Add these hidden gems to your upcoming travel plans.
With domestic travel having its moment this summer, we’re more likely to focus our plans on exploring one country at a time, turning our attention to experiencing slow life, nature, good food and drink, and picturesque walks along breathtaking backdrops. We’ll soon find we don’t have to go far to get the change of scenery we’ve been lusting for these past few months, without having to face large crowds or venture too far from our safe zones.
In the Netherlands, there’s plenty of life and wonder to explore outside the capital or the most commonly visited big cities.
We’ve compiled a list of 22 lesser known Dutch destinations worth adding to your itinerary.
Looking to satisfy a taste for wine, cheese, or fine art? Maybe you’d like to immerse yourself in the authenticity of a world that appears to be frozen in time. Or maybe you’re looking to simply enjoy a breath of fresh air among trees or along the shore.
How about a cheese holiday? Don’t mind if we do.
Take a trip for your senses and get lost in the smells and textures of a specialty cheese market. Think melty fondue; sweet, savoury, and the enticing aromas of most flavourful cheeses all in one place.
- Alkmaar’s cheese market hosts a theatrical reenactment of its traditional market, with a dairy pantomime, cheesemongers, carriers, and all. Grab a local beer and enjoy the show, and once you’re ready for the real thing, you’ll find plenty of cheese shopping nearby.
- Edam: Get a taste of the authentic, pre-factory cheese trade in this small countryside town, just outside of Amsterdam.
- Gouda: While the Gouda cheese market is famed for its display, the town is also steeped in history. Visit the weigh house, wander through the courtyards, or find the “secret” church along Jeruzalemstraat.
Full-bodied and rich or light and crispy? Calling all wine lovers ?
It turns out you don’t need to go all the way to France or Italy to explore a wine region, tour through its vineyards, or enjoy plenty of tastings. The Netherlands boasts some of its own exceptional wineries.
Whether you’re a connoisseur or just tend to go for the nicest label, you’ll be sure to adore any of these learning and tasting liquid locations:
- Wijngaard Apostelhoeve, Maastricht: Try on your best summer outfit and spend a day in the vineyard.
- De Fiere Wijnakker, Zutphen: Enjoy an alfresco wine tasting.
- Groningen: For an extra rich experience, why not plan your trip to coincide with any number of wine festivals and festivities?
Through the eyes of an artist
How did so many famous artists come from the Netherlands? Walk in their footsteps, see the world through their eyes, and see if inspiration strikes for your own work of art.
- Delft: Home to Rembrandt and Vermeer’s eternal resting place; with its funky markets and quirky coffeeshops, Delft is in many ways a mini-Amsterdam. Be sure to check out Koffie & Zo, for quirky interiors, “honest” coffee and delicious baked delicacies.
- Leiden: This architectural hub is also home to the botanical gardens with the first tulips in Europe. Make a weekend getaway to discover its unique architecture and plenty of museums and galleries.
- Heerlen: Known as the capital of murals and home to urban street art festivals, along with plenty of gallery-coffeeshop hybrids.
Authentic and historical standouts
Any historical buffs out there who are ready to go back in time will get a treat by heading to these back-in-time locations:
- Nijmegen: Take a walk through time (more than 2,000 years) in the oldest city in the Netherlands.
- ‘s-Hertogenbosch: Cruise on the canal or cycle the courtyards and absorb the ancient architecture.
- Valkenburg: Fairy-tale town atop mines and caves. (For an extra restorative visit, we love this wellness haven in Cauberg).
- Naarden: For the most authentic and uniquely star-shaped experience, check out this best preserved fortified town in Europe.
- Amersfoort: Embark on a whimsical trip in this enchanting medieval city, with its first defensive wall completed around 1300. The second wall features Koppelpoort, a picture-perfect medieval water and land gate completed around 1425.
And what about the beauty of nature and a breath of fresh air?
Take a break from the city altogether. Hike, walk, stay amongst the wildflowers and the trees; get lost in the appreciation of a beautiful sunset and get grounded in the beauty of life untouched.
- Broek-in-Waterland: Complete with waterside florals with petals that fall on the ripples like little boats;
- Oudewater: The nature here is utterly spellbinding (maybe that’s why this location is famed for its witchcraft museum);
- Monnickendam: Retreat to the water with the canal as your backyard;
- Wadden Islands: Despite the name, you won’t find your typical island life here—imagine seals and mudflats peppered between beaches and rolling hills
- Domburg: A seaside gem along the North Coast.
- Marken Island: Imagine a landscape of wooden boat houses with calm waves lapping—the perfect place to take a breath and refresh your mind.
- Giethoorn: the Venice of the Netherlands
- De Hoge Veluwe National Park, Gelderland: Discover animals like the red deer, black woodpecker and wild boar in their natural habitat. This diverse landscape offers a look at a totally different side of this magnificent country.
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In the Netherlands, we’ve currently got special member deals on car rentals with Avis, tickets to attractions and entertainment (from museums, national parks, to movie theatres) through Tiqets and Ticko; tours hosted by locals through Triple; Privium lounges at Schiphol Airport, private transfers and shuttles with Get Transfer; discounted luggage storage with Radical Storage; as well as a free quest with the travel and city exploration app Questo.