The 13 best places to visit in the Netherlands

 

First constructed in 1280 AD in the town of Muiden, east of the capital, Amsterdam, is the medieval Muiden Castle. Completely demolished twenty years after it's construction in 1300 AD, it was completely rebuilt towards the end of the 14th century in the same location following the original plans. Despite it's relatively small size, only 32 by 35 metres (105 by 115 ft) it has become one of the most well known castles in the country.

13. Muiderslot

 

East of the capital, Amsterdam, is the fortified garrison city of Naarden, built by the Spanish Empire in 1572 AD it is a great example of a typical Spanish star fort. Complete with it's restored fortified walls and moat, the cities most prominent attraction is undoubtedly the Grote Kerk, or 'Great Church', dating from the 15th century it is one of the oldest in the Netherlands, having luckily survived the Spanish burning of the town.

12. Naarden

 

First constructed in 1391 AD, directly south of the capital, Amsterdam, close to the city of Utrecht, is the wonderfully pretty De Haar Castle. Restored at the end of the 19th century in a Gothic style, this building of over two hundred rooms, has an interior beautifully decorated with rich ornamental wood carvings reminiscent of the decor in a Roman Catholic church. With it's impressive lake side location and surrounding flower gardens, De Haar Castle has earned the reputation as the prettiest in the country.

11. Kasteel De Haar

 

In the extreme south east of the country, in the small area of land between Belgium and Germany is the city of Maastricht, known for it's enormous town square, The Vrijthof. One of the finest city squares in the country, it's two main attractions are undoubtedly the Romanesque Basilica Of Saint Servatius, and the Gothic Church Of Saint John, with it's tall and unusual red tower. Visitors can walk the 261 steps of the spiral staircase to the top of this fine tower for one of the best views in the city.

10. Het Vrijthof

 

Built in 1803, having stood for over two hundred years and through both world wars, standing 33 metres (108 ft) high with a wing span of 26.6 metres (87 ft), De Noord, meaning 'The North' is the tallest windmill in the world. Today this iconic structure operates as a restaurant, with the entire building declared a Dutch National Monument.

9. De Noord

 

In the south west of the country, famous for having the International Courts Of Justice, the International Criminal Court and being a major host city of the United Nations, is the Netherlands third largest city, The Hague. Visitors should head to 'Het Plein', the old town city square where the statue of William The Silent stands among small cafes, with the modern skyscrapers towering into the sky nearby. Among the old town attractions is the Binnenhof, a complex of 13th century Gothic buildings that are today the oldest House Of Parliament in the world still in use.

Pictured is the Binnenhof.

8. Den Haag

 

To the west of the capital, Amsterdam, ​is the one time major North Sea trading port city of Haarlem. Famed for it's outlying tulip fields and close proximity to the capital, the centre of the city retains much of it's medieval character among the cobbled stone streets of gabled houses. At it's heart is the 'Grote Markt' or great market square, lined with impressive 14th century buildings, chief among them is the enormous 15th century Gothic 'Grote Kerk', mainly referred to as the Great Church of St. Bavo.

Pictured is Windmill De Adriaan.

7. Haarlem

 

In the far north east of the country close to the border with Germany, is the city of Groningen, set along meandering canals it has the feel of a miniature Amsterdam. It's central 'Grote Markt', or great market square is home to the centuries old Gothic Martinitoren Clock Tower, completed in 1482 AD and standing 97 metres (318 ft) high it is the tallest church steeple in the country, offering visitors amazing views over the entire historic centre of Groningen. Situated so far north, in winter the canals can freeze over allowing the opportunity to skate through the city.

6. Groningen

 

To the north of the capital, Amsterdam, in the Zaandam neighbourhood, is an open air museum known as the Zaanse Schans. From 1961 to 1974 old buildings from all over the region were relocated to one location to preserve a collection of historic windmills and houses. Marking the start of the European Route Of Industrial Heritage, today this site of many historical Dutch windmills is one of the most visited locations in the Netherlands.

5. Zaanse Schans

 

In the south of the country, south east of the city of Rotterdam is the village of Kinderdijk, meaning 'Children Dike'. Situated within a low lying polder, in order to drain it, a system of nineteen windmills was built in the mid 18th century. Making up the largest concentration of old windmills in the country, they have become one of the Netherlands most visited tourist attractions, and have also been inscribed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

4. Kinderdijk

 

The Dutch capital, Amsterdam, famous for it's red light district, cannabis coffee shops and it's enormous network of mostly man made canals, was during the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century one of the most important ports in the world. Today it remains one of the most visited capitals of Europe, with attractions that include the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, the oldest on the planet, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Hermitage, Anne Frank House and the rich architectural buildings at it's historic centre. With around 90 islands, over 1,500 bridges and more than 100 kilometres (62 miles) of canals, the 17th Century Canals Of Amsterdam including the 19th and 20th century Defence Line Of Amsterdam have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3. Amsterdam

 

North east of the capital, Amsterdam, in the province of Overijssel on the border of Weerribben-Wilden National Park, is the small village of Giethoorn. Tranquil and mostly car free, the village is known for it's boat filled waterways, footpaths, bicycle trails and centuries old thatched roof houses. With over 180 bridges across it's canals, Giethoorn has been dubbed quite fittingly the Venice Of The North. Certainly one of the prettiest villages in the Netherlands, it is considered one of the prettiest in northern Europe.

2. Giethoorn

 

South west of the capital, Amsterdam, the Keukenhof, meaning 'Kitchen Garden', sometimes referred to as the Garden Of Europe, is today one of the worlds largest flower gardens. In the town of Lisse, in the grounds of the 16th century Castle Keukenhof, every year from mid March to mid May, over seven million flowers start to bloom across 79 acres. Depending on the weather, visitors can witness one of the finest natural displays on the continent. The sight of a carpet of tulips back dropped by a classic Dutch windmill is as Dutch as Dutch can be.

1. Keukenhof

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