Get inspired for your next trip – we have prepared a guide to 15 best places to visit in the Netherlands. This article is based on the trips we made during over a year spent in the Netherlands, so all the tips come from direct experience and “insider’s” perspective.
Visiting the Netherlands almost always means heading to Amsterdam. The capital is surely fascinating and will keep you absorbed for a few days (see our guide on 15 top things to do in Amsterdam), but check out what else this characteristic country has to offer.
The Netherlands is a small and densely populated country, so the distances between the towns are basically like going from one part of a big city to another – you can get to a variety of superb places within 30 mins to 2 hours. The Dutch train system is simple, affordable and very reliable, so it’s really easy to make day or half-day trips wherever you want.
In case of smaller villages – to see windmills or tulip fields, it’s cheaper and faster to book a trip: a transport + entrance ticket at a discounted price.
Best Places to Visit in The Netherlands
The obvious choice – one of the world’s most visited destinations, famous for its canals, crooked houses reflecting in the water, prestigious museums, diamonds, marijuana and Red Light District. Amsterdam is definitely worthwhile a few days’ visit.
Kinderdijk is the symbolic Dutch view, just as you imagine Holland: fields by canals full of windmills. This beautiful village, enlisted by UNESCO, has as many as 19 historical windmills, build in the 18th century to drain the lands around.
2 h 15by train or bus from Amsterdam, 40 min from Rotterdam by waterbus
Here are some good deals for organized trips to Kinderdijk:
3. The Hague (Den Haag)
The Hague is the second most important city in the Netherlands: the Dutch Royal family resides here, and even though the Amsterdam is the capital, the seat of the Dutch government is here, too. It’s one of the best day trips from Amsterdam. The Hague is famous also for its impressive Palace of Justice. Head here for a cultural experience: great museums (fascinating Mauritshuis) and monumental architecture (striking Binnenhof, the parliament building).
40 mins by train from Amsterdam
Here are some good deals for organized trips to The Hague:
If you visit the Netherlands in a warm period, check out its most popular beach: Scheveningen next to The Hague. The Netherlands doesn’t sound like a beach country? Well, it has some surprisingly nice ones. Scheveningen is a huge, wide beach bustling with life. There is a pretty promenade with dozens of bars and restaurants by the sea, a shopping area and a fantastic pier with bungee jumping, zip line, Ferris Wheel, cafés and great views. – and a perfect sunset. The town organizes cool events: Kite Festival and the Fireworks Festival.
1 h 18 mins by train from Amsterdam, 10 mins by tram from The Hague
Often overlooked by visitors, Rotterdam, the second largest city of the Netherlands, is actually a great place to see, and a refreshing day trip from Amsterdam. It’s like nothing you have ever seen before, totally surprising with its ultra-modern architecture. Don’t miss the unbelievable Cube Houses, fantastic colourful Market Hall, impressive Erasmus Bridge and its surroundings. The city has great museums and is known for a vivid nightlife.
40 mins by train from Amsterdam, 30 mins from The Hague
This charming town, one of the prettiest in the Netherlands is surely among the best day trips from Amsterdam. Delft is famous for its blue pottery (Delftware) and Johann Vermeer – great painter of the Golden Age, renowned for “Girl with the Pearl Earring” etc. Many kings and queens of Royal Dutch family have a resting place here. It’s a vibrant town with exquisite Renaissance architecture and plenty of stylish bars.
1 h by train from Amsterdam, 13 mins from Rotterdam, 15 mins from The Hague
One of the most recognizable symbol of the Netherlands are, of course, tulips – or even better – tulip fields with endless rows of different colours. The most spectacular tulip gardens, with 7 million bulbs, are dazzling Keukenhof Gardens, open from March to May. They are located in Lisse, a tulip fields paradise. Read all about the tulip fields and gardens here.
1 h 30 mins by bus or train+bus from Amsterdam
Here are some good deals for organized trips to Keukenhof:
The most popular cheese eaten worldwide every day, is probably gouda, right? Welcome to its birthplace! The cheesy city is very proud of its tasty heritage, and it has been holding a traditional and very scenic Gouda cheese market since the 14th century! You can visit it every Thursday from 4 April 2019 till 29 Aug 2019. Definitely among the best day trips from Amsterdam! One of the main town monuments is cheese weigh house, with Cheese museum and cheesy souvenirs. Apart from that, the town has extremely beautiful Gothic Town Hall and the longest church in the country, and it’s really pretty. It’s also home of the nation’s favourite cookie: stroopwaffel, and here it’s really incomparably better than anywhere else.
50 mins by train from Amsterdam
Alkmaar is an attractive medieval town with some nice museums, but its real claim to fame is the fabulous old-fashioned cheese market. It has been held here since 1365! Visit the Alkmaar cheese market every Friday morning and some Tuesday evenings, from 29 March to 27 September 2019.
30 mins by train from Amsterdam.
10. Zaanse Schans
For a feel of Dutch past, visit charming village of Zaanse Schans. It is famous for a group of windmills by a large canal, visited by boat. It’s a place full of charm and peace, with typical Dutch wooden houses from the 18th – 19th century. It is definitely among the best day trips from Amsterdam for a glimpse at the Dutch countryside and traditions. Visit cheese factory and clog (wooden shoes) factory.
Here are some good deals for organized trips to Zaanse Schans:
The enchanting village of Giethoorn is really one of the kind. You can reach it and move around only along its canals – by boat or by ice in winter, or by bike. The houses with characteristic old-fashioned thatched roofs are immersed in gardens and flowers. It looks like a fairytale. Wonderful! Best seen by a boat trip.
2 h 30 by train+bus from Amsterdam, or 1 h 30 on an organized trip by minivan with boat trip
Here are some good deals for organized trips to Giethoorn:
Leiden has been one of the most prominent scientific and university centres in Europe for four centuries, especially in medicine, giving the city the nickname “City of Discoveries”. It’s a lovely, truly Dutch town, pleasant for walking, with two lovely windmills, pretty canals with impressive old-fashioned boats turned into houses, and scenic round fortification with a great view over many monuments. Several interesting museums and a variety of restaurants and cafes along the canals make it a great tourist destination.
25 mins by train from Amsterdam
What makes Utrecht unique among the Dutch towns – and anywhere – are its two levels of canals. The lower level pavements along the medieval wharf cellars are lovely for walking in the cold season, while in the warm season they becomes extremely lively and colourful with beer gardens and cafés all along the canals. As Utrecht has always been the most important religious centre of the country, it has rich history and plenty of great monuments, especially churches with imposing towers. Interesting museums and vibrant atmosphere add up to make it a great destination.
25 mins by train from Amsterdam
14. Texel Island
Wadden Islands or West Frisian Islands are all about pure, wild nature. Texel is the biggest one of them, and it is a great place to unwind strolling along the beautiful sand dunes, beaches with fine white sand, salt marshes and flowers. If you want romantic, quiet and relaxing getaway in unspoilt nature, Texel is a place to go.
2 h train+ferry+bus from Amsterdam, easier on an organized trip
Bourtange is a tiny village in the north of the Netherlands, near Groningen. It was built as a star-shaped fortress in 1593 during the Dutch Revolt and used until the 19th century. Today, it’s an open-air museum with 430 inhabitants. It has definitely a lot of charm. It’s not easy to get there from anywhere else than Groningen, but you can book a trip.
3 h 30 mins by bus+train from Amsterdam
Other Best Places to Visit in The Netherlands
There are many other beautiful places in the Netherlands, like Groningen, Maastricht, Volendam – we will write about them soon. We are preparing also detailed guides on Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and other Dutch towns. What would you add to this list? Do you have any questions or suggestions? Write a comment!