When people talk about the Netherlands, they immediately think of windmills, tulips and beer. But this is a superficial judgment. The history of the country is rich and varied, it has left many amazing monuments. Some attractions of the Netherlands have become hallmarks of the country and are very popular among tourists from all over the world. So, what places should tourists visit in the Netherlands?
What to see in Netherlands?
The main and most interesting sights with photos and descriptions.
1. Canals of Amsterdam
The main attractions of the Netherlands are located in Amsterdam. The main of them is the Amsterdam canals. More than a hundred water canals create a unique look of the capital, easily recognizable on any reproduction. It all began with the “Plan of the Three Canals”, drawn up in 1658, and the modern version has 165 canals, connected by a thousand and a half bridges and bridges. From a bird’s eye view the waterways form four semicircles hugging Amsterdam. Walking along its embankment provides an amazing aesthetic pleasure.
2. Anne Frank House-Museum
Address: Prinsengracht 263-267, 1016 GV Amsterdam
This building itself has become a historical landmark in the Netherlands because it was built in 1635. It was there, in a secret alcove designed by Mr. Voskvijl, that the Frank family hid during the day. For two long years, the office worked as usual during the day, drowning out the sounds from behind the secret closet. And at night, normal family life began as they shared impressions and dreams of a peaceful life over dinner. Each day is described in the diary of a 13-year-old girl.
On a denunciation, Anna’s family was arrested and sent to a concentration camp. In 1945 the girl died, and the diary was published by her father. The stationary part of the exhibition shows details of the family’s everyday life, while the movable part is constantly updated and dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust.
Address: Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam
The Rijksmuseum is one of the most visited attractions in the Dutch capital and draws long lines of visitors every day. The museum has been built up several times and its collection is enlarged on a regular basis. Napoleon’s brother, Louis, started the collection. He moved it from The Hague to Amsterdam, and construction of the museum began in 1876. Here you can admire the paintings of artists of the Golden Age of Dutch painting; vases, sets and statuettes of Delft porcelain; exposition of ship models and dolls’ houses. Book connoisseurs are attracted to the library, where there are ancient folios.
Address: Stationsweg 166A, 2161 AM Lisse
One of the most famous flower parks in the world, Keukenhof impresses with its many colors and delicate complex scent, floating in spring over 32 hectares of beauty. It is divided into three sectors. The first one delights the eye with tulips, daffodils and lilacs, the second one is devoted to roses, and the third one is occupied by orchids. There are over 100 species of the famous Dutch tulips, and the total number of tulips in the park is about 5 million. Flower seeds and bulbs are sold in numerous pavilions.
Kekenhof delights visitors with picturesque ponds, waterfalls, original fountains and huge trees. In April, there is a parade of flowers in the park. This is the most beautiful place in the Netherlands, which is a must visit.
5. Royal Palace in Amsterdam
Address: Dam, 1012 KB Amsterdam
One of the main and most popular attractions in Amsterdam is the Royal Palace. The complex is located in the central part of the city and consists of 4 buildings. Events of state level are held here. On other days the palace is open to tourists. The majestic building was built in the classical style and some elements remind buildings of ancient Rome. The luxury of the interior strikes the imagination of refinement and attention to detail.
The rich history of the building boasts amazing metamorphoses. In the 17th century it was the town hall, then the residence of Napoleon Bonaparte and after the liberation of Amsterdam – the palace of the ruling dynasty. Large dome with a weathervane in the form of a ship-cog, paintings and frescoes of masters of previous epochs will be remembered by visitors to the palace.
6. Dam Square
Address: Dam, 1012 JL Amsterdam
If a massive event is planned, you can be sure it will take place at Dam Square in Amsterdam. It takes its name from the Dam built in the 13th century on the River Amstel. The city gradually grew and developed around the dam, and the square became the center of political and economic events. The rectangle of 200 by 100 meters is always full of tourists and visitors to the city. Many attractions of all the Netherlands overlook it: the Wax Museum, the Royal Palace, the New Church, the largest hotel of the capital Grand Hotel.
Address: 2511 CS Den Haag
In the center of The Hague looks into the transparent waters of the lake a beautiful architectural landmark – an old castle. Its austere lines and clear proportions combined with the restraint of the Middle Ages attract the eyes. In 1247 Count Floris IV built a hunting castle on the shores of the lake. The Count’s descendants continued the construction and today the castle has become a whole system of structures, which have not lost the harsh charm of Gothic.
Ridderzaal surprises by its original architectural design. The triangular facade is located between two powerful towers, and above the main entrance are the coats of arms of the country’s ruling dynasties. Today the parliament of the Netherlands is situated here.
8. Peace Palace
Address: Carnegieplein 2, 2517 KJ Den Haag
This beautiful neo-Renaissance building was built in the city center of The Hague to house the main legal and juridical organizations of international repute. It was Nicholas II who initiated the Peace Palace with a proposal for a conference for the peaceful settlement of conflicts. Gradually he was supported by other heads of state. Later it housed gifts from various countries that supported the idea. The building is closed to the public because the UN International Court of Justice is held there. In order to see the interior of the palace, a film was made – a tour, designed for tourists.
Zanse Schans is an open-air museum. A visit to this attraction in the Netherlands allows you to get acquainted with the history and life of the Dutch. The 30 wooden huts, collected from all over the country and lovingly restored, delight you with embroidered curtains and wicker chairs on the porches. People live and work here, practicing ancient crafts, the blades of windmills turn leisurely, and the doors of small shops are hospitable and open. Wooden mills grind mustard, press oil. And the oldest mill “Cat”, from the seventeenth century, still produces paint. In the village you can observe the smelting of tin, the production of cheese and wooden clogs, the painting of porcelain.
10. Oude Kirk
Address: Oudekerksplein 23, 1012 GX Amsterdam
There are some beautiful religious sights in the Netherlands as well. Especially worth mentioning is the Aude Kerk. The name translates as “Old Church”. And this is true, because the building is really the oldest in the capital. In terms of area it is comparable to an entire block and covers 3,300 square meters. The building was built on an artificially levelled hill, with tombstones as the foundation. Up to the XIX century there were burials here. Here are the graves of many famous citizens of the country. This church was visited by Rembrandt, who baptized his children and buried his wife here. The church was constantly rebuilt, and over time, the additions formed the shape of a cross, it is clearly visible from the bell tower, which rises to 67 meters. The unique stained glass windows and paintings inside the church are decorated with biblical themes, and the organ is considered to be one of the best in Europe.
Van Gogh Museum
Address: Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ Amsterdam
The brilliant representative of post-impressionism created more than 2,100 works, including oil paintings, prints, and sketches. His creative way was short, but fruitful. Not surprisingly, a museum dedicated to the work of the talented master was opened in the capital of the Netherlands, which has become a famous landmark. Paintings, drawings and author’s letters are presented here. A creative laboratory imitates the artist’s workroom as closely as possible, and the library keeps the letters. The exposition is divided into 5 thematic zones: the Netherlands, Paris, Arles, Saint-Rémy and Auvers-sur-Oise, which corresponds to the creative periods of Van Gogh. The collection of the museum also includes works of other artists of that period.
The village of Kinderdijk has become one of the symbolic landmarks of the Netherlands and could not do without its own legend. During a great flood, the houses of the village were destroyed, and when the inhabitants returned to their homes, they saw a cradle floating. A cat was running along it, keeping the cradle from toppling over. Since then, the area has been called Kinderdake, which translates as a baby dam. Nineteen uniquely designed mills were built in the 18th century and serve the sole purpose of preventing flooding by maintaining a set water level. A visit to the village leaves you with a sense of history.
13. St. Bavon’s Catholic Cathedral in Haarlem
Address: Leidsevaart 146, 2014 HE Haarlem
The huge and majestic neo-Romanesque architectural monument of the Netherlands was erected for almost 90 years and was not completed until 1927. As a result, the building acquired a fairy-tale look, which is given by Romanesque arches and medieval gargoyles adorning the facade. And the numerous towers with narrow lancet windows give the temple similarity to a castle. The cathedral was consecrated in honor of Harlem’s patron saint, St. Bavon. Inside the cathedral attract the eye tracery vaults decorated with ornaments and biblical scenes, sculptures of saints. On the ground floor of the church is a museum that tells the story of the cathedral.
14. Amsterdam Flower Market
Address: Singel, 1012 DH Amsterdam
For more than 100 years, farmers brought flowers by boat and sold them daily on the Singel Canal. Gradually the world’s only floating market developed into one of the most visited places in the Netherlands. These days, all the trading places are well anchored and hardly sway. The sea of fragrance and stunning variety of colors in the first minutes is confusing, one has only to admire this miracle, trying to divide the sea of flowers into separate trading segments. Here you can buy seeds, bulbs or seedlings of almost any plant, from strawberries to hemp. The atmosphere of luxury and generosity of nature will long be remembered by every visitor of the flower market.
15. Madame Tussauds Museum
Address: Dam 20, 1012 NP Amsterdam
Only lazy person have not heard about Madame Tussauds wax museum. The original idea to capture famous people as sculptures in real size came to sculptor Marie Tussauds after the death of her husband, when she moved from Strasbourg to Berlin in search of work. While working as an assistant to the doctor Philippe Curtius, she shared his passion for making wax figures and made it her life’s work. The main collection is in London, but has branches in 19 cities, including Amsterdam. In the halls of the museum you can meet famous politicians and musicians, take pictures with famous actors and members of the royal family. Exhibits can be touched and viewed from all sides.
16. Maduroplein Miniatures Park
Address: George Maduroplein 1 , 2584 RZ Den Haag
Unfortunately it is impossible to travel around the Netherlands in a few days and visit all the sights. But in the park of miniatures you can see almost all the most interesting places of the country in the scale 1:25. The park is divided into three parts: “Center”, “Water World”, “Island of Innovation”, each carries its own meaning and information load. Many of the models are moving, for 10 cents you can watch the church procession to the ringing of the bells. All objects have retained their basic characteristics: color, proportions, location in the general plan. All of the human figures are handmade and have a vibrant personality.
17. Efteling amusement park
Address: Europalaan 1, 5171 KW Kaatsheuvel
If you want breathtaking rides and an atmosphere of unbridled joy, you should visit the Efteling amusement park in the Netherlands. It is considered one of the oldest theme parks in the world. But that does not mean it has fallen behind the times. Constant updates allow the park to remain interesting and memorable. Efteling is based on folk tales and is divided into four “kingdoms”. There is entertainment for all ages. A steam train ride through the park will help you see it from all sides.
18. Castle Meiderslot.
Address: Herengracht 1, 1398 AA Muiden
The gothic lines of the walls of this medieval landmark in the Netherlands bring back thoughts of brave knights and beautiful ladies, long-distance campaigns and glorious battles with dragons. It is said that its walls are still guarded by the ghost of its first owner, Count Floris the Fifth. The castle’s history is like the biography of a hero – it hid conspirators and poets, dangerous criminals languished in its dungeons. Many illustrious owners came and went, but the castle remained impregnable. Now the castle is a museum and is among the twenty most famous castles in Europe. An extensive collection of armor and role-playing games attract lovers of chivalry from all countries.
Top 22 best sights in the Netherlands
The pearl of Europe, the Netherlands is an interesting vacation destination. It is a treasure trove of rich history, culture and art. It is also a land of endless flower fields, windmills, beautiful water channels and picturesque architecture.
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Things to do in the Netherlands
In addition to breathtaking gardens and picturesque villages, tourists will enjoy visiting the lively capital city with museums showcasing the country’s rich heritage of artists.
Medieval castles and national parks peacefully coexist, as does an innovative tidal control system that has been named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. All of these attractions are located in a relatively compact area.
Royal Palace of Amsterdam
The palace is located on Dam Square. It was built at the height of the Dutch Golden Age, a time when Amsterdam was an influential city in Northern Europe. The palace originally belonged to the municipality of the city and was the building of the City Hall.
The structure passed into the hands of the Dutch royal family after William of Orange formed the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the early 19th century. Although royal ceremonies are still held in the palace today, it is open to the public most days of the year.
Castel De Haar
Not far from the city of Utrecht is Castel De Haar, the largest castle in the Netherlands. The first mention of it dates back to 1391. At that time it was a fortified tower surrounded by a moat. Gradually it was rebuilt, new walls were added. The tower grew and grew and became a castle.
De Haar came under many attacks and was partially destroyed. But in 1891, a complete restoration of the building was carried out. It is in this guise and see it today and tourists. Inside, a collection of paintings, textiles, antiques and furniture have been preserved.
Mills in Kinderdijk-Elschott
The network of mills in Kinderdijk consists of 10 monumental windmills located in the province of South Holland. These mills are part of the village, which was built in the mid-18th century. Their purpose was to pump water from the marshes so that the drained soils could be used for agriculture.
They are the largest collection of windmills to be found in the country and in the world. In 1997 they were included in the list of world heritage sites by UNESCO, after which the influx of tourists to the province increased.
City of Valkenburg
If you love history, make sure not to miss Valkenburg, which is located in the beautiful Geul Valley. The city consists of a single castle on top of a hill and dates back to the 12th century. It is crowned by Dvingelroth Peak (or Castle Rock).
In addition to the ancient ruins, the city is also known for its picturesque caves, catacombs and underground tunnels. But it’s winter that draws the most tourists. They are attracted by the Christmas market, which runs from November to December.
The tower has towered over the center of Rotterdam since 1960. The building is 185 meters high, making it the tallest in the city. The name was taken for a reason – the building does resemble a ship’s mast. The tower has a diameter of 9 meters.
Climbing to 100 m, visitors find themselves on a flat platform. Here is a fashionable restaurant and hotel. Tourists like the observation platforms, which offer a panoramic view of the city. The first is located at the level of the bridge, the second was completed later. For this purpose, in 1970 made another superstructure, which was called the Space Tower.
The little village is known for being one of the most beautiful places in the Netherlands. This is largely due to its location on the picturesque Lake Eisselmer. Crowds of visitors flock here every year to have fun and buy traditional souvenirs: postcards depicting painted wooden houses as well as toy fishing boats.
During the summer months, ethno-festivals are held here. Residents dress in traditional clothing, and ancient crafts come alive in their hands.
Churches and Cathedrals
The red-brick, Gothic-style church is located in The Hague. The original building here was built in the 13th century, but it was razed to the ground in 1539 and rebuilt.
The church has a glorious history as the place where members of the Dutch royal family, including King Willem-Alexander, were baptized. Among the sights are the tallest bell tower in Holland with 51 bells, an ornate wooden pulpit and an organ.
De Oude Kerk.
De Oude Kerk was built in 1213, making it the oldest building in Amsterdam. The church served the Catholic community until the Reformation, when Dutch Calvinists overthrew papal control. Like many of Amsterdam’s iconic buildings, the foundations of the church are laid on top of a huge artificial mound. Today the building is used for cultural and religious purposes: concerts, awards ceremonies, and Catholic services are held here.
De Blauwe Moskee Mosque
The large mosque in the west of Amsterdam, despite its traditional Arabic architecture, harmonizes perfectly with the modern forms of the city. And the outer walls are decorated with water motifs. The mosque was built in 2008 by several Islamic organizations to accommodate Amsterdam’s growing Muslim population.
Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple
This large temple is located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Chinatown. Parts of the building were brought from China, although it is more reminiscent of traditional Thai structures. The roof is decorated with figures of the Chinese zodiac, and the overall architectural style contrasts beautifully with the typical Dutch townhouses in the neighborhood.
This child-oriented museum in Utrecht is dedicated to the rabbit Miffy. But it also houses a collection of other objects related to the cartoon’s creator, Dick Brune. These include cartoon projects he made for charities.
The themed museum is perfect for elementary and middle school age children and even has an indoor play area. And parents can relax in the cozy café.
In 1938 the German Helene Kreller-Muller bequeathed the extensive Van Gogh collection to the Dutch people and opened a new museum in Otterlo under her family name. This museum owns the second largest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world and is one of the most popular museums in the Netherlands.
The main exhibition consists of 11500 objects and is located in the center of Hoge Veluwe Park. Today, after a complete reconstruction, it is a modern museum complex, also known for its sculpture garden. Every year it is visited by 400,000 people.
The institution is recognized as the largest museum in the Netherlands and contains 1,000,000 works of art, artifacts and objects that represent every period of Dutch history. Here you can explore the art of Holland from the Middle Ages to the present day.
The arrangement of the works deserves special attention. Here 8,000 works in 80 rooms expose the visitor to different eras. The permanent collection includes masterpieces such as Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” and Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid”.
Since the beginning of the 19th century, Mauritshuis has preserved a large collection of Dutch Golden Age works, including works such as Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. The museum itself is a real masterpiece.
It is located in a seventeenth-century mansion, which was designed by Jacob van Kampen – the author of the Royal Palace in Amsterdam. Originally serving as a residence and hotel for high-ranking guests, Mauritshuis is located in the center of The Hague.
The Knights’ Hall, also known as the Ridderzaal, is located in The Hague and is part of the court complex of the medieval period. The hall overlooks a huge cobblestone courtyard. This place is considered one of the centers of Dutch politics and the annual opening ceremony of Parliament is held here. It is best to tour the Knights’ Hall with a group, accompanied by a guide, as it is one of the most important buildings in Dutch history.
The Floating House Museum
One of the quirkiest museums in all of Amsterdam is located on one of its beautiful canals. The museum is called the Hendrika Maria and is furnished to give an idea of how people lived in floating houses over the years. The exhibition clearly shows how life has changed in the floating houses and also shows pictures of the canals as they were in the old days.
Museum of Sex
Venustempel has the right to be called the first sex museum in the world. It is located in a building that dates back to the 17th century and has an extensive display of sex-related items. Here you can find a lot of erotic works of art, as well as photographs, sculptures and strange accessories like chastity belts. The purpose of the museum is to tell the story of how sexuality has evolved over the years.
Natural attractions and parks
The largest amusement park in the Netherlands is located in Kaatsheuvel. The park is divided into different areas known as realms – each focusing on a different ancient myth or legend. Efteling claims to be one of the oldest theme parks in the world. Fairy tale characters come alive here, a talking tree grows, dryads live in the forest, and Little Red Riding Hood makes friends with the wolf. In addition, the park has six roller coasters and 36 rides.
Texel Dunes National Park
Due to its outstanding natural beauty, the west coast of Texel Island has been preserved as a national park. This stretch of land is inhabited by a variety of flora and fauna, including rare birds.
The preferred way to get around the park is on foot or by bicycle. Tourists never tire of being amazed at the amount of scenery that succeeds one another. Dunes, forests, heaths, salt marshes and beaches – all this variety of nature exists in Texel.
The Köckenhof, also known as the Garden of Europe, is a marvelous place for a riot of colors of all shapes and shades. As far as the eye can see, colorful flowerbeds are scattered here. Tulips are the symbol of the country, but the gardens and pavilions have an impressive collection not only of tulips, but also hyacinths, daffodils and many other flowers.
Köckenhof is in the heart of the Bollenstrik, or bulbous region. There is a big flower parade called the Bloemencorso Bollenstreek, which is considered the largest in the world.
Hoge Veluwe National Park
The Netherlands is often portrayed as a small country, but there is enough room for extensive national parks. The largest of them is Hoge Veluwe, which is located between Apeldoorn and Arnhem. It is ideal for families.
There are areas covered with forest, where you can find deer, roe deer and other wildlife. Elegant dunes covered with heather offer a chance to watch birds of rare species.
Royal Artis Zoo.
Artis first opened its gates in 1838, making it the oldest zoo in the Netherlands. It is home to 900 different species of animals, many of which are housed in ornate and spacious rooms designed back in the 19th century.
The menagerie also includes an aquarium, which was built in 1882. It is home to sharks, eels, and colorful tropical fish. And around the zoo installed special trays, which sell the traditional Dutch pancakes called bitterballen.