What Is Netherlands Famous For? 25 Must-do Activities In The Netherlands
Netherland has a vast assortment of attractions for you to see. It is a unique and beautiful country.
I only ever changed flights in Amsterdam, which is a shame as the city itself is home to some spectacular sights that I have included in my list below.
What is the Netherlands famous for? Netherland is famous for several icons, tulips, canals, windmills, cycling routes, cheese, delft blue, masterpieces of Old Masters, clogs, beer, etc. There is a lot of variety in the things you can do and see in the Netherlands.
There are many museums, amusement parks, natural sights, historical sights, etc. I couldn’t make up my mind on which of those places to include in this post. I tried to create diversity on my list though so you would know what a marvelous country Netherland is.
There is not just sight or two in a city, entire cities in the Netherlands are remarkable sights themselves, like Amsterdam, Delft, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Leiden, etc.
Check out my list of famous places and things in Holland.
The fields of the vibrantly colored tulip bulbs are a typical sight in the Netherlands and are one of the things the country is best known for.
Tulips were brought to Netherland in the 16th century and by the mid-seventeenth century, they were hugely popular in the country.
With its popularity, the bulbs became more and more expensive until a time came when they were actually used as money, i.e. until the tulip market crashed.
So don’t worry you don’t need to have any tulips to use in Holland today, regular money will do!
TIP: April is the best time to visit the tulip fields in Netherland. What you will see is a huge gorgeously colorful patchwork of tulips.
Speaking for flowers, situated in the town of Lisse, Keukenhof is one of the world’s largest flower gardens.
It is open for only eight weeks, from mid-March to mid-May.
TIP: The best time to view the tulip gardens here is in mid-April.
Keukenhof (also known as the Garden of Europe) is most well-known for its tulips but you will also find daffodils, roses, hyacinths, carnations, lilies, and irises too. There is a total of 800 varieties of just tulips here.
An area of 32 hectares of pretty bright flowers, this is not something you see every day.
In addition to the stunning flowers, there are also other activities that your entire family can enjoy here.
Such as Tulpomania where you will hear the many stories about tulips.
You are also given guided tours on-foot around the garden, tours around in an electrically-propelled whisper boat and also you are able to rent bicycles to explore the park in.
And especially for kids, there will be a treasure hunt, maze, playground and petting farm.
Van Gogh Museum
The Dutch art museum in Amsterdam, the Van Gogh Museum is dedicated to the works of Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries.
This museum houses the world’s largest collection of Van Gogh’s work.
Even though the artist wasn’t appreciated during his lifetime, today around 2 million visitors come to the Van Gogh museum to see his work.
Windmills are known worldwide as a Dutch cultural icon.
There are more than a thousand windmills in the Netherlands. The most famous places to go to see windmills are Kinderdijk, Zaanse Schans and Schiedam.
Historically windmills had many different uses. One crucial purpose was to keep land dry, i.e. pump the water from the lowlands to the rivers to create land for farming and prevent flooding.
There are some mills still being used for drainage, like some in Kinderdijk.
Some other purposes were processing raw materials such as grain and manufacturing products.
Most of the old windmills have been restored and are open for the public to view.
There is also the National Windmill Day on the second Saturday and Sunday in May. In fact, that is the best time to visit the windmills.
On this day 950 mills are open for visitors to see and millers give good explanations about the mills. There will also be fun activities arranged for children.
You can tour the windmills via bicycles here too. Be sure to ask about the cycling routes at the VVV Tourist Information Office.
Netherland has a world-famous reputation for being a “cheese country”.
The Dutch are also the biggest cheese exporters in the world. So if you visit Netherland, you must not miss out on these “cheese experiences”.
The most popular Dutch cheese varieties are Gouda and Edam, and some other types are Frisian, Kernhem, Subenhara, Limburger, Bluefort, etc. (mind you, the list goes on).
There are also Dutch cheese markets. If you go to these markets in the cheese capitals in Gouda, Edam, and Alkmaar you will be able to see how business was done in a cheese market the traditional way, for the past 6 centuries.
Alkmaar Cheese Museum
Looking out into the Waagplein square, the Dutch Cheese Museum in the second and third floors of the Cheese Weigh House in Alkmaar concentrates on the two most famous Dutch cheeses, Edam and Gouda. The building also functions as a weighing house.
Cheese production is a proud tradition to the Dutch and the aim of the museum is to retain that tradition despite the advent of factories for cheese making.
The museum explains the process of cheese making, its history and its importance to the Dutch culture.
Wooden shoes or “clogs” are an iconic symbol of the Dutch.
But don’t expect to see Dutch people walking around in clogs on the streets.
Although you might occasionally find some farmers in rural areas wearing them.
Nowadays wooden shoes are there mostly for tourists. You can buy a pair as a souvenir.
NOTE: If you travel to Zaanse Schans, you will be able to see how clogs are made the traditional way, by a clog maker.
Delft Blue ceramic ware is popular worldwide and is strongly linked with the Netherlands.
It has been produced in the city of Delft since the 17th century.
Royal Dutch is the last remaining factory that still uses traditional methods to make Delftware.
Since 26% of the land of the Netherlands lies below sea level, canals and rivers play an important role in the planning of the cities.
For years canals were built for traveling, irrigation and water removal.
Present-day there are canal buses, houseboats, restaurant boats, and various other types of boats navigating these canals.
The Amsterdam Canal District is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the city has earned the nickname the “Venice of the North”.
TIP: Be sure to take a canal cruise through the historic waterways of the city.
The best way to explore Netherland is by way of a bicycle. A bicycle can take you to places where a car cannot.
Dutch people love cycling and this is a good way to immerse yourself in the Dutch culture
And the best thing is, the cycling routes of the Netherlands take you through the most beautiful landscapes you have ever seen.
Remember I mentioned before about the cycle tours you can take through the tulip gardens and windmills? Well, that’s only a start.
Another thing is that the Netherlands is one of the top countries in terms of traffic safety.
And the locals are familiar with cyclists so they pay attention to them and cycling paths are mostly separate from the road.
So you see, if you worried about cycling in an unknown country, don’t be!
The Netherlands is the largest exporter of beer in the world.
Heineken and Amstel are two of the major brewers in the country.
Locals enjoy their beer in old-fashioned pubs called bruine kroegen.
They have a pleasant, sociable, friendly and relaxed feel about them, called “gezelligheid” in the local tongue.
When you go to a bruine kroegen sit down and go ahead and start a conversation as the Dutch are usually easy to talk to.
Now that you know how big beer is to the Netherlands, you should take the interactive tour through the first-ever brewery of the world's most famous beer brand Heineken.
Built in 1867, what used to be the first-ever Heineken brewery today is the Heineken Experience.
The Heineken Experience is a self-guided interactive tour through the old brewery which illustrates their heritage, brewing process, sponsorships, historical artifacts, product sampling, etc.
Plus, at the end of the 1.5-hour tour, you get to delight yourself with none other than a Heineken beer.
Candy is very popular with the Dutch people. They love it!
Some of the most favored ones are chocolate letters, hopje, licorice or drop, stroopwafels, etc.
Candy is sold almost everywhere, except for those that are specifically associated with special holidays like Easter or Sinterklaas. You can buy these specific candies a few months before those holidays.
Anne Frank House
The story of Anne Frank and her diary is well known all over the world.
Located in the center of Amsterdam, you can visit the secret annex where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis during WWII.
It is now a museum called the Anne Frank House.
It is where Anne wrote her famous diary.
Some of the notebooks and her original diary are on display three.
There are also collections and temporary exhibits that focus on racism, anti-Semitism, wartime prosecution of Jews, and contemporary fascism.
Also please be aware that a visit to this museum will not be a fun trip, but an emotionally moving one.
Located in the heart of the Museum Square in Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum is one of the most renowned museums in the world.
It is dedicated to art and history. There are more than 8000 masterpieces in this museum.
It demonstrates the history of the Netherlands from the Middle Ages to the present day.
Don’t miss out on the highlights of the museum. You might already know some of them, like Van Gogh’s Self-portrait, Rembrandt’s Night Watch, Vermeer’s Milkmaid, etc.
NOTE: It is highly recommended that you visit the Gallery of Honour and the Cuypers Library while you are there.
The park has around 10 million visitors each year. This is the most famous park in the entire country and the largest city park in Amsterdam.
Vondelpark is the ideal place to go with your family to enjoy a warm sunny day and enjoy the greenery and fauna around you.
The park has an open-air theatre where free concerts are given.
There are playgrounds for children and you can also rent skates if you want.
You can get a guided tour of the park in the typical Dutch fashion, by bicycle.
Efteling - Fairytale Themed Amusement Park
This is the largest and the most visited park in the Netherlands.
Located in the village of Kaatsheuvel, Efteling park has elements from ancient legends and myths, fables, fairy tales, and folklore.
The uniqueness of this park compared to most other amusement parks is that there is still abundant green space. There are large ponds and gardens that give the ambiance of being with nature.
There are also facilities to stay overnight.
You must visit this park with your family, there aren’t enough words to describe how much fun this will be for you.
Located in Arnhem, Burgers' Zoo is one of the biggest zoos in the country. It is very popular with the Dutch and Germans.
The animals here are given a lot of space so that they can display their natural behaviors and adapt to their environments better.
In addition to the original zoo, there are 7 other themed sites; a safari park, indoor tropical rainforest, mangrove swamp, desert, seawater aquarium, playground, Rimba (an impression of a Southeast Asian rainforest) and a kids jungle which is a kids playground based on a South-American village.
In addition to the animal exhibits, Burgers’ Zoo also has facilities for conservation and captive breeding of nearly extinct animals.
Albert Cuyp Market
This is the busiest market in the Netherlands and also is popular among tourists. The locals of Amsterdam do their daily shopping here.
You will find that the Albert Cuyp Market has a multicultural ambiance to it, due to the various cultural origins of the residents of the city, Moroccan, Surinamese, Antillean and Turkish.
Do you remember one of the famous Dutch sweets, Stroopwafels, that I mentioned earlier? They are prepared fresh here in this market if you want to try one. As a matter of fact, you should try one.
NOTE: There are also many different ethnic restaurants and bars behind the stalls.
Hoge Veluwe National Park
Consisting of many different natural landscapes such as woodlands, sand dunes, and heathlands, etc., Hoge Veluwe National Park is one of the most popular day trip destinations in the country.
There are also numerous wild animals you can watch, mouflon, red deer, wild boar, birds, and reptiles, etc.
Bloemenmarkt - Floating Flower Market
This is the only floating flower market in the world. Imagine the bright beautiful colors and the sweet fragrance of the flowers. Both tourists and locals alike visit this market.
This market has been around since 1862.
There are gift and souvenir shops too. This is one place where you can buy dried tulip bulbs and other tulip paraphernalia.
You can buy herbs, seeds, bulbs and house plants too.
If you are in Amsterdam, your trip wouldn’t be complete without a visit here. Take home a bunch of beautiful tulip bulbs and plants for your garden.
If you are a lover of classical music, enrich your time in Amsterdam with a visit to one of the world’s finest concert halls, the Concertgebouw.
This is also home to one of the world’s best orchestras, the Dutch Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
The hall hosts over 600 concerts each year, so no matter what time of the year you visit, there will always be something for you to savor.
Located in one of the most beautiful buildings in Museumplein square, Concertgebouw is only walking distance to the Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum.
Castle De Haar
This medieval castle with its picturesque gardens, towers, ramparts, gates, moats, and drawbridges is a majestic sight.
What immediately came to my mind when I saw Castle De Haar, was “an enchanting fairytale castle” (Cinderella to be exact).
There is so much to admire here, the park, its rich history, gardens, the exhibitions, etc.
This is also the largest castle in the Netherlands. It is located in Utrecht city near the village of Haarzuilens.
As this is one of the most visited historical monuments in the Netherlands, there are year-round activities for visitors, such as guided tours, exhibitions, and other events.
Jordaan is one of the most famous neighborhoods in Amsterdam and it is also one of the most upscale and expensive ones too.
It offers a variety of activities such as art galleries, specialty shops, restaurants, cafes, markets, street musicians, etc.
The only houseboat museum in the world, Woonbootmuseum, is also one of the activities to check out in Jordaan.
Discover what makes The Netherlands such a unique country.
Madurodam is a miniature park in The Hague city.
Within just a few hours in this park, you will be able to see the most popular Dutch landmarks, historical sites, and large developments, although in a scaled size of 1:25. You will be able to find some of the things in my post here too.
Besides sightseeing, there are numerous activities you can take part in too, such as operating the Oosterscheldekering storm surge barrier, pump out the water and dry up the large Haarlemmermeer lake, let an airplane takeoff from the Schiphol airport, etc.
Maybe this should have been the first on my list?