My stay in the Netherlands flew by in an instant. But, to be specific, it lasted 8 days and 7 nights, all of which were jam-packed. So, if you’re wondering which cities in the Netherlands you should visit, these are my top suggestions.
I was anxious to see, see, and taste as much as possible during my time here in the land of bicycles and little pancakes. Although I didn’t get to every pitstop I had planned, I did see and do all I wanted in each city I did visit, compensating for quality over number.
Let’s get started!
An obvious beginning point: Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most visited cities, and it’s easy to see why with just one picture or postcard. This city, constructed on canals with wonky houses, has to be one of the most photographed cities in the world, if not the most. Make sure to take your time and spend at least three days here because there’s a lot to see and do. Make sure to visit the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum, and the Van Gogh Museum. Other highlights are Singel Canal, Keizersgracht Canal, Vondelpark, and the Jordaan neighborhood.
The Hague, Netherlands
My next trip in the Netherlands was to take the train (30 minutes or so) to The Hague, often known as Den Haag to the Dutch. I had wanted to attend the center for global judicial judgments since my first two years of law school (which I dropped out of to pursue a political science degree). This city lived up to my expectations, with stunning architecture and meticulously groomed gardens at every turn.
Leiden is less than 30 minutes by train from Amsterdam and only 10 minutes by train from The Hague. This city, pronounced “LIE – DEN,” is a nice pit stop if you’re traveling between Dutch cities, dropping your baggage at the train station and touring for a day. With canals and traditional Dutch buildings, this is a nice alternative to Amsterdam’s tourist-heavy streets.
Delft is by far the nicest city I’ve seen in the Netherlands, and one of the most charming in Europe; I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to discover it! Delft, located just a few minutes by train from The Hague, has the charm of a little town with the advantages of a larger metropolis nearby (not to mention some of the world’s best gelato!).
Utrecht, dubbed “Amsterdam’s cooler little sister,” is a city unlike any other in the Netherlands, if not Europe (albeit it reminded me of the easy coolness of Antwerp and Ghent in Belgium). Utrecht does not have many sites or attractions, but it does have a plethora of cool cafes, eateries, and boutiques to explore. It’s the kind of city where you can visit and instantly feel like a resident.
Rotterdam, maybe the “coolest” city in the Netherlands, is in a class by itself. Rotterdam, a modern and design-focused city, was completely wiped out by the Germans in 1940 as a display of power to the rest of the Netherlands, which may equally fight the German troops. As a result, Rotterdam is particularly distinctive in the Netherlands, as it lacks a historic town center and does not resemble any of the other towns in the country, while having a widespread reputation for architecture and design.
Maastricht, located in the south of the Netherlands, is another interesting city I encountered on my travels through the country and a perfect base to explore from. With a unique location near the Belgian border and not far from France or Germany, this is an excellent city to base yourself in for day travels to nearby Cologne, Liege, and even Luxembourg! Maastricht is a beautiful city with a well-deserved gastronomy reputation that deserves a few of days to explore. Maastricht is, in my opinion, the most underappreciated city in the Netherlands.