Many travelers have the Netherlands near the top of their travel bucket lists and for a good reason. From stunning tulip fields to the intricate network of canals in Amsterdam, the Netherlands has something that will appeal to everyone. Traveling within the Netherlands feels safe and comfortable (but always be alert and use common sense wherever you are in the world). The majority of Dutch residents speak English and are more than happy to talk to lost or frazzled tourists looking for direction. Public transportation is readily available and reliable. Thanks to a large number of bike riders in comparison with car drivers, a cleaner, more environmentally-friendly atmosphere await all who visit. Visiting the Netherlands is a no brainer.
Take a canal ride
Perhaps the biggest must-do when in the Netherlands is to take a canal ride. The capital city of Amsterdam is best known for its network of waterways that crisscross throughout the city. You can get a unique and memorable view of the city with a canal tour. The canal ride is a slow and quite relaxing way to see places of interest. If you think living the canal life might be your scene, you can rent an affordable houseboat right on a residential canal for the ultimate Netherlands experience.
The Zaanse Schans
When people think of the Netherlands, they typically think windmills. If your trip to this part of the world would be lacking without seeing a traditional Dutch windmill, then you will not want to miss this unique neighborhood in Zaandam. Along with windmills, in the area of the Zaanse Schans there are four museums and loads of things to see and do for children and adults alike. Any history buff or a traveler wanting an in-depth look at Dutch history would love this fun area located in the central part of the Netherlands.
Another thing the Netherlands is known for is their tulips. The Keukenhof Garden, one of the largest flower gardens in the world, not only has tulips, but also millions of daffodils and hyacinths. Plan your trip for the spring, from late March to late May to not miss the stunning show of blooms at this spectacular garden. Make a day of it as you walk through the different styles of gardens that include ponds and fountains. End the day with afternoon tea or a late lunch at one of the four food pavilions.
Anne Frank’s House
You can’t go to the Netherlands without visiting the infamous hiding place of the Frank family during WWII. Be aware that if you do not make reservations before your visit, you will likely not get in as this is a hugely popular tourist spot. Despite the crowds, the staff and docents do a great job with crowd control. A tour of the Anne Frank House is a huge must-do you won’t want to miss.
Rent a bike
Bikes rule the road all over the Netherlands, especially in the cities. Despite the fact there are right of way laws, bicycles seem to be at the top of the pecking order everywhere you go in the city. Why not join the hordes of bikes and become a true Dutch native by renting a bicycle? You can see the town slightly elevated upon a bike seat. Bonus: you’ll get around a lot quicker, so you’ll likely see quite a bit in one day.
Kasteel de Haar
Located in Utrecht, Kasteel de Haar is the biggest castle in the Netherlands. Travelers can tour this palatial palace that is still home to a prominent Dutch family. Additionally, special events are put on year-round to entertain visitors. Along with immersing yourself in the history of the buildings, tour the vast grounds and gardens. One could easily spend an entire day here, so plan plenty of time to see this gorgeous historical site.
Red Light District
If you want the full experience, don’t skip the Red Light District in the capital city. Some might think that an area steeped in such controversial activity might not be the place to visit, but it’s a historically and culturally vibrant part of the city. A stroll through this district is truly an experience you won’t quickly forget.
The Red Light District is a perfectly safe place in the daylight for those still wary about visiting. Remember not to have your phone or camera out, as photographs are expressly prohibited.
For those looking to spend some time in this famed part of town, a visit to Casa Rosso, an erotic theater, is a unique place to see.
Perhaps, because marijuana is increasingly becoming legal and more widely accepted around the world, this must do isn’t as exciting anymore. However, visiting a coffee shop is practically a rite of passage when you’re in the Netherlands. If you aren’t sure what exactly you’ll find at a coffee shop, know that it is definitely not coffee. So, if you’re looking for actual coffee when in the city, you’ll want to head for a café, not a coffee shop.
Dutch cities have fantastic street food. Walk through any outdoor market or down any street, and you will see cheeses piled high, like golden towers of deliciousness. Also on offer are mounds of fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats. Stand after stand of delicious Eastern European and Middle Eastern fare will tempt you as well. However, there is one Dutch delicacy that cannot be missed. Patat Frites are simply fries and mayonnaise, but the Dutch do something magical to their mayonnaise because it’ll taste like nothing you’ve ever had before. Combine their mayo with crisp and piping hot fries, and you have a truly drool-worthy Dutch street food.
The Netherlands is an exciting vacation destination that is always a good idea. Winter, spring, summer or fall- the Netherlands is a beautiful country full of culture, natural delights, and food you will dream about for years to come. So, what are you waiting for- book a trip now!