17 Places You Need To See in The Netherlands

Located  in North-West Europe, with much of its territory below sea level, it’s no wonder everyone talks about the Netherlands as a land of wonderful canals. But that’s just one of this country’s many appeals. Scattered throughout, you will also find picturesque windmills, colorful flower fields, and vibrant cities rich in art, culture, and history.

Here are 13 of the best places to see in the Netherlands, from charming cheese markets to beautiful parks to seductive Amsterdam:

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Netherlands top 17 places

Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the largest and most alluring city in the Netherlands. Vibrant, cosmopolitan, and steeped in culture, it greets visitors with fabulous museums, exciting nightlife, and a decidedly unique café scene.

For a complete experience in the Dutch capital, don’t miss the illustrious Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, or Anne Frank House. Also, make sure you fill out your itinerary with long strolls around Grachtengordel – the area in central Amsterdam where the city’s main canals, bridges, and the quaint 17th-century canal houses reside; and a foray into the controversial Red Light District – once famous for cannabis coffee shops and neon-lit brothel windows, now brimming with art studios and cool hipster hangouts.

The Hoge Veluwe National Park

Covering an area of 5,400 hectares in the province of Gelderland, Hoge Veluwe National Park is one of the largest and most varied nature reserves in the Netherlands. Home to interesting wildlife and geographical formations ranging from rolling sand dunes to dense woodlands, the park is a wonderful example of what can happen when sport, art, and culture meet unspoilt nature.

Major attractions in the Hoge Veluwe National Park include the Kröller-Müller Museum, which is home to the world’s largest private Van Gogh collection; The Museonder (Underground Museum) – one of the finest sculpture gardens in Europe; and the stunning Jachthuis Sint Hubertus Hunting Lodge.

To explore all these, take advantage of the 1,700 white bikes, free for everyone to use throughout the park.

Keukenhof Gardens

One of the country’s greatest attractions, the Keukenhof Gardens, often referred to as “The Garden of Europe“, is the second largest flower garden in the world after Dubai Miracle Garden, and a place anyone should visit while in the Netherlands. Located in the Bulb region, between Amsterdam and The Hague, Keukenhof, with its more than seven million bulbs planted each autumn, is a magnificent spectacle of colors and scents.

In addition to admiring the gorgeous floral landscape, visitors can also enjoy various flower shows, markets, and parades held here throughout the year; take a memorable flight, bike tour, or boat trip around the bulb fields; or have lunch in one of the onsite restaurants.

The best time of the year to visit the Keukenhof Gardens is during spring, when the fields are in full bloom and can be admired in their entire splendor.

Rotterdam

Amsterdam’s greatest rival, Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands and one of the world’s largest and busiest ports. Located in Western Netherlands, in the province of South Holland, the city stands out for its gorgeous waterside setting, cutting-edge architecture, and high commercial importance.

Nevertheless, its lively nightlife, jam-packed cultural calendar, and yung university vibe make Rotterdam one of the most dynamic and livable cities in Europe.

There are many sayings reflecting the perpetual rivalry between the Netherlands’ finest cities, but this is probably the most popular: “Amsterdam has it, but Rotterdam doesn’t need it”.

Delft

Delft is a charming typical Dutch city located in the province of South Holland, between Rotterdam and The Hague.

World-famous for its blue and white pottery (Delftware) and for being the hometown of Vermeer – the painter who gave birth to the Girl With a Pearl Earring, Delft is bursting with things to see and do, from lovely bars and cafés to quaint churches, interesting museums, and beautiful historical buildings lining pretty canals and wonderful parks.

Delft’s real charm, however, lies in the relaxed atmosphere, which together with its gloriously preserved medieval old center and idyllic canals, makes for an unforgettable romantic getaway.

Maastricht

The capital of the Limburg province, Maastricht lies in the south eastern part of the Netherlands, very close to both Belgium and Germany.

Once a Roman settlement, this attractive multicultural city has mastered the art of combining the old with the new. Expect rich culture and history, leafy parks, interesting museums, and a storybook medieval old town of quaint plazas and romantic cobblestone streets lined with restaurants and cafés.

The Old Windmills of Kinderdijk

There are many things that make the Netherlands the unique place that it is, but nothing complements better the traditional Dutch landscape than its picturesque windmills. The country is full of them, but the UNESCO-protected 19 old windmills of Kinderdijk are, no doubt, one of the most famous sights in the Netherlands.

Designed in 1740 to drain the Alblasserwaard polders and to prevent flooding, the windmills were perfectly preserved ever since. Nowadays, tourists from all over the world come to admire this idiosyncratic scenery and learn about the brilliant Dutch water management. Moreover, from April to the end of October, one of these ancient generators is open to the public in order to be explored and admired.

Kinderdijk sits in the province of South Holland, about 15 km east of Rotterdam, and can be easily reached by car, train, bus, and even by boat during the tourist season.

Haarlem

Located about 20 km west of Amsterdam, on the banks of the River Spaarne, Haarlem is the capital of North Holland and the city with the highest concentration of museums in the Netherlands.

Gravitating around a delightful market square (Grote Markt), where many of the city’s landmarks are located, Haarlem is a great place to visit, whether you’re interested in culture, history, shopping, or just want to soak up the enchanting laid-back Dutch feel while lingering over a beer in one of its many sidewalk cafés.

The Hague

Dubbed “The judicial capital of the world, The Hague is one of the largest and most important cities in the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

Airy and sophisticated, this cosmopolitan metropolis in the west of the country seduces visitors with outstanding architecture, lovely squares, and fine art museums, but also with its golden beaches, posh neighborhoods, shiny skyscrapers, and excellent shopping.

Highlights include Madurodam – the miniature city located in Scheveningen; the Prison Gate Museum (Gevangenpoort); the beautiful beach resort of Scheveningen; the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis; and Binnenhof  – The Hague’s famous and imposing complex of governmental buildings.

The Efteling

Established in 1952, in the little town of Kaatsheuvel, Southern Netherlands, Efteling is among the oldest theme parks in the world and the largest attraction of its kind in the country, about twice as large as California’s famous Disneyland.

The park is divided into four different realms – each with its own theme, and has lots of attractions to entertain the entire family, from wide-open green spaces, concerts, and theatrical performances to bars, restaurants, and a four star hotel.

Eindhoven

If you like technology and design, head to Eindhoven. Don’t miss the Van Abbemuseum (modern and contemporary art), Strijp-S (a creative and cultural center housed in an industrial park), and the Inkijkmuseum (a micro museum located in a former washhouse). Looks can be deceiving: Cutting-edge Eindhoven is one of the oldest cities in Holland.

Lisse

Spring and summer are definitely the most popular times to visit Lisse in the famed Flower Bulb Region of western Holland, where these seasons provide a startling display of tulips in just about every color you can imagine. Such is their splendor that no photo can fully capture the moment – you just have to see it all for yourself. You can explore the colorful fields of flowers by bicycle and then visit Keukenhof Gardens, one of the world’s largest flower gardens that is only open during spring and early summer when the tulips are flowering. If you visit Lisse during autumn and winter, you can spend some time visiting the coastal towns of Katwijk and Noordwijk and do some hiking through the sand dunes.

Nijmegen

Located in the province of Gelderland near the German border, Nijmegen is another of the Netherland’s historical and architectural gems that recently celebrated its two thousand year anniversary. You can reach the compact Historic Town Center in just 10 minutes after leaving the station and take a self-guided walking tour to see most of the highlights, including the Waag (Weighing House) on the Grote Markt (Market Square), Sint Stevenskerk, the Latin School, the Stadhuis (Town Hall), and the medieval Marienburg Chapel. At the Nationaal Fietsmuseum Velorama, you can see over 250 vintage and modern bicycles, while the Museumpark Orientalis has an extensive collection of religious exhibits. Children will love a visit to the near-by Tivoli Amusement Park.

Texel

Texel is the largest of the Frisian Islands located off the mainland of northern Holland, offering visitors a wide variety of outdoor activities to enjoy. You can hire a bicycle to explore the villages, towns, and the 30-kilometer coastline, which has some of the best sandy beaches in the world. During the warm summer months, you can enjoy swimming, surfing, kite sailing, windsurfing, and catamaran sailing, while the children can hunt seashells and build sand castles. The island is dotted with interesting museums and landmarks to keep you busy on rainy days – try the Whaler’s Cottage, the Aviation and Wartime Museum, the Shipwreck and Beachcombing Museum, and the Local History Museum. Each of the little towns and villages offer interesting shopping and dining options.

Volendam

Volendam is a delightful typically Dutch fishing village located just 12 kilometers north of Amsterdam. The village features on several day-tours from Amsterdam, or you could jump on a train and be there in under an hour. The lovely old harbor is packed full of old Dutch ships, and some of the prime tourist activities include dressing up in regional costume, trying on wooden clogs, and having your photo taken against the iconic Dutch backdrops the town provides. You can also take a boat trip to the island of Marken to see how the traditional wooden Dutch clogs are made and to admire the typical wooden houses. Cheese and fish are always in fashion in Volendam, and you should not leave without tasting some local delicacies.

Duinrell

Volendam is a delightful typically Dutch fishing village located just 12 kilometers north of Amsterdam. The village features on several day-tours from Amsterdam, or you could jump on a train and be there in under an hour. The lovely old harbor is packed full of old Dutch ships, and some of the prime tourist activities include dressing up in regional costume, trying on wooden clogs, and having your photo taken against the iconic Dutch backdrops the town provides. You can also take a boat trip to the island of Marken to see how the traditional wooden Dutch clogs are made and to admire the typical wooden houses. Cheese and fish are always in fashion in Volendam, and you should not leave without tasting some local delicacies.

Shopping Outlet Roermond

Roermond is well worth a visit. Enjoy attractive historic Roermond and discover the many beautiful nature parks nearby. Or go on a shopping spree at the Designer Outlet Roermond. Roermond is a perfect destination for a multi-day shopping holiday.

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