When you think of beauty, what comes to mind? In the case of the Netherlands, it has to be idyllic towns, tulips, and green living. The locals prefer bikes and boats to gas-guzzling cars, so pedal on to see the natural (and unnatural) wonders of the country. Allow our deep-diving list of 20 most beautiful places in the Netherlands to lead the way!

1. Be captivated by canals in Amsterdam

As the “Venice of the North”, Amsterdam is known for its canals. The local joke is that the canal is composed of one meter of water, one meter of mud, and one meter of bikes. Take all three layers in with this evening cruise. If you prefer solid ground under your feet, hop on a bike and cruise along the bank..

2. Sprint to Keukenhof Spring Gardens

© Twycer / www.twycer.nl

Keukenhof is not only the most beautiful spring garden in the Netherlands, but also the biggest in the world. Marvel at the hyacinths, smell the roses, but don’t lick the lilies. There are more than seven million flower bulbs planted every year in this park located in Keukenhof — the easiest way to get there is by bus.

3. Wind up in Zaanse Schans

© Twycer / www.twycer.nl

The beautiful windmills in Zaanse Schans are out of this world. Scattered around the river, not far from Amsterdam, windmills are an important symbol within the Dutch identity. They are so rich in Dutch culture and character that they even have names such as De Zoeker (The Seeker) and De Bonte Hen (The Spotted Hen). Hop in a car and enjoy the view with this guided tour.

4. Turn up for the tulips

The Netherlands exports around two billion tulips annually, many of them growing around Alkmaar. This may make you wonder what the Dutch countryside itself looks like. Hop on a bike and head for the horizon and you’re sure to see a sea of flowers. Make sure to pack a raincoat, because with the Dutch weather, you never know. 

5. Volendam vibes

One of the most famous villages in the country, Volendam has colorful old wooden houses and beautiful seaside. After seeing the harbor, take in the culture in a sweeter, chewier way with this stroopwafel making and tasting workshop. If you’re not into sweets, but rather into history, take a look into the past with a virtual reality experience.

6. Historicize in Haarlem

Haarlem represents another kind of beauty, human history. The city has unique architecture and picturesque buildings. It’s very easy to fall in love with Haarlem, especially when walking around its romantic canals. The best way to see the beautiful historic city center is from a boat. If you’re craving for more natural beauty, make your way to Zuid-Kennemerland national park, which is nearby.

7. Get cheesy in Edam

With its beautiful red-roofed houses and rich history, Edam has more to offer than just cheese. It is an idyllic fishing village close to Volendam, that had a booming economy thanks to shipbuilding (and cheese). See both villages along the coastline with this guided tour. If you’re lucky, you might even catch the weekly cheese market.

8. Kick it off in Kinderdijk 

Kinderdijk village is the ultimate windmill experience. Featuring 19 mills and 3 pumping stations, the area is a UNESCO world heritage site. The beauty of it all is the ingenious blend of nature and technology. A definite must-see on your tour of beautiful places in the Netherlands. Being a bit farther away, we recommend taking a small group tour.

9. Old Hague

One thing stands out in Hague — the beautiful well-preserved old city. In place of windmills, discover former and current royal palaces. To get the most out of the city, join a guided walking tour. Once you’re done seeing the old town, hop on a Ferris wheel and gaze at the skyline. For nature lovers, there is Clingendael Park just outside Hague.

10. Visit Rijksmuseum 

Beauty comes in many forms — from nature to culture, to other human beings. The Rijksmuseum, the nation’s largest art museum, gives you a look at all of them, telling the story of the Netherlands from the Middle Ages. Why not skip the line, so you have time to do more things after?

11. See the Portuguese Synagogue

Silver, gold, silk, and brocade are what treasures are made of — you’ll be sure to find plenty of them in this synagogue built in 1675. Enter the magnificent building with an audio guide. As you walk down the hallway, imagine over 1,000 candles hanging above you in brass chandeliers. You can just smell the history.

12. Gadabout in Giethoorn

If you talk about beautiful places in the Netherlands, this village has got to be among the top spots. Giethoorn has canals instead of streets, not to mention that you can only enter by boat. Naturally, the best way to discover this beautiful village is on a cruise. You’ll also have a great time checking out other spots on the way there and back. If you’re up for a detour, make your way to Bourtange, which is a similar village (old fortress) near the German border.

13. Experience Efteling

Ready for some fun? Efteling Theme Park will knock your socks off with its rollercoasters. Enter the magical Fairytale Forest and you’ll never want to leave – you can easily spend the whole day here. From ghost ships to spectacular shows, there is something for all the family. 

14. Zip over to Zeeland

Nederland, Zoutelande, 30 april 2009 Moeder en dochter rennen naar de zee. Mother and daughter run towards the sea.
Foto: W.M. van der Sande / Hollandse Hoogte

There’s just something in the water in Zeeland: life! No more windmills and canals, now it is time for the seals to shine. The clean environment and quiet atmosphere mean you can observe them in their natural habitat, full of energy in the wild. Hop on a boat from Cadzand and enjoy watching these fluffy creatures splashing about in the water while you sip champagne.

15. Make your way to Marken Island

Get ready to have your breath taken away by the beautiful views of Marken Island. From Volendam, board a ferry, from the terminal that has been operational for over 80 years. There is plenty to see on the island, from colorful houses in the harbor to scenic views of the endless sea — whatever floats your boat. If you want to see more islands, ask your driver to take you to Pampus.

16. Lay your hat down in Leeuwarden

Walking in a sunny park in autumn

Have you heard of Oldehove, the leaning tower of Leeuwarden? The tower actually leans even more than Pisa. Located in Friesland, Oldehove is just one of the city’s top sights: it was chosen as the European Capital of Culture in 2018 and has a beautiful historic center with canals. Get your boots on, and head out on this walking tour.

17. Hang out in Hoorn

View to the small harbour in the city of Hoorn in the Netherlands. The tower is called the Hoofdtoren, dating from 1532. The houses date from the 16th and 17th century.

Magnificent Hoorn is full of surprises. Located north of Amsterdam, the town has a hidden love chapel and a beautiful old harbor. Back in the day, some serious maritime trading took place here — the history is not for the faint-hearted. Join this walking tour, and see the most important monuments, and hear about what the harbor town used to look like.

18. Pedal in Breda

Breda is famous for its beautiful castles, with the oldest hailing from the 15th century. In fact, the whole city came into existence based around the fortress that the castle used to be. Many important decisions have been made in its vaults, including the Treaty of Breda, which ended the second English-Dutch war. Bike around the city to find Castle of Breda, and Kasteel Bouvigne.

19. Wander around the Wadden Sea

Waddenzee is a must-visit place in the Netherlands. The UNESCO World Heritage sea is held back from the mainland by the famous enclosing dijk (constructed wall against flooding), Afsluitdijk. The sea itself also reaches German and Danish territories. To make the most of Waddenzee, take a full-day tour and venture out to other beautiful places like Ijssellake, the biggest freshwater lake in the Netherlands, and the Dunes of Texel.

20. Let loose in Leiden

There is still one more beautiful place on our list, Leiden. With its grandiose university (the oldest in the country), this high-culture city shows you the beauty of intellect. Join this walking/boat tour to see the dreamy canals, and the birthplace of celebrated painter Rembrandt, among other places.

Other beautiful places in the Netherlands include the national parks of Hoge Veluwe and Utrechtse Heuvelrug, and the wildlife park Oostvaardersplassen.

Still dreaming of a trip?

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