Must-Visit Attractions in the Netherlands

| © Noppasin Wongchum / Alamy Stock Photo
Tom Coggins

Due to the high concentration of diverse attractions in the Netherlands, it is rarely difficult to find entertaining, cultural or spectacular things to do whilst within Dutch borders. To prepare eager travellers for their next trip to the Netherlands, we’ve put together the following list of the most popular and important attractions in the country.

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The Royal Palace of Amsterdam

The Royal Palace on Dam Square was built during the height of the Dutch Golden Age at a time when Amsterdam was among the most influential cities in Northern Europe. The palace was originally owned by the city’s municipality and passed into the hands of the Dutch royal family after William of Orange formed the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the early 19th century. Although important royal ceremonies still take place inside the palace, it is open to the public most days of the year.

Observation tower Euromast in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The Euromast has towered above Rotterdam’s centre since 1960 and was recognised as the tallest building in the city for several years. Despite the presence of many other giant buildings in Rotterdam, the Euromast has remained an iconic part of the city’s skyline and now contains a restaurant, exclusive hotel and observation deck.

Miffy Museum

As its name suggest, this kid-orientated museum in Utrecht is primarily dedicated to Miffy the bunny, but also houses a large collection of other items associated with the cartoon rabbit’s creator, Dick Bruna, including designs he made for Amnesty International, and other charities. This wonderful themed museum is perfect for younger children and even features an indoor play area.

Maastricht Underground

The land beneath Maastricht is riddled with thousands of manmade caves that were mainly evacuated in order to harvest valuable building material. Many of these tunnels date back to the medieval period, whilst other were expanded during the 20th century and converted into colossal bunkers.

Kröller-Müller Museum

The Kröller-Müller Art Museum has an extensive Van Gogh collection

In 1938, German art collector Helene Kröller-Müller bequeathed her vast Van Gogh collection to the Dutch public and launched a new museum in Otterlo under her family name. This institute currently owns the second largest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world and is located in the center of the Hoge Veluwe National Park.

The Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout

The large network of windmills around the village of Kinderdijk in South Holland were constructed between 1738 and 1740 in order to pump water out of the area’s swampland. Due to their historical and cultural importance the mills are now protected as an UNESCO heritage site and are among the most popular attractions in the Netherlands.

Amsterdam Canal District

Cafe on a canal bridge, Jordaan district, Amsterdam, Holland

The concentric ring of waterways and streets between Amsterdam’s Singel and Prinsengracht canals are collectively recognised as a UNESCO heritage site. As large parts of this charming, historic neighbourhood were built during the Dutch Golden Age, its boundaries contain dozens of additional monuments, including Anne Frank Huis, Westerkerk and Museum van Loon.

Rietveld Schröder House

Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht, the Netherlands

In 1924, prominent de Stijl member Gerrit Rietveld was commissioned to build a house in Utrecht by a wealthy, local socialite named Truus Schröder-Schräder. To complete this property, Rietveld employed stylistic gestures associated with de Stijl whilst paying close attention to Schröder-Schräder’s personal preference for open floor planning, leading to the creation of one of the most iconic, modernist buildings in the world.

The Dunes of Texel National Park

Due to its outstanding natural beauty, the entire western shore of the island of Texel is preserved as an national park. This rugged stretch of land is inhabited by a rich variety of flora and fauna, including several rare birds, making it a haven for nature lovers. Walking and cycling are the preferred mode of transport inside the park.

Van Gogh Museum

Vincent van Gogh, Hill of Montmartre, March-April 1886, black chalk, blurred and erased, on laid paper, watermark “PL BAS”, 31.8 x 47.8 cm, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum possesses the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world and preserves thousands of other items associated with the artist and his contemporaries. Besides its permanent Van Gogh collection, the museum also regularly hosts temporary exhibitions dedicated to certain aspects of Vincent Van Gogh’s life and career.

Madurodam

At Madurodam, visitors can experience the Netherlands from an entirely new perspective by stomping around elaborate miniature versions of Amsterdam, the Hague and many other iconic Dutch locations. This diminutive amusement park attracts countless visitors every year and donates all its profits to charitable organisations.

The Rijksmuseum

Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum holds many artistic treasures of the Dutch Golden Age

The Rijksmuseum is recognised as the largest museum in the Netherlands and houses over 1,000,000 artworks, artefacts and historical items, which represent every period of Dutch history. Its permanent collection includes several Dutch masterpieces such as Rembrandt’s The Nightwatch and Vermeer’s The Milkmaid.

Kunsthal

Unlike most art museums, Rotterdam’s Kunsthal doesn’t own any artwork or keep a permanent collection. Instead, the museum host up to 20 temporary exhibitions every year, meaning that it is able to showcase cutting-edge or previously underrepresented artwork effectively and consistently.

Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder

After the Reformation, the Dutch government officially outlawed Catholicism; an edict which forced Dutch Catholics to practise their faith in secret. In Amsterdam, many hidden churches were constructed by local Catholics and used for clandestine religious ceremonies, including a small, beautifully decorated chapel in de Wallen, which is now known as Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder.

Mauritshuis

Mauritshuis has preserved one of the largest collections of Dutch Golden Age artworks in the world since the early 19th century, which features several unbelievably important pieces such as Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. The museum itself is a veritable masterpiece and is housed inside an 17th century mansion that was designed by Jacob van Campen, whose portfolio also includes Amsterdam’s Royal Palace.

Arcen Castle

Arcen Castle is steeped in mystery and has stood in Limburg for over three centuries, placing it among the oldest surviving strongholds in the Netherlands. Several impressive, landscape gardens lies beyond its double-moat, which regularly hosts outdoor events.

Schokland

The former island of Schokland was the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Netherlands

Despite constantly changing water levels, the area around Schokland has been inhabited since pre-historic times. This former island became part of the Dutch mainland in 1942 after Zuierderzee’s southern waters were reclaimed and turned into Noordoosterpolder. Because of its unique history, Shokland is now protected as an UNESCO world heritage site.

Anne Frank Huis

After the Nazi’s invaded the Netherlands, Anne Frank and her family escaped arrest by hiding in a concealed apartment in Amsterdam’s de Jordaan neighbourhood. Although they were eventually caught and transported to concentration camps, they are remembered at their former sanctuary, which was converted into a museum in 1960.

Keukenhof Gardens

During early spring, millions of tulips burst into full bloom at Keukenhof Gardens and blanket the park in a sea of color. The gardens were originally built in the 19th century and have since become staple of Dutch springtime. Special floriculturally-orientated events take place at Keukenhof Gardens throughout the season, including a large flower parade.

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