Beyond Amsterdam: 6 Must Visit Cities in the Netherlands

You might be surprised to know that there are actually other cities in the Netherlands aside from Amsterdam. Who’d have guessed?! So when you’ve had enough of the canals, the red light district and special ‘cafes’, try going a bit further afield. And since the country is so tiny you can easily take a day trip to many of the cities via the technological wonder of the train. Today I am sharing why you should visit a few of my favourite cities and some recommendations on what do and see.

Where Should I Go? Groningen

How far from Amsterdam is this place? 2 hours 18 mins by train

Tell me more – I went to college in Groningen, so it’s kind of my city and I always try to encourage people to go to the far North and see why I love the place so much. It’s a lively university town so there is always something going on for us youngsters (I’m still young right??!). Groningen is a bit like Amsterdam, quite hip, easy to walk around and young, but without the zombie hoards of tourists.

And? Climb the Martini Tower for stunning view of the city, have a robot serve you drink at Mr Mofongo and get a hipsterlicious bite at de Uurwerker.

Where should I go? Rotterdam

How far from Amsterdam is this place? 41 mins by train

Tell me more – Rotterdam used to look much like Amsterdam, but it was completely levelled by the Germans near the start of World War II (May, 1940 to be exact) – so now it’s the place to go to see and snap wide avenues filled with eye-popping modern architecture – I’m talking to you ‘De Rotterdam’.

And? The reason everyone heads to Rotterdam these days is the Market Hall – where food market heaven on earth is situated in a surreal horseshoe/arch mash-up. Also get your culture hat on a check out some art at Bojimans van Beuningen Museum and don’t forget to see the infamous Cubic houses which look like a game of Tetris which went terribly wrong.

Where Should I Go? – Haarlem

How far from Amsterdam is this place? 11 minutes by train

Tell Me More – I have a special place in my heart for Haarlem so I might be biased, but it has one of the most beautiful city centres in the Netherlands and visiting the city feels a lot like stepping back in time without the horrible diseases, smells and bad fashion.

And? Check out a gig at Patronaat, head to the Dollhuys Museum or have fries at Friethoes – they are my favourite fries in the Netherlands and I have a tried a lot (and got hips to prove it).

Where Should I Go? The Hague

How far from Amsterdam is this place? 41 minutes by train

Tell me more – The Hague is the political capital of the Netherlands, but don’t let that put you off. If the weather is nice, skip the Hague and take a tram to the city’s seaside resort area of Scheveningen. There you can enjoy the beach, the miniature city of Madurodam and the see the impressive palatial style Kurhaus Hotel.

And? – If the weather is bad go to the Hague proper and see the Girl with a Pearl Earring painting (it’s not Scar Jo sadly) at the Mauritshuis Museum, go to the M.C. Escher exhibition at de Paleis and if you are interested in law and politics, put on your thinking cap and go to one of the international tribunals.

Where Should I Go? Utrecht

How far from Amsterdam is this place? 26 mins by train

Tell me more – Just like Groningen, Utrecht is a student city and there is always something going on and new places opening every week. One of my best friends lived here and I spend a lot Friday’s and Saturday’s dancing at Tivoli and trying to get rid of my hangover at the Village.

And? – have a burger at my favourite drool-worthy Dutch burger joint: Meneer Smaakers, go to a 90s or Zeroes Heroes party at Tivoli or have a fine brew at the Village.

Where Should I Go? Maastricht

How far from Amsterdam is this place? 2 hours 30 mins by train

Tell me more – It is located in the far South and is actually so non Dutch that it makes you wonder how it ended up in the Dutch borders. Maastricht has a Burgundian vibe, a beautiful old city centre with historical buildings, old walls and little alleys that whisper ‘explore me’.

And? Visit the Dominica Bookshop which is located in an old church and looks like something out of Harry Potter, stay at design Hotel Townhouse and go to Coffee Lovers for what I like to call heart-attack-in-a-cup.

Have you been to any of these cities? What did you think, and do you have any more NL city suggestions?

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  1. I’ve never been to Amsterdam but I’m in love with Rotterdam. This city is simply gorgeous. I still have to check out the other ones you mentioned but they sound just as wonderful! =)

  2. Ah, ik ben het echt met elk woord eens, maar dan vooral de frietjes van het Friethoes <3 Dat is echt dé reden dat ik terug naar Haarlem zou willen verhuizen… oeps.

  3. Ohh cool! I’ve only been to Amsterdam and Zaandvoort, and I really enjoyed it there.
    These places look lovely, too. Totally have to go there someday 🙂

  4. Being my old hometown I could really recommend Arnhem as well. Have a stroll through the amazing and upcoming Mode Kwartier, stay a night at Hotel Modez or wander through the old Spijkerkwartier-area. Plus the shopping street in the citycenter is year after year praised as ‘best shoppingcity in the Netherlands’, so there you go 😉

  5. Thanks for the inspiration and info. I’ve wanted to explore Holland more thoroughly for a while and you just sorted my itinerary!
    Claire xx

  6. HI! very interesting suggestions. I’ve never been to the Netherlands but some of my friends recommended Delft for example, apart from Amsterdam and Rotterdam.