Although the Netherlands is the lowest European country in terms of elevation, it rises to the occasion of providing a wonderful experience for both its residents and visitors. In 2021, the Netherlands joined Iceland, Finland, Denmark, and Switzerland to round out the top five happiest countries in the world.
There are plenty of places to find peace in the iconic cities, an impressive fact considering the Netherlands is the most densely populated country in all of Europe. Whether a person is looking for a comfortable spot to grab a gin and tonic, a licorice-filled candy shop, or a bit of history to add to their knowledge bank, these Dutch cities have something for everyone to savor.
Amsterdam has long been a must-visit spot for Euro-travelers. The urban utopia is the capital of the Netherlands and overflowing with attractions guaranteed to spawn daydreams of a permanent vacation.
Over 150 canals covering a distance of 60 miles, built as long ago as the 17th century, once served a vital role in transporting goods. Today, the primary purpose of the canals is to take people on unforgettable tours that highlight some of the most famous landmarks in Amsterdam.
The city is also home to two iconic art museums containing the masterpieces of legendary artists like Vincent Van Gogh and Rembrandt. For a more somber bit of history, the Anne Frank House preserves the memory of the wartime diarist who hid from Nazi persecution with her family in a home in the heart of the city.
Considered the fashion focal point of the Netherlands, anyone looking for a great spot to shop will find it in the city of Arnhem. There are several places to add to the itinerary aside from the bustling shopping district, checking boxes for every type of traveler.
People can stroll down the wooded paths of Hoge Veluwe National Park and stop at the conservation-focused Burgers' Zoo located inside the park for some wildlife viewing. There is also the Netherlands Open Air Museum, which features antique farm equipment, homes, and factories that highlight the lives of ordinary Dutch people during various parts of history. The more opulent side of antiquity is on display at several historical castles and mansions.
Eindhoven is the technological hub of the Netherlands and where the Philips electronic company got its start. There is a museum dedicated to telling the story of the company's history and achievements in technology. The Neo-gothic St. Catherine's Church has been fully restored and features stunning stain-glassed windows and an organ with over 5,000 pipes!
The modernized Strijp-S neighborhood used to be a complex owned by Philips. It now possesses a plethora of restaurants, bars, and galleries that keep with the industrial vibe and animate Eindhoven at night. During the daytime, the neighborhood hosts farmers' markets and serves up international cuisine. Ice cream shop Intelligentia scoops out uniquely flavored ice creams like mandarin lemongrass in their signature black cones.
Nijmegen is located near the border of Germany on the Waal River and is the country's oldest city. As such, there's no shortage of exciting historical architecture. The De Bastei museum takes visitors down a river of history and features 16th-century fortifications.
For a touch of the contemporary, there's the Valkhof Museum, a futuristic building housing both classical and modern art. Visitors who'd like an authentic local experience can't miss the Grote Market located in the center of the city with plenty of comfy spots to grab a coffee and watch the world go by.
4 The Hague
The Hague is the second most popular tourist destination in the Netherlands behind Amsterdam. The Dutch Parliament meets in a complex of buildings known as the Binnehof. The most iconic building in the complex is the Ridderzaal, or Knight's Palace, a grand castle built in the 13th-century!
It's not all politics in The Hague, though. The city is home to the museum Beelden aan Zee that displays contemporary sculptures both indoors and outside. Colorful botanical gardens featuring flora from around the world also decorate the city. For a larger dose of nature, people can check out Westduinpark, a natural seaside reserve with the perfect picnic spots and exceptional sunset views.
Flower lovers ought to check out Lisse, the Netherlands' premier tulip-growing destination. Strolling down row after row of thousands of tulips in every imaginable color will ignite the most satisfying springtime feelings. The Museum de Zwarte Tulp allows visitors to learn about the history of tulip-growing in the region. Though the flowers are the main focal point of Lisse, the 17th-century Keukenhof Castle impresses with its variety of flora-filled gardens and hosts all kinds of special events.
For people who find the appearance of Amsterdam attractive but gravitate towards a more relaxed atmosphere, Delft is the place to go. The city is best known for its highly collectible blue and white pottery bearing the same name, and the Royal Delft factory is open to tourists who'd like to learn about the iconic earthenware.
Architecture buffs will enjoy the Renaissance-style city hall with its red shutters and historical portraits of notable royals from the Orange-Nassau house. It's conveniently located across from the equally stunning Nieuwe Church that bears the second highest tower in the country.
The population of student residents and colorful buildings come together to bring the charming city of Groningen to life. The aesthetically striking post-modernist architecture of the Groninger Museum is almost as cool as the art inside. The exhibits feature an abundance of contemporary art, including abstract pieces sure to spark conversation.
In stark contrast is the historical Martinitoren church. Dating back to the 13th-century, the church contains a winding staircase that leads to a tower with 62 bells! Beyond its epic architecture, Groningen is also home to the largest botanical garden in the country, Haren Hortus Botanicus. It's an ideal place to take in the fresh air and feel calmed by the variety of plants thriving in the gardens.