Looking for the best places to visit in the Netherlands? Check out this post for all the details on the top cities and villages to explore to fully experience the wonderful Dutch country. The Netherlands is a very small country and driving from end to end takes only about 3 hours in total. However, within those three hours, you will pass through a ton of different cities that all offer something unique to be discovered.
Most visitors of The Netherlands head to Amsterdam and think they have seen it all. But there is so much more to this quaint country than you may originally think. From sandy beaches to authentic windmills to winding canals to modern cities and more! The best thing about traveling around The Netherlands is that since it is so small everything is very close and getting from city to city takes only an hour at most. Plus The Netherlands has an amazing railway transportation system that is very quick, clean and comfortable. I’ll give some more information on getting around The Netherlands at the end of this post.
All the 12 best places to visit in The Netherlands listed below are very different and well worth a visit. Find the one or ones that fit your desires best and get going on an adventure.
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12 Best Places to Visit in the Netherlands
In This Post
Amsterdam is definitely the most popular city to visit in the Netherlands. It is one of the best places to visit in the Netherlands for a first-time visit to the country. Amsterdam is a world-famous tourist destination that is full of beautiful architecture, winding canals, and rich history. There is so much to do and see in Amsterdam, and it truly is a travel destination that has something for everyone!
Amsterdam does have a reputation as a party city, and it does have a prevalent party scene and coffee shop culture (which is very different than a cafe), but there is so much more to the city. It is packed with museums with artists ranging from Van Gogh, Banksy, Rembrandt and many more. More so, Amsterdam is full of historical sites like the Anne Frank house, the botanical gardens dating back to the 1600s, and royal buildings such as the royal palace in Dam Square.
Visitors of the city could easily spend a week here with all the things to do and see. But with all the other stunning cities in the Netherlands, it is nice to move around and see another side of the country.
Read More: Amsterdam Weekend Guide
Delft is a small city in the Netherlands that is full of beautiful canals and old buildings. This is a top city to visit in the Netherlands because it has all the beauty of the other cities, but it doesn’t attract many tourists. Therefore, exploring the streets is much more enjoyable and authentic.
There are quite a few things to do in Delft, but the best is to simply stroll the streets and admire the beauty. However, you can also view the grand city hall, go to the top of The New Church of Delft, or eat at one of the many cafes.
Zwolle is a lovely medieval Dutch city in the Netherlands that is full of surprises. This city is a little more off the beaten track and the authentic Dutch culture is very prevalent. Zwolle is the perfect place to visit in the Netherlands if you want to see a real dutch town that isn’t overrun with tourism.
More so, there is quite a bit to do in Zwolle. The city has a main square which is home to a street market every Saturday. This is a great place to find fresh foods dutch delicacies and take in the atmosphere. Zwolle is also home to the stunning cathedral book store, which is one of the most beautiful book stores in all of the Netherlands. There are also a ton of shops in Zwolle with clothing, accessories, food and much more!
Read More: The Best Day Trips From Amsterdam
Rotterdam is the most modern city in The Netherlands and looks very different from all other places on this list. Its modern architecture and design are due to the second world war. During this time the city was bombed very heavily and the city was in ruins. Therefore, when they rebuilt it they gave it a modern look. Although Rotterdam doesn’t have the classic Dutch architecture and look of other cities in the Netherlands, it has its own unique charm that is well worth seeing.
There are quite a bit of things to do in Rotterdam as well. One of the main attractions of the cities that you should check out is the cube houses. These are a set of innovative houses that were designed for high-density living. The houses are very unique and you are even able to go inside. In addition to this, the city has a market hall that is full of 25+ different food vendors for you to choose from.
Rotterdam is also home to the Erasmus Bridge, which is an amazing feat of engineering. This bridge is one of the things Rotterdam is most well known for and something every visitor of the city should see.
Geithoorn is a magical fairytale village in the northeast side of the Netherlands. It is quite far from other cities in the Netherlands and can be a journey to get to, but despite this, it is 100% worth visiting. The small town is full of charm and since it is so different and unique than all the other cities, it is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in the Netherlands.
Geitherhoorn is also called the Venice of the north since the whole village is made up of waterways and getting around by boat is the most convenient and easiest way to get around. This small village attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, all eager to rent a boat and see the thatch-roofed houses and lush green landscape.
There are not many attractions in Geithoorn besides exploring the city, but trust me, exploring this unique village is more than exciting. If you are looking for a unique place to visit in the Netherlands that is very different from all anything you’ve seen before, this is the place for you.
The Hague is an exciting city in the Netherlands that is more than meets the eye. The city itself is the most royal city in the Netherlands and is home to various parliament buildings, museums, and more. One of the most exciting things to do in The Hague is head to Madurodam, which is a park full of mini versions of various cities and attractions in the Netherlands.
However, the main thing visitors of the Hague need to see is the beautiful Scheveningen Beach. This is a vast sandy beach that is lined with restaurants and has a long pier with a Ferris wheel. On warm summer days, this beach is packed with Dutch locals and tourists drinking, eating, and spending time with friends.
Read More: The Best Beaches in Amsterdam
Haarlem is also called a mini Amsterdam because its canals and architecture look extremely similar. However, there is one aspect they differ greatly on, and that is the number of people in the city. Amsterdam is extremely busy and the city is constantly full of people, especially the city center. Whereas, Haarlem attracts many fewer tourists and therefore is much less busy. This is great because in Haarlem you get all the beauty of Amsterdam but can explore without being in huge crowds.
There is also more to Haarlem than its beautiful streets and canals. The city is has a lively main square that hosts street markets every Saturday, and inside the square is a huge church called St. Baco Church. More so, in the city center, there is a huge authentic dutch windmill open to the public for tours.
Maastricht is a university town located at the very bottom of the Netherlands, it is about as south as you can get. The city is characterized by its medieval-style architecture and vibrant atmosphere. It is one of the best places to visit in the Netherlands if you are looking for a historic and unique city to visit.
In Maastricht, you will find the iconic gothic style church called St. Janskerk, beautiful cobblestone streets, a huge river bisecting the town, and various museums. If you are planning to travel to Belgium or Germany after the Netherlands this is the perfect place to depart from.
Utrecht is a stunning city located in the center of the Netherlands. This city has beautiful medieval architecture, a 14th-century bell tower and tons to see and do. One of the main attractions of the city is the unique dining experience to be had on the cities main canal, Oudegracht. This canal is said to be 800 years old and used to be the main waterway of the city. However, today it is lined with cafes and restaurants that are packed with people in the warm months.
The city of Utrecht is also home to various stores to shop in, museums, and beautiful winding streets. It is a small and historic town with tons to discover.
Lisse is a very small town in the Netherlands that is famous for one main thing, the tulip fields. From late March to early May Lisse becomes a hot spot in the Netherlands with people flocking to see the stunning tulip fields. Within this area, you will find millions of tulips in a ton of fields, of all different colors. It truly is a magical experience.
If you are visiting the Netherlands in the spring months you must go see these tulip fields. You can spend some time walking or biking around the fields and then stopping the Lisse city center for a bite to eat after the experience.
Read More: Amsterdam Tulip Guide – Where to find them year-round
Volendam is a marine village that is best known for its colorful houses, its harbor filled with fishing boats, and the abundance of seafood restaurants. This quaint village is the Netherlands’ best fishing village and is a must-visit for any seafood lovers. If you are looking for an authentic Dutch experience, and a place to visit in the Netherlands that is very different from all others, this is a great option.
Zaanse Schans is the best place to visit in the Netherlands if you want to see authentic dutch windmills. Here you will find authentic green-hued dutch windmills in abundance. These windmills are open for the public to enter and explore as well.
In addition to the windmills, Zaanse Schans is also home to homemade chocolate shops, dutch cheese shops, Dutch souvenir shops, and even a museum. It is the perfect place to head to if you want the full Dutch experience all in one easy location.
Additional Information about the Netherlands
How to Get Around the Netherlands
The best way to get around the Netherlands is by train. The train system in the Netherlands is amazing! They are almost always on time, clean, and efficient. However, they can get a little bit costly. If you are wondering where / how to plan your journey just head to the NS train website. Here you can search with your travel dates and locations and it will give your train options.
If you are traveling around the Netherlands to various places it might be more cost-effective to rent a car instead of taking the train.
Tips for Traveling Around The Netherlands
The Netherlands is a pretty westernized country and most people speak English, therefore, there isn’t much of a culture shock when arriving. However, here are some tips to make your adventures in the Netherlands as smooth as possible.
- The currency used is Euros
- Be sure to have cash on you at all times – some places do not accept cards
- Watch out for bikes whenever you are walking! You can get very hurt if you get in the way of one
As you can see the Netherlands has a ton to offer. It is pretty amazing that there are so many beautiful cities and villages to explore in such a small area of land. If you are heading to the Netherlands be sure to see some of these other places that are sure to amaze you!
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I recently visited Amsterdam for the first time and would love to go back and explore the other areas of the Netherlands. Giethoorn sounds so beautiful and I bet it’s well worth the travel as it looks so picturesque!!! I also would love to see all those Tulips when they are in season.
Linda (LD Holland) says
We have seen very little of the Netherlands. So good to read this list of places we would want to add to our Netherlands itinerary. Delft sounds like a delightful small town. I like that it is not visited as much as other places. Rotterdam sounds like it would be a real contrast with its more modern architecture. I had to smile when I saw that Geithoorn us referred to as the Venice of the north. So many towns claim they are Venice-like. Hubby spent time in Utrecht and has always wanted to go back. So that would go on the list. Looks like we may need some time to explore all of these gems. Good to know that the train is a good option for exploring.
While I love every place I’ve ever visited in the Netherlands, #8 on this list is near and dear to my heart. I lived in Maastricht for nearly four years, and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life! Fun fact: did you know the Maas River is the oldest river on earth?
I done a few of these places on this post as I am a regular visitor to Nederland and I love them! Kinderdyk, Rotterdam, Den Haag, amazing places. But the next one on this list for me is Haarlem which I am hoping to visit on my next trip to Amsterdam and cant wait to wander down those cobble streets.
Carol Colborn says
We went on a quick side trip to Amsterdam a long time ago before I started serious travel. I didn’t realize there’s so much to explore.
Samantha Karen says
So much to see and do!
We all think about Netherlands and think Amsterdam, and there are so many beautiful places beyond Amsterdam. My main surprise while exploring small villages was how flat it was everywhere
Samantha Karen says
Hahaha yes it is so flat!! And very windy.
I visited Amsterdam and Rotterdam last year. I really liked Rotterdam in particular.
I visited Zwolle over 20 years ago. However, we were there to play field hockey and I did not see more than the sports field. Maybe you should catch up.
Samantha Karen says
Yes Rotterdam is very interesting 🙂
Michael Hodgson says
Since Delft has beautiful canals and old buildings and architecture, but doesn’t attract many tourists that is high on my radar for an upcoming visit. Same for Zwolle … less tourists has me smiling. 😉 Maastricht is also interesting because any place that is a university town is worth visiting in my book…fun!
Samantha Karen says
Yes fewer tourists is always so much better! Happy to see you are intrigued.
I’m really hoping to see the tulips at Keukenhof next year so great timing that I’d discovered your guide! Delft totally sounds up my alley with it being less touristy, but Amsterdam is an obvious must-see. Love the fun houses at Rotterdam too! It’s reassuring to know that most people speak English. Also, great tip about having cash! I always forget to exchange enough hahaa.
Samantha Karen says
Ahh you will love them! The Netherlands has so much to offer.
Yukti Agrawal says
I loved reading about some beautiful places to visit in Netherlands. I have heard and read lots about Amsterdam and Rotterdam but some of the places which you have mentioned are very unique for me. I loved Gietherhoon as it is a very charming and peaceful village. Volendam too looks beautiful.