Top 5 cities to visit in the Netherlands
March 1, 2019
by Nina Audley
The Netherlands is one of the most popular European destinations for many travelers. Every year it attracts thousands of tourists that come to see this beautiful country of tulips and windmills.
However, did you know that the Netherlands is not only Amsterdam with its coffee shops, Red Light District, small houses, and overcrowded shopping streets? You might be surprised but there are also other great places that are definitely worth visiting and which might impress you even more than the Dutch capital. There are top 5 cities you should not miss when visiting the Netherlands.
Rotterdam is the second largest Dutch city and it is the business heart of the country. Modern architecture with all its high skyscrapers, business centers, and buzzing street life makes Rotterdam a smaller version of New York. However, even with all the crazy architectural ideas (which are actually quite innovative and functional) implemented here, the city looks unique and has its own style.
Moreover, Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe. The Nieuwe Maas channel is running through the city into the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta at the North Sea. If you are walking along the river, the Erasmus bridge (Erasmusbrug) will definitely attract your attention. Looking like a swan and being the second largest bridge in the Netherlands, Erasmusbrug is considered to be one of the main tourist attractions.
When walking back to the city center, you should visit the Markthal. This huge Market Hall is a real masterpiece. The artwork on the walls shows various fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Inside the hall, you will find different small shops and cafes where you can not only buy some ingredients for your meal but also try various foreign cuisines.
In front of the Markthal, you can find the Cube houses. These yellow cube buildings are a great example of how you can live and have all the conveniences within a very limited space. At first glance, it seems like it is quite uncomfortable to live in such small premises. However, it can be very cozy inside and it actually has more space than it seems from the outside.
All the houses are only for sale and cannot be rented. However, if you really want to feel what it is like to live in such a cube, you can either visit a small museum that is located in one of these houses or stay in a hotel that offers its guests this interesting experience.
Personally, the Hague is my favorite Dutch city. It is a perfect combination of old historical architecture and modern buildings. The central station is surrounded by high skyscrapers, business centers, and shopping malls, that look amazing during the dark evenings when all the lights are on. However, if you go a bit further, you can find yourself in an old town with narrow streets, cute little houses, and old gothic churches.
Most of the Dutch government authority buildings are located in the Hague. Thus, the two main tourist attractions, that leave a great impression, are the Inner Court and the Peace Palace. If you want to see where most of the important decisions for the country are made, find the Inner Court right in the heart of the city. You can freely walk around the buildings, take pictures, and even explore the inner yard.
The Peace Palace is an administrative building that houses the International Court of Justice. It definitely corresponds to its name and looks like a real castle! Unfortunately, tourists are not allowed inside. However, just right next to the Palace, there is a small garden with a museum where you can take an audio guide for free and learn all the interesting facts about Dutch law history.
Just like Amsterdam, the Hague also has its Chinese district where you can enjoy fancy decorations and architecture, try Asian cuisine or buy something in one of those small Chinese and Japanese shops located almost on every street.
However, what attracts most of the tourists in that city is the North sea with long beaches and sand dunes. Go to Scheveningen – a modern seaside resort, and enjoy an outstanding view from the Ferris wheel or spend a great time in one of the coast cafes.
Utrecht is considered to be one of the most beautiful Dutch towns due to its ancient city center. Its medieval architecture is dated back to the 13th century and can impress any tourist. The city is also well-known for its unique two-level street system along the canals.
The symbol of Utrecht is the Dom Tower, and it is one of the tallest church towers in the country. From its top, you can see the whole city from the bird’s eye view. It is important to register for a tour as you can visit the tower only at a specific time with a guide. The whole excursion costs you just 10 euros and there are even discounts for children and students available.
St. Martin’s Cathedral
Right next to the Dom Tower is St. Martin’s Cathedral – a gothic church that has an inner yard with a fountain and flowers. The whole place looks like it was taken from a fairy tale and provides an incredible and magic atmosphere. If you get lucky, you might be able to enjoy some live street musicians on the square next to the cathedral, adding to the overall great experience of your visit.
De Haar Castle
In the suburbs of Utrecht, to the north-west from the old town, there is De Haar Castle – a 19th-century medieval-style palace with landscaped gardens. The place often hosts various events and during the winter time, there is always a Christmas trade-fair with small shops, street food cafes, and Christmas music. You can choose to visit only a park (for 6 euros) or both the park and the castle which has a museum inside (17 euros).
Eindhoven is located in the south of the Netherlands, so traveling there will take some time but it will definitely worth it. The city is the Dutch center of technology and design. It is also a home of Philips electronics, and you can even visit their museum where you can learn about the company’s products and developments in music, lighting, health, and communications.
What is more, Eindhoven also has a few parks with small interactive zoos. For instance, in Zoo Veldhoven you can not only have a guided tour but also feed many animals by yourself!
The last but not least is Alkmaar – one of the oldest Dutch towns. Lots of its churches and houses are dated back to the 12th century.
The town is known for many events that are usually held in the summer time. One of the most popular ones is the Cheese market in the main square. Not only will you be able to taste the various types of cheese, but you can also to enjoy the various live shows and contests that take place during this time. The market is usually open from the end of March until the end of September.
Another interesting event is Kaeskoppenstad – a medieval festival that will bring you back to the 16th century. Traditional music, performances, and actors in medieval costumes will make you feel the atmosphere of the Middle Ages. The event is usually organized at the beginning of June and lasts for 2 days on the weekend.