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14 Best Cities in the Netherlands to Visit

14 Best Cities in the Netherlands to Visit

Are you planning a tour of the Netherlands? What are the best cities in the Netherlands to visit? Check out our comprehensive guide for the answers.

The Netherlands is a rich country both culturally and historically. And it’s also known for its beautiful canals, tulips, landmarks, windmills, and cycling culture.

Even better, given the size of the country, many Dutch cities are close to each other, allowing you to easily plan your trip and move from one city to another using the efficient train system.

There are many exciting cities to visit in the Netherlands. Booking a car rental could make moving to any of these towns easy if you travel with a family. However, in nearly all cities, you’ll find that cycling is the order of the day.

Best Cities in the Netherlands

1. The Hague

Front of the Peace Palace, The Hague
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

When you think about The Hague, the first thing that comes to mind is politics and administration—the International Court of Justice seats in The Hague.

It is also the royal and administrative capital of the Netherlands. Subsequently, the city receives thousands of visitors yearly since it is the leading center for international conferences.

The Hague is not just known for politics. It’s also the city of artists; some top artists come from this charming city. For example, if you love art, you can visit one of the city’s several museums, such as the Mauritshuis Museum. The museum is home to curios, paintings, and valuable objects by renowned artists.

History enthusiasts will love a visit to The Knights’ Hall (Ridderzaal). This is a historic building that hosts the opening of parliament every September.

It is a large gothic building with stained glass and a court of arms for different Dutch cities. The building has a rich history of serving as a banquet hall, market, promenade, and hospital. Check out these tours to explore the city and learn more about the culture:

Where to Stay in The Hague

See Related: Best Wineries in the Netherlands

2. Delft

Stadthuis Delft
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Delft is also among the best cities in the Netherlands to explore. While it’s a small city of about 100,000 people, it is well known for its trade activities. I love visiting Delft because you can explore the whole city on foot in a day.

If you love architecture and history, there is much you can do here to quench your thirst. For instance, you can visit The New Church. And don’t let the name deceive you. While it’s called The New Church, it was actually completed in 1496. As such, it oozes history, which makes it quite a charm.

While in the church, you will admire the gothic architecture with a vast tower bell and 108.75-meter monument. And from the top of the tower, you’ll have an excellent view of Delft city.

Markt Square is also a great place to learn about Dutch culture. Since the city was initially a trade center, it has a lively market. There are specific market days, so visiting on a market day is ideal.

Some tours in Delft include:

Where to Stay in Delft

Read Also: Best Hotels in the Netherlands

3. Haarlem

A photo of cyclists on a rain-slicked cobblestone street in Haarlem, Netherlands.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

If you want to experience the natural charm of Dutch cities, Haarlem is a must-visit. It is a historic city center with many landmarks and offers unique shopping experiences. Being an old city, you are lucky if you want to see historic buildings and architecture.

The Bloemendaal Aan Zee beach is an excellent place to visit if you want to experience the coastal side of the Netherlands. It covers around 4.3 km of sandy beaches, offering an excellent place to stroll and have fun on a sunny day. The beach stretch also has numerous bars and restaurants that add to its charm.

You can also visit Haarlemmerhout Public Park to take a walk. The park has a rich history and monuments that mark historic features. It is a beautiful park to visit and relax in regardless of season.

Or, you can pick one or two of the history-rich museums and take a tour. Some tours of this city include:

Where to Stay

4.  Amsterdam

Charming Amsterdam canal houses and daily life scene
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and, indeed, a city worth visiting. It is a famous city worldwide, receiving close to 17 million visitors every year. Amsterdam is consistently a top-rated tourist destination because of the following attractions:

  • Van Gogh Museum
  • Anne Frank House
  • Jordaan Neighborhood
  • The Royal Palace of Amsterdam
  • Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

You can also enjoy some time at the canal belt, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These canals were created during the golden era and have remained a great attraction in Amsterdam.

In Amsterdam, you can book one of these tours:

Where to Stay in Amsterdam (read our full guide on areas to stay)

See Related: Family-Friendly Hotels in Amsterdam

5. Gouda

Gouda city market

A day trip to Gouda wouldn’t be a bad idea when visiting Amsterdam. It is a small city so you can cover the most exciting places in a day. However, the city was built in a Gothic style, so if you love architecture, you will enjoy visiting the different sites in the city.

If you happen to be here from April to August, the Gouda cheese market is a must-visit. Here, you will get a chance to sample a variety of cheese options and even shop for delicious cheese.

You can also visit the Museum of Gouda, where you will experience the rich history of Gouda. In the museum, you will find extraordinary items that you might not find anywhere in the world.

One such item is the madman’s cell, where psychiatric patients were locked back in the day. Some highly-rated tours of the city include:

Where to Stay in Gouda

6. Rotterdam

Maritime District in Rotterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Rotterdam is the port city of the Netherlands, but it is also the 7th largest port in Europe and the world. It’s a multicultural city with many international students and people from other non-Dutch countries. But, unlike other cities with gothic-style architecture, Rotterdam has modern-style architecture.

When in Rotterdam you can visit the old port. This is a great place to experience history dating back to 1350. The port is home to numerous historic ships, clearly displaying the rich port’s history. Additionally, there are a lot of great bars and restaurants in the location to help you unwind after a long day.

If you feel a bit adventurous, you can visit the hot tub boat. Here, you can sail in a hot tub boat as you experience the city. Interestingly, even when the weather is cold, this is an experience that you do not want to miss.

Some tours in Rotterdam include:

Where to Stay in Rotterdam

7. Maastricht

Saint Servatius Basilica, Maastricht
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Maastricht is the place to visit if you want to experience the cultural side of the Netherlands and a different look and feel. It is one of the oldest cities, offering a medieval vibe everywhere you visit. Maastricht is also one of the wine cities in the Netherlands.

If you want to enjoy Dutch wines, this city is for you. The wine culture makes this a relaxing and romantic spot for a Netherlands honeymoon.

For history and culture lovers, St. Peters Caves is the first place to visit. For 1000+ years, caves were the hiding place for people during the Second World War. Its tunnels stretch up to 80km, making it a worthwhile experience.

The Bishop’s Watermill is a historic property from the 7th century that you should also visit. It was initially used as a watermill but is currently used as a local bakery. This is the place for freshly made bread.

Tours in Maastricht include the following:

Where to Stay in Maastricht

  • Hotel Maastricht – It’s a sustainable travel property with modern art décor and sound-proof rooms.
  • Mabi City Centre Hotel. This is a movie-themed hotel with a modern art décor style, and everything about the hotel is luxurious.

See Related: Things To Do in Giethoorn, Netherlands

8. Leiden

Picturesque Leiden Canal Homes
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Leiden is a historic city center in the Netherlands that is easily accessible by train from Amsterdam and the Hague. It’s a typical student city, meaning you’ll find a lot of bars. The city boasts quite a vibrant nightlife. Other attractions of Leiden City include the following:

  • The Leiden Botanical Gardens (a must-visit for nature lovers)
  • Burcht van Leiden
  • The Naturalis Biodiversity Museum
  • Museum Boerhaave
  • The Old Observatory

The city allows you to visit some world-class museums. Some highly-rated tours include the following:

Where to Stay in Leiden

9. Eindhoven

Eindhoven streets

Eindhoven might not be among the most popular tourist destinations in the Netherlands, but it’s still interesting. Located in the southern part of the Netherlands, it is known for being a technology hub, as it is home to many large tech companies like Philips and ASML.

There are also many museums and cultural attractions in Eindhoven, making it a great city for all types of travelers. Some of the most famous landmarks and attractions here include;

  • The Van Abbemuseum
  • The DAF Museum
  • St. Catherine’s Church
  • The Philips Museum & Collection
  • Van Gogh Village, Nuenen

In other words, there is no shortage of things to do or places to visit in Eindhoven, Netherlands. As for nightlife, you can enjoy your time in the Benelux area. Here, you can sample different bars and enjoy the Dutch party life. The stretch of bars is only 200 meters but offers quite a night experience.

Some Eindhoven tours include:

Where to Stay in Eindhoven

10. Breda

Carnival Breda Holland

If you want to experience the authentic local Burgundian lifestyle, Breda is the city for you. This charming city is located in the southern part of the Netherlands and is known for its picturesque canals, cafes, and restaurants.

For history lovers, the Castle of Breda is the place to visit if you want to learn Dutch history. This castle is where the Nassau family stayed for many generations and thus carries a rich history.

For a relaxing afternoon, you can visit Citypark Valkenburg. The park has large fountains, so you can spend the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the sounds and sights of the park. You can also tour the city, such as the Escape the City tour. This will give you a comprehensive feel of the city’s beauty.

Where to Stay in Breda

11.  Amersfoort

Zoo Amersfoort nature

Amersfoort is one of the medieval cities in the Netherlands. It’s one of the best towns to visit in the Netherlands if you want to learn about how people lived in the Middle Ages. In addition, the city is a great resource for everyone who wants to learn about the rich Dutch culture and history.

From the beautiful city walls covering its historic streets to the rich culture of the city’s residents, Amersfoort is a great place to visit.

Your cultural experience can begin at the Mondrian Museum, a place for art and culture. The museum’s Parisian workshop and the tallest church towers are here. You will also see the old city gate, a great tourist attraction.

The city is also known for its brewing experience. So, visiting the De Drie Ringen’s city brewery would be worth it. You can also visit the oldest café for an unforgettable cultural experience.

Some tours in Amersfoort include:

Where to Stay in Amersfoort

12. Texel

Lighthouse Texel Netherlands

Texel is one of the famous Dutch islands. Nature lovers will enjoy staying in Texel since a big part of the island is covered by a national park. However, the city might be too calm for you if you’re looking for busy city life.

Nature enthusiasts can visit Texel National Park to explore the dunes and create incredible memories. These dunes help you get a Scotland vibe that you might not be expecting in the Netherlands. And it’s an excellent place to see birds, seals, and flora.

For photography, you can visit the Eirland Lighthouse. From the lighthouse, you can create amazing memories through photography as you take in the beauty of nature. You’ll definitely want to watch our YouTube video touring Texel Island to get a glimpse of what makes this place so truly special.

Some tours in Texels include:

Where to Stay in Texel

13. Utrecht

Oudegracht in City Center of Utrecht
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Utrecht was a critical and famous city even before Amsterdam. It was one of the most recognized cities during the golden age. And although Amsterdam overtook it, it remains a major tourist attraction with many historical sites.

Some top tourist attractions in Utrecht include the Dom Tower, St. Martin’s Cathedral, De Haar Castle, and the Centraal Museum. If you want to experience history, the Dom Tower can be a great starting point. This church is 112 meters high, and climbing up to the top can be fun. However, to reach the top, you must climb almost 400 steps and be prepared.

You can also explore the city by taking a canal boat tour through the beautiful Utrecht Canals. These canals allow you to explore the city from the water. Some tours of this city include:

Where to Stay in Utrecht

14. Groningen

 Water Boats Buildings Groningen

Groningen is a university city with many young people, giving it an energetic lifestyle. As such, it has a lot of bars and restaurants to explore.

Also, besides the lively life, the city has natural parks and historical buildings you will marvel at. For instance, National Park Lauwerslake is a great place for nature lovers.

The park was created in 1969 after massive flooding. Today, it is an excellent spot for hiking or bird-watching. If you want to get a local shopping experience, you need to visit Folkingestreet in Groningen. Here, you will get specialized shops that only sell local products.

Other fun things to do in the city include:

  •  Climbing the Martini Tower,
  • Visiting the Groninger Museum,
  • A tour of the Old Town District,
  • Enjoying all-year-round entertainment and events

Some tours here include:

Where to Stay in Groningen

What city should I visit in the Netherlands?

The best city to visit in the Netherlands is Amsterdam. It is known for its beautiful canals, rich cultural history, and incredible nightlife. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities, including exploring museums, taking a canal tour, and visiting famous landmarks such as the Anne Frank House.

FAQs

What is the most visited city in the Netherlands?

The most visited city in the Netherlands is Amsterdam. Amsterdam is known for its beautiful canals, historic architecture, and nightlife. It also boasts many world-renowned museums, such as the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum, making it a popular destination for tourists worldwide.

What is the friendliest city in the Netherlands?

The friendliest city in the Netherlands is Utrecht. Located in the heart of the country, Utrecht is known for its welcoming atmosphere and friendly locals.

Furthermore, the city has a lively student population and numerous cultural attractions, making it a great place to spend time in this beautiful country.

Where is the prettiest place in the Netherlands?

Giethoorn is a picturesque village in the Overijssel province of the Netherlands known for its idyllic waterways, charming thatched-roof houses, and abundant natural beauty.

The village is often called the “Dutch Venice” due to its numerous canals and bridges, making it a popular destination for boating and cycling enthusiasts.

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