Experience the contrasting mix of medieval and modern architecture, traditional and liberal culture, dunes and meadows in the Netherlands. The country still offers familiar images of tulips, coffee shops, windmills, clogs and cheeses, but there are also many other charms to discover in the country’s 12 different provinces.
Despite its small size, 17 million people call the Netherlands home. To see the sights, catch public transport or do as the Dutch do and cycle everywhere. Make the most of the tens of thousands of kilometers of designated cycling paths to explore pastoral areas, pockets of forest, historic river cities and tiny North Sea islands.
Start with the marvels of the multicultural capital Amsterdam, where central Dam Square, the anything-goes red light district of De Wallen, and the Anne Frank House are just some of the highlights. Take a cruise of the picturesque canal district with cobblestone streets and leaning gabled houses. Visit Museumplein to see works by Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh and other masters at the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum.
Take the train north to Zaanse Schans, a conserved historic town, to see windmills, a cheese and klompen (clogs) factory and wooden houses with thatched roofs. Some northern Dutch farmers here still live in a traditional way.
Don’t miss the seat of government, The Hague, a stylish city with royal palaces, an impressive parliament square and fun seaside boulevard. Taste typical Dutch cheeses in Gouda or Edam, two fine historic cities. After a cruise through the massive port of Rotterdam, see its modern art museums and eclectic contemporary architecture or visit a trendy nightclub. End your tour in the south, in the medieval city of Maastricht, and explore the Saint Pietersberg Caves.
From anywhere in the Netherlands, it’s only a short trip to Belgium and Germany. With Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam being the gateway to the rest of Europe, you can fly to any other European country in just a few hours.