If you’re trying to pick a European country to explore on a road trip by car, van (or even by bicycle), then the Netherlands can be an excellent option! Located in Western Europe, this country is relatively small and borders only Germany and Belgium.
With stunning natural landscapes, hundreds of medieval castles and fortifications, and more than ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Netherlands has a lot to offer its local and foreign tourists, in terms of historical destinations and cultural heritage.
So, do you want to know more about the 10 Best Places To Visit In The Netherlands (Besides Amsterdam)? Keep reading!
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Best Places to Visit in the Netherlands
First of all, it’s interesting to mention that this guide is already the ninth in my series “10 Best Places To Visit In …”, after having shared the most must-visit cities and towns in France, Italy, Spain, England, Greece, Portugal, Germany, and Belgium! And like those guides, I found it important to start this bucket list in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.
Amsterdam is undoubtedly a mandatory destination on a trip to and/or through the Netherlands. After all, it’s here that you’ll find some of the most important museums, monuments, and historical buildings in the country, such as the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and Anne Frank’s House.
Read my Amsterdam itinerary, one of the best places to visit in the Netherlands!
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and is about 80 km from Amsterdam. Internationally known for its seaport – the largest in Europe – Rotterdam became an important trading port in the 17th century, during the so-called Dutch Golden Age.
Rotterdam is also a cosmopolitan center that stands out for its modern architecture. In fact, among the city’s most popular tourist attractions are the Kubuswoningen (ie “Cube Houses”) – a collection of houses projected by Piet Blom in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
3. The Hague
Did you know that although Rotterdam is the largest city in South Holland (in Dutch, Zuid-Holland), the capital of this province is The Hague (in Dutch, Den Haag)? As the third most populous city in the Netherlands, The Hague is also the country’s seat of government and the place of residence of the Dutch Royal Family.
In The Hague, I recommend visiting the Mauritshuis (the second most important art museum in the Netherlands, after the Rijksmuseum) as well as the Madurodam (a miniature city, with models of the most visited monuments in the country).
The Netherlands is made up of twelve administrative provinces (excluding islands in the so-called Dutch Caribbean), with Utrecht being the capital of the province with the same name. Located in the heart of the country, the city is the fourth most populous in the Netherlands and one of the oldest.
In Utrecht, it’s impossible to ignore the impressive Dome Tower (in Dutch, Domtoren), 112.5 meters high! Built as part of the former St. Martin’s Cathedral (or Dom Church – in Dutch, Domkerk), it’s the tallest church tower in the country.
Like Utrecht, Groningen is a city and the capital of the homonymous province. And on this bucket list of “10 Best Places To Visit In The Netherlands”, Groningen is the northernmost destination of all and one of the closest to the German border (about 50 km away).
Interestingly, almost a quarter of Groningen’s population are students, which means that the city has many options for cultural and sporting activities – as well as a lively nightlife, with dozens of bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes, and nightclubs scattered around its streets and squares!
Again, although Amsterdam is the largest city in North Holland (in Dutch, Noord-Holland), the capital of this province is Haarlem. In fact, the city is only 30 km from the capital of the Netherlands and is normally visited by foreign tourists on a day trip from Amsterdam.
Did you know that Haarlem has been, since the 17th century, the great tulip trade center on Dutch soil? Besides, it was the place where the painter Frans Hals, one of the most respected artists of the Dutch Golden Age, lived and worked. If you want, you can visit the Frans Hals Museum, right in Haarlem’s historic center!
The city of Leiden is located in the province of South Holland, as are Rotterdam and The Hague. And although it’s a relatively small city (especially when compared to the first destinations on this bucket list), Leiden is home to the oldest university in the Netherlands: the Universiteit Leiden, founded in 1575!
Apart from the university, Leiden is proud of having the oldest botanical garden in the Netherlands (nicknamed Hortus Botanicus Leiden) and is also famous for its numerous science and art museums, of which five stand out:
- Museum De Lakenhal (a museum of history and fine arts);
- Museum Volkenkunde (the national museum of ethnology);
- Nederlands Centrum voor Biodiversiteit Naturalis (the national museum of natural history);
- Rijksmuseum Boerhaave (a museum about the history of science and medicine);
- Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (the national museum of archeology).
Maastricht was the second city I visited in the Netherlands, right after Amsterdam. And one of the things that surprised me the most about the capital of the province of Limburg was its proximity to Liège (in Belgium) and Cologne (in Germany). Therefore, if you want to visit three countries at once, Maastricht is the ideal destination!
Like Groningen and Leiden, Maastricht lives from the student community linked to the Universiteit Maastricht. Other than that, I recommend a visit to the Bonnefantenmuseum (a fine arts museum), the Helpoort (one of the old gates of the medieval wall), and the Fort Sint Pieter (an 18th-century military fort with a gallery of underground tunnels), just for exemplify!
Read my Maastricht itinerary, one of the best places to visit in the Netherlands!
The quiet city of Delft belongs to the province of South Holland and can be perfectly visited on a day trip from The Hague or Rotterdam, as it’s located just over 10 km from the first and about 17 km from the second. So, take the opportunity and visit these three destinations on the same trip to the Netherlands!
There are two things that stand out in Delft: one is that it’s the birthplace of Johannes Vermeer, one of the most renowned figures in Dutch painting. And the other is that Delft is associated with a ceramics industry, which started in the mid-17th century: the Delfts Blauw. This type of faience is easily recognized in the Netherlands and abroad because of its tones of white and blue.
The last destination on this bucket list of the “Top 10 Places To Visit In The Netherlands” is Eindhoven, in the province of North Brabant (in Dutch, Noord-Brabant). After Limburg and Zeeland, this is the southernmost province of the country, bordering Belgium.
The history of Eindhoven dates back to the Middle Ages when the population settled between the Dommel and Gender rivers. Since then, it has developed its commercial activity and, in the 19th century, it became an important industrial center in the Netherlands – reinforced by the creation of Philips, a multinational company of electronic equipment.
Map of the Best Places to Visit in the Netherlands
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What Photography Gear Do I Use?
- Camera Body: Fujifilm X-T4 Mirrorless (Silver)
- Camera Lens: Fujinon XF 18-55 mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS
- Tripod: Manfrotto Compact Action
- Small Tripod: Manfrotto PIXI Mini
- Smartphone Adaptor: Manfrotto PIXI Clamp
- Memory Card: SanDisk 128GB Extreme PRO SDXC
This blog post uses stock photographs (Getty Images)