The Best Things to Do in The Netherlands

The 25 Best Things to Do in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a magical country where opposites blend seamlessly together. Here centuries-old castles, fields of vibrant tulips, and rippling canals lined by candle-lit cafes coexist with high-octane nightlife, mind-bending art galleries, and visionary cafes that do things their own way.

Whether you’re planning on spending your time exploring captivating cities or you’d rather while away your days surrounded by breathtaking nature, you’ll never be stuck for what to do in the Netherlands. From gripping museums, historic villages, and flamboyant palaces to sprawling national parks, family-friendly amusement parks, and picture-perfect windmills, you’ll be spoiled for choice when putting your itinerary together.

With so many fascinating things to see and do, it can be tricky to know where to begin. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the absolute best things to do in the Netherlands. Add these fun activities and attractions to your Netherlands bucket list, and you’re guaranteed to have a fantastic time discovering this gorgeous vacation destination.

The 25 Best Things to Do In The Netherlands

1. Stroll Around Amsterdam’s Canals

Best Things to do in Netherlands: Amsterdam’s Canals

Amsterdam is teeming with amazing things to see and do. In fact, there are so many cool attractions that you could accidentally forget to appreciate the capital’s mesmerizing beauty. Make sure you don’t miss out and take the time to wander around Amsterdam’s canals.

One of the best things to do in the Netherlands, a walk around Amsterdam’s canals will give you a real insight into the city. By exploring on foot, you can saunter over bridges, pop into hidden alleys, and stroll down secret passageways. You never know where you’ll end up!

During your adventure, you’ll come across cannabis cafes, independent coffee shops, artistic boutiques, quirky houseboats, progressive art galleries, and major tourist attractions. 

If you haven’t got much time, we recommend limiting yourself to Jordaan. This stunning neighborhood dates back to the 1600s and is bursting with iconic canal-side houses and clandestine courtyards tucked behind buildings. 

2. Explore De Haar Castle

Fun Things to do in Netherlands: De Haar Castle

Just a short drive outside the ancient city of Utrecht, De Haar Castle is the biggest castle in all of the Netherlands. The incredible castle was built by the famous Dutch architect PJH Cuypers and was so large that the village of Haarzuilens had to be moved to make room for it!

Today, the stunning landmark sits on a giant piece of land that measures around 250 acres. A much older fortress originally dominated this site in the 14th century. But the magnificent fortress you can see was constructed in 1892.

De Haar Castle has all the classic features you’d expect from a building like this. Take a look around the outside, and you’ll discover suspension bridges, gates, moats, turrets, and towers. Step through the colossal entrance gate, and you’ll find huge collections of period furniture, antiques, tapestries, and paintings.

Make sure you take the time to explore the castle’s marvelous gardens. The highlight of the area, these stunning parks and gardens boast thousands of species of flowers, peaceful bodies of water, and the sweet sound of lively aviaries. 

3. Surround Yourself With Color At Keukenhof

Netherlands Things to do: Keukenhof

For some of the best sights in the Netherlands, spend some time at Keukenhof. Open every day between March and May each year, this dazzling park is home to thousands of tulips that are in full bloom during this season.

Known as the Garden of Europe, Keukenhof is the biggest public garden on the planet. And it’s just a short trip away from the center of Amsterdam! The extensive garden covers more than 70 acres, where you’ll find over 700 different kinds of beautiful tulips. 

There are plenty of attractions and events hidden inside the garden, too. Explore the different sections, and you’ll come across spectacular flower shows, gorgeous flower mosaics, special exhibitions, and cute picnic areas. There’s even a spot where you can hop on a boat and float through the park!

If you want to take a little piece of the Netherlands home with you, make sure you stop by the gift shop. Here you can pick up some tulip bulbs and plant them in your garden at home.

4. Discover Centuries-Old Netherlands At Zaanse Schans

Cool Things to do in Netherlands: Zaanse Schans

The closest you’ll get to going back in time, Zaanse Schans is a fantastic place to spend the day if you want to experience what life was like in the Netherlands during the 18th and 19th centuries. Plus, it’s just 30 minutes from Amsterdam, so this is a great destination if you’re looking for day trip ideas.

A truly one-of-a-kind place, this family-friendly open-air museum lets you take a walk around a traditional Dutch village and see just how local people lived and worked hundreds of years ago.

Here you can wander past the bakery and enjoy the smell of freshly-baked bread, take a walk past the local cheese factory to see if they’ve got any samples, and peek inside the shop where classic clogs are made. You’ll be surrounded by traditional wooden houses, towering barns, working mills, and workshops where things are done the traditional way.

It’s important to remember that although people visit Zaanse Schans from all over the world every day, some people really do live here. This means you really are getting a genuine, authentic experience when you visit. 

5. Sample Stroopwafels

Must do things in Netherlands: Stroopwafels

When you’re in the mood for a sweet treat, one of the must-do things in the Netherlands is to try a stroopwafel. These snacks are hugely popular throughout the world – so much so that you’ve probably already had one. But nothing compares to enjoying one from the place where they were invented! 

A stroopwafel is made up of two palm-sized thin, round waffles that are stuck together with a layer of sweet, sticky syrup. They’re super addictive and are at their best when you get them fresh from a bakery or a street vendor. At this point, they’re warm and the filling is gooey and delicious. 

When you’re in Amsterdam, stop by Lanskroon and order a stroopwafel. One of the best places in the city for the snack, this bakery has been running for years and dishes up giant stroopwafels that you need two hands to hold! You can order a classic stroopwafel sandwiched with honey or a delicious variation stuck together with coffee caramel. 

6. Learn About the Past At The Rijksmuseum

What to do in Netherlands: Rijksmuseum

If you’re in the mood for a cultural day out, stop by the Rijksmuseum. The Netherlands’ national museum, this enthralling gallery is located in Amsterdam’s Museumplein (Museum Square) and guards an astonishing collection of ultra-rare antiquities and artwork that date all the way back to 1809.

There are more than seven million individual pieces of art to check out, including 5,000 paintings spread out across over 250 separate rooms. There’s also an impressive library bursting with around 35,000 books. 

As well as the grand art collection, the Rijksmuseum also offers a great insight into how art and culture have developed over the years in the Netherlands. There’s a huge number of displays that focus on all sorts of fascinating subjects, from modern art to Dutch handicrafts and medieval sculptures.

There’s so much to see here that you can easily spend a full day at the museum without coming across the same display twice! 

7. Be Inspired At The Anne Frank House

Unique Things to do in Netherlands: Anne Frank House

Located in Amsterdam, the Anne Frank House is one of the most important and popular Netherlands attractions. The museum is set inside the 17th-century canal house in which Anne, her family, and four others hid for two years from the Nazis. Whether or not you’re interested in history, the museum gives you a fascinating and haunting insight into what it was really like for people during those terrible times.

The museum invites you to step through the doorway and explore the secret annex where Anne and others lived in secrecy. Although most of the rooms are now empty, it’s easy to imagine people huddled up, scared for their lives. The home is filled with an eerie, ghostly atmosphere from a time gone by.

Explore the permanent exhibition, and you’ll discover historical documents, diary quotes, photos, movie stills, and genuine possessions that help you learn more about Anne and the people who lived in the house. You can also take a look at Anne’s famous diary and a number of other notebooks she kept at the time. 

8. Admire Wildlife At The Hoge Veluwe National Park

Fun Things to do in Netherlands: Hoge Veluwe National Park

The Netherlands may be best known for its buzzing towns, but the beautiful country is also home to a number of stunning national parks. Nestled in between Arnhem and Apeldoorn, the Hoge Veluwe National Park is the biggest and most famous of them all.

The colossal park covers around 13,800 acres and is full of things to see and do. The majority of the park is taken over by dense woodland where you can wander if you need to get away from it all. Be on the lookout during your walk – there’s a good chance you’ll bump into wild wolves and deer!

For the chance to see more animals, head for the sand dunes. Covered in heath, these natural hills are a popular place to see all kinds of birds. 

The sculpture park is one of our favorite parts of the Hoge Veluwe National Park. The largest in Europe, this outdoor sculpture park boasts more than 160 individual sculptures created by some of the most prominent artists on the planet. The way they blend into the natural background is awe-inspiring!

9. See The Picture-Perfect Windmills Of Kinderdijk

What to do in Netherlands: Kinderdijk

For some of the best Netherlands sightseeing, head to Kinderdijk. Dotting the riverside between Dordrecht and Rotterdam, this charming village translates into English as “Children’s Dike.” It got its name following a terrible flood back in 1421, which resulted in a mother abandoning her child in its cradle on the dike. 

Kinderdijk’s biggest and most alluring attraction is the wonderfully preserved 18th-century windmills. An official UNESCO World Heritage Site, this collection of 19 windmills was created between 1722 and 1761 and is currently the largest accumulation of windmills in the Netherlands. 

The windmills are so much bigger in person than you can imagine. Each of their sails is a whopping 92 feet long! While you can admire the windmills from afar at any time of year, they’re open to the public between April and October. During these months, the sails are set in motion so you can admire the ancient buildings in all their glory.

10. Feel Like Royalty On King’s Day

Cool Things to do in Netherlands: King’s Day

If you’re planning to be in the Netherlands at the end of April, work your itinerary so you’re in Amsterdam on April 27. On this date each year, the entire capital celebrates the biggest and best event of the year – King’s Day. This important festival celebrates the king’s birthday.

Each year on this day, up to one million people fill the streets dressed head-to-toe in bright orange. Some people even dress their dogs in cute orange outfits too! People get dressed up in orange because it’s a way of showing pride for the Dutch royal family. 

During King’s Day, the streets of Amsterdam are blanketed with orange decorations, and music concerts, dance performances, theatrical shows, and street sellers fill every available space. The entire capital turns into a giant party that everyone’s invited to.

The date of King’s Day changes every time a new king is elected. Right now, it’s celebrated on April 27 because that’s when the current king’s birthday is. But double-check the royal birthday before you go to avoid celebrating on your own.

11. Keep Warm With Poffertjes

Netherlands Bucket List: Poffertjes

When you need a break from all the exciting Netherlands activities, one of the best things to do is to enjoy some poffertjes. These bite-sized treats look like baby pancakes, but they’re much lighter and fluffier than typical American pancakes.

Poffertjes are made from a combination of buckwheat flour, yeast, eggs, sugar, butter, and milk. They’re cooked in hot butter in a pan until they’re slightly golden and crisp on the outside and light and delicate on the inside. They’re usually served with a pat of butter and a dusting of powdered sugar for extra decadence!

Fun Things to do in Netherlands: Poffertjes

If you visit the Netherlands in winter, you’ll find fresh poffertjes available from street food sellers all over the country. As well as butter and powdered sugar, they’re also served with fresh strawberries, honey, and whipped cream.

The Pancake Club in Amsterdam dishes up incredible poffertjes throughout the year. Here you’ll find the light and fluffy pancakes served with everything from Oreos, ice cream, and Nutella to lemon curd, apples, and banana.

12. Relive Your Childhood at Efteling

What to do in Netherlands: Efteling

If you’re visiting the Netherlands with kids or you just want a little bit of nostalgic fun yourself, spend a day at Efteling. The largest amusement park in the Netherlands, Efteling is filled with exciting rollercoasters, family-friendly rides, and loads of magical extras that will make your vacation one to remember.

Set in Kaatsheuvel, the amusement park is cleverly laid out into different zones called realms. Each realm is dedicated to a different legend or myth, with all the attractions, dining venues, rides, and decorations in the section following that specific theme. The quality is so superb that you’ll think you’re at Disney World!

Efteling has been exciting visitors since 1952, making it one of the oldest continuously-running theme parks in the world. One of the best things about the park is that it changes things up every season. This means that you can visit again and again to see different shows, decorations, and celebrations.

13. Be Awestruck By The Amsterdam Light Festival

Cool Things to do in Netherlands: Amsterdam Light Festival

One of the coolest things to do in the Netherlands around Christmas is to see the Amsterdam Light Festival

This spectacular event takes place in December and January each year, when the capital city is illuminated in all kinds of innovative and creative ways. From classic Christmas lights to remarkable works of art, the Amsterdam Light Festival is so enchanting and mesmerizing that you’ll never want it to end. 

You’ll find the most impressive displays along the city’s canals. Artists from all over the Netherlands and beyond plan their magical and original creations to beat the works of art they produced the year before. Each festival boasts around 300 masterpieces to enjoy, making the Amsterdam Light Festival one of the largest in Europe. 

For something truly special, we suggest climbing onboard a canal boat and admiring all the lights from the water. The exact dates of the festival change each year, so be sure to double-check them before you make plans. 

14. Check Out The Netherlands In A Single Day At Madurodam

Netherlands Bucket List: Madurodam

Want to see as much of the Netherlands as possible but don’t have enough time? Spend a few hours at the Madurodam in The Hague. Here you can see every inch of the country in a single morning or afternoon!

Madurodam is home to a miniature model of the Netherlands on a 1:25 scale. Take a look around, and you’ll be able to admire all the biggest natural and human-made attractions in the country, from spectacular windmills and palaces to lakes and forests. 

The incredible detail is one of the best parts. There are hundreds of tiny people scattered throughout the model doing all sorts of everyday stuff, tiny windows with people peeking through them, and boats sailing across rivers.  

As well as admiring the amazing handiwork, there’s loads of other stuff to do at Madurodam. You can have a 3D miniature model made of yourself, generate green energy to power different cities, and save towns from flooding!

15. Discover Your Love Of Art At The Van Gogh Museum

Netherlands Things to do: Van Gogh Museum

Whether you consider yourself to be an art lover or not, spending a day at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is one of the best things to do in the Netherlands. 

This engrossing art museum is filled to the brim with masterpieces created by Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries. It’s tucked away inside the Gerrit Rietveld-designed building and is home to the biggest collection of the artist’s work in the world. 

Take a look at the permanent exhibit, and you’re sure to see pieces that you instantly recognize, such as Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat, The Bedroom, and Sunflowers. The museum also invites you to discover a side of van Gogh you’ve never seen before through his drawings and letters, which reveal the meaning behind his work. 

To make the experience more immersive and engaging, there are thought-provoking questions next to some of the paintings that encourage you to really think about what van Gogh was trying to achieve through his work. 

16. Be Blown Away By The Flower Parade

Unique Things to do in Netherlands: Flower Parade

If you’re going to be in the Netherlands in April, you’ve got to check out the Flower Parade. One of the most bright, colorful, and cheerful events of the year, this festival takes place over four days and includes a program packed with events.

The highlight of the festival is the incredible 26-mile-long parade which travels from Noordwijk to Haarlem. Around 20 stunning floats and decorated vehicles make up the parade, all covered with dazzling tulips, daffodils, and other seasonal flowers.

The flowers are used to make spectacular things, like giant dragons, tigers holding their cubs, and replicas of famous works of art. They’re accompanied by all kinds of quirky street performers and marching bands to add to the atmosphere.

When the parade makes it to Haarlem, the flower floats pull up to the side so people can take photos. Believe us, when you see how incredible they are, you’ll definitely want to snap a few pictures yourself!

17. Say “Cheers!” At The Heineken Experience

Fun Things to do in Netherlands: Heineken Experience

One of the most unique things to do in the Netherlands is to take a tour around a real working Heineken factory. Set within Heineken’s oldest brewery in Amsterdam, the Heineken Experience invites you to discover the story behind one of the most famous beers in the world.

This offbeat museum tells you all about the Heineken family that started it all and also takes you through the brewing process they use to make their iconic beer. The process starts right at the beginning, from the special type of water they use all the way up to the final bottling and capping stage. There’s also an interesting exhibit that focuses on the Heineken logo and how it has changed over the years. 

At the end of the tour, you’re free to sample the beer as part of a tasting session. If you fancy more than a taste, there’s an onsite bar where you can relax and enjoy as much Heineken as you like!

18. Admire Cathedral Square In Utrecht

Netherlands Things to do: Cathedral Square in Utrecht

Known locally as Dom Square or Domplein, Utrecht’s Cathedral Square is home to a number of remarkable historic buildings that are definitely worth a look. A safe, pedestrian-friendly part of the city, Cathedral Square is where you’ll find the incredible St. Martin’s Cathedral. It was founded way back in 1254, although most of what you can see today only dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries. 

The Dom Tower is also worthy of a visit. If you’re feeling energetic, climb the 465 steps to the top, and you’ll be rewarded with incredible views that stretch out across the city. The highest viewpoint is 312 feet off the ground, so you’ve definitely got to have a head for heights. If you don’t want to climb all those stairs, there’s also an elevator that will whisk you to the top.

Alternatively, you can head underground and unveil 2,000 years’ worth of Netherlands’ history. You’ll find the entrance to the underground treasure trove in the center of the Square. Enter, and you’ll find out everything there is to know about the area from the time the Romans built it back in 45 CE all the way up to today.

19. See Animals From All Over The World At Artis Royal Zoo

Cool Things to do in Netherlands: Artis Royal Zoo

If you love animals, one of the most fun things to do in the Netherlands is to visit Artis Royal Zoo in Amsterdam. The oldest zoo in the Netherlands, this family-friendly attraction first opened its gates in 1838 and has been providing people from all over the world with fantastic days out ever since. 

The zoo is huge and covers more than 35 acres that over 900 different species call home. Designed in the 19th century, the spacious enclosures are wonderfully ornate and decorative. They closely mimic the natural habitats the animals have in the wild to make them feel as comfortable and at home as possible. 

Make sure you seek out the aquarium. Built in 1882, this fascinating aquarium is home to all kinds of majestic creatures, from sharks and eels to every type of colorful tropical fish you can imagine. 

20. Snack On Kroket

Netherlands Bucket List: Kroket

Croquettes are served all over the world, but nowhere does them quite as well as the Dutch. Known as kroket in the Netherlands, these bite-sized pieces of deliciousness can be found all over the country and are the perfect thing when you’re in the mood for a little snack.

In the Netherlands, krokets are made by wrapping a delicious savory filling with mashed potatoes, covering it all in breadcrumbs, and deep-frying it until it’s crispy and golden brown. The crunchy outer coating gives way to the soft, fluffy mashed potato and flavor-packed filling with every bite.

Traditionally, Dutch krokets are stuffed with beef or veal, but today you’ll find a huge number of fillings to choose from. Roasted vegetables, duck confit, chicken satay, and shrimp are just some of the yummy fillings on offer today. 

Van Dobben is the best place for krokets in Amsterdam. Here you’ll find classic veal krokets that are served piping hot with tangy mustard. The place is super small, but it’s always filled with hungry locals!

21. Learn About An Alternative Lifestyle At The Houseboat Museum

What to do in Netherlands: The Houseboat Museum

If you want to find out more about the Dutch way of life, one of the top things to do in the Netherlands is to visit the Houseboat Museum. One of the most unique museums in Amsterdam, this quirky attraction floats on the water of one of the city’s most picturesque canals.

The boat that houses the museum is called Hendrika Maria, and everyone’s invited onboard to find out what it’s really like to live on a houseboat. Despite the museum’s small size, there’s a lot going on. It may look tiny from the outside, but when you do the math, a standard Dutch houseboat is about the same size as the average apartment in Amsterdam!

There’s a fascinating exhibit that shows you how houseboats have changed over the years to meet people’s ever-changing needs. You’ll also find pictures that show you what the canals looked like years ago. 

22. Fill Your Phone’s Memory At The Ijsselmeer

Cool Things to do in Netherlands: Ijsselmeer

The Ijsselmeer (Lake Ijssel) is where you’ll find some of the most beautiful views in all of the Netherlands. Small, peaceful hamlets line this sparkling lake that families have lived in for generations. 

These small communities flourished during Amsterdam’s Golden Age when the freshwater lake provided them with access to the Atlantic Ocean, which they could use for fishing and trading purposes. As harbors began to be built throughout the Netherlands, the hamlets became less important. 

Although they’re not considered big fishing or trading hubs today, the hamlets along the Ijsselmeer are one of the most popular photo spots in the Netherlands. It’s almost like time has stood still for the welcoming village of Marken and the serene seaport of Enkhuizen. Here, the colorful homes once filled by families have since been converted into cute stores and museums.

Take your time as you wander and snap as many pics as you can so you can reminisce on your visit!

23. Step Back In Time At Historic Valkenburg Castle

Fun Things to do in Netherlands: Valkenburg Castle

For one of the best things to see in the Netherlands, take a trip to Valkenburg Castle. Work on this ancient fortress first began in the year 1115, but most of what you can see today dates back to the 14th century.

Although most of the castle is in ruin today, it’s easy to imagine what it was like in its heyday. You can still see the towering walls that protected the people inside from attacks. If you take a look around, you can spot the passages that people used for escape routes hundreds of years ago, too.

The only elevated castle in the Netherlands, Valkenburg Castle is full of hidden wonders. As you explore, see if you can find two stone lions framing a staircase, the remains of arches that are almost half a century old, and windows that people used to fire arrows at the enemy from.

24. Walk In Rembrandt’s Footsteps At The Rembrandt House Museum

Netherlands Things to do: Rembrandt House Museum

The Netherlands is famous for being the birthplace of Rembrandt, the iconic artist. If you visit Amsterdam, you’ll have the chance to explore the home in which Rembrandt lived and worked between 1639 and 1659.

The captivating Rembrandt House Museum is set inside an original 17th-century house. Although the inside of the home was decorated to keep up with the times, it’s been reconstructed to reflect the style, interior design, and furnishings similar to those that Rembrandt would have had.

As all the artist’s true belongings were auctioned off in 1656 when he went bankrupt, the items you see in the museum are replicas. However, they have been reconstructed from the auction list, so they’re strikingly close to the originals.

Step into the neighboring building, and you’ll have the chance to take a look at a great art collection. Here you’ll find many of Rembrandt’s etchings, as well as several pieces from his contemporaries.

25. Eat All The Fries You Can Handle

Best Things to do in Netherlands: Fries

Gorging on fries may not sound like one of the most Dutch ways to pass your time, but it really is! One of the best things to do in the Netherlands, digging into a cone of thick Belgian-style fries is something locals have been doing for decades.

You’ll find countless small takeaway venues selling fries in all cities throughout the Netherlands. For the proper Dutch experience, ask your fries to be topped with every sauce and topping available.

A local favorite is a combination of mayonnaise, raw chopped onions, and Indonesian-style peanut sauce which is known in the Netherlands as patatje oorlog (fries at war). It may not look pretty, but it tastes incredible!

For some of the most drool-worthy fries in Amsterdam, visit Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx. The self-proclaimed home of the best fries in the city, this kiosk has sold incredibly delicious fries with all the toppings for more than 57 years.

There you have it! The 25 best things to do in the Netherlands. What’s your favorite thing to do in the Netherlands? 



  • Nicola Quinn

    Nicola is a freelance writer with an insatiable hunger for travel. She swapped her home in the UK for the sunny Canary Islands when she was just 11 and she has been based there ever since.

    From crawling on her hands and knees inside pyramids in Egypt to swimming with baby sharks in Bali and searching (fruitlessly!) for the Northern Lights in Iceland, Nicola takes every chance she gets to explore new places.

    The incredible experiences she has around the world fuels her writing and inspires her to plan even more adventures for the future.

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