When you think of The Netherlands you often think of Amsterdam. That crazy city full of beauty, life, canals, and parties. But it wasn’t until I moved abroad that I realized just how cool The Netherlands is, and how many lovely places that you can venture to that aren’t the capital city. From the picturesque streets of Den Bosch, the modern architecture in Rotterdam, to the pristine beaches of The Hague, there is character and fun in the nearby cities. Here are three places in The Netherlands that aren’t Amsterdam, and shouldn’t be missed.
Three Places in The Netherlands That Aren’t Amsterdam
Below you can find a map of all the places discussed in this post:
The Netherlands is a relatively small country. You can easily get from place to place by car or train. We took the train from Amsterdam to Rotterdam and The Hague but drove from Germany to Den Bosch. Either way is practical and easy to drive or get by with public transportation. All of these cities are extremely walk-able, so you’ll find it easy to see all the sites by foot.
Two words: Cube houses. This was the extent of my knowledge on Rotterdam but this contemporary city brings more modernization that just houses. The broad streets are lined with funky architecture, museums, shopping, and eating. This is the largest city in The Netherlands after Amsterdam and boasts the largest port in Europe.
Rotterdam was almost completely destroyed in WWII so when they rebuilt the city they rebuilt in a new, modern way. When you arrive, check out the train station itself!
Then walk over to Market Hall, or Markthal, which is a food court and office building. We had delicious Stroopwafels and sampled lots of food from the local stalls. If you still want a glimpse of the past, the Cathedral, Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk, is nearby and still towers over the city.
Make your way over to the cube houses and don’t forget to take a tour inside- it’s only a few euros! It’s really interesting to see how people live in these small, peculiar shaped homes. Venture to the river to see the large bridges and the Euromast, a 600 foot tall tower (185 meters), that has two restaurants and great views of the city.
You can also go to one of many museums such as Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen for paintings and sculptures. There’s also the Maritime Museum to see how the sea and waterways impacted the city and created what it is today. There is also the Harbor Museum which has a perfectly preserved ship.
If you’re looking for a short day trip out of the city you can head to the village of Kinderdijk for picturesque windmills from the 18th century!
I love this pretty little beach town. I was pleasantly surprised by this long, sandy beach flanked with restaurants and shops. This city is full of old world charm with lovely cobblestone streets, unique museums, and pretty architecture.
We first headed to the Escher Museum and I absolutely loved it! Escher is Holland’s most famous and inventive graphic artist. He manipulated images in a unique way that really plays with how we see images. There are lots of optical illusions that really question what you see before your eyes. There is also the Panorama Mesdag Museum which displays Hendrik Mesdag’s panoramic beach painting. It depicts the way of life for a fishing village, how the boats were moved to and from the water, where the wealthy went to take a dip, and how they were transported by servants.
Near the city is also the Peace Palace where you an have a tour of the International Court of Justice. Don’t miss The Binnenhof which is the seat of the Dutch government. The building is gorgeous and seems to be floating atop the water.
Take the tram and head over to the beach in Scheveningen. Here, you can take in the lovely resort and find a respite from the busy city. The beach is the perfect place for a stroll and a great place to eat or grab a drink.
‘s Hertogenbosch aka Den Bosch
My friend told me a funny story recently about getting to Den Bosch. He was living in Belgium at the time and was going to meet friends in Den Bosch. He goes to a train station but can’t seem to find Den Bosch. After spending time looking he asks the information desk. “Oh, you mean ‘s Hertogenbosch!” Not knowing what the man was talking about he goes ahead and buys a ticket and takes a chance. Luckily, he was right, Den Bosch is the nickname for this extremely long town name.
Den Bosch or the formal name, ‘S Hertogenbosch is a quaint town filled with canals, a stunning cathedral, and lively shops and restaurants. Any given day of the week people are milling about the streets eating Bossche bol (a profiterole glazed with chocolate and filled with whipped cream) or exploring a local festival. The perfect place to stay is the the Duke Boutique Hotel. This hotel is somehow modern yet cozy and in the heart of the city. This post office now hotel is a comfortable oasis and a delicious breakfast spread. You can walk out your door and head to the shops or the cathedral.
As for things to do, I recommend heading to the local shops to find some funky furniture or see art from their most famous artist, Hieronymus Bosch, at the Jheronimus Bosch Art Centre. Next rest your feet and take a canal ride on the Binnendieze. In the 15th century there weren’t many paved roads so most goods were transported by boats. Here, you’ll get a feel for how life used to be in this small city contained in the canals.
St. John’s cathedral is not to be missed, especially the huge organ and Gothic architecture. Truly, one of the most ornate and grandest organs I’ve ever seen. You might be surprised at just how clean this city is. For a city as old as this, it’s practically spotless!
There is definitely more to The Netherlands than Amsterdam. You can find cool canals in Den Bosch, a dose of history and culture in The Hague, and get a glimpse of modern architecture and attitude in Rotterdam. It’s so easy to get to, you can easily see all of these cities in just a few days. I highly recommend checking these off-the-tourist-track places.
You might also like: 20 Things You Must Do in Amsterdam
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