The Netherlands -or Holland- is a country located in Western Europe with four largest cities: Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Amsterdam as the capital. This below-sea-level country is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe full of historical sites with a sense of Gothic architecture and canals as it’s used to be an old maritime state, especially the city of Amsterdam that is a former fishermen’s village in the past 12th until 15th century. The Netherlands is also famous for the great tulip fields as well as windmills and surprisingly, all of these tourists magnets can be explored easily just by bicycle because of its flat topography (the highest land is only 1 metre above sea level). Now, it’s your time to make a good choice by adding all of these most popular tourist attractions below into your Netherlands bucket list.
1. SAUNTER AT KEUKENHOF, THE GARDEN OF EUROPE
Keukenhof is well known as The Garden of Europe and popular tourist attraction, but actually, it’s more than just in Europe because this 32 hectares park is also regarded as the largest flower garden in the world. You’ll see many colourful blooming tulips along with crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths as far as you look. Activities such as cycling, day picnic and chilling at the garden restaurant are possible.
Bands of Tulips by Naval S:Flickr [link]
Bike rental is also obtainable at the parking site. But unfortunately, this garden is only open for public during springtime, which is at the end of March to May. During the season, it will be open daily from 8 AM – 7.30 PM with an entrance fee of €19 per adult.
2. VISIT THE PROMINENT KINDERDIJK WINDMILLS OR ZAANSE SCHANS
If you going far to South Holland, you’ll see the majestic complex of Kinderdijk windmills. This group of 19 monumental windmills are listed into one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are still operable to prevent local flooding and to pump water into a reservoir. Amble along the path to see all of the windmills or just book a boat tour instead and have a nice picnic at the riverbank! Note that the Kinderdijk is open every day from 9 AM – 5.30 PM (April – October peak season), 11 AM – 4 PM (November – March off-season) and is free of charge!
Discover Zaanse Schans at the north of Amsterdam to see the windmills with the green wooden open-air museum from the 17th centuries. At this one site, you’ll also find many sights beside the windmills including the shipyard, grocery store, farms, sawmill and oil mill. If you’re lucky, you can even have a chance to see the clog-making demonstration.
See things from the perspective of locals which are far from technology and you’ll never forget the feeling! The museum at Zaanse Schans is open daily from 9 AM – 5 PM with an admission fee of €12.50 while the open-area is free of charge.
Make your decision now because two of these places are both amazing!
3. TRAVERSE THE CITY BY A CANAL CRUISE
Your trip to the Netherlands won’t be perfect without exploring the city via the iconic canal as it’s an essential part of the country. Do a boat tour at Amsterdam or Delft town for about an hour or more with an audio guide that will tell you the stories regarding the canals and cities while viewing it from a different perspective.
Prior booking is recommended before your departure as it’ll be quite busy especially during the holiday. You can book it online with a price starting from €14.
4. ADMIRE THE GOTHIC ARCHITECTURE AT GROTE KERK, THE HAGUE
The Grote Kerk is a big gothic-style church that was structurally made by red bricks since the 13th century. Grote Kerk has the tallest bell tower in the Netherlands and if you go inside the church, you’ll see the ornate wooden pulpit and an old pipe organ. By going to this magnificent antique church, you may feel like being returned to the good old days.
5. RETREAT TO NATURE AT HOGE VELUWE NATIONAL PARK
See the wildlife such as birds, red and roe deers, wild boars and wild sheep. The Hoge Veluwe nature reserve is popular for bird-watching, cycling and hiking along the trails. Whether you choose to cycle around the 14.000 acres dense forests surroundings by renting a bike (it’s free of charge!) or just have a peaceful stroll are up to your choice.
Don’t forget to visit the sculpture garden named as one of Europe’s largest sculpture gardens and the marvellous Kroller-Muller Museum which will show you some private art collection and also the world’s second-largest collection of Vincent Van Gogh masterpieces! The park is open daily from 8 AM – 10 PM and for the entrance fee, you have to pay €10.95 per adult and addition of €10.95 for the museum. Booking in advance is recommended.
6. SCRUTINIZE THE PAINTING MASTERPIECE AT RIJKSMUSEUM & VAN GOGH MUSEUM
If you’re an art and antique enthusiasts, then the art museums may be your best choice! The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has many collections of art ever since 1890. You’ll find more than 5.000 paintings, Dutch ancient handicrafts and sculptures as well as modern arts. You can also sit back at the library accompanied by 35.000 books inside. Finish all your activities at Rijksmuseum and remember to take a photo at the iconic ‘I Amsterdam’ sign before you leave!
Upon walking 300 metres from Rijksmuseum, you’ll see the modern Van Gogh Museum. This museum is regularly voted as the best art museums in the world. You’ll get pulled deep inside the eminent Vincent Van Gogh’s life by seeing hundreds of paintings, drawings and letters showcase. Don’t forget to take the audio guide with you (for some extra price)! Visiting this famous museum is a must if you’re at the area.
Both of the museums are open daily from 9 AM – 6 PM with a price of €19 for an adult per museum.
7. STEP BACK INTO THE ANCIENT TIME AT VALKENBURG OLD TOWN & MARKEN SMALL VILLAGE
Visiting the famous Valkenburg old town in the Geul Valley will be unforgettable, especially if you like history and vintage theme. You’ll see the extraordinary chalk houses and the castle ruins on the hilltop site. Come to the Valkenburg during Christmas time so you can shop at their Christmas Market that is held inside the Velvet Caves.
Take an express ferry from Volendam to Marken and enjoy the colourful old Waterland village. This village is nominated as one of the lovely villages for it’s colourful wooden based houses. Stop by Marken Museum to learn the history of the town (and of course taking some pictures!) or pack your picnic basket and rent a bicycle to The Horse of Marken Lighthouse. This trip will surely be remembered all the time.
8. SEEK FOR LOCAL FOODS AT DUTCH MARKETS & EDAM CHEESE
Going to the Netherlands means you have to try their street foods. Bitterballen, Frikandel, Kroketten, Haring, Stroopwafel, Poffertjes and many more! Find all of these delicious treats at the Dutch markets that you find during your trip. One of the popular markets for street foods is Albert Cuyp Market in Amsterdam. Besides foods, you’ll also find items of clothing, flowers and more at the market.
If you’ve finished your foods exploring tour, don’t forget to pay Edam Cheese a visit. Located in the town of Edam, you’ll get to taste the famous round-shape cheese and also buy some to bring back home at Edam large cheese market.
9. EXPERIENCE LIVING ON THE BOAT AT HOUSEBOAT MUSEUM
The unusual houseboat museum is where you’ll get a glimpse about how people living on a boat. It lies on one of the canals in Amsterdam, near the Jordaan area. There, the furniture sits at the rooms just like where it used to be with some old pictures of the canal to complete the museum.
You’ll also get to see a short movie about houseboats in the old days. This museum is only open for public on Friday and Sunday from 10 AM – 17 AM with an entrance fee of €4.50 for adults.
10. GO AROUND THE MEDIEVAL-STYLE PALACE AT KASTEEL DE HAAR
If you’re travelling to the city of Utrecht, make sure that you visit Kasteel de Haar. One of the reasons why this gothic-style castle become so phenomenal is because of the majestic castle with 250 acres garden encircling it. The castle stands since the 14th century and inside it, you’ll see collections of antiques paintings and furniture. It’s like being dragged into the fairytale with friendly deers all around you. Kasteel de Haar opens daily from 11 AM – 17 PM €3 per adult.
11. DAWDLE THROUGH THE WATERWAYS OF GIETHOORN SMALL VILLAGE BY A BOAT
Hop on a boat and explore this ‘Little Venice’ of Netherlands because one of the possible way to walk-through the Giethoorn is only by the canals! Divided into many blocks, this small car-free village has its own charm mostly because of the waterways and farmhouses. Include this picturesque village in your bucket list and have a nice boat tour! Book a day tour for about 8 hours and expect to see the combination of nature by paying €92 per person.
12. GET A REMARKABLE TOUR ALONG THE TUNNEL AT MAASTRICHT UNDERGROUND CAVES
Experience exploring the tunnels by going to Maastricht Underground Caves. This hand-carved cave was used for refugees during the war and a safe place for the national art treasures. Have an amazing historical trip by booking the cave tour so you can learn more about the place. An hour tour cost you €9.50 per adult and you are free to choose whether you want to rove the north caves or the Zonneberg caves. After the journey, don’t forget to visit the antique restaurant to fill up your tummy!