To be honest, I was never extremely proud about my home country the Netherlands. Always when I spotted tourists walking around in my hometown Rotterdam I thought to myself: “what the hell are they doing here?” The weather in the Netherlands is shitty, I never really thought there were a lot of special activities to do, and I felt that the culture isn’t so unique either. However, ever since I returned from 1.5 years of travelling, I realise now that each country has it’s own special qualities. The Netherlands was never very special to me, purely because I lived here. The reason I was drawn to other counties that were far away was only because it’s where I don’t live. You never really realise what you have, until you don’t. So, in this post I share 30 reasons to visit the Netherlands!
This post also includes some cool tours in the Netherlands, so be sure to check them out.
30 Reasons to visit the Netherlands
1. The Netherlands has a very cool capital city: Amsterdam
Of course, we have Amsterdam. This city offers world-renowned museums, historical monuments, countless of gorgeous canals and a vibrant nightlife. It’s a very cool city, so it’s no wonder that it’s one of the most visited cities in the world! I’ve even met people who have never heard of the Netherlands, but they do know Amsterdam.
2. But the Dutch also have the cool city Rotterdam
Another cool, perhaps lesser known, city in the Netherlands is Rotterdam. If you’ve been following my blog and social media channels for a while, you probably seen a lot about Rotterdam already. This cool city is completely different from Amsterdam. In contrast to Amsterdam, it’s very modern and has a more raw vibe. But just like Amsterdam, it has a lot of fun hotspots and a vibrant nightlife. Be sure to check out my other blog Weekends in Rotterdam for hotspots, routes and events in Rotterdam!
3. You can visit charming Dutch towns and villages
Besides the big cities, the Netherlands offers some pretty charming towns and villages. Most people only consider Amsterdam when they think of the Netherlands, but there is so much more! For instance, Volendam, Giethoorn, Goes, Middelburg, Zierikzee, Utrecht and Alkmaar. Just to name a few!
4. The Netherlands also has islands!
Did you know that there are also islands in the Netherlands? The Dutch Waddeneilanden are located in the North Sea. The islands include Texel, Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog. It’s a completely different sight in the Netherlands and each island is unique on it’s own. Just like in the rest of the Netherlands, don’t expect great weather!
5. There is a rich Dutch history to unfold
The Netherlands is a country with a rich history. The oldest city in the Netherlands is Nijmegen and it dates back all the way to the Roman times. Over the years, the Dutch have been occupied by the Spanish, the Austrians, the French and the Germans. The Netherlands flourished in it’s Golden Age with the Dutch East India Company, also known as the first true transnational corporation.
There surely is a lot of history in this country and it’s quite interesting to learn more about it in our country! For instance, visit De Canon van Nederland in Arnhem: a presentation of the whole history of the Netherlands. But already by walking around our historic cities you’ll be able to learn a lot about the history of our country.
6. You can explore historic architecture in the Netherlands…
With all that history, there is also a lot of historical buildings to explore. The Netherlands offers a lot of historic architecture in most cities and villages. In Amsterdam and most Dutch cities you’ll find a lot of beautiful old Herenhuizen in all shapes and sizes. Also, you’ll find lots of historical monuments everywhere in the Netherlands.
7. … But also a lot of modern architecture
Especially in Rotterdam you’ll find a lot of modern architecture. As the city was bombarded in the Second World War, the locals had to build it up from scratch. But they really created something special. In Rotterdam you’ll find very cool, modern architecture, unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Just think of the Cube Houses, the very new Markthal and the iconic Erasmusbridge.
8. You can eat lots of cheese in the Netherlands
Who doesn’t love cheese?! There is so much cheese in the Netherlands, and not only Gouda cheese. To be honest, after you’ve tasted all the amazing cheese there is in my country, you’ll forget about all the other cheeses you have ever tasted. I’ve said a lot of cheese in this paragraph. Cheese.
There are a lot of tours that include cheese tastings! Check out the prices and availability here.
9. Taste the amazing poffertjes
We’re getting to the good part now! Besides all the cheese, the Netherlands offers much more delicious treats, and one of my favourite are definitely poffertjes. Poffertjes are basically mini sized pancakes and we usually serve them with butter and powdered sugar. You should definitely try them when you visit the Netherlands!
10. Eat breakfast with hagelslag
Most Dutch people grew up with bread and hagelslag for breakfast. Hagelslag is basically chocolate sprinkles, but they come in different shapes and flavours. Next to Hagelslag, you can find vruchtenhagel, vlokken, muisjes and more! When you’re in the Dutch Albert Heijn, you’ll be surprised how many different types there are.
11. You can buy stroopwafels as souvenir
Probably the most famous Dutch snack: stroopwafels! A stroopwafel is a waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel-like syrup in the middle. The best ones are actually fresh from the market, but you can also take them with you as a souvenir or present!
12. Explore the amazing windmills
Even though it’s strange to me that some people think all the Dutch wear clomps and live in windmills, it’s still pretty cool to explore some when you’re in the Netherlands. You can visit Kinderdijk or Zaanse Schans where there are a lot of Windmills. It’s even possible to go in one of the windmills if you want.
There are a lot of tours that include Dutch windmills. Check out the prices and availability here.
13. Try on some traditional Dutch clothing
If you go to Volendam, you should try on some of their traditional clothing! It’s a fun experience, even I tried it once with my friends and it was probably the only time in my life I wore clomps. It’s one of the most touristic things you can do in the Netherlands, but you can take some funny photos and cherish those memories forever.
14. The Netherlands has amazing water management
Did you know that most of the Netherlands actually lies below sea level? The Dutch have raised a lot of land straight from the sea, even the whole province of Flevoland! Pretty cool right? That’s why our country is also quite vulnerable to flooding, and flood control is a big priority in our country. It’s also why we have a complicated system of drainage canals, pumping stations (used to be windmills) and ditches. Furthermore, we also have dikes to prevent the water from flowing into the country.
15. Enjoy the beautiful Dutch landscape
The Netherlands is remarkably flat. There are some hills, yes, but most of the country is very flat. But that doesn’t mean that our country doesn’t offer beautiful landscape! For instance, you can visit the Veluwe, an incredible nature park. The photo above was taken at Veluwezoom, near the Veluwe. The heather starts to bloom in August, causing the beautiful purple colour!
16. There are beautiful walking trails in the Netherlands
If you want to fully enjoy the beautiful landscape in the Netherlands, you can decide to explore one of the walking trails. The longest most famous Dutch walking trail is the Pieterpad, which is 498 kilometer long. But even if you don’t go on a walking trail, there is a lot to explore by foot, such as the beaches, gorgeous canals and more.
17. Smell the gorgeous Dutch tulips
Photo by Saskia from Kids Erop uit.
You must’ve seen a lot of photos of the beautiful Dutch tulip fields! Especially Keukenhof is quite popular, as it showcases over 800 varieties of tulips, but there are also lesser known flowers. The best time to visit the Dutch tulip fields is between April and May!
18. You can safely ride a bike anywhere in the Netherlands
Riding a bicycle is very popular in the Netherlands! There are actually more bikes than people. It’s easy to bike around in the cities and towns of the Netherlands. Remember, because most of the country is so flat? And, maybe even more important, there are bike lines everywhere in the Netherlands! If you took all the bike lanes together, it would be approximately 35.000 kilometer long. So it’s very safe to ride a bike in my country too. That’s why most Dutch people never use a helmet on their bicycle!
19. It’s easy to travel around in The Netherlands
Don’t want to ride a bicycle when you’re in the Netherlands? Not a problem! It’s very easy to travel around the Netherlands, with or without a bicycle. For instance, you can rent a car and easily drive from one side of the country to the other side in the country in just a few hours. But, it’s also very easy to use public transport. The train is a great way to travel from one town to another.
20. Most Dutch people speak English
It’s easy to communicate with the locals, because most Dutch people speak English. Whether it’s to ask for directions, to order something or when you’re using public transport. Most restaurants and cafés offer English menu’s and as far as I know, the public transport is in both Dutch and English (at least in Rotterdam and Amsterdam!). It’s also convenient if you happen to be a solo traveller and you’re looking for friends!
21. The Dutch men are one of the tallest in the world
The Dutch are known for being tall and blond. It’s funny, because personally I’m quite short (1.59 meter, which is very short for a Dutch lady). But in average Dutch people and especially Dutch men are very tall. So, if you happen to be looking for tall men, then you have a pretty good reason to visit the Netherlands, because in 2016 Dutch men were revealed as the tallest men in the world.
22. There are a lot of different beers
Are you a real beer lover? The Netherlands offers a lot of different beers. The famous Heineken was made in Amsterdam, but there are a lot more types of beers. In the Netherlands you can find a big craft beer scene and there are a lot of new independent beer breweries.
If you’re really into beer, check out this 3-hour Private Craft Beer Tour in Amsterdam or get a Heineken Experience Ticket to discover what is behind the doors of the former Heineken brewery. Click here for all the possible beer tours in the Netherlands at Get Your Guide!
23. You can visit one of the coffeeshops
There is a reason that most travellers I know only heard of Amsterdam. It’s because a lot of them go to Amsterdam to enjoy the fact that they can legally smoke weed there. It’s even possible to go on a Coffee Shop Tour or Cannabis walking tour in Amsterdam. What a lot of tourist don’t know that you can go to a coffee shops in most Dutch cities.
24. There are some great shopping possibilities
Personally, I love shopping in most of the cities in the Netherlands. Especially in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. There are lot of unique boutique stores, vintage shops, malls and amazing markets. Amsterdam even has the biggest flea market in Europe: IJhallen. There is something for every fashionista in the Netherlands!
25. The Netherlands has a diverse party scene
If you love to party, then the Netherlands is the place for you. We’ve got clubs with techno, house, hiphop – you name it! There are cool festivals, underground parties, but also good old pubs for a drink and chatting with friends.
26. Party like never before during King’s Day
King’s Day is celebrated on the 27th of April. On that day the whole country goes crazy, because we’re celebrating the Dutch monarch’s King Willem-Alexander birthday. Yes, most of us get off work to celebrate his birthday. The streets will be filled with party people fully clothed in orange and music will be blasting everywhere you go.
27. The Netherlands is great for a family vacation
Although some of the above points may make it seem otherwise, the Netherlands is actually very kid-friendly. Because it’s such a small country, it’s not necessary to travel far to see a lot. This makes it a lot less tiring for your kids (and you!). The train in the Netherlands is an excellent way for families to travel around and it’s fun too (unless you travel during peak times!).
Explore Madurodam with your kids and see a miniature version of the Netherlands. Get your tickets for Madurodam here. Furthermore, there are a lot of kid’s museums in the Netherlands, such as NEMO Science Museum in Amsterdam and the Children’s Book Museum in The Hague.
Get your NEMO Science Museum Ticket here for a fast-track access to this popular Amsterdam attraction.
28. There is a lot of art in the Netherlands
Whether you love modern art, street art or more traditional art, there is something for everyone in the Netherlands! For instance, visit the world famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and explore over 400 masterpieces by artists such as Jan Steen, Vermeer and Rembrandt. Get a skip the line ticket here! I’m definitely going to get one of those tickets myself, since I have never set foot in the Rijksmuseum before because the lines are always so crazy long.
Next to the Rijksmuseum, there are a lot more great museums and art galleries to explore in the Netherlands. Check out the prices and availability of different museums and art tours.
29. You can relax on the terraces
When the sun shines, the Dutch all go out to relax in at one of the many cafés terraces. Order wine, a portion of bitterballen (= meat based snack, containing a mixture of beef or veal) and put on your sunglasses. It’s the ultimate relaxation.
30. It’s one of the best places to live
When I travelled I realised how well we all have it in the Netherlands. There is a good social security, health care and so on. We do have our own culture, even though I didn’t realise it before. The Netherlands might not be perfect, it’s a pretty cool place to live. Even though you don’t really experience this when you only come for a short visit, it’s definitely worth mentioning.
That were 30 reasons to visit the Netherlands! Do you have anything to add? Let me know in the comments and I might include it in the list above!
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