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Best Places to Visit in Netherlands, Top Attractions
There are so many more thrilling sites to see in the Netherlands. From the classic windmills and magnificent fields of flowers to historic town centers laden with museums and sights, Holland has much to offer visitors. With a plethora of fascinating museums, vibrant cities, famous landmarks, canal cruises, numerous intact Renaissance and medieval structures, whitewashed brick buildings, classic, modern, and contemporary art, tulips, and world-famous cheese, the Netherlands has so many enticing places that tourists rarely get to take in the total Dutch experience. To the outsider, it might be hard to find which places are worth your time and money while also providing you with the complete experience of this beautiful European gem. Nonetheless, there’s no shortage of things to do in the Netherlands. So, to save you the trouble, we’ve compiled a list of our top places to visit in the Netherlands that will add value to your travel and save you money. And if you’re looking for more information about these places, we have plenty more posts where we tell all about them! Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Lisse, and The Hague are among the top cities to visit in the Netherlands. These towns offer everything from great shopping opportunities to breathtaking architecture, and even world-famous museums that will make you want to return for more. Consequently, it's extremely easy to do at least a little of your sightseeing the Dutch way: by bicycle. Many of the top travel destinations and major cities in the Netherlands actively encourage the use of pedal-power and provide free bikes to explore the sights. However you choose to see the Netherlands, you're guaranteed a great time in one of the friendliest and most liberal cultures in Europe. The Netherlands is known everywhere as a land of windmills, canals, and tulips, and today's visitors certainly will find these among its many tourist attractions. But along with the country's many breathtaking gardens and picturesque villages, those sightseeing here will also find the vibrant cities, like Amsterdam, filled with museums showcasing a rich heritage of artists.
#1- Van Gogh Museum
Home to the world's largest collection of Van Gogh paintings – many donated by the artist's family – this impressive gallery and museum was specially built to showcase the more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and 700 letters in its vast collection. Works by his contemporaries are also on display. A highlight is participating in the museum's new "Meet Vincent Van Gogh Experience," which offers a fascinating, high-tech, interactive look at the artist's life and times, as well as his best known work. If the city's excellent museums are your priority, you may in fact want to consider visiting them off season during the quieter, cooler times of year. Given that both these popular attractions are indoors and easy to get to via the city's excellent public transit, it's easy to keep warm, and the city's climate is relatively mild, even in winter.
#2- The Windmills of Kinderdijk
On the River Noord between Rotterdam and Dordrecht is the famous village of Kinderdijk ("Children's Dike"), which takes its name from an incident during the St. Elizabeth's Day flood of 1421 after a child's cradle had been stranded on the dike. The big draw these days are the fantastically preserved 18th-century windmills. Now UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the 19 Kinderdijk windmills, built between 1722 and 1761, are the largest surviving concentration of windmills in the Netherlands. Originally used to drain the fenlands, these majestic buildings with their impressive 92-foot sails are open to the public from April to October, including special Mill Days when the sails are set in motion. These picturesque windmills make for a fun excursion for those based in Rotterdam during their Netherlands stay.
#3- De Hoge Veluwe National Park
Covering nearly 13,800 acres, this national park is the largest continuous nature reserve in the country, as well as being one of the most popular day trip destinations for locals and visitors alike. Featuring dense woodlands in the north, as well as a fascinating sculpture park, the area was once a country estate and hunting reserve, and to this day is home to many red and roe deer. The best-preserved part of the park encompasses an area of dramatic dunes interspersed with heath and woodland and interrupted in the south and east by moraines up to 100 meters high. It's also a popular area for bird-watching, as well as hiking and biking (use of bikes is free to visitors). The highlight of this beautiful park for many - and the reason many people choose to come here - is the outstanding Kröller-Müller Museum (Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller), housing the world's second-largest collection of works by Van Gogh.
#4- Cathedral Square
A popular tourist destination for its many fine historic buildings, the Dutch city of Utrecht should definitely be included on your Netherlands travel itinerary. Start your exploration of this pedestrian-friendly city in Cathedral Square. The Domplein, as it's known locally, is the site of St. Martin's Cathedral, or Dom Church (Domkerk). Although founded in 1254, much of what you see dates from the 14thand 15th centuries.
#5- De Haar Castle
This spectacular castle, built by the famous Dutch architect PJH Cuypers, required so much land (it sits on a spectacular 250-acre park) that the entire village of Haarzuilens had to be relocated to accommodate it. While the original castle site was established in the 14th century, this newer structure dates from 1892 and is well worth taking the time to explore.
#6- Royal Delft, Delft
Delft is known the world over for its famous blue and white porcelain products. Delftware, as it's usually known, has adorned shelves and dining rooms the world over since the 1600s, and remains as popular today as it was back then. Known in English as Royal Delft, the original manufacturer, Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles N.V., has been around since 1653 and offers a variety of fun experiences for visitors.
#7- Historic Valkenburg
Romantic little Valkenburg, in the picturesque Geul Valley, boasts the country's only hilltop castle. Long a popular holiday resort, the town's other big draws are its many caves and the spa facilities at Thermae 2000, one of the largest such establishments in the Netherlands. In addition to the ruins of the 12th-century castle on Dwingelrots (Castle Rock), there's also the interesting 14th-century St. Nicolaaskerk Basilica.
#8- Zeeland's Spectacular Dikes
Incorporating the deltas of the Rhine, the Maas, and the Schelde Rivers, Zeeland includes the numerous islands and peninsulas of the southwestern section of the Netherlands. Much of this area of recently formed land is below sea level and therefore reliant upon impressive dikes, as well as modern flood prevention techniques.
#9- The Ijsselmeer
Among the most beautiful villages in the Netherlands are the small hamlets along the Ijsselmeer (Lake Ijssel), the freshwater lake that resulted from the closing of the sea entrance to the Zuider Zee. These towns flourished during Amsterdam's Golden Age, when they had access to the Atlantic and prospered as fishing and trade centers, but lost importance as the harbors silted up.
#10- Amsterdam's Canals
Canals are as important a part of Amsterdam's cityscape as they are to the city of Venice, and some of the most enduring memories for any visitor are the time spent exploring the city's wonderful waterways. While many of Amsterdam's best tourist attractions can easily be accessed by boat tour or water taxi - including most of the major museums and art galleries - nothing beats strolling along the smaller, quieter streets that line the waterways.
Think of the Netherlands, and you'll inevitably think of tulips, the country's most popular flower. And one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Netherlands showcases these and other spring bulbs in spectacular abundance. Given its handy location relative to Amsterdam – it's a 45-minute drive away, or just under an hour by public transit – it makes for a fun and easy day trip from the country's largest city. Keukenhof, otherwise known as the "Garden of Europe," is located on the outskirts of the town of Lisse in what's widely considered the "bulb belt" of the Netherlands.
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