Everyone has a goal to travel around the world, and one of the most popular destinations is by far Europe! After hitting the big ones (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, etc), many travelers wind up skipping over the small countries. One of the countries you MUST visit is the Netherlands. To help you out with your travel itinerary, here are 20 things you need to do when visiting the Netherlands!
MONKEYS!! You literally get up close and personal with monkeys! Located in Apeldoorn, Apenheul has a unique experience found nowhere else in the world. Visitors walk around in an open habitat, interacting with over 70 species of primate. This is DEFINITELY something you have to do in the Netherlands!
This picturesque village in South Holland has biking paths below sea level that pass by 19 windmills. These windmills are a part of the 740 years of water management history found in the area, and they are still active today. If you hop off your bicycle, you are able to take a tour inside the windmills. This is definitely worth doing during your visit!
If you’re visiting the Netherlands during the spring, swing into the tow of Lisse and visit one of the world’s most famous gardens! The 79-acre park holds over 7 million bulbs that blossom into vibrant colors and patterns, leaving visitors in awe. Daffodils, Hyacinths, and best of all, TULIPS! The Keukenhof is just gorgeous!
Europe’s largest shrub maze is located on the tri-country line. The Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium all meet in the maze, leaving visitors wandering. If you love mazes, you MUST visit the Labyrint Drielandenpunt during your trip to the Netherlands.
On the 125th anniversary of Van Gogh’s death, Daan Roosegaarde unveiled this stunning bike path in Eindhoven. The stones of the path are made out of material that soaks up solar energy during the day, glowing brightly at night. This design swirls, mirroring the famous painting The Starry Night. Definitely worth cycling through art!
You haven’t had pancakes until you’ve had Dutch Pannekoeken! These thin, delicious pancakes can be either sweet or savory. While there are many places in the Netherlands that serve them, De Carrousel Pannekoeken offers a unique experience for visitors—the restaurant is based around a carousel! Definitely something to hit up while in Amsterdam.
Welcome to Venice—I, um, mean Giethoorn! When visiting the village of Giethoorn, ditch your car and jump on a boat! The only way to access these beautiful (and expensive) homes is to navigate your way along the narrow canals, or walk along the narrow paths and bridges that connect the small, man-made islands.
If you visit the Netherlands during the winter season, you have a chance to see the canals freeze over! When the ice becomes thick enough, everyone, native and tourist alike, puts on their ice skates and heads to the canal. It is definitely an experience of a life time, a can’t miss when visiting the Netherlands!
This large square is home to an abundance of tourists, small shops, and the Royal Palace. This area turns into one of the biggest and loudest New Year’s parties in Amsterdam. If you’re in The Netherlands on New Year’s Eve, squeeze into the tightly packed mob at Dam Square and party to your heart’s content!
Heineken is a world-famous beer; however, it was originally made in the Netherlands. Naturally, a visit to the brewery is on your Dutch bucket list! This is a self-guided tour that ends with a beer tasting. Drink up and enjoy!
This awesome theme park is based on fairy tales, fables, legends, and all other stories from Europe. Opened in 1952, Efteling has over 20 rides that are open to all ages. This stop on your travels can satisfy your inner thrill-seeker!
Most of what you have heard is true: the Red Light District is a place of sex shops, brothels, and women dancing in red-lit windows. And, yes, the city does condone and even encourages the actions of workers within the district in order to protect the individuals in the profession. Even if you aren’t looking for sex, the Red Light District is definitely a place to check out, even if just for giggles!
Many people own or collect this hand-painted blue and white pottery. The beautiful designs originated in Delft, the Netherlands, and when visiting, tourists can visit Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles, a Delft museum dedicated to the history and production of the famous pottery. At the local markets, visitors may purchase handmade Delft to take home.
While visiting the Netherlands, make sure to visit the Alkmaar Cheese Market and witness the centuries old cheese trade at Waagplein. After watching the traders, make sure to head over to the small stalls and purchase your own cheese! You can also take a tour of the Dutch Cheese Museum and learn about the rich history Alkmaar and its cheese have to offer.
Since Holland has few hills, let alone mountains, skiing does not seem to be the most ideal and popular sport. If you find yourself in Landgraaf, however, you’ll find that skiing does exist and is extremely popular! SnowWorld is an indoor ski park open year round. While visiting the Netherlands, you MUST ski down the longest indoor ski slope in the Netherlands!
Gather around, football fans! This one is for you! If you ever get the chance, you must see the AFC Ajax play on their home field in Amsterdam. It is the largest stadium in the Netherlands, with the capacity to hold 54,033 screaming fans. Even if you aren’t the biggest AFC Ajax fan in the world, it is definitely neat to say that you’ve seen them play (and hopefully, win!).
The museum quarter of Amsterdam is home to three of the biggest and most notable museums in the Netherlands. The Rijksmuseum is the National Art Museum and is home to pieces made by famous Dutch artists such as Rembrandt and Vermeer. The Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art is home to contemporary artwork, a stark contrast against the Rijksmuseum. The third museum is the Van Gogh Museum, which features many of the artist’s famous works, including Sunflowers, Self-Portrait as a Painter, and The Potato Eaters. Art lovers must visit!
Tired of spending your time in the city or country? Head down to Scheveningen for a beach day! Visitors can enjoy the sunshine on the beaches and walk out across the pier for a view out over the North Sea. One of the most unique experiences in Scheveningen is the giant, over-the-sea Ferris Wheel. People hop into one of the closed cars and get a panoramic view over the North Sea, Scheveningen, and the Hague. Definitely a must do when visiting the Netherlands!
The best way to see Amsterdam (aside from cycling) is to take a canal tour on one of the many cruise boats! There are many types of tours you can take: Morning Cruise; Evening Cruise; Pizza Cruise; Hop-On, Hop-Off Tours; and many more. These tours not only introduce you to the beautiful city, but to a good group of people as well.
Celebrated on the 27th of April, Koningsdag is a nation-wide party honoring the birthday of King Willem-Alexander. Across the Netherlands, people dress in their orange best and party. Party boats flood the canals of Amsterdam and everyone, everywhere shows off their pride. Before Willem-Alexander took the throne, Koninginnedag was celebrated in honor of Queen Beatrix’s birthday. If you are in town over this special day, make sure to pack something orange to wear and get your party on!
Whether you’re staying for a short trip or a long while, try to hit as many of these spots when visiting the Netherlands as you can! You won’t regret the beautiful sights.
Featured image source: weheartit.com
Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Katherine moved up to upstate New York in 2016 to begin her years at Syracuse University. She is majoring in International Relations.