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I ended up being asked recently about the most useful apps that I’ve downloaded during my 3+ years living in the Netherlands. It took me a while to dig through my phone, but this post will be an overview of my favorite Dutch apps and some others that my friends swear by. I hope this post is helpful for any foreigners moving to the Netherlands. 😉
Google Maps is one of the best apps for getting around the Netherlands or most countries. It will figure out your journey and let you know how to get there.
9292 (for now)
9292 gives real-time transit information, so if you’re tired of waiting for that bus or unsure about additional delays due to construction, you can check to see when your bus should arrive.
I recently found out about this “extra” version of the Reisplanner app by NS. It has all the features, but it also does navigation. If you’re into buying cheap train tickets using NS discounts, you can (in some cases) scan in using the app. Otherwise, it’s good to keeping tabs on any issues related to the Dutch trains.
If you intend to take the NS trains internationally, this app is good at checking on the status of your tickets. I was able to put mine into the app to avoid printing them when I visited Cologne for the Christmas Markets.
I’m not a fan of Uber, but sometimes you need to take a taxi late at night from A to B. After missing the last train back to the Hague while out in Rotterdam, I ended up taking a ride back to the Hague, which was not as bad as I expected.
This handy app shows you the locations of toilets at Schiphol Airport as well as the flight status of your flight. I found it helpful for keeping tabs on my husband’s delayed flight.
Amsterdam: Taxi TCA
If you live in Amsterdam, TCA is the biggest taxi company and one of the most reliable ones. I keep their app downloaded on my phone in case I need a taxi in Amsterdam.
For Amsterdammers who bike, Flat Tire is super handy. This app allows you to pay a flat fee for a bike repairman to come to you to fix your tire. Although it’s sometimes easier finding a bike shop, you sometimes miss the hours or your bike is in an inconvenient enough location that carrying it to a nearby bike shop would be a pain…so this app is handy for this reason.
Google Translate is the official translation app from Google. I regularly use it and I include lots of hacks for using Google Translation offline without data as well as cool features that you’ll want to use.
Dutch English Dictionary
Sometimes, you just can’t find the right word. This app is to help you find the right word in English or in Dutch to help you deal with those situations where translations aren’t working out…
This app is particularly helpful for those of us who need to switch between Dutch and English. It’s a pain typing in English then encountering Dutch words (or vice versa). SwiftKey can smartly switch between the two languages with a pretty keyboard that you can customize.
Duolingo is one of my favorite free language apps. I got started learning Dutch with it and I’d recommend it to anyone who is trying to get their Dutch off the ground. The facebook community for the Dutch learning community is a great resource too!
Dutchies love Whatsapp. This free messenger app is supposed to be more secure and you’re likely to end up in at least 2-3 Whatsapp group at different points in time. My only annoyance with it is that you need data to use it when you’re not connected to WiFi.
The idea behind this app is to quickly figure out the time difference between you and someone else in the world. With friends scattered across the world, I love this app for quickly checking if it’s a decent time where I’m calling. The slick interface is a plus!
Skype or Google Hangouts
For all of us who need to call home, Skype and Google Voice are my go-to place to make phone calls to my family. I loaded about $10 onto my Google Voice account years ago and it’s enabled me to easily call my parents on their home phone for pennies. For longer video calls, I use Skype with my husband’s parents.
Bankierien/ING/Your bank’s app
You’re likely to have a Dutch bank account. People are constantly sending money between their accounts although most people tend to wait until the next day to do so. I think that it’s most important to have your bank app on your phone because you might need to check your bank account balance at some point while at a store… (Many stores only take Maestro.)
Transferwise is a free website/app that you can use to cheaply send money from the Netherlands abroad. Compared to traditional banks, they charge a fraction of the cost. I’ve had issues with my own bank losing my money in route, so I love the fact that Transferwise tracks your money at every step and quickly deposits it across the ocean. Click here to receive a discounted first transfer.
Calendars, Weather, and other apps
I recently got a VPN after realizing that I was traveling a lot–and reading about how you should protect your data while using public WiFI networks. Beyond the security aspect, I consider it a huge plus that I can switch my IP to an American IP for websites that restrict access to EU-based websites. This service is not free, but it’s certainly been worthwhile to have.
I still don’t fully get the appeal of Buienradar. The idea behind this popular Dutch weather app is a weather map. You watch it to figure out when the rain will arrive…and that’s it.
Too tired of weather maps? The idea behind Buienalarm is to check immediately how soon it will rain in the coming two hours. If you’re planning to leave work, this app is helpful for figuring out if you should leave a little early in order to beat the rain. It’s basically the same idea of Accuweather, my favorite weather app.
My favorite Dutch weather app is Accuweather. This American made app is very user-friendly and I love their Minute by Minute weather monitor. I’ve generally found it more accurate than Buienradar (as I hate studying the map) and you can quickly see if there will be a break in the rain…
If you are from outside the EU, you’re likely to need a currency converter once in a while to figure out how much things are in your home currency. This is the one that I use.
People love their calendars in the Netherlands. Having a good system for remembering birthdays, appointments, coffees, and other occasions is key. I personally use Google Calendar.
If you’re a pet owner, Pawshake is a lifesaver. The idea behind this app is that you can look for dog sitters or cat sitters near you that can take care of your house while you’re on vacation. You can also bring your pets to their house if you pay more. It’s similar to Airbnb with ratings for the sitters. Services are usually in the 10-15 euro range per day for stopping by once a day for cats. I love that pet insurance is included with the cost.
Funda is the main housing website for the Netherlands. While looking for housing in Amsterdam, I would check this app multiple times a day to see if there were any new listings. Not all the listings are in English, but some of the more affordable options won’t be.
If you’re primarily looking for a roommate or just a room, Kamernet might be the way to go. This app is one of the most popular ones in the Netherlands for finding roommates.
When I first moved to the Hague, we struggled to find temporary housing. I generally recommend that anyone moving to the Netherlands finds temporary housing for their first 1-2 months.
In the case of many of my friends, they were able to find an apartment at least for the first month through Airbnb. I’ve been trying to cut back on using Airbnb, but it might be a good lead on an apartment as your host might even offer you the apartment to rent for good as we were offered.
Eating and Entertainment
I love Social Deal! I recently started it and it’s most similar to Groupon, however their offers are way better. I regularly find good deals for major attractions in the Netherlands, cafes, restaurants, and even hotels. If you’re planning a romantic date, there’s nothing wrong with saving a little money along the way.
The Fork is the same as Iens.NL, however if you’re searching in English, the app is called the Fork. Simply, it’s an app for restaurant reviews in the Netherlands by real people. You can also make reservations as well as find discounts for some restaurants.
Thuisbezorgd is the most popular food delivery app in the Netherlands. You can pay with non-Maestro cards, however the app is in Dutch. I find that Thuisbezorgd has the best late night options for those nights when you realize there’s nothing in your fridge after getting back from the bar…
Deliveroo is the other big food delivery app in the Netherlands. I find that the options tend to be healthier with a bit more diversity in terms of choices beyond the typically Dutch options that you find with Thuisbezorgd. The only thing is that I find that it’s not great for late night deliveries and it’s not everywhere in the Netherlands.
If you’re a beer lover, Untappd is one of the best apps to download. Even if you don’t want to log your beers, I often use the app to find the best craft beer bars and craft beers whenever I’m traveling to new places in the Netherlands. The community is really nice and I’m often inspired to try out a new bar due to Untappd!
The idea behind this app is that you can pick up leftovers from different restaurants, cafes, and supermarkets all around the Netherlands for a reasonable price. I’ve heard of people getting amazing food for just 2-3 euros, so if you don’t mind that you’ll need to use up your food that evening, it’s a great way to live in an ecofriendly way. (The supermarket Marqt is even on it!)
Meetup is the classic group for meeting new people in the Netherlands. Personally, I’ve found that Facebook was slightly better, however you’ll find a Meetup for everything. My husband has met several friends through different groups related to his hobbies.
Party with a local
A friend introduced to this one. The idea behind this app is that you can connect with party loving people in your community, so if you’ve ever dreamed of being invited to a boozy boat ride on a private boat down the canals in Amsterdam, this is the app for you.
I’m not on Tinder myself, but if you’re looking to date, many of my friends have met their significant other using Tinder whether it was here or elsewhere in the world. Why not swipe right and try it out?
I haven’t used Couchsurfing so much since moving to the Netherlands, however it’s a good way to meet people if you’ve recently moved to the Netherlands and you’re open to the idea. The Amsterdam community is quite active although be warned that accomodation in the major cities is not easy to come by.
If you’re looking for upcoming events and music around the Netherlands, download this app for the latest cultural agenda.
Marktplaats is the equivalent of Craigslist in the US or Gumtree in the UK. Simply, it’s the classifieds. I have bought quite a bit of my furniture and clothing from here. It’s a great place to look for secondhand items in the Netherlands although navigation for non-Dutch speakers can be a bit complicated. It’s definitely one of my most used apps and the antiques section is absolutely fantastic.
Facebook is the best way to find expat related groups, buy stuff off the Marketplace, and just learn about events near you. Even if you’re not into social media, a Facebook account can be helpful for the first month to getting into housing groups.
Until Amazon stages their take-over of the Netherlands, Bol is the reigning champion of online retail. I love that you can order products before 11pm and get them the next afternoon. It’s good for last minute gifts!
For hotels, I usually use the booking.com app to keep tabs on my bookings. I regularly use Booking in order to book hotels for little getaways in other Dutch cities. The app makes it easy to find your hotel’s address and phone number.