Are you planning on travelling to the Netherlands? Here is a bucket list with 50 things to see, do and eat while travelling through the Netherlands. Because I’m Dutch, I can tell you all about the must-visit places! How much items can you cross off your bucket list? Go ahead and take a look!
1. Visit the Keukenhof in Spring
In Spring, the Keukenhof is the biggest flower garden on earth! You can find more than 7 million flower bulbs which are abloom with more than 800 kinds of tulips. A unique and unforgettable experience!
2. Take a boattrip through the canals of Giethoorn
Giethoorn is also called the Venice of the Netherlands. This cute, little town in the province Overijssel has many canals and that’s why it’s popular for, among other things, boat trips. Tourists around the whole world are going to this side of the Netherlands to visit this beautiful, traditional, Dutch town.
3. Explore the Dutch culture and history at the Openlucht Museum
The Openlucht Museum features authentic buildings, objects and true stories which show you the Dutch culture and history. The open air museum is located in Arnhem, in the east side of the Netherlands and it takes you back in time. From two centuries in the past until very recently.
4. Rent a bike and travel through the country side
Dutch people love to bike! When you are in the Netherlands, you can find bikes everywhere. The country is also adapted to the bikes: you can find cycle paths everywhere, so it isn’t very dangerous to go by bike. A good opportunity to try it out, be a Dutchie, and go cycle yourself through the country side of the Netherlands. There are many places where you can rent a bike, especially in Amsterdam.
5. Celibrate Carnival in Limburg or Brabant
Carnival is a very huge happening in the Netherlands and especially in the South of the country, in the provinces Limburg and Brabant. Each year around February/March, people dress up and party for days, listening to Carnival music. It’s definitely a must to experience this nice festive on your own when you happen to be in the Netherlands around that time of the year.
6. Be part of Kingsday and wear orange
Another big festive and even a National Holiday, is Kingsday. On this day (the 27th of April), we celebrate the birthday of our King, Willem-Alexander. In the whole country you can find festives and party’s our nice markets to walk around. Everybody wears orange, because that’s the national colour.
7. Explore the Dutch art at the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum
You can find both museums in Amsterdam. In the Van Gogh Museum you can find the biggest art collection of Vincent van Gogh, the Dutch artist. In the Rijksmuseum you can find collections from, among other people, the Dutch artists Rembrandt, Vermeer and Hals.
8. Go to Amsterdam during the gay pride
The Amsterdam Gay Pride is a festive event with a homocultural character. Since 1996, this festive is yearly during the first weekend of August, in the city center of Amsterdam. The highlight of the Gay Pride is the Canal Parade, where a group of boats make a parade over the canals of Amsterdam. This always happens on the Saturday.
9. Explore more of the Dutch culture at the Zaanse Schans
The Zaanse Schans is located nearby Amsterdam, in Zaandam. For the ones who have not heard of it: the Zaanse Schans is a district from the 18th and 19th century. You can find lots of windmills, old Dutch houses and musea in this district. In other words, you can find out more about the (old) Dutch culture in this district.
10. Visit one of the oldest cities of the Netherlands, Nijmegen
Nijmegen is located on the east side of the Netherlands and is one of the oldest cities of the country. It’s a really nice city where there are things for all ages! Furthermore, the city is located at the river the Waal, which is great during the summer days. Lots of people are sitting at the ‘Waalkade’ (quay) when the weather is good.
11. Watch the Netherlands in miniature at Madurodam
Just outside the Dutch city The Hague and the Scheveningen district, you can find Madurodam, a miniature park with a wonderful mini version of the Netherlands. Everything in the park is modeled at a 1:25 scale, presenting the famous Dutch landmarks, historical cities, important infrastructure, and scenes from the everyday lives of Dutch residents.
12. Spend a day at the beach
Part of the Netherlands is located at the Nordsea. There are many great places from north to south of the country where you can have a nice day at the beach. Scheveningen is probably one of the most popular places. This place is located close to the city center of The Hague. However, there are also many places which are less popular and more relaxing for some people!
13. Pay a visit to the modern city Rotterdam and its harbour
During World War II, most of the historical center of Rotterdam was ruined. During that time and now Rotterdam has been rebuilt and now, the city is well-known for its new architecture. Furthermore, Rotterdam is also well-known for its harbour. The harbour is the biggest and most important harbour of Europe. During the last few years, Rotterdam has known a large growth of tourists. The city becomes more and more popular!
14. Try a nice, cold Dutch beer
The most well-known Dutch beers are Heineken and Grolsch. And how great is it to try one of these beers in the country where they emanate from?
15. Go to one of the Waddeneilanden (for example Texel)
The Netherlands consists of five islands, namely Texel, Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog. Texel is probably the most popular island to visit and also definitely the biggest one. Which one would you like to visit yourself?
16. Go ‘wadlopen’ in Friesland
In the north of the Netherlands, you can find the Waddensea. Here you can also go wadlopen, an unique and sportive experience in the nature of the World Heritage. There are several organisations in the province Friesland which offers tours to the Waddensea.
17. Visit the student city Groningen and have a party until the early morning
Another place in the north of the Netherlands which is very popular to students. It’s the biggest student city of the Netherlands and here you can have a great party! Absolutely the place to be when you would like to have a nice night out.
18. Take a walk or go by bike through the national park The Veluwe
National Park the Veluwe is the biggest Nature Park of the Netherlands. Not only can you find lots of landscapes, natures and animals, but you can also find art and architecture. The outdoor museum Kröller Möller for example is also situated in the Veluwe. It’s highly recommended to spend a day by bike in the National Park. A great way to see more than walking and to see better than driving!
19. Go to the south, to the place from where you can look out to three countries
In the most south place of the Netherlands, the ‘Drielandenpunt’ in Vaals, you can find the highest point of the Netherlands. This is the place where The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany are coming together. The place is accessible all year around, 24 hours a day, for free.
20. Try out the Dutch candy ‘drop’
Dutch people love ‘drop’, hard licorice candies. We have more than 80 typical kinds of licorice available to choose from; salty-, sweet-, or fruit- flavors or hard- or soft licorice.
21. Go to the biggest fair of the Netherlands
Do you love fairs? In Tilburg, Brabant, The Netherlands, you can find the biggest fair of the Benelux! In the middle of summer, from the 21st of July until the 30th of July you can find the fair in Tilburg.
22. Try the cookies ‘stroopwafels’
This is our most famous pastry dish. It consists of two thin layers of baked dough that is filled with caramel syrup in the middle. You can eat them cold, but lots of Dutch people also warm it up a little, which makes it extra delicious!
23. Visit one of the attraction parks
The Netherlands features several amusement parks. Some are fun for all ages and others are mainly focused on the target audience which is still a little bit younger. The most popular and most visited attraction parks are probably the Efteling and Walibi World, but would you like to try out a new park?
24. Or one of the many zoos
The Netherlands also features many zoos. If the weather is nice, people around the whole country are going for a day out. Much people chose to go to a zoo with their family. Would you like to have some inspiration for the zoos you can visit through the Netherlands?
25. Make a traditional Dutch photo in Volendam
In the town Volendam you can make a photo with your friends and family in traditional, Dutch costumes. How fun is that? And absolutely a souvenir you’ll never forget.
26. Eat some poffertjes
‘Poffertjes’ are like mini pancakes. It is a sweet pastry dish which mostly is eaten with powdered sugar. If you are a fan of pancakes, you should definitely try ‘poffertjes’ when you are visiting the Netherlands!
27. See a movie in one of the cinema’s
In each city in the Netherlands you can find a cinema. How fun is it to see a movie in a foreign cinema? Personally, I really like it. The best thing about Dutch cinema’s is the fact that they play a lot of English spoken movies with subtitles.
28. Go into the Dom Church in Utrecht
In the middle of the city center of Utrecht, you can find the Dom Church. The church is opened 7 days a week and you should absolutely pay a visit to the top of the church, where you can have a great view over the city.
29. Go to a cheese market in Gouda or Alkmaar
In Alkmaar you can find a big cheese market where you can also have a look at the shows they’re giving. You can also combine a visit to the cheesemarket with a tour through the Dutch cheesemuseum and/or a citywalk.
30. Eat ‘Patatje Oorlog’ at one of the snackbars
We eat a lot of ‘french’ fries, also called ‘patat’, ‘friet’ or ‘frietjes’, and you can add a lot of different toppings on it, such as mayonnaise, tomato ketchup, curry or peanut sauce. A famous combination of toppings is: mayonnaise and peanut sauce, and is called a ‘patatje oorlog’ in Dutch. This literally translates to ‘fries war’.
31. Visit a coffee shop
Actually I should not stimulate you to do this, but actually it belongs to the ultimate experience during your time in the Netherlands. In Amsterdam you can find many coffee shops.
32. Go to the ‘Binnenhof’ in the Hague, the political center
The Binnenhof is the political center of The Hague and is located in the center of the city. It’s a big complex of buildings which houses the meeting place of both houses of the State’s General of the Netherlands, as well as the Ministry of General Affairs and the office of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. The complex was built in the 13th Century and is located next to the Hofvijver lake. It is nice to walk around the Binnenhof and to have a nice view over the complex when you are on the other side of the lake.
33. Experience an Ajax soccer game
Not far from the center of Amsterdam, you can find the Amsterdam Arena. This is the stadium where the Dutch soccer club Ajax plays. If you are a fan of soccer, it can be really nice to watch one of the games during your stay in the Netherlands. Most of the time, you can buy tickets online at the official website of the soccer club.
34. Cruise the canals of Amsterdam
When you’re walking through Amsterdam, you can find canals everywhere. Most of the time, especially with good weather, you can also find many boats sailing through the canals. There are many companies around the city which offers boat tours over the canals and it’s definitely an activity you should have done when you’re leaving the Netherlands again.
35. Pay a visit to the village of Kinderdijk
Windmills, windmills and more windmills! You can experience the Dutch culture and landscapes and make some great photos of the environment.
36. Go shopping in Maastricht
Maastricht is, in my personal opinion, one of the most beautiful cities of the Netherlands. It has everything, including some good shopping possibilities, but also culture and nature. Definitely a must-visit during your time in the Netherlands.
37. Experience a Dutch festival
The Netherlands organises many festivals, especially in summer time. There are all kinds of festivals with all kinds of music. Before you are going to the Netherlands, I would definitely check out the agenda of the festivals and try to get a ticket for one which you like.
38. Try the Heineken experience
A trip to Amsterdam would not be complete without spending some time at the Heineken Brewery. The Heineken Experience is a major tourist attraction in Amsterdam and offers a glimpse into the history and brewing process of the ‘golden’ beer. It is an interactive and very nice tour to discover the world of Heineken.
39. Have a look at the Delta Works
The Delta Works is a series of construction projects in the southwest of the Netherlands to protect a large area of land around Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta from the sea. The works consist of dams, sluices, locks, dykes, levees and storm surge barriers. It can be very impressive to see this with your own eyes.
40. Visit the traditional Dutch city Delft
Also a traditional, Dutch city and definitely worth the visit!
41. Write a Sinterklaas poem
Sinterklaas is a holiday in the Netherlands which we celebrate on the 5th of December each year. Kids can put their shoes at the fireplace (or somewhere else in the house) before they’re going to sleep and the next morning they’ll see a little present in their shoes. It’s very traditional as well to write a poem for each other and to give to someone together with a gift. It’s nice to have experienced this Dutch holiday ones.
42. Walk through the Red Light District
We’ve all heard about the Red Light District in Amsterdam and are all curious to walk through the district!
43. Visit the Anne Frank House
Also located in Amsterdam, you can visit the Anne Frank House. This is the house where the Jewish girl Anne Frank has been hiding during World War II. Very impressing for the people who’re interested in the history of the Netherlands.
45. Go to Baarle’s, the place on both Belgium and the Netherlands
And you can say you’ve visited Belgium too!
46. Go to an event at the Ziggo Dome
The Ziggo Dome is one of the biggest concert halls and can be found in Amsterdam, directly next to the Amsterdam Arena. Almost every day you can enjoy a show or concert at the Ziggodome. The hall has a capacity of 17.000 places and on the floor there’s room for 6.300 persons. The concerthall is still very new, it has been opened in 2012. If you would like to join a concert, be fast with buying tickets when you’d like to go to the popular artists!
47. Pay a visit to Biesbosch nature reserve
Another large Nature Park which is definitely worth a visit for all the nature lovers! You can find the Biesbosch between the cities Rotterdam and Tilburg.
48. Experience the Amsterdam Light Festival
A winterfestival with light, art and water of the historical city center of Amsterdam. Yearly, this festival is held between the end of November and mid-January. By boat you’re sailing over the canals by night and see the beautiful light art.
49. See dolphins at the Dolfinarium
See the dolphins all through the park, go to one of the performances and have a nice day!
50. Try eating herring
This salted raw fish, served with chopped onions, is a very popular bite in the Netherlands. Tip your head back, grab the fish by the tail and bite upwards! Herring is available all year around, but the main season is between May and July. You can also eat herring in a bun (‘broodje haring’) or on bread made from rye.