The best cities to visit in the Netherlands include the Capital of Cheese, Amsterdam-like canal cities, off-the-beaten-track towns and hidden gems. Many travelers just think of Amsterdam when visiting the Netherlands. Some might even make it to other big cities like The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Groningen or Maastricht. But there’s so much more to see in the Netherlands and as Dutchies we will help you visit the most unique places in our home country. We created a list with some of the best cities to visit in the Netherlands and most of them aren’t even on the tourist radar. Learn more about our 10 favorite off-the-beaten-track cities to visit in the Netherlands beyond Amsterdam!
The best cities to visit in the Netherlands
Amersfoort is the perfect place for a surprising city trip! Amersfoort is built as a classical fortified city with a walled city center. There are canals surrounding that old city, making it very easy to navigate in the center. And that city wall? It is partly made out of houses! These ‘Muurhuizen’ (Wall Houses) are super cute. You can find them along almost the entire edge of the old center.
But don’t skip the ‘new’ Amersfoort. Along the river Eem and just north of the old center, ‘De Nieuwe Stad’ (The New City) was created. It has hip shops and concept stores, museums, a private beach and some nice places to grab a bite. Especially the restaurant Kroast right on the water is a must. Kroast is located in an old industrial buidling and you can see see very well that it used to be a factory.
And the best shops? Coffee bars and lunch spots? We also made you a hotspot guide for Amersfoort. Check the pins on the map below. Our recommendation for a place to sleep? The monumental Hotel de Tabaksplant!
The Amsterdam canals, but without the tourists? Go to Leiden! This beautiful historic city is one of our favourites. Sebastiaan even lived there for three years on one of the canals. Maartje has been coming to Leiden for the best museums since she was a kid. Because Leiden has the best museums! You can spot mummies in the Archeology Museum, dinos in Naturalis, world treasures in the Museum Volkenkunde and the human body at Corpus. Also don’t miss the botanical gardens and the observatory!
And where to go for food or drinks? At Chummy they serve the best coffee, Roast and Toast serves delicious sandwiches, ROOS has the most instagrammable breakfast, De Waag is a beautiful location, Lot & De Walvis has a wonderful living room atmosphere and Logica is a must for vegetarians and vegans. Leiden is also the perfect place for vintage shopping and getting some interior items at beautiful concept stores. Check our hotspot map below for the best places!
Near big brother Amsterdam, is historic Haarlem. The entire city is concentrated around the central church. The weekly market on the ‘Grote Markt’ (central square) near the ‘Grote Kerk’ (central church) is on Saturdays and Mondays. The church itself is also worth a visit. The famous Haarlem artist Frans Hans is buried here. Where to get another glimpse into the history of the city? Go to the medieval courtyards. We have pinned a few of these historic, green oases for you on our city map. Via this link, you can find a nice free city walk along many of these courtyards.
In the narrow streets and authentic lanes of Haarlem, you will find the best museums and shops. We especially recommend the Teylers Museum for historical science (fossils!) and the Frans Hals museum for work by the old master Frans Hals. You can find the best shops in the ‘Gouden Straatjes’ (Golden Streets) around the central market and the church. Recommended are the concept stores DPRTMNT, Trendrecipe, Sjakies, and NYHVN. Men should go to Jan Heidema Meesterbarbier for a traditional shave.
For the tastiest beers, we’ll send you to Sebastian’s favourite brewers Jopen (Jopenkerk or their own beer room) or Uiltje Craft Beer (the brewery or bar). Other hotspots are coffee bars Mica and Wolkers, vegan hotspot and coffee bar Native, restaurants Fortuyn and Table 24, lunch spot By Lima and Dutch pancake restaurant Meneertje Pannekoek. More spots? Check our map below!
Delft is within cycling distance of our hometown Rotterdam, so we come here super often. Sebastiaan knows everything about this city as he spent his student days in Delft. Tourists have discovered historic Delft. But the Dutch themselves don’t come to Vermeer’s town that often.
What attracts so many tourists? The Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles (Royal Delft), the only Delft Blue producer left since the seventeenth century! Other cultural highlights are the Prinsenhof where Father of the Nation William of Orange was murdered, the Old and New Church where our royal house is buried and the Vermeer Museum.
We mainly come for the great coffee and lunch spots. Our favourites are Galerie uit de Kunst, ‘t Postkantoor, Pleck, Hummus, Kek and Wildgroei. The best stores are the green oasis Groene Vingers and concept stores Loco Lama, Instore Conceptstore and LU-ST. Lost your way between all these names? We pinned them all on this hotspot map.
The capital city of the province of Zeeland is also a fantastic place for a city trip! The picturesque streets, historical monument and location near the beach can easily entertain you for a whole weekend – or longer. Historical highlights are the characteristic Abbey and the impressive City Hall. In the gothic building of the Vleeshal, you can find changing exhibitions of mostly modern art.
Another tip is the Kloveniersdoelen, a national monument from the seventeenth century. In addition to a cafe, terrace and garden room, this beautiful building also has a cinema with arthouse films. Other tips for food or drinks are ‘t Vliegendt Hert, lunch spot Honeypie, fish restaurant Basalt, sourdough bread from Luuks and coffee bar RØST. Craving for some cake? Then you should go to De Juf or Honeypie! Of course you’ll need a nice place to sleep for your weekend trip. How about boutique hotel The Roosevelt? Or bed and breakfast Nr. 19 Bed & Bubbles?
#6 Den Bosch
Den Bosch – or in full: ‘s-Hertogenbosch – is one of the most dynamic cities in Brabant. The most famous resident of the city was the artist Hieronymus Bosch, so many activities are dedicated to him. You can view replicas of his work at the Jheronimus Bosch Art Center. Another way to experience the historical part of the city is during a boat tour through the narrow canals of the city! You need to be at the Noordbrabants Museum for the work of that other Brabant celebrity artist Van Gogh. The Design Museum also offers modern art.
And what are the must-see hotspots in Den Bosch? La Folie for antiques, Tum Tum for old Dutch sweets, Oak for Scandinavian design or Vintage Room for interior items. For theater, film, food and drinks you can go to Verkadefabriek, the old cookie factory on the outskirts of the city. You can drink coffee at CoffeeLab, eco-friendly cocktails at The Green Bar and beers at local favourite Café In de Kleine Werelt. Oerwoud is a great concept store with lots of plants and smoothies (bowls).
For one of the most surprising city trips in the Netherlands, you should go to the small village of Zutphen. This small town is – just like Arnhem – located in the middle of the beautiful Veluwe. On your city trip to Zutphen, a visit to Dutch nature is therefore a must.
Tip: need more tips for the Veluwe? Read this blog!
And the city itself? The old center has beautiful historical building, atmospheric streets and squares and great shops and places to eat. Recommended are BroodCafé, Hibou, Living and Giving, Mooi, Uffie’s, Su & Jill, Bij D’n Open Haard, Radijs, the Broederenkerk with a bookstore, Van Rossum’s coffee and vegan hotspot Safa.
The place where the most famous cheese in the Netherlands comes from! Every Thursday morning in the summer, there’s a traditional cheese market on the central square. But there is so much more than cheese in Gouda. This small town in South Holland has perhaps the most beautiful town hall in the country. You can admire the most beautiful rooms for a small fee! A city walk is also a must to discover the historic center. At the local tourist office, you can buy a good walking map for a small price, but you can also find a free option via this link.
Tip: download the Xplore Gouda app for the best tips for your city trip!
You can find the best hotspots in Gouda close together. In only one street, are the concept stores Karakter and Heb ik Via. For the best games, you have to be just a few meters further for the Speeldoos or Goudse Spellenwinkel. For food, you have to go to vegan hotspot Curcuma. Other tips are Miss Nice Banana, Kruim, Koffiefabriek and Barista Café.
Breda is the city where Maartje lived for the first nineteen years of her life! When the sun’s out, you can find all locals enjoying the weather on the terraces in the city centre. But Breda is also a good option in a winter atmosphere: the Christmas market and the city decorations will bring you the perfect holiday vibe. For some culture, a visit to the Gothic church is a must. The architecture is beautiful and from the top, you have a fantastic view.
More culture? The coolest graffiti art is all over the city! You will spot this Blind Wall Gallery pretty much everywhere, but you can also actively search for it. Download the app or check out the map on the site. You can find both via this link.
Breda is a also great place for some shopping and some hotspot hopping. We have more tips than we can list here. How about having lunch at In Kannen & Kruiken, Yirga, Vermut, Sowieso or Kamu? Fine dining at The boys of Zand en Klei, Liefdesgesticht or Pampelonne? Or coffee at Teun, cupcakes at Aunt Betsie and drinks at wine bar Petit Bardot? For shopping, we recommend the concept stores De Nieuwe Winkel, Swan Store Breda, Brandpunt and Noos31. We have of course pinned all these tips and more on the hotspot map below.
Recommended for a drink and a snack are wine bar Iveau and restaurant Stan & Co. The Bos & Heij concept store/breakfast and lunch spot is also worth a visit. After your coffee, breakfast or lunch you can browse through vintage items and designs from new or lessser known designers here. Not much further down the same street, is cooking mecca Pollmann. The beautiful crockery makes you want to bring everything home. Other recommendations? Humanoid (in an old church), Lost in Wonderland, Loft, Heaven, Brew2Cup, Babo Café and Froufrous.