The Netherlands might be a relatively small country but don’t let its size put you off. There are some pretty incredible and best places in the Netherlands that aren’t just the key sites like Amsterdam.
Yes, Amsterdam is pretty cool (and totally worthy of its amazing reputation), but it is easy to overlook some of the other best places in the Netherlands that are dotted all across the country.
That’s why I wanted to share some of my favourite spots that are pretty easy to visit when travelling around the Netherlands. For me, that’s the biggest draw of visiting the Netherlands, there’s always a little spot close by.
Truth be told, there’s just so much more to see of the country that isn’t just the obvious haunts. Whether it’s for a day trip from Amsterdam, a trip through the country or part of a wider road trip through Europe,
I’m almost certain you’ll find a few key spots you’ll love.
Take a look, below, at some of the best places in the Netherlands to explore. Have the best trip! 🇳🇱
Okay, let’s start off with one of the more obvious, but nonetheless one of the best places in the Netherlands to visit. Amsterdam is easily one of the biggest cities in the Netherlands and probably the most iconic city to visit in the country.
Now, Amsterdam itself has a whole heap of amazing things to do, with a shed load of culture, bars and restaurants, heaps of history and, of course, the canals (which actually date back hundreds of years).
Once you’re here, make sure to explore the Rijksmuseum (and see the Rembrandt and Vermeer paintings) and wander around the whole of the Museum District that also includes the Van Gogh Museum.
Afterwards, hire yourself a boat for a few hours and take to the canals, it’s a great way to relax on the waterways (especially on a sunny day).
Don’t forget to visit Anne Frank’s House, see Rembrandt’s house and head for cocktails at Pllek at sunset. It’s a gorgeous, beachy spot that’s perfect on a warm summers day.
Also, if you’re feeling peckish, make sure to visit Box Social for their Yum Cha Waffles… they’re so good! For dinner, pop into De Silveren Spiegel – they have the most amazing tasting menus and is well worth splashing out for this spot.
One of my favourite hotels has to be the Lloyd Hotel which has a totally unique concept. They have rooms that cater to every type of traveller and it’s so cool. From luxury 5-star rooms to more budget-friendly dorm-style rooms, it’s a proper cool place to stay on your trip to Amsterdam.
2.) Broek in Waterland
Only around 5 km from Amsterdam itself, Broek in Waterland is easily up there as one of the best places in the Netherlands to explore. Now, it’s really easy to get here from Amsterdam, so it’s well worth popping over to visit for a few hours. Leaving Amsterdam (Centraal Station), take the 314 for around 4 stops and you’ll be there in a matter of 15-minutes.
One of the things that makes this village so special is the gorgeous Dutch houses that are just so quaint. Best of all, as a protected site, most of the village has been preserved and it’s almost like stepping back in time.
Once here, make sure to explore look out for the different coloured houses. Apparently, if you were affluent (hundreds of years ago) you would paint your house in a purplish kind of colour. Whereas, if you were not-so-well-off, then your house would typically be grey.
Honestly, a visit to Broek in Waterland is little going back in time.
Perched in between Rotterdam and The Hague, Delft is one historic city and best places in the Netherlands to visit.
Delft is a proper picturesque city that has a shed load of history, especially when it comes to art and pottery. For instance, this is the place where Delftware (Royal Delft) is actually from. Once you see it, you’ll know what I mean…it’s that famous blue and white pottery.
After getting your fill of pottery, head over to see the Renaissance-style town hall. Oh, and check out the Oude Kerk, with a tower that’s over 75m high that leans ever so slightly. It’s almost as if it’s the Netherland’s version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. 😉
Afterwards, take a stroll by the canals and explore the Eastern Gate that’s well over 500 years old. If you’re feeling peckish, head to Stads-koffyhuis for lunch. It has a proper chilled-out vibe with some of the best coffee in the city.
The sleepy little village of Giethoorn is one of the best places in the Netherlands that’s filled full with canals and small bridges. It’s a totally picturesque village that’s so charming that people call it Dutch Venice.
Best of all, the old quarter has no real roads and all travel and transportation must take place on the water. It is a really peaceful village that’s got loads of thatched cottages and beautiful gardens. It really is beautiful.
Now, you’ll want to secure your own boat to visit the village but it does get busy in the summer. For me, I’d always recommend booking a boat online before visiting, especially as there is a limited number per day.
5.) The Hague
Nestled on the western fringes of the country, The Hague is one of the best places in the Netherlands to explore for a long weekend away.
Once here, make sure to visit the Binnenhof, where you’ll find the Dutch Parliament, see (one of the Dutch royal families residences) Noordeinde Palace and explore the historic streets. Afterwards, pop into the Louwman Museum, the Beelden aan Zee Museum and see the stunning Binnenhof & Ridderzaal. It really is a gorgeous city.
Better still, in the summer, make sure to explore Scheveningen beach and pier, too. It’s a stunning coastline that’s so beautiful to just chill out and enjoy.
Oh yeah, and for a great place to eat, reserve a table at Dekxels and try their Tuna tartare with yuzu. It’s so delicious. Also, for a lovely hotel, check into Mainport that’s near the Erasmus Bridge and really great for a base in the city.
The city of Harlingen is one of the most historic fishing cities, and one of the best places in the Netherlands to visit. Now, Harlingen gained its city status in 1234 and has a long history as a seafaring community that even influences the city to this day.
Once you’re here, make sure to stroll the port and see, St. Michaelskerk, Harlingen Lighthouse and explore the historic buildings near Galerie de Vis. For a great place to eat, pop into Restaurant ‘t Havenmantsje that has some of the tastiest dishes. Their Thom kha Gai soup was amazing.
If you’re wanting to visit some of the islands in the Netherlands, take the ferry to the islands of Vlieland or Terschelling that depart from Harlingen itself. They’re some of the larger Wadden islands and a great place to spend a day.
Leiden is one of the best places in the Netherlands to visit if you want to explore some of the incredible histories of this region.
Now, being a city that’s over 1,000 years old, there’s a whole heap of places you should visit. Once you arrive, make sure to visit one of the world’s oldest botanic gardens (the Hortus Botanicus), see the National Museum of Antiquities and explore the Museum De Valk with its very own waterwheel.
After exploring, cosy up at Just Meet who serve up some of the best steaks in the city. That being said, if you’re a veggie, you might wanna give this spot a miss.
To be honest, Naarden is one of the best preserved fortified towns in Europe and a place you can’t miss.
Once you’re here, make sure to visit St. Vitus Church dating from the 14th century, it’s in the heart of the town and really easy to see whilst you ramble around. Oh, and don’t forget to explore the old town hall, too. For a great Asian fusion restaurant, pop into Lan Tin, you’ll leave stuffed!
After exploring the city, make sure to head to Muiderslot Castle that’s in between Naarden and Amsterdam. It’s so well preserved and the chambers are gorgeous.
Thorn has a remarkable story that makes this one of the best places in the Netherlands to explore during your road trip. Thorn began as a really small settlement around an abbey (way back in the 10th Century) and slowly, became its own principality by the 12th Century.
Once you’re here, make sure to wander its beautiful cobbled streets, small courtyards and its stunning Abdijkerk Thorn. That being said, one of the things that makes Thorn so unique is its whitewashed brick houses that had relatively small windows.
Apparently, it’s due to a window tax in the 18th Century that meant people often bricked up their windows and painted their cottages white to hide their penny-pinching.
The centre of Valkenburg is full of historic architecture and really easy to visit if you’re already close to Maastricht.
Once you’re here, make sure to explore the remaining sections of the city walls and the gates of Saint Nicholas, which is incredibly carved. Afterwards, pop over to the ruins of Valkenburg Castle that’s set above the town itself. The castle ruins are the highest in the country and beneath the surface, you might even find a few tunnels deep beneath the ground.
For a tasty treat, head over to Sunndays that make the most epic ribs in the region.
Rotterdam is one of those cities that’s incredible to visit in the Netherlands. It’s one of those cities that you can visit in its own right or during a longer trip around the country itself.
There are so many amazing things to do, especially if you want to experience a really vibrant city. Once here, make sure to see the views from the Euromast Tower, gorge at Markthal Rotterdam and see the Cube Houses. They’re so unique.
Now, although lots of Rotterdam was destroyed during WWII, there are still a few key places (like Delfshaven) that still have an incredible history and buildings to see. It really is worth spending a little time in this area – it’s beautiful.
Also, if you want a little day trip, pop over to the Kinderdijk’s Windmills. They’re a UNESCO World Heritage site and totally gorgeous.