There’s a lot more to The Netherlands than tulip fields and windmills – although you’ll find plenty of those too! Amsterdam, the gorgeous Dutch capital, sits on a network of 17th-century canals and offers world-class museums, quirky neighbourhoods and beautiful parks. Or you could visit Rotterdam, with its huge port, striking architecture, historic windmills and fantastic nightlife. Or take a tour of the Royal palaces in The Hague, and then hit the gorgeous beaches nearby. Charming Delft, with its porcelain and tulip fields, and Utrecht, with its exquisitely preserved medieval heart, are perennial favourites.
And if you want to get away from it all, the Netherlands has numerous national parks and nature reserves, which range from magnificent dunes to the breathtaking tidal flats of the Wadden Sea, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Most popular hotels in Holland
Corendon Village Hotel Amsterdam
Westcord Fashion Hotel Amsterdam
Corendon City Hotel Amsterdam
Inntel Hotels Amsterdam-Zaandam
Hotel City Garden Amsterdam
At a glance
- Time Zone: GMT +
- Average flight time: 1h 10m
When to go
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The Netherlands packs in a fantastic range of attractions considering its size. If you’re looking for the perfect city break destination, you could head to the beautiful capital, Amsterdam. Its Golden Age mansions and canals, outstanding museums and gorgeous parks have long made it one of Europe’s most enticing cities. Or you could head to modern, vibrant Rotterdam, with its design stores and exciting architecture. Or visit The Hague to admire the Royal residences, the Peace Palace, or bask on the heavenly beaches. The medieval streets and squares of Utrecht are a delight to explore on foot or by bike, while Delft lays claim to being one of the prettiest towns in the Netherlands, famous for its blue-and-white porcelain and charming canal-lined lanes. Come in spring to see the famous Keukenhof gardens ablaze with tulips, hyacinths and daffodils.
Lively, cosmopolitan Amsterdam and the other big cities of the Netherlands offer a great range of places to eat and drink, from swanky restaurants to street food stalls. Classic Dutch cuisine is hearty and traditionally designed to keep out the cold. It includes a lot of stews and hotpots, and popular dishes include stamppot, which is a warming vegetable mush (much like bubble and squeak), usually topped with a sausage. The Dutch are fantastic at street food snacks, from chips (often served with a mayonnaise, onion and peanut sauce mixture which is surprisingly delicious) to croquettes. And, of course, the famous raw herring, which is an acquired taste: the Dutch love it, and you’ll see street stalls selling the pungent snack everywhere.
The Netherlands is one of our favourite destinations for a family holiday. The laid-back locals, the vibrant cities, and the gorgeous landscapes make for a fantastically relaxed holiday with the kids. There are lots of great sights for kids, from child-friendly museums such as the NEMO science museum in Amsterdam to the zoo in Rotterdam or the Sea Life centre in Scheveningen. Children will love the boat tours along the canals, eating stroopwafels from the street stalls, and flying kites on the beaches. Biking is a way of life in Holland, and you can rent bikes to explore the waterways, towns and villages on two wheels with all the family.
Action & Adventure
There are lots of fantastic activities in The Netherlands. The flat landscape makes it perfect for cycling, which is a national pastime, and the whole country boasts some stunning bike paths along the region’s lovely waterways and canals. You’ll find bike rental outlets everywhere you go. But you can also go hiking over the wild dunes or indulge in a wealth of water sports, particularly windsurfing and kite-surfing. Adrenaline junkies will want to try ‘blokarting’ – riding a wind-propelled sand buggy at speed along the endless beaches! There are lots of gorgeous nature reserves and national parks to explore, from the breathtaking dunes of the Zuid Kennemerland in the south to the silvery estuaries of the Wadden Sea in the north.
The Dutch coast has some spectacular beaches. The biggest resort is Scheveningen, just outside The Hague, which has an enormous, sandy beach, a pier, fairground attractions, and lots of restaurants, cafés and bars. Zaandvoort is the nearest big beach to Amsterdam, which has lots of facilities, including plenty of amenities for water sports, but also has the wild and unspoilt dunes of the Zuid Kennemerland National Park on the doorstep. The Hook of Holland, close to Rotterdam, has several fabulous stretches of golden sand, which attract huge crowds in the summer. For somewhere blissfully remote, head to the quiet beaches in the islands of the Wadden Sea such as Texel and Ameland.
Amsterdam boasts some awesome nightlife, which includes some of the best clubs and bars in Europe. It’s also got a vibrant LGBTQ scene, with lots going on throughout the year. Rotterdam, which has a big student population, and The Hague, with major international institutions and lots of ex-pats, are both also fantastic places to party. If clubbing isn’t your scene, you could hang out at one of the famous old coffee houses, take in some live music, or join in at one of the numerous festivals that are regular events across the country. In summer, the party moves to the coast, with bars and clubs opening along the waterfront, and all kinds of fun events from kite-flying festivals to water sports tournaments.
The Netherlands is a perfect destination for a romantic holiday, thanks to its enviable mixture of exciting cities and beautiful landscapes. Head to Amsterdam, an enchanting city of canals and gabled mansions, for a culture-packed city break. Or spend the weekend in Delft, poking around in antique stores and lingering in historic cafés. Rotterdam offers contemporary architecture, design shops and buzzing nightlife. Or you could head to The Hague, for its cosmopolitan vibe, regal Royal residences, and endless beaches. If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, there are several spectacular national parks and nature reserves, including the eerily beautiful Wadden Sea, where you can hike and bike under the vast northern sky.
Amsterdam is home to a trio of superb museums – the Rijksmuseum (the Dutch National Museum), the Stedelijk (contemporary art) and the Van Gogh museum. Its 17th-century canals are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s also home to the Anne Frank House, which is now one of the country’s most visited and poignant attractions. You can visit the remarkable collection of historic windmills at Kinderdijk, also a World Heritage Site, at Zaanse Schanse and at Schiedam, among several other places across the country. Utrecht preserves its medieval heart intact, and other enchanting historic towns that you won’t want to miss include Delft, famous for its blue-and-white ceramics, and Leiden, an ancient university town.