21 beautiful towns in the Netherlands that aren’t Amsterdam - DutchReview (2023)

There are so many beautiful towns in the Netherlands, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in that city life. Here are 21 stunningoptions for you to check out while escaping from the hustle andbustle of Amsterdam.

Whether you’re a tourist or a resident of the lowlands, we’re always on the lookout for beautiful Dutch towns to visit.

If you’re new here and are after something that isn’t just Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Amsterdam, then you’re in luck.

There are plenty of other beautiful places to go and this is why we deliberately left the capital off the list this time around (sorry, Amsterdam).

1. Giethoorn

With its picturesque atmosphere, a large concentration of canals, and countless boats, Giethoorn is known as “the Venice of the Netherlands.”

The place is literally postcard-perfect: everything is incredibly clean, people’s lawns are perfectly trimmed, and all the houses are matching.

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The only issue is that in the summer months, the place is heaving! Like, really. Giethoorn is especially popular with group tour agencies, so if you’re looking to hire your own private boat, do it well in advance.

2. Zutphen

Located on the Berkel and IJssel rivers, Zutphen is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands and has one of the best-preserved medieval town centres in northwestern Europe.

Nicknamed the Torenstad because of its large, historic buildings and variety of towers that form the city’s skyline, this “Hanzestad” has a rich history going back to the days of the Romans 1,700 years ago.

Some of the things you definitely shouldn’t miss on your visit include the wine house, the museum, and Zutphen’s unique library.

3. Amersfoort

Amersfoort is one of our personal favourites. The whole place is incredibly picturesque and drenched in history.

The iconicKoppelpoort, which was built in 1425, dominates most pictures and looks especially good at night. However, there is a lot more to Amersfoort than just this.

Apart from the Koppelpoort,the entire city centre is beautiful as well — so it’s the perfect place to go for a walk and explore. There are plenty of bars, restaurants, and museums located within Amersfoort, making it an ideal place for a short day trip.

4. Zierikzee

Zierikzee in Zeeland is a small port town with a dynamic history. There are 568 national monuments in and around the city centre, which places Zierikzee in the top ten Dutch cities with the greatest number of monuments.

It is the most historically preserved town in the province of Zeeland.

The first thing we recommend doing when you come here for a day trip is to simply wander around. Zierikzee has beautiful squares and alleyways that you can easily get lost down.

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After that, head to the former town hall for some history or do some shopping in the local boutiques.

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5. Texel

While technically not a town, the serene island of Texel has had a rich and turbulent history, which includes a brush with the American Revolution and the location of WWII’s last battlefield.

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Today, it’s a paradise for hikers, cyclists, horseback riders, artists, and sheep. 🐑

Texel has something for everyone, from historians and nature lovers to sheep and birdwatchers.

It even has a Bird Information Centre. No sheep information centre though, but it does have its own breed of sheep: the Texelaar.

6. Delft

Delft is a beautiful town located between Rotterdam and The Hague. It’s your typical Dutch town, with beautiful architecture and lots of little cafés and shops.

Delft is the perfect place if you want to spend the afternoon somewhere truly Dutch and sit on the terrace with a coffee or a beer.

There are also plenty of free things to do in Delft, including strolling through the weekend markets or walking around the parks. We also recommend checking out Nieuwe Kerk, or heading to the botanical garden.

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In case you didn’t know, Delft is THE place to buy Delft blue porcelain (duh).

7. Bunschoten-Spakenburg

Are you eager to venture off the beaten track and explore less touristy destinations? Consider visiting Bunschoten-Spakenburg!

Two neighbouring towns with a buzzing history and culture that you may have never even heard of.

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Spakenburg is the most famous fishing village along the southern area of the former Zuider Zee, which is now broken up into two big lakes — IJsselmeer and Markermeer.

Bunschoten is a farming village right next door. As time went on, the two villages prospered and grew closer to each other, and they eventually merged in 1965 to become Bunschoten-Spakenburg.

8. Haarlem

Located close to Amsterdam, Haarlem is always recommended for people who aren’t keen on the hustle and bustle of the big city but still want to enjoy pretty canals and a quintessential Dutch city.

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It’s the perfect place to walk around if you’re after great architecture, windmills, shops, and all things Dutch.

Make sure to explore the markets in the giant market square, visit the cathedral (it’s beautiful!), climb a windmill, or check out the array of shops and restaurants.

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9. Gorinchem

Gorinchem is the Netherlands’ largest and most beautiful fortified city. It’s located along the Waal river, an extension of the Rhine, in the province of South Holland.

This historic town, together with the village of Woudrichem, Castle Loevestein, and Fort Vuren, form the Vestingdriehoek (The Fortress Triangle) — a critical part of the Old and the New Dutch Water Lines that defended Holland for centuries from invaders.

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Wander around the harbour and enjoy the flower displays by the water or take the five-kilometre self-guided fortress walk (Vestingwandeling) which takes you over the earthwork ramparts past barracks, artillery sheds, old tollhouse, Dalempoort gatehouse, the caponier, two flour mills, and many other fascinating buildings with a military purpose.

10. Valkenburg

Valkenburg, in the southern province of Limburg, is a place rich in history. It’s home to Valkenburg castle, which offers beautiful ruins that you can go and explore.

Walking around the centre, in general, is also beautiful. It’s definitely one of those forgotten places to visit and we highly recommend you go!

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Apart from wandering around and looking at all of the beautiful architecture (check out the train station!), there is a variety of different museums, shops, restaurants, and cafes.

Christmas is an especially nice time to visit as they have a Christmas market in Valkenburg caves! It’s a very unique experience.

11. Willemstad

Exploring Willemstad is quick and easy. You can take a leisurely walk through the streets lined with attractive houses. Some of the entrances to the front doors are over little wooden bridges crossing a narrow channel of water.

There is a wide choice of restaurants with outdoor terraces under a row of trees in the middle of a divided main street.

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A walk along the town’s rampart takes about 45 minutes. Along the way, you’ll encounter several historic remnants, such as a military gunpowder house built by Napoleon when the French occupied the town in the early 1800s.

He liked the fortified town so much that he stockpiled gunpowder there. No fear, it’s empty now, but the building remains.

12. Leiden

Not only is Leiden great in every way: in its small quaint streets and abundance of canals, but it’s also the home of DutchReview! Trying not to be biased here, but Leiden is a beautiful place to visit.

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It has the most canals in the Netherlands after Amsterdam, and it’s home to 15 great museums (which beat Amsterdam any day)

We recommend you visit the Leiden markets, and the different museums — such as The Museum for Antiquities and the Museum of Ethnology, take a boat trip, shop, or sit on one of the terraces with a biertje.

13. ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch)

We absolutely love ‘s-Hertogenbosch, a.k.a. Den Bosch! You’ll find this beautiful place in Noord Brabant. The city is a mix of old and typically medieval buildings, canals, a beautiful cathedral and also very modern and trendy architecture.

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It’s also home to the bulb houses, which have sat there since the 1980s.

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On your next visit, take a boat trip along the canals and enjoy the absence of hoards of tourists that you usually see in Amsterdam. You can also visit St. John’s Cathedral, and take a walk or cycle to take in all of the amazing architecture.

14. Maastricht

Maastricht is often forgotten, seeing as it’s so far away from the capital. It shouldn’t be though! Maastricht is a beautiful city, with lots of medieval architecture and plenty to do.

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It’s especially popular with students and is so close to Belgium and Germany that it’s the perfect place to go if you’re wanting to just hop over the border and try somewhere new.

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Marvel at the gorgeous architecture as you take a walk around the city, visit the flea markets, go to the market square, visit some museums, and drink on the terraces… there are plenty of things to do in Maastricht.

15. Naarden

Naarden is a small town close to Amsterdam. It’s pretty well known due to those popular pictures showing the shape of the town. From above, you can see the place is shaped like a star, as the whole town is surrounded by moats.

It looks this way because historically, it was part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam, making this fortified town even more beautiful and interesting than it was already.

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Apart from taking a drone shot, or maybe not as the residents may find that a bit annoying at this point, you can check out Vestingmuseum, which is dedicated to the town’s defence history, visit one of the oldest churches in the Netherlands, just walk around and take in the sites, or go for food and drink in one of the many cafés and restaurants.

16. Hoorn

The beautiful little town of Hoorn is located in Noord-Holland, near lake IJsselmeer. Not only is it picturesque, but it’s also close to a lake, sand dunes and the countryside.

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This makes Hoorn a popular place to go for water sports — staycation here we come! Hoorn is great to walk or cycle around and there are museums, a shopping area, restaurants, and cafés — what more could we want?

17. Utrecht

Utrecht is a beautiful and typically Dutch city that is often forgotten (Amsterdam and Rotterdam seem to rule the roost). Once the religious capital of the Netherlands, this quaint, medieval city radiates around the Dom Tower — the tallest church tower in the Netherlands.

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With beautiful old houses, bridges, and canals that ring the city, Utrecht is often regarded as a little Amsterdam — just without as many tourists. There’s no shortage ofinterestingthings to do and seein this historic city.

18. Roermond

Roermond is a town in Limburg, located very close to both Germany and Belgium. It’s the perfect place to go if you’re visiting from outside of the Netherlands, or if you’re looking to try somewhere new afterwards.

The town is located on the lower Roer on the east bank of the Meuse River — so it’s a beautiful destination to visit for the day.

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If you love to shop, you’re in luck as Roermond has a designer outlet and a variety of popular high-street shops, cafés, and restaurants.

Not only is wandering around the town beautiful, but the place is also a stone’s throw away from the lake districts, offering lots of walks and loads to do. If water sports are your thing, then this is the place to be.

19. The Hague

The Hague is an immensely popular place to be for internationals — to live, work and visit. Once you’ve gone there, you can see why. The Hague is a hub for innovation, business, and multiculturalism.

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It’s both modern and historical, so it’s a great mix. It’s also home to the government and the International Court of Justice.

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You can walk around the Binnenhof grounds (the Dutch parliament), explore the Peace Palace, visit Scheveningen Pier, check out many different museums, and shop on the large high street.

20. Veere

The small town of Veere has a rich history. Located in the province of Zeeland, it is unique for its strong kinship to Scotland.

No other European town played a more important economic role for Scotland than Veere once did between the 16th and 17th centuries.

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Veere is definitely worth a visit. The centre square may be small, but the atmosphere is soaked with history along with the small streets — a reminder of the town’s glory days.

The town’s charming shops offer clothing, culinary delicacies, decorations, and of course, souvenirs.

21. Alkmaar

You may have heard of Alkmaar because of the Alkmaar cheese market. But Alkmaar isn’t just great because of all of the cheese (even though that definitely is a big bonus). It has a historical city centre and is filled to the brim with things to do.

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Walking or biking around the historical centre should definitely be on your to-do list too. There are loads of shops, restaurants, and cafés to keep you occupied on your visit.

There are also a few museums in Alkmaar (did someone say cheese museum and beer museum?!) that are worth a visit.

Have you visited any of these gorgeous towns? Which Dutch town is your favourite? Tell us in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in October 2018, and was fully updated in January 2023 for your reading pleasure.


Which city is worth visiting in Netherlands? ›

1. Amsterdam. The largest city in the Netherlands - and one of the most-visited cities in all of Europe, attracting over 20 million tourists per year - Amsterdam offers plenty of great attractions to visit.

Why is Utrecht famous? ›

Its the fourth largest city in the Netherlands, and many regard it as the cozier alternative to Amsterdam. The city boasts beautiful canals and parks, lively restaurants and cafés, fascinating museums and remarkable historical buildings.

Can I live in the Netherlands as a US citizen? ›

If you want to stay in the Netherlands for longer than 90 days, you may need a residence permit. In many cases you will also have to apply for a long-stay visa before you travel to the Netherlands. This visa is also called an authorisation for temporary stay (MVV).

Can you live in Netherlands with just English? ›

You can stay here for as long as your tourist visa lasts without having to learn Dutch. And if you speak English, you will find that many Netherlanders speak English as a second language. But if you want to live in the Netherlands, you must learn Dutch.

What is the number 1 most beautiful place on earth? ›

According to the study, the most beautiful place in the world is Peyto Lake in Canada. This natural wonder is known for its neon blue water surrounded by dazzling mountains.

What is the safest place to live in the Netherlands? ›

Amsterdam has been named one of the safest cities in the world, in the latest Safe Cities Index from The Economist Intelligence Unit. The Dutch capital placed 2nd in Europe and 6th globally.

Which Dutch city is known for peace? ›

Known worldwide as the city of Peace and Justice, there are several international organizations located in The Hague, Netherlands.

What is the oldest town in the Netherlands? ›

Of Roman origin (its name derives from 'Noviomagus' meaning 'new market') the city celebrated its 2000th anniversary in 2005. This makes Nijmegen the oldest city in the Netherlands.

What is the cheapest city to live in Netherlands? ›

Where to live in the Netherlands on a budget. Amstelveen, Hilversum, and Zaandam are good options for people who want to save on living expenses while remaining close to Amsterdam. Those looking for more affordable housing closer to The Hague or Rotterdam can look into living in smaller cities like Delft or Gouda.

Is it cheap to retire in the Netherlands? ›

And if you compare the overall cost of rent between both countries, American retirees can save a small amount — the Netherlands is 4.19% cheaper than in the U.S. But when you compare rents between specific cities, your Social Security dollars could go in some cases a lot further in this Western European country than in ...

Are the Dutch known for being frugal? ›

The Dutch are legendary at home and around Europe for their frugal habits, such as taking their own food with them when they go on holiday to avoid spending money abroad. The language abounds with expressions about saving money such as “pile up your nickels and you will build a house”.

Is it worth buying a house in Netherlands? ›

Dutch house prices are high, and the additional costs of buying a home in the Netherlands can add up. Despite this – and the fact renting remains common – owning a home in the Netherlands usually makes good financial sense in the long term. Tax benefits for homeowners mean that mortgage costs are often lower than rent.

Is it worth moving to Netherlands? ›

The Netherlands is an attractive country to relocate to. It is ranked 11th on the global quality of life index, with a very good health service, high employment rates, good public safety and high life satisfaction levels.

Are Dutch friendly to foreigners? ›

The Dutch people are friendly

People new to the area may find that they can easily strike up a conversation with a complete stranger on the bus, or realize that they're only a few words away from finding the best restaurant in Tilburg. Most students easily build relationships with their neighbors.

What is the most Dutch city in America? ›

Sioux Center, Iowa is the city with the largest percentage of Dutch in the United States (66% of the total population). Also, there are three private high schools with their respective primary school feeders in the Chicago area that mainly serve the Dutch-American community.

What US state has the most Dutch? ›

Nowadays, most Dutch Americans (27%) live in California, followed by New York, Michigan and Pennsylvania. According to the 2000 United States Census, more than 5 million Americans claim total or partial Dutch heritage.

Is Leiden or Utrecht better? ›

Leiden falls out of top 100 while Utrecht clings on to top spot in Shanghai Ranking. 2022 sees Utrecht University (UU) claim the top spot in the Netherlands in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), for the 20th year in a row.

Is Utrecht cheaper than Amsterdam? ›

Lower living costs

While still expensive, Utrecht remains cheaper than Amsterdam, especially real estate-wise.

Do they speak English in Utrecht? ›

The language spoken is Dutch, with English widely spoken as a second language. Its central location combined with excellent transport and communication infrastructures has attracted people and businesses from all over the world and encouraged many of them to make the Netherlands their home.

Can an American retire in the Netherlands? ›

After five years of legal residence in the Netherlands you can apply for a permanent residence permit which will also allow you to retire here. In either case you will need to produce the following: A valid passport. A valid residence permit.

How hard is it to move to the Netherlands from the US? ›

Moving to the Netherlands is hard for foreigners as they must undergo a specific process of obtaining residency or citizenship. However, American expats who wish to move to the Netherlands can obtain a residence permit with an extra opportunity known as the DAFT visa.

Is it difficult to learn Dutch? ›

How hard is it to learn? Dutch is probably the easiest language to learn for English speakers as it positions itself somewhere between German and English. For example, you may know that German has three articles: der, die and das, and English only one: the.

Can an American have dual citizenship with the Netherlands? ›

Under the current Dutch Citizenship Act, you can keep dual nationality and multiple passports for as long as you live, provided you always carry a valid Dutch passport or identity card and do not voluntarily obtain another nationality.

Do US citizens pay taxes in the Netherlands? ›

But how are your taxes affected if you are living within the Netherlands? US citizens, as well as permanent residents, are required to file expatriate tax returns with the federal government every year regardless of where they reside.

Does the US allow dual citizenship with the Netherlands? ›

Dual citizenship

those who acquire another citizenship at the time of birth (for example, a child born to Dutch parents in the United States would hold both US and Dutch citizenship). persons who acquire Dutch citizenship through the option procedure (including former Dutch citizens resuming citizenship)

How do you greet in Dutch? ›

Other common phrases when greeting someone is “Goedemorgen” ('Good morning'), “Goedendag” ('Good day'), “Goedenmiddag” ('Good afternoon') and “Goedenavond” ('Good evening).

Is Dutch hard to learn if you speak English? ›

At first, Dutch might seem like a very difficult language, but it's surprisingly easy for English- and German-speakers. Dutch has even been described as a combination of the English and German languages! This makes it one of the easiest languages to learn for speakers of either language.

Why do so many Dutch speak English? ›

Contributing factors for the high degree of English fluency are the similarity of the two languages, the country's small size, dependence on international trade, and the use of subtitles for foreign languages on television, rather than audio dubbing.

What is the most visited place in the Netherlands? ›

Rijks Museum

Located in Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum is a giant and the most loved tourist attraction in the Netherlands, whose collection is regarded as the finest in the world of art. The museum includes 8000 art pieces in about 80 different galleries, including pottery, paintings, artworks, and history books.

What are the 3 main things the Netherlands are known for? ›

The Netherlands is known as the land of tulips, windmills, canals, clogs and coffee shops, but there's also much more to this wonderful country than meets the eye. We've dug deeper to find 13 fun facts about the Netherlands you might not know.

Why is the Netherlands better than the US? ›

Compared to people in the US, Dutch people are much much healthier. There is less obesity here, fewer chemicals and antibiotics in food, and people are more active. You can see the more active part by looking at the biking culture and infrastructure here. Rain or shine, most Dutch people cycle wherever they are going.

Where is the cheapest place to live in the Netherlands? ›

Where to live in the Netherlands on a budget. Amstelveen, Hilversum, and Zaandam are good options for people who want to save on living expenses while remaining close to Amsterdam. Those looking for more affordable housing closer to The Hague or Rotterdam can look into living in smaller cities like Delft or Gouda.

What is the number 1 tourist attraction in the world? ›

1. The Colosseum in Rome, Italy. Topping off the list of most popular tourist attractions is the Colosseum which is no big surprise for those who have it on their bucket list.

What is the #1 most visited city in the world? ›

London. England's vibrant capital, London, will draw close to 18.82 million people this year, making it the number one most visited city in the world. It's not surprising that so many people want to visit, as it has so much to offer.

What is considered rude in Amsterdam? ›

It is rude to speak whilst chewing gum. Knock before entering a room if the door is shut. Standing with your hands in your pockets can be considered impolite. Compliments are usually given in private directly to the person that deserves them.

How much does a girl cost in the Red Light District Amsterdam? ›

Window prostitution; prices range roughly between €50 – €100. Duration usually 15-30 minutes or less. Escort agencies; prices range roughly between €150 – €200. Escort agencies usually charge per hour.

Can you avoid the Red Light District in Amsterdam? ›

There aren't too many areas to avoid in Amsterdam, although sightseeing the Red Light District after dark can be risky. Steer clear of southeast Amsterdam's Bijlmer area as well.

What kind of personality do Dutch people have? ›

They are disciplined, conservative, and pay attention to the smallest details. They see themselves as thrifty, hardworking, practical and well organized. They place high value on cleanliness and neatness. At the same time, the Dutch are very private people.

What are Dutch people called? ›

Seeing as the country is called The Netherlands, and the people are called 'Nederlands' in their own language it might seem a little odd that in the English-language speaking world, we refer to people from this little European country as 'Dutch'.

What are Dutch facial features? ›

Dutch women have significantly longer and broader faces compared with UK women; their palpebral fissure and nasal widths are significantly greater, their nasal ridge length and upper face proportion are significantly reduced; and their nares are significantly more anteverted.


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