30 Things To Do In The Netherlands – Suggested By Locals

If you are planning a trip to The Netherlands, you are probably already thinking what to do during your visit. So I sat down with my fellow Dutchmen to select 30 things to do in The Netherlands to provide you with tips, inspiration, and destinations for your trip.

Most visitors to The Netherlands come first and foremost to visit Amsterdam. However, I highly recommend exploring more of the Netherlands than Amsterdam because our country offers so much more.

Fortunately, we are a small country and most of the 30 selected activities in The Netherlands can easily be reached in less than an hour from Amsterdam.

The corner of two of the most beautiful canals (Brouwersgracht en Prinsengracht) in Amsterdam
Stroll around Amsterdam to find your favorite picturesque spot

1. Stroll Around Amsterdam

Most visitors to the Netherlands come first and foremost to visit Amsterdam. I lived in Amsterdam for many years and understand the attraction Amsterdam has for foreigners. Amsterdam is a mesmerizing fairytale-like city with a unique blend of rich cultural history, beautiful canals and buildings, and a vibrant international atmosphere.

Discover why Amsterdam is the most photogenic city in The Netherlands by strolling around the city center and impress your friends and family with those incredible Instagram shots of Amsterdam’s historic canals and buildings.

A canal cruise in Amsterdam is a great way to enjoy this wonderful city from a different perspective
Canal cruises are a very popular tourist attraction in Amsterdam

2. Take A Canal Cruise Through Amsterdam

The canals are one of Amsterdam’s most idyllic aspects and canal cruises are the most popular tourist attraction in Amsterdam. Amsterdam looks and feels different from the water and a canal cruise will make you appreciate Amsterdam even more.

A typical canal cruise lasts around 60 minutes and will show you all the highlights in the historic city center of Amsterdam. Evening or dinner cruises through Amsterdam are also possible and are the best way to enjoy this wonderful city because Amsterdam will look even more fairytale-like.

The statue of Anne Frank next to the Anne Frank House
The statue of Anne Frank, next to the Anne Frank House

3. Visit The Anne Frank House

The Anne Frank House is where Anne and her family hid from the Nazis during the Second World War.

You must stand in the annex and realize how small it is and what Anne and her family had to endure to avoid detection and deportation. Visiting the Anne Frank House is a poignant and humbling experience, but I can highly recommend it.

This YouTube video Tour of the secret annex of Anne Frank provides an excellent impression of the Anne Frank House.

4. Visit The Red Light District In Amsterdam

The Red Light District in Amsterdam is probably its best-known neighborhood because it is unique to have this combination of legal prostitution, gay bars, and “coffeeshops” in between lovely canals and canal houses in the center of the city.

Mix in a few beautiful churches in between all of this and you start to understand why people are fascinated by the Red Light District in Amsterdam. There are now even tours available if you want to explore the red-light district but are understandably a bit reluctant to go by yourself.

5. Visit The Royal Palace In Amsterdam

The Royal Palace was originally built in the 17th century as Amsterdam’s town hall and was designed to reflect Amsterdam’s power and wealth. The grandeur of the Dutch Golden Age is still present in its Citizen Hall and its marble galleries.

The Royal Palace is placed at the King’s disposal and used during state visits and official events. However, visitors are welcome most days but check the website of The Royal Palace to be sure that there is no royal event on the day you intend to visit.

Here is your chance to visit a real Royal Palace!

6. Visit A Museum In Amsterdam

Two of the most beautiful museums in The Netherlands are located in Amsterdam, adjacent to each other.

The Rijksmuseum is the Dutch National Museum that exhibits much of the best-known art and paintings of Dutch artists like Rembrandt van Rijn. Do yourself a favor and visit this museum if you only spend a few days in Amsterdam.

Vincent van Gogh was a world-famous Dutch painter and the van Gogh museum is dedicated to this artist and his work. The van Gogh museum in Amsterdam has 200 of van Gogh’s paintings and 500 of his pencil drawings, the largest van Gogh collection in the world.

Visiting a zoo is a great thing to do with your family

7. Visit A Zoo In The Netherlands

Artis is the zoo in Amsterdam and within walking distance of Amsterdam’s historic city center.

However, there are many other zoos in The Netherlands, and you can select one depending on where you stay. My personal favorite is Safaripark Beekse Bergen because you can go on a safari in your own car in this zoo and come very close to the animals. That is quite a remarkable experience.

Website of Safaripark Beekse Bergen

8. Have A Beer At The Heineken Experience

Heineken is a premium Dutch beer brand that is exported and enjoyed all over the world. The Heineken Experience is located in an old Heineken brewery and here you can learn more about the history of the Heineken brand and its production process.

However, the best part of the tour is that you can experience the beer itself afterward.

Raw herring with onions is a favorite street food in The Netherlands

9. Try Dutch Street Food Or Snacks

The Dutch cuisine is not particularly impressive and food needs to be, first and foremost, nutritious and inexpensive.

That is probably why the Dutch love their street food and snacks so much.

The best-known Dutch street food is fresh raw herring, served with onions. You need to try it before you can return home and claim that you have visited The Netherlands.

The Dutch are also fond of savory snacks, especially fried ones because these are also inexpensive and you will skip dinner if you have tried the full range of Dutch snacks during happy hour. Bitterballen are the favorite savory snack and served with boatloads of mustard in every bar in The Netherlands.

A row of windmills in Zaanse Schans

10. Discover Zaanse Schans

Visiting Zaanse Schans is one of the most popular day trips from Amsterdam available because this reconstructed historic village provides a great opportunity to view life in The Netherlands one or two centuries ago. Zaanse Schans is a small village with traditional Dutch windmills, wooden houses, and craft workshops where you can witness, for example, the production of wooden shoes.

Zaanse Schans is located less than 20 km (12 mi) north of Amsterdam and day trips to Zaanse Schans are often combined with a visit to Volendam or Marke (see below).

The historic center of
The lovely medieval city center of Alkmaar

11. Visit The Historic Center Of Alkmaar

Alkmaar is our best-kept secret because it has one of the most beautiful historic city centers in The Netherlands that nobody knows about. It is a gorgeous medieval center, prettier than Amsterdam, Leiden, or Delft.

I have seen all the medieval centers of Dutch cities but, for me, Alkmaar is the proud winner of the most beautiful city center in The Netherlands. Try to land on an outdoor terrace on the Vismarkt because that is the prettiest spot in town.

The Frans Hals museum in Haarlem

12. Visit The Quaint City Of Haarlem

Haarlem is another of those quaint Dutch cities that offers something for everyone, a rich cultural history, a beautiful historic city with wonderful architecture, and a vibrant atmosphere. Discover the hidden streets of days gone, admire the work of Frans Hals, or relax on one of the many terraces after a day of shopping in the trendy shops.

What is really nice about Haarlem is that it is so close to the beach that you can combine a visit to Haarlem easily with spending a few hours on the beach to work on your tan. Hop on the train to Zandvoort aan Zee, one of the 25 best beach resorts in The Netherlands, and you will arrive next to the beach in about 10 minutes.

Marke is one of most beautiful villages in The Netherlands
Marken is one of the prettiest villages in The Netherlands

13. Explore Volendam And Marken

Volendam and Marken are two beloved characteristic fisherman’s villages near the IJsselmeer where you can still smell the connection of the Dutch with the sea. Marken is a picturesque village with its well-known wooden green-painted houses and the ideal place to try some fresh fish like raw herring, a Dutch delicacy.

The ideal day trip is to arrive in Volendam and take the ferry to Marken to experience the connection of the Dutch with the sea. Settle down on a terrace near the lovely harbor in Marken and enjoy the view and the smell of the water before your return to Volendam.

A street in The Hague decorated with Orange during the World Football Championship 2022
A street decorated with orange during the football world championship in 2022

14. Celebrate King’s Day With The Dutch

The Dutch are not particularly nationalistic but we make an exception for King’s Day (April 27) and football matches of the national football team. The color orange is our national symbol and we show our national pride and unity by wearing orange.

If you want to experience the heart and soul of the Netherlands, you should celebrate King’s Day with the Dutch in one of the larger cities in The Netherlands.

Who Do The Dutch Wear Orange?

15. Visit The Keukenhof

The Keukenhof is a well-known flower garden in Lisse (near Amsterdam) in which approximately 7 million bulbs are planted annually to create an overwhelming flower experience of blooming hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips in spring. The best period of the year to visit Keukenhof is during April or May.

Keukenhof is fairly difficult to reach by public transportation from Amsterdam, so it is a good idea to consider taking an organized trip, also because it is often sold out before you realize it.

Tulip fields in the countryside near Lisse

16. Enjoy The Tulips in The Countryside

During springtime, Keukenhof is the most popular tourist attraction in The Netherlands, but the Keukenhof will be crowded. However, you can also enjoy the blooming tulips for free and embark on so-called tulip tours through the Dutch countryside.

Read The 6 Best Places to See Dutch tulips for free if you are interested in finding out more about enjoying Dutch tulips in the countryside. Keep in mind that you have to take a tulip tour before mid-May because that is the period when the farmers top the tulips to stimulate the growth of the bulb.

Flower parade in Lisse
A flower parade in Lisse

17. Attend A Flower Parade

In flower parades, cars, tractors, and trucks are magnificently decorated with flowers. Each flower parade has its character, charm, and yearly theme. Many towns and regions in The Netherlands hold flower parades every year.

You can find the 2023 dates of the most popular flower parades here.

The light house Brandaris on Terschelling, one of the Wadden Islands
View of the lighthouse Brandaris on Terschelling

18. Go Mudflat Hiking In The Wadden Sea

Hiking over the mudflats of the Wadden Sea is one of the most memorable things to do in the Netherlands. The overwhelming tranquility of the Wadden Sea will make your hike an experience that you will never forget.

The Wadden Sea is one of the last remaining areas in the Netherlands, where natural processes have remained largely undisturbed. As a result, the Wadden Sea is an area where you hear nothing but the sound of the wind and the birds. I find the Wadden Sea beautiful, just beautiful….!

19. Spend A Weekend On A Wadden Island

The Wadden Sea is one of the last remaining large-scale, intertidal ecosystems in the world where natural processes continue to function largely undisturbed.

The Wadden Islands are one of the very few places in our very crowded country where it is silent enough to only hear the sound of the wind and the birds. So if you look for rest, the Wadden Islands are a must-go destination for you. You will come back completely refreshed after a weekend on one of the Wadden Islands.

The miniature city Madurodam, located in The Hague

20. Visit An Amusement Park

Visiting an amusement park can be a great family activity and I described the 10 best amusement parks in The Netherlands in another article on this website to help you find the best one for you.

The Efteling is the largest amusement park in the Netherlands and wins awards for the best amusement park almost every year. The Efteling is a fantastic amusement park and it never disappoints.

Madurodam is a charming miniature version of The Netherlands where you will find all the highlights and landmarks of the Netherlands. This charming miniature city even has its own harbor, airport, and railway system.

The Markthall in Rotterdam

21. Enjoy The Modern Architecture Of Rotterdam

The city center of Rotterdam was completely destroyed during the second world war. However, Rotterdam has embraced modern architecture in its city center while rebuilding its city center to make the best of the center’s destruction during the war.

That makes Rotterdam a Dutch city like no other providing a completely different perspective on life in The Netherlands. Please, read The 10 Best Rotterdam Tourist Attractions (Suggested By Locals) to learn more about this magnificent city.

Tip: One of the most popular attractions in Rotterdam is to dine on top of the Euromast and enjoy the best view of Rotterdam that you can get.

A stunning view of Rotterdam on top of the Euromast

22. Discover Authentic Rotterdam In Oude Haven

Rotterdam is a city different from any other Dutch city because of its unique mix of authentic nostalgic neighborhoods and very modern architecture in its center. If you have enjoyed the modern architecture, you should also take a look at the authentic side of Rotterdam in Oude Haven (Old harbor)

The Old Harbor is near the Cube House and has become popular, with plenty of terraces to sit and relax after a busy day of enjoying Rotterdam.

The Old Harbor is where you can still appreciate how Rotterdam used to be. The famous White House, overlooking the old harbor, miraculously escaped the German bombs in 1940 and still stands majestically at the harbor entrance.

23. Take The Waterbus to Dordrecht

Taking the waterbus from Rotterdam to Dordrecht is probably the cheapest most fun thing to do in The Netherlands but very few people are aware of it. The Waterbus to Dordrecht is regular public transportation but extremely fast, almost like a speedboat.

You will end up in Dordrecht, one of the oldest cities in The Netherlands with a rich history and, yet again, an extremely charming medieval center.

A row of windmills in Kinderdijk
A row of windmills at Kinderdijk

24. Visit The Windmills of Kinderdijk

The Netherlands is known for windmills because the Dutch needed them to drain water from their low-lying land below sea level. At its peak, there were approximately 10.000 Dutch windmills, used for pumping water out of low-lying land as well as many industrial processes like grinding grain, producing paper and paint, and sawing wood.

The Kinderdijk windmills are worth visiting because they are an age-old prototype of water management in The Netherlands. The Kinderdijk windmill complex was such an innovative water management project that UNESCO recognized it as a World Heritage Site.

Rembrandt's school in the historic center of Leiden
The Latin School of Rembrandt in the medieval center of Leiden

25. Follow In Rembrandt’s Footsteps in Leiden

Rembrandt van Rijn was born and raised in Leiden and lived in Leiden until age 25 when he moved to Amsterdam. However, he was educated and developed his exceptional talent in Leiden and that is where to start if you want to understand the most famous Dutch painter ever better.

Leiden feels like an open-air museum because its historic city center has been exceptionally well preserved. One of the best day trips in the Netherlands is to walk in Rembrandt’s footsteps through the wonderful city center of Leiden and visit the places where he was educated and trained.

The Rembrandt Walking Tour will last about two hours.

The historic center of Delft

26. Discover Delft And Delft Blue Pottery

The quaint city of Delft is an incredibly charming city because of its fascinating history, beautiful architecture and lively terraces. Delft has many charming canals and houses, just like Amsterdam, but with a fraction of the tourists. Delft is one of the most authentic quintessential Dutch towns to visit.

Delft is perhaps best known for its Delft blue, the characteristic white tin-glazed ceramic pottery with blue decorations. You can visit the only remaining Delft Blue factory, Royal Delft, where Delft blue pottery is still produced by hand.

You can buy beautiful Delft Blue pottery at the Royal Delft factory or in several shops around the market square.

The beach of Scheveningen with the Pier in the background
The beach of Scheveningen with the Pier in the background

27. Visit The Beach Resort Scheveningen

The Netherlands is known for its wide sandy beaches that cover its North Sea coast for over 500 km from south to north. There are more than 50 beach resorts in The Netherlands but the oldest and most popular beach resort in The Netherlands is Scheveningen, now a neighborhood of The Hague.

The reason that Scheveningen is the most popular beach resort in The Netherlands is that it has more tourist facilities than any other Dutch beach resort. Its beautiful wide beach has a very long boulevard with all kinds of visitor facilities.

Scheveningen is crowded but absolutely worth a visit on a sunny day.

The Mauritshuis in The Hague; adjacent to the Parliament
The Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague

28. Visit The Mauritshuis In The Hague

The Netherlands has many beautiful museums worth visiting but the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague is probably the most beautiful museum in The Netherlands. The Mauritshuis exhibition contains masterpieces of Dutch painters like Rembrandt and Vermeer.

Approximately 200 paintings are exhibited in The Mauritshuis, which is not huge. However, the quality of these paintings is exceptional and The Mauritshuis shows you the best that the Netherlands has to offer. Don’t leave The Netherlands without visiting the Mauritshuis.

The Oosterscheldekering is the most impressive part of the Delta Works in Zeeland

29. Discover Zeeland’s Dikes

The Netherlands lies in a delta of three rivers on land largely below sea level. The Dutch need to pump out 19 trillion liters (5 trillion gallons) of water annually to keep their land dry and also depend on their dikes to protect their land against the sea.

The most impressive dikes that the Dutch built are those that belong to the Delta works in Zeeland. The Delta works are even one of the seven modern world wonders, a tribute to this small country below sea level that can only exist thanks to its ingenious engineers that have conquered the sea.

The Kröller-Müller museum is located in the national park "De Hoge Veluwe"
The sculpture garden of The Kröller-Müller museum inside De Hoge Veluwe

30. Visit The Hoge Veluwe To Enjoy Nature

The Netherlands is densely populated but there are some, although not many, national parks in our country where you can still enjoy nature. The largest and most beautiful national park in The Netherlands is De Hoge Veluwe, located south of Apeldoorn.

De Hoge Veluwe is a lovely combination of forests and heathland with a wonderful museum, the Kröller-Müller museum in the middle. This museum possesses the second-largest collection of Vincent van Gogh’s work in the world.

Impression of a rainy day in The Netherlands
You have to be prepared for some rainy days in The Netherlands

30 Tips For Rainy Days In The Netherlands

The weather in The Netherlands is highly variable and you have to be prepared for rainy days from time to time.

You can read 30 Tips For Rainy Days (Suggested By Locals) if you are looking for indoor activities and if you need to avoid the occasional rain shower.

30 Things to Do in The Netherlands (Suggested By Locals)

  1. Stroll around Amsterdam
  2. Take a canal cruise through Amsterdam
  3. Visit the Anne Frank House
  4. Visit the Red Light District in Amsterdam
  5. Visit the Royal Palace
  6. Visit a museum in Amsterdam
  7. visit a zoo in The Netherlands
  8. Have a beer at the Heineken Experience
  9. Try Dutch street food or snacks
  10. Discover Zaanse Schans
  11. Visit the historic city center of Alkmaar
  12. Visit the quaint city of Haarlem
  13. Explore Marken and Volendam
  14. Celebrate King’s Day with the Dutch
  15. Visit the Keukenhof
  16. Enjoy tulips in the countryside
  17. Attend a flower parade
  18. Go mudflat hiking in the Wadden Sea
  19. Spend a weekend on a Wadden Island
  20. Visit an Amusement Park
  21. Enjoy the modern architecture of Rotterdam
  22. Discover authentic Rotterdam in Oude Haven
  23. Take the waterbus to Dordrecht
  24. Visit the windmills of Kinderdijk
  25. Follow in Rembrandt’s footsteps in Leiden
  26. Discover Delft and Delft Blue Pottery
  27. Visit the beach resort Scheveningen
  28. Visit the Mauritshuis in The Hague
  29. Discover Zeeland’s dikes
  30. Visit the Hoge Veluwe to enjoy nature


Pim has lived his entire life in The Netherlands in various parts of the country. Pim enjoys writing this blog because it is a wonderful excuse to revisit all the parts of the Netherland that he liked and rediscover all the activities that he enjoyed. He hopes that you will enjoy The Netherlands as much as he does.