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Netherlands Travel Guide: Travel Tips for Visiting

The Netherlands is an incredibly underrated country to visit in Europe. This small country packs a big punch. Many people only look to the staples such as Amsterdam, Keukenhof, and Zaanse Schans, but there is so much beyond that. 

The weather is certainly nothing to write home about in the Netherlands. That’s okay since I always say travel to Europe for the weather. I chose to move here several years ago to explore this beautiful country as well as the rest of Europe, and I knew Amsterdam would be a great fit for me.

I’ve developed a newfound appreciation for the Netherlands as a whole. This Netherlands travel guide will highlight a few of my favorite places to visit, things to do, how to get around, and several other travel tips to make the most of your experience visiting this country. 

Whether you’re looking to explore historical sites or take in the breathtaking sights of the Dutch countryside, the Netherlands is sure to leave a lasting impression on your travel experiences.

Best Things to Do in The Netherlands

1. Royal Palace of Amsterdam

Royal Palace of Amsterdam and Dam Square in Amsterdam

If you’re wondering what to do in Amsterdam, the first place you should visit is the Royal Palace of Amsterdam. It is located right next to Dam Square in the center of Amsterdam.

The palace is the official residence of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, the king’s brother, and their family. This is one of the most popular attractions in Amsterdam and is definitely worth a visit if you are in Amsterdam.

See Related: Best Airbnbs and Vacation Rentals in Amsterdam

2. Giethoorn

Boating in Giethoorn, Netherlands

Giethoorn is a small village in the Dutch province of Overijssel. It is often called “Venice of the North” because of its many canals and bridges. The village was founded in the 13th century, and it still retains its old-world charm.

There are no roads in Giethoorn, but visitors can explore the village by taking a canal boat ride or renting a bike. The village is also known for its traditional Dutch houses, which were built on wooden stilts in the water. Giethoorn is a popular tourist destination, and it’s easy to see why. Its tranquil canals and peaceful atmosphere make it an ideal place to relax and appreciate the beauty of nature.

See Related: Essential Travel Tips for Visiting the Netherlands

3. The Hague

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

Next, our Netherlands itinerary brings us to The Hague, the third largest city in the Netherlands. The Hague is renowned for its beautiful architecture, rich culture, and history. It is also home to many international organizations, such as the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

The city boasts some of the best places to visit in the Netherlands, including the Binnenhof (the Dutch Parliament), the Peace Palace, the Mauritshuis Museum, and the Royal Palace. Another attraction not to be missed is Scheveningen Beach, one of the most popular sandy beaches near The Hague and a perfect spot to relax and sunbathe.

See Related: Best Hotels in the Hague, Netherlands

4. Visit the Charming Town of Leiden

Canal in Leiden, Netherlands
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Another stop on our itinerary is the charming city of Leiden. Known for its picturesque canals and quintessential Dutch architecture, visiting Leiden is like stepping back.

Located just a short journey from Rotterdam and Amsterdam on public transport, it’s easy to see why many visitors make it a part of their itinerary.

There are plenty of things to see and do in Leiden, including exploring museums and galleries, wandering the streets and taking in the scenery, or simply enjoying a coffee by the canal. With its relaxed and friendly atmosphere, Leiden is the perfect place to unwind and soak up the unique Dutch culture.

5. Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Van Gogh Museum is a popular destination for art enthusiasts visiting the city of Amsterdam. The museum houses the largest collection of Vincent van Gogh’s paintings and drawings worldwide, showcasing over 200 paintings and 500 drawings.

It chronicles the life and artistic development of the renowned painter, known for his unique style and innovative use of color. Some famous exhibits at the museum include “Sunflowers” and “The Potato Eaters.”

In addition to the exhibits, the museum also features interactive displays, multimedia exhibits, and guided tours. The Van Gogh Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in learning about one of the most influential artists ever. It’s easily among the top three of the best museums in the Netherlands.

See Related: NEMO Science Museum Review

6. Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House, Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Anne Frank House is a popular attraction in Amsterdam, and it has been preserved for tourists to visit and learn about Anne Frank’s life. Anne Frank was a young girl who wrote a diary detailing her experiences of hiding with her family in a secret annex in Amsterdam during World War II.

The Anne Frank House is where Anne and her family hid, and it has been turned into a museum, preserving the history of the Frank family as well as the experience of Jewish people during the Holocaust. Visitors can walk through the house, kept as it was when the Frank family hid, and learn about their experience.

The Anne Frank House is an important educational and historical site that offers a glimpse into the past and teaches us about the repercussions of discrimination and prejudice.

7. Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Rijksmuseum is a renowned museum in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. It is one of the most visited attractions in the city. It exhibits an impressive collection of arts and historical artifacts, including works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and other renowned Dutch masters.

One of the museum’s most prominent pieces is Rembrandt’s masterpiece, ‘The Night Watch,’ which is prominently displayed in the museum’s galleries.

The museum offers visitors a chance to explore the cultural heritage of the Netherlands, spanning over eight centuries of history. The building is also an architectural marvel, showcasing a unique blend of Gothic and Renaissance styles.

Overall, the Rijksmuseum is considered one of the world’s most prestigious art museums, attracting millions of visitors from all over the world every year.

See Related: Amaze Amsterdam Review

8. Amsterdam Canals

Aerial of Canals, one of the things Amsterdam is famous for
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Amsterdam is famous for its beautiful canals, which crisscross the city and create a unique and enchanting atmosphere. A boat ride through Amsterdam’s canals is a must-do when visiting this charming European city, and several companies offer guided tours for visitors to explore the area at their leisure.

These tours provide an excellent opportunity to see the city from a different perspective, with the canals offering stunning views of the historic architecture and picturesque streets.

See Related: Best Canal Cruises in Amsterdam

9. Keukenhof

Pink and purple hyacinths and tulips in Keukenhof Gardens in The Netherlands
Woodrow Matthews / ViaTravelers

Keukenhof is a garden located in Lisse, Netherlands. It is famous for its display of tulips and other flowers that bloom in springtime, attracting tourists worldwide. Visiting Keukenhof is a popular day trip for those interested in botany, gardening, or simply admiring natural beauty.

The garden features a variety of tulips, ranging from classic colors such as red, yellow, and pink to more unique varieties such as parrot tulips with ruffled petals. In addition to tulips, Keukenhof showcases other spring flowers, including hyacinths, daffodils, and crocuses.

A visit to Keukenhof is an unforgettable experience, offering a glimpse of the beauty of countless tulips in full bloom in one place.

See Related: Best Gardens in Europe to Visit

10. Kinderdijk

Enchanting view of Kinderdijk Windmills, UNESCO World Heritage site in the Netherlands
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

If you’re looking for a cultural gem, it doesn’t get much better than visiting Kinderdijk. This world-famous UNESCO World Heritage Site features several indigenous windmills that make this country iconic.

This landscape is truly breathtaking and special, and the best part is that these windmills are still in operation today, even several hundred years later. It’s a great place to explore the significance of this country’s water management over the years and a bit off the beaten path relative to something like Zaaanse Schans, where the proximity to Amsterdam is very close and tends to be very touristy.

Kinderdijk can be touristy but does not feature the same crowds as Zaanse Schans. It’s quite a relaxing place to visit, and I’ve considered spending multiple days here and renting a bike and just slowly cruising up and down the pathways and canals of this historic waterway system.

Where to Stay in The Netherlands

Montelbaanstoren in Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

When planning a trip to Amsterdam, it is important to decide where to stay. Amsterdam has several places to stay, including hotels, hostels, and vacation rentals.

However, the best areas to stay in Amsterdam are the city center, the Jordaan neighborhood, and the De Pijp neighborhood. They offer easy access to the city’s top attractions, museums, cafes, and restaurants.

If you are looking for a budget-friendly option, you can consider staying in Rotterdam or The Hague, both a short tram ride away from Amsterdam.

It is also essential to book your accommodations in advance, especially during peak travel season, to ensure a comfortable stay in Amsterdam. Here are the best hotels in the Netherlands:

How to Get Around in The Netherlands

Lekkeresluis Brug, Brouwersgracht, Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Netherlands is notorious for its admirable and efficient transportation system. Traveling to any city or town is relatively smooth and easy. The best way to travel around the Netherlands is by train. The trains are swift, comfortable, and generally on schedule.

Trams are the best way to get around if you’re traveling to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, the Hague, or Utrecht. The tram service is reliable and easy to use, offering a glimpse of the city.

Besides, trams are popular in these cities, particularly in Amsterdam – where it’s an iconic means of transport. However, biking is an excellent way to move around if you want to explore urban places.

Several cities have dedicated bike lanes, so cities like Haarlem are called bike-friendly cities. Exploring the Netherlands by bike is very popular among tourists, especially those looking to explore the Dutch countryside.

Here is a summary of the various transportation options in the Netherlands and their key characteristics:

Mode of TransportationDescriptionAvailabilityBest For
Public TransportEfficient and affordable system including trains, buses, metro, and ferries.Extensive network throughout the country.Sustainable travel across cities and regions.
TrainModern and comfortable with extensive rail network.Widespread with frequent connections.Long-distance travel and commutes.
Bus/MetroIncludes electric city buses, trams, and metro services.Available in urban areas with regular schedules.Short distance and eco-friendly urban travel.
BicycleOver 32,000 km of cycling routes with excellent infrastructure and signage.Nationwide, with a bike-friendly culture.Local travel, sightseeing, and healthy transportation.
CarWell-maintained road network with clear signage.Roads connect all major cities and regions.Flexible travel, especially to areas less accessible by public transport.

Travel Tips for Visiting The Netherlands

Get ready to experience a country filled with breathtaking canals, picturesque windmills, and vibrant cities such as Amsterdam. When visiting this popular destination, it is important to know a few tips to ensure a smooth and memorable trip.

Prepare for the weather

Canal in Leiden, Netherlands
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

If your plans take you to the Netherlands, be sure to be prepared for its temperamental climate. It is a wise idea to pack clothing that can be added or taken away in layers.

Temperatures range from sunny and breezy to chilly and wet; be ready with light sweaters, pants, long-sleeved shirts, and a good raincoat. Don’t forget your umbrella either because rain is always a possibility!

Dress in layers so changes in the weather won’t be an issue – no matter what Mother Nature throws at you, you’ll be ready with some great Dutch fashion.

Learn some Dutch phrases

Dutch-English dining vocabulary for language learners and travelers.
Me Trying to Learn Dutch (Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers)

Learning some Dutch before you visit the Netherlands is sure to be beneficial! The locals are well known for their friendly and outgoing nature, so learning a few basic phrases can go a long way in your interactions with them.

While English is widely spoken, knowing phrases like “Goedemorgen,” for good morning, or “Hartelijk dank,” for thank you very much, will surely be appreciated. Learning just a few Dutch phrases could help make your trip more meaningful and enjoyable.

Sample Dutch cuisine

Traditional Dutch Kaasstengels with chili dip on speckled plate
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

When you visit the Netherlands, don’t miss out on some of their iconic foods! Whether you consider yourself a foodie or enjoy trying new things, sample Dutch cuisines like stroopwafels, poffertjes, and bitterballen to get a sense of the local culture.

Stroopwafels are wafer-like caramel cookies, poffertjes are fluffy mini pancakes, and bitterballen are deep-fried, croquette-style snacks. Make sure to sample at least one of these treats no matter how long your stay is in the Netherlands. You won’t regret it.

Related Resources

Overview and Travel Essentials
Overview
Location
The Netherlands
Time Zone
CET (UTC+1)
Driving Side
right
Measurement System
metric
Internet TLD
.nl
Travel Essentials
Currency
EUR €
Electrical Standards
Type F, 230V, 50Hz
Emergency Numbers
Police: 112, Ambulance: 112, Fire: 112
Language Codes
NL
Mobile Country Code
204
UNESCO World Heritage Sites

  • 17th-Century Canal Ring Area of Amsterdam (Grachtengordel)
  • Van Nelle Factory
  • Rietveld Schroder House
  • Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout
  • Droogmakerij de Beemster (Beemster Polder)
  • Colonies of Benevolence
  • Dutch Water Defence Lines
  • Eisinga Planetarium in Franeker
  • Wadden Sea
  • Defence Line of Amsterdam
Map

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View our Netherlands Pictures & Images for more stunning visuals of The Netherlands.

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