Now that countries are slowly opening up, the Netherlands is getting ready to welcome thousands of tourists into our country. If you’ve never been to this – and my – country, then you are in for a treat. There are lots of fun and historical places for you to visit. And there is so much to see and do that you need at least a week to see some of the highlights. Let’s begin with the best cities in the Netherlands to visit!
When you think of the Netherlands, you think of Amsterdam, our capital. A beautiful city with lots of water, historic buildings, and even a royal connection.
You should at least take a full day to visit all the important sights like
- De Dam and the royal palace
- The historic trainstation Amsterdam Centraal
- De Wallen, which is our famous red-light district (don’t go there with children)
- Anne Frank’s house, visit where she and her family were hiding for the Germans.
- PC Hooftstraat, a street with the most expensive shops in the Netherlands
- Canals, the best way to visit those is with an organized canal tour
- And much, much more…
There is so much to see and experience here. And, the city of Amsterdam is about a 20-minute train ride from Schiphol airport, so great for a long layover!
Delft is in a way similar to Amsterdam but much smaller. It’s home to lots of old buildings, canals, and a very large university.
The most important sights in Delft are the two churches. There is an old and a new church, which is how they are called. In the picture above, you see the new church with a slightly tilted tower. The new church, Nieuwe Kerk in Dutch, is where the royal family members are buried. You can’t visit the tombs, but both churches are open to the public.
Other than that, Delft is really a city to wander. Experience all the small streets, take a canal tour, go shopping, or find a nice restaurant to eat. The ones located on the Markt, near the Nieuwe Kerk, are the most expensive but serve some pretty good food.
Den Haag (The Hague)
Den Haag, or The Hague, how it’s called in English, is actually my hometown. I’ve been living here for many years, and I still absolutely enjoy it. Like the two cities before, Den Haag is home to many historic buildings, canals, shops, and restaurants.
But the reason why you should visit The Hague is that this city is home to our parliament. And you can even take tours through the buildings. Most interesting to see are:
- Het Binnenhof
- De Ridderzaal
- Paleis Noordeinde, where our king works
- Scheveningen, which is our beach
Another great way to see all the highlights in the Netherlands is to visit Madurodam. This amusement park near the city center has created miniature versions of all the most important sights in the country. You will see all the important buildings on a smaller scale.
Gouda is a very popular tourist destination. The reason? Well, cheese! Almost everybody knows the Gouda cheese, and here it’s from.
During the summer months, there is a farmers market in the middle of the city center where you can get all sorts of cheeses and other local produce. There is even a small opening ceremony which will take you back in time to show you how they handled the cheeses in the old days.
Other than that it’s quite similar to other historical cities in the Netherlands, with lots of old buildings, water, shop, and restaurants. Before exploring this city, it’s best to download the app. In this app, you can find all the experiences, routes, and other fun things to do in the city.
Groningen is located in the north of the country. It’s known for the Martini Toren, a 500-year-old tower that you can still climb even to this day. When you reach the top of the stairs, you have an amazing view of the entire area.
There aren’t any must-visit places in Groningen besides the Martini Toren, but it’s a really nice city to wander in. Especially with all the small courtyards the city has.
In the vicinity of Groningen, there are some interesting things to do; the most fun is definitely Wadlopen. This is an activity that will take you to the bottom of the sea without getting you wet. During low tide, you can enter the sandbanks and even take hikes. You can even hike to one of the islands, but that’s is quite an adventure.
Another fun place to visit near Groningen is called Vesting Bourtange. This is an ancient village that they have kept in perfect condition, with all of the historical buildings still in place.
Maastricht is another fun city to visit. It’s located in the South of the Netherlands, a place that doesn’t feel as fast-paced as other cities in the country’s West.
Here the must-see is definitely the Vrijmarkt, with all the restaurants and historic buildings. One of the things you really have to do is order a “Vlaai”. This is a typical pie for this area, and it’s delicious. My favorite is a Cherry Vlaai, but you can also order this cake with chocolate, nuts, whipped cream, or any other delicious thing you can think of.
Maastricht is located in one of the most beautiful areas in the country. Even though the Dutch landscape is mostly flat, in Limburg, where Maastricht is located, there are many hills. It’s a terrific place to go hiking or cycling. There is even a place called the “Drielandenpunt,” where you can hop between the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium.
Den Bosch is located in the south of the country near the Belgian border. It’s known for something which is called “gezelligheid.” There is no English translation for it, but it can best be explained as the warm and comfy feeling you get when you are among your loved ones.
People in this city are very nice and welcoming to guests. And they have some good food too! Must taste is definitely the Bossche Bol, a pastry covered in chocolate and stuffed with cream. It’s best to share one as they can be quite filling.
Other things to do here are to wander through the historical city center or take a canal tour and experience Den Bosch from the water. Must see is the Saint Johns cathedral which is hundreds of years of age.
Rotterdam is a city that was almost completely rebuilt after World War Two. This means buildings might not be as historical as other cities, but it’s definitely a place you should visit.
It’s a great city to go shopping or to find something special to eat. Must-sees are the Erasmusbrug, which is the bridge this city is famous for, and the cube houses, actual cubes above the ground that people live in.
In the picture above, you can see the Markthal. This is the place you should go for food, as it’s an indoor food market with lots of merchants and restaurants. Here you can experience new tastes and take some of the food home with you.
Near Rotterdam, there is one of the most visited tourist destinations, the windmills of Kinderdijk. Here you find a dozen of windmills, some of which are still in operation today. From the city of Rotterdam, you can take a boat taxi to the windmill park. It’s a fun sail through the green landscape of the city. The Kinderdijk mills are also reachable by car or other public transportation.
These are just a few of the best cities to visit in the Netherlands. Hopefully, I’ve given you enough inspiration for your visit. Let me know which city you enjoyed the most!