Beautiful Canals in the Netherlands

The 11 Most Beautiful Cities to Visit in the Netherlands

The 11 Most Beautiful Cities to Visit in the Netherlands

These are the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands to visit. Are you tired of the cliché cities to visit in the Netherlands? Don’t get me wrong, we all love Amsterdam’s charming canals and Rotterdam’s futuristic architecture, but let’s face it: they’ve been overhyped to the point of exhaustion. It’s time to leave those well-trodden paths and explore some of the country’s most beautiful hidden gems.

Whether you’re on a solo trip or with your significant other, these most beautiful cities in the Netherlands will leave you speechless… and mildly confused as to how you ended up there in the first place. So buckle up, grab a stroopwafel, and get ready for a wild ride through the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands.

Center of a city in the Netherlands at night

Why should you visit the Netherlands?

The Netherlands is a land full of mesmerizing cities that are waiting to be explored. From the winding canals of Amsterdam to the charming streets of Utrecht, there are hidden gems spread throughout the country.

This article is devoted to discovering these special places – the 12 most beautiful cities in the Netherlands that showcase the true beauty of this small Northern-European country. Whether you’re looking for a bustling city with a lively nightlife, or a tranquil town with scenic views, there is something for everyone here.

Get ready to explore the lesser-known destinations and uncover the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands like never before.

Sun going down behind a lake and windmills in the Netherlands

1. Featuring One of the Most Beautiful, Gouda

Cheesy Paradise: Gouda. Let’s get straight to the point: Gouda is not just a type of cheese. It’s also a beautiful city in the Netherlands that’s known for its cheese-making traditions.

So if you’re a cheese lover, this is the place to be. But don’t worry if you’re not a fan of cheese.

Gouda has a lot more to offer than just its dairy products. First and foremost, Gouda is a picturesque city with charming canals and historic buildings.

It’s the kind of place that will make you want to take out your camera and snap a picture every few steps. And while you’re walking around, you’ll probably notice that there are a lot of cheese shops.

Some of them even offer free cheese samples. Yum! But let’s not forget about the Gouda cheese itself.

It’s a semi-hard cheese that’s made from cow’s milk and has a slightly nutty flavor. It’s perfect for snacking on its own, but it also goes great with bread, crackers, and wine.

The city also has a beautiful city hall that dates back to the 15th century. It’s an impressive historical landmark that’s well worth a visit.

And if you’re a lover of art, you can visit the Museum Gouda which houses an impressive collection of paintings and sculptures. Dating back to the sixteenth century! So, whether you’re a cheese lover or not, Gouda is a city that’s sure to enchant you with its beauty and charm.

Just don’t forget to bring your appetite!

Streets in the center of Gouda

2. The Hague: Not Boring, Just Lawful with Dutch Parliament

The Hague, oh boy! When you hear that name, what comes to your mind? Probably, the International Court of Justice, right? Well, I don’t blame you. That institution dominates the city’s image, but trust me, there’s more to The Hague than just court rulings.

People often describe The Hague as boring, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you’re into architecture, The Hague is one of the most beautiful cities in The Netherlands to visit.

But if you need some extra fun, head over to the beach. Yes, you read that right! The beach! Who would have thought that The Hague had one? Scheveningen, the city’s popular beach, has numerous lively cafes, beach clubs, and restaurants.

The vibe is always electric, and there are plenty of water sports activities to keep you engaged. You can go kite surfing, windsurfing, or even try the fly board!

That’s not all, though. The Hague is also known for its royalty.

You can visit the King’s palace or stroll around the Peace Palace, which also houses the International Court of Justice. The palace’s ceremonial halls are something out of a fairy tale, and the castle’s garden is a sight to behold. The Hague is also the seat of the Dutch parliament at Binnenhof, adding to its political significance.

If you’re lucky enough to be in the city during the festive season, then The Hague won’t disappoint. The Christmas market at Lange Voorhout is incredible, with an impressive collection of art, food, and drinks.

You can even skate on the ice rink or take a ride on the Ferris wheel! There is so much fun to be had in the administrative capital of the Netherlands.

The ferris wheel on the pier in the hague

3. Picturesque Canals and Culture: Utrecht

Ah, the Netherlands! Also known as ‘The Land of the Windmills’ or ‘The Land of the Tulips’, this tiny country is filled with quaint little towns that showcase its true beauty. But let’s talk about one of the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands: Utrecht.

Firstly, Utrecht is all about canals. You know, those things that people associate with Venice? Well, Utrecht has its fair share of them too. Consider taking a canal boat tour to explore Utrecht’s unique waterways, which is a great way to enjoy the city regardless of the weather.

But Utrecht is no copycat! The canals here are just as charming, and they’re lined with some of the city’s oldest buildings. This leads us to our next point: culture.

Utrecht has been around since the Roman era, and it shows. The city is packed with history and architecture that’s so old, it’s almost unreal.

Take a stroll through the city centre and you’ll see buildings that date back as far as the 14th century. The city centre is filled with historical and charming aspects, including old buildings, museums, small shops, and restaurants. And if you’re a fan of religious history, make sure to visit the Gothic-style Dom Church.

It’s a jaw-dropping sight, guaranteed. But let’s get back to the canals for a minute.

Utrecht is home to the largest wharf system in the world. What’s a wharf, you ask? Well, it’s basically a structure that extends out into the water, and it was used to load and unload cargo onto boats.

In Utrecht, you can see these wharves lined with charming little cafes and restaurants. It’s like a scene out of a storybook! And finally, we have to mention bicycles.

The Netherlands is famous for them, and Utrecht is no exception. In fact, Utrecht has the largest bicycle parking facility in the world.

It can hold over 12,500 bicycles! So, if you’re feeling adventurous, rent a bike and explore the city on two wheels. Trust us, it’s an unforgettable experience.

So, there you have it. Canals, culture, wharves, and bikes.

Utrecht may not be the first place you think of when you hear ‘The Netherlands’, but it’s definitely worth a stop on your next European adventure.

The beautiful canals in Utrecht

4. Party Like It’s 1666: Delft

If you ever find yourself yearning for a party atmosphere straight from the 17th century, look no further than Delft! With its picturesque canals, stunning architecture, and vibrant nightlife, this Dutch city is the perfect place to revel in Dutch history and culture. During the day, take a stroll through the city’s historic center, where you’ll discover charming cobblestone streets, traditional windmills, and the stunning Gothic-style Nieuwe Kerk. Delft also has a rich historical connection to the Dutch royal family, making it even more fascinating to explore.

And when the sun sets, prepare yourself for a wild night out! Head to the city’s main square, Markt, to find a plethora of lively pubs, bars, and clubs that cater to all tastes. Whether you’re in the mood for a cozy craft beer or a wild night of dancing, you’ll find it all here in Delft.

But perhaps the city’s most enchanting attraction is the annual Delftse Drie Dagen Feest, a three-day festival that takes place every summer. With live music, street performances, and plenty of food and drink, this festival is truly a sight to behold! So, come on over to Delft and party like it’s 1666! You’re sure to have an unforgettable experience in this enchanting city.

And who knows, you might even discover some other of the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands.

Tower bridge in Delft

5. The Venice of the North: Giethoorn

Are you ready to explore the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands? Get ready to discover the hidden gem that is Giethoorn, also known as the ‘Venice of the North.’ This charming village is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

Known for its picture-perfect canals, delightful bridges, and lush greenery, Giethoorn will surely capture your heart. As you navigate through the narrow waterways, don’t be surprised if you come across a cow or two! Yes, you read that right.

Giethoorn is home to many dairy farms, hence the occasional cow sighting. Don’t worry, though – they won’t be crowding your boat.

Speaking of boats, be sure to take a tour of the village via water. It’s the best way to fully appreciate the stunning scenery. It’s actually the only way, as Giethoorn has no roads within the village itself.

And if you’re feeling adventurous, why not rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore at your own pace? Just be careful not to fall in – the water can be chilly!

And lastly, don’t forget to indulge in the local cuisine. Giethoorn is known for its delicious pancakes, which are often served with bacon or apple slices. Some of the monumental mills in Giethoorn function as fascinating museums, providing insights into the lives of the families that once inhabited them.

You can also try traditional Dutch dishes like stamppot and bitterballen. Wash it all down with a cold Dutch beer, and you’ll be living like a local in no time.

So what are you waiting for? Book your trip to Giethoorn and prepare to be enchanted by this incredible village. Trust us, it’s worth the journey.

Just don’t forget your camera – you’ll want to capture every moment of this breathtaking destination!

Giethoorn, the Venice of the Netherlands

6. Surprisingly Stunning: Leeuwarden

Ah, Leeuwarden. The name itself already sounds like something out of a fairy tale.

But guess what? This interesting city in the north of the Netherlands is not just a figment of your imagination – it actually exists! And boy, it does not disappoint. For starters, did you know that Leeuwarden is the capital city of Friesland? Friesland is a province with its own official language; Frisian.

The city is home to some jaw-dropping architecture.

Take the Oldehove tower, for example. It may lean a bit (okay, a lot), but that only adds to its charm.

It also makes for a great photo op – just make sure to angle your camera accordingly! But if you think Leeuwarden is all about the past, think again. The city has a thriving contemporary art scene, as evidenced by its many galleries and museums

So go ahead, and add it to your Dutch itinerary. Your Instagram feed will thank you for visiting one of the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands.

Evening light in a street in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, with a classic-style street light

7. Old World Charm: Zwolle

Ah, Zwolle. One of the most beautiful cities in The Netherlands that you probably haven’t heard of, but ought to visit.

It’s like a hidden gem, only it’s not hidden any more thanks to this article section. Zwolle’s got that old-world charm that you’ve been seeking in the Netherlands.

With the historic city walls and the St. Michael’s Church, Zwolle takes you back in time. The city is also rich in historical monuments, adding to its historical heart.

The narrow streets with classic Dutch architecture are just an added bonus. You’ll feel like you’re walking in a movie scene, but don’t be surprised if the local residents just stroll by like it’s an everyday occurrence.

However, Zwolle isn’t just about the past. The city is thriving with modern, hip coffee shops and craft beer breweries.

Don’t forget about the bookstores and galleries, too – this is a cultured place. But if you’re a foodie, then you’re in for a real treat.

Zwolle is home to three Michelin-starred restaurants! There is even a restaurant with three Michelin stars in Zwolle. A rare occurrence. This restaurant is called De Lebrije.  It’s no wonder that this city is quickly becoming a destination for food enthusiasts.

So if you’re looking to experience some old-world charm in the Netherlands, with a touch of modern coolness and amazing food, then Zwolle is the place to be. Now, let’s just hope it doesn’t become too popular and lose its authentic charm.

Rowboat in front of the tower of Zwolle in the summer

8. Edam: One of the cheese capitals of the world

The Netherlands is a beautiful country that boasts many charming cities. Perhaps one of the most enchanting is Edam, which showcases the true beauty of Dutch architecture and traditions.

Edam is a hidden gem, tucked away in the north of the country. It’s a small city with a population of just over 7,000, but it’s bursting with character and charm.

The city is famous for its cheese, which is named after the city itself.

It’s often sold in small, red wax-coated rounds and is a popular souvenir for tourists. But the city has much more to offer than just its cheese.

Edam is home to some of the most beautiful canal-lined streets in the Netherlands. The historic buildings that line these streets are a testament to the city’s rich history and cultural heritage.

One of the best ways to explore Edam is on foot. Take a stroll through the narrow streets of the old city centre and enjoy the quaint, picturesque scenery. You’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time to a simpler era. For those who love cycling, Edam is also a great destination.

The city is surrounded by scenic countryside and is intersected by numerous cycling routes. Rent a bike and explore the idyllic Dutch landscape at your own pace.

Edam is also home to some excellent restaurants and cafes. Sample some traditional Dutch cuisine, such as stamppot or bitterballen, and wash it down with a locally brewed beer.

All in all, Edam is a wonderful city that offers a true taste of Dutch culture and history. Visit it for an Edam(n) good time!

Water in edam

9. Tulips and Toffees: Alkmaar

If you thought Amsterdam was the only amazing city in Northern Holland, think again! Alkmaar is one of the most beautiful cities in The Netherlands, which showcases the true beauty of this country. Known for its famous cheese market, Alkmaar is a must-visit for all cheese lovers out there.

You can be sure to have a good time! But, wait, there’s more! Aside from the cheese market, Alkmaar also boasts beautiful Dutch architecture that will make you feel like you’re in a fairy tale. The city’s streets are lined with colorful houses and buildings that are sure to brighten up your day.

And, what’s a Dutch town without some beautiful windmills? Alkmaar has plenty of them, adding to its charm and beauty. But, don’t let the sweet and savory scents of cheese and toffees distract you from the city’s true hidden gem – its tulips! Alkmaar is bursting with tulip fields during spring, making it the perfect destination for flower enthusiasts.

You’ll be able to take in the stunning views of the colorful tulips against the backdrop of the city’s beautiful canals. And, let’s not forget about the people of Alkmaar – friendly and welcoming, they’ll make you feel right at home.

You can indulge in a slice of apple pie and a cup of hot cocoa while chatting with the locals about their city’s history and culture. In conclusion, Alkmaar is a perfect destination for travelers looking for a laid-back Dutch experience with a hint of cheese, toffees, windmills, and most importantly – tulips! Make sure to add it to your bucket list and discover the true hidden gems of the Netherlands.

the center of Alkmaar

10. Beautiful and Breezy: Haarlem

The Netherlands is known for so many things, the most notable of which is the fact that they are home to some of the most enchanting and beautiful cities in the world. From Amsterdam to Rotterdam, these cities never fail to amaze visitors who come to bask in the country’s rich history, culture, and beauty.

However, hidden away in one of the lesser-known gems of the country, lies the charming city of Haarlem. Haarlem is a beautiful and breezy city, with its quaint streets and lovely canals.

The beauty and serenity of this city are enough to transport visitors to a different time, one where things were perhaps a bit simpler, and much more laid back. This city is all about feeling the wind in your hair and taking in the beauty of the world around you.

One of the must-visit places in Haarlem is the Frans Hals Museum. This museum is dedicated to the work of Frans Hals, one of the greatest Dutch painters of all time. The museum features an impressive collection of works by Dutch Masters such as Frans Hals, Pieter Bruegel, Rembrandt, and Vermeer, showcasing the rich artistic heritage of the Netherlands.

His works are filled with life, color, and vibrancy, and they are sure to leave you in awe. The museum also houses other works of art from other Dutch artists, so you get a full dose of the Dutch art scene.

Haarlem also has one of the coolest places for drinking a beer, the Jopenkerk. This former church turned into a brewery has an excellent selection of beers, and their brews are known to be some of the best in the country.

Beer lovers will surely find themselves in paradise here. As if Haarlem couldn’t get any better, the city also boasts of some of the most beautiful gardens in the country.

The Hortus Minor Garden is a perfect retreat for anyone who wants to take a breather and enjoy the beauty of nature. The gardens have an extensive collection of flowers, trees, and shrubs from all over the world, making it a perfect place to explore and get lost in.

Haarlem has a lot to offer, and it’s no surprise that it’s one of the hidden gems of the Netherlands. If you’re looking to explore the more laid-back side of the country, Haarlem is where you need to be.

With its beautiful streets, amazing museums, fantastic beer, and serene gardens, this town is indeed a charm.

bridge over water in Alkmaar

11. The Southern Charm of the Netherlands: Maastricht

Are you ready for an adventure in the Netherlands but unsure where to go? Look no further! Allow me to introduce you to one of the most beautiful Dutch cities in the Netherlands, the enchanting city of Maastricht, where you can cycle in style while admiring the city’s beauty. Maastricht is nestled in the southeastern part of the Netherlands, boasting charming medieval architecture and a rich history.

What better way to explore it all than by bike? Don’t worry about packing your own, you can easily rent a bike once you get to the city. Pedal your way through the city’s cobbled streets, taking in the stunning Gothic architecture, including the 11th-century Basilica of Saint Servatius.

Keep an eye out for Vrijthof Square, where you can stop for a refreshing beer or some of the famous Dutch apple pie. But cycling in Maastricht doesn’t just mean touring the city’s beautiful landmarks.

You can also take the scenic route along the Meuse River and enjoy the picturesque countryside. Don’t be surprised if you stumble upon some quaint farmhouses, friendly cows, or even a castle or two! Maastricht is also home to the beautiful St Pietersberg Caves, a unique underground network of tunnels and caverns.

While you can’t exactly cycle through the caves, you can tour them and marvel at the sparkling limestone formations. So make Maastricht your next cycling destination in the Netherlands.

You won’t be disappointed, but you may need an extra slice of apple pie for fuel!

People cycling in the center of Maastricht

These are the cities to visit in The Netherlands

So, there you have it! The Netherlands may be small, but it sure has some mighty beautiful Dutch cities. Whether it’s the tulip fields surrounding Alkmaar, the charming architecture of Utrecht, or the delicious cheese – there’s something for everyone in this country.

And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, why not go on a tour of all the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands? Just don’t blame me if you end up getting lost, eating too much stroopwafel, or accidentally stumble on one of the many EDM festivals the country hosts. It’s all part of the Dutch experience, baby! Take care, and happy travels!

Sunset over lake and behind windmills in the Netherlands


Aemilius Dost is originally from the Netherlands but moved to Mexico more than two years ago. He started traveling when he was 19 and visited over 20 countries spread over North, and Central America, Europe and Asia. He currently works as a freelance SEO specialist and has worked with companies such as Surfshark, SafetyWing, and BP.

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