The Netherlands is well known for its iconic capital city Amsterdam. The Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House, the neighborhood of Jordaan, and the Negen Straatjes shopping district are on the bucket list of almost every European backpacker. But the Netherlands has more to offer than incredible urban centers.Off the beaten path, travelers can find some of the most beautiful small villages in Europe with canals instead of roads and perfectly preserved 17th-century homes. These 10 villages are the most scenic in the Netherlands and deserve a spot on any visitor’s travel itinerary.

10 Broek in Waterland

On a search for the most scenic villages in the Netherlands, travelers must add Broek in Waterland to the list. With a reputation for being the cleanest town in the Netherlands, this idyllic village has 17th-century wooden houses looking onto a lake that is perfect for ice skating in the winter.

Broek in Waterland is located in the Dutch province of Noord-Holland and has a population of just over 2000 people.

9 Giethoorn

Giethoorn is one of the most scenic villages in the Netherlands and is often referred to as the Venice of the North. Located in Overijssel, Giethoorn is essentially a car-less village full of canals and cozy cottages.

Visitors can spend the day exploring on a rowboat and admiring the thatched homes on peat moss islands surrounding them.

Related: Going Dutch: 10 Attractions In The Netherlands That Prove It’s Europe’s Most Underrated Country

8 Volendam

Volendam is a charming village northeast of Amsterdam, in the province of Noord-Holland. As the country’s most notable fishing village, the houses are colorful and vibrant so they are visible from the water.

Volendam is set on Markermeer Lake with a scenic old harbor that supports the modern fish trade. To appreciate the beauty of this fishing village, travelers can take a stroll through the oldest parts of the town, specifically Doolhof and Oude Kom quarters.

7 Domburg

Domburg is the oldest seaside resort town in the Netherlands, attracting vacationers since the 18th century. This beach town is located in the province of Zeeland and can be busy in the summer. The village itself is picturesque, but the true scenic attraction here is the beach.

The white sand is lined with rows upon rows of beach huts, painted in vibrant colors. Green grasses sway in the wind and the cool waves provide relief from the heat of Dutch summers.

6 Zaandam

Many people may not have heard of Zaandam but are likely familiar with the tourist destination Zaanse Schans. Zaanse Schans is the iconic neighborhood featuring windmills and green wooden houses located within the town of Zaandam.

Zaanse Schans is so well-preserved that visiting this area of Zaandam can give travelers a taste of what the Netherlands was like in the 17th and 18th centuries. Besides the beauty of the windmills and old structures, visitors can take a scenic boat ride along the waterways or enjoy a cheese tour in an authentic dairy factory.

5 Bronkhorst

Bronkhorst is a tiny village in the Dutch province of Gelderland. Bronkhorst is technically a city, despite having less than 100 registered residents in 2021. This unusual situation makes it the smallest city in the Netherlands, so there’s no need to worry about crowds when visiting.

Bronkhorst is best known for its picturesque buildings and artistic culture. There are plenty of craft markets and opportunities to purchase artwork here. The city is located on the edge of the Ijssel river and has plenty of outdoor patios for dining on the side of the romantic cobbled streets.

4 Kinderdijk

The Netherlands is famous for its windmills and there’s nowhere better to see them than in the scenic village of Kinderdijk. This village is located in Zuid-Holland, providing convenient access from the urban centers of both Amsterdam and Rotterdam for travelers.

Kinderkijk is home to nineteen windmills, built around 1740 that are some of the most visited in the country. The windmills of Kinderdijk have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.

3 Lisse

Lisse is a popular Dutch village located in Zuid-Holland that is most famous for Keukenhof gardens where tulips bloom in abundance each spring. In addition to the endless rows of colorful florals, Lisse is also home to Keukenhof castle. The castle is an impressive Dutch country house from the Golden Age of the Netherlands.

Lisse is the perfect destination for riding a bicycle on the winding paths among tulips. It’s not far from Amsterdam so it's a great spot for a day trip when traveling the Netherlands.

Related: A Tour Of The Most Beautiful Villages In France

2 Thorn

Thorn is a charming Dutch village with white-washed buildings and Gothic architecture. It’s located in the Southern province of Limburg and is near two rivers, Meuse and Witbeek. It’s commonly called Het Witte Stadje (The White Town) because of its unique aesthetic.

Besides exploring the historic center of the town and its small chapels, many travelers come to Thorn for the Duiklocatie Boschmolenplas. This is a diving center that has become a hotspot in the region.

1 Noordwijk

Noordwijk is a small Dutch village on the west coast of the country, located in the province of Zuid-Holland. In close proximity to Lisse, Noordwijk is also part of the Bulb Region, allowing visitors to enjoy the national flower of the Netherlands in combination with seaside beaches.

The town center is full of small, local shops and boutique hotels. Noordwijk is a popular vacation spot for Dutch people thanks to its sand dunes and peaceful beaches.