Are you planning your trip to The Netherlands and wondering what to put on your itinerary? We created this one-week itinerary with different (sightseeing) activities, so you can easily choose the things you’re most interested in.
Top priorities for The Netherlands itinerary:
- Amsterdam: 2 Days
- The Hague: 1 Day
- Delft & Rotterdam: 2 Days
- Utrecht: 1 Day
- Zaanse Schans & Volendam: 1 Day
If you can spend more days in the country, you can easily add other cities like Gouda or a tour among famous landmarks like the Historic Windmills. Some activities, like Keukenhof, are seasonal and only open during a specific time.
This 7-day itinerary covers the top things to do while in The Netherlands. We try to be as helpful as possible and tell you everything about the best things to visit in the country. Followed by seasonal and cultural activities, the best places to stay in different cities, and the easiest way to travel around the country. Let’s find out more about the best plan for you to visit The Netherlands!
7 Day Itinerary for The Netherlands
The basic itinerary for The Netherlands is a round trip through the country for 7 days. In one week you can visit all the important highlights in the country, and you’ll have enough time to relax, slow down a bit, and enjoying traditional Dutch villages.
Amsterdam – 2 days
This famous city is the capital of The Netherlands. For many, it is even more famous than the country itself. The Netherlands is known as a liberal country, and the city of Amsterdam is probably one of the best examples to experience that identity.
The city quickly grew and developed during the heydays of the Dutch Eastern Company in the 17th century. Today many of the historical landmarks in the city are dating back to that time. Two days in Amsterdam is perfect for discovering all the famous highlights.
Famous Highlights Amsterdam
The list of things to do in Amsterdam is almost endless, highlights you should definitely put on your list to visit are;
This museum is also known as the National Museum. You’ll find the most extensive collection of the Dutch Master Painters, like Rembrandt, van Gogh, and Vermeer. Master painters from which the work is dating back to the 17th century until the more recent days. The museum also shows other unique collections, which gives you a good impression of the cultural variety of The Netherlands.
The most famous painting on display in Rijksmuseum is Nightwatch by Rembrandt (in Dutch: De Nachtwacht).
van Gogh Museum
Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890) is one of the most famous Dutch painters ever lived. He is seen as one of the most influential painters in western art history. He painted over 2100 different works. However, during his life, he was not a (commercially) successful painter, the recognition for his work came in the 20th century, years after his death. Van Gogh spent most of his life living in The Netherlands and France. Most people don’t know that he suffered from mental illness and depressions. Which resulted in his suicide at the age of 37.
The van Gogh museum in Amsterdam is a museum entirely dedicated to the life and works of Vincent van Gogh. You can find the most extensive collection of van Gogh paintings in the museum, and they offer an interactive exhibition, where you can learn more about the life he lived and the kind of person he was.
Anne Frank’s House
Anne Frank is worldwide known for the diary she wrote during the 2nd World War when she needed to hide for the Germans. Her hiding place was in a canal house in the city center of Amsterdam. Today this house is a very informative and educative museum. A must-visit for everyone interested in history. Anne Frank’s House is one of the most famous museums to visit in Amsterdam.
Due to this popularity, and the fact that it can only host a certain amount of visitors every time, it is only possible to buy tickets via the official museum’s website. When you buy a ticket, you’ll buy this for a specific timeslot. So when you want to visit Anne Frank’s House, we recommend buying your entrance ticket first. This way, you know what time you’ll need to visit the museum, and you can easily plan other activities around this visit.
Amsterdam Canal Belt
The renowned canal belt and canal houses are probably one of the landmarks Amsterdam is most famous for. Did you know the canal belt is a Unesco World Heritage Site? For a long time, this canal belt was the most important transport network in the city.
Today the canal belt is mostly used by tour boats offering roundtrips through the city, and locals who are enjoying the city views from the water. I highly recommend exploring Amsterdam from the water via a tour boat. You get a whole different perspective of the city.
There are a lot more activities and unique things to do while visiting Amsterdam. To prepare in the best way for this two-day visit, you might want to read one of our Amsterdam articles;
- What is Amsterdam Best Known For?
- How Many Days Do You Need in Amsterdam?
- Best Things To Do In Amsterdam
Best Places To Stay in Amsterdam
It can be overwhelming to pick a place to stay in Amsterdam. There are a lot of hotels, guesthouses, and apartments you can choose from. Most of the time, when we’re booking a place in a new city, we’re using Booking.com. I like the fact that you can read recent reviews of other people that stayed in an accommodation. On average, when an accommodation gets reviewed with a 9 or higher on Booking.com, it’s almost always a good choice.
We selected a few unique places to stay in Amsterdam, the links are direct links to Booking.com;
- Heritage Canal House
- Apartments De Hallen
- Hostel The Flying Pig Downtown (Budget Choice)
- Hotel The Toren
The Hague – 1 Day
After spending two days in the Dutch capital, it is time to travel to The Hague, the Royal city! Traveling from Amsterdam to The Hague is taking around 1 hour. We tell you later all about the best way to travel around The Netherlands.
One Day in The Hague is perfect for enjoying the most important highlights of The Dutch government city. In one day you can visit the historical Binnenhof, City Center, Royal Palaces, and even go to Scheveningen Beach, which is the most famous and popular beach in The Netherlands.
The Dutch Royal Family lives in The Hague. They have a palace just outside the city center, where the King lives with his family. And in the heart of the historic city center, Royal Palace Noordeinde is located. The buildings are not open for a visit. However, it is possible to walk around the palaces and enjoy the beauty from the outside. The Royal Palace Gardens, which is basically the backyard of Palace Noordeinde, are open for the public. It is, in fact, a very popular city park for the locals in The Hague, a perfect place to enjoy some takeaway lunch or to relax in the park on a beautiful sunny day.
Cultural Highlights of The Hague
For centuries The Hague is the government city of The Netherlands. So there’s a lot of cultural heritage to find in the city. It is unique to walk around Binnenhof, which is the building where the Dutch parliament is located. This historic building was first opened in 1230! The Knights Hall, located in the middle, was the first seat of the Dutch government.
Next to the Binnenhof, you’ll find the renowned museum Mauritshuis. The museum offers a wide collection of the Dutch master painters from the 17th century. But in a different style, then you would find when visiting Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The most famous work that’s on display in Mauritshuis is Girl with the Pearl-earring by Vermeer.
The city center of The Hague is not too big, so it is convenient to go around on foot. Walking from Mauritshuis (Binnenhof) to Lange Voorhout, often referred to as the most beautiful street in The Netherlands, is only a 5-minute walk. At Lange Voorhout, you’ll find many historic buildings dating back to the early 17th century. And a former Royal Palace, which hosts now the Escher Museum. M.C. Escher was a famous dutch graphic artist, renowned for its mathematically inspired work, and artforms that seems to go on forever.
Read More About The Hague
Did you know The Hague has its own canal belt? The canal belt used to connect The Hague with the port of Scheveningen, and via the Amsterdam Canal. Today the canal belt is much smaller, but it is still a unique way of going around in the city. It is a fun activity for like 2 hours to hop on a tour boat in The Hague, and see the city from a different perspective.
You can find out more about this activity and many other unique things to do in The Hague while reading one of our articles about the city;
Which is a one-day itinerary for a visit to The Hague. I highly recommend reading this article!
In this article, I’ll explain more about the history and famous landmarks of the city.
Best Places to Stay in The Hague
Sleeping in The Hague is sleeping in the Royal City of The Netherlands, so we selected a few unique places which give you this feeling. Of course, we also picked a few budget choices for a stay in The Hague.
- Hotel Des Indes (It’s one of the oldest hotels in The Netherlands!)
- The Penthouse The Hague Tower
- Hotel Indigo – Palace Noordeinde (Located next to the Royal Palace)
- Kingkool City Hostel (Budget Choice)
Delft – 1 Day (Changeable Activity)
The first thing you probably noticed was ‘changeable activity.’ Don’t get me wrong, Delft is a unique city to visit, and when you love to visit the historic cities of The Netherlands, Delft is probably one of the most important ones you could visit. Delft is the city that Willem of Orange chose as the seat of his government after he successfully defeated the Spanish. He chose Delft because the city was the best to defend when the Spanish or other armies would plan an attack.
It makes of Delft the city where the Dutch kingdom was born. But its a story with a twist. Because in the same building where William of Orange thought he was safe, he was assassinated by a gunshot in 1584.
Find out more about this story, the history of Delft and the famous landmarks of the city in our article How Many Days Do You Need In Delft?
So why did I selected Delft as a changeable activity in this itinerary? It’s because the city is a bit similar to other cities in The Netherlands, in terms of historic buildings, and the vibe you’ll get walking around. Of course, the story and historical events are quite different, but when you have 7 days to visit the famous highlights of The Netherlands, you might want to swap a city for some other activities. We’ll tell you later of the other seasonal activities, like visiting Keukenhof or attending the Kingsday event.
Delft is also a small city, so you don’t miss out on a lot when you’re changing it for something else. And maybe you end up with some spare time, which you can easily use to go around Delft. You can visit the most famous highlights of the city with a half-day tour.
Best Places to Stay in Delft
There are many different hotels and guesthouses to find in Delft. You can easily select a place to stay from this list on booking.com.
Probably the most unique place to stay in Delft is the birth house of renowned Dutch Master painter Johannes Vermeer. The house is now called Flying Fox (Vliegende Vos). It is a unique historic place to stay for one night.
Rotterdam – 1 Day
So if there’s one city that we say is a must-visit in The Netherlands, it is Rotterdam. The city is not known by everyone, and many people won’t even bother to look further than visiting Amsterdam and its surroundings. However, when you have a week in The Netherlands, the second-largest city of the country, can’t be missing on your itinerary.
The history of Rotterdam dates back to the late middle ages, especially the settlement Delfshaven became an important settlement for international trade. Delfshaven was in that time, an official part of the city Delft, but became a part of Rotterdam in the late 1800s. Rotterdam and its surrounding settlement were able to grow rapidly during the 17th century because of the massive international maritime trade role of the Dutch Eastern Company.
Unfortunately, there’s not much left of the historic center Rotterdam. During the 2nd World War, the German Airforce bombed the city of Rotterdam. During this terrible event, they destroyed almost the entire city. Luckily, most citizens could hide in a safe place in time. On the other hand, it forced Rotterdam to choose a different course after the war, when they started rebuilding the city.
Rotterdam developed in the most modern city in The Netherlands. The only part that wasn’t destroyed during the terrible bombings was Delfshaven. An area which is known as the historic part of Rotterdam.
The rest of the city is famous for its bold and unique architecture. Rotterdam is totally different compared to other cities. You’ll be amazed by buildings like the Central Station, Market Hall, Cube Houses, and of course, the museum of architecture.
The city is always in development, so new buildings and areas are created a lot. It’s amazing to spend at least one day in the most modern city in The Netherlands. You might want to read our article One Day in Rotterdam. Which is the perfect itinerary for your one day visit.
Best Places To Stay in Rotterdam
Staying the night in Rotterdam is something special. We recommend staying in one of the many unique architectural buildings, so you’ll enjoy a night you’ll not quickly forget. Like we told you, Rotterdam is the best Dutch city to experience bold architecture.
We selected a few of the many unique places to stay in Rotterdam;
- Euromast (Sleeping on the Euromast, you’ll have a splendid view of the city and its surroundings).
- WikkelBoat (A house made from cardboard!)
- Cube House Hostel (Budget Choice)
- Cube House Apartment
- Hotel New York (The old main office of the Holland-America Cruiseline is now a hotel. A splendid place to stay in Rotterdam).
Utrecht – 1 Day
The city that’s located in the heart of The Netherlands. Utrecht is the most centrally located city of the country, and before the 17th century, it was the economic heart of The Netherlands. Utrecht is the fourth-largest city of the country, and the most important transportation hub when you’re traveling with public transport.
Utrecht is known for its late medieval history. The Union of Utrecht, kind of a partnership between seven provinces around Utrecht, is seen as the first modern republic. The Union of Utrecht was led by William of Orange and marks the start of the Dutch Revolt against Spanish suppression in the 16th century.
The city is also famous as the city that hosted the first international peace negotiations in Europe. After King Charles II of Spain died childless at the start of the 18th century, there were many conflicts about the distribution of land. The international peace negotiations, known as The Treaty of Utrecht, settled a large part of this conflict.
Utrecht is a unique historic city to visit in The Netherlands. Its famous landmark, the 14th century Dom Tower, is the highest bell tower in the country, which you can see from kilometers away. The city has a unique canal belt, and with the historic canal houses, it feels a bit the same as the historic center in Amsterdam. However, the vibe in Utrecht is much different. The city is not so busy as Amsterdam, Utrecht feels more authentic because it is less popular than the Dutch capital.
In our article ‘What is Utrecht Famous For?‘ you’ll find all the important highlights of the city.
Best Places To Stay in Utrecht
The medieval city of Utrecht is perfect for spending the night. The city changes after sunset, and the old historic streets get an even more romantic vibe to walk around when it is dark. There are many modern hotels where you can stay in Utrecht, which are all located close to the city center, you can find a complete list following this link, which directs you to Booking.com.
One of the most unique places to stay in Utrecht is Grand Hotel Karel V, an old estate in the heart of the city center, which they transformed into a 5-star hotel. When you’re looking for a medieval experience with a modern twist, this Grand Hotel Karel V is the perfect place to spend the night.
Zaanse Schans & Volendam – 1 Day
For the last day in this one-week itinerary, we recommend staying somewhere close or in Amsterdam. From Amsterdam, it is effortless to reach the cultural sites Zaanse Schans and Volendam. Both areas are a must-visit while you’re in The Netherlands, and combining the two cultural sites will create a full day of exploring the Dutch heritage.
Zaanse Schans is known as the first industrial area in Western Europe. You can reach this area in less than an hour from Amsterdam. It is full of historic windmills, which functioned as factories between the 17th and 18th centuries. During the heydays, there were hundreds of different windmills active in this area, all producing food, spices, and all kinds of products. Today a little over 10 historic windmills are left.
The area is a Unesco World Heritage site, and walking into the village feels like you’re stepping back in time. Visiting Zaanse Schans gives you a unique inside of how people lived and worked a few hundred years ago.
In our article and Best Place To See The Windmills, you can find more detailed information about Zaanse Schans.
When a lot of people think of The Netherlands, they think of small fisherman villages, close to the sea. People living in small houses, working on the dikes, and wearing traditional clothing and clogs.
If you have this image in mind when thinking of The Netherlands, you’re not entirely wrong. It’s how traditional Dutch villages were until the late 19th century. And some of them are still the same today!
Volendam is the best-known example of a Dutch traditional fisherman village.
It is lovely to walk along the long dike of the village, eat a fresh raw herring, and admire the traditional ships. Of course, you must-visit the Volendam museum, where you can dress up in traditional clothing yourself and feel like a Volendammer for a moment!
Traveling from Zaanse Schans to Volendam can take up to 1 hour. You probably be quicker, but it depends on the public transport connection during that day. Departure times can vary depending on the time of the year.
You can find more detailed information about Volendam, and other traditional Dutch villages in our article ‘What is The Netherlands Famous For?‘
Later in this article, we tell you more about how to get around while traveling through The Netherlands, but first, let’s find out more about the extra and changeable activities for this itinerary.
Changeable & Seasonal Activities
So on the third day of this itinerary, we selected the visit to Delft as a ‘changeable activity.’ Like we said, Delft is an exciting city to visit. However, there are a lot more unique things to do while in The Netherlands, and you might want to swap a city for visiting another cultural site or something else. So depending on your interests, you can change some of the activities we selected above.
In the next part, we describe the unique cultural things to do in The Netherlands.
Dutch Tulip and Flowers
Did you know the National Flower of The Netherlands is a Tulip? The tulip is also one of the official logos of the country. Tulips were imported from an area that we now know as Turkey, so initially, they weren’t even Dutch. But because of the Dutch climate, tulips could quickly grow, and thus a thriving tulip industry was quickly born. During the heydays of the Dutch Eastern Company in the 17th century, tulips were seen as a status symbol. Having tulips was a sign of prosperity and wealth, so many people wanted to fill their gardens and houses with many tulips. This popularity led to a unique way of trade, and later a devastating economic crash. The period is known as Tulip Mania. You find out more about it in our article Why Is The Netherlands Famous For Tulips?
Today Tulips and Flowers are still popular in the country. The Netherlands is the largest producer of flower bulbs in the world, and there are many cultural sites you can visit regarding this industry, we selected two:
A visit to Keukenhof is a must while you’re in The Netherlands during their opening weeks. Keukenhof is the most extensive flower garden in the world but opens for only 8 weeks a year. Their opening weeks vary annually but are always between March and April.
In 2020 Keukenhof opens between the 21st of March and the 10th of May.
For the years following, the expected opening weeks are; 20th of March – the 16th of May (2021)
and the 19th of March – the 15th of May (2022). These are expected dates and can still vary. Make sure to check the latest information on the official Keukenhof website.
Annually the gardeners of Keukenhof plant of 8 million flower bulbs in different patterns. The theme of the park varies every year, so you can always expect some different art-flowers-works in the garden. Keukenhof started out as a showcase for the Dutch flower industry, which is the largest in the world. Today Keukenhof is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country, receiving every year, millions of flower enthusiasts from all over the world in just 8 weeks.
In our article, What is Keukenhof Famous For? You’ll find much more detailed information about this unique flower garden.
Keukenhof is located between Amsterdam and The Hague, close to Leiden. It is ideal for visiting while staying in The Hague or in Amsterdam.
Keukenhof is not the only place where you can see the beautiful Dutch tulips and flowers. During the blossom period, you can find many large flower fields that are amazing for a visit. These areas change into a sea of flowers with bright colors and lovely perfumes.
The blossom period of the flowers if roughly the same period as the opening weeks of Keukenhof. There are basically two large areas in The Netherlands that are ideal for visiting these flower fields. Of course, the area close to Keukenhof, which is known as Bollenstreek (Bulb Region), and Noordoostpolder, which is an artificial land in the province of Flevoland, and the largest bulb cultivation area of The Netherlands.
You can find detailed information on both areas in our article, Where Are The Tulip Fields in The Netherlands?
The Netherlands is known for its historic windmills. An area as Zaanse Schans, which was the first industrial area of Western Europe, used to have hundreds of windmills that all functioned as a small factory.
Not all windmills functioned as a factory to produce food, spices, or sawing wood. Many windmills functioned as water pumps to prevent the land of flooding. The best example of that you still find close to Rotterdam, at an area known as Kinderdijk – A Unesco World Heritage site. Many historic windmills here are functioning as a water management system, which was a unique system for the time when it was built.
It is lovely to spend a day exploring the unique and historic windmills in The Netherlands. There are over 1000 historic windmills still left throughout the country. The most popular windmills are located in the area between Amsterdam, Leiden, The Hague, and Rotterdam. We wrote an article, Best Place To See The Windmills, where we explain much more about the history of the windmills, and the most unique windmills to visit while you’re in The Netherlands.
The Netherlands is known for its Dutch Cheese. You can find Dutch Cheese in every corner of the world. Especially the widely renowned Gouda Cheese is very popular everywhere. Since medieval times cheese markets became very popular in The Netherlands. Farmers sold their cheeses on the central squares in villages and cities. The process of this sale was unique. Instead of a fixed price for every cheese, they used a form of negotiation, which we call in The Netherlands handjeklap. Handjeklap (Clap of Hands) is a form to seal the deal with shaking each other’s hands.
In the cities Alkmaar and Gouda, you can still visit cheese markets which are held historically. The farmers and sellers even wear traditional clothing!
We love a good party in The Netherlands, and while you’re visiting the country, you might want to attend one of the annual cultural events. It depends when you’re visiting The Netherlands, of course, but the most unique cultural events are taking place between April and May.
Also, during the summer period, let’s stay starting from May until September, you can attend a lot of music and theater festivals throughout the country. This list is almost endless. The city Amsterdam hosts more than a thousand different events alone throughout the year!
The most unique cultural event which you should consider visiting is Kingsday.
We celebrate our King’s Birthday on the 27th of April every year. This day is a public holiday, and the whole country dresses up in orange and go somewhere in their city or village to have a good time.
The Dutch Royal family visits one city every year to celebrate Kingsday with the locals, which is always a unique and fun event to attend or watch on National Television.
During Kingsday you can attend in almost every city, different celebrations. The most popular for many people is to celebrate Kingsday in Amsterdam, the whole city turns orange, and many festivities are organized throughout the city. However, because of its popularity in recent years, it became to busy in the city. So many other cities also started initiatives to organize significant events. And to spread out the public a bit more, the national Kingsday celebrations switched from Amsterdam to Breda.
Read more about Kingsday in our article What is Kingsday in The Netherlands?
How To Get Around The Netherlands
The best way to get around the country is by using public transport. Of course, you can rent a car and drive around yourself. This is also safe and convenient (read our recommendations for the best car rental for traveling).
However, most cities are perfectly to reach using the public transport network. You don’t need to pay for parking, and you miss out on the many traffic jams in the country. The Netherlands might be small, so driving from one city to another can be quick, but there are a lot of traffic jams on the highways. So why not skip that and enjoy the comfort of traveling by public transport. This is not only quicker, most of the time cheaper, but also better for the environment!
Public Transport Card
In all the large cities you’ll find an extensive network of buses, metro or trams. Not every city has an underground metro network.
You’re obliged to use a public transport card in The Netherlands, which is called the OV-chipcard (OV stands for Openbaar Vervoer, which means Public Transport in Dutch). Which is an electronic card that you can use in every form of public transport throughout the country.
We recommend buying an anonymous card, which is available on every station. This card works as a prepaid card, where you put money on which you can use to travel with. You can find more information about the public transport card on this website.
There isn’t an official ‘tourist card’ for public transport available, but there are different day tickets which can be cheaper than using the OV-chipcard. It all depends on what you’re planning to do. When you’re following this itinerary, we recommend using the OV-chipcard.
Trains in The Netherlands
Traveling between the different cities is most convenient when you’re using the train network. Many trains are connecting large cities multiple times a day. And most trains are crossing Utrecht Central Station at least one time on their journey. Utrecht Station is the central public transport hub of the country.
When you’re using the train, you can travel from Amsterdam to Rotterdam within one hour, so that’s quick, and you don’t have any traffic jams!
The best website for finding more information about timetables and which connection you need to use is 9292.nl. Its the public transport planner of The Netherlands, also available as an app for iPhone and Android.
Extending Your Itinerary For The Netherlands
Are you planning to stay longer in The Netherlands? With 10-days or 14-days you can discover much more of the country. You can stay longer in certain cities, visit the countryside or go to the Wadden Islands in the Northern part of The Netherlands.
There are so many possibilities to choose from, either way, you’ll have a great time exploring the country! When you’re looking for more information on what you can do while staying longer in The Netherlands we recommend reading one of these (or all of these) articles:
A list of the most unique cities in the country. Perfect if you want to find out which cities you’re going to add to your itinerary
In this article, I’ll explain the best time to visit the country. When you’ll have the best chance of nice weather. The period where you can visit the most annual events and much more local tips.
This article is interesting both when you want to extend your itinerary and when you want to learn more about the Dutch heritage. We describe many facts about the country and the Dutch people.
You can’t go to The Netherlands and not trying some of our typical Dutch dishes like raw herring, kroket, or stamppot. This article is all about typical Dutch food, where to find out, and why you need to taste it!