You want to plan a trip to The Netherlands and wonder if it is worth visiting?
The Netherlands is worth a visit. You can explore cosmopolitan cities like Amsterdam and Utrecht. Visit renowned museums like Van Gogh and Anne Frank’s House. Enjoy unique landmarks like; historic windmills, canal belts, and the world’s largest flower garden, Keukenhof. Traveling around the country is easy, and 90% of the population speaks English.
The Netherlands is highly worth a visit, and can also be a great starting point for your European trip, with all the connecting flights at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. We love to tell you all the highlights of our home country! Let’s find out more, so you’ll get convinced to book your next trip to The Netherlands!
Best Reasons Why The Netherlands Is Worth Visiting
The Netherlands is a small country when you look at the surface. However, the country is known worldwide for many different things. We recommend reading our article ‘What is The Netherlands Famous For?‘, where we explain the most important historical facts of the country.
Since the 17th century, The Netherlands became one of the most important international trade partners in the world. The 17th century is known as the Dutch Golden Age. A period that is known for its wealth and prosperity, achieved by the Dutch Eastern Trade Company who became the most significant international trade company in the world at that time.
Today the remains of that time are still alive in The Netherlands; it creates the basis of the reasons why The Netherlands is worth a visit. Many historic city centers like Amsterdam and The Hague date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Also, some unique cultural sites like Zaanse Schans, an area that is known for its many historic windmills, and was the first large industrial area in Western Europe, were established in that period.
Almost 26% of The Netherlands is below sea level, which means that roughly 55% of the country is at the risk of flooding by the continually changing sea levels.
The first large water management systems were built during the 17th century to protect the country from flooding, one of the best examples of such water management system is the Unesco World Heritage site Kinderdijk. We tell you later more about Kinderdijk and other unique cultural sites.
The unique history of The Netherlands dates back for much longer. Medieval cities like Utrecht, where you can find the highest bell tower in the country that dates back to the late 14th century, are a great example of that.
Let’s dive in a bit more, and find out which cities, musea, cultural sites are worth visiting while in The Netherlands!
Cities Worth Visiting in The Netherlands
There are more than 70 cities in The Netherlands and even more villages. All these cities and villages are part of different townships or municipalities. In the next part, we describe cities that are worth visiting because of the interesting (historical) stories, cultural sites, and things to do.
Let’s start with our capital, Amsterdam. It is the biggest city of The Netherlands, and in many parts of the world, Amsterdam is better known than the country.
The city quickly developed during the 17th century, when The Dutch Eastern Company opened its main office in the city. This resulted in a lot of available jobs in Amsterdam. People from all over the country and other parts of Europe were drawn to Amsterdam, not only because of the job opportunities. Amsterdam and The Netherlands were known for its liberal and progressive culture, accepting people from all over the world, with different backgrounds and beliefs.
Amsterdam is still known as a liberal city. The city has a thriving scene for the LGBTQI community, with the annual Amsterdam Pride Festival as its highlight. Most national events are taking place in and around Amsterdam, and you’ll find some of the best Dutch museums in the city.
Some highlights of the city are the Amsterdam Canal Belt, Museums like van Gogh, Anne Frank’s House, and Rembrandt. We tell you more about those highlights later in this article.
You might be interested in reading some of our other articles about Amsterdam;
- How Many Days Do You Need in Amsterdam?
- What is Amsterdam Best Known For?
- Best Things to Do in Amsterdam
The best city to visit in The Netherlands! Okay, my opinion is probably not that objective, we’re from The Hague 😉
Anyway, this relatively small city is absolutely worth a visit while in The Netherlands. The vibe in The Hague is more laidback, probably because the city is close to the beach, and that it is not so big as Amsterdam. The Hague is the third-largest city of The Netherlands. However, the historic center is small, and walking around it feels more like you walking around a village town than a city.
The Hague is the city where the Dutch Royal Family lives, and where the Dutch parliament resides.
Did you know The Hague has always been the government city of The Netherlands? We tell you more about in our article What is The Hague Famous For?
One Day In The Hague
You can easily spend a day sightseeing in The Hague. Next to the government building Binnenhof, which you can visit, there’s much more to see and do. Mauritshuis is a renowned art museum where you can find beautiful paintings from the 17th century.
The historical city center, with the Royal Palace Noordeinde located in the middle, is absolutely worth visiting! Unfortunately, it is not possible to enter the palace, but it is great to walk alongside the beautiful building.
Scheveningen Beach is an official part of The Hague. It is the most famous beach in The Netherlands, where you can find many year-round things to do. Of course, the best time to visit Scheveningen Beach would be during the summer months, so you have the best chance of lovely sunny weather.
I can go on for a long time with the best things to do in The Hague, and why it is worth visiting while you’re in The Netherlands. However, there are many more cities and things to do in other parts of The Netherlands, that I need to tell you about! When you want to read more about The Hague, you might be interested in reading one of our articles about the city;
It is the second-largest city of The Netherlands and known for the largest container port in Europe. For a long time, the Port of Rotterdam was the largest in the world!
Rotterdam is also known as the Dutch city that was heavily bombed during the Second World War. The historical city center was almost completely destroyed. Luckily many people escaped the city before the bombings, so not many people got hurt. The war ended on the 5th of May 1945, annually we celebrate Liberation Day on this day. It is one of the unique events that are worth visiting.
A few years after the war rebuilding of the city started, which resulted in the modern city Rotterdam is today. Many people feel that Rotterdam is not as unique as other historic cities in The Netherlands, but I disagree.
Sure, you can’t find a lot of historical buildings that are centuries old. However, there’s much unique modern architecture to see, which makes the city definitely worth visiting while in The Netherlands. The Erasmus bridge is a great example, it is the second-largest bridge of The Netherlands and connects the two parts of the city that are divided by the Maas river.
The Netherlands is known as a melting pot of cultures and nationalities, and Rotterdam is probably the best example of that today. The most multi-cultural city of the country has a population from which around 60% of the people have an immigrant background. It what makes Rotterdam unique!
When you’re interested in visiting a modern-city with a multi-cultural vibe, definitely put Rotterdam on your itinerary. Find out more about Rotterdam in our articles; What Can You Do In Rotterdam For A Day? & What is Rotterdam Famous For?
Did you know that Utrecht was, for a long time, the most important city of The Netherlands? History of the city dates even back to Roman times! In that period, Utrecht was an important settlement for the Romans to be able to cross the rhine river.
Centuries later, probably around the 7th century, the city became a religious center for Christianity. Many bishops settled in the city, and they built many churches. It resulted in the development of Utrecht as a famous trade city. The famous dom tower, the largest church tower of The Netherlands, is still reminding of that period.
Fast forward a few centuries, halfway the 16th century, when The Netherlands revolt against Spanish suppression. Under the leadership of Willem of Orange, 7 provinces of The Netherlands joined forces in the Union of Utrecht, so they could stand up against the Spanish. It is seen as the beginning of the Dutch republic.
Learn more about Utrecht in our article, What is Utrecht Famous For?
Utrecht is absolutely worth visiting when you’re interested in Dutch history, beautiful medieval buildings, and a lovely historic city center. It’s ideally located in the heart of the country, which makes it easy to reach from every other city. When you’re traveling around The Netherlands with public transport, you’ll probably cross the train station of Utrecht a few times. Because it is the hub where all the important trains connecting.
The city is unknown by many, located between The Hague and Rotterdam and probably more important for Dutch history then Utrecht and Amsterdam. After his successful revolt against the Spanish, William of Orange chose Delft in 1572 as the seat of his government.
Prince Philip of Spain put a reward at the assassination of William of Orange, declaring him an outlaw. Prince William felt that Delft was the city that was the safest to defense. And after he survived several attacks, he was assassinated in his own home on July 10th, 1584. The murderer was captured before he could escape the city of Delft.
Delft is known for many other things, and the most famous is the unique pottery artworks Delft Blue. Inspired at Japanese artworks and brought back to The Netherlands by importers of the Dutch Eastern Company.
The Technical University of Delft is one of the best universities in The Netherlands, and globally renowned by many students and professors.
Delft is worth visiting for a day or a half-day tour around the city. When you’re interested in getting to know more about the city Delft, we recommend reading our article How Many Days Do You Need In Delft?
Other Dutch Cities That Are Worth Visiting
There are many more cities that are interesting to visit while you’re in The Netherlands. Depending on what your interests are. If you want to know more about the unique cities in our country, you might be interested in reading our article Best Cities in The Netherlands. Where we describe a list of 26 unique cities to visit during your visit to the country.
In that article, we describe cities like Gouda, Zwolle, Eindhoven, Den Bosch, Texel, and many more. Dutch cities that are worth visiting, with a unique character and historic city center.
Cultural Sites That Are Worth Visiting In The Netherlands
There are many cultural sites in The Netherlands, a lot are related to water management. Either to protect the country against flooding, using water as a defense mechanism, or create a complete industrial area. Other unique cultural sites that are worth visiting are historic political buildings, unique artworks, and artificial flower parks. In this part, we lined up the most important cultural sites in The Netherlands that are worth visiting.
Located close to Amsterdam, you’ll find the first industrial area of Western Europe. A historic windmill park that grew rapidly between the end of the 16th and in the first decade of the 17th century.
During that period, the Dutch Eastern Company started to grow, and their influence at the spice trade route in Asia became more critical. To keep up with the demand for shipbuilding, the Dutch Eastern Company invested in the development of Zaanse Schans. The area is ideally located between Amsterdam and the North Sea. At the top times, over 600 (historic) windmills were active in Zaanse Schans, and they produced over 150 seaworthy ships a year, and also developed in the largest food-processing industry of the European continent.
Zaanse Schans is a must-visit while in The Netherlands. You can easily reach the area in just 40 minutes traveling from Amsterdam.
Let’s stay at the historic windmills, but this time not for producing products or sawing wood. Kinderdijk is a Unesco World Heritage site which is located close to Amsterdam. It’s part of an extensive water management system that prevents the area of flooding. Initially built to make sure that people who wanted to live in Rotterdam and its surroundings, the region which is known as Alblasserwaard stayed safe.
Kinderdijk is a unique water management system that dates back to the 13th century! Count Floris V of Holland set up Water Boards, cooperative organizations whose only function is to protect the country against the threats of water. During that time, there were three different water boards, because the area to protect was extensive. All the water boards starting to work together, which was unique for that time.
Many people say that Kinderdijk is not only an ingenious construction. They say that the development of water boards that comes with it is also the start of the Dutch democracy as we know it knows.
Did you know that Kinderdijk and Zaanse Schans are just a few places where you visit the Historic Windmills? There are over 1000 historic windmills left in The Netherlands, and a lot of them are open for a visit.
It is a unique thing to do, and absolutely worth it to take one of the historic windmill tours in the country.
Many historic windmills are located in the countryside, close to the larger cities. It is lovely to rent a bicycle and follow some special bike tours which take you to the Dutch countryside and also crossing the historic windmills.
You might want to know more about these unique historic windmills in The Netherlands. If so, we recommend reading our article Where Is The Best Place To See The Windmills?
In that article, we explain much more about Kinderdijk, Zaanse Schans, and other famous historic windmills, but also tell you about our favorite local windmills located close to The Hague. And did you know that the highest historic stone windmills are located in The Netherlands? You’ll find all the details in the article!
A unique place in The Netherlands, because of Schokland, we know that the country was already inhabited 10.000 years ago. Hunters, and later farmers came to this former island in the old Zuiderzee, which was not an easy thing to do. The rough sea made it dangerous to stay on the island.
Today Schokland is an island on dry land. It is part of the artificial Noordoostpolder. An area made of reclaimed land of the Zuiderzee. Noordoostpolder is now one of the most important areas for the Dutch flower industry. Schokland, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site, is still a unique place within the Noordoostpolder. You can still find the remains of the island it once was. Visit the former lighthouse and archaeological foundings.
It is definitely worth a visit while being in the Noordoostpolder.
Flower Fields & Keukenhof
The Netherlands is famous for its flowers. Did you know that the country is the largest flower exporter in the world? We produce almost 50% of all the flower bulbs and flowers worldwide. Not bad for a small country don’t you think 😉
During the blossoming season, visiting the Dutch flower fields is a fantastic thing to do. Walking around the large areas, you feel like you walk into a sea of flowers. You can’t really describe that feeling. You must experience it yourself!
The best places to visit those flower fields are Noordoostpolder and the Bulb Region.
The Noordoostpolder is an artificial polder where you also can visit Schokland. Noordoostpolder is the largest bulb cultivation area in The Netherlands. Annually the Tulip Festival is held in Noordoostpolder. Tulip Festival is a festival that’s taking place for over a few weeks with many different activities and things to explore. Read more about this unique cultural festival in our article, Where Are The Tulip Fields In The Netherlands?
The Bulb Region is an area between Amsterdam and Leiden and famous for its many tulip and flower fields, but also the place where you can visit the most famous flower garden in the world, Keukenhof.
Annually, Keukenhof plants over 8 million flower bulbs. The garden opens for a few weeks a year during the blossom period. If you’re still looking for something worth visiting in The Netherlands, consider Keukenhof!
A unique open-air museum that changes every year. They manage to plant the flowers in different patterns, creating the most beautiful flower artworks you’ll ever see.
Did you get as enthusiastic as we are about our National Flower? Or maybe you just want to read more information. We wrote several articles about where to find the flower fields, the best time to visit Keukenhof, and The History of the Dutch Tulip.
Amsterdam Canal Belt
When you think of Amsterdam, you think of canals, canal houses, and a bustling city. The famous Amsterdam Canal Belt, a Unesco World Heritage site, definitely worth a visit. And while you are in Amsterdam, you can’t go around it. The whole city consists out of hundreds of canals. However, the famous canal belt consists basically out of the largest canals that’s like a water highway around the city. All the other canals direct into the three large canals.
It’s unique to go on a tour boat and explore Amsterdam from the water. You’ll get a completely different perspective of the city. In our article What is Amsterdam Best Known For, you can read more about the unique canal belt of Amsterdam.
Dutch Cheese Markets
The Dutch are known for many things, but one thing in particular; Dutch Cheese. It is the largest export product of the country. For centuries Dutch farmers are making cheese from cow milk. The unique Dutch cheese is to find in many varieties like younger, milder, aged (in different categories), and with spices.
Gouda Cheese is probably the most famous cheese worldwide, which you can find in every corner of the world. It is a protected brand, which can only be made in The Netherlands.
A great thing to do while visiting The Netherlands is to visit one of the traditional cheese markets. On these markets, the farmers still sell their cheese according to the old way, kind of like an auction. Which is known at the cheese markets as ‘Handjeklap.’ The farmers seal the deal of selling cheese by shaking the hands of their customers.
The best traditional cheese markets to visit in The Netherlands are located in Alkmaar and Gouda.
Many more unique cultural sites are worth visiting in The Netherlands, but to line them up in this article is too much. We recommend reading our article ‘What is The Netherlands Famous For?’ to find out more about the cultural history of the country.
Dutch Museums and Themeparks worth visiting
Traveling around The Netherlands when you have young kids or toddlers is a great thing to do. Many activities and highlights are both interesting for parents and children.
A miniature park of The Netherlands, located in The Hague. This amusement park, you find all the important landmarks of the country in miniature. It’s fun to walk around. Kids love to explore the park, and with the unique interactive activities, kids can learn in a fun way, for example, how the unique Dutch water management systems work, how you produce Dutch cheese, and other unique Dutch things.
You can find more information in our article Best Things to Do In The Hague.
Nemo Science Museum
Want to learn more about science while in The Netherlands? Located in Amsterdam, you’ll find Nemo Science Museum. A unique museum where kids and their parents can be a scientist for a day! Great fun to spend some time while in Amsterdam and a perfect alternative when its a typical Dutch day with lots of rain, so you don’t want to be outside all the time. You can find out more information on the museum’s website.
The largest theme park in The Netherlands is The Efteling. A fantasy park where you can explore, according to their website, a world of wonders. Almost every kid in The Netherlands has been to the Efteling at least once during their childhood. It is really a fun park to explore, with rollercoasters, fairy tale villages, and unique park shows.
During the holidays and weekends, it can be very busy at the park, so when you plan to go, make sure to book your tickets in advance.
You can find more information about The Efteling on the park’s website.
Dutch Culture and History Museums
You can say that the basis for the Dutch current prosperity and wealth started during the 17th century. Often reffered to as The Dutch Golden Age. It was the heydays of the Dutch Eastern Company, but next to a thriving economy, we sometimes forget that also bad things happened during that period.
This ‘Golden Age‘ was also a time of warfare, human trade, extortion, and plunder. From a historical point of view, it is important to acknowledge these facts.
Many of the Dutch historical and cultural museum have exhibitions about the Golden Age, not only showing the bright side of this period, but also the bad things that happened.
Dutch art museums go back even longer in time. It’s absolutely worth visiting some of the unique museums. This way, you get a better knowledge of Dutch history, and master painters like Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh.
Historical and Cultural museums that are worth visiting are;
Also known as The National Museum of The Netherlands or Dutch National Museum. Rijksmuseum shows the works of Dutch master painters like Vermeer, van Gogh, and Rembrandt.
The most famous work that is on display at Rijksmuseum is Rembrandt’s Nightwatch. Rijksmuseum is located in Amsterdam at Museumsquare (Museumplein).
van Gogh Museum
Also located at Museumsqaure in Amsterdam, you’ll find the van Gogh Museum. A museum dedicated to the works of Vincent van Gogh. The museum has the largest collection of van Gogh’s works, but also an interesting exhibition about his life. Vincent van Gogh, who was a master painter and one of the greatest of his time, suffered from mental illness and depressions, which made his life very complicated.
Anne Frank’s House
When you’re in Amsterdam, a must-visit is Anne Frank’s House. We all know the story of Anne Frank in Western society, and maybe also in other parts of the world. Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl, who needed to hide for Nazi Germans during World War II. During that time, she wrote a diary at the age of fourteen. Unfortunately, she was caught and didn’t survive the war, she probably died of sickness in a concentration camp. However, her stories live on and are widely known.
Visiting Anne Franks’ House, the place where she had hidden for a long time, is a must-do when you’re interested in this kind of history. The museum is very busy, so make sure to book your tickets in advance. You’ll need to book your tickets online on the museum’s website.
There are many more museums that are worth visiting in Amsterdam. You can find more recommendations in our article What is Amsterdam Best Known For?
One of the most exciting museums in The Hague is Mauritshuis. They offer a wide collection of artworks from the 16th to the 19th century, with its focus on the Golden Age (17th century).
Mauritshuis museum is located in the historic city center of The Hague, next to Binnenhof, which is the seat of our government. The most famous painting that is on display in Mauritshuis is Girl with the Pearl Earring, painted by Johannes Vermeer.
Art Museum The Hague (Kunstmuseum)
We talked a lot about Dutch history, famous master painters, Delft pottery, and historical events. But in recent times, many master painters and artists are worldwide renowned for their works. Piet Mondriaan and M.C. Escher, for example. Escher has its own museum in THe Hague, Escher in The Palace, located close to Mauritshuis.
However, the art museum The Hague offers a unique collection of historical works, Delft Blue Earthenware, and modern art like Mondriaan. Visiting the art museum, you can basically travel through time, absolutely worth a visit!
The Hague is a unique city that’s worth visiting, you can easily spend a day or two exploring the highlights of the city. There are many more musea to explore, but also other great activities. Read more in our article What Can You Do in The Hague for A Day, which is a complete itinerary when you want to spend one day in The Hague.
Annual Events In The Netherlands Worth Visiting
We like to party! Many Dutch artists are the most popular in the world. Especially within the Electronic Dance Music scene, like DJ Tiësto, Armin van Buuren, Afrojack, they’re all Dutch! And they all started in The Netherlands, performing at small events and later at our significant national events. During the summer months, there are hundreds of festivals taking place in The Netherlands, it’s hard to pick one that truly stands out, they are all fun to go to!
However, a few festivals that are typical cultural festivals are absolutely worth visiting. We selected three unique festivals that you don’t want to miss.
Every year, on the 27th of April, we celebrate the birthday of our King Willem Alexander. This day is a national holiday, so almost everyone can celebrate this special day.
Everywhere in the country, different (music)events are organized, and its the only day where you can sell your old stuff from the garage on the streets. The whole country basically turns into one big garage sale!
The Dutch Royal Family always visits one or two cities during this day, to celebrate the King’s birthday with the locals. Everyone dresses up in orange, the Dutch National color. It’s truly a unique event to attend! Read more in our article What is Kingsday In The Netherlands?
On the 5th of May, we celebrate Liberation Day. It was the official day in 1945 when The Netherlands celebrated freedom after World War II. Liberation Day is a National Holiday once every 5 years. In 2020 we celebrate 75 years of independence in The Netherlands, which makes the event extra special.
Every year many Liberation Day Festivals are organized in large cities, and many people take the day off from work to enjoy these festivals. The best Dutch artists attend to perform, which makes it a pleasure to attend and enjoy some of the best music made in The Netherlands.
We already told you about the progressive culture The Netherlands is known for. The country was the first country in the world that introduced ‘same-sex marriage,’ even that took them way too long, in my opinion, but luckily it is allowed for everyone to marry in The Netherlands since 1998.
The Netherlands has always been acceptable to the LGBTQI community, and the best example from that is the Dutch Pride Festival. Unfortunately, there are still places in the world where it’s not allowed to be yourself. Luckily you can be in The Netherlands and at the pride festival. A full week in August when there are many events organized, creating awareness around the acceptance of the LGBTQI community, everywhere in the world.
Pride festival ends annually with the massive canal parade. With a procession of hundreds of boats that go around the Amsterdam Canal Belt and celebrate. It’s a unique event, and what better to explain than with words? Check out this video below:
Recommended Articles About The Netherlands
Did you already book your ticket to The Netherlands? You must be as enthusiastic as we are by now, right? When you’re looking for more information about The Netherlands to prepare for your next trip, we recommend reading some of our other articles that might be helpful.
Best Time to Visit The Netherlands
In this article, you can find all the information when its the best time to visit The Netherlands, and tips for when you’re visiting during other months.
The best time to visit our country is between April and September when you have the best chance of sunny weather. Between April and May, you’ll find the most annual events, and you can visit Keukenhof Gardens. So when you have the chance, we recommend planning a visit to The Netherlands in that period.
What To Pack For The Netherlands?
You might wonder what you’ll need to pack on your next trip to The Netherlands? We got you covered! We know what to expect while visiting the country and how to prepare for the typical Dutch weather. It can rain a lot, so you might want to bring some extra rain protection on your trip. Don’t worry when you forget something, you can buy everything in the country!
How Many Days do You Need to Stay in The Netherlands?
For a small country, we have many different highlights you can visit, don’t you think? We wrote an article about how long you should stay in The Netherlands, where we give some advice and explain different itineraries. With 3 to 4 days you can visit a lot of famous landmarks in the country. But when The Netherlands is part of a stopover for your Eurotrip, you probably don’t have so much time. In the article, you’ll find many scenario’s which might be helpful
Interesting Facts About The Netherlands
Know you now that The Netherlands is worth visiting, and which places you definitely need to add to your itinerary, you might also what to know more about Dutch culture and the habits of Dutch people. When we’re traveling around, we get a lot of questions from people ‘What is it like in The Netherlands?’ or ‘To Be Dutch?’
So we put all those answers in a few articles, which can be helpful for you understanding more about the Dutch culture. You’ll find more about our Dutch food, language, typical habits, and many more fun facts!