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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

Anne Frank House (Anne Frank Huis)

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

Amsterdam Central Station

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


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

Van Gogh Museum

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

NEMO Science Museum

The largest science museum in the Netherlands, NEMO features four stories of interactive exhibits and hands-on experiments and is housed in one of the city’s most interesting buildings. Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the NEMO building looks like a green, copper-clad ship rising out of Amsterdam’s Eastern Docklands.More

Westerkerk (Western Church)

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

Zaanse Schans

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

Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug)

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

FOAM Photography Museum Amsterdam (Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam)

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

Emperor's Canal (Keizersgracht)

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


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

Amstel River

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

Amsterdam Canal Ring (Grachtengordel)

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

Amsterdam Tulip Museum

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

Amsterdam Red Light District (De Wallen)

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

Trip ideas

Van Gogh Museum Virtual Tours and Activities

Van Gogh Museum Virtual Tours and Activities

5 Must-See Amsterdam Museums

5 Must-See Amsterdam Museums

Experience Amsterdam with a Local Guide

Experience Amsterdam with a Local Guide

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Top Destinations

Top Destinations

Recent reviews from experiences in Netherlands

A lot to see and learn!
Lisa_C, Mar 2023
Day Trip to Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam and Marken from Amsterdam
A very good overview of the history of Holland with a lot to see and learn.
See the countryside…
Suzanne_H, Mar 2023
Zaanse Schans Windmills, Clogs and Dutch Cheese Small-Group Tour from Amsterdam
Very pleasant excursion to see windmills & get a sense of Holland’s past.
Kate_Z, Mar 2023
Live Guided tour Zaanse Schans with cheese tasting from Amsterdam
Fun, information, great pace - great way to see this part or Holland!
Well organized trip, fun guide
Leslie_F, Mar 2023
Day Trip to Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam and Marken from Amsterdam
Great way to see the country side and learn Netherlands rural and farming history.
essential visit outside amsterdam
Marta_G, Jan 2023
Giethoorn, Afsluitdijk, Zaanse Schans Day Tour Mini VIP Bus Incl. Hotel Pick Up
Great tour and would really recommend if you visit Amsterdam to see a different perspective of Holland & the Netherlands.
Old Holland at its finest!
Brittany_T, Jan 2023
Volendam, Marken and Windmills Day Trip from Amsterdam
This is a beautiful way to see old Holland, full of cheese, chocolate, and stunning views.
5 star Experience
Gerard_D, Dec 2022
Private countryside tour: the highlights of Holland with guide and car
We are from Australia and wanted to see more of Holland not just the big cities.
Best Canal Cruise in all of Amsterdam!!
Olga_G, Dec 2022
Amsterdam Small-Group Canal Cruise Plus Snacks and Drinks
Thank you, and hope to see you again soon!!
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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.

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People Also Ask

What is the Netherlands famous for?

The Netherlands is famous for its unique architecture, colorful fields of tulips, world-class art museums, and old-fashioned windmills. The low-lying nation is also known for locally produced cheeses such as Gouda, as well as blue-patterned pottery from the city of Delft.

What do tourists do in the Netherlands?

Tourists visit Amsterdam to explore its canals, boutiques, bars, flower markets, and world-class museums, such as the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Anne Frank House). In the surrounding countryside, towns known for windmills and clogs (Zaanse Schans), tulip fields (Bollenstreek), and cheese (Edam) are also popular with tourists.

How many days should I spend in the Netherlands?

If you’re only visiting Amsterdam, three days in the Netherlands should be enough. Though it’s better to give yourself at least five days so that you can see places beyond the city such The Hague, Maastricht, Rotterdam, and Delft—all easy day trips from Amsterdam.

What is the prettiest place in the Netherlands?

If you’re a fan of architecture, you’ll find plenty of beautiful spots to visit in the Netherlands, from the cheese-producing town of Gouda to the charming city of Leiden. Amersfoort is a great option for medieval architecture, while fans of nature should make a beeline to the sand dunes of Hoge Veluwe National Park.

What should I avoid in the Netherlands?

You should avoid getting in the way of cyclists in the Netherlands, particularly in Amsterdam, where getting around by bicycle is a way of life. Don’t walk on bike paths; and if you plan to rent a bike, ask for a rundown of the rules of the road before you head out.

What should you not miss in the Netherlands?

Don’t miss the museums of Amsterdam, especially the gargantuan Rijksmuseum, which houses the world’s finest collection of works by the Dutch masters. Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum is another must-see, while the Mauritshuis in The Hague houses Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp and Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring.


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