30 Things To Do In The Netherlands | Local Tips & Insight

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Looking for unforgettable experiences in the Netherlands?

I understand the challenge of sifting through countless tourist options to find truly authentic experiences and fun Things To Do In The Netherlands.

Gain insider tips for visiting the Netherlands, including must-see destinations and hidden gems

As a Dutch native deeply familiar with the Netherlands, I’ve curated a diverse list of 30 exceptional Things To Do in The Netherlands.

This guide is designed for all – whether you’re a history enthusiast, nature lover, or cultural explorer.

Let’s embark on this journey together, exploring authentic Dutch life through each unique and carefully selected destination.

biking tour in Amsterdam, one of the most fun things to do in The Netherlands
Bike through Amsterdam to find your favorite picturesque spot

1. Amsterdam Bike Tour

Most visitors to the Netherlands primarily come to visit Amsterdam. Having lived in Amsterdam for many years, I understand its appeal to foreigners.

Amsterdam, a mesmerizing fairytale-like city, boasts a rich cultural history and beautiful canals lined with iconic buildings.

A guided bike tour is a fantastic way to discover Amsterdam. These tours often include stops at major landmarks like the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum, providing a deeper insight into the city’s heritage.

Additionally, bike tours are adaptable to different skill levels, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience for all. Plenty of bike tours are available, and you can find one to suit your needs in this overview.

2. Amsterdam Canal Cruise

Amsterdam’s canals, an idyllic aspect of the city, make canal cruises its most popular tourist attraction.

From the water, Amsterdam offers a unique view, enhancing your appreciation of the city on a canal cruise.

A typical 60-75 minute canal cruise showcases all the historic city center highlights. Evening and dinner cruises offer a magical view of Amsterdam, presenting the city at its most fairytale-like.

Be aware that evening canal cruises are highly sought-after and sell out quickly.

Explore this overview to select the canal cruise that best fits your interests.

Anne Frank House, viewed from across the Prinsengracht
Anne Frank House in Amsterdam

3. Anne Frank House Visit

The Anne Frank House is where Anne and her family hid from the Nazis during the Second World War. Standing in the small annex, you’ll grasp what Anne and her family endured to evade the Nazis.

Despite its poignant nature, I highly recommend visiting the Anne Frank House for a humbling experience.

The Anne Frank House, relatable for children through the story of 12-year-old Anne, illustrates the war’s impact on young lives.

You should book tickets to visit the Anne Frank House well in advance because they rapidly sell out. Every Tuesday at 10 am CEST, all tickets become available for a visit six weeks later.

For an excellent impression of the Anne Frank House, watch the YouTube video ‘Tour of the Secret Annex of Anne Frank

4. Amsterdam Red Light District Tour

Amsterdam’s Red Light District is renowned for its unique mix of legal prostitution, gay bars, and ‘coffee shops’, nestled among charming canals and canal houses in the city center.

The presence of beautiful churches amid these attractions adds to the Red Light District’s fascinating appeal.

Guided tours often include insights into the area’s history and culture, enhancing the understanding of this unique district. For those hesitant to explore alone, such Red Light District Tours offer a safe and informative way to experience the area.”

5. Royal Palace Amsterdam Visit

The Royal Palace sits on the original Amstel River dam, which inspired Amsterdam’s name. Initially, it was Amsterdam’s town hall, built in the 17th Century. Architect Jan van Campen designed the Palace to showcase Amsterdam’s 17th-century power and wealth.

Visiting the Palace offers a glimpse into Amsterdam’s immense wealth during the 17th Century, the Golden Age of The Netherlands. The grandeur of this period is evident in the Citizen’s Hall and its marble galleries. Artworks by notable artists, including Rembrandt’s students Govert Flinck and Ferdinand Bol, depict Amsterdam as the center of the universe.

Though the exterior may seem plain, the Palace’s magnificent interior is a highlight of Amsterdam, making it a must-visit location.

Purchase your tickets online to visit a real Royal Palace and marvel at the incredible wealth on display.

6. Amsterdam Museum Visit

Two of the must-see museums in The Netherlands are located in Amsterdam, adjacent to each other.

The Rijksmuseum, showcasing notable Dutch art including works by Rembrandt van Rijn, is a must-visit if you have limited time in Amsterdam.

Book your Rijksmuseum tickets well in advance because they are quite often sold out.

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 houses the world’s largest collection of his works, including 200 paintings and 500 pencil drawings.

The Van Gogh Museum often requires booking tickets weeks in advance.

7. Netherlands Zoo Visit

Artis is the zoo in Amsterdam and within walking distance of Amsterdam’s historic city center. It offers a unique blend of nature and culture, showcasing diverse wildlife amidst historic buildings and beautiful gardens.

However, there are many other zoos in The Netherlands, and you can select one depending on where you stay.

For instance, Blijdorp Zoo in Rotterdam is renowned for its conservation efforts and immersive habitats.

My favorite Zoo in The Netherlands is Safaripark Beekse Bergen because you can go on a safari in your car in this zoo and come very close to the animals.

That is quite a remarkable experience, giving visitors the thrill of a safari adventure right in the heart of The Netherlands.

8. Heineken Experience Tour

Heineken is a premium Dutch beer brand that is exported and enjoyed all over the world.

Located in a former brewery in the center of Amsterdam, the Heineken Experience offers insights into the brand’s history and brewing process. The venue features interactive exhibits and multimedia displays, engaging visitors across all age groups.

The tour highlight is tasting freshly brewed Heineken, allowing guests to appreciate its unique flavor nuances.

Visitors can also personalize a bottle as a unique souvenir, adding to the memorability of the visit.

9. Dutch Street Food Sampling

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 returning home and claiming 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 is the favorite savory snack served with boatloads of mustard in every bar in The Netherlands.

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

10. Exploring Zaanse Schans

Visiting Zaanse Schans, a popular day trip from Amsterdam, offers a vivid glimpse into Dutch life as it was in the 18th and 19th centuries.

This quaint village features traditional Dutch windmills, wooden houses, and craft workshops, including wooden shoe-making.

Situated less than 20 km north of Amsterdam, trips to Zaanse Schans are frequently paired with visits to nearby towns like Volendam and Marken.

11. Alkmaar City Center Visit

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 historic center of Alkmaar
The lovely medieval city center of Alkmaar

12. Haarlem City Visit

Haarlem is another quaint Dutch city offering something for everyone: a rich cultural history, a beautiful historic town with incredible 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 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 most attractive beach resorts in The Netherlands, and you will arrive next to the beach in about 10 minutes.

The Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem
The Frans Hals museum in Haarlem

13. Marken And Volendam Tour

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 fresh fish like raw herring, a Dutch delicacy.

The ideal combination is to arrive in Volendam and take a ferry to Marken to experience the connection of the Dutch with the sea. Then, settle down on a terrace near the lovely harbor in Marken and enjoy the water’s view and smell before your return to Volendam.

14. Experiencing King’s Day In The Netherlands

The Dutch are not particularly nationalistic, but we make an exception for King’s Day (April 27) and national football team football matches. 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.

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

15. Keukenhof Gardens Visit

The Keukenhof is a well-known flower garden in Lisse (near Amsterdam) that is only open between mid-March and mid-May. Approximately 7 million bulbs are planted annually to create an overwhelming flower experience of blooming hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips during those few weeks in spring.

You can read a review of the Keukenhof on this website if you want to find out if the Keukenhof is as captivating as promised or all hype.

As a Dutchman living near the Keukenhof and having visited it many times, I can give you tips on how to get the most out of your visit to the Keukenhof.

Book your Keukenhof Entry Tickets in advance because they sell out very fast.

16. Countryside Tulip Viewing

During springtime, Keukenhof is the most popular tourist attraction in The Netherlands, but the Keukenhof will be crowded.

However, you can enjoy the blooming tulips for free and embark on so-called tulip tours through the Dutch countryside.

Read Discover Tulip Fields Beyond The Crowds to learn more about enjoying Dutch tulips in the countryside.

Remember that you must take a tulip tour before mid-May because that is when the farmers top the tulips to stimulate the bulb’s growth.

Visiting Blooming tulip fields near Lisse, is one of the most authentic things to do in The Netherlands
Tulip fields in the countryside near the Keukenhof

17. Dutch Flower Parade Experience

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.

Flower parade in Lisse
A flower parade in Lisse

18. Mudflat Hiking In 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 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. Weekend On A Wadden Island

The Wadden Sea is one of the world’s last remaining large-scale, intertidal ecosystems where natural processes remain largely undisturbed.

The Wadden Islands are one of the very few places in our very crowded country where it is silent enough only to hear the sound of the wind and the birds.

So if you are looking for rest, the Wadden Islands is a must-go destination. You will return wholly refreshed after a weekend on one of the Wadden Islands.

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

20. Dutch Amusement Park Visit

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.

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. In addition, this lovely miniature city has its harbor, airport, and railway system.

The Roller Coaster in Walibi Holland, an amusement park in The Netherlands

Roller coaster in an amusement park in The Netherlands

21. Rotterdam Architecture Tour

The city center of Rotterdam was 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, providing a completely different perspective on life in The Netherlands.

So 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.

The Erasmus bridge in Rotterdam viewed from the Euromast
A stunning view of Rotterdam on top of the Euromast

22. Oude Haven Rotterdam Exploration

Rotterdam is 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 contemporary 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. Waterbus Trip to Dordrecht

The waterbus from Rotterdam to Dordrecht is not only affordable but also a delightful experience, though it remains a hidden gem in The Netherlands.

While it serves as regular public transportation, the Waterbus to Dordrecht is notably fast, akin to riding a speedboat. The journey provides scenic views of the Dutch countryside, showcasing a unique perspective of the region.

Moreover, the waterbus stops at sites such as Kinderdijk, renowned for its iconic windmills.

Your destination, Dordrecht, is among The Netherlands’ oldest cities, boasting a rich history and a captivating medieval center.

Waterbus in Rotterdam is departing to Dordrecht

24. Kinderdijk Windmills Visit

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, approximately 10.000 Dutch windmills were used for pumping water out of low-lying land and 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.

25. Rembrandt Trail In Leiden

Rembrandt van Rijn was born, raised, and lived in Leiden until he moved to Amsterdam at age 25.

Rembrandt’s education and talent development in Leiden are key to understanding this renowned Dutch painter.

Leiden’s well-preserved historic city center gives it the feel of an open-air museum.

Walking through Leiden’s city center, following Rembrandt’s footsteps to his educational and training sites, is one of the Netherlands’ top day trips.

This experience, culminating in the two-hour Rembrandt Walking Tour, is a journey through history.

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

26. Delft And Delft Blue Pottery Tour

The quaint city of Delft is incredibly charming because of its fascinating history, beautiful architecture, and lively terraces. Delft has many lovely canals and houses, just like Amsterdam, but with few tourists.

As a result, 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 several shops around the market square.

Charming canal in Delft with the new church in the background
The historic center of Delft

27. Scheveningen Beach Resort Experience

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.

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

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

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

28. Mauritshuis Museum Visit In The Hague

Among the many beautiful museums in The Netherlands, the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague stands out as possibly the most exquisite.

The Mauritshuis boasts masterpieces by Dutch painters such as Rembrandt and Vermeer. Though compact, The Mauritshuis exhibits around 200 paintings.

Yet, these paintings are of exceptional quality, showcasing the finest art from the Netherlands.

A visit to the Mauritshuis is a must-do before leaving The Netherlands.

29. Zeeland Dikes Exploration

The Netherlands lies in a delta of three rivers on land, mainly below sea level.

As a result, the Dutch need to pump out 19 trillion liters (5 trillion gallons) of water annually to keep their land dry and 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 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 who have conquered the sea.

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

30. Hoge Veluwe National Park Visit

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 beautiful museum, the Kröller-Müller Museum, in the middle.

This museum possesses the world’s second-largest collection of Vincent van Gogh’s work.

Frequently Asked Questions

Things To Do On Rainy Days In The Netherlands

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

I provided tips for the most popular indoor activities in The Netherlands elsewhere on this website.

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Pim Tijburg
Pim has lived his entire life in The Netherlands and he enjoys writing this blog about his home country. His mission is to make you like The Netherlands as much as he does.