It’s not a surprise that the worldwide Corona crisis has put a stop to all our travels we had lined up. Some awesome trips got cancelled and have to be rescheduled when it's safe again to do so.
With some borders being closed, and a negative travel advice for most of the outside world, we started looking into sightseeing in The Netherlands. We found out that Holland, our small little country has so much to offer. For some reason we rather travel as far away as possible. But the Corona crisis made us reconsider to visit some Netherlands tourist attractions.
Holland has 12 provinces and we traveled to all of them. We visited tourist hotspots, that were actually deserted because of the Corona pandemic, but also visited some unique hidden gems which we want you to discover too.
When traveling to the Netherlands stay connected and buy a local sim card for the Netherlands.
Join us on our journey along the best things to in the Netherlands.
Map of the beautiful places to visit in Netherlands
Our capital city! I love Amsterdam, in fact, I think it’s one of the best capital cities in the world. And I assure you, Amsterdam is so much more than the red-light district and legal drugs.
Amsterdam became quiet during the Corona crisis, for months museum, restaurants and bars had to be closed. Residents of Amsterdam loved the peace and quiet in the city. Normally for the best things to do in Amsterdam like the Anne Frank House, it’s almost impossible to get tickets. There are always massive queues lining up alongside the museum. When things started to open up again, but tourists were still not allowed into the Netherlands, we thought this would be the perfect time to visit our capital, and visit all the places we normally don’t get the chance for.
My top recommendation for Amsterdam is the Anne Frank House. A very important part of our history, which they turned into an interesting and impressive museum. Find out where she and her family hid, and where she wrote her famous diary.
Explore Amsterdam by foot as much as possible, walk through narrow alleys, discover Amsterdam at its best! Another recommendation I would like to make is a boat tour on the canals of Amsterdam. They usually last for about an hour, and you get to see some pretty nice and new sights of Amsterdam. During the tour commentary will be provided in multiple languages.
Some other must do’s for Amsterdam: rent a bike and explore the Vondelpark, walk through the most expensive shopping street of the Netherlands, the PC Hooftstraat, visit the Rijksmuseum and the famous Nachtwacht painting, take the free ferry-boat behind the Central Station and visit the A’dam Tower (amazing Amsterdam views guaranteed!).
Where to stay around Amsterdam? I lately tried out the brand new Van Der Valk Amsterdam Zuidas Hotel. The most magnificent views over Amsterdam for sure.
2. Kissing Couple XXL
Located on the North side of Amsterdam, right at the point where you take the ferry to Zaandam, they installed something pretty cool. The Kissing Couple XXL in Delfts blue colors. I stumbled upon it though social media, and immediately thought, I have to add this to my Netherlands sightseeing tour.
It’s very easy to visit by car, as there is a carpark right next to the Kissing Couple. But there is another fun way of getting to the Kissing Couple XXL. You can easily visit it by bike. From Amsterdam Sloterdijk Station just follow the blue dot route to the Hempont Ferry. The Kissing Couple can’t be missed. Need more information on the bike route? Check it out here.
3. Zaanse Schans
The Zaanse Schans, one of Netherlands top things to do, I had wanted to visit this place for such a long time. But it’s normally crowded with tourists there, a very popular spot. I guess that has always kept me from visiting. After visiting Kinderdijk earlier this trip, where we were pretty much the only one around, I had high hopes for the Zaanse Schans. Often the parking lot tells a lot about how busy the place you’re visiting is. The parking lot at the Zaanse Schans was empty, which made me very enthusiastic.
The Zaanse Schans is an amazing place to visit, full of windmills, handcraft shops and museums. The Zaanse Schans is actually a residential area, keep in mind, people actually live here! The Dutch 18th and 19th centuries are brought alive here. It feels like walking through an open-air museum.
This place is a unique part of the Netherlands. Where else will you find wooden houses, mills, barns and workshops? Every part tells its own story.
Walk around, buy some cheese, clogs as a souvenir or chocolate, visit a windmill and learn about what they still do there. The Zaanse Schans is a fun day out, and super easy to visit from Amsterdam. It’s located right next to Zaandam, a lovely place with a very relaxed city center with some more classic Dutch architecture to discover. De Zaanse Schans definitely is a must visit place in the Netherlands.
We had been to Volendam before, more than once even. It’s always a great day out and I love the atmosphere is this quaint town, even on busy and crowded days. However, we got curious to what Volendam would be like these days during the Corona pandemic.
I was shocked, as I had never seen Volendam as empty as it was this June. The famous Dijk was completely empty. A few tourists, but mostly locals were around, so nice.
From Amsterdam you can easily take a daytrip to Volendam. Consider taking the bus, as this popular Netherlands tourist attraction is located just over 30 minutes from the city center of Amsterdam.
Volendam is a classic Dutch charming harbour village. The Dijk is the most famous part of the town full of shops and restaurants, along the water. All located in traditional wooden buildings. Looking for that cheesy photo in Dutch costume? Volendam is your place to be!
Tourists often only visit Amsterdam, or maybe Volendam if they stay longer, but often don’t explore more of the Zaan Region, just above Amsterdam. We knew there was much more to explore in this region than just Volendam and Amsterdam. The Zaanse Schans for example, but also don’t skip the city of Hoorn. A great little Dutch town, with a huge history to it.
Hoorn, the city of the Golden Age. Hoorn is located directly by the water and was very prosperous during the Golden Age. Hoorn turned out to be the perfect location for the trading routes of the Dutch East India Company. This rich history of Hoorn nowadays lives on in monumental buildings, grand architecture and museums full of historical treasures.
Hoorn is one of the overlooked places to visit in Holland, but totally worth visiting.
Best place to stay around Amsterdam
Hotels in Amsterdam can be expensive, especially in the city center. If you’re keen on exploring both the city of Amsterdam, but also the Zaanse Schans, Hoorn and Volendamand many other highlights to visit around Amsterdam, we might just have the perfect place for you.
Our Netherlands tip for this region is Van der Valk Amsterdam-Oostzaan Hotel. This hotel is located just outside of Amsterdam, along the highway, so it’s very easy to get there. It’s located within half an hour max of the tourists attractions such as Amsterdam, Volendam, Hoorn, Zaanse Schans and Muiderslot. Your perfect gateway to this beautiful part of Holland.
Additional benefit is the free parking offered by Van der Valk Oostzaan. Staying that close to Amsterdam, yet being able to park your car for free, that’s a real bonus!
Another benefit this hotel offers its guests is the shuttle service. No hassle, make sure to book a spot for this service, and they bring you to the city of Amsterdam! They drop you at a free ferry, from where you cross the water to the center of Amsterdam. During the holidays this service is offered on a daily basis, with multiple departure times available.
Looking to explore this region by bike? Good idea, the Van Der Valk Oostzaan hotel offers bike rental and some very interesting and fun bike routes. Just ask at reception for more information.
Van der Valk Amsterdam Oostzaan opened its door to the public just a few years ago, a rather new hotel this is. Something new hotels of the Van der Valk Group have in common is the wellness and fitness areas, often located on the top floors of the hotel. The Amsterdam – Oostzaan hotel is no exception. Make sure to check out the pool, gym and sauna. If you want to do so, please keep in mind that a reservation is required nowadays.
6. Muiderslot Castle
Muiderslot Castle is one of the oldest and best-preserved castles of the Netherlands, it was built in 1285. Back then they had just one goal in mind when building this castle, defence!
This famous Dutch castle is located just outside Amsterdam, and therefore really easy to visit. It’s considered one of the must see places in the Netherlands. Reason enough to put it on our itinerary.
Visiting this castle is not free of charge, tickets for Muiderslot Castle are 15,50. This 700-year-old castle is surrounded by water and some beautiful historic gardens.
Muiderslot Castle obviously also had to close its doors due to Corona, but they have opened up again, ready to welcome visitors again this Summer. In fact, they have come up with something really cool and one of my best Netherlands tips.
This Summer you can camp right next to the castle, how cool is that? You arrive in the afternoon, and have the castle all to yourself. You’ll get a tour through an empty castle, gather around a campfire, and have breakfast delivered to your tent.
Behind the castle you’ll find the plum orchard of the castles famous resident and writer P.C. Hooft. When the plums were ripe and sweet, he gladly invited his guests to the Muiderslot. He closed his letters with the, now famous phrase ‘Until plum-time!’.
7. Heeswijk Castle
Heeswijk Castle is located in the South of the Netherlands, just over half an hour from the city of Eindhoven. It is considered the most beautiful castle of the Brabant province and one you won’t often find in a Netherlands travel guide.
The castle is very easily accessible, just follow the signs to the free parking facilities, and walk up to the castle. You can walk all around the castle for free. If you want to visit the castle and see it if from the inside. Tickets for the Heeswijk Castle cost €11.
The castle is surrounded by woods with plenty of walking tracks around the castle.
Heeswijk Castle has played an important role during World War II. During the massive operation Market Garden, paratroopers were dropped to secure the route of advancing British ground forces. There are multiple information signs around the castle telling you about the history. You can even follow the Liberation Route and learn all about it.
8. Fort de Roovere
Fort de Roovere is located in the far west corner of the province of Brabant, close to the border with Zeeland. It is an earthen fort, constructed as part of the Dutch Water Line, the Hollandse Waterlinie, a series of water-based defenses.
In recent years extensive renovations have been done to the fort, as it had fallen into major disrepair. What got me really curious to visit this place is the Moses Bridge. This bridge appears to divide the water, so we know where it gets its name from. It seems like this bridge crosses through the water, something unique.
Looking for some aerial views? Just recently the Pompejus watchtower was added to the area and opened to the public. Fort de Roovere for sure is an off the beaten path tourist destination in the Netherlands away from the crowds.
Kinderdijk is probably as Dutch as it gets, this tourist attraction is why people visit the Netherlands, and Kinderdijk is how people think of and see the Netherlands. No wonder this UNESCO World Heritage site is a popular place to visit, that attracts thousands of tourists every year.
The Kinderdijk windmill complex is unique in the world, you won’t find this anywhere else in the world. We Dutch have always struggled with water, these windmills and pumping stations have been keeping the soil dry here for centuries now.
You can actually walk around here for free, no entrance. If you want to visit the museum mills or sail along the windmills, you would need to buy an entrance ticket, which you have to do prior to your arrival to Kinderdijk. This is one of these Dutch tourist hotspots that is crowded in any given normal situation, but due to the corona crisis there were only a handful of people, perfect!
Best place to stay around Kinderdijk
Our recommendation for a place to stay when visiting Kinderdijk is Van der Valk Hotel Dordrecht. It is located at cycling distance from the Biesbosch National Park, and just a short 10-minute drive to the city center of Dordrecht. You can rent bikes from the hotel to discover the highlights in Dordrecht, even cycle to Kinderdijk which is a 19 kilometer bike ride. All easy and flat terrain and the best way to visit Holland anyway. Stay active!
Van der Valk Hotel Dordrecht is conveniently located right next to the A16 highway, which makes this hotel very easily accessible.
Next to that, and because the Netherlands is just a small country, it is also located within reasonable distance of attractions like Kinderdijk, the Deltaworks and the beaches of Scheveningen, all within an hour drive of the hotel.
This hotel has an amazing wellness center right at the top. This wellness center offers a pool, fitness area and sauna. Also located on the top floor of the hotel is the skybar. It’s one of Dordrecht best bars to have a drink. Perfect to enjoy a drink on a summer evening, while enjoying the views from up here.
Dordrecht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, and with the Biesbosch as its backyard, Dordrecht is a great place to stay and explore.
The city of Dordrecht is full of monuments. The town hall for example was built in the 14th century. One of the biggest highlights of the city is the Grote Kerk. The famous church of Dordrecht is often listed as one of the top places to visit in Netherlands.
From monuments to modern shops, Dordrecht offers it all, yet not too busy like its bustling neighbour Rotterdam for example, which makes it a great day trip when visiting the Netherlands.
11. National Park the Biesbosch
National Park the Biesbosch is one of the many national parks in the Netherlands. It’s spread over two provinces, Zuid Holland and Brabant, however, most of the Biesbosch is located in Brabant. The Biesbosch is the largest fresh water tidal zone in Europe, which means you can find many streams and willow swamps here. Going deep into the Biesbosch the area looks just like a jungle.
Most of these areas are only accessible by boat. The Biesbosch is a paradise for nature lovers, you’re surrounded by nature and wildlife. The possibilities to explore the Biesbosch are endless, by boat, walking or cycling. Go out, explore and experience this National Park a great thing to do in The Netherlands.
There are 2-hour boat tours into the jungle of the Netherlands that cost €15. Boat tours are not every day. Click here for more info about the Biesbosch.
12. Deltaworks Neeltje Jans
The Delta Works are one of the most renowned works in the world, and the largest storm surge barrier in the world. In the Zeeland province they call it the Eighth Wonder of the World, which emphasizes the importance of the Delta Works to the Netherlands.
The Netherlands, and the province of Zeeland in particular, is largely located at or below sea level. The Delta Works were built to prevent a repeat of the 1953 flooding disaster. You can visit and explore these huge storm barriers. Walk across or get toured around. Tickets for Neeltje Jans cost €25.
But there is much more to see and do here. Have some fun in the waterpark, visit Zeeland’s largest aquarium, visit seals and sea lions or go on a boat trip on the Oosterschelde.
13. Parkstad Limburg
Parkstad Limburg is the fastest growing tourist destination in the Netherlands. It has the largest indoor ski park in Europe, the longest staircase in the Netherlands, the largest home-improvement boulevard in Europe, the most modern and innovative zoo in Europe and the largest world-themed gardens park in the Netherlands. If this is not enough reason to visit this region, then what is? This region is located in the very South of the Netherlands, close to the Heuvelland region, Maastricht, and the borders of Germany and Belgium.
In Parkstad Limburg you will also find Heerlen, the street art capital of the Netherlands. The murals in Heerlen appeal to the imagination internationally.
There are so many cool things to do in Parkstad Limburg and it’s not just the region that is award winning here, how about the award-winning Gaia Zoo? Opened in 2005, ever since its opening this Zoo has won one award after the other. Among many other awards, it’s been awarded Best Zoo of the Netherlands, and for years in a row now it’s also been awarded Best Day Out in the Netherlands.
Want to know more about this region and the street art capital of the Netherlands? Check out our blog about the best things to do in Heerlen.
Best place to stay in Parkstad Limburg
The Parkstad region isn’t that large, but still has a lot to offer. So when visiting this region, be sure to visit for more than one day. We did the work for you and found you the best place to stay in Parkstad Limburg.
Van der Valk Hotel Heerlen offers the perfect location in the heart of Parkstad, and close to all the highlights this region has to offer. It’s located along the N281 motorway, so very easily accessible. From this hotel you can explore the Street Art Capital of the Netherlands by foot or by bike. Attractions like Snowworld and the Gaia Zoo are only a very short drive away.
Hotel Heerlen is part of the estate of Terworm. Estate Terworm is a nature reserve offering various possibilities for relaxation. Very suitable for jogging, walking, cycling, with routes from 4 to 7 kilometers. So after a long and active day out, this is the perfect place to enjoy and relax.
14. Pyramid of Austerlitz
In the weeks before our Netherlands roadtrip I did some research. I knew a lot of places to visit in Netherlands, but I was also looking for some unknown, never heard of spots I wanted to add to our Netherlands itinerary.
One of these places to visit I had never heard of before, is the Pyramid of Austerlitz. I thought pyramids only existed in Egypt, but I know now that we actually have a very cool one in the Netherlands too.
While the Pyramid itself was still closed during our visit, due to the Corona crisis, we could actually get quite close. If you want to climb the pyramid you have to buy a ticket, but like I said, you can get really close, and walk all around it without buying a ticket as well.
The Pyramid of Austerlitz is tucked away in the forests of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug. Absolutely a great location, hidden away, a short walk through the forest before the pyramid appears.
The Pyramid of Austerlitz was built in 1804 by Napoleon’s soldiers, they chose one of the highest points of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug. The Pyramid is a national monument, and a must do when visiting Netherlands. Not classic Dutch, but it will surprise you! This pyramid is located only a short, 25-minute drive from Utrecht.
15. Wadden Islands - Texel
Travelling the Netherlands isn’t complete without visiting one of our Wadden Islands. The Netherlands have five inhabited Wadden Islands: Texel, Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog. With Texel being the largest and most populated of our Dutch Islands, we decided to add Texel to our itinerary along the best places to visit.
It’s very easy to get from the Dutch mainland to Texel. Drive all the way up to Den Helder, which is actually quite an interesting place itself to pay a visit to.
Den Helder is home to the Netherlands main navy base. This all dates back to 1811, when Napoleon Bonaparte visited Den Helder, and was impressed with the towns strategic location. So impressed that he ordered the construction of a fort and naval dockyards. In 1947 Den Helder officially became the Royal Netherlands Navy’s main centre of operations. An interesting museum to visit when in Den Helder is the Dutch Navy Museum.
So, from Den Helder the Royal TESO ferryboat service operates between the city and the nearby Wadden Island Texel. You can see Texel from the mainland when waiting for the ferry.
Insiders Netherlands tip: Travel to Texel on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, if you do so, you’ll receive a 30% discount on the ferry.
When docking in at Texel, they can’t be missed, the Texel sheep. The Texel is a breed of sheep, originally from, yes the Island of Texel. Everything made of wool can be bought in shops across Texel.
The dune landscape on Texel is unique and a great habitat for wildlife. About one third of the island is a protected nature reserve. The best way to explore Texel is by bike, but you have to withstand the sometimes strong winds. You can rent bikes all over the island!
Often seen as the symbol of Texel is the red lighthouse at the northern end of the island. You can normally climb the lighthouse, but due to Corona and the limited space inside, they’re still closed.
Views from up there include the North Sea, the Wadden Sea and the next Wadden Island Vlieland. When it’s dark, the light of this lighthouse can be seen from as far as Leeuwarden.
De Koog is the so-called seaside town of Texel. Just a few dunes separate the village from the ocean and the beach. De Koog is a nice place to spend a few hours, it has a great shopping center, some lovely restaurants and some nice beach clubs.
Den Burg is considered the capital of Texel, nearly half of the population of Texel live in Den Burg. This lovely little town has a lot to offer. Great shopping opportunities, plenty of terraces to have a drink, it’s just a great little town to walk through. There is more than enough things to do when visiting Texel, perfect for a day trip, but enjoying a sunset and a sunrise here is even more magical.
16. The Afsluitdijk
After visiting Texel it was time to do something that had been on our so called Netherlands Bucketlist for a very long time. It may sound stupid, because this is often seen as ‘just’ a highway connecting two provinces, but the Afsluitdijk is so much more than that!
The Afsluitdijk is a major dam in the Netherlands and famous place to see, completed in 1932. This means the Afsluitdijk has been protecting the Netherlands from the force of water for nearly 90 years now. The total length of the dike is 32.5 km. The dike is more than just a water barrier. It’s a motorway connecting two Dutch provinces as well. Everyday thousands of people use the A7 motorway to travel between Noord-Holland and Friesland. The Afsluitdijk was the initial demonstration site for a 130km/h speed limit in the Netherlands.
The Afsluitdijk is currently under construction, to make it even more futureproof, for many more years to come. Once construction works are done, the Dijk will be stronger, higher and more robust looking. There is so much to see, not just the Afsluitdijk itself.
Enjoy the Wadden Sea, visit the Afsluitdijk Wadden Centre or the monument right in the middle of the Afsluitdijk. Part of the construction works and upgrades to the dike are a new cycle and walking path, imaginable with endless views on the Wadden Sea.
One of the first major cities you’ll come across after crossing the Afsluitdijk into Friesland is the city of Sneek. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend as much time in the city as I wanted, one has to make choices while travelling, which means we only had time for a brief stop in Sneek. However, Sneek has an amazing relaxed and laidback atmosphere.
Sneek is one of the Friese Elf Steden (eleven cities). The Elfstedentocht, or eleven cities tour, is a long-distance ice-skating event in the province of Friesland. It’s almost 200 kilometers long and passes all eleven historical towns of the province. The Dutch haven’t had an Elfstedentocht for years, the last one was in 1997. Even King Willem Alexander participated and finished!
Sneek is well known for its canals and of course for the Waterpoort, the symbol of the city. Visiting Sneek in the summer? Try to visit the Sneekweek, Europe’s biggest sailing event.
If you want the best photos of the Waterpoort from the best point of view, don’t go towards the end of the day. The sun sets behind the Waterpoort, which is not ideal for getting the best photos!
Groningen, both a province and a city in the Netherlands. Both well worth it and great things to do in Netherlands. In this blog we talk about the city of Groningen. It is the largest city in the north of the Netherlands. Even though Groningen isn’t actually the biggest city, it has an important role as the main center of the northern part of the Netherlands. Besides that, Groningen is a real university city, which really contributes to a diverse cultural scene for the city.
Our reason for visiting Groningen was to explore the city everyone always says you just have to visit when traveling to Netherlands, and to see the famous Martinitoren.
Located at the main market square in Groningen, this symbol of the city can’t be missed. The Martinitoren is Groningen’s famous church. It’s one of the main tourist attractions of the city. You can actually climb the tower and enjoy some great views over the city and surrounding areas.
The center of Groningen, surrounding the Martinitoren and the main market square is absolutely worth a visit. There are plenty of shopping opportunities in the nearby streets. Done shopping? Try one of the many restaurants and bars, a great time guaranteed in this bustling city.
19. Vesting Bourtange Fortress
From the city of Groningen, move east towards the German border for a real hidden gem of the Netherlands. This was also one of these things I had never heard of before and never found in a Netherlands travel guide. But when I came across it on the internet, just had to add it to our Netherlands itinerary.
Bourtange fortress is a unique historical defense work. Meet Fortress Bourtange, the fortress that was never taken.
From the seventies until the nineties last century massive reconstructions took place at the Fortress Bourtange. Digging the canals again, forming the ramparts and reconstructing the many buildings, all in the style of the past. They did this massively with the help of old maps and drawings.
Welcome in the year 1742, that’s certainly what it feels like when walking through Bourtange, stepping back in time.
The Hunebeds, prehistoric tombstones, are the oldest monuments in the Netherlands. They were actually transported to Drenthe during the Ice Age, can you imagine?
There are actually 52 Hunebeds to visit in a 30-kilometer radius. So, doing them all might be a bit too much. Thankfully Visit Drenthe has come up with the ‘Big Five’, just for you to discover the best of the prehistoric history in Drenthe in one fell swoop.
Great idea! And that’s why we decided to do the Big Five and discover the best of the Hunebeds. Part of the Big Five is the largest Hunebed (D27) of them all. When visiting the largest Hunebed, you’ll pass the Hunebed Visitor Centre, which is definitely worth a visit! It gives you an idea of how the people who built these Hunebeds used to live.
Visiting the Hunebeds is often listed as one of the top things to do in the Netherlands.
21. Camp Westerbork
Probably the most impressive place we visited on our Netherlands tour was visiting Camp Westerbork. Hidden away in the woods, it makes sense why they chose this location for such a horrible place. Camp Westerbork was known as the foyer of Hell during the Second World War. It was a transit camp to concentration camps like Auschwitz and Sobibor.
When it was built in 1939 it was first used as a refugee camp then turned into a transit camp. A total of 93 trains left from Westerbork, eventually killing 102.000 people.
ssThe camp itself is accessible free of charge. You can’t get to the camp by car. You’ll have to park your car at the museum’s carpark. From there it’s roughly a 2.9km walk to get to the camp. Normally there is a shuttlebus running between the camp and the museum, however due to Corona, that service is currently not running. The museum entrance fee is about €10. But it is well worth a visit, where you will learn a lot about Westerbork’s history.
22. Radio Sterrenwacht
We parked our car at the Camp Westerbork museum and made our way towards the camp. It’s a nice walk, through the woods. All of a sudden, we bumped into 14 huge satellite dishes. Apparently, we ran into the Westerbork Synthese Radio Telescope.
This telescope, built in 1970, is one of the most sensitive telescopes in the world. It consists of 14 satellite dishes, each 25 meters in diameter.
The walk from the Westerbork Museum to Camp Westerbork will guide you along this telescope. In fact, this walkway is called the Milkyway-walk. It’s a very interesting, fun and beautiful walking route on which the fascinating world of the universe and the largest radio telescopes in Europe play a central role and are explained. Both young and old learn about the operation of these enormous satellite dishes.
23. TT Assen
One of the biggest events of the Netherlands is the MotoGP at the TT Assen. The TT Assen is a circuit mainly used for the MotoGP, but also for numerous other events and activities. You can visit the track on one of the many events taking place each year, or you can book a tour, and get a look behind the scenes.
Into the TT? Then this could be very interesting for you. They have the so called ‘Tour de TT’ in Assen. The Tour de TT is 65 kilometers long and takes you to the two old street circuits. Have a taste of what the circuits used to be back in the days as street circuits and enjoy and explore the surrounding areas.
Giethoorn is known for its bridges, waterways and punts, no wonder it is called the ‘Venice of the North’ and one the most famous tourist attractions in the Netherlands.
This idyllic village is located in the Weerribben-Wieden National Park. There are countless thatched farmhouses, built on small islands, connected by more than 170 wooden bridges. The best way to explore Giethoorn is by foot or by boat. There is plenty of time to do both in one day!
Walking along these pretty houses gives you the opportunity to have a look at the many shops and restaurants. You can go on organized cruises on the waters of Giethoorn, where you will be told a lot about the history and the present of Giethoorn.
I would advise to rent a boat yourself and explore the place at your own pace. Boat rents start from 1 hour to a full day. I rented one for an hour, where you cruise through the main canals of Giethoorn and over the Bovenwijde lake.
Giethoorn was one of the top highlights of this Netherlands trip, something I had never seen or done before, unique to the Netherlands. Tourists were still staying away when we visited, keep in mind that this place gets packed any other time!
Where to stay around Giethoorn
Assen and the Drenthe province really surprised me. A lot of nature, forests and national parks, something I really like, the outdoors. As there is so much to do in this region, looking for a centrally and perfectly located hotel was important and a challenge. So I was extremely happy when I found the Van der Valk Hotel in Assen, right in the middle of it all!
It’s the ideal place to stay when discovering the Hunebeds, the TT Assen, Camp Westerbork and Giethoorn, all within short driving distance of the hotel. Drenthe is pre-eminently a walking and biking province. There are so many walking and cycling routes and opportunities.
Hotel Assen warmly welcomes you to have the best time in Drenthe. Hotel Assen has bikes for rent, your start to a thousands of kilometers signposted cycle route network. The hotel has their very own kitchen garden. Herbs, vegetables and fruits fresh from the garden to their restaurant. People working in this kitchen garden are people that are distanced from the labor market and by doing this they gain more relevant work experience.
This hotel is currently working on a new wellness center. Soin the near future you can enjoy a relaxed time at the new wellness after an active day outdoors.
25. Rotterdam - One of World's Biggest Ports
Rotterdam, the 2nd biggest city of the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. It has so many cool places to visit and exciting things to do, I don’t even know where to start really.
From the iconic Erasmus Bridge, the icon of the city, to the cube houses, the market hall and the bustling center, these are some of the best Rotterdam activities.
Even if you only have a short amount of time in the city, make sure the Euromast is part of your visit. The Euromast offers you the best 360 degrees views of the city. Overlooking the Erasmus Bridge, the ss Rotterdam and the famous port of Rotterdam.
When visiting the Euromast, you can combine your visit with a fun 18-hole midget golf course, right next to the Euromast. It’s a very popular thing to do in Rotterdam, and I have to admit, playing some (midget) golf in the center of a city like Rotterdam, that is pretty special.
Another Amazing place to see is the ss Rotterdam. This former ocean liner and cruise ship can be visited nowadays, where you can tour this ship and get to know all about its history and present. Keep reading because I have a great recommendation that has something to do with the ss Rotterdam.
Check out my article on the best things to do in Rotterdam for even more recommendations when traveling to Rotterdam.
Rotterdam is one of the largest ports of the world, how cool would it be to explore this port? Well, you actually can! Spido Rotterdam offers a wide range of port tours and cruises where you get to explore and learn about the importance of the port.
Where to stay in Rotterdam
As second city of the Netherlands Rotterdam obviously offers plenty of accommodation opportunities. However, I have found a unique place to stay, it’s a gem
My top recommendation for places to stay is the ss Rotterdam. You can actually sleep in former cabins of this steamship, and experience how ocean life was like back in the days. Close your eyes and let your imagination run wild, it almost really feels like you’re actually cruising the ocean!
The ss Rotterdam is located in the center of the city, and very easily accessible. You can leave your car at the carpark right next to the ship. You can also arrive by water taxi, as they have special platforms for arrival and departure with these unique taxis.
Looking for the most unique and special place to stay while visiting Rotterdam, stop looking, because it doesn’t get any more special than the ss Rotterdam. Quickly check out their rates and start booking, because a trip to Rotterdam is waiting for you!
26. The Pooping Man & The Batavia
Sometimes you pass some amazing things just by chance. That happened to us when we were travelling the Netherlands and by sheer coincidence passed the amazing sculpture the Exposure, also known as the Crouching Man. Freely translated they also call him the pooping man in the Netherlands, I can see why. This statue is located on a breakwater at the Houtrib locks in Lelystad, overlooking the Markermeer, a shallow lake.
On September 17, 2010 it was unveiled by the artist, and since then it has been a curious sight, but also very popular place to visit in the Netherlands for tourists to take their Instagram shots.
We were actually visiting the Bataviastad Fashion Outlet in Lelystad, when all of a sudden I saw this famous sculpture in the far distance. We jumped back in to our car and drove out to see it closer.
Bataviastad Fashion Outlet is the first ever Outlet Center in the Netherlands, located at the Markermeer in Lelystad. De outlet was named after the Batavia ship from 1628, of which you can find a replica nearby at the Bataviawerf.
The shopping center is an imitation of a fortified town, complete with a heavy city wall, three city gates, pedestrianized cobblestone streets and a series of individual wooden shop buildings with a quasi-authentic architectural appearance. It is partly inspired by the small town of Marken, partly by the West Indian colonies.
As mentioned earlier, right next to this shopping center you’ll find the impressive Batavia, a replica of the Batavia. You can actually visit and explore this ship and discover what life at sea was like in the 17th century. It’s an impressive sight for sure.
Netherlands travel blog
Traveling the Netherlands, our own backyard, has been a blast. Especially because it was quiet everywhere due to the Corona pandemic. We visited tourist hotspots, top attractions and must-see places that normally would see hundreds of people a day, and we were actually the only one walking around now. Shooting photos for this Netherlands blog has never been this easy.
Stay safe and consider exploring your own backyard this summer, it might surprise you even more than you would think.
This blog was written by travel writer and Traveltomtom team member Ashley. She explored the Netherlands on behalf of Traveltomtom, seeking for the best tourist attractions and some unique off the beaten path destinations and hidden gems. Have a look on her Instagram.
I hope all these Netherlands travel tips were helpful for your next adventure. Safe travels!