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The Netherlands has a lot more cool cities and towns that are worth visiting than you would think! Most tourists only visit Amsterdam, but there is more to explore in this tiny country. To give you some inspiration for your visit to my homecountry, I decided to write about the best cities to visit in the Netherlands. I also asked other travel bloggers about their favourite destinations in Holland and which cities you definitely shouldn’t miss during a visit. It resulted in this article with the 10 best cities to visit in the Netherlands! 🙂
After each destination I’ve added some hotel recommendations. However, if you would rather want to experience living like a local in the Netherlands, I advice you to check out Airbnb. Sometimes there are pretty good deals in great locations. If you haven’t used Airbnb before, use this link for a discount!
Be sure to check out the other bloggers in this article, as most of them have more content about the Netherlands. Get ready for the 10 best cities to visit in the Netherlands!
Also read our other articles about the Netherlands!
15 Cool Day trips in the Netherlands
30 Reasons to visit the Netherlands
Museum Voorlinden: Cultural Day Trip in the Netherlands
A Relaxing Getaway in the Netherlands: Review Hotel blooming
10 Best Cities to visit in the Netherlands
1. Amsterdam: The capital city of the Netherlands
The first city is an obvious one. Of course Amsterdam should be in your itinerary when you visit the Netherlands! It’s one of the most touristic places in my country and it’s easy to see why so many people want to visit this city. All the beautiful canals, old houses in different sizes and shapes, a lot of art, museums and restaurants.
There is something to do for everyone in Amsterdam. From Amsterdam it’s also easy to visit other cities with the train or bus, so it’s a great central point to start your trip in the Netherlands. If you’re spending a few days in Amsterdam or doing a lot of day trips from here, it might be an idea to get the I Amsterdam City Card. Be sure to also read our article Day Trip in Amsterdam with the I Amsterdam City Card to see if it’s worth it if you’re only spending one day in Amsterdam
Hotel tips in Amsterdam
- Misc Eatdrinksleep: a bit of a quirkier hotel at a canal. Check out the prices and availability here.
- Hotel Estheréa: a hotel with an absolutely gorgeous interior. Check out the prices and availability here.
- Ambasade Hotel: another amazing hotel at a canal. Check out the prices and availability here.
- The Flying Pig Downtown Hostel: perfect if you’re on a budget. Check out the prices and availability here.
2. Haarlem: The perfect day trip from Amsterdam
From Haarlem you can be in the center of Amsterdam within 15 minutes, but you can also set foot on the beach within 15 minutes. Sounds perfect, right? Haarlem is becoming a popular city for people that want to experience the Amsterdam feeling, but want to escape from all the tourists and chaos.
So what are the highlights of Haarlem? You must check out the main square of Haarlem, this is where it all happens. You will find plenty of fancy restaurants, the beautiful church and the city hall where you will often see people getting married. According to me, the most photogenic street is the Warmoestraat, just behind the main square. But there is more! Haarlem is the perfect city to wander around and get lost in the many beautiful hidden streets. You will see lots of courtyards with old authentic Dutch houses.
If you want to see more of the authentic Dutch architecture you should go for a walk along the river Spaarne and you will not be disappointed for sure. Where you should go for food and drinks? Here are my some of my favourite brunch spots: Mica, ByLima, Anne&Max, Blender, Mogador Coffee, Dodici, Fortuyn and Diga. They are not the standard tourist spots, they are a bit hidden and not all located in the main center of Haarlem, but it is worth visiting them!
By Brigitte from A Little Blonde in Paradise.
Hotel tips in Haarlem
- Amrâth Grand Hotel Frans Hals: a centrally located hotel, close to all the touristic attractions. Check out the prices and availability here.
- Ambassador City Centre Hotel: A family run hotel in the centre of Harlem, opposite of the Sint-Bavo church, close to the Grote Markt. Check out the prices and availability here.
- Amadeus Hotel: Another family run hotel, located in a historic building at the Grote Markt. Check out the prices and availability here.
- Hello I’m Local Boutique Hostel: A cool hostel that is perfect if you’re on a budget. Check out the prices and availability here.
3. Rotterdam: Manhattan at the Maas
In the past, most tourists only paid a visit to Amsterdam and some barely even knew there was more to the Netherlands than our capital city. Nowadays, Rotterdam is getting more and more recognition. Rotterdam is my hometown, and it’s funny to see hop on/hop off busses driving around and more and more tourists walking around on the streets. This definitely wasn’t the case just a mere three to four years ago.
Rotterdam is completely different from Amsterdam and any Dutch city. Because Rotterdam was bombed during the Second World War, it had to be build from scratch. A lot of renowned architects designed buildings for Rotterdam and you’ll be amazing by the crazy buildings in the city. For instance, the weird Cube Houses you see pictured above, or the large Markthal, De Rotterdam or the beautiful Erasmus bridge. Because of all those buildings, Rotterdam also has a beautiful skyline that actually resembles New York a bit. That’s why we also call Rotterdam Manhattan aan de Maas or Manhattan at the Maas.
By Lisanne from Weekends in Rotterdam.
Hotel tips in Rotterdam
- Rotterdam Marriott Hotel: named best hotel of Rotterdam this year. Check out the prices and availability here.
- nhow Rotterdam: a cool hotel with urban art, architecture, design, fashion, photography and some of the best views of the city. Check out the prices and availability here.
- CitizenM Rotterdam: a luxurious hotel with great views. Check out the prices and availability here.
- Hostel ROOM Rotterdam: a very cool hostel and great if you’re on a budget. Check out the prices and availability here.
4. The Hague: The political capital of the Netherlands
The Hague is the former capital of the Netherlands and it’s a must for anyone interested in history. You can visit the working palace of the king, the Dutch parliament (my favorite free attraction here!), or visit one of the famous art museums. The historic city is very picturesque and compact, so it’s easy to walk around while enjoying the many cute shops. My favorite is a wine store called De Filosoof with a beautiful Persian cat that greets the visitors and waits by the register. Similarly, a popular attraction is the popular beach resort of Scheveningen for the views over the sea, strolling along the boardwalk, or going surfing. One of the coolest parts about this city is that you can do both in one day and that it doesn’t feel as touristy as Amsterdam.
Another cool thing about the Hague is how international it is. Most of the consulates and embassies in the Netherlands in the Hague, so you hear many languages on the street and you’ll find food from all over the world (that you can’t find elsewhere in the Netherlands). The diversity and beauty of the Hague make it so appealing for visitors looking for a day trip.
By Karen from Wanderlustingk.
Hotel tips in The Hague
- Grand Hotel Amrâth Kurhaus The Hague Scheveningen: beautiful hotel on the boulevard, only 3 minutes from the beach. Check out the prices and availability here.
- NH Den Haag: this elegant hotel is located 15 minutes from the central station. Check out the prices and availability here.
- Student Hotel The Hague: perfect combination of co-living and co-working. Check out the prices and availability here.
5. Delft: an idyllic town in the Netherlands
Delft is mostly known for it’s traditional blue and white ceramics, also known as Delfts blauw. Other than that, Delft has a beautiful old city center and is a picturesque town. The city was built around a canal known as Oude Delft or Old Delft and many more canals were build later on. Delft is perfect as a city trip from either Rotterdam or Amsterdam, but it’s certainly also worth it to stay here for a couple of nights.
What are things to do in Delft? Visit the Nieuwe Kerk, Oude Kerk and the Main Square, three historic highlights in the middle of the center. At the main square you can buy local products and explore a buzzing part of town. Or try out chocolates at one of the chocolateries, go shopping for ceramics at one of the cute shops or explore the town by boat or bicycle!
Hotel tips in Delft
- Hotel de Plataan Delft Centrum: located in the historic center of Delft and is one of the greenest hotels in the country. Check out the prices and availability here.
- Hotel Johannes Vermeer Delft: located in an old cigar factory in the center, close to many monuments, museums and shopping areas. Check out the prices and availability here.
6. Breda: A city with an amazing vibe
Breda is a city that has an amazing vibe. It’s great for delicious food, shopping and taking walks. For example, there is a huge choice of restaurants; my favorites include Bar Lucca, Girasole, The Tiger Club, Zuyd and Beers & Barrels. Fancy something sweet? Then go for a piece of cheesecake at the cozy In kannen & Kruiken. Best in town!
Breda regularly hosts fun events, such as Breda Barst, BredaPhoto, Cultuurnacht and Breda Jazz. The Stedelijk Museum Breda is also recommended for a (first) time visit in Breda. Do you prefer to explore nature? Within a few minutes you are at the beautiful Mastbos where you can make beautiful walks.
By Eva Jansen from Guided by Curiosity.
Hotel tips in Breda
- Hotel Nassau: a special and luxurious hotel, located in an old monastery right in the center of Breda. Check out the prices and availability here.
- Bliss Boutique Hotel: a four star, contemporary boutique hotel in the center of Breda. Check out the prices and availability here.
7. Groningen: A city in the Netherlands you shouldn’t skip!
Groningen is a city that is often overlooked. Too far away from the rest of the Netherlands and that’s why people often opt for a different city. It’s a shame, because Groningen is very nice and has a lot to offer!
When in Groningen, be sure to visit the Folkingestraat & Zwanestraat, both voted the best shopping street in the Netherlands, and stroll through the fine, narrow streets. Go shopping or relax at terraces around the Vismarkt and on the Grote Markt. Stroll along the beautiful mansions in the Brug- and Astraat and along the Hoge and Lage der A. Enjoy the Noorderplantsoen, climb the Martini Tower and visit the Groninger Museum. Do you travel with children? Be sure to visit the Comic Strip Museum. Do not forget to get a pie at Bij Britta, have a drink at De Uurwerker, have lunch at Pernikkel and dine at Dot!
By Daphne de Vries.
Hotel tips in Groningen
- The Student Hotel Groningen: just outside of the busy center, but still in walking distance of everything. Check out the prices and availability here.
- City Hotel Groningen: great location, as it’s in walking distance of touristic attractions. Check out the prices and availability here.
8. Deventer: A Dutch city with amazing events
Deventer was part of the Hanseatic League; a trade union created by seven Dutch towns situated on the river IJssel during the 14th and 15th centuries. This union led to enormous prosperity and today all of these cities are worth a visit to see the beauty and history on display. Especially Deventer!
Deventer is full of beautiful old architecture and home to some great museums, art galleries and churches. It’s also the host of some fantastic yearly festivals. For instance, Deventer op Stelten, Deventer Boekenmark and the Dickens Festijn. During Deventer op Stelten the town hosts performers from around the world (many on stilts) for a weekend every July. Deventer Boekenmarkt is the largest book market in Europe and is held on the first Sunday of August. The town hosts around 878 book-stalls, with many rare and very old books on display and available to buy. And every year on the weekend before Christmas the Dickens Festijn (Dickens Festival) dresses up the historic Bergkwartier in Christmas finery and more than 950 characters are brought to life!
By Kristy from Tassie Devil Abroad.
Hotel tips in Deventer
- Grand Boutique Hotel Huis Vermeer: great location and is situated opposite of the Lebuniuskerk. Check out the prices and availability here.
9. Giethoorn: The Dutch city without roads
Giethoorn is a small town, about a 3-hour train ride North of Amsterdam. You may know Giethoorn as the Venice of the North or The city without roads. To get from house to house you must travel by boat. In the springtime it’s filled with flowers, budding trees, birds, and is often the location that is sought after for a Make a Wish Destination.
As I was here in the off-season, I was unsure if I would be able to take a tour of this unique city. I climbed onto the boat with four other passengers, which I was told was quite unusual. Normally, the boats in the spring are overflowing with tourists and the canals of Giethoorn are crammed with boats.
Our boat driver told us that this was once a Peat Moss farming community, which turned the area into lakes and ponds. The people of that time built their houses on the islands between the ponds. Giethoorn was named as such, due to the farmers unearthing ancient goat horns, they believe are from the flood that occurred in 1170. The name of Geytenhoren was given, and later was changed to Giethoorn.
Giethoorn holds a community of green thumb inhabitants. It’s a beautiful place, with beautiful people. The cottages on their peat moss mounds, the rolling clouds lazily floating by. It was almost as if I fulfilled my own Make a Wish dreams.
Interested in visiting Giethoorn? Be sure to check out some of the tours! check out prices and availability here.
By Daniel Green from Cultural Trekking.
Hotel tips in Giethoorn
- Hotel de Harmonie: charming, beautiful family run hotel. Check out the prices and availability here.
- Hotel B&B d’Olde Smidse:great location and has a terrace and possibilities for water sport activities. Check out the prices and availability here.
10. Leiden: Historic university city
The historic university city of Leiden has many favourite Dutch icons in one neat package. Like Amsterdam, Leiden is built on a series of canals and waterways. So one of the best things to do is simply wander the streets and over bridges and admire the 17th century architecture. You won’t be able to resist stopping for a coffee or beer at one of the many canalside cafés in Leiden. We liked Vlot Grand – a cafe that actually sits on the water.
Leiden is famous for its university where Einstein often taught and being Rembrandt’s birthplace. And it was there that the Pilgrims raised the money needed to lease the Mayflower for their famous journey to the New World. Today the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum is one of many museums in the city. Dutch windmills are gorgeous and you can see one working right in the heart of Leiden. Molen De Valk, houses a museum and if you climb to the top there are beautiful views of the city. But for many people, fields of colourful tulips are the reason they visit the Netherlands. Leiden is the perfect base if you want to visit the nearby Keukenhof gardens in spring as it is right in the heart of tulip country.
By Katy from Untold Morsels.
Hotel tips in Leiden
- Hotel de Doelen: lovely boutique hotel in an historic building overlooking the Rapenburg canal. Check out the prices and availability here.
- Boutique Hotel d’Oude Morsch: a historic, yet contemporary hotel at the edge of the center of Leiden. Check out the prices and availability here.
- De Barones Van Leyden: an intimate four star hotel in the center of Leiden. Check out the prices and availability here.
Other Dutch cities that are worth a visit
Photo of Utrecht by Tom from The Travelling Tom.
Even though this article is named the 10 Best cities to visit in the Netherlands, it’s not completely true that the above 10 cities are the best in the Netherlands. These cities are definitely highlights and worth a visit, but it’s actually not possible to make an accurate list of all the cities in the Netherlands and saying that one is better than the other. Actually, there are many more cool cities and towns in the Netherlands that are definitely worth a visit! For instance, Utrecht, Gouda, Volendam, Maastricht, Middelburg, Muiden, Den Bosch and Zwolle – just to name a few! This list could go on and on. But the above list is definitely a great place to start for your visit in the Netherlands! Still in need for some more inspiration? Check out 15 Cool Day Trips in the Netherlands.
Have you ever been to the Netherlands? What is your favourite city in the Netherlands?
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