Best Places to Visit in Holland / Noord Holland
Haarlem: An easy day trip from Amsterdam
Haarlem’s town center is dominated by the imposing St. Bavokerk (also known as Grote Kerk, Big Church). Built on the spot of a burned down 12th century church, it became an official cathedral in 1557. It’s beautiful inside and out, with stunning stained glass windows and an organ on which a young Mozart—among other musicians of yore—played many a tune.
Beyond the cathedral, Haarlem has some great museums such as the eccentric Teyler’s Museum and De Hallen, a tiny contemporary art museum. If relaxation is in order, check out the Jopenkerk, a hip craft beer bar and restaurant in a converted church, and be sure to follow up with the city’s best fries (and mayonnaise) at De Friethoes.
In short, Haarlem is a great day trip from Amsterdam for people who want to escape the hustle and bustle (and the tourist traps!) for a day. (Thanks to Alex, a Haarlem resident.)
Muiden: The perfect day trip from Amsterdam
Best cities to visit in South Holland (Includes best cities to visit in Zuid Holland, Brabant, and Limburg)
's-Hertogenbosch / Den Bosch:
Those who love art can visit the Jheronimus Bosch Art Centre to learn about Den Bosch's most famous painter (Hieronymus Bosch). From the tower of the Centre, you will have a breathtaking view of the city. A different way to see Den Bosch is to take a boat tour on the Binnendieze through the city’s canals, including under many of the buildings. There are also markets on the main square on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Many restaurants are located at the Markt, De Parade and Vismarkt squares and on the streets: Korenbrugstraat and Korte Putstraat. The specialty of Den Bosch is the Bossche bol – a gigantic profiterole covered with dark chocolate and filled with whipped cream.
Den Bosch is a perfect destination for a one-day trip, however my advice is to stay a few days extra so that you can thoroughly enjoy the city. During Carnaval, the city changes names and turns into a giant party in the streets. (Thanks to Daniela fromIpanema Travels To...)
Bonus: Den Haag / The Hague
Den Haag is also full of hofjes (historic courtyards that used to be almshouses), fantastic museums, and a lively Chinatown. For math and art geeks, you can visit the Escher Museum, which is housed in a former palace. The building is beautiful, but the art is even more fascinating. Even more famous is the Mauritshuis, which houses Girl with the Pearl Earring and the Goldfinch. If you're an art geek with a love for the Dutch Golden age, this beautiful museum in a palatial setting is a must-see during your trip. If you're in Den Haag, don't miss the Netherlands' most famous boardwalk along the beach: Scheveningen. The pier is a day in itself with tons of activities for couples and families alike!
The town was built in the early 13th century to replace a castle destroyed by the Duke of Brabant. The stronghold played a significant role in the Eighty Years’ War (1568-1648) against Spanish dominance. In the 70’s the town has been completely restored based on a map from 1649. There are many places to eat in Heusden, but you should try the Dutch pancakes at De Pannekoekenbakker.
When walking around in Heusden, there are many art galleries, including the shop of famous Dutch footwear designer Jan Jansen. (Thanks to Daniela from Ipanema Travels To...)
The queer little town(s) merits a day trip at the very least. A scenic cycle, drive, or bus ride from nearby Tilburg will bring you to its wacky borders, marked on the ground with small crosses. You can pick up a pannenkoek (pancake) at De Pannenkoekenbakker on the Dutch side, then hop over to Belgium to sample a Flemish brew or three at De Lantaern. No passport necessary! (Thanks to Alex, Lost with Purpose.)
- The impressive Town Hall on the central market square is an unique monument not to miss!
- Courtyards: the oldest yard dates back to even 1449!
- St Jan church is the tallest church in the Netherlands and has huge stained glass windows.
- Look up and admire the facades of the Gouda houses with special ‘gevelstenen’,
some even date back to 1609.
- Stroopwafels are traditional Dutch syrup waffles. Try the waffles at Van Vliet bakery, where thousands are freshly baked daily on Lange Groenendaal street.
- The Gouda cheese market occurs from April to the end of August. On Thursday mornings you can witness cheese making, cheese trading and weighing cheese in de Waag. If you are a beer lover, visit Den Gouwen Aar and buy a local Gouda beer.
There are a number of good restaurants in Rotterdam, including Guliano (Italian) and Takumi (Japanese ramen). Rotterdam has the largest Asian population in the whole Netherlands, so Chinatown is where to go for Asian food. Rotterdam is a great city for nightlife. The Witte de Withstraat street is Rotterdam’s bar street. I personally loved Wunderbar, which is a bar that is below ground but allows you to order through a window on the street level. (Thanks to Tendelle for this write-up)
The city center of Delft is very beautiful. One of the hidden gems is that below street level and at the canal-level, there are tucked away benches for people to sit on. These benches are hidden from plain sight, perfect for a romantic date spot. It’s also worth it to take a twirl at the Delft University. The architecture of the library is very impressive and you can also walk up the small hill by the library to chill outside on a nice day and take in Delft’s cityscape. (Thanks to Tendelle for this write-up)
Central cities to visit in the Netherlands
One must-visit is the Dom Tower, the tallest church tower in the Netherlands (112 meter high). Other interesting places to visit are the Railway Museum and Neude. For kids, there's the Miffy museum. If you're planning a trip around the Netherlands and you're looking for a good base in the Netherlands, Utrecht is perfect as it is exactly in the center of the Netherlands and it has reasonable accommodations. (Thanks to Lotte, a Utrecht resident) You'll hear Dutchies raving that it is one of the best Dutch cities to visit and I'm apt to agree that it is one of the top places to visit in the Netherlands outside of Amsterdam.
Northern & Eastern Cities (from Amsterdam) to visit in the Netherlands
Notable spots around Ommen include the Reformed Church, the city’s oldest building (originally constructed in the 12th century), and three old-fashioned windmills – two of which are still in regular operation. After wandering through the charming city square and narrow side streets, you can relax by the river, linger at a waterside café, or cycle through the picturesque Dutch countryside. The area is probably best known for the Bissingh – a festival that takes place every July, made up of markets, live music, and other events. The Bissingh now spans several weeks. (Thanks to Emily for this contribution).
Nature lovers have plenty to look forward to on the island. Schiermonnikoog hosts the widest beach in Europe, has plenty of hiking trails, offers great bird watching opportunities, and is great for spotting sunbathing seal families. It's the perfect place to see the surprising variety of Dutch nature up close. If you tire of hedonism and history, head north to Schiermonnikoog to recharge your batteries, and immerse yourself in one of the most beautiful parts of the Netherlands. (Thanks to Alex, Lost with Purpose.) [If this appealed to you, you also might love the idea of Texel, which is about 2 hours north of Amsterdam.]