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6 pictures of the best cities in the Netherlands

20 Best Cities to Visit in the Netherlands That Are Not Amsterdam

by Daniela

Which other places to visit in the Netherlands besides Amsterdam? Here are some great suggestions for the best cities in the Netherlands you should visit on your next trip . Discover what the country has to offer beyond Amsterdam!

I have always wanted to collect in one post all the beautiful cities in the Netherlands that I have visited over the years. It was very difficult to put up this list, as there are so many great places. The list grew and grew and I ended up with 20 of them. I have visited all of them and not only once. Which is my favorite city? It’s no secret to anyone that it’s Den Bosch! But it doesn’t mean that the rest aren’t equally great ! They all have their peculiarities: some have amazing architecture, others are hipster and modern, third are full of charming places, and none of them lacks character or soul.

Tip: Check out this post to find even more beautiful places in the Netherlands.


Use the map below to quickly find a city to visit depending on where you are in the Netherlands. The map is also handy when you are planing your trip.

And drum roll, please! Here they are the 20 best cities of the Netherlands, according to… me, all sorted in alphabetical order!

Alkmaar

big cheese discs on the street with two girls in traditional costumes sitting on them and lots of people at the background, the cheese market in Alkmaar

Image courtesy of www.alkmaarprachtstad.nl

Alkmaar is mostly famous for the traditional cheese market held on the Market Square in the city each Friday morning. The cheese market originated in 1365 and has been kept alive through the centuries. You can also visit the Cheese Museum in Alkmaar and why not afterwards the Beer Museum. Alkamaar is not only cheese and beer, though. It’s quite a pretty Dutch city with typical architecture, rich history and of course a network of picturesque canals.

Breda

a part of a cathedral with adjacent old brick houses with Christmas decoration on, Breda

Breda is a lovely city in the Southern Province of North Brabant. A bit of history, a beautiful park, a majestic cathedral, a castle, numerous cafes and restaurants and lots of shops, Breda is the perfect day trip from anywhere in the Netherlands. If you stay longer, there’s a great theatre with quality productions ans concerts.


Delft

a view from above on a city square with a beautiful building with red shutters on the windows and a tower in the middle, DelftDelft Blue and Vermeer. Isn’t that enough of a reason to visit this absolutely adorable Dutch city? In the Vermeer Centre you can see reproductions of all paintings of this famous 17th-century Dutch painter. Delft Blue ceramics can be found everywhere. Delft was one of the flourishing cities during the Dutch Golden Age (17 c.) and this can be seen everywhere.

Tip: To get you in the mood for visiting Delft, I highly recommend reading the novel Midnight Blue by the Dutch writer Simone van der Vlugt.

Den Bosch

Saint John's Cathedral, Den Bosch, the Netherlands, Sint Jan, Sint Janskathedraal, Brabant, North Brabant, de ParadeDen Bosch is the capital city of the Dutch Province North Brabant It’s famous for the relaxed lifestyle, the good food and the special Southern vibe, called Burgundian lifestyle. When in Den Bosch, do not miss St. John’s Cathedral (Sint-Jan) – a fine example of Gothic Architecture. If you are an art lover – the Noord Brabant Museum and the Steedelijk Museum are a must. Enjoy a drink at the Parade and get lost in the small alleys around the Market Square. If you have a bit more time – take a boat trip on the Binnendieze – the old sewerage channels of the city.


Den Burg

a small square with tables and people sitting and enjoying a drink, Den Burg

Den Burg is perhaps one of the cutest towns in the Netherlands. It’s the major city on the island of Texel and at the same time is absolutely miniature. There are a few lovely cafes on the market square and there’s this relaxed, holiday-like vibe everywhere. Maybe because most of the tourists visiting Den Burg are holidaymakers staying longer on the island. You can admire there the typical fisherman houses.

Domburg

a beach with tiny beach houses blue sky and blue see and a paraglider in the air, Domburg in Zeeland, the Netherlands

Domburg is one of the loveliest seaside towns in the Netherlands. It’s located on the former islands of Walcheren in the Province of Zeeland. There are lots of restaurants and cafes serving local sea food, where your best bet would be the catch of the day. If you visit Domburg off-season, it will be almost empty, but still quite charming. However most of the places will be closed.


Dordrecht

a harbour with ships and boats and hisorical buildings on the shore and an old shipyard sign, Dordrecht

Dordrecht is an important historical city, where the modern Dutch history begins with the First Assembly of the Free States in 1572. When in Dordrecht, you should visit the Museum of Dordrecht, the Big Church (Grote Kerk) and the Court of the Netherlands (Hof van Nederland), where the assembly of 1572 took place. Do not miss also the Old Harbour, where you can step back straight into the time of the Dutch Golden Age.

Tip: If you are staying longer in Dordrecht, you should visit De Biesbosch – one of the 12 National Parks in the Netherlands.

Eindhoven

a round building made of glass with some other not very tall modern buildings and a few trees in bloom in springtime, Eindhoven

Eindhoven is a modern industrial city, quite different from the rest of the Dutch cities. It’s vibrant, it’s hip, it’s full of life. If you are there in the autumn, you’ll be able to enjoy the Glow Festival – light shows and architectural mapping. Eindhoven is also famous for the Dutch Design Week – the biggest fashion event in Northern Europe. And of course Eindhoven is home of Philips – one of the most famous Dutch companies.


Groningen

a canal with lots of boats and beautiful canal houses and a church tower in the distance, Groningen

For the Dutch, Groningen is located at the World’s End, i.e. at the most northern corner of the country. Most locals hardly ever visit this beautiful city and if they go there it’s to study in one of the most famous Universities in the country. And still Groningen is undeniably beautiful. Climb the St. Martin’s Tower (Martinitoren) for the most beautiful views of the city, visit the quirky Groninger Museum for some art, or immerse yourself in the young-at-heart city at Academy Square (Academieplein).

Haarlem

a black wooden windmill with some old houses on a wharf and a red barge in the water, Haarlem

Haarlem is one of those historical places in the Netherlands that seem as if the time has stopped but is still full of life. When in Haarlem, do not miss the St. Bavo Church (Sint Bavo Kerk) and the Frans Hals Museum with paintings of one of the most famous Dutch painters. Take this iconic shot with one of the the most famous windmills in the Netherlands – De Adriaan and why not even visit the windmill. My favourite thing to do in Haarlem is go on a treasure hunt for the numerous hidden courtyards (‘hofjes’).


The Hague

a courtyard with a fountain with golden ornaments and a church with two towers at the background, The HagueThe Hague is the political capital of the Netherlands and a seat of the Dutch Government. It’s a cosmopolitan city where old and new are blending to create a larger than life feeling. Take a stroll in the area around Het Binnenhof and do not miss to visit Mauritshuis, where you can see some of the masterpieces of the Dutch Golden Age. Want to take a chance to see the Dutch King? Head to Noordeinde Palace.

Leeuwaarden

beautiful buildings around a canal and a small bridge in the middle, LeeuwaardenLeeuwaarden is absolutely going off-the-beaten path in the Netherlands. Although the city is the capital of the Dutch Province of Friesland and was European Capital of Culture in 2018, it is still highly underrated. Visit the Fries Museum to learn everything about Friesland – the different Dutch Province. ‘Fries’, by the way, is pronounced [freece] and not as in ‘french fries’. Did you know that Leeuwaarden has its very own leaning tower – Oldehove, which is even more tilted than the Tower of Pisa?


Leiden

a cute cobblestone street with lots of flowers and bikes, LeidenLeiden is a famous University city in the Netherlands, which bursts with historical architecture and lovely canals. It’s also one of the major cities form the Dutch Golden Age and the birthplace of the most famous Dutch artists – Rembrandt. When in Leiden, take a boat tour or visit the imposing Hooglaandse Kerk (a Gothic church). Take a stroll along quaint streets and look for the hidden courtyards (‘hofjes’). In a mood for some poetry? Just take a walk and check the houses for the poems on the walls. There are more than 100 wall poems in the city!

Tip: If you are visiting the Netherlands in spring and staying in Leiden, you should make a day trip to the most beautiful tulip garden in the world – Keukenhof.

Maastricht

a view from a river to a city with an old bridge and a church tower at the background, MaastrichtMaastricht is one of the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands and is often called the pearl of the South. The locals just love a day trip to Maastricht combined with some first class shopping. When in Maastricht, visit the beautiful Vrijthof Square with the St. Servatius Basilica and the St. John’s Church. A fan of classic music? Then a concert of Andre Rieu on the Vrijthof Square in the summer is a must. This is a once-in-a-life-time experience and I can vouch for it from first hand.

Tip: Staying longer in Maastricht? There’s so much to do and see in South Limburg! Check out my recommendations for day trips from Maastricht.


Roermond

a church at the bottom with some cafes in front and people walking around and pavilion adorned with hanging flowers in pots; the Munster square in Roermond LimburgRoermond is one of the major cities in the Limburg Province and is mostly famous for the outlet mall located nearby the city centre. However Roermond is much more than that. Enjoy a drink or two at Munster Square (Munsterplein) with the beautiful Romanesque Our Lady Minster church (Munsterkerk). At the market square, you can listen to the carillon that plays each hour and admire the majestic St. Christopher Cathedral. Roermond is a lively place with a few streets going up and downhill – something absolutely unusual for the Netherlands.

Rotterdam

Rotterdam is like no other city in the Netherlands – it’s modern, it’s hipster and it’s full of life. It’s one of the few places in the Netherlands where the skyline is dominated by high-rises. When in Rotterdam, take a boat tour in the harbour. Europort used to be the biggest one in the world, but it lost its first place some years ago, now being only the biggest in Europe. If you love great views, climb to the top of the Euromast and if you need a bit of an adrenaline rush, you can go down with a zip-wire. Oh, and fan of quirky architecture? Take a look at the famous Cube Houses or the Markthal.


Sittard

yellow building with cafes and one half-timberd house, the square in Sittard Limburg

Sittard has a lovely old town and a beautiful market square with lots of restaurants and cafes. When in Sittard, do not miss the Neo-Gothic Church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (it has an amazing interior!) and the Dominican Monastery. If you love craft beer, then visit the Ambrass Craft Beer Brewery and try one of their beers.

Sneek

a bridge over a canal with a building with two spires, SneekSneek is an adorable small town in the Dutch Province of Friesland, totally off-the-beaten track. It’s one of the 11 Frisian cities from the Elfstedentocht – a legendary speed-skating competition on natural ice through 11 cities in Friesland. When in Sneek, walk around the lovely canals and snap a shot of the famous early 17th-century Watergate (Waterpoort). You can visit the Frisian Maritime Museum (Fries Scheepvaart Museum) to learn more about the local history or the National Model Trains Museum (Nationaal Modelspoor Museum).


Tilburg

a street with cafes and tables on the sidewalk and people sitting and having drinks, TilburgTilburg is famous for the biggest funfair (Kermis) in Europe. For straight ten days in July the city turns into a gigantic fair ground and where you can let your adrenaline sky-rocket in one of the many attractions. There isn’t much left of the Old Town after WWII and the city has taken its own direction, just like Rotterdam, towards a more modern city look. The last years there were a few areas redeveloped and today they are great places to hang out – the Piushaven and the Spoorzone. Another lovely neighborhood in Tilburg is the Dwaalgebied – a criss-cross of charming streets where you can easily get lost. Tilburg is a young city, as there are a few Universities, which contributes to the hipster vibe of this modern city.

Tip: If you are staying longer in Tilburg, visit The Efteling – the best attraction park in Europe, or the Dunes of Loon and Drunen National Park.

Utrecht

a view from above on a city with a few church tall towers and some green trees at the background, UtrechtUtrecht is absolutely charming with its canals and the cafes at the water level. When in Utrecht, visit the beautiful Dom (the cathedral of Utrecht). You can climb to the top of the cathedral for some amazing views or get underneath it for some Roman ruins. If you want to get off-the-beaten path, visit the quirky Museum Speelklok, where you can admire their unique collection of self-playing instruments. Locals enjoy visiting Utrecht, as you get the vibe of Amsterdam minus the tourists.

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an image with four pictures of places in the Netherlands and overlay text: Netherlands 20 beautiful cities

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