Millions of tourists visit the Netherlands each year, and most of them limit their travel to Amsterdam and perhaps the Keukenhof tulip garden. But there is so much more to see in the Netherlands besides Amsterdam!
I lived in the Netherlands for three years and traveled extensively throughout the country during this time. There is so much to see and experience in the Netherlands. Its cities, numerous museums and galleries, castles, gardens, food, architecture, tulips, windmills, canals and boats.
So if you have a few days to spend in the Netherlands, there is a local (well, almost local) list of the best things in the Netherlands besides Amsterdam.
See also: The best things to do in Texas, the Netherlands (including where to stay and what to eat)
The largest lively city in the Netherlands
In addition to Amsterdam, the Netherlands has other major cities to visit such as Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.
Rotterdam The second largest city in the Netherlands. Spend the day walking around the city to see some of the major landmarks, such as Market Hall, Cube House, Witte Huise, Erasmus Bridge, City Hall, and more.
Be sure to visit Odd Haven (Old Harbor) with old basins and restored boats. Visit Euromast’s viewing platform – the tallest building in the Netherlands. Take a boat trip to see the city from the water and Europe’s largest seaport – Europort.
Related tours: Rotterdam: River Cruise and Euromast entry tickets
The city of The Hague is not only the residence of the United Nations International Court of Justice, but also the home of the Dutch government and the Dutch royal family. While in The Hague, check out the Dutch Parliament Building Complex – Beinenhof’s inner courtyard and the huge pond in front of the complex.
See paintings by world-renowned artists at the Mauritius Museum. Visit Madurodam – a miniature park with replicas of Dutch cities and landmarks, outdoor exhibitions and activities for the whole family. Take a tram to Cheveningen with The Hague’s famous beach and many cafes and restaurants.
See also: Things to do in The Hague: A local guide
Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands and famous for its medieval city center, the old canal and the tallest church tower in the country – Domtoren. Take a walk down the old streets of Utrecht town, walk along Oudegracht and dine at one of the many restaurants by the water.
Admire the Cathedral Tower of Domtoren, the Gothic-style cathedral of Domkirk, and the cozy old garden of Pandaf. Visit the Spilllock Museum with a large collection of self-playing musical instruments, or the Sporwegmuseum – a great rail museum, especially if traveling with children.
Small cozy town to visit in the Netherlands
Do not underestimate the small towns of the Netherlands. The small Dutch towns have the most interesting attractions in the country. Because they are small and compact, it is easy to travel to small towns as a day trip from Amsterdam. Here are a few small towns in the Netherlands that I would recommend visiting.
The city of Delft is famous for its Delftware – Delft Blue Pottery. You can visit a Delftware factory and learn about the history and process of Delftware production. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Delft was actually one of the major cities in the Netherlands and home to the Dutch prince of Orange.
Although the town is small nowadays, it is still rich in Dutch history and has many historical monuments and museums to visit. Delft was also home to the famous Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (‘The Milkmaid’ and ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ are some of his works that you may know).
Although Maastricht is about 2 hours away from all the major cities in the Netherlands (which is considered to be a long way in this small country), I would still recommend visiting it. Maastricht is the birthplace of the European Union and is well known in Europe as the ‘Euro’ currency.
It is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands and is known as the place to go for great food and restaurants. Here you will find the oldest bridge in the Netherlands and the gate of the oldest city. Located in the historic 13th-century church building – an iconic bookstore – Dominican. Historic Square with many beautiful cafes and restaurants. These are just some of the goal setting shareware that you can use.
Harlem is a town located 15 minutes from Amsterdam. It is small and comfortable and full of charm. Grote Markt – Walk around the city center and admire St. Bavo’s Gothic-style cathedral. Check out some of Harlem’s Hofges – small enclosed backyard gardens with beautiful green spaces. Take a tour of the narrow streets of the old town of Harlem. See Windmill de Adrian – a museum located in the 18th century windmill.
Related tour: Harlem: 50-minute sightseeing Canal Cruise
Leiden is a small Dutch town located between Amsterdam and The Hague. If you want to visit the museum you must visit Leiden while traveling in the Netherlands.
- Visit the National Museum of Ethnology with exhibitions from around the world.
- National Museum of Antiquities – an archeological museum with a beautiful collection of Egyptian, Greek and Roman artifacts.
- Naturalis Biodiversity Center – a natural history museum with one of the largest natural history collections in the world.
After visiting a museum, head to Beestenmarkt Square to enjoy some food in a cafe or take a boat trip across the Leiden Canal.
Cheese market in the Netherlands
The cheese is one of the most famous things in the Netherlands. The world-famous types of cheese – Gouda and Adam – are from the Netherlands.
So, where else in this country if you don’t experience cheese markets, shops and cheese-related events?
The most popular cheese market in the Netherlands occurs between April and September Alkamar And Gouda. People dressed in traditional Dutch costumes, horse-drawn carriages loaded with cheese rolls, and applause go to the cheese market to see the old-fashioned way of bargaining.
If you travel to the Netherlands outside of the season for the cheese market, don’t worry – there are many ways to experience the traditions of making and selling Dutch cheese. Visit a cheese museum in Amsterdam, Alkamar or Gouda. Go to a farmer’s market – they happen on different days across the Netherlands and there are always cheese stalls with a large selection of Dutch cheeses for your taste and / or purchase. Or pop into one of the many cheese stores in the country.
Windmill in the Netherlands
Another thing the Netherlands is famous for is its windmills. There are hundreds of windmills in the Netherlands and you are bound to see at least a few of them. Many windmills are still in operation, some of them open to the public and some have been converted into museums.
There are several places to see windmills nearby in the Netherlands.
Just half an hour from Amsterdam is the beautiful Dutch village of Zaanse Schans. Zaanse Schans 18th-19th century typical Dutch wooden houses, workshops and lots of windmills. Most of Zaanse Schans’s windmills are fully operational and open to the public. There is a windmill for making oil, a woodmill for sawing wood, a windmill for making flour and spices, and even a windmill for making paints!
Related Tours: From Amsterdam: Zaanse Schans Windmills Half-Day Tour
Kinderdijk is an iconic Dutch village located 18th century away from Windmill Rotterdam. Kinderdijk has 19 windmills and 2 of them have museums inside. You can rent a bike and ride around, or alternatively take a boat trip (or a water taxi from Rotterdam) to explore the Kinderdizk windmills.
Related tour: Rotterdam: Entrance ticket to Kinderdizk Windmill Village
Windmills in cities
There are many windmills in Dutch cities across the country. Take a free trip Windmill de Star in Utrecht – An efficient windmill that is open to the public every Saturday afternoon.
Please visit Windmill de Put in Leiden And buy flour made at windmills there; Or a visit to Leiden Windmill de Volk – 18th century windmill which is now a museum.
If you want to see some of the highest windmills in the world, be sure to go Skydam Near Rotterdam, the city has six windmills, not one. See a windmill-museum Windmill de Adrian in Harlem Learn about windmills and their history in the Netherlands. Here are some windmills from Dutch cities that you can see
Museum of the Netherlands
There are many different types of museums in the Netherlands. There are art and history museums, science museums, cheese museums, former windmill museums, tulip museums and many more.
If you visit the Netherlands and plan to visit several museums, I would recommend buying a Dutch Museum Card – valid for one year and giving you free access to hundreds of museums across the country. Here are some museums in the Netherlands that I would recommend to visit:
Whatever your interests and whether you are traveling alone, visiting some museums in the Netherlands with a group or children is invaluable.
Tulip field in the Netherlands
If you travel to the Netherlands in the spring, be sure to visit the tulip fields and gardens. There are many places in the Netherlands to see the blooming flowers.
Lis is the most popular place to see flowering tulips in the Netherlands. There are several fields of tulips, hyacinths and daffodils around Lis. The best way to experience this is to rent a bike and ride around to see the flower fields.
Also located in Lis, the famous Keukenhof is the largest tulip garden in the world. With millions of blooming flowers and hundreds of varieties of tulips, it is not surprising that Keukenhof is so popular not only with tourists but also with locals.
The largest area of the tulip bulb industry in the Netherlands is Nurdustpolder in the province of Flevoland. You will find many fields there with all kinds of tulips. In addition to the fields you can visit tulip gardens, such as the Pegasushof Garden or Goldhurne Garden, and even a tulip picking farm – Hanek’s Plactuin.
Another area to visit during the tulip blooming season is North Holland. There are hundreds of flower fields in the area between Alkamar and Dan Helder, and they are usually less crowded than the fields around Lis. There are tulip fields around Alkmaar, Nieuwe Niedorp, Schagen, Anna Paulowna and Julianadorp. You can also visit Anna Paolona’s Bloemendegen (Flower Day) or Julianadorp’s tulip picking farm.
While enjoying the tulip fields in the Netherlands, please keep in mind that picking tulips in the fields is not allowed! You are welcome to visit one of the dedicated tulip picking farms.
I hope my list of the best things to see in the Netherlands besides Amsterdam has inspired you to see more of this beautiful country. You will find a lot of information about traveling to the Netherlands and other countries on my blog – travel by example.