|Famous painters, windmills, canals, tulips, wooden clogs, waterworks, dance-music, cheese, weed and prostitues. The tiny little country of the Netherlands might be famous for some specific things but is often mistaken as the capital of Amsterdam, instead of the other way around. Others think it belongs to Germany or one of the Scandinavian countries. But no, Holland is a little kingdom of it’s own. Just to get this confusion out of the way: nobody cares if you call it Holland or The Netherlands!|
Most of the country lies below sea-level, they were the first to legalize same-sex marriage and have highest population density in Europe with 487 inhabitants per square kilometer, who on average travel about 900km per year on their bicycle.
I’m a little bit ashamed to admit that, although I’ve lived here most of my life, I haven’t actually seen a lot of my motherland, so if you have some recommendations, please let me know!
Top things to see and do in the Netherlands:
AmsterdamNot that I actually think that anyone visiting this little country would skip the famous capitol 😉 There is a lot more to see and do here than just the red-light district, Anne Frank house and smoking weed though! The canals are famous for a reason, and especially beautiful at night. There is wonderful architecture, some good museums, beer and genever breweries and awesome markets!
Kinderdijk’s UNESCO-listed windmills
The polder area with its dykes, mills and pumping stations are considered to be proof of human inventiveness in reclaiming and protecting the land. The complete history of water management can be experienced and the views are amazing and unique for the entire world.
Check out a cheesemarket.
There are five functional cheese markets left in the Netherlands. Woerden is a modern working commercial one but Alkmaar, Gouda, Edam and Hoorn are traditional and fun to visit.
So I totally understand this sounds crazy but because of the colonial adventures, there are quite a lot of Indonesian people in Holland, and they make amazing food!
As one of the most popular ways of transport throughout the country, you would almost feel out of place not on a bike. Be careful in the cities!
Head to the Keukenhof
The biggest flower garden in the world, with 32 hectares of spectacular floral displays, open between March and May of each year when the tulips are in season.
National Park Hoge Veluwe
About 55 square kilometers of heathlands, sand dunes and woodlands. The Kröller-Müller Museum in it’s middle boasts the second-largest Van Gogh collection in the world and a sculpture garden, one of the largest in Europe, to enjoy both sculptures and nature. Combine the park and museum in a wonderful day out by taking the train to Apeldoorn, the bus (number 108, direction Ede) to Hoenderloo and then take one of the free bikes at the park entrance.
Visit one of the islands
The Dutch Wadden Sea Islands are the pearls of the North of the Netherlands. They are all worth a visit, because Schiermonnikoog, Ameland, Terschelling, Vlieland and Texel differ quite a bit from one another. Luckily, a visit to several islands in one trip is possible, thanks to the unique possibilities to go island-hopping. Some of them are car-free and home to national parks but they’re all beautiful. Be sure to try out the ‘mud-walking’!
For such a tiny country, there sure is a lot of great art to be seen, and in fascinating buildings too! Check out a full list of my personal favorite options here.
Spend a day in Maastricht
This Southern city is famous for having the only ‘mountain’, which is really more of a hill though, and you can see Belgium and Germany from the top. Don’t miss the breathtaking Basilica.
This castle is the most beautiful and best kept medieval one of Holland. Built in 1280 as a defensive castle, Muiderslot features rooms of 17th-century furniture and a garden brimming with over 400 varieties of herbs.
The waterworks in Zeeland
The Delta Works is a series of construction projects in the southwest to protect a large area of land from the sea. The works consist of dams, sluices, locks, dykes, levees, and storm surge barriers that basically reduce the number of dikes that had to be raised elsewhere around the country.
Celebrate King’s Day
Every year on April 27th we used to celebrate the birthday of queen Juliana, and later this day stayed because the new queen had her birthday in winter. But in 2013, Queen Beatrix passed the throne to her son, Willem Alexander and Queen’s Day became King’s Day. It’s a national holiday filled with outdoor concerts, lots of orange and drinking/partying/celebrating on the streets and canals.
The central courtyard (once used for executions) is surrounded by parliamentary buildings. The stunning 17th-century North Wing is still home to the Upper Chamber of the Dutch Parliament . Highlight of the complex is the restored 13th-century Ridderzaal. To see the buildings you need to join a tour through visitor organization ProDemos.