The 10 Ultimate Things to Do and See in the Netherlands

Sunshine over Amsterdams canals
Sunshine over Amsterdam's canals | © pixabay
Tom Coggins

Due to the wide range of exciting, cultural and downright breathtaking things to do and see in the country, there is rarely a dull moment in the Netherlands. To prepare you for you’re next trip to the Dutch homeland, we’ve put together the following list covering the ultimate experiences and destinations on offer in the Netherlands.

Enjoy a cruise on Amsterdam’s canals

Central Amsterdam converges around a system of 17th-century canals that are collectively recognised as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. These charming waterways are still accessible by boat and many tour companies in Amsterdam offer guided cruises around the canals. It’s even possible to rent private vessels in Amsterdam for small parties or couples.

Amsterdam’s canals

Marvel at The Night Watch

Due its enormous size and historical importance, Rembrandt’s masterpiece The Night Watch occupies an entire room in the Rijksmuseum. The painting attracts millions of visitors per year and is among the most iconic and cherished works of art ever created.

Rembrandt van Rijn: the Night Watch, 1642

Take a trip to Texel

Due to its proximity to North Holland and Amsterdam, Texel is the most accessible island in the Wadden Sea. Its entire western shore is protected as a national park and contains many diverse landscapes including dunes, forests and rugged coastal terrain- making it an absolute haven for hikers, cyclists and nature lovers.

Clear skies above Texel’s Eierland lighthouse

Cycle through the windmill network at Kinderdijk

Kinderdijk in South Holland is surrounded by a large network of historic windmills that date back to the 18th century. Dozens of cycle paths trail between these iconic machines and entering the network is entirely free, meaning that it is possible to experience this wonderful UNESCO World Heritage Site entirely by bike.

There are dozens of bicycle paths around the windmills at Kinderdijk

Climb the Dom Tower

Utrecht’s medieval town centre gravitates around an enormous Gothic-style steeple, called the Dom Tower, that was completed in the late 14th century. As the Dom Tower reaches 112.5 meters at its peak, it is recognised as the highest religious building in the Netherlands.

The Dom Tower is still the tallest building in Utrecht’s historic centre

Chill out on the beach at Scheveningen

Taking a day trip to the seaside resort at Scheveningen is a staple of Dutch summer time and the beach is well-equipped for sunny spells. Besides golden sands and pristine waters, Scheveningen also features several classic attractions, including an enormous leisure pier, a miniature amusement park called Madurodam and numerous pickled herring stands.

The pier at Scheveningen

Sample some authentic Dutch cheese in Alkmaar

A traditional cheese market takes place on Alkmaar’s Waagplein ever Friday from April until September. For this ceremonious event, traders deck themselves in old-timey attire and exchange their cheeses according to historical regulations. Visitors are always welcome at Alkmaar’s cheese market and are encouraged to purchase fresh Gouda or Edam by the wheel.

Wheels of gouda at the cheese market

Drink a beer underneath a windmill

The Dutch craft beer scene is currently booming, partly thanks to the growing number of independent breweries in Amsterdam. Brouwerij ‘t IJ is likely the most famous brewer in the city and is located underneath a giant windmill called de Gooier. Although this machine isn’t actually part of the brewery, Brouwerij ‘t IJ’s beer garden certainly benefits from its presence.

Brouwerij ‘t IJ and de Gooier windmill

Scout out the wildlife at the Hoge Veluwe

Herds of wild deer, boars and horses have roamed freely around the Hoge Veluwe for centuries, and the park is among the best places in Europe for wildlife watching. This wonderfully preserved stretch of nature is beautiful all year round and covers several diverse geographical terrains, that range from hilly forests to windswept dunes.

A wild deer in the Hoge Veluwe

Buy a satchel of tulip bulbs

Due to their enduring popularity, it is rarely difficult to find tulips in the Netherlands. It is actually possible to take these glorious, floricultural wanders home, as many flower stores throughout the country will gladly vacuum-pack their prized bulbs in order to prepare them for air transit.

It’s possible to grow your own Dutch tulips at home by buying bulbs in the Netherlands

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

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All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

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