Everybody’s heard of Giethoorn – the Dutch Venice – and Volendam by now. However great these Dutch places are – here are 7 other hotspots you absolutely must visit at least once when staying in Holland!
The stroopwafels and cheese don’t quite taste the same at the other side of this little country after all – and you might just enjoy those better. That’s why you have to try them out first! Same goes for Dutch fries – do you have to call them ‘friet’ or ‘patat’? Whatever you call them, it’s good to know you’ll get a better version – with way bigger portion sizes – in the loudest south of the country: Brabant. And that’s just one of the 7 beautiful Dutch places you should visit! Still think you’ve seen everything good in the land of the Dutch?
If you live in one of the most popular expat cities of the Netherlands, you probably never tried going to the eastiest east of the country: fresh, ‘nuchter’, and down-to-earth Twente. Yes, it’s almost Germany, and you can notice it from the dialect and the environment – but it’s still very much Dutch. Twente’s capital is Zwolle, and the province has its very own charming (and calming!) culture. Other cities in the Tukkerse area are Zwolle (home of the famous rap formation ‘Opgezwolle’), Hengelo and Enschede.
People there are called Tukkers, and they have their own flag, traditions and are proud at it too. Not too long ago, one of the LDO teachers was stuck in Twente, when a most kind Tukker picked him up. He waited up with our teacher for over 2 hours! They had amazing conversations, and not once the man made our lost teacher – who comes from Rotterdam – felt weird or discriminated against. And this is what characterizes the Tukkers generally: they’re very sociable, warm and kind.
Great sights you shouldn’t miss in Twente are de Sallandse Heuvelrug, theme park Avonturenpark (‘Adventure Park’) and Nijverdal – a small village famous for its historical weaving and textile industry.
De Sallandse Heuvelrug
‘The Sallandish hill back’ literally translated, is a very atypical nature reserve for the Netherlands with a rich history and culture. This nature reserve includes the largest contiguous dry heath area in northwestern Europe. Isn’t this sufficient reason to visit this place? The area that is protected here, comprises unique flora and fauna – like the nightjar.
You can book great trips through the forest, over the hills and even over the water with a local boat (‘zomp’). For only 2 euro’s!
It has great views over hills and forest, and it encompasses the Holterberg (well known in the area), the Noetselerberg and also the Koningsbelten. It’s 35 square kilometres and open 24/7. It’s a real natural monument and it’s managed by the government. A definite must-visit!
This charming litte theme park started out as a teahouse with a playground back in 1936 and has grown out to a full-blown family happening. Anyone that grew up in the province of Overijssel knows about this park. You can call it a smaller version of the Efteling and Walibi – but make no mistake, you’ll have plenty of fun! Especially with kids. Avonturenpark Hellendoorn deserves a spot amongst the 7 most beautiful Dutch places you should visit, because there you can escape from the crowds in the bigger cities and theme parks. On a good day, you’ll find yourself not waiting for more than 5 minutes before you can enjoy a roller coaster in complete dark or one of the many water attractions. You can buy a ticket for just 17,50 euro’s!
This small village was founded by the Dutch Trading Company in 1836, in coöperation with British businessman Thomas Ainsworth. It’s the only place in Holland where people tried digging for gold and it’s the home of multinational company Ten Cate. This village is perfect for a retreat for you and your family, and especially great for kids. You’ll find the above-mentioned Sallandse Heuvelrug within biking distance, you can walk to the cute center and most other areas of the place and you’ll experience rest you won’t find in the popular Dutch expat cities.
It’s a place where you can walk around, get lost and enjoy real, fresh nature. Don’t get scared if you suddenly bump into a wild deer, squirrel, peacocks and even bats. Most of the cows, chickens and beautiful horses are owned by farmers and safely housed, but you can still visit them, talk to both the ranchers and the animals (do ask permission first). Most people would welcome you, as the place doesn’t get (much) tourism – and it’s best that way. How could we enjoy its authenticity otherwise, now and then?
2. Amsterdam and surrounding places
Did you know Amsterdam is called Damsko in Dutch slang and by those who simply know? Damsko is the most diverse city of the Low Lands, with over 100 different national roots amongst its beautiful residents. And Amsterdam is way more than the canals and canal houses, the city center and Museumplein. It’s the mentality of the Amsterdammers, that love to keep things real, would die for Ajax (the city’s soccer club) and know exactly where and when to hang out and get the best kapsalon. Or coffee with bagels. This city is for everyone (if you are lucky enough to find a good house that is – just joking)!
Obviously, if you don’t live in Amsterdam and never visited this quite vibrant city before, staying here for at least a few days is an absolute must. Even if you do live in or near Amsterdam, chances are you haven’t seen the full face of this gem. There are countless hotspots – for during the day and long after your nephews bedtime – spread across the city. They come and go, and some become straight-up legends. And not without reason..
One of these legendary companies is fashion brand Patta – meaning ‘shoe’ in Dutch slang. This word is originally a Surinamese word, like most words in Dutch slang. Surinam – also still known as the quite colonial ‘Dutch Guyana’ – is probably the most famous old Dutch colony, as Dutchies with Surinamese roots are spread across Amsterdam. One of these people is the co-founder of Patta, which embodies the urban and Damsko street vibe perfectly and has a department in London too nowadays.
‘Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful and diverse cities in the world’– OurDomain
Every subculture of the city has its own scene, with parties and gatherings you might only come across if someone invites you to it. Skaters, rappers, soccer players, calisthenic athletes, writers and other great minds – just look for it and you’ll find amazing, fun people to hang out with. Who knows – maybe you’ll end up starting a business together. Or a family. As long as you have a good time. And you’ll probably will have that easily.
A great plan is to book a hotel in the other side of the city and act as a tourist. Or do a house swap. Inevitably, you’ll come across places and people you’d never see otherwise. Who knows – maybe you’ll find that the kapsalon in Amsterdam-Noord is WAY better than the one in your street?
Enjoy reading about these 7 beautiful Dutch places you should visit? Maybe you’ll also enjoy the top 10 things you must DEFINITELY try when in Amsterdam!
Beautiful city with its own character in the far, far north! Still quite diverse – proof is the nationally known Le Souk shop of Dutch-Algerians (called the ‘nicest grocer of the Netherlands’ by Hollands most famous foodie Mooncake), who recently also opened a restaurant. All in the popular Folkingestraat. Groningen is a real students’ city, with creatively designed hotspots everywhere. The university of Groningen is the RUG and it’s one of the best we have in our little country.
The city has its own dialect and many places to eat, drink and work. Some restaurants even offer breakfast till 4 PM! It’s the biggest student city up north and some sights you should visit there are the Martinitoren and castle de Menkemaborg.
If you’re wiling to explore more of the province of Groningen, you can enjoy the coasts and even some beautiful nature reserves – like national park Lauwersmeer.
Definitely the Paris of the Netherlands. Maybe you’ll find it’s even better than Paris. It’s quieter, has charm, and in the end – it’s heavily influenced by French culture since it was part of France several times in history. Did you know that in the 19th century, the elite of the city barely spoke any Dutch? They mostly spoke Maestrichts and French!
This shouldn’t come as a real surprise though. As soon as you step out of the train or your car and set foot in this city you can almost smell you’re in a different, more-than-average-Dutch romantic place. As you walk through the center with almost 1,700 historical buildings, you know this is a special city. And it is: Maastricht apparently exists for over 2000 years and calls herself one of the oldest cities of the Netherlands!
The incredibly green province of Noord-Brabant borders with Belgium. And that’s quite noticable: the people here talk differently, louder, seem more confident and social. And then there’s that soft g. Completely different from the typical Dutch ‘g’ you’ll learn to hate when you ever start to learn Dutch.
If you want a good taste of what Brabant is all about, watch Undercover on Netflix. We won’t lie, Brabant is also known as the drugs storage of Europe. Luckily, you won’t notice this: what you will find are lovely villages with warm people, lots of REAL clean green parks, grass fields and cities. Like the city of Oss, strategically situated between Amsterdam, Utrecht and Germany and Belgium. Near Oss you can find protected nature reserves, too, as with before-mentioned spots (who said the Netherlands is just a flat and boring country!?). A great example of one of these areas is Herperduin, which is owned by the municipality of Oss.
An absolute must is visiting Den Bosch – ‘s Hertogenbosch by its original name – the capital of Brabant. Here you’ll find beautiful canals, with green around, narrow, small streets in a center that would fit perfectly in a Dutch folk tale. If you’re a true expat, you must know Eindhoven – which is the biggest city of Noord-Brabant.
Whether you’ll stay in a smaller city like Oss, or a bigger one like Den Bosch – everywhere you’ll find proud yet sober Brabanders. At least figuratively sober, because drinking lots of beer is the norm here. Most of the time this drinking follows eating some serious portions of ‘Brabantse’ friet. Friet indeed and not patat here. And these Dutch fries you won’t want to miss!
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6. De Betuwe
De Betuwe is a region comprised of the municipalities of Culemborg, Buren, Tiel, Neder-Betuwe, West-Betuwe, Lingewaard and Over-Betuwe. Like the before-mentioned Sallandse Heuvelrug it’s a nature reserve where people come to rest and get inspired.
Another name for the area is ‘Rivierenland’ – River Island. Makes sense, since big Dutch rivers cross and mix here, creating an amazing environment packed with green and fruit especially. Wanna sleep in a fruit orchard? Camp in a hay stack? Spend the night in an authentic dyke house? It’s all possible here. Experience Dutch rural life in the Betuwe this summer!
7. Noordwijk aan Zee
Did you know Noordwijk aan Zee in the province of Zuid-Holland is THE floral seaside resort of the Netherlands? It even has an official European spa status! So if you love the beach and want to really relax, visit this place when the sun shines in Holland. Even if it’s not that sunny, it’s still great to go because of the beautiful dunes, flowers and beach. Not to mention the great hotels and spas.
After nurturing your body and mind, you can take long walks here and really unwind. This a common practice amongst lots of Dutch people. If you’re looking for more intense activities than walking, you can take lots of active trips here while enjoying local healthy food at culinary hotspots. What are you waiting for?