If you’re on the hunt for the best places to visit in the Netherlands, you’ve come to the right place! As someone who has explored much of the country over five trips, I’m pretty clued up on the top destinations. Although Amsterdam is a beautiful city full of charm, history and unique activities, there is so much to this wonderful country beyond the capital. Here are the best places to visit in the Netherlands!
Top 8 Places to Visit in the Netherlands
From the picture-perfect streets of Giethoorn to the historic city of Haarlem, you could easily spend weeks (or months) hitting up cool locations. Here are eight places you absolutely must add to your Netherlands bucket list!
Ah, Amsterdam! A city bursting with hidden gems, world-class museums and art galore. With so many weird and wonderful things to do in Amsterdam, you can easily keep yourself entertained for weeks on end.
Not only that, but the Dutch capital city is well known for its bustling nightlife. No matter what day of the week it is, you’re bound to find a party in this vibrant capital!
From upscale cocktail bars and rooftop terraces to club nights and gig venues, Amsterdam knows how to throw a party. With the legalization of cannabis and prostitution in the Red Light District, the city has long been a popular tourist destination for party lovers.
However, Amsterdam welcomes all types of travellers. In fact, it’s a great city to explore in terms of culture, UNESCO World Heritage sites and nature.
Home to a number of world-famous museums such as the Rijksmuseum, Moco Museum and the Van Gogh Museum, you could easily spend a day (or more) checking out attractions in Museumplein. Known as Museum Square, this spot houses many of the most famous landmarks in the Netherlands.
Elsewhere in the city center, tourist attractions such as the Anne Frank House should not be missed. This sad yet thought-provoking museum offers an insightful look into the life of the Frank family.
During the holocaust, this famous family went into hiding for two years. Throughout this time, Anne (who was just 13 at the time) started a diary. It detailed her life in the secret annexe of her father’s office. Sadly, the family were caught and sent to concentration camps.Only Otto survived. However, her diary became Anne’s legacy and has since been published in over 60 destinations across the globe.
Aside from Anne Frank House and Museum Square, some of the top things to do in the capital include exploring the neighbourhood of NDSM Wharf, shopping for vintage clothes and cruising along the world-renowned canals.
Other museums you can’t miss in Amsterdam include the Rembrandt House Museum, modern art museums such as the STRAAT Museum and the Katten Kabinet.
Often skipped in favour in Amsterdam, Rotterdam is a modern city that offers a completely different vibe to the country’s capital.
Located just a short 45-minute train ride from Amsterdam, it’s easy to discover the city on a day trip. All you need to do is jump on a train from central Amsterdam to Rotterdam Central Station.
Better yet, you can opt to stay overnight in the city to visit more of the top attractions.
One thing you can’t miss in Rotterdam is its yellow cube houses. Not only is this one of the best Instagram spots in the Netherlands, but it’s also one of the most famous landmarks in Europe. Photography enthusiasts will be in their element here!
Across the street, Markethal is another one of the top sights in Rotterdam. Alongside its striking exterior, the interior walls are beautifully decorated with a pretty mural.
Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, the market boasts many food stands serving everything from local cuisines to Asian fusions. No matter what kind of food you’re looking for, this place has got you covered.
If you fancy a more electric atmosphere, head to Witte de Withstraat instead. This well-loved Rotterdam street is lined with bars, cafes and restaurants to suit all tastes.
If you’re treated to nice weather during your visit, the exterior terraces will be full of people chatting, eating and basking in the sun. It’s a fab spot to grab a bite to eat and a cocktail or two.
Nearby, you’ll find numerous museums on offer at Museum Park. Depending on personal interests, you may want to check out Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, The Chabot Museum or Nieuwe Instituut.
Another great place to visit in the Netherlands is Haarlem. This is especially true if you’re looking for a rich cultural scene thanks to its history, art and museums. In fact, it’s a must-see for museum lovers!
Despite being much smaller than Amsterdam, the Dutch city of Haarlem has a lot to offer. From breweries inside reformed churches to impressive architecture, there’s something for everyone in this stunning city.
One of the best things to do in the area is explore the Teylers Museum. As the oldest museum in the whole country, this well-loved attraction houses a whole host of interesting exhibits.
As you wander around the national museum, you’ll discover beautiful art, historical items and captivating displays showcasing the wonders of science.
Venturing inside the Pieter Teyler House is highly recommended as you visit this popular museum. The best part is, it’s conveniently included in your ticket price. If you have a keen interest in history and the refined aesthetics of interiors, you won’t want to skip it!
Fancy a deeper dive into the life of one of the country’s most renowned artists? Then head to the Frans Hals Museum. As you explore this fantastic attraction, you’ll learn more about his expressive art techniques, way of life and how he gained a name for himself.
You’ll also have the chance to admire a large selection of his most famous paintings. Art lovers will be in their element!
If you need a break from visiting Haarlem’s top attractions, take a leisurely stroll to the Jopen Brewery. Here you can enjoy one of their many famous beers as you take in the stunning interiors and intricate details of the stained glass windows.
Alternatively, the city is also a lovely place to do a spot of shopping with a number of beautiful boutiques on offer.
The great thing about Haarlem is that all must-see sights are within walking distance of each other. This allows you to see as much as possible in a short space of time.
If you’re looking to delve deeper into Dutch culture, Zaanse Schans is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in the Netherlands.
Home to some of the country’s top attractions, it’s the perfect spot to learn more about this well-loved European destination.
In fact, it feels worlds apart from the capital city of Amsterdam and offers a unique vibe unlike anywhere else in the country. Boasting historic windmills, many museums that showcase Dutch natural history and adventurous boat trips, there’s a lot to see and do in Zaanse Schans.
If you have an interest in arts and crafts, this part of the Netherlands is well worth exploring. While you’re in the area, make sure you watch a demonstration at the family-run wooden clog workshop.
These notable Dutch shoes can be crafted in a whole range of styles and visiting this free attraction gives you the opportunity to see a collection of unique wooden footwear.
In fact, you’ll see a vast collection of clogs including roller skate clogs, wedding clogs and even heeled clogs. How interesting is that?
Aside from the clog workshop, the Weavers House is another place worth visiting in Zaanse Schans. Here you’ll discover how two large families worked and lived in a small home back in the day. Even the children had roles to play!
If you’re a creative soul like me, you’ll find visiting these attractions incredibly intriguing and thought-provoking.
Lastly, spend some time at the Zaans Museum. This place offers a deep dive into the history of the local region. You’ll have the chance to read all about the hundreds of windmills that once stood just a throw away from the museum.
You’ll also find stunning art pieces, Dutch memorabilia and an old chocolate factory. Simply put, it’s a must-see if you’re nearby!
Over the past few years, Zaandam has risen in popularity thanks to its striking architecture.
Perhaps one of the most famous structures in the old city center is the Inntel Hotel; a quirky blue and green Lego-like building that is home to one of the area’s top hotels.
This intriguing piece of architecture brings in many tourists on day trips from Amsterdam. Thanks to its close proximity to Zaanse Schans, you can easily visit both destinations on the same day.
While there isn’t a lot to do in Zaandam compared to everywhere else on this list, lovers of architecture won’t want to miss the city’s famed buildings.
Plus, it’s a great place to do some shopping or grab a bite to eat. With fewer crowds than Amsterdam and Zaanse Schans, you’ll also get a more local experience in the city.
Experiencing tulip season in the Netherlands is something that should be on everyone’s travel bucket list. If you’re heading to Amsterdam in spring, checking out the world-famous Keukenhof tulip fields is a must!
As you stroll around this mesmerizing attraction, you’ll be blown away by floral blooms in a kaleidoscope of colours. The enchanting landscape of this region during spring will truly leave you in awe as you admire tulips in a whole host of colours.
If you want to admire the blooms from a different perspective, hiring a bike and cycling along the pathways is one of the best ways to truly appreciate the beauty on offer at this time of year.
Although Keukenhof steals the show, there are many other things worth doing in Lisse.
For example, you can pay a visit to Museum Black Tulip to learn more about this sought-after flower and why it became so popular in the Netherlands despite originating elsewhere.
If you’re into art, you’re in luck! The LAM Museum is a fab place to spend a few hours admiring sculptures, photography and painted masterpieces.
Other attractions worth visiting in town include Kasteel Keukenhof and Saint Agatha Church.
If you’re looking for charming village vibes away from the crowds, Monnickendam is the place to be. Having spent two weeks cat-sitting in this picturesque city, I got a real feel for what life is like in the Netherlands.
Unlike cities such as Rotterdam and Amsterdam, Monnickendam doesn’t see many tourists. In fact, I barely saw any during my whole visit.
If you’re on the hunt for off-the-beaten-path destinations, you should strongly consider visiting. It’s rich history and well-preserved historic center make it a beautiful place to explore.
With a number of cool activities and photo opportunities around each corner, I’d be surprised if this stunning Dutch city doesn’t rise in popularity over the next few years.
I recommend paying a visit before the crowds decent in their thousands!
In terms of things to do, the Museum de Speeltoren gives you the opportunity to learn more about Monnickendam and the local region of Waterland.
As you wander around the museum, you’ll gain a comprehensive insight into the Dutch history of the city and key points throughout time.
Elsewhere, the Grote Kerk is a lovely place to visit to admire art. Despite being a church, they house regular art exhibitions in the main complex.
Furthermore, they have a small studio that is rented out to creatives on a three-weekly basis. This allows artists, designers and makers to work (and sell) in a unique setting in the heart of the city.
Insider tip: If you’re looking for more cool places to visit in the Netherlands, Monnickendam is super close to Broek in Waterland, Voldendam and Edam; all of which are well worth a visit!
Popular amongst travellers and locals, Giethoorn is 100% one of the best places to visit in the Netherlands.
Unlike anywhere else in the country, visiting this picture-perfect destination feels like stepping into a fairytale.
Situated two hours from Amsterdam by train, many people skip Geithoorn and opt to explore the capital (and other nearby destinations) instead. However, despite the long journey, it’s well worth doing to see a different side of the Netherlands.
With much fewer cars compared to other places in the country, Giethoorn offers a more chilled-out environment which is ideal if you’re on the hunt for a relaxing getaway.
Its quaint thatched-roof cottages adorned with vibrant flowers, winding canals and beautiful greenery will truly leave you in awe.
If you like snapping pretty photos, you won’t be able to put down your camera! Furthermore, it’s a fab place for artists and creatives as the picture-perfect views are a dream to paint or draw.
Aside from admiring your surroundings, there are a number of attractions to visit in Giethoorn. The local Museum Giethoorn ‘t Olde Maat Uus showcases a wide range of items that give you a deeper understanding of the village and its rich history.
Lastly, you can’t leave this charming fishing village without enjoying a boat ride. Depending on your personal interests and skill level, you can either jump on a boat tour or rent your own. The choice is yours!
Netherlands Trip Planning FAQs
If you have a week in the Netherlands, you could easily spend it exploring all the best attractions in Amsterdam.
Alternatively, you could opt to visit the highlights of the capital and explore cities further afield such as Rotterdam and Haarlem.
To truly appreciate what the Netherlands has to offer, you should aim to spend two weeks to a month in the country. This gives you the chance to delve deeper into local culture and discover some hidden gems.
Although many places in the Netherlands are full of beauty, Giethoorn is one of the prettiest villages in the whole country.
While it’s possible to visit the Netherlands on a budget, it’s more expensive than other countries in Europe such as Latvia and the Czech Republic.
Five popular tourist attractions in the Netherlands that are yet to be mentioned in this post are the Netherlands Open Air Museum, Rotterdam’s Maritime Museum, Cobra Museum of Contemporary Art, Arnhem War Museum and the Comics Museum.
So Many Reasons to Plan a Trip to the Netherlands!
Ultimately, there are many amazing places to visit in the Netherlands. In fact, this list barely scratches the surface. However, these are some of the top places to explore as you head on a Dutch adventure.
This wonderful country boasts history, charm and once-in-a-lifetime experiences making it one of the best countries to visit in Europe! If you’ve not been already, this is your sign to plan a trip.
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Lauren is an artist, photographer and travel addict based in the UK. Located close to Europe, she has travelled extensively in the Netherlands and has a lot of knowledge of the country. She loves to share travel inspiration, informative guides and hidden gems on her website Pack and Paint.