The Netherlands is a country rich in culture, history and sophistication, famous for windmills, clogs, cheese and tulips.
Perhaps the latter three are what springs to mind when conducting a stereotypical picture of this country, but the former three will be the overriding theme of your Netherlands holidays – though admittedly a windmill or two may make an appearance.
You’ll be immersed in cultural heritage in the wonderful capital Amsterdam, a beautiful city decorated by canals and charming villages, as well as some striking architecture and world-class museums. You’ll find equal proportions of culture across the majority of the major towns and cities in the country, with Rotterdam contributing a bustling port, beautiful skyline and several historic churches. In The Hague you’ll find the country’s governmental and royal occupancy, as well as several other attractions, while in Nijmegen you’ll discover the oldest city in the country and moving WWII remembrance.
If your holidays in the Netherlands are not complete without a dose of traditional charm, you’ll find it in various locations. Keukonhof boasts an armada of tulips, Kinderdijk is home to an assortment of windmills and the villages of the Waterland and Zaan Region bring the clogs.
City charm and cheesy trips
Amsterdam provides a spectacular gateway to the Netherlands’ cultural prowess, as well as serving as a fantastic city break destination. The endless network of canals provides a beautiful setting for a stroll, or alternatively you could enjoy a drink in a traditional coffee house beside one of the city’s many pretty bridges. You’ll find some great 5-star hotels and apartments situated in the historic centre, meaning you’ll never have to leave your room – but you probably should.
Culture lovers will revel in the city’s fantastic range of museums; picking which ones to visit will be the toughest part of your holidays to the Netherlands. Make time to duck into the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum with its extensive art collection, and the Van Gogh Museum to witness the largest exhibit of his paintings and drawings of anywhere in the world. You’ll find an equally vibrant art scene in Rotterdam as well as many engaging museums.
You can’t visit the Netherlands without indulging in the country’s historic cheese destinations. The towns of Gouda and Edam are perhaps better known for their dairy exports, but paying a visit to these places allows you to indulge in a significant Dutch tradition.
The Hague is a particularly important city, home to both the royal and governmental HQ. A holiday to The Netherlands should try and incorporate a visit to this powerful city, if not for the politics and monarchy then at least for the myriad of beautiful buildings, informative museums and canal trips. The Hague is also in close proximity to the country’s most popular beach destination, Scheveningen. The resort provides some great windsurfing and surfing opportunities, as well as a vibrant bar scene.
If you’re going to join the masses and flock to the resort when the sun is out, you’ll want to try and pay a visit to the Netherlands between the months of June and September when you’ll experience a little bit more warmth – though the beach is likely to be packed.
The warm weather during holidays in The Netherlands will offer a pleasant period to explore the student towns of Utrecht and Groningen. Both predictably home to vibrant nightlife and a rich culinary scene, the cities are equally as beautiful with various historic and architecturally striking sites and a pretty canal network.
There are a number of smaller, lesser-known destinations that will add an untouched flavour to your holidays to the Netherlands. Escaping the big cities will give you the opportunity to delve further into the country’s charm and heritage.
Leiden is a historic student city home to the oldest university in The Netherlands as well as being the birthplace of Rembrandt. It also boasts three fantastic national museums, including the exceptional National Museum of Antiquities.
Delft is an equally attractive and historic city with unspoiled architecture and sedate canals. The city offers many of the attractions served up by Amsterdam yet with half the crowds. Special mentions go to the imposing City Hall, the towering Old Church and the Molen de Roos windmill.