The Netherlands, well-known as a land of tulips, canals, and windmills, is always on the travelers’ bucket list. With its stunning and eye-captivating natural beauty, it’s no less than a heaven on Earth. The Netherlands is by far one of the most scenic countries not only in Europe but in the whole world. Even though about half of the country’s land is occupied by seawater, it is still one of the favorite tourist spots around the globe. The land is filled with historic places, scenic windmills, flush streets with canals flowing by the side, and flower gardens. Other than its beautiful landscape, it is also famous for its food, traditions, fashion, and many other exciting things. But, only knowing this isn’t enough for a tour to the Netherlands. You must know about the best places to see in the Netherlands to make your tour more fun and exciting. So, we have listed below the top-rated tourist spots in the Netherlands.
Top best places to see in the Netherlands:
Jordaan and Amsterdam’s Canals
As a visit to Italy doesn’t count if you don’t explore Venice, the same is the case with Amsterdam. The time you’ll spend exploring the city’s beautiful waterways will create everlasting memories of your tour to the Netherlands. Hence, Amsterdam is one of the best places to see in the Netherlands.
You can easily access the city’s major museums and art galleries b boat tour or water taxi. And, if you’re looking forward to a stroll around this majestic place, feel delighted strolling along the smaller, quieter streets that line the waterways.
Jordan is a charming neighborhood here where tourists go to take scenic photos along with explore a little bit of history. It was built in the early 1600s to house immigrants and workers that came here for the city’s religious tolerance. Apart from the small canal-side houses here, you’ll see many “hofjes” as well. Hofjes are the quaint inner courtyards hidden behind the buildings.
Besides Jordan, with its beautiful architecture, cafés, gardens, and small boutique shops, Grachtengordel is also a great historical neighborhood to explore here.
Filled with rich Dutch culture, architecture, cuisine, railroads, and highway connections, Gouda is also one of the best places to see in the Netherlands. For a perfectly spent day trip, Gouda offers the best picnic spots. Famous for its food items like waffles and cheese, is probably another reason to have your breakfast in the Netherlands. Gouda is home to many historic monuments. For instance, the Townhall dates back to the 15th century. Do not forget to witness the beauty of the tinted glass windows in the Sint Janskerk. The city is surrounded by ancient canals and has a vintage outlook. Further places that are worth visiting in Gouda are as follows:
Gouda Cheese Market
Perfectly circled cheese is made here. A variety of cheese is available here that is sold internationally.
Church of St. John
An impressive church stands in the center of Gouda which is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. It is the longest church in the Netherlands and its interior is beautifully decorated with an abundance of stones.
It is the center of activities conducted in Gouda. It contains several historical buildings. It is the best place to start your tour with.
It is another finest building located on Market Square and is close to St. John’s Church.
It is the best place especially for the nature-lovers who enjoy the outdoors. You can rent a bicycle or take a walk to search for wildlife, admire the natural scenery and enjoy the outdoors.
It’s one of the best places to see in the Netherlands’ northern part. It is a place where national cultures mingle freely because of many factors. Especially concerning the arts, business, and education here. A person who has a hobby of visiting the museum will never get bored here. Groningen Museum is one of the most innovative and modern places in all of the city. All types of museums can be found here like a graphical museum, comics museum, maritime museum, and a university museum. Some of the nightlife hotspots are Grote Markt, the Peperstraat, and the Vismarkt being the most popular.
Haarlem is the first place to come to mind while remembering the Netherlands for its tulips. It is the center of tulip bulb-growing. Haarlem is unofficially named Bloemenstad which means ‘flower city and it is the home of the Annual Bloemencorso Parade. Hence, it’s one of the best places to see in the Netherlands.
The city is lined with the beautiful river named Saarpne. The city is also filled with many impressive architectural wonders. Fascinating architecture and museums are favorite spots for tourists to visit. The oldest museum here is also one of the famous museums in Haarlem – the Teylers Museum. It is mainly famous for its natural history, art, and science exhibits. Visit this place for witnessing more historic wonders.
Another well-known place for tulips is Keukenhof in the Netherlands. This place also has other spring bulbs in addition to tulips in spectacular abundance. The place is known as ‘Lisse’ which is also called the ‘bulb belt’ of the Netherlands. It is one of the most famous and largest flower gardens in Europe. Spread over 70 acres of land, the garden is open to the public daily. Therefore, Keukenhof is one of the best places to see in the Netherlands for those who have a thing for flowers and gardens.
One of the amazing wonders is that Keukenhof has more than 700 varieties of tulips, whose growth is high in April and May. These tulips are displayed beautifully and sometimes this display may last for a whole year because of massive commercial houses. In this display, you will see limitless rows of flowering tulips, along with thousands of hyacinths, crocuses, and daffodils. A wave of freshness will run through your body after exploring this alluring place.
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands. It is home to one of the biggest and busiest ports in the world, with numerous waterways crisscrossing the city. Rotterdam is a lively and diverse place with great museums, cultural attractions, and of course, fascinating dining options befitting of such a large metropolis. Owing to all of these reasons, this city is one of the best places to see in the Netherlands.
Rotterdam is known for its Erasmus University, riverside setting, maritime heritage, and modern architecture. The museums are beautiful and worth spending your time here. You can also spend your time shopping in the city. The harbors are lovely and there are many fantastic restaurants as well. These all features make it a worth-seeing place.
Amsterdam isn’t only about seeing scenic views. Rather it’s one of the best places to see in the Netherlands for history explorers as well. Rijksmuseum is known as the National Museum and it’s located in Amsterdam’s Museumplein (Museum Square). It’s been collecting rare antiquities since 1809. The museum showcases a collection of almost seven million works of art. More than 250 rooms are displaying 5,000 paintings. Moreover, there’s also a vast library which is home to 35,000 books. Exploring the whole museum can easily take a day. So, it’s the best place for a day out of exploring history.
The Windmills of Kinderdijk
You won’t do justice with the Netherlands if you skip visiting its windmills. The village of Kinderdijk (Children’s Dike) is very famous. It’s located on the River Noord between Rotterdam and Dordrecht. The amazingly preserved 18th-century windmills here are one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and thus make Kinderdijk one of the best places to see in the Netherlands.
These windmills were built between 1722 and 1761. Originally used to drain the fenlands, these 19 Kinderdijk windmills are the largest surviving concentration of windmills in the Netherlands. The fascinating 92-foot sails are the specialty of these great buildings. For the public, they are open from April to October. If you visit the Netherlands during this period, don’t miss out on the special Mill Days when the sails are set in motion.
Anne Frank House, Amsterdam
Amsterdam’s another place full of history, Anne Frank House has so much to offer to history explorers. The Anne Frank House is on Prinsengracht, which is a 3.2 long canal that runs in the center of Amsterdam. This place is the home where Anne’s family (who were Jewish refugees from Frankfurt) hid for much of WWII. It’s where Anne wrote her well-known diary. Sadly, she died just two months before the war ended. But her name is still alive today because of her words. And not only this but her words have been also translated into 51 languages. Thus, so much history in just one place makes it one of the best places to see in the Netherlands.
Though the house has been fully restored, its back has been kept in its original state as it was where the Frank family had their hiding place. This house stands as a touching monument to a pathetic slice of world history. Moreover, it also stands as a memory of the brave girl who’s still a great inspiration for many people. Ergo, it’s a must-see place when in Amsterdam.
NOTE: Tickets sell out for this attraction and there’s an option to buy the tickets online as well.
De Hoge Veluwe National Park
It may be surprising for you to know that even being a relatively small country the Netherlands boasts one of the world’s most diverse national park programs. De Hoge Veluwe National Park is the largest of all of them and also one of the best places to see in the Netherlands.
This national park covers nearly 13,800 acres. So, it’s the largest continuous nature reserve in the country. It’s also one of the most well-known destinations for day trips for the locals and visitors alike.
The park features dense woodlands. Once had been a country estate and a hunting reserve, the park is home to much red and roe deer today. There’s an area of stunning dunes which is dispersed with woodland and heath. It’s the best-preserved part of the park. Also, there are 100 meters high moraines that interrupt those dramatic dunes in the south and east. People visit this area to have an amazing experience of bird-watching, hiking, and biking.
The wonderful Kröller-Müller Museum here in the park is another popular reason why tourists love to pay a visit to this park. The museum houses the world’s second-largest collection of Van Gogh’s works. The museum also showcases the work of some other renowned artists.
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
You might be surprised to see Amsterdam again on the list, but it’s right that Amsterdam alone is the center of the best places to see in the Netherlands. As mentioned above, you can see the fascinating work of Van Gogh in the Kröller-Müller Museum of the national park. But, you shouldn’t miss a chance to visit Van Gogh Museum when in Amsterdam.
Van Gogh Museum holds second place in a leading list of the top art museums of the world. Moreover, it attracts almost 1.5 million visitors each year. These facts are good enough to give you an idea about what a great artist Van Gogh was.
The museum’s vast collection consists of 700 letters, 500 drawings, and 200 paintings. If you visit this place, make sure that you participate in the museum’s new “Meet Vincent Van Gogh Experience”. Because by participating in it, you’ll have the opportunity to have an interactive look at the artist’s personal life and best-known works.
The Ijsselmeer (Zuiderzee)
The small hamlets along the Ijsselmeer (Lake Ijssel) are the most beautiful villages in the Netherlands. Lake Ijssel is a freshwater lake and it resulted from the closing of the sea entrance to the Zuider Zee. The towns were once very important when they had access to the Atlantic. They flourished as great fishing and trade centers. But, when the harbors silted up, the towns lost their significance.
The colorful houses of the fishing village of Marken have now become museums and shops. There’s the open-air Zuiderzee Museum in which Enkhuizen has preserved many of its buildings and seafaring industries. In this museum, the maritime history and the cultural heritage of the old Zuiderzee region are well-preserved. The other highlights are seeing a collection of colorful old wooden boats in Volendam’s harbor and also seeing craftsmen at work learning old maritime skills.
Zeeland’s Splendid Dikes and Delta Works
“Delta Works” is the mega-engineering project in Zeeland and it’s one of the best places to see in the Netherlands. Zeeland incorporates the deltas of the Maas, the Rhine, and the Schelde Rivers. Thus, Zeeland takes in a great many peninsulas and islands of the southwestern section of the Netherlands. This area relies upon flood prevention techniques and fascinating dikes. Because much of this area of recently-formed land is below sea level.
The highlight of this area is the mega-engineering project known as the Delta Works. These majestic structures are hi-tech dams. They can control how much water enters the area’s key estuaries from the North Sea. Declared as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, it’s a surprisingly US$7 billion project and consists of sluices, dams, storm-surge barriers, dikes, and locks.
For those who are looking forward to a little ancient history getaway, Valkenburg is one of the best places to see in the Netherlands. Here is the scenic Geul Valley, there’s the country’s only hilltop castle.
Valkenburg is a great place for a romantic getaway. And that’s not only because of its beauty, rather it’s because of its resort, Thermae 2000. The resort is equally popular among the locals and visitors. And it’s also one of the largest such resorts in the Netherlands. Apart from that, the towns’ splendid caves also draw many visitors to them.
History lovers can enjoy exploring the ruins of the 12th-century castle on Dwingelrots (Castle Rock). Apart from that, the 14th-century St. Nicolaaskerk Basilica here is also very popular and draws many visitors to it. The towns’ Christmas Market is another highlight here. This market is held from mid-November to December 23rd and the location is the Velvet Caves.
De Haar Castle
Last, but not at all least on the list of best places to see in the Netherlands is De Haar Castle (Kasteel De Haar). It’s located near the beloved old city of Utrecht which is the fourth largest in the Netherlands. De Haar Castle is the largest fortification in the country.
This majestic castle sits on a spectacular 250-acre park. The renowned Dutch architect PJH Cuypers built it. Amazingly the entire village of Haarzuilens had to be relocated to accommodate the castle because it required so much land. Though the newest structure of the castle dates from 1892, the original castle site was established in the 14th century.
The castle is home to impressive collections of furniture, antiques, tapestries, and paintings. But, the beautiful gardens of the castle take the credit for drawing visitors to the castle. Moreover, the castle’s fairy tales looks also have a big hand in attracting many visitors to it.
So, these were 15 must-see places in the Netherlands. Besides that, to make your tour to the Netherlands more fun and exciting, you must know some free things to do there.
Fun and Free Things You Can Do in the Netherlands
There are many attractions in the Netherlands for tourists. However, it also offers many completely free activities to its visitors. What would be better than free enjoyment? So, we have made a brief list of fun-filled activities that you can enjoy for free, keep reading below:
Chill out on Zandvoort Beach
Visitors can enjoy this beach free of cost as it represents the true culture of Dutch summertime. When the rays of sun spread over the town’s sandy shores, it is one of the best moments to capture. The beach is located in North Holland. Not much traveling will be required as it is easily accessible from Amsterdam, Utrecht, or The Hague.
- Hike through Utrechtse Heuvelrug National Park
This National park is intersected around a glacial mountain that was formed during a penultimate ice age. Today this area is covered with dense forests, grassy heathlands, and windswept dunes, which have a diverse range of flora and fauna. Around 50 footpaths are spread throughout the park making it a paradise for hikers.
Enjoy the silence at Begijnhof
Spuiplein hides this beautiful place behind its large doors in central Amsterdam. Many religious people worshipped in this calm court for over 700 years and in addition, many buildings were built in Begijnhof to continue the priestly of Christians. Begijnhof now contains Amsterdam’s English Reformed Church, which has an important role in playing religious services.
Experience the thrill at the highest point in the Netherlands
Nature lovers and hikers would love to reach the highest point of the Netherlands. As every seasoned traveler knows, the elevation in the Netherlands rarely reaches much higher than sea level. And the country is among the flat places on Earth. However, the southern area has a province named Limburg that shares a large hill called Vaalserberg with Germany and Belgium. This point is known as the highest point of the Netherlands.
Feed a baby goat at Amsterdam Bos
Amsterdam Bos is the largest park which is located 10 kilometers from its city center. It features several diverse geographical territories. As Amsterdam Bos comes under the city’s municipality, so it is completely free to enter its grounds. The park also consists of an appealing farmyard where visitors can pet and feed milk-white baby goats. They are so cute!
The Final Words:
The Netherlands is a worth visiting place. The country is also popular for being the world’s second-largest exporter of food and beer. This guide proves to be a great help if you are visiting the Netherlands for the very first time.