Amsterdam attracts thousands of visitors for its artistic brilliance, nightlife, and somewhat lenient laws. The city enables you to delve through centuries of history aboard a canal boat or explore an impressive array of museums and galleries.
One of the most famous is The Van Gogh Museum, along with the Rembrandt House Museum, the voluminous Rijksmuseum, and the very moving Anne Frank House.
The city has also long been a centre for diamond cutting and it is still possible to see diamond cutters at work.
A special canal boat, called the ‘museum boat’, links 20 of the major museums. A Museum Pass entitling holders to free entry to over 400 museums, available from participating museums and local tourist offices.
The Amsterdam Pass also offers free admission to many museums, in addition to other tourist attractions and public transport, as well as up to 25% discount on certain other attractions, restaurants and transportation within the city. The pass can be obtained from the Amsterdam Tourist Office.
Rotterdam is unlike any other city in the country. Located on the mighty Maas River, boasting one of the world's biggest ports, the city is home to outstanding architecture and delightful culture.
With an abundance of attractions, festivals and museums, a swinging youthful city culture and excellent shopping facilities, restaurants and cafes, Rotterdam is sure to pleasantly surprise you!
There is so much to see and do, but an excellent starting point is a boat ride around the city. Regular boat tours cruise the bustling port as well as the abundance of waterways, offering evening tours, and luxury motor cruisers for hire.
There are almost thirty museums in Rotterdam and every one is wonderful for different reasons.
The Museumpark is very convenient if you want to see several museums in a limited time, combining five museums dedicated to art and architecture.
Other interesting places to visit include the 17th century houses in the Delfshaven quarter of the city, the Pilgrimskerk, collections of maps and sea charts at the Delfshaven Old Town Hall, along with many traditional workshops for pottery, watch-making and woodturning.
Rotterdam’s nightlife has undergone something of a renaissance over the last decade with many new bars, trendy cafes and fine restaurants spicing up the scene.
The best place to view the entire city is from the Euromast & Space Tower, which at 185 metres is the highest point in the Netherlands.
If you are impressed by the architecture you see here, then try one of the architecture walks organised by The Netherlands Architecture Institute.
There are 280km of beaches and over 50 beach resorts in The Netherlands, almost all of which are easily accessible from Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague.
Large areas have been specially allocated for naturists and the beaches themselves are broad, sandy and gently sloping.
There is surf along the coast, and those who wish to swim must be strong enough to withstand the hidden currents. Swimmers should obtain and follow local advice. In the high season, lifeguards are on duty along the more hazardous stretches of the coast.
The Hague enjoys a seaside location and is the seat of government in the Netherlands. The Binnenhof is the central part of the Old Town where you can attend guided tours of the stunning parliament buildings and visit the fascinating 13th century Knights Hall.
Walking around the Old Town is a joy in itself. The local tourist office publishes a map of the city which also includes the many antique shops in The Hague.
Other attractions include the Gemeentemusem, with its interesting collection of modern art as well as interactive displays; the Puppet Museum, with its old and new puppets; the antique market at the Lange Voorhout; the old Duinoord district; the Haagse Bos wooded park; the 17th-century Nieuwe Kerk; and the Royal Library. On the outskirts of the city is Madurodam Miniature Town, a scale model of a typical Dutch landscape.
Another bizarre local attraction is the Panorama Mesdag, the largest panoramic circular painting in the world, famous for its perfect optical illusion.
Summertime in The Hague means enjoying cultural events, concerts, art exhibits, a night out at the theatre, shopping in the city centre, or enjoying the sun at Scheveningen Beach.
After a stroll along the seaside and a drink in one of the many nice cafés on the boulevard in Kijkduin, or a wonderful dinner in the centre of town, you can choose from a wide range of things to do. The Hague is a wonderful city full of life, all year round!
This surprising and friendly city boasts cultural and historical highlights. Utrecht is a favourite destination with the Dutch, as it offers many of Amsterdam’s charms on a smaller scale without the hordes of tourists. There is great shopping and clubbing, pleasant sidewalk cafes, and modern convention venues.
The best way to explore the Netherlands’ fourth largest city is by canal boat, which takes visitors on a fascinating loop through its different districts. Utrecht also is one of the oldest cities in the country, the site first having been settled by the Romans.
During the Middle Ages, Utrecht was often an imperial residence, which is seen in several beautiful churches, particularly the 13th century Cathedral of Saint Michael, the 11th century Saint Pieterskerk and Saint Janskerk, and the 12th century Saint Jacobkerk.
Other buildings of note include the House of the Teutonic Order, the 14th century Huys Oudaen, the Hospice of Saint Bartholomew and the Neudeflat, a more modern construction built in the 1960s, but one which affords a superb view across the city from its 15th-floor restaurant.
The city also has several museums, including the excellent Central Museum, the Archiepiscopal Museum, the Railway Museum, the Archaeological Collection and the Municipal Museum.
Utrecht’s bars and restaurants are also renowned for their quality and great value, and the lively nightlife is propelled by the large local student community.
The countryside surrounding Utrecht is very fertile and seems like one large garden. Here you will find numerous castles, estates and quaint country homes, all set in landscaped parks and beautiful woods.
Top Things to Do
Admire the Art.
The Netherlands provides a genuine feast for lovers of art. As the home of Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh, the country has an impressive range of galleries and museums.
One of the most famous is The Van Gogh Museum, along with the Rembrandt House Museum, the voluminous Rijksmuseum, and Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, a collection of Dutch and international art from 1850 onwards, including works by Cézanne, Chagall, Monet and Picasso, as well as photography, film and design. See Travel Tips for information on valuable Museum Passes.
Browse the Markets.
Throughout the country there are frequent markets, ranging from flowers and cheese to antiques and knick-knacks. Amongst the best include a famous cheese market at Waagplein, open every Friday from mid-April to mid-September and another famous cheese market at Gouda, 20km southeast of Rotterdam.
The Hague and Rotterdam host well-known flower auctions, while Amsterdam’s famous Bloemenmarkt along the Singel canal is a popular tourist attraction. Delft and Utrecht also have lovely flower markets.
Catch a bird’s eye view of Rotterdam. The best place to view the entire city is from the Euromast & Space Tower, which at 185 metres is the highest point in the Netherlands.
Cruise the Canals.
Water is the lifeblood of the country. Almost any city or town can be pleasantly explored by boat. In Amsterdam a special canal boat, known as the Museum Boat, links 20 of the city’s major museums.
Do as the Dutch do - grab a bicycle and explore! It's a pleasantly flat and fascinating country, full of rewarding surprises.
A variety of bikes can be rented from almost anywhere, including train stations and can be brought on most trains.
Explore the myriad of canals spanned by thousands of bridges, marvel at the unique architecture and delight in the national symbols of windmills and tulips. For more information on cycling, see our Transport section.
Explore the many churches of Utrecht.
A city that is a favourite destination with the Dutch, Utrecht features the largest Cathedral in the country, the 11th century Saint Janserk Cathedral in Den Bosch.
The city’s prosperity allowed the construction of its many beautiful churches, such as 13th century Cathedral of Saint Michael, 11th century Saint Pieterskerk and the 12th century Saint Jacobkerk, to name a few.
Party in Amsterdam.
Justifiably famous for its nightlife, within a few blocks, well-heeled couples idle away an evening in a gourmet restaurant, while group of students stumble across the cobblestones after a night in a cheery pub, as just around the corner the local trend-setters pose their way through an evening in a hip-happening bar.
See the Tulips.
The most spectacular glimpses of these flowers can be seen from the end of March to mid-May. Haarlem, 20km west of Amsterdam puts out a particularly spectacular display. Dutch flower bulbs are available for sale but it is essential to make sure the vendor sells them with an official export certificate.
Take a scenic walk.
The 300km long coast has a number of scenic walks through sand dunes and nature reserves. Enjoy an Architectual Walk in Rotterdam, explore The Hague’s historical Old Town, cross some of Amsterdam’s thousand bridges, marvel at Urtreich’s ancient cathedrals or walk on the bottom of the Wadden Sea. Walking maps are available from the Foundation for Long Distance Walks (Phone: +31 334 653 660).