The Netherlands is an absolutely stunning European travel destination. It’s characterized by its flat land, old windmills, delicious cheese, colorful flower fields, and a plethora of bikes. More so, much of the Netherlands is below sea level, which has resulted in a ton of beautiful and enchanting canals—canals are one of the more famous aspects of this country.
In addition to the beauty of the Netherlands, the country is also bursting with culture and history. These aspects make exploring and experiencing the country exciting and compelling. The Netherlands has a ton to offer its visitors and should be on the top of everyone’s bucket lists! It really is a travel location that has something to offer for all types and ages of travelers. You can customize the places you visit within the Netherlands to suit your desires while traveling, and make it work best for you!
Here are the top places to visit in the Netherlands that will show you all the classic Dutch sights and attractions, and much more!
No trip to The Netherlands is complete without visiting the capital city, Amsterdam. This will most likely be your first stop during your Netherlands adventures, and for a good reason! Amsterdam is absolutely packed with things to do, see, and experience, plus it is absolutely stunning and almost entirely made up of picturesque canals.
Spending a couple of days or a weekend in Amsterdam is the perfect amount of time to get a taste of the city and see all the main sights and attractions. If you’re a traveler looking to experience some of the vibrant cultures within Amsterdam, check out one of the many museums, such as the Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and much more!
Or, if you want to wander or bike the iconic streets and canals for hours on end, those are perfect activities, too.
Amsterdam is also a very westernized city in the Netherlands, and almost everyone speaks English! Therefore, starting there is an excellent way to get comfortable with Dutch bikes, directions, and customs without getting thrown in full force. Plus, one of the biggest airports in Europe, Schiphol Airport, is located in Amsterdam, so starting your adventures here is ideal.
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands, coming right after Amsterdam. It’s a fascinating place to visit in the Netherlands because it looks very different from the other cities in the country. The whole city is entirely new and modern and isn’t full of old historic buildings like the others. This is because, during World War II, almost the entire city of Rotterdam was destroyed by bombs.
Despite its rough past, Rotterdam has rebuilt itself and now stands tall and proud in South Holland. The city is made up of skyscrapers, which is an unheard-of architectural design in other cities, and various other modern buildings.
However, Rotterdam is more than just its unique architecture; it’s also full of cool and exciting things to do! Two of the main sights you must see are the cube houses and the Erasmusbrug. And you must go to the many trendy cafes.
Rotterdam is the perfect place to visit to get a feel for the new and modern side of the Netherlands and want to experience a youthful and energetic city vibe.
One of the main attractions in the Netherlands is the plethora of colorful tulips and tulips fields that bloom in the spring. And the best place to see all these tulips together is at Keukenhof Gardens, the second largest flower garden in the world! This garden is a magical place to visit in the Netherlands and one that will blow you away.
The gardens hold more than seven million flowers, all displayed in unique shapes, patterns, and arrangements. It’s an explosion of color and scents that will amaze you! However, Keukenhof is only open for two months of the year (end of March through mid-May), so you can only view the plethora of flowers during these months.
But there are other places to find tulips year-round. Due to the limited open dates, the gardens do get very busy! They attract over one million tourists during the two months, so getting tickets in advance and going during non-peak hours is essential.
The city of Alkmaar is full of museums and medieval architecture that is mesmerizing to see. This city is the best tourist location to visit to learn and experience local Dutch culture! It is very well known for its cheese, so if you are a cheese lover, you cannot miss an Alkmaar cheese market tour. Plus, the city hosts a Dutch cheese market every Friday from April to September!
However, if you don’t go during those months, it’s still a great city to visit to experience a more local side of the Netherlands. It is not the most popular tourist destination in Holland, which is excellent if you are looking to escape some crowds.
Haarlem is often called “Little Amsterdam” because it has a similar architectural design as Amsterdam and quite a few canals. However, Haarlem comes with about half of the crowds that fill the streets of Amsterdam. It is also located only 20 minutes from Amsterdam by train, so it’s the perfect quick place to visit if you’re in a hurry.
The city is absolutely stunning and is full of exciting things to do.
If you like museums, this is an excellent place to visit because it has the highest concentration of museums in the Netherlands. Haarlem also has a lively and exciting market square called Grote Markt, which is great to walk around and admire the surroundings. The city is also great for shopping, sitting at quaint cafes and enjoying the food scene, and basking in the laid-back Dutch environment.
The Hague is another unique place to visit in the Netherlands that will surprise you around every corner. It is the judicial capital of the world but offers much more. There are two main areas of the Hague, namely the city and the beach. The city is full of significant buildings, beautiful architecture, exciting attractions, shopping streets, and lively squares. More so, the beach is a vast, golden sand beach with a pier and a Ferris wheel.
Most people head to The Hague to visit the beach because it is so beautiful and exciting. Warm, sunny days are rare in the Netherlands, so when it is a beautiful day, everyone flocks to the Hague beach. Here they can soak up some sun, hang out with friends, play beach sports, and listen to music.
Other highlights of the Hague include Madurodam—which is a miniature city full of tiny replicas of famous Dutch landmarks, games, and more! Madurodam is the perfect place to take children. Another highlight is the Binnenhof, which is the area that holds all of the Hague’s government buildings.
If you’re heading to the Netherlands and want to see some of the iconic wooden windmills, Zaanse Schans is the best place for you. This is an area full of historic windmills, old Dutch houses, shops, and museums. You can plan a whole day adventure here and never get bored.
This is one of the best places to visit to see what the 18th and 19th centuries in the Netherlands would have looked like. Plus, it’s more than just viewing windmills. There are also homemade chocolate shops, cheese shops, and some museums to check out.
Utrecht is a city with a rich middle-aged history and a ton to do and see. It is the most bike-friendly city in the Netherlands, so if you want to live your best Dutch life and try to go biking: This is the perfect place to do so.
The most interesting thing about Utrecht is the inner canal wharf system that was used in the past to stop invaders from entering the city. However, today, it is used for restaurants to serve drinks and food along the waterline! This offers an incredibly unique dining experience that you should try to experience while in The Netherlands.
Utrecht is also full of beautiful architecture, historic churches, and great shopping streets.
As you can see, there are a ton of beautiful places to visit in the Netherlands that offer cultural, historical, and visual excitement. This list does not include every single place in the Netherlands and there is so much more to discover beyond these few cities. This beautiful country is yours to discover!
By Samantha Karen
Samantha is the founder of the travel bog Sam Sees World. She is a millennial traveler on a mission to seek the new and unknown so she can document her experiences and inspire others to explore this wondrous world. Her objective is to provide valuable information on the best things to do, see, eat, and experience while traveling and getting some good Instagram photos along the way. Follow her on Pinterest and Instagram.