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Things to do in the Netherlands

Things to do in  Netherlands

Welcome to Netherlands

Known for its flowers, windmills, and sizeable cheese wheels—as well as Amsterdam's Red Light district and coffee shops—the Netherlands manages to mix decades of culture with a modern, socially liberal atmosphere. And this low-lying country continues to enchant with its artistic masterpieces, famous tulip fields, and well-known nightlife. Despite its small size, the Netherlands hosts endless surprises for visitors to discover—whether it's on a bicycle through the scenic flat landscapes or cruising a canal-boat in radiant Amsterdam. The city of Amsterdam is a legendary place for artists, and locations such as the Rijks and the Van Gogh museums allow visitors to marvel over masterpieces by Dutch masters including Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt, Vincent Van Gogh, and Frans Hals. From there, take a canal cruise, stroll through food markets, or have a drink in a laid-back café. On a sightseeing tour, you can spot all the unmissable sights such as the Anne Frank Museum and the Bloemenmarkt, the vibrant flower auction. To escape the hustle of the city, head to the famous windmill village of Zaanse Schans, where craftsmen create the country's well-known wooden clogs. A little farther away still sits the typical Dutch village of Edam, known for its classic cheeses.

Top 15 attractions in Netherlands

#1
Anne Frank House (Anne Frank Huis)

Anne Frank House (Anne Frank Huis)

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The bestselling book “Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl” brought to life one of the greatest horrors of the 20th century in a compelling, personal way. In the true story, a young Jewish girl, her family, and some friends are forced into hiding in Amsterdam to escape the Nazis during World War II. The house that served as the Frank family’s hiding place for two years survived the war and is now a moving museum, with the primary site being the achterhuis (rear house), also known as the secret annex. Here the Franks sat in silence during the day and ate food that was secretly brought to them before being mysteriously betrayed and sent to Nazi concentration camps. Otto Frank, the only Frank who survived the war, published Anne’s now-famous diary in 1947.More
#2
Hermitage Amsterdam

Hermitage Amsterdam

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An outpost of St. Petersburg’s famous Hermitage Museum, the Hermitage Amsterdam showcases revolving exhibitions of painting and historical artifacts, often with a Russian theme. The sprawling Amstelhof building dates back to the 17th century, stretches along the Amstel riverfront, and features an inner garden courtyard.More
#3
Amstel River

Amstel River

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The Amstel is the great river that runs through Amsterdam and whose water was diverted into the city’s famous canals. The city was first built around the river, giving it the name Amstel Dam, and today the waterway is flows past modern buildings and charming houseboats before winding its way into the Dutch countryside.More
#4
Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum

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Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of works by the legendary Dutch artist, is a must-see for art and art history lovers. The museum boasts a collection of Vincent van Gogh’s personal effects, plus 200 paintings and 500 drawings by the master and his contemporaries—including Gauguin, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Bernard—plus Van Gogh’s famous works The Potato Eaters and Wheatfield with Crows.More
#5
Amsterdam Red Light District (De Wallen)

Amsterdam Red Light District (De Wallen)

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Most famous for its streetside brothels, Amsterdam's Red Light District (De Wallen) also houses scenic canals, bustling restaurants, bars, and plenty of shopping opportunities. While this controversial neighborhood may not be for everyone, its winding cobblestone streets and narrow alleys evoke Amsterdam’s rich history and laid-back culture.More
#6
Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum

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Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is the largest and most visited art museum in the Netherlands. Its collection, which ranks among the world’s finest, includes nearly 8,000 pieces spread over 80 galleries. Some of the Rijksmuseum’s most revered works are 15th- to 19th-century paintings by Flemish and Dutch masters, including Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Frans Hals. In addition to the astounding eight centuries of Dutch art and history, the museum has extensive outdoor gardens and a Michelin-starred restaurant.More
#7
Amsterdam Central Station

Amsterdam Central Station

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Amsterdam Central Station (Amsterdam Centraal Station) is the largest railway station in the Netherlands, as well as the country’s most visited national heritage site. Serving up to 250,000 passengers every day, it’s the city’s most important transport hub, offering both national and international train services.More
#8
Emperor's Canal (Keizersgracht)

Emperor's Canal (Keizersgracht)

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The second of Amsterdam’s three major waterways, the Emperor’s Canal (Keizersgracht) is the widest in the city. Its quiet waters wind through otherwise bustling neighborhoods, and it is lined with picturesque old houses—some of which have had famous residents. A boat trip along the canal lends itself to some wonderful photo opportunities.More
#9
Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug)

Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug)

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Amsterdam’s Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug) crosses the River Amstel in the city center. The wooden drawbridge features low arches and nighttime illumination. The bridge’s history reaches as far back as 1691, when the original structure was completed in a classic Dutch style that also influenced later renovations.More
#10
Jordaan

Jordaan

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Once a working-class neighborhood, Jordaan in central Amsterdam has become an upscale enclave favored by artists and designers. Grand 17th-century houses, art galleries, speciality shops, music venues, cafes, and restaurants line the leafy canals in this quintessential Amsterdam neighborhood, which attracts tourists and locals alike.More
#11
Westerkerk (Western Church)

Westerkerk (Western Church)

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Amsterdam’s 17th-century Westerkerk (Western Church) is as known for its architecture, including a spire that measures some 280 feet (85 meters), as it is for its history. Rembrandt was buried here, and in her diaries Anne Frank wrote about the church’s clock chime—one of the few outside-world experiences she had while hiding from the Nazis.More
#12
FOAM Photography Museum Amsterdam (Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam)

FOAM Photography Museum Amsterdam (Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam)

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Located in a former 16th-century warehouse, Foam (Photography Museum Amsterdam) has been displaying emerging artists alongside internationally recognized names since it opened in the early 2000s. Spend a few hours browsing the collection of contemporary and traditional artwork, or attend one of the museum’s workshops or talks.More
#13
Amsterdam Tulip Museum

Amsterdam Tulip Museum

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Run by a local bulb company, the small but informative Amsterdam Tulip Museum traces the history of the Dutch tulip obsession from the height of 17th-century tulip mania to today’s multi-million-euro bulb industry. If you’re looking for unique tulip-themed gifts or rare bulbs, the museum shop is the place to be.More
#14
Amsterdam Canal Ring (Grachtengordel)

Amsterdam Canal Ring (Grachtengordel)

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Amsterdam’s Canal Ring (Grachtengordel)—a charming 17th-century UNESCO World Heritage Site—is probably best known for its picturesque canals. Comprised of three rings of semicircular waterways that are bisected by smaller canals radiating from the middle, like the spokes on a very Dutch bicycle wheel, the Canal Ring is crisscrossed by hundreds of bridges which connect these Dutch Golden Age islands.More
#15
Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans

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The scenic Dutch village of Zaanse Schans is most famous for its windmills, once used to power everything from paint-making to paper production; today, it’s set up like an open-air museum, with five working windmills. Wander the village, view the preserved architecture, and watch the locals at work—in their traditional wooden shoes and Dutch garb, naturally. Green wooden houses, a historic shipyard, and a pewter factory are among the highlights.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 3 Days in Amsterdam

How to Spend 3 Days in Amsterdam

Top activities in Netherlands

All inclusive Canal Tour by Captain Jack (Traveller Choice Award 2022)
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Amsterdam Open Boat Tour With Live Guide and Unlimited Drinks
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Day Trip to Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam and Marken from Amsterdam
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Skip-the-line Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam - Exclusive Guided Museum Tour
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Amsterdam Small-Group Canal Cruise Plus Snacks and Drinks
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The Ultimate Amsterdam Canal Cruise - 2hr - Small Group with Drinks & Snacks
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Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Netherlands

star-5
Incredible day out - well...
Paul_M, Sep 2022
Day Trip to Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam and Marken from Amsterdam
Great way to see some of the Netherlands.
star-5
Beyond beautiful
Omnia_E, Sep 2022
Volendam, Marken and Windmills Day Trip from Amsterdam
The places were magnificent and breathtaking , it was nice to see this part of Holland.
star-5
Quick, easy, inexpensive way to venture outside Amsterdam!
Shane_C, Aug 2022
Day Trip to Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam and Marken from Amsterdam
We were given more than adequate time to see some of the different places and take pictures.
star-5
Great Trip - Packed in a Lot in one day! Great guide Pedro.
James_N, Aug 2022
Rotterdam, Delft and The Hague Full-Day Tour from Amsterdam
It was our last day in The Netherlands, so we were happy to get to see so much.
star-5
A great way to see more of this beautiful country
Corinne_D, Aug 2022
Ticket to The Ultimate 5D Flight Experience at THIS IS HOLLAND
This was a great way to see more of the Netherlands.
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Experience Holland
amy_B, Jul 2022
Volendam, Edam and Zaanse Schans Windmills Guided Day Tour from Amsterdam
Such an incredible way to see so much in a day.
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Honeymoon
WilliamJ_M, Jul 2022
Volendam, Marken and Windmills Day Trip from Amsterdam
Took the tour to get to see more of Holland in less time.
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Great small tour
Heather_B, Jul 2022
Zaanse Schans Windmills and Volendam Small-Group Tour from Amsterdam
A perfect small tour to see outside of Amsterdam.
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Facsinating are the words of my son
Job_F, Jun 2022
Ticket to The Ultimate 5D Flight Experience at THIS IS HOLLAND
In terms of excitement, this is most likely one of the best attractions you can do in Amsterdam!!
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Good experience
Laura_V, Jun 2022
Volendam, Edam and Zaanse Schans Windmills Guided Day Tour from Amsterdam
Nice trip out if the city of Amsterdam to see how other people in Holland had lived and still do.
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Windmills, Cheese and Clogs
Lucas_I, Jun 2022
Zaanse Schans Windmills, Clogs and Dutch Cheese Small-Group Tour from Amsterdam
An easy trip outside of Amsterdam to see some windmills, taste some cheese and see how clogs are made.
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Amsterdam
Joselyne_L, Aug 2022
Day Trip to Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam and Marken from Amsterdam
This tour was a wonderful Ways for me to see the old Holland ways and the new ways, such a nice trip to see how they make cheese and wooden shoes.
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Lovely day in the country
Denise_S, May 2022
Marken, Volendam & Zaanse Schans: Cheese, Windmills and Clogs
We could go at our own pace and didn’t have to fight to see anything or hear what was being said.
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A little quiet time
Lisa_M, May 2022
Amsterdam Countryside Bike Tour Including Cheese Farm and Clog Demonstration
By far one of my favorite activities from our trip!
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Totally cool experience!...
Audra_D, May 2022
Amsterdam Guided Evening Canal Cruise with Bar on Board
Loved being able to see so much of the city while also learning a bit of history.
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Bus transfer to the gardens and back
prepschoolblues, Apr 2022
Skip-the-line Keukenhof Ticket and Transport from Amsterdam
Easy and convenient way to visit the Keukenhof Gardens.
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Wonderful Weekend Break!
Shane_S, Aug 2022
Giethoorn and Zaanse Schans Windmills Day Trip from Amsterdam
We’d happily book another tour with Michael when we come back with kids in tow next time!
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Perfect Morning
Cecelia_W, Aug 2022
Zaanse Schans Windmills, Clogs and Dutch Cheese Small-Group Tour from Amsterdam
This was one of our favorite activities when were were in Amsterdam.
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Must go!
malinkins, Aug 2022
Zaanse Schans windmill village with cheese tasting & clog factory from Amsterdam
The cheese and clog demonstrations were great cultural activities.
star-5
Nice Day Trip outside of Amsterdam
Phillip_F, Aug 2022
Rotterdam, Delft and The Hague Full-Day Tour from Amsterdam
Changing from one language to the next was hard to spot the English portion from the others.
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All about Netherlands

When to visit

Grey and wet in winter, sweltering and humid in summer (especially in the cities), the Netherlands is at its best in spring and fall. In April, people gather to see the country’s world-famous tulip fields and to visit the Amsterdam Tulip Festival. Another highlight, also in April, is Koningsdag (King’s Day), a raucus celebration when people dressed in orange clothing and other costumes fill the streets. If you’re looking for music festivals, however, you’ll need to brave the heat and visit in summer.

Getting around

The Netherlands vast NS national rail network and excellent bus and tram lines make using public transportation to get around easy, fast, and inexpensive. The almost uniformly flat country is also a cycling paradise, with an extensive system of bike lanes and paths. Daily bike rentals are available at most NS train stations, and bikes are allowed on trains. For longer rentals, try local bike shops, which offer affordable rates and a wide variety of bikes to choose from.

Traveler tips

Culture vultures can stretch their travel budgets by investing in the Netherlands Museum Pass. This card is valid for entry to more than 450 museums—including popular spots like Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and Anne Frank’s House—and can be used for a full year. You can purchase the pass at most major museums, but you can’t share it; each one is printed with the passholder’s name and a photograph.

Frequently Asked Questions