The Netherlands is famous for picturesque canals, tulips, cycling, and of course the city of Amsterdam, with its interesting history and surprisingly relaxed culture. Art lovers will enjoy exploring the many art museums rich in works by Vermeer, Rembrandt, and the like from the Golden Age of the 17th century. There are numerous bike trails, parks, and natural areas scattered throughout the country offering nearly endless options for fun in the outdoors.
1. Attractiepark Slagharen
© Attractiepark Slagharen
Attractiepark Slagharen is an amusement park in Slagharen. It features a dry part as well as a water park called Aqua Mexicana and is consistently ranked as one of the most visited amusement parks in Europe. The park has a wide range of rollercoasters and other traditional theme park rides as well as a solid selection of carnival-style games. Slagharen offers something for every visitor, but is especially well suited for small children. For guests who wish to spend the night, there are several options of resort accommodations, including camping in a wigwam, cottages, mobile homes, and traditional campsites.
Zwarte Dijk 37, 7776 PB Slagharen, The Netherlands, Phone: +31 (0) 523-683000
2. Van Gogh Museum
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The Van Gogh Museum is an art museum that houses the works of famous artist Vincent van Gogh as well as some pieces by artists from the same era. The museum is located at Amsterdam South's Museum Square alongside many other museums. The Van Gogh Museum holds the largest collection of the artist's paintings and drawings in the world. The museum is comprised of two buildings: The Reitveld Building and the Kurokawa Wing. The Rietveld is the main building and houses the permanent collection, including an exhibit about the restoration of paintings and Van Gogh's works. The smaller Kurokawa Wing is an oval building that is used for temporary exhibits.
Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Phone: +31 (0) 205-705200
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Diergaarde Blijdorp is a zoo in northwestern Rotterdam. At nearly 160 years old, it is one of the oldest zoos in the country. Like many zoos around the world, the Blijdorp is largely divided according to regions of the world. The zoo is home to a variety of exciting animals, such as rhinos, gorillas, red pandas, and many more. Animal feedings, demonstrations, and talks are scheduled daily and there are also special weekly events such as shark feedings and keeper talks. In addition to the exciting animal exhibits, the zoo features an aquarium, known as the Oceanarium, as well as a botanical garden.
Blijdorplaan 8, 3041 JG Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Phone: +31 (0) 104-431495
Efteling is a fantasy-themed amusement park located in Kaatsheuvel. The park's attractions are based on a variety of ancient legends, myths, stories, and other elements of folklore. The park is the largest theme park in the country and one of the oldest of its kind in the world. It originally opened in 1952 as a small nature park with a children's playground, and is now a full-service theme park with activities and amenities for both children and adults. The park is divided into several areas, including a hotel, an 18-hole golf course, a holiday park, and four sections that house the majority of the rides and attractions in the park.
Europalaan 1, 5171 KW, Kaatsheuvel, The Netherlands, Phone: +31 (0) 416-537777
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Erasmusbrug, or the Erasmus Bridge in English, is a bridge connecting the north and south parts of the city of Rotterdam and is located in the city center. The bridge is the second largest in the country and is named after Desiderius Erasmus, who was a well-known humanist and theologian. The bridge is nicknamed The Swan and has two sections: A cable-stayed part and a prominent bascule bridge section for ships to pass under. The bascule section is the heaviest and largest in Western Europe. The bridge is quite unique in appearance and has appeared in several films. It is also part of the annual World Port Days festival held in the city each year.
3011 BN Rotterdam, The Netherlands
6. Escher Museum
© Escher Museum
The Escher Museum is an art museum in The Hague that displays the artwork of Dutch graphical artist M.C. Escher. The museum is located inside the Lange Voorhout Palace, which is the former residence of Dutch royalty. The works in the museum include an impressive number of lithographs and woodcuts by Escher, many of them known throughout the world. The third floor is devoted to optical illusions and includes the well-known Escher Room, where adults seem to be smaller than children, as well as several other illusions. The museum is furnished with 15 chandeliers made by local artist Hans van Bentem, which were specially made for the museum and include chandeliers with designs based on sharks, spiders, stars, and sea horses.
Lange Voorhout 74, 2514 EH Den Haag, The Netherlands, Phone: +31 (0) 704-277730
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The Heineken Experience is an interactive museum located on the site of a former brewery that was the beer giant's first. For more than a hundred years, the company brewed their iconic beer at this location. The experience-based tour travels through the history of the famous beer brand and guests have the chance to taste a variety of brews. The tour is self-guided using an audio app that you can download to your device for free. It is also accessible by renting a device for a small fee. The Heineken Experience takes approximately 1.5 hours, and the walk takes you through the old brewery with staff located at key points to tell you all about their beer.
Stadhouderskade 78, 1072 AE Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Phone: +31 (0) 205-239435
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8.Hoge Veluwe National Park
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Hoge Veluwe National Park is a 55-square-kilometer park in the province of Gelderland. The park has a variety of habitats including sand dunes, woods, and heathlands. The park is accessed by one of three entrances in the villages of Schaarsbergen, Hoenderloo, and Otterlo. Hoge Veluwe is best explored by bicycle, which can be used for free by visitors as much of the park is not accessible by car. A variety of wildlife can be seen in the park, including two species of deer as well as wild boar and mouflon. There are also several other notable museums on the park grounds. In the center of the park is the Marchantsquare, which boasts a restaurant, toilets, bike repair shop, and the park's visitor center.
Apeldoornseweg 250, 7351 TA Hoenderloo, The Netherlands, Phone: +31 (0) 800-8353628
9.Hungry Birds, Amsterdam Street Food Tours
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Hungry Birds is a tour company in Amsterdam that offers food-centric tours. The tours give travelers the opportunity to learn about the culture of the Netherlands through street food and interesting city landmarks. Tour guests will get the opportunity to interact with many of the owners and operators of various food establishments throughout the city and hear stories of the family businesses that have shaped the Amsterdam food scene. Guests are encouraged to ask questions and interact with the hosts and tour guides. Tour experiences include daytime, evening, and Sunday food and drink tours as well as a Saturday craft beer tour called the Thirsty Birds Experience.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Phone: +31 (0) 619-296774
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One of the best ways to get a pulse on the city of Amsterdam is to wander the narrow lanes of Jordaan, known as the 9 Streets. Perhaps the most charming neighborhood in the country's capital, the Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam is a look into the city's history. This section of town was originally a neighborhood for working class folks, but these days, its narrow streets and interesting buildings are some of the most desirable real estate in the city. The hip neighborhood is a haven for shopping and has many independent art galleries, gardens, dining establishments, antique shops, and bars.
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Keukenhof Gardens is the world's largest flower garden. They plant more than seven million bulbs annually, including an astounding number of tulips from more than 800 different varieties. A range of inspirational gardens are planted in the park's 32 hectares, however the most popular with tourists is probably the Tulpomania exhibition in the Juliana Pavilion, as most tourists come to the Netherlands to see tulips. There are many activities for children including a petting zoo, treasure hunt, playground, and maze. Keukenhof is open seasonally in the spring, which is the peak time of year to see the blooms in all their beauty.
Bezoekadres, Stationsweg 166A, 2161 AM Lisse, The Netherlands, +31 (0) 252-465555
12. Kroller-Muller Museum
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The Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo is a national art museum and home to the second largest Van Gogh collection on the planet. The museum houses nearly 90 of the artist's paintings and more than 180 drawings. In addition to the incredible collection of pieces by Van Gogh, there are also works of other iconic modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, and Piet Mondrian. The museum property also has one of the most impressive and largest sculpture gardens in Europe, boasting more than 160 iconic sculptures from many master sculptures including Pierre Huyghe, Aristide Maillol, and Jean Debuffet.
Houtkampweg 6, 6731 AW Otterlow, The Netherlands, Phone: +31 (0) 318-591241
13.Leemstar, Amsterdam Canal Cruises
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Leemstar is a boat tour agency in the country's capital that offers private and small group tours led by local tour guides. The tours take place on a small canal boat - a 90 year old Dutch saloon vessel. The boat was made from wood in 1928 and has been beautifully maintained over the years. It is powered by a silent electric engine, which provides for an optimal tour experience. The tours visit not only the historic city center of Amsterdam but also some of the more modern and recently built-up areas. Most of the tours are guided by the owner of the company, who himself lives on the canals and is a rich source of information about Amsterdam's canals and the city itself.
Prinsengracht 587, 1016 HW Amsterdam, Netherlands, Phone: +31 (0) 616-616690
14. Anne Frank House
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The Anne Frank House and Museum is the former home of the famous Jewish diarist from World War II and is now a biographical museum. Frank wrote about her experiences of hiding from Nazi persecution with her family during the war in a hidden room in the house, known as the Secret Annex. The museum has preserved this former hiding place and has an exhibition about her life on permanent display. In addition, there is exhibition space dedicated to issues related to discrimination and persecution of many kinds. There is an on-site bookshop that sells a variety of books, including Anne Frank's diary translated into multiple languages.
Prinsengracht 267 Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Phone: +31 (0) 205-567100
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Madurodam is a miniatures park in the Scheveningen district of The Hague. The park has a large number of models on the 1:25 scale, many of which are iconic landmarks from The Netherlands as well as scale models of entire historical cities. The park attempts to be as realistic as possible in their portrayal of The Netherlands, even down to the changes in season. In the winter time, the tiny residents of the park don coats and warm clothes, whereas in the summer they are dressed in t-shirts. The park is unique among many tourist attractions as all of the net proceeds from the park's operation are donated to charity.
George Maduroplein 1, 2584 RZ Den Haag, Netherlands, Phone: +31 (0) 704-162400
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The Mauritshuis is a government art museum in The Hague. The museum is home to the Royal Cabinet of Paintings, which contains more than 800 objects, mostly paintings from the Dutch Golden Age, including works by Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Holbein the Younger. There is an exhibition hall that offers traveling and other special exhibits. The exhibit schedule can be found on the museum's website. Most people tour the museum by themselves with the aid of a multimedia tour, which can be downloaded onto your personal device or accessed by renting a device at the museum. Additionally, Mauritshuis offers guided tours for groups up to 15 people.
Plein 29, 2511 CS Den Haag, The Netherlands, Phone: +31 (0) 703-023456
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The Museumpark Rotterdam is one of the most popular outdoor parks in Rotterdam. The park is divided into four primary sections and has something to offer every visitor. The park has a paved area with many trails, a romantic area with trees and flowers for relaxing, a city zone that is paved and is most often used as event space, and a beautifully maintained orchard. The Museumpark gained its name due to its close proximity to many of the most well-known museums in Rotterdam. The Natural History Museum, the Chabot Museum, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, and others can all be found inside the park grounds or nearby.
Museumpark 1, 3015 CX Rotterdam, The Netherlands
18.Natura Artis Magistra
© Natura Artis Magistra
Natura Artis Magistra, or Artis Royal Zoo, is a zoo in the city center of Amsterdam. It is the oldest zoo in the country and one of the oldest in Europe. The zoo also contains an aquarium, planetarium, arboretum, and a large art collection. The property has 27 historic buildings, many of which were built in the second half of the 19th century. The zoo itself was founded in 1838 and a couple of the buildings were on the property before the zoo was established. The zoo is home to many interesting animals, including orangutans, camels, elephants, and many others. The zoo is also home to the only museum of microbes in the world - Micropia.
Plantage Kerlaan 38-40, 1018 CZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Phone: +31 (0) 900-2784796
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19.Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder
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Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder, which translates as Museum Our Lord in the Attic, is a 17th-century Dutch canal house, museum, and house church in Amsterdam's city center. The Catholic church was constructed on the top three floors of the home in the 1660s. During this time, Catholics and other religious people who were not part of the Dutch Reformed Church were not permitted to worship in public. So, they built hidden churches, or schuikerk, in homes throughout the country. This home remains an important example of this era in history and the architecture of that time. The house church opened as a museum in 1888 and is the second oldest museum in the city.
Oudezijds Voorburgwal 38, 1012 GE Amsterdam, Netherlands, Phone: +31 (0) 206-246604
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20.Rembrandt House Museum
© Rembrandt House Museum
The Rembrandt House Museum is an art museum and historic home. The home was the residence of iconic master painter Rembrandt, who lived and worked in the home from 1639 to 1656. The home's original 17th-century interior has been reconstructed to reflect the style, décor, and furnishings of Rembrandt's time. All of Rembrandt's original belongings were auctioned off when he went bankrupt in 1656, however they have been reconstructed from the auction list and the reconstructed items are on display in the home. The art collection housed in the adjoining building includes many of Rembrandt's etchings as well as some works by his contemporaries.
Jodenbreestraat 4, 1011 NK Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Phone: +31 (0) 205-200400
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The Rijksmuseum is a government museum that is devoted to preserving Dutch arts and history. The museum is located at Museum Square in Amsterdam South close to other important museums. The museum is one of the most popular in the country and is the largest art museum in The Netherlands. The Rijksmuseum's collection contains more than a million objects with approximately 8,000 on public display, ranging in age from the year 1200 to the present. They include many historical objects as well as masterpieces from Dutch Master Rembrandt as well as Johannes Vermeer and Frans Hals. There is also a modest Asian collection in the museum's Asian Pavilion.
Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Phone: +31 (0) 206-747000
22.Bike & Bite Food Tours
© Bike & Bite Food Tours
Bike and Bite is a tour company operating in Rotterdam with tours that visit the city's most well-known attractions and interesting spots as well as some hidden jewels that other tourists may not get to see. Throughout the tour your group will stop at several different locations to sample a variety of Dutch dishes. Tours are done on bicycle in groups of four or more and last about 4 hours. You can choose to bring along your own bicycle or have the company arrange a rental for you. In addition to the regularly scheduled public tours, guests can arrange for special private or large group tours.
3039 XD, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Phone: +31 (0) 617-479420
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Verzetsmuseum, or the Dutch Resistance Museum, is situated in Amsterdam's Plantage neighborhood. The museum tells the story of the Dutch people's role in World War II and has won awards naming it the best history museum in the country. The museum's permanent exhibit recreates scenes from Amsterdam during the German occupation of The Netherlands. The story of the Holocaust is visualized as is the life of everyday people during wartime. There is a strong emphasis on the resistance of the Dutch people against the Nazis as well as various heroic acts. The museum uses photography, artifacts, wartime posters, audio recordings, and video to tell the stories of the dark time in Dutch history.
Plantage Kerklaan 61A, 1018 CX Amsterdam, Netherlands, Phone: +31 (0) 206-202535
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The Vondelpark is a 47-hectare public municipal park in Amsterdam that opened in 1865 and has long been a favorite among locals. There are a variety of amenities, including an open-air theatre, a rose garden with many types of roses, skate rentals, and a playground for children. Throughout the year there are many open air markets in the park as well as a variety of public music and dance performances in the amphitheater. There are a selection of restaurants, cafes, and bars in the park, including the Groot Melkhuis, the Blauwe Theehuis, Vondelpark3, and others. The park amenities and beauty make it a popular place for family-friendly relaxation and recreation.
Vondelpark, 1071 AA Amsterdam, Netherlands
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25. Zuiderzee Museum
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The Zuiderzee Museum is a museum dedicated to the maritime history and cultural legacy of the old Zuiderzee region. The museum is divided into two sections, with both an indoor and an outdoor component. The indoor museum is made up of several original and reconstructed 17th-century buildings that contain both the museum's permanent exhibits as well as temporary installations. Some of the most notable items in the museum are historical ships' hulls that provide visitors a close look at the boats that were used in the Zuiderzee's fishing industry. The outdoor museum village is modeled after villages in the area and features a large number of structures. Some buildings are replicas but some are original and have been moved to the museum grounds.
Wierdjik 12-22, 1601 LA Enkhuizen, The Netherlands, Phone: +31 (0) 228-351111
25 Best Things to Do in the Netherlands
- Attractiepark Slagharen, Photo: Attractiepark Slagharen
- Van Gogh Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Sammy - Fotolia.com
- Diergaarde Blijdorp, Photo: Courtesy of lidian neeleman - Fotolia.com
- Efteling, Photo: Efteling
- Erasmusbrug, Photo: Courtesy of Sergii Figurnyi - Fotolia.com
- Escher Museum, Photo: Escher Museum
- Heineken Experience, Photo: Courtesy of Sammy - Fotolia.com
- Hoge Veluwe National Park, Photo: Courtesy of dennis vd water - Fotolia.com
- Hungry Birds, Amsterdam Street Food Tours, Photo: Hungry Birds, Amsterdam Street Food Tours
- Jordaan, Photo: Courtesy of oscity - Fotolia.com
- Keukenhof, Photo: Courtesy of olena znakk - Fotolia.com
- Kroller-Muller Museum, Photo: Courtesy of callahan patty - Fotolia.com
- Leemstar, Amsterdam Canal Cruises, Photo: Courtesy of Freesurf - Fotolia.com
- Anne Frank House, Photo: Courtesy of Studio Laure - Fotolia.com
- Madurodam, Photo: Courtesy of lexan - Fotolia.com
- Mauritshuis, Photo: Courtesy of tonyv 3112 - Fotolia.com
- Museumpark, Photo: Courtesy of Leonid Andronov - Fotolia.com
- Natura Artis Magistra, Photo: Natura Artis Magistra
- Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder, Photo: Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder
- Rembrandt House Museum, Photo: Rembrandt House Museum
- Rijksmuseum, Photo: Courtesy of lornet - Fotolia.com
- Bike & Bite Food Tours, Photo: Bike & Bite Food Tours
- Verzetsmuseum, Photo: Verzetsmuseum
- Vondelpark, Photo: Courtesy of dglavinova - Fotolia.com
- Zuiderzee Museum, Photo: Courtesy of shorty 25 - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of olenaznakk - Fotolia.com