No visit to Holland is complete without a visit to the capital city, Amsterdam; however, there are so many more thrilling sites to see in the Netherlands. From the classic windmills and magnificent fields of flowers to historic town centers laden with museums and sights, Holland has much to offer visitors. These places to visit in the Netherlands are not to be missed, and most are easily accessible.
Map of the Netherlands
Click to enlarge
- 12 Best Day Trips from Amsterdam
- 3 Best Day Trips in the Netherlands
- 8 Best Places to Stay in Amsterdam
Gouda is a typical Dutch city with lots of old buildings and pretty canals, and is a popular destination for a day trip, thanks to its great rail- and highway connections. The city is famous for its cheese, its stroopwafels (syrup waffles), candles and its clay pipes. Attractions in Gouda include the beautiful 15th century town hall and the amazing glass windows in St. Janskerk. The compact city center is entirely ringed by canals and is a mere five minutes’ walk from the station.
Once a mere 13th century fishing village, Rotterdam is the Netherlands most modern city today. Very bike friendly like Amsterdam, Rotterdam boasts several historic districts for visitors to explore. The popular Delfshaven district is where the pilgrims launched sail from in 1620, and the summertime festivals and carnivals there attract visitors from nearby European countries every year. Erasmus Bridge is highly unique and imposing, but highly regarded as a work of art, as it soars over Europe’s largest harbor. By far, the most popular visitor stop is at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, where artworks on display span from the Middle Ages to modern times, including masterpieces by Dali, Van Gogh, Bosch, and Rembrandt.
This culturally diverse university city is small but boasts two colleges, making it the main place to visit in the northern part of the Netherlands, especially concerning the arts, business, and education. Museum lovers never tire in Groningen, as the Groninger Museum is one of the most innovative and modern in all of Holland, and there is additionally a graphical museum, comics museum, maritime museum, and a university museum. Music and theater abound in Groningen, and many street cafes feature live entertainment. Because of its high student population, nightlife hotspots are a huge attraction, with The Grote Markt, the Peperstraat, and the Vismarkt being the most popular.
The center of the tulip bulb-growing district, Haarlem is unofficially dubbed Bloemenstad, which means ‘flower city’ and is naturally the home of the Annual Bloemencorso Parade. This quiet bedroom community lies along the shoreline of the Spaarne River and boasts numerous intact medieval structures around town. Visitors enjoy shopping and perusing the stunning architecture and museums along the Grote Markt city center. Popular museums in Haarlem include the oldest museum in the country, the Teylers Museum, which specializes in natural history, art, and science exhibits. Art aficionados find themselves drawn to the Franz Hals Museum where many Dutch masters’ works rest.
The rich Middle Age history of Utrecht is very apparent in the city’s architecture, with its most unique feature being the inner canal wharf system that was created to stave off parts of the Rhine River from invading the city center. Utrecht’s claim to fame may be the fact that it boasts the largest college in Holland, the University of Utrecht. Another notable visitor attraction in Utrecht includes the awe-striking Gothic Cathedral of Saint Martin, a 200-year structural feat that began in 1254. Architecture and museum enthusiasts should not miss the Dom Tower, the Rietveld Schroder House, and the Museum Speelklok, which boasts a vast collection of striking clocks, music boxes, and self-playing musical instruments.
Best known for its dynamic city square, the Vrijthof, Maastricht in southern Holland is home to the impressive Saint Servatius Church, the Saint Jan’s Cathedral, and the old fortifications, or Vestigingswerkens, are huge draws for visitors here. Many annual festivals take place at the Vrijthof, with local favorites arriving in autumn and winter, and this bustling town square also boasts amazing cafes, hip bars, and interesting galleries and shops. Other popular attractions in Maastricht include the St. Pietersberg Caves and the Helpoort, the oldest surviving town gate of its kind in the Netherlands.
Best known for the contemporary art exhibits at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague is arguably one of the most extraordinary places to visit in the Netherlands. Known as the Royal City by the Sea due to its Dutch Royalty citizens, visitors often enjoy spending time along the North Sea in the warmer months at the sea town of Scheveningen. Several notable monuments and historic districts are easily traversable in The Hague, and travelers can peruse the luxury department stores, cozy shops, and international art galleries with ease. The Binnenhof, the seat of the government of the Netherlands is also located in The Hague even though Amsterdam is the capital. Other attractions in The Hague include the miniature city, Madurodam and a 360 degree panoramic view of the Scheveningen Sea in the 19th century at Panorama Mesdag.
Read more: The Hague Attractions
From the Renaissance style City Hall building on the Markt Square to the city’s traditional Holland canals, architecture, and vibe, Delft is a progressive town that has worked diligently to restore its antiquated appearance. This unspoiled town is an ideal day trip destination or vacation destination if the busy streets of Amsterdam are undesirable for a long stay. Popular sites include The Prinsenhof, where the bullet holes still remain from the death of William of Orange. This museum tells the tale of the Eighty Years’ War and also features many intriguing artworks. Those looking for a Johannes Vermeer souvenir or print cannot miss stopping by Vermeer Centrum in Delft.
The picturesque city of Leiden is a great place to visit for its scenic, tree-lined canals that are marked with old windmills, wooden bridges and lush parks. A boat ride down one of these lovely canals makes for an unforgettable experience. Attractions in Leiden include the numerous museums that range from science and natural history to museums dedicated to windmills and Egyptian antiquities. The Hortus Botanicus offers sprawling botanical gardens and the world’s oldest academical observatory. Visitors can also admire the beautiful architecture of the 16th century Church of St. Peter and check out its association with several historic people, including the American pilgrims.
One of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, Amsterdam is widely known for its party atmosphere, cannabis practice and the red light district. With over 1500 fabulous monumental buildings and just as many bridges, visitors to Amsterdam spend much of their time exploring the eccentricities and marvelous museums dotting the 60 miles of canals across the city. The Anne Frank House and the Rijksmuseum Museum are the most popular stops for history and art seekers, while the Prinsengracht area is one of the best places for shopping, gallery viewing, pub crawling, and checking out the unique coffee shops in Amsterdam.
Read more: Top Amsterdam Attractions