When you think of the Netherlands, what comes to mind? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess it’s Amsterdam, tulips - and maybe marijuana. If you’ve been to the Netherlands and have only visited Amsterdam, you are missing out! There is so much more to the country than just Amsterdam - I would know, I’ve lived in the Netherlands for nearly eight years, spending half of my time in Amsterdam. While Amsterdam is charming and there is a lot to do there, I’m here to tell you that there is more to the Netherlands than just Amsterdam.
Also see: Top 8 Things to do in the Netherlands in November
10 reasons the Netherlands is more than just Amsterdam
1. You won’t be able to see the famous windmills in Amsterdam
So you’re going to the Netherlands and want to see the windmills? You’re gonna need to leave Amsterdam to do it right! Head over to the Zaanse Schans (about 30 minutes from Amsterdam) for gorgeous windmill scenery, or better yet, head to Kinderdijk near Rotterdam
2. The Amazing Castles
One of the most beautiful, and I’d argue least visited, castles in Europe is Kasteel de Haar, located 40kms outside of Amsterdam. This castle was actually the playground to the rich and famous during the 20th century, and its renovation was funded by the Rothschild family. Visit this castle to experience true opulence.
3. Believe it or not, the Dutch have pretty decent beaches
The beaches in the Netherlands might not be the most beautiful beaches you’ll ever visit, but I’m guessing they might be some of the biggest The Dutch are experts at water management which means huge beaches, and huge beaches mean tons of beach terraces and clubs! In the summertime head to Scheveningen in the Hague to chill out at the beach while a DJ spins tropical house music - there’s nothing better to do to nurse a hangover.
4. Check out the modern architecture in Rotterdam
The city center of Rotterdam was literally blown away in bombings during WWII. The city used to be just as charming and quaint as Amsterdam, but unfortunately most of that history is gone. To repair and rebuild the city, Rotterdam took on a completely new identity, and is now the playground of modern architects. Visit Rotterdam to check out a Dutch city with a decidedly different vibe than all the rest.
5. The Dutch even have islands
In the north of the country you’ll find the Wadden Zee, where there are several islands splaying out across the top of the country. On Texel, the closest island to the mainland, you’ll find huge beaches that are nearly empty, playful seals, and an iconic lighthouse. The Dutch islands are the perfect getaway for anyone looking for a break from city life.
6. Quaint fishing villages that take you back in time
Take a step back in time and visit Marken, one of the Netherlands’ oldest fishing villages. Here you can see how clogs are made, and how life looked 100 years ago in small Dutch towns. Wander small lanes filled with colorful green houses. Instagram inspo, anyone?
7. Giethoorn - the mini Venice in the Netherlands
Giethoorn is a small town you see popping up from time to time online that makes you wonder, is this town really only connected by waterways? This village is mostly car free, and the best way to see it, is of course by boat. Houses with thatched roofs line the waterways and boats putter past you on these quite canals. Giethoorn is sure to make you swoon!
8. The Gastronomical culture of Maastricht
Located at the southern-most point of the Netherlands, right between Belgium and Germany is the town of Maastricht. Life in Maastricht is different than the rest of the country. While the rest of the Netherlands has a more sober (sorry, I said it) food and drink culture, Maastricht has more of a Belgium vibe of joie de vivre. Take a train to Maastricht to treat yourself to fine dining and of course, lots of beer and wine.
9. The Hague's Artsy Side
Can’t get enough of Dutch museums? After you’ve crossed the Rijksmuseum off your list, head to the Hague to see Girl with the Pearl Earring at the Mauritshuis Museum. Mauritshuis is located right next to the office where the Dutch prime minister works, so you might see him riding up to his office on his bike - seriously.
10. Tiptoe through the tulips
No post on visiting the Netherlands could ever be complete without a mention of Dutch tulips. It’s no secret that the Netherlands has iconic tulip fields, and they are just as beautiful in real life as in the photos. Plan your trip between mid-March and mid-May for the best chances to see the tulips in full bloom!
Gabby is an American expat who has lived in the Netherlands for nearly eight years, and tells it like it is about travel and life abroad on her blog Boarding Call. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram for more inspiration and real life experiences.