If you’re looking for reasons to visit the Netherlands, you’ve came to the right place! Because as a born and raised Dutch girl I know plenty of reasons why someone should visit my country.
To be honest, when I was younger I was never extremely proud about the Netherlands. Always when I spotted tourists walking around in my hometown Rotterdam I thought to myself: “what the hell are they doing here?” The weather in the Netherlands is almost always shitty, I never really thought there were a lot of special activities to do, and I felt that the culture isn’t so unique. However, ever since I returned from 1.5 years of travelling, I realise that each country has it’s own special qualities. The Netherlands was never very special to me, purely because I lived here. The reason I was drawn to other countries that were far away was only because it’s where I don’t live. You never realise what you had until it’s gone… That’s why I only started to appreciate the good qualities about my country as soon as I was extremely far away. So, in this post I share 30 reasons to visit the Netherlands!
This post also includes some cool tours in the Netherlands, so be sure to check them out!
30 Reasons to visit the Netherlands
1. The Netherlands has a very cool capital city: Amsterdam
Of course, in the Netherlands you have Amsterdam. This city offers world-renowned museums, historical monuments, countless of gorgeous canals and a vibrant nightlife. It’s a very cool city, so it’s no wonder that it’s one of the most visited cities in the world! I’ve even met people who have never heard of the Netherlands, but they do know Amsterdam.
But when you do visit the Netherlands, don’t only visit Amsterdam and skip the rest of the country. Because if you do, you’ve actually only see the most touristic city of our country and just a fraction of what we have to offer!
Check out day trips from Amsterdam to the rest of the Netherlands!
2. But the Dutch also have the cool city of Rotterdam
Another cool, lesser known, city in the Netherlands is Rotterdam. This cool city is completely different from Amsterdam and most cities in the Netherlands. Especially the architecture in Rotterdam is very cool and unique. You might wonder: why is Rotterdam so different from the rest of the Netherlands? Well, Rotterdam was bombarded during the Second World War and a large part of the center was completely destroyed. But instead of dwelling on this terrible event, the citizens united and completely rebuild Rotterdam. The bombing of Rotterdam made the city how we know it today: modern with a lot of unique buildings.
So, in contrast to Amsterdam, Rotterdam is very modern. And maybe most importantly: it’s a lot less touristy than Amsterdam!
If you want to learn more about Rotterdam and if you’re interested about awesome hotspots, events and more, be sure to check out my other blog called Weekends in Rotterdam. Here my team and I share the best places to visit, the best events, routes through our city and practical information such as how to travel around.
3. You can visit charming Dutch towns and villages
Besides the big cities, the Netherlands offers some pretty charming towns and villages. Most people only consider Amsterdam when they think of the Netherlands, but there is so much more! For instance, Volendam, Giethoorn, Goes, Middelburg, Zierikzee, Utrecht and Alkmaar. Just to name a few!
Each town has its own quality and it’s really worth it to check out out.
Check out these day trips that include Volendam.
4. The Netherlands also has islands!
Did you know that there are also islands in the Netherlands? The Dutch Waddeneilanden are located in the North Sea. The islands include Texel, Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog. It’s a completely different sight in the Netherlands and each island is unique on it’s own. Just like in the rest of the Netherlands: don’t expect great weather!
5. There is a rich Dutch history to unfold
The Netherlands is a country with a rich history. The oldest city in the Netherlands is Nijmegen and it dates back all the way to the Roman times. Over the years, the Dutch have been occupied by the Spanish, the Austrians, the French and the Germans. The Netherlands flourished in it’s Golden Age with the Dutch East India Company, also known as the first true transnational corporation.
There surely is a lot of history in this country and it’s quite interesting to learn more about it in our country! For instance, visit De Canon van Nederland in Arnhem: a presentation of the whole history of the Netherlands. But already by walking around our historic cities you’ll be able to learn a lot about the history of our country.
6. You can explore historic architecture in the Netherlands…
With all that history, there is also a lot of historical buildings to explore. The Netherlands offers a lot of historic architecture in most cities and villages. In Amsterdam and most Dutch cities you’ll find a lot of beautiful old Herenhuizen in all shapes and sizes. Also, you’ll find lots of historical monuments everywhere in the Netherlands.
The photo above is actually taken in Rotterdam. Because even though most of the city center was destroyed during the Second World War, there are still historic buildings to explore!
7. … But also a lot of modern architecture
Especially in Rotterdam you’ll find a lot of modern architecture. As the city was bombarded in the Second World War, the locals had to build it up from scratch. But they really created something special. In Rotterdam you’ll find very cool, modern architecture, unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Just think of the Cube Houses, the very new Markthal and the iconic Erasmusbridge.
Explore the architecture in Rotterdam with this 2.5 hour bike tour!
8. You can eat lots of cheese in the Netherlands
Who doesn’t love cheese?! There is so much cheese in the Netherlands, and not only Gouda cheese. To be honest, after you’ve tasted all the amazing cheese there is in my country, you’ll forget about all the other cheeses you have ever tasted. I’ve said a lot of cheese in this paragraph. Cheese.
There are a lot of tours that include cheese tastings! Check out the prices and availability here.
9. Taste the amazing poffertjes
We’re getting to the good part now! Besides all the delicious cheeses, the Netherlands offers much more delicious treats, and one of my favourite are definitely poffertjes. Poffertjes are basically mini sized pancakes and we usually serve them with butter and powdered sugar. You should definitely try them when you visit the Netherlands.
10. Eat breakfast with hagelslag
Most Dutch people grew up with bread and hagelslag for breakfast. Hagelslag is basically chocolate sprinkles, but they come in different shapes and flavours. Next to Hagelslag, you can find vruchtenhagel, vlokken, muisjes and more! When you’re in the Dutch Albert Heijn, you’ll be surprised how many different types there are.
11. You can buy stroopwafels as a souvenir for your friends at home
Probably the most famous Dutch snack: stroopwafels! A stroopwafel is a waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel-like syrup in the middle. The best ones are actually fresh from the market, but you can also take them with you as a souvenir or present! They are really popular among locals and most tourists fall in love with these sweet cookies.
12. Explore the amazing Dutch windmills
Even though it’s strange to me that some people think all the Dutch wear clomps and live in windmills (very inaccurate), it’s still pretty cool to explore some when you’re in the Netherlands. You can visit Kinderdijk or Zaanse Schans where there are a lot of windmills. It’s even possible to go in one of the windmills if you want.
There are a lot of tours that include Dutch windmills. Check out the prices and availability here.
13. Try on some traditional Dutch clothing
If you go to Volendam, you should try on some of their traditional clothing! It’s a fun experience, even I tried it once with my friends and it was probably the only time in my life I wore clomps. It’s one of the most touristic things you can do in the Netherlands, but you can take some funny photos and cherish those memories forever.
Take your picture in Volendam costume during this Cheese and Clog tour!
14. The Netherlands has amazing water management
Did you know that most of the Netherlands actually lies below sea level? The Dutch have raised a lot of land straight from the sea, even the whole province of Flevoland! Pretty cool right? That’s why our country is also quite vulnerable to flooding, and flood control is a big priority in our country. It’s also why we have a complicated system of drainage canals, pumping stations (used to be windmills) and ditches. Furthermore, we also have dikes to prevent the water from flowing into the country.
15. Enjoy the beautiful Dutch landscape
The Netherlands is remarkably flat. There are some hills, yes, but most of the country is very flat. But that doesn’t mean that our country doesn’t offer beautiful landscape! For instance, you can visit the Veluwe, an incredible nature park. The photo above was taken at Veluwezoom, near the Veluwe. The heather starts to bloom in August, causing the beautiful purple colour!
16. There are beautiful walking trails in the Netherlands
If you want to fully enjoy the beautiful landscape in the Netherlands, you can decide to explore one of the walking trails. The longest most famous Dutch walking trail is the Pieterpad, which is 498 kilometer long. But even if you don’t go on a walking trail, there is a lot to explore by foot, such as the beaches, gorgeous canals and more.
17. Smell the gorgeous Dutch tulips
Photo by Saskia from Kids Erop uit.
You must’ve seen a lot of photos of the beautiful Dutch tulip fields! Especially Keukenhof is quite popular, as it showcases over 800 varieties of tulips, but there are also lesser known flowers. The best time to visit the Dutch tulip fields is between April and May!
18. You can safely ride a bike anywhere in the Netherlands
Riding a bicycle is very popular in the Netherlands! It’s an easy, cheap and environmentally friendly way to travel around. It’s easy to bike around in the cities and towns of the Netherlands. Remember, because most of the country is so flat? And, maybe even more important, there are bike lines everywhere in the Netherlands! If you took all the bike lanes together, it would be approximately 35.000 kilometer long. So it’s very safe to ride a bike in my country too. That’s why most Dutch people never use a helmet on their bicycle!
19. It’s easy to travel around in The Netherlands
Don’t want to ride a bicycle when you’re in the Netherlands? Not a problem! It’s very easy to travel around the Netherlands, with or without a bicycle. For instance, you can rent a car and easily drive from one side of the country to the other side in the country in just a few hours. But, it’s also very easy to use public transport. The train is a great way to travel from one town to another.
20. Most Dutch people speak English
It’s easy to communicate with the locals, because most Dutch people speak English. Whether it’s to ask for directions, to order something or when you’re using public transport. Most restaurants and cafés offer English menu’s and as far as I know, the public transport is in both Dutch and English (at least in Rotterdam and Amsterdam!). It’s also convenient if you happen to be a solo traveller and you’re looking for friends!
21. The Dutch men are one of the tallest in the world
The Dutch are known for being tall and blond. It’s funny, because personally I’m quite short (1.59 meter, which is very short for a Dutch lady). But in average Dutch people and especially Dutch men are very tall. So, if you happen to be looking for tall men, then you have a pretty good reason to visit the Netherlands, because in 2016 Dutch men were revealed as the tallest men in the world.
22. There are a lot of different beers
Are you a real beer lover? The Netherlands offers a lot of different beers. The famous Heineken was made in Amsterdam, but there are a lot more types of beers. In the Netherlands you can find a big craft beer scene and there are a lot of new independent beer breweries.
If you’re really into beer, check out this 3-hour Private Craft Beer Tour in Amsterdam or get a Heineken Experience Ticket to discover what is behind the doors of the former Heineken brewery. Click here for all the possible beer tours in the Netherlands at Get Your Guide!
23. You can visit one of the coffeeshops
There is a reason that most travellers I know only heard of Amsterdam. It’s because a lot of them go to Amsterdam to enjoy the fact that they can legally smoke weed there. It’s even possible to go on a Coffee Shop Tour or Cannabis walking tour in Amsterdam. What a lot of tourist don’t know that you can go to a coffee shops in most Dutch cities.
24. There are some great shopping possibilities
Personally, I love shopping in most of the cities in the Netherlands. Especially in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. There are lot of unique boutique stores, vintage shops, malls and amazing markets. Amsterdam even has the biggest flea market in Europe: IJhallen. There is something for every fashionista in the Netherlands!
25. The Netherlands has a diverse party scene
If you love to party, then the Netherlands is the place for you. We’ve got clubs with techno, house, hiphop – you name it! There are cool festivals, underground parties, but also good old pubs for a drink and chatting with friends.
26. Party like never before during King’s Day
King’s Day is celebrated on the 27th of April. On that day the whole country goes crazy, because we’re celebrating the Dutch monarch’s King Willem-Alexander birthday. Yes, most of us get off work to celebrate his birthday. The streets will be filled with party people fully clothed in orange and music will be blasting everywhere you go.
27. The Netherlands is great for a family vacation
Although some of the above points may make it seem otherwise, the Netherlands is actually very kid-friendly. Because it’s such a small country, it’s not necessary to travel far to see a lot. This makes it a lot less tiring for your kids (and you!). The train in the Netherlands is an excellent way for families to travel around and it’s fun too (unless you travel during peak times!).
Explore Madurodam with your kids and see a miniature version of the Netherlands. Get your tickets for Madurodam here. Furthermore, there are a lot of kid’s museums in the Netherlands, such as NEMO Science Museum in Amsterdam and the Children’s Book Museum in The Hague.
Get your NEMO Science Museum Ticket here for a fast-track access to this popular Amsterdam attraction.
28. There is a lot of art in the Netherlands
Whether you love modern art, street art or more traditional art, there is something for everyone in the Netherlands! For instance, visit the world famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and explore over 400 masterpieces by artists such as Jan Steen, Vermeer and Rembrandt. Get a skip the line ticket here! I’m definitely going to get one of those tickets myself, since I have never set foot in the Rijksmuseum before because the lines are always so crazy long.
Next to the Rijksmuseum, there are a lot more great museums and art galleries to explore in the Netherlands. Check out the prices and availability of different museums and art tours.
The photo above is taken at Museum Voorlinden.
29. You can relax on the terraces
When the sun shines, the Dutch all go out to relax in at one of the many cafés terraces. Order wine, a portion of bitterballen (= meat based snack, containing a mixture of beef or veal) and put on your sunglasses. It’s the ultimate relaxation.
30. It’s one of the best places to live
When I travelled I realised how well we all have it in the Netherlands. There is a good social security, health care and so on. We do have our own culture, even though I didn’t realise it before. The Netherlands might not be perfect, it’s a pretty cool place to live. Even though you don’t really experience this when you only come for a short visit, it’s definitely worth mentioning.
That were 30 reasons to visit the Netherlands! Do you have anything to add? Let me know in the comments and I might include it in the list above!
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I enjoyed my stay in Utrecht, such an amazing city! I was hoping to see it on your list of things that tourists must visit while staying in the Netherlands. 🙂
Thank you for such valuable information. I was hesitant to travel to Holland due to fear of not being able to get around since we aren’t fluent in Dutch. Both my husband and I come from double Dutch parents. I understand more than I speak. My father is from Friesland and my mother is from Rotterdam. I am now excited to plan a trip there and maybe even visit family I have never met. Thanks for inspiring me, I am grateful.
Thank you for pointing out the possibilities. I’m planning to visit the Netherlands this year. Just can’t decide on the season. What time of year is the best to experience the most of the country? Maybe April? It’s tulip season and King’s Day is on. I don’t want to miss anything. How about the weather, prices, and crowds? It’s still not the high season, am I right?
I lived in Maastricht for nearly four years and miss it almost every day. I think the Netherlands is actually pretty awesome, dreary weather and all! 🙂
I’ve been twice! My husband’s company is headquartered in Eindhoven and I’ve been able to tag along on his business trips there! I’ve been to Eindhoven, Amsterdam, Kinderdijk, Nijmegen, Utrecht, Maastricht, and even accidentally rode my bike to Belgium! Have you been to Eindhoven? One of my favorite things was the Van Gogh bike path there. I never met anyone in the country who didn’t speak English! I also realized how blunt the Dutch are – one time, I wanted to try on a size small sweatshirt – the shop owner flat out told me it wouldn’t fit and I needed a large. Fun times there!
I love your post! I’m hoping to visit the Netherlands for the first time this year, and your post has reminded me how much I want to. And every Dutch person I’ve ever meet is fabulously lovely, which helps. Thank you for helping to fuel my plans to visit 🙂
We just learned about hagelslag while we were there. And discovered the Stedelijk Museum – a gem.
Super leuk artikel guys! Love love love! En mag ik ook even zeggen dat jullie website er super tof uit ziet? Kijk uit naar jullie volgende post! <3
Wow the heather looks very beautiful. I would love to see that one day <3
I love the Netherlands, and having a Dutch husband have had the chance to explore a fair bit, totally agree with all your suggestions, especially eating lots of cheese and getting on a bicycle. I have to add the stunning beaches in the south and the sand dunes. Beautiful!
Im going to the netherlands soon for traverse conference in rotterdam. i loved amsterdam previously and am excited to visit again. Amsterdam has a reputation for sex drugs and rocknroll but there is soooo much more to it that that!!
I love living in the Netherlands! Besides the shitty weather, the country has so much to offer! By the way, I’m also a short woman, 1,63cm, so I feel like a child next to most people here!
Love your photo from the Veluwezoom! Did you take that shot around August/ September? I really want to try it now.
Hi! The Veluwe Zoom is full in bloom during the second week in August!
I’m visiting Amsterdam for the first time in two weeks; I can’t wait! But your article has got me planning a trip back to explore the rest of the Netherlands already! 🙂
Thanks Nicky! Definitely also visit other places if you have the chance 🙂 There are some cool day trips from Amsterdam, be sure to check out our other article with day trips!
This is such a great list! I had rather low expectations when I went to visit the Netherlands a couple years ago, having not heard much except about Amsterdam. It ended up truly charming me and I can’t wait to go back to explore more!
That’s great to hear Abigail!!
Great article! I loved the Netherlands! It is great how bike friendly the whole country is! I will share this post with my brother who is traveling there next month! 🙂
Cool! Thanks Eniko, hope your brother will love it too.
I was in the Netherlands for a few days over Christmas and all I have to say is I need to go back. Perhaps I can find some time this summer. I only did Amsterdam, Utrecht and I visited a blogger friend who lives in Arnhem. I had no idea that there were islands! Also the level of English is amazing to me. Dutch people probably speak the best English out of all the non-native speakers I’ve ever met. I live in Spain and the English level is nowhere near where you all are at. I don’t mind it so much in Spain as I love opportunities to practice my Spanish and now my Spanish is pretty fluent. I have heard it can be hard for native English speakers to learn Dutch in the Netherlands because Dutch people will switch a lot for them thinking it’s helpful while the Dutch learner is thinking “I just want to practice my Dutch!” But I’m sure that’s not coming from a bad place but rather just wanting to be helpful.
Thank you for your great comment Nina! I think you’re right, the Dutch are quite used to speaking English. I would advice native English speakers to just tell Dutch people when they want to learn! 🙂
It’s funny how we see our home countries so differently than “outsiders” do. I’ve always loved the Netherlands. My parents are actually living there now in Amsterdam. (They got to walk on the frozen canals yesterday!) I love the culture and the food and the architecture. Not to mention the tulip fields! There are definitely loads of reason to visit the Netherlands and you covered it all so well here!
Hi Sarah, so true! I kinda experienced seeing the Netherlands as an outsider, because I was away for so long. Now I realise it’s a pretty awesome place.
I really need to get to the Netherlands! To be honest, I didn’t know much about it beyond Amsterdam, windmills, and tulips, but sounds like there’s a lot more that the country has to offer! Must go ASAP
Thanks for your comment Caroline!