When you’re planning your trip to The Netherlands, you probably wonder how long you should go. Is one day enough? Or will you spend several weeks in one of the smallest countries in the world?
We recommend spending at least four days in The Netherlands. In four days, you can visit the most famous highlights in Amsterdam and surroundings. However, when you have more time and want to explore more sights, cities, and villages, you’ll need 10 days to do a full roundtrip through the Netherlands.
As Dutchies, we know the best places you should visit, so we’re here to help you prepare in the best way for your next trip to The Netherlands. In this article, we will tell you the best way how to spend four days in The Netherlands. And we will give you practical tips on how to extend your stay for a full roundtrip through the country.
Excited to learn more and ready to prepare for your next trip? Let’s read on!
Four Days Roundtrip in The Netherlands
When you’re visiting The Netherlands and focusing your visit around the Amsterdam highlights, a four-day visit is the perfect amount of time.
A short recap of a four-day itinerary will look like this:
- Day 1: Amsterdam City & Canal Tour
- Day 2: Amsterdam Museum Tour
- Day 3: Dutch Folklore Tour: Zaanse Schans & Volendam (Keukenhof Gardens, Flower Fields between April & May)
- Day 4: City tour to The Hague, Rotterdam or Utrecht
Day 1 Amsterdam City & Canal Tour
As you might know, Amsterdam is the capital of The Netherlands and the most popular city in the country. The city is receiving millions of visitors every year, all looking to explore the unique Dutch cultural heritage.
Before you go exploring some of the unique museums in Amsterdam, which we recommend you to do on day 2, we advise you to get to know the city a bit better. The best way to get to know a Dutch city is by renting a bicycle and cycle around the city. In Amsterdam, we recommend planning a bicycle tour and a canal tour. This way, you’ll learn the essential facts of the city in no time!
Amsterdam Canal Tour
Amsterdam is known for its canal belt, several canals connecting the important parts of the city. When you’re taking a canal tour, the guide on the boat will explain which canals were important during the Dutch Golden Age. This period was roughly through the 17th century when the Dutch Eastern Company was the most prominent marine trade company in the world, and the Dutch economy snowballed.
Amsterdam Bicycle Tour
The Dutch people are known for riding their bicycles (We wrote an article about the things the Dutch are known for, which you might find interesting to read, some things will surprise you!). Our country is small and flat, so it is relatively easy to cycle around. Cycling around Amsterdam is straightforward, as well. It can be busy in the city; however, there are special cycle paths which makes it safe to cycle around. Just make sure to follow the traffic rules, never cross a red traffic light, and you should be fine.
Make sure your Amsterdam Bicycle Tour included a visit to the Jordaan Quarter, De Pijp Area, Red Light District, De Dam (Damsquare), Museum Square & Rijksmuseum, and Vondelpark.
The Jordaan Quarter is known as a traditional folk neighborhood. The neighborhood originated during the 17th-century and offered housing for the many immigrants and workingmen.
The area is known for its many cafes and bars, which are famous for the many folksingers performing traditional Amsterdam (we should say; Jordanes) songs, singing about everyday life in the city.
Today the area is one of the most traditional neighborhoods you’ll find in Amsterdam, a must-visit to learn to typical Amsterdam culture.
De Pijp Area
Probably one of the hippest neighborhoods in Amsterdam today. It is great to wander around De Pijp and enjoy everyday life. The area is also a traditional folk neighborhood, but much younger than Jordaan Quarter because they started to build the area in the 19th century.
You’ll find many great places to visit in De Pijp, such as
- Albert Cuyp Market A street market with many stands. Great for shopping and learning the Amsterdam culture.
- Heineken Experience, The former brewing factory of Heineken Beer, is now a museum, where you can learn about the origin of Heineken and the beer-making process.
- Former Town Hall of Nieuwer-Amstel Before this part merged with the city of Amsterdam, it was known as Nieuwer-Amstel. The former town hall is one of the most impressive buildings to visit in this area. The renaissance building, dating back to 1889, overlooks the Amstel river.
De Wallen (Red Light District)
When you think of Amsterdam, you’ll probably think of the Red Light District. Some wild stories are existing about this area. And yes, you’ll find brothels, sex workers standing in the brothel windows, coffeeshops (not the kind where you go for your coffee), and (sex)museums in this area.
Prostitution is legal in The Netherlands while working from a brothel. However, the sex workers in the area are declining due to a new policy of the Amsterdam municipality. The neighborhood is developing into a cultural art neighborhood. Still interesting to walk around!
De Wallen is a medieval area, one of the oldest parts of Amsterdam. The neighborhood is also interesting to visit and get to know the traditional Dutch architecture. You’ll find some impressive historical buildings in the area.
A building that’s worth a visit in this Area is The Old Church, which is a medieval 13th century Gothic Style church.
De Dam (Dam Square)
Dam Square or in Dutch; De Dam, is the main city square in Amsterdam. The square is an interesting visit because of the important Dutch buildings you’ll find alongside the square;
- The National Monument. Built to remember those who lost their lives during the Second World War. Every year on the 4th of May, during the national remembrance of the dead, our Royal Family and Cabinet attend this ceremony at the national monument.
- The Royal Palace of Amsterdam. The Palace is one of the three palaces of the Dutch Royal Family. Our King uses the Palace for official receptions and to receive guests. When there’s not a formal event, the Palace is open for visitors.
The Palace is one of the most significant monuments built during the Golden Age in the 17th century. Since 1808 it has its official function as a Royal Palace. Interesting to visit and walk into the footsteps of the Royal Family and many world leaders that visited the Royal Palace once.
Museum Square & Rijksmuseum
The largest square in Amsterdam is Museum Square. In Dutch; Museumplein. This big square often used for large events is overlooked by the Rijksmuseum.
Some of the major museums are close to the square. Also, you’ll find the Royal Concert Hall alongside the square. They offer free lunchtime concerts on Wednesday afternoon, which starts at 12.30 pm. The concerts are taking place between September and June.
A great cultural visit! You can find more information about the free concerts on the website of the Royal Concert Hall.
Rijksmuseum is probably the most famous building located on the square. Exploring the building from the outside is a nice thing to do. There’s also a bicycle tunnel at the Rijksmuseum, which leads you to the Museum Square. A must drive through during your bicycle tour in Amsterdam!
We recommend saving your visit to the Rijksmuseum for the next, where you can visit several major museums in Amsterdam.
The urban city park in Amsterdam, known for its relaxing vibe, and concerts during the summer period. Vondelpark is a great place to chill and enjoy a typical Dutch lunch.
We recommend cycling around the park, grab a take away lunch before going to the park (A Dutch sandwich with cheese for example), and find a spot on the grass fields to enjoy and relax the unique Vondelpark vibe.
Day 2 Amsterdam Museum Tour
Amsterdam is full of unique, historical, and traditional museums. We recommend spending your second day in Amsterdam visiting the most important museums. Of course, a visit to a museum depends on your interests. However, some museums in Amsterdam are a must-visit for everyone. We selected some museums that you should consider to visit.
Anne Franks House
Visiting the museum of world-famous Anne Frank. The girl that’s known for her diary, which she wrote during World War II when she was hiding for the Nazi Germans.
The house, where Anne Franks’s hiding place was, is now a museum dedicated to the life of Anne Frank.
Visiting the museum is very popular, so we recommend buying tickets in advance. This way, you can skip the line, which saves you a lot of time.
The best way to buy your tickets for Anne Frank’s House is via the website of the museum.
Also known as the Museum of The Netherlands. Dedicated to the great Dutch masters, like Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh.
The Rijksmuseum exists since 1800, first under the name of the National Art Gallery. The famous building, known as Cuypers Cathedral is home to the museum since 1885.
Some world-famous artworks are on display in the museum, with the most famous Rembrandt’s Night Watch.
A visit to Rijksmuseum is an interesting visit learning about the rich Dutch history.
Van Gogh Museum
Vincent van Gogh is one of the most famous Dutch painters all the time. The Van Gogh museum, located at Museum Square, is dedicated to the work and life of Vincent van Gogh.
Visiting the museum is stepping into the world of Vincent van Gogh. The world’s largest exhibition of van Gogh’s work is on display at the museum.
Rembrandt van Rijn is the other famous Dutch painter. Another interesting museum to learn more about the history and life of Rembrandt is visiting his old house. Rembrandt House is a museum dedicated to works, and more importantly, the human Rembrandt. Walk inside the house where this master painter lived and worked between 1639 and 1656.
Visiting the museum, you’ll get to know the men behind the artist. What was he like as a person, a teacher, and a local Amsterdammer?
The Stedelijk Museum of Amsterdam offers modern and contemporary art, which makes it different than the other museum we selected. The museum has works from Mondriaan, Picasso, Chagall, and many other renowned artists on display.
Also, the museum has several changing exhibitions throughout the year. If you are interested in contemporary and modern art, you should plan a visit to the Stedelijk Museum. Make sure to check out their website to get information about the latest exhibitions.
The location of the Stedelijk Museum is on Museum Square, so it is easy to combine a visit with the other musea.
We mentioned the Heineken Experience before. Heineken Beer is one of the most well known Dutch export products in the world, so it is interesting to visit the old Heineken brewery where it all started.
The Heineken Experience takes you along in the story of Heineken, and the beer-making process. As a hobby brewer myself, I found it very interesting to visit the experience. And best of all, you can taste some freshly draught Heineken Beers at the end! 😉
When you’re interested in visiting a museum that’s all about the history of the city of Amsterdam, you must go to the Amsterdam Museum. The museum changed its name from Amsterdam Historic Museum to Amsterdam Museum a few years ago.
Today, they also offering exhibitions focused on the future of Amsterdam, which makes the museum even more interesting to visit. Also, it is one of the few musea that stopped using the term Golden Age to describe the 17th century in The Netherlands. The Amsterdam Museum feels that the term Golden Age not entirely covers the whole story of that period. During that time, the Dutch also had a big part in slavery and human trafficking. A lot of exhibitions in other musea don’t show that side of the story.
Nemo Science Museum
This interactive museum is a fun visit when the weather isn’t that good, and you’re traveling with young kids. The museum offers a lot of interactive pieces where kids can learn about science.
Nemo Museum is also great as a grown-up. You can learn about the history of science in everyday life. A great half-day out for the whole family!
Day 3: Dutch Folklore Tour: Zaanse Schans & Volendam
Visiting The Netherlands, it is great to learn more about Dutch culture. And what better way to do that then visiting some of the most traditional sights in The Netherlands.
We selected two of the most visited highlights in The Netherlands. However, depending on the time of the year you’re visiting the country, you can also swap them for some other activities. For example, when you’re visiting the Netherlands between April and May, a visit to Keukenhof Gardens is one of the best things you can do.
We will tell you more about that and other activities in the seasonal highlights parts in the next chapter.
It might not surprise you that many of the traditional highlights are related to water. The Netherlands always had a close connection with water since a large part of the country is below sea level. The biggest challenge of the country’s development and safety was how to deal with the threat of rising water constantly. Since hundreds of years ago, the Dutch think of smart ideas to built dikes, windmill constructions, and other things to keep the people safe.
The Zaanse Schans area offers a look back in history. During the heyday in the 17th century, over 600 windmills were functioning. Today you’ll only find a few of them on the dikes in the area. The area was the most significant industrial area of West-Europe during the 17th century. Not only windmills were highly productive. There was also a large number of shipyards producing mainly ships that they used in the marine trade by the Dutch Eastern Company.
The Dutch engineers kept improving the functionality of the different windmills so that they could produce other products as well. Almost everything was possible – considering the limitations of that time – the entrepreneurs of the Zaanse Schans created products such as oil, paper, cocoa powder, flour, and a lot of other products.
It is straightforward to visit Zaanse Schans. Only 40 minutes by car from Amsterdam city center. We recommend using public transport. Traffic around Amsterdam can be bustling, so it is more convenient traveling to Zaanse Schans using public transport.
You can take a bus from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans or take the ferry from Amsterdam Central Station.
A ferry ride will take up almost 2 hours, but it’s also a fun way to see the area from the water. You’ll find the latest information on how to reach Zaanse Schans visiting their website: Zaanse Schans Travel Information.
Probably the most idyllic fisherman town in The Netherlands. A visit to Volendam is a unique half-day enjoying the traditional way of life of the Dutch fisherman community. It is a super fun walking along the large dike of the town and trying some fresh seafood. Catch of the day, of course! Some typical Dutch food you should try is raw herring. Another great seafood the town is known for is the fresh mussels and shrimps.
It is not only the fishing that makes this town a unique visit. Also, the way of life of the community is unique. Everyone seems to know each other, and the families living in the community are very close. Where the Southern part of The Netherlands is known for its Burgundian lifestyle, with unique hospitality, the people of Volendam come reasonably close. You’ll feel welcome in an instant visiting the village.
A great thing to while in Volendam is to dress up in traditional clothing and make a unique picture in a traditional setting. The picture will create a unique memory of your Dutch travel adventure!
Day 4: City tour to The Hague, Rotterdam or Utrecht
On your last day of the four days in The Netherlands, we recommend spending some time in a different city. And depending on your interest, there’s a lot you can choose from. In the next part, we highlight the three other major cities of the country, so you’ll get a better idea of what you might like.
The Hague is the best city you can visit in The Netherlands! You even should consider not to go to Amsterdam, but just only stay in the beautiful The Hague! Just Kidding, we’re from The Hague, so the next part is based on our personal opinion and the love for this city 😉
The Hague is the city where are King lives and are government resides. It is great to spend some time in The Hague and walk around the historical city center, visit the Binnenhof (where the government is), and spend some time at Scheveningen Beach.
You’ll find many unique things to do in The Hague, and also some fascinating museums to visit. The Hague also has many canals, so a canal tour through the city is also a remarkable thing to do! When you book a canal tour in The Hague via the company Boat Tour The Hague and ask for skipper Guus, you’ll end up with Leon’s dad, quite fun ey? Such a small country The Netherlands 😉
Some other highlights that are great to visit in The Hague are;
- Palace Gardens
A city park next to the Royal Palace, where you can enjoy the beautiful gardens of the Royal Family. A trendy spot for locals!
- Royal Palace Noordeinde
The working Palace of the King is Noordeinde Palace. A beautiful palace in the middle of the center. It is not open for a visit inside, but great to walk around.
- Visit Lange Voorhout
Lange Voorhout is a long street in the heart of the historical center of The Hague. Lange Voorhout is one of the most beautiful streets in The Netherlands. The beautiful lane, large trees, and the old Royal Palace at the end of the street makes it a unique visit. The former Royal Palace is now a museum where you can visit the works of the renowned artist M.C. Escher
The city where you’ll find the largest port in The Netherlands, and one of the most important ports in Europe. Rotterdam is a typical port city and is the most multicultural city in The Netherlands. These facts make Rotterdam an interesting bohemian city to visit.
Rotterdam has some great modern architecture which you can enjoy while visiting the city. Some of the most unique things to do in Rotterdam is exploring the city in a hot tub-boat, where you can sail around the old harbor of Rotterdam!
One of the unique buildings to visit in Rotterdam are the cubic houses, which you’ll between the old harbor and the city center. These houses function today as a hostel, so you can also plan to stay for a night!
The fourth-largest city in The Netherlands is Utrecht, a vibrant city with many historical sites and a unique city center. Utrecht is in the heart of The Netherlands and great for a visit when you want to learn more about Dutch history.
Did you know the highest tower in The Netherlands is in Utrecht? It’s called the Dom Tower, 112 meters high and part of a historic church. Climbing the tower will give you a great view of the city and its surroundings.
When visiting Utrecht, you also want to visit Haar Castle, located a bit out of the city center, but this castle is a unique Medieval castle, built in the 13th century. The castle was a private residence of a wealthy Dutch family, and they turned the residence into a museum. Some notable famous people, mainly from the fashion industry, like Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, visited the castle back in the day!
We wrote an extensive guide about the 26 best cities in The Netherlands (click on the link to read the article), which is interesting to read while deciding which city you want to visit in The Netherlands.
Season Highlights to consider
Like we said in the previous part, there are some unique highlights you should consider depending on the time of the year your visiting the Netherlands. In this part, we will tell you about these highlights, which you can consider doing on your third day in The Netherlands, instead of visiting Zaanse Schans or Volendam.
Keukenhof Gardens & Flower Fields
Best Time to visit: April – May
The national flower of The Netherlands is the tulip. And not only tulips are produced in large amounts in the country. The flower industry exports billions of Euro’s on flowers and flower bulbs annually. The Netherlands is even the world’s largest flower producer in the world. Many of these flowers are blooming between April and May in a specific area of The Netherlands. Between The Hague and Amsterdam, and in the province of Flevoland, you can visit the large flower fields and enjoy the beautiful colors. Visiting these flower fields is like your visiting a sea of colors with lovely perfumes. It is a unique thing to do, which you can’t find anywhere else in the world.
The largest flower garden in the world is Keukenhof Gardens. You’ll find these gardens in the town Lisse, which is the heart of the bollenstreek, the area between Amsterdam and The Hague with the many flower fields. In the Keukenhof Gardens, every year, the gardeners will plant over seven million flower bulbs! Always with another theme. The flower bulbs are a gift from the flower producers in the area. They showcase their unique products to the industry.
Keukenhof Gardens are open between the end of March until the beginning of May. The exact dates vary every year, depending on the blossom period. The renowned gardens are a must-visit when you’re in The Netherlands during this period. We wrote several articles about the Keukenhof and Dutch Flower Fields which you might find interesting;
Best Time to visit: April – September
When you’re visiting The Netherlands during the spring or summer period, a visit to Giethoorn is also a great thing to do.
Giethoorn is a small village located 2 hours from Amsterdam, built on water. The heart of the village center uses canals as roads. The only way to get around is by boat. Little Venice of The North is what people come up with as a nickname for this small village.
The village is close to a national park, which makes a visit even more unique to do. Great to sail around with a slow boat and explore the unique surroundings.
Spending a day at the Beach
Best Time to visit: May – August
With hundreds of kilometers of coastline, it is great to spend a day on the beach in The Netherlands. The country might be known for its cold and wet climate, but during the spring and summer months, the weather can be perfect for a beach day. In fact, you’ll find a lot of different beach clubs on the Dutch coast.
Zandvoort at Sea
A perfect beach to visit is Zandvoort, located near Amsterdam. Zandvoort is ideal for spending a day at one of the trendy beach bars or enjoying time with your family. You can easily reach the beach in Zandvoort with public transport from Amsterdam Central Station.
Bloemendaal at the Sea
The neighboring beach of Zandvoort. So Bloemendaal is also ideal for a visit while staying in Amsterdam. You can visit Bloemendaal to enjoy some relaxing time at the beach. However, this part of the Dutch coastline is known as Dutch Ibiza. At Bloemendaal, you’ll find the best (dance)parties in the different beach clubs. Perfect place when you’re looking for a summer night out!
Probably the most famous beach in The Netherlands. Scheveningen is an official part of the city The Hague, and with a coastline that is a bit longer than 2.4 miles (4 kilometers), there’s a lot to do. Scheveningen Beach has it all;
- The best place for surfing in The Netherlands (Kite, Wind, and regular surf),
- Trendy beach clubs
- A sports beach with a beach stadium and free fitness attributes,
- A large pier with a fun food market, and a unique place to bungee jump from the pier.
Scheveningen Beach is near the city center of The Hague. You can rent a bicycle and drive to the beach in 30 minutes, or you can use public transport from The Hague city center, where you’ll reach Scheveningen Beach in around half an hour as well.
Best Time to visit: February
During February, the carnival celebrations are unique to visit in the Southern part of The Netherlands. The province Noord Brabant is where you need to go to celebrate the carnival in a unique Dutch way. The Dutch carnival celebrations are a combination of different parades and local parties. The visitors all dress up like their hero or a famous person. A bit similar to Halloween celebrations in other countries.
Liberation Day Festivals in May
Best Time to visit: May
The fifth of May is annual Liberation Day in The Netherlands. Celebrating freedom after World War II. In 2020 the Netherlands celebrates 75 years of freedom. However, every year, you can visit festivals in almost every city during Liberation Day.
When you’re in The Netherlands during Liberation Day, we recommend attending one of the festivals. Most of the festivals are free of charge, and some of the best Dutch artists are performing on the stages. A perfect day out!
Best Time to visit: 27th of April
When you want to visit The Netherlands during the most unique cultural festival of the country, make sure to plan your visit around Kingsday. This annual festival is all about celebrating the King’s birthday. It is a holiday for almost everyone in the country. We all dress up in orange (the national color), and in every city, you’ll find different festivities, flea markets, and other fun activities.
The King and the Royal Family always attend one or two cities during this day. So if you want to spot the Dutch Royal Family in real life, make sure to go to the same city. Every year the cities they visit will change. In 2020 the Royal Family will visit Maastricht.
Best Way to Extend Your Roundtrip in The Netherlands
When you have a few more days to spend in The Netherlands, it is easy to find other things to do. You can spend easily more days in cities like Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam or Utrecht.
It is also great fun to visit some other cities, or plan a round trip through the country. You can easily hop on a train from Amsterdam and travel to one of the major cities. The whole country is well connected by train. And The Netherlands is not very big. For example, you can reach the city of Maastricht, which is the most southern city in the country, in 2.5 hours by train from Amsterdam Central Station.
Some unique parts in The Netherlands to visit are the province Noord Brabant, where you can enjoy the best hospitality and great cuisine, known as the Burgundian Lifestyle.
While Noord Brabant is in the southern part of the country, another unique area to visit is in the northern part. The Frisian Islands, or better known as the Wadden Islands, is a unique island group located in the Wadden Sea. When you love nature and being on the beach, you should recommend visiting one of the islands. The most famous island is Texel, which is also the most significant island. Texel is easily to reach with a ferry from Den Helder, which you can reach by train from Amsterdam Central Station in 1 hour and 20 minutes.
So when you have more time in The Netherlands, you should definitely visit one of the other major cities. We wrote an extensive article about the best cities to visit in The Netherlands (click on the link to read the article). In this article, we describe 26 major cities in the country. All the cities are easy to reach by train. And depending on your personal interest, you’ll find some unique Medieval cities like Dordrecht or very modern cities like Eindhoven.
Best Time to Visit The Netherlands
The Netherlands is year-round, a great country to visit. As you might know, there are many things to do in the country every month of the year. However, the best time to visit The Netherlands would be between the end of March and August. Where we highlight the period between April and May, where you’ll have the best national festivals and traditions you can attend.
During this period, you’ll still be able to visit Keukenhof Gardens, attend Kingsday and Liberation Day, and enjoy the best Dutch weather. Starting from April temperatures getting better on average, and we’re getting less rain each month.
We wrote an article about The Best Time to Visit The Netherlands (click on the link to read the article), where you’ll find a month to month guide and some unique things to do for each month. It is undoubtedly an interesting read when you’re still deciding which period you want to visit the country.
How to Get Around The Netherlands
Getting around The Netherlands is straightforward. The country is relatively small, so you can easily reach every city in a few hours.
The road conditions are very good in The Netherlands, and it is safe to drive around yourself. However, we don’t recommend renting a car because the traffic can be very busy. You will be better of using public transport.
Traveling between the major cities is easy using the train network. And while in the cities or villages you can either take a metro, bus, tram or you go the Dutch way and rent a bicycle!
Using public transport in The Netherlands, you obliged to use a public transport card. Some cities offer city cards, but the most convenient is to buy an OV-Chipcard (The Dutch public transport card). You can use this card in every form of public transport throughout the country. Just make sure that there’s enough money on the Ov-Chipcard to travel around. You can buy the OV-Chipcard at every major station, a supermarket, or a tourist information office.
More information about the OV-Chipcard is available on their official website (link to OV-Chipcard website)