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Looking for the very best things to do in the Netherlands? Then you’ve come to the right place! Located in Northern Europe, this small yet mighty country offers a rich history, vibrant culture, and picturesque landscapes that are just waiting to be explored.
Amsterdam is a bustling capital that boasts atmospheric nightlife, museums galore, and an exciting food scene, but there’s so much more to the Netherlands beyond the capital city. Across the country, you’ll find enchanting castles, charming villages, and modern cities that offer a completely different vibe.
We’ve explored this incredible country extensively and in this Netherlands guide, we’ll take you through everything that needs to be on your Netherlands bucket list of things to do, including the top activities and true hidden gems that most won’t be aware of. By the end of this guide, you’ll be an expert on Netherlands travel with the ability to craft your perfect Dutch itinerary.
Are you planning your trip to the Netherlands last minute?
Be sure to book your accommodation and tours in the Netherlands ahead of time to ensure availability! Here are our top picks!
- For all the best things to see in Paris, grab the Amsterdam Go City All Inclusive Pass
- Book the Anne Frank and World War II Tour to learn about Amsterdam’s most famous resident
- See iconic windmills with this Zaanse Schans Small Group Tour from Amsterdam
- Enjoy the tulip fields of Keukenhof with a Small Group Cultural Bike Tour
- Visit a traditional Dutch village and enjoy a Giethoorn Sightseeing Boat Trip
Things to Do in the Netherlands
Visit the Anne Frank House
Many know the harrowing true story of Anne Frank, whose life and experiences have been preserved in her diaries written during her time in hiding.
For those who don’t, Anne Frank was a young Jewish girl from Germany, who was persecuted for her religion during the Nazi reign, and forced into hiding in the annex of a townhouse in the Jordaan neighborhood.
She and her family were discovered after two years in hiding and Anne was deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where she died in February 1945, at just fifteen years old.
After the war, Anne’s father Otto, the only member of the family to survive the Holocaust, decided to publish Anne’s diaries and the young author became a symbol of hope in the face of adversity, with words so positive it’s hard to imagine the circumstances in which they were written.
The Diary of a Young Girl, also known as The Diary of Anne Frank, was published in 1947 and has since been translated into more than 70 languages and sold over 30 million copies.
The townhouse where she and her family lived for those two horrifying years has now been converted into the Anne Frank Museum, and you can visit and learn all about the true difficulties of life there, and of life in Nazi Europe in general.
This can be a difficult museum to visit and you have to be quiet and respectful of the surroundings, but if you are interested in European history this is such an important place to see.
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Discover the Canals of Amsterdam
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Amsterdam Canal District was constructed in the 17th century, as a new and completely artificial port city. The canals are laid out in concentric arcs, intersected with radial waterways, bridges, and streets which are lined with beautifully preserved 17th century gabled buildings.
The Canal District is a living museum of Dutch Golden Age architecture and a stroll along these waterways, or a water taxi ride, reveals quintessential Amsterdam, where every bridge and canal side unveils a piece of the city’s rich heritage.
Cafés with outside tables, boutique shops, antique shops, and art galleries fit seamlessly into centuries-old structures adding culture and interest to the historic labyrinth. It’s a wonderful place to grab a coffee and watch the world go by.
Go Museum Hopping in Amsterdam
Anne Frank’s house isn’t the only museum worth visiting in Amsterdam. The capital is bursting with museums to suit all tastes from history buffs to art enthusiasts and everything in between.
At Museumplein, or Museum Square, art lovers will be in their element at the MOCO Museum of Modern Art, Van Gogh Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum, home to modern and contemporary art and design.
History buffs can learn more about the city at the Amsterdam Museum or the Rijksmuseum, the National Museum of the Netherlands where you can see the Dutch masters in one place.
Fancy something a bit different? Then you’ll be pleased to know that there are many unique museums in the Dutch capital. For example, the Katten Kabinet is a museum dedicated solely to cats while the Houseboat Museum offers a first-hand look at what life is like on the water.
The Oude Kerk is Amsterdam’s oldest building and newest art institute, where artists and musicians create new work that can only be seen and heard at the Old Church once. The building, which stands in the red light district, was founded in 1213 and after the Reformation in 1578, became a Calvinist church, which it remains today.
Elsewhere in the city, Museum Tot Zover showcases intriguing exhibitions about death and how loved ones are celebrated in the Netherlands once they pass over. If you’re on the hunt for non-touristy things to do in the Netherlands, it’s a place worth visiting.
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Admire the Unique Architecture of Rotterdam
Many people skip Rotterdam in favor of the capital, but there is so much more to the Netherlands beyond Amsterdam. Rotterdam is a clear example of this! If you’re big into architecture and cool buildings, it’s a city you need to add to your Netherlands itinerary.
The devastation of Rotterdam’s city center during the Second World War gave rise to the diverse tapestry of architectural styles that defines the city today. Within this urban landscape, landmarks embodying the Nieuwe Bouwen (new construction) style of the early to mid-20th century, such as the Sonneveld House and the Van Nelle Factory, coexist harmoniously with examples of post-war architecture like Het Industriegebouw and Rotterdamsche Bank.
The skyline is further enriched by ultramodern residential towers, including De Rotterdam, Zalmhaventoren, and The CoolTower.
This eclectic mix of architectural expressions narrates the story of Rotterdam, a city where a stroll through the center introduces you to historical pre-war monuments like City Hall, Schielandshui, and the Witte Huis, Europe’s inaugural skyscraper. Adjacent to the Laurenskerk, the contemporary Markthal signals the dawn of a new era in Rotterdam’s architectural evolution.
One of the top things to do in this Dutch city is see the 1977 Cube Houses on Overblaak Street, right above the Blaak metro station. These unique homes were designed by Piet Blom; a Dutch architect who spent many years living in Monnickendam.
Over time, these impressive homes have become a hit with photographers and Instagrammers making them a must-see during your time in the city.
Although many are residential homes, you’re welcome to visit the Kijk-Kubus Museum for an insight into what the structures are like inside. You can also visit the Art Cube for beautiful one-of-a-kind art exhibitions.
Discover Local Crafts in Zaanse Schans
Less than 45 minutes away from Amsterdam Central by train, Zaanse Schans is a dreamy slice of Dutch countryside that oozes tons of charm!
This traditional Dutch village boasts typical green wooden houses, historic windmills, and a fascinating insight into local crafts in the Netherlands. Arts and crafts enthusiasts will be in their element here!
Home to a weavers house, clog workshop, cheese farm, and many more must-see attractions, this open-air museum is a delightful showcase of the Netherlands’ rich heritage.
After learning all about the two families who lived in the weavers’ house, you can head on over to the clog workshop for a free demonstration of how these popular Dutch shoes are made.
Afterward, spend an hour or so learning more about the local region at the Zaans History Museum. Inside, they house everything from an old chocolate and biscuit-making factory to a small yet tasteful collection of local art.
Before you leave Zaanse Schans, spend some time visiting the working windmills. These are an authentic part of Dutch history and offer an intriguing look into the country’s past. Big into art? Then make sure you visit De Kat; a windmill that produces vibrant paints, pigments, and much more.
Explore the Castles and Gardens of the Netherlands
If you’re looking for a unique getaway outside of Amsterdam, look no further than the castles and gardens region southeast of the capital city. One of the most beautiful places in the Netherlands, it’s the perfect place for an enchanting road trip with many beautiful spots to explore.
You may not think it, but the Netherlands is home to many impressive castles such as Castle Loenersloot, Muiden Castle, De Haar Castle, and many more.
However, that’s not all! Close to these magical attractions, you’ll find picture-perfect towns and villages that allow you to get off the beaten path in the Netherlands.
For example, close to Loenersloot Castle, Vreeland is a charming village situated along the River Vecht. In addition to exploring the castle, you can visit the Healey Car Museum and dine at one of the most beautiful restaurants in the country, Restaurant Hendrik.
Check out NDSM Wharf in Amsterdam
Art lovers won’t want to miss NDSM Wharf; an artsy neighborhood located in Amsterdam Noord. If you’re looking for free things to do in the Dutch capital, this is one of the best quarters to explore. Full of weird and wonderful things and heaps of street art, it’s one of the coolest parts of the city.
NDSM Loods is a creative warehouse full of artist studios and you can visit completely free of charge. They hold regular exhibitions that showcase impressive art displays and unique creations. You’ll also find lots of intriguing items scattered across the warehouse that make it an interesting place to discover.
Next door, the Straat Museum houses a large collection of colorful street art murals that are sure to leave you feeling inspired. As creatives ourselves, we spent hours staring at all the tiny details of these incredible art pieces. It’s an art gallery like no other in the city!
See the Colorful Tulip Fields in the Garden of Europe
If you’re looking for unique things to do in the Netherlands, exploring the country during tulip season is something that needs to be on your bucket list! Each year during spring, the country blooms with hundreds of fields of tulips in Lisse, in the South Holland province.
From March to May, tulip fields are in full spring across the country and one of the most popular is Keukenhof tulip fields. This popular Netherlands attraction is the largest flower garden in Europe and draws in over one million visitors each year and it isn’t hard to see why!
The grounds are bursting at the brim with vibrant tulips in all kinds of species. On a sunny day, you could easily spend hours admiring pretty florals and wandering the grounds.
The timeframe to see the tulips is small. After the tulip bulbs are planted in November, they traditionally flower between March to mid-May. However, it’s impossible to say exactly when the tulips will be at their peak, especially as climate change is warming the air in northern Europe. Mid to late April is currently the best time to visit the tulip fields, based on the flowering time in 2022 and 2023.
Keukenhof Gardens aren’t the only flower field to visit. Other tulip gardens such as the Tulip Experience and Tulip Farm De Tulperij are worth adding to your itinerary.
One of the best ways to admire the tulips from a different perspective is to hire a bike and cycle along the bike paths for a true Dutch experience. How lovely does that sound?
Enjoy a Lager at the Heineken Experience
Heineken N.V. has been a feature of Amsterdam since 1873 when the first brewery opened. Today you can enjoy a guided tour through the Heineken Experience, a fascinating exploration of the lager legacy etched in the historic walls of a brewery that dates back to 1873.
Located in the heart of Amsterdam, this immersive attraction seamlessly blends modern technology with the age-old brewing traditions of one of the world’s most iconic beer brands.
The Heineken Experience unfolds through a series of engaging showcases, including a meticulously crafted replica of the original brewery, interactive brewing simulations that transport you into the heart of the brewing process, and the unmissable ‘Brew Your Ride’ 4D motion experience when you virtually experience the journey of a beer bottle through the intricate stages of brewing!
Culminating in the Heineken Tasting Bar, you get to try the distinct and flavorful profiles of freshly brewed Heineken pale lager beer.
Visit the Country’s Oldest Museum in Haarlem
Known as Amsterdam’s little sister, Haarlem is one of the best day trip options from the Dutch capital. Not only is it a hip city bursting with great bars and restaurants, but it offers a completely different vibe to Amsterdam.
The big draw here is the oldest museum in the country, Teylers Museum of Wonder, which many travelers visit Haarlem to explore. This popular attraction which was established in 1784 houses all sorts of interesting exhibits from historical artefacts and art to science exhibitions and much more in its permanent collection.
If that’s not your cup of tea, you can spend an hour or so strolling around the Pieter Teyler House. Once the home of the museum’s famous Dutch founder, prepare to be amazed by the stunning interiors and decor. This part of the museum has been lovingly restored to its former glory for travelers to admire in their thousands each year. In fact, it was our favorite part of the whole museum!
That’s not all there is to do in Haarlem. Beyond the Teylers Museum, you can visit the Frans Hals Museum to discover more about the celebrated portrait painter, how he shot to fame in the Netherlands, and see the largest collection of his work worldwide.
Bored of museums? Then consider jumping on a canal cruise, checking out De Adriaan Windmill, or visiting the Grote Markt marketplace to admire the historical sites including the beautiful 1603 Fleshers’ Hall, and the 15th century Groote Kerk, or Great Church. Alternatively, you can spend some time taking wandering the cobbled streets lined with traditional Dutch architecture and snapping some lovely photos.
End your day with a drink at the Jopen Brewery; a refurbished church that offers beers galore and a bustling atmosphere. In my opinion, it’s the perfect way to end your time in Haarlem!
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Explore the Dutch Royal Palaces
The Netherlands is home to three royal palaces, each boasting its unique architectural grandeur and historical significance.
The Royal Palace in Amsterdam, located next to the 15the century Nieuwe Kerk on Dam Square, is a symbol of regal opulence and Dutch heritage, and its majestic facade, adorned with classical columns and intricate sculptures, reflects the grandeur of the Dutch Golden Age. Originally built as the city hall in the 17th century, the palace is now used for official receptions.
Huis ten Bosch, situated in The Hague is the official residence of the Dutch royal family. Surrounded by a lush forest and a scenic lake, the palace emanates an air of tranquility and regality. Built in the 17th century, Huis ten Bosch is characterized by its classic Dutch Baroque architecture and extensive gardens.
Noordeinde Palace in The Hague is the Dutch monarch’s place of work. The palace complex includes the Royal Stables, and the palace gardens contain the Royal Archives, which are the property of the House of Orange-Nassau Historic Collections Trust.
Visit Little Venice at Giethoorn
Geiethoorn, often referred to as ‘Venice of the North’ or ‘Little Venice’ is a picturesque small town in the province of Overijssel. Giethoorn is renowned for its charming canals, quaint thatched-roof cottages, and lush greenery. What sets this village apart is its lack of roads; instead, narrow waterways wind through the village, and residents navigate by boat.
The village’s history dates back to the 13th century, and its name, which means ‘goat horn’, is thought to originate from the goat farming activities that once characterized the area.
Visitors can take a boat tour to explore the pretty waterborne streets, gliding past idyllic scenes of floral gardens and quaint bridges, and visit Museum Giethoorn ‘t Olde Maat Uus, located in one of the village’s original farmhouses.
Today, Giethoorn has become a popular tourist destination offering guided tours, walking paths, and charming cafés along the water’s edge. Although you may see Giethoorn described as tranquil and peaceful, what once was a hidden gem has become a bit of a tourist trap, and in the summer months, it can be incredibly busy.
See the Windmills at Kinderdijk
Kinderdijk is in the picturesque and water-rich region near Dordrecht to the east of Rotterdam. Here you’ll find the windmills of Kinderdijk, dating back to around 1740, which help to keep the Netherland’s feet dry!
Today, these 19 impressive windmills are emblematic of Dutch expertise in water management, earning them UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1997.
Originally erected to safeguard the low-lying terrain of the Alblasserwaard from inundation, they create an iconic Dutch scene, frequently captured by photographers. When envisioning a classic postcard featuring a windmill, it’s likely to showcase the timeless charm of Kinderdijk.
A visit to Kinderdijk allows you to appreciate the intricate network of waterways, dikes, mills, and locks, unveiling the Dutch mastery of leveraging water for over a millennium. Kinderdijk is an absolute must-see if you’re interested in the fascinating history of Dutch windmills and water management so critical to this low-lying country.
Have Fun at Efteling Amusement Park
Did you know that the Netherlands has the most theme parks parks per square meter worldwide? The Dutch version of Disneyland, De Efteling is a fantasy-themed amusement park in Kaatsheuvel, between the major cities of Tilburg and ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
The original park was built in 1952 and extended with a fairytale forest featuring classic children’s stories before becoming a full fantasy theme park. New elements and attractions were added regularly, and today Efteling is the most iconic theme park in the Netherlands and the biggest theme park in the Benelux area.
There is no shortage of things to do, including adrenaline-inducing rides, all manner of roller coasters, dark rides, water rides, and drop rides. Efteling is perfect for a family day out or long weekend – they even have their own hotels and holiday villages!
Explore Marker Wadden
Marker Wadden is a new and man-made archipelago and nature reserve (still under construction) off the coast of Lelystad in Flevoland, an hour from Amsterdam. This group of five islands in the Markermeer Lake and offers visitors pristine empty sands and a wealth of wildlife to explore.
From the main island of Haveneiland, there is a small and beautiful settlement, rolling dunes, grassy wetlands, empty beaches, marshlands, and bird hides, surrounded by gently lapping water and intersected by pathways and boardwalks.
You can bring a boat, kayak, or SUP here to explore from the water, or a fat-tire bike for the shell paths and wooden boardwalks. There are over 700 bird species to see alongside indigenous flora and fauna that have been given a chance to thrive by this innovative scheme.
It’s easy to take a day trip to Marker Wadden: direct trains run regularly from Amsterdam to Lelystad where you can catch a boat to Haveneiland. You can find all the details you need about ferries and timings on the Natuurmonumenten website.
Visit A’DAM Lookout
Take a city ferry across to the north side of Amsterdam, and you can visit A’DAM Lookout. This attraction comes in the form of a huge tower and observation deck, where you can enjoy a drink or bite to eat with a view over Amsterdam.
If you feel brave enough you can have a shot on their over-the-edge swing at the top of the tower, where you’ll swing off the edge of the building and see the city in all its glory.
Visit the World’s Largest Flower Market
Royal Flora Holland at Aalsmeer is the largest flower auction house in the world. Every day, over 30 million flowers from all over the world are sold in their vast 243-acre building – that’s the same size as 200 football pitches! Are you even surprised it’s in the Netherlands?
Close to Schiphol Airport and easily accessible from Amsterdam, the best thing is that the warehouse and auction are open to the public and you can take a guided tour through the marketplace. Make sure to book visitor tickets in advance and be up early, things get going at 7am.
The auction is an amazing spectacle. With a fast-paced and automated system of tracks and trolleys to move the flowers, the exhilaration of the bidding (which starts high and ends low!), and the huge array of colorful and fragrant blooms, this is a real slice of authentic Dutch life.
If you want a similar experience but don’t want to get up early or travel, head to the Bloemenmarkt, the famous floating flower market and the only one of its kind in the world.
Bloemenmarkt sits along a long line of canal boats attached to the harbor and has been here since 1862. You can see plenty of flowers, including tulips, as well as bulbs to take home and grow yourself, and other traditional Dutch souvenirs.
Discover The Hague
The Hague, the political and administrative heart of the Netherlands, is a city that effortlessly combines elegance, culture, and international influence and is our favorite of the Dutch cities. Located along the North Sea coastline, this vibrant metropolis enjoys a rich history and a modern, cosmopolitan flair.
The Hague is renowned for its stately architecture, featuring grand avenues, royal palaces, and historic landmarks. The Binnenhof, an iconic complex of government buildings surrounding a tranquil lake, symbolizes the city’s status as the seat of Dutch politics.
The Hague is also a cultural hub, offering world-class museums, such as the Mauritshuis, which houses Dutch old masters like Johannes Vermeer’s luminous Girl with a Pearl Earring, dated around 1665.
In the city’s diverse neighborhoods, you’ll find a blend of traditional Dutch charm and contemporary urban living, with bustling markets, trendy coffee shops, and green parks creating a lively atmosphere. As an international city, The Hague is home to numerous embassies, multinational organizations, and a diverse expatriate community.
The extensive coastline, including the popular Scheveningen Beach, provides respite from the bustling city and you can jump on the Ferris wheel for amazing coastal and city views.
Visit a Dutch Cheese Market
The Netherlands is known for its delicious creamy cheeses including Edam and Gouda. And what better way to explore Dutch cheese than spending a day at a cheese market? Some of the easiest cheese markets to visit are in Alkmaar, Gouda, Edam, and Woerden. All of these markets sell top-quality local cheese, and double up as tourist attractions!
The most famous of the cheese markets is in Alkmaar, the capital city of Dutch cheese in the North Holland province. The cheese market takes place on Waagplein from 10am to 1pm between April and September, and in July and August, the cheese market also takes place on Tuesday evenings from 7pm to 9pm.
The market is a real spectacle with huge wheels of cheese being moved around by hand and in cheese barrows, all by people wearing traditional costumes.
Spend a Day by the Seaside
When you think of the Netherlands, beaches probably aren’t the first thing that springs to mind. In fact, it’s a country known for vibrant cities. However, coastal adventures are still possible on a day trip from Amsterdam.
There are several beaches, such as Zandvoort Beach and Bloemendaal Beach, that are easily reachable from the capital. This makes it easy to get out in nature and breathe in the fresh sea air as you spend the day relaxing and soaking up the rare Netherlands sun.
As well as sunbathing, there’s plenty to keep you busy. You could hike across stunning sand dunes, enjoy a cocktail at a vibrant beach club, or tackle the waves. The choice is yours!
Explore the Netherlands’ National Parks
The 20 national parks of the Netherlands tell the story of the country’s flora, fauna and culture and preserve the characteristic nature, landscapes, and biodiversity of the country. From dunes to riverbanks, heathlands to peat bogs, each landscape has its unique history and connection between people and nature.
Standout national parks include De Hoge Veluwe National Park located an hour away from Amsterdam by car, and easily accessible using the Netherlands’ reliable and cost-effective public transportation.
As you discover this stunning natural park in the largest lowland natural terrain in Northwest Europe, you’ll be surrounded by trees, dunes, flowers, and wild animals, including a herd of red deer and over fifty wild boar, the ancestor of most domestic pig breeds.
There are bike stations posted around the park and its entrances and you can borrow bikes for free to explore the 40km of trails. The visitor center organizes safaris every month, as well as nocturnal nature-spotting trips.
Don’t miss the Kröller-Müller Museum, home to the second largest collection of works by the great artist Vincent Van Gogh in the world, as well as works of art by Pointillists like Seurat, Signac and Henri Edmund-Cross, and an other-worldly sculpture park.
Get the ferry from the mainland to Schiermonnikoog National Park, which takes up the whole of the island of the same name in the Wadden Sea.
Widely considered to be the most beautiful national park in the Netherlands, Schiermonnikoog has an unspoiled feel, partly because only a few of the island’s residents own a car and all of the buildings are clustered on the west coast.
You’ll find a patchwork of tracks and trails through the forest, along beaches, and into sand dunes and watery salt marsh creeks. This is a great place to hike, cycle, wild swim, and bird watch, and it’s one of the best places in the Netherlands to star gaze as it has the darkest night skies in the country.
In winter thousands of geese hibernate on Schiermonnikoog, while grassland birds like lapwings, redshank, and oystercatchers can be seen in their natural habitat in summer.
Discover De Haar Castle
Receiving accolades such as the ‘most luxurious castle in Europe’, De Haar Castle just outside Utrecht is a gem hidden far from the typical tourist routes.
While De Haar Castle may exude the appearance of a genuine medieval fortress, complete with suspension bridges, moats, turrets, and towers nestled against the beautiful parkland backdrop, it underwent reconstruction in the early 20th century.
Originally falling into disrepair during the 18th and 19th centuries, the castle’s current splendor pays homage to its roots dating back to the 13th century. Once the private residence of the Van Zuylen family, whose descendants still reside here every September, the castle now hosts opulent parties and is open to the public.
Learn about WWII at the Overloon War Museum
During World War II, Nazi Germany occupied the Netherlands from 1940 to 1945. In 1942, the Nazis transported Jewish and other prisoners from the Netherlands via Amersfoort and Westerbork transit camps to German concentration camps before building a concentration camp in Vught, near the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
You can find out about the Netherlands’ part in World War Two at the Overloon War Museum, near the German border south of Nijmegen. Here you can see how more than fifty million people lost their lives in five years.
There are plenty of things to see including exhibitions and stories of the Dutch resistance movement, of how the oppressed population dealt with restrictions and shortages, the terrible persecution perpetrated by the Germans, and the liberation, with a focus on the decisive Battle of Overloon.
Enjoy a Splash at Tiki Pool Water Park
The Tiki Pool is a giant water park situated within the Duinrell Holiday Park in Wassenaar on the coast north of The Hague. It’s a great spot to spend a few days at the start or end of your holiday in the Netherlands.
This family-friendly water park has a great mix of thrilling water slides, lazy rivers, and interactive play areas with pools and attractions being both indoor and outdoor, making it a perfect spot for a rainy day or winter trip.
Grab Some Downtime on Texel
Texel, the largest of the Wadden Islands (also known as the Frisian Islands) and the largest island in the Netherlands, is a gorgeous blend of natural beauty, serene landscapes, and maritime charm and makes a great day trip from Amsterdam.
Accessible by a short ferry ride from Den Helder, Texel offers a haven for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a peaceful retreat. With its vast stretches of sandy beaches, rolling dunes, and diverse ecosystems, the island is a paradise for birdwatchers, hikers, and beachgoers alike.
Visitors can explore the Ecomare Nature and Seal Center, where marine life and seabirds take center stage, or cycle through picturesque villages with traditional thatched-roof cottages, immersing themselves in the island’s laid-back atmosphere.
Texel’s unique maritime heritage is evident in its historic lighthouses, such as the iconic red and white-topped Eierland Lighthouse, which offers panoramic views of the island and the North Sea.
The island also boasts a rich agricultural tradition, with sheep grazing on the expansive meadows, producing Texel’s renowned sheep cheese, made from unpasteurized milk at Kaasboerderij Wezenspyk. Local seafood, including fresh oysters and shrimp, adds to Texel’s culinary offerings.
Delft, with its tranquil streets, medieval architecture, and picturesque canals, captures the quintessential charm of small Dutch cities. However, what sets Delft apart is its rich history and distinguished residents, making it a must-visit for enthusiasts of aesthetics and history.
Notably, members of the Dutch royal family, the House of Orange, have not only resided here but have also been married and laid to rest in Delft. The renowned Dutch Baroque Period painter, Johannes Vermeer, immortalized his hometown and its inhabitants in several of his masterpieces.
Delft is equally famed for its intricate blue pottery designs known as Delftware, which drew inspiration from Chinese porcelain styles introduced to the city in the 1600s.
Once you’ve covered royalty, painters and pottery, head for the lively markets, the little alleys with their fantastic ambiance, the wonderful canals, and beautiful canal-side houses with their extraordinary facades, and take pictures to your heart’s content!
Visit the Artis Amsterdam Royal Zoo
Natura Artis Magistra (Latin for ‘Nature is the teacher of art), known as Artis, is a zoo and botanical garden in the center of Amsterdam. Founded in 1838, it is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands and the fifth oldest zoo in the world.
In addition to the zoo, Artis also contains an aquarium, a planetarium, an arboretum, Micropia (a museum about microbes… who knew?), and the Groote Museum, which attempts to explore the connection with yourself, your body, and all other life on Earth.
Not only is the Artis Royal Zoo an oasis of peace right at the heart of the busy city, it is also a haven for over 700 animal species and 200 tree varieties, many on the verge of extinction.
Try the Local Sweet Treats
You can’t visit the Netherlands and not try a stroopwafel. These delightful Dutch treats resemble a small waffle sandwich, with each layer containing a delectable spiced buttery caramel syrup, known as stroop in Dutch. Thus, the name translates to ‘syrup waffle’.
The best stroopwafels possess a subtle crispness on the exterior while maintaining a soft, indulgent interior. To stay true to its traditional origins, the stroop, or syrup, should be crafted using sugar beet molasses. Head to Van Wonderen Stroopwafels, for the best in Amsterdam.
Poffertjes resemble miniature pancakes but distinguish themselves by being exceptionally light and fluffy compared to the usual American pancake.
Crafted from a blend of buckwheat flour, yeast, eggs, sugar, butter, and milk, poffertjes are delicately cooked in hot butter until achieving a subtle golden crispness on the exterior and a tender, airy interior. Presented with a dollop of butter and a sprinkling of powdered sugar, they are just delicious.
Bossche boll is a pastry from the city of ‘s‑Hertogenbosch that are apple-sized balls of deliciousness! Whipped cream enclosed in a layer of choux pastry that is coated entirely in dark chocolate fondant makes Bossche Bollen a bit like a profiterole, but bigger and with more chocolate. What’s not to love?
Enjoy Snow Sports at SnowWorld Landgraaf
Europe’s most expansive indoor ski resort, SnowWorld Landgraaf, is situated in Landgraaf, east of Maastricht. The resort boasts five distinctive ski slopes, including two exceeding 500 meters each, two practice slopes, and an engaging fun park.
Alongside the slopes, SnowWorld Landgraaf features a luxurious four-star hotel, multiple dining establishments, and seven lifts for added convenience. Perfect for a winter holiday without the mountains!
Marvel at Paleis Het Loo
Constructed as a hunting lodge in the central Netherlands, Paleis Het Loo served the future William III, who later became the Protestant king of England, Ireland, and Scotland in 1689. Revered by Ulster’s Orange Order as ‘King Billy’, William III played a key role in the glorious revolution, where he seized the throne from the Catholic king, James II.
Today, the Baroque palace looks as it might have done in the 17th century, but this appearance belies the huge, and very beautiful, modern museum that has been constructed underneath the palace.
The restoration includes classic formal gardens, an Orangerie with 200 citrus trees, William III’s highest fountain, and a recreation of the 17th century apartments where William and his wife, Queen Mary II of England, stayed. There’s also a permanent exhibition about the House of Orange-Nassau, the current reigning house, through the years.
Inside the historic palace, there are interiors with original furniture, objects, and paintings of the royal family. It also houses a library and the Museum of the Netherlands Orders of Knighthood’s Chancellery with books and other materials concerning decorations and medals. The building is a rijksmonument and among the Top 100 Dutch national heritage sites.
Go Small at Madurodam
Madurodam is a prominent tourist attraction in The Hague, renowned for its miniature park. Located in the Scheveningen district, the park showcases meticulous 1:25 scale model replicas of iconic Dutch castles, industrial projects, and public buildings.
Visitors embark on a captivating journey through the nation’s history, immersing themselves in the charm of renowned structures.
Beyond visual exploration, guests can also engage in hands-on experiences in the three different zones of the park such as loading containers onto a cargo ship in the miniature port of Rotterdam, helping a plane take off at Schiphol airport, or preventing a great flood by operating the Oosterscheldekering storm surge barrier.
Yes, we know it’s not the Netherlands, but the pretty city of Ghent in Belgium is only two hours from Amsterdam by direct train, meaning you get to see more of Europe during your trip!
Life in Ghent has always revolved around the water. In the Middle Ages, the city’s complex network of canals and rivers helped to turn it into a leading trade center and large metropolis, topped only by Paris. The wool merchants are long gone but the waterways are still just as lively.
Tourist boats float between medieval churches and families picnic on the quays that are lined with beautiful guild houses and medieval market halls. There are excellent museums and Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, home to the famous Ghent Altarpiece painted by the Van Eyck brothers.
Ghent is a multi-faceted destination in Belgium, a tiny country that really packs a punch. The city reflects the best of the country in its lively culture and forward-thinking spirit.
Ultimately, there are many things to do in the Netherlands, many of which are outside of the capital city. If you’re heading to the Netherlands soon, consider planning some day trips to discover more about the country’s culture, art scene, and way of life.
It’s a great way to get a real feel for the Netherlands away from the crowds and heaps of tourists. You never know, you may grow to love this incredible country as much as we have!