Best Places to Visit in The Netherlands

Best Places to Visit in The Netherlands

Travel Holland

If you are planning a trip to the Netherlands, this is a country that offers a number of unique delights. Often called Holland, especially in Europe, this familiar name actually refers only to two of the country’s 12 provinces. The Netherlands is relatively flat. laden with canals and densely populated.  The country provides a number of interesting destinations, most noted for their unique history and attractiveness.

Geofact: When the Dutch Territories rose in rebellion against Spain in the 16th century, they were lead by William of Orange who helped establish the independent country we know as the Netherlands.  The original flag of the country (the Prince’s Flag) had an orange stripe at the top in his honor (although it was later changed to red).  Perhaps more interesting is the claim that local horticulturalists cultivated a unique orange-colored carrot to honor William’s House or Orange to replace the, then, commonly grown purple carrot.


  • Tourist Amsterdam includes scenic canals, world class art museums, great shopping, the city’s famed “Red Light District”, trendy restaurants and bars and a vibrant nightlife.
    • When in Amsterdam be sure to visit these attractions:
      • The Anne Frank Huis where Anne Frank was hidden from the Nazis during World War II.
      • The renowned Van Gogh Museum, which possesses the world’s largest collection of the works of this famous painter. The museum was reopened in May 2013 after a significant renovation.
      • In 2013 the amazing Rijksmuseum, also, reopened after a decade long renovation.  The Rijksmuseum has many treasures including Rembrandt’s remarkable “Night Watch”.  The museum’s complete collection is now available for viewing after a decade in which the majority of pieces were in storage.
      • The  Heineken Experience has quickly becoming a leading attraction and is a great way to spend an hour or two after perusing the city’s interesting museums.
      • One specific Amsterdam caution: the residents of the city commute on bicycles and do not yield the right of way to pedestrians.  Stepping into the bicycle lane without looking can be dangerous.

Travel Amsterdam


  • Delft is one of the best-preserved, “historic” towns in the Netherlands.  It is known for its canals, walkways, and Delft Pottery.  Most visitors spend time at the Koninlijke Porceleyne Fles (the Royal Dutch Delftware Factory). The Markt features many shops selling pottery of various quality (beware of imitations).
    • There are a number of good restaurants in Delft, so be prepared for some real taste treats.  Breakfasts can be especially wonderful.
  • See both the Oude Kerk (Old Church) and Nieuwe Kerk (with the tomb of William of Orange).
  • The city’s best museum is the Stedelijk Museum Het Prinsenof (Municipal Museum Het Prinsenof) that features a fine collection of Dutch decorative arts.
  • You will also find the Vermeer Trail, named after the famous artist who was born and painted in Delft



  • One of Europe’s major ports, Rotterdam is  a working city that has been rebuilt since the devastation of World War II. The boat tour of the harbor is popular but the real draw is one of the Netherlands’ best art museum, the Boymans van Beuningen Museum, in the Museumpark section of the city.
    • The official tourism website of Rotterdam has information on tours, architecture, festivals and attractions.



  • Arnhem  is the city described in the book and movie “A Bridge Too Far”, involving a World War II battle for a bridge crossing the Rhine between the Netherlands and Germany.  Arnhem is linked to the World War II Operation Market Garden and is a good location for touring this battlefield area.
  • In addition, Arnhem features the Open Air Museum  (Openluchtmuseum) which replicates how the Dutch lived, farmed and built homes and windmills in the past.


Hoge De Veluwe National Park.

  • You can reach this beautiful park by bus from Appledorn’s train station. The Park can be toured on white bicycles, which you are free to use once you have paid your admission. Read about the museum at its official website.
  • Aside from the fantastic scenery, the Park is the site of the Kröller-Müller Museum, which has a world-renowned collection of nineteenth and twentieth century art, including forty-six paintings by Van Gogh.  The museum’s Sculpture Garden features whimsical sculptures in a multi-acre outdoor setting that is a pleasant place to spend an hour or two. (Admissions for the Museum and Park are separate.)
    • For more information about this fantastic museum, visit its official website.

Hoge De Veluwe National Park.


  • A short train ride from Amsterdam; Haarlem makes a good day trip for those tired of the city.  Haarlem’s city center is an architectural delight and the city’s museums are well worth a look.
  • Be sure to visit the impressive St. Bavo’s Cathedral and its famous Muller organ that was played by Mozart and Handel.
    • For a detailed description of the many attractions in Haarlem, see our detailed guide to the best places to visit in Haarlem.
Church in Haarlem


  • A notable place in European history, Utrecht has a pleasant “Old Town”, fine canals, good quality restaurants and  interesting antique stores.
  • Be sure to see the Domkerk featuring the highest and oldest church tower in the country. The Dom Tower was built in the 14th century and you can climb to the top for a panoramic view of the city
  • If you are a fan of the Modern Movement in architecture, Utrecht provides the Rietveld- Schröderhus, designed by Gerrit Rietveld who also designed the furniture for the house.
  • In addition, the Centraal Museum in Utrecht has the world’s largest collection of Rietveld, along with a fine collection of painting from the Caravaggists (known as the Utrecht Masters) from the 16th and 17th century.  Visit the Centraal Museum’s website for more details.
    • See the official website of Toerisme Utrecht for more details on attractions and visiting.


  • A historic university town, Leiden has an attractive “Old Town” that hugs its main canal and a number of small but interesting museums.  Leiden is, also, the birthplace of the famous artist Rembrandt.  If you have time, take a boat trip on Leiden’s scenic canals.
    • To discover more about what to do in Leiden, see the city’s tourism information website.
    • If you are in The Netherlands at the time of the Spring Bulb Festival at Keukenhof, you may want to use Leiden as your base. The Keukenhof, billed as the most beautiful spring garden in the world, is open for touring only from mid-March through mid-May, with April considered one of the best months for viewing.
      • The next Keukenhof season runs from March 21, 2013 Until May 20, 2013.  The park’s famous Flower Parade will be held on April 20,2013, although you can see the decorating  of the floats with millions of flowers on April 18 and 19.


  • Maastricht’s importance has grown since the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 that laid the groundwork for the adoption of the Euro.  If you are driving south through The Netherlands, this fortified medieval town is a pleasant stop; however, unless you are in the area, there is little reason to place Maastricht on your itinerary.
    • Maastricht’s Old Town is the main reason to visit this city. Visit the Bonnefantenm Museum (for painting by the Dutch Masters).  Click here for the official website of the Museum
    • If you like dank and dark places, you may be interested in seeing the St. Pietersberg Caves (take a sweater) that underlay the city.
    • Next, visit Fort St. Pieter and the town’s casemates to see  how historical  Maastricht gained the reputation as a regional stronghold.
    • The local V V V tourist office provides tours of all the attractions mentioned. You can find their informative website here.

The Hague

  • The Hague has a scenic core with a well-preserved history. The city has a slower pulse than Amsterdam and its gentrified neighborhoods make for great touring.  Den Haag (The Hague) is “Royal” Netherlands as the royal family lives here.  In addition, The Hague is the center for government and diplomacy in the Netherlands.
    • The Hague has several interesting museums, including the Municipal Museum of the Hague, which features a significant collection of painting by Piet Mondrian.  See the Museum’s  official website for more details.
      • Visit the city’s official tourism website  for more details on visiting. However, you may find this site in English to be more useful.The Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery is housed in a beautiful building that contains paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and other Masters. See the Museum’s website for more information.
The Hague Center
The Hague Center

Additional Resources is the official tourism website of The Netherlands.  The site includes additional details on our recommended best places to visit  in The Netherlands, as well as information on locations and attractions that did not make our list.

For country facts on the Netherlands, as well as travel information related to visas, driving rules, safety, medical conditions, visas and other travel-related information, see this page on Netherlands Travel from the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U.S. State Department.  Regardless of your home country, we think you will find the information provided to be useful when planning a trip to the Netherlands.

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