
- Noordwijk Coastal Defences
- Urban Change in Amsterdam
- Option 1 Tourist Questionnaires
- Option 2 Order of Service Survey
- Option 3 Traffic Survey and PCUs
- Option 4 Pedestrian Survey
Sample PagesGet in Touch
The Netherlands Sample Itineraries
Your bespoke itinerary will include the appropriate balance of educational visits and leisure excursions to fill your chosen duration and meet your aims and objectives. Your dedicated School Tour Coordinator will offer advice and recommendations with the sole aim of creating the perfect itinerary for your group, but just to get you inspired, we have outlined the itinerary created for one of our clients below.
Dates: 22nd – 26th June
Passengers: 39 passengers
Accommodation: Hotel De Ossewa
Board Basis: Full Board
Overview of visits: Waterland Neeltje Jans, Cheese and Clog Factory, De Hoge Veluwe National Park, Aalsmeer Flower Auction, East Harbour District, Anne Frank’s House, Canal Cruise, Euromast, Spido boat tour, Duinrell Attraction Park and Splash Pool
Travel by coach from the UK to the Netherlands. Start with a trip to Waterland Neeltje Jans to learn more about the Delta Works and the construction of the storm surge barrier in the Eastern Scheldt. Continue on to Noordwijk aan Zee for an evening meal at your hotel.View the full day-by-day itinerary
After breakfast, board your coach for a trip to the Cheese and Clog Factory, after all, this is what the Netherlands is famous for! Afterwards, head on to the treasured De Hoge Veluwe National Park where your students can explore the marshlands, forests, heath and drift sands. Enjoy an evening at leisure at the local bowling alley.
Your first stop of the day is the bold and beautiful Aalsmeer Flower Auction, the largest flower auction in the world! From here, head to the cosmopolitan capital city, Amsterdam. Take to the streets and explore the East Harbour District before visiting the thought-provoking Anne Frank’s House. A scenic canal cruise is the best way to see all the sights of Amsterdam and a great way to round off the day.
Spend the morning in diverse Rotterdam, where you can visit the Euromast observation tower viewing platform for a superb view of the city, before taking the Spido boat tour around the port for an insight into the docks and industry around shipping. For your final afternoon, why not reward your students with the thrills of Duinrell Attraction Park and Splash Pool?
It’s time to board the coach and head back to the UK.
The Netherlands Accommodation
Whilst your group can choose to stay in the capital city of Amsterdam, we recommend that geography groups base themselves in the local coastal resort of Noordwijk aan Zee. Here are just two of our favourite hotels perfect for school groups in this seaside resort:
Hotel De Ossewa
The Hotel de Ossewa in Noordwijk is superbly run by the Geerlings family who go out of their way to give our groups a warm welcome. The hotel is just 15 minutes’ walk from the beach and is just a short walk into the main resort itself.
“Staff are very welcoming and happy to help. We were really pleased to have the whole hotel to ourselves - it makes such a difference not to have to worry about other guests.”
The downstairs area of the hotel serves as a dining/sitting room area and a bar; which can be adapted for evening activities such as a disco or games night. The entire front and upper floor of the hotel has recently been renovated and all bedrooms now have private bathroom facilities. There is also a small garden and terrace area.
Hotel Aan Zee
Located just minutes from the beach and the town centre, this family run hotel has an attractive dining room, lounge and bar, as well as a games room with pool table, TV and video facilities. With 40 rooms, most with private facilities, the Hotel aan Zee is very well suited to the needs of school groups. Where possible, groups are accommodated together on the one floor, mainly in rooms of 4 persons, with party leaders in twin bedded rooms. The owners, the Zonnefeld family, are accustomed to working with British groups and schools consistently report an enjoyable stay at this hotel.
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