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  • Amsterdam, Netherlands


Rattling your bike over cobbles, past a line of gabled houses reflected in a mirror-smooth canal…the Netherlands is just like you imagined it. In its 17th-century Golden Age, Dutch traders established a global economy — and funded a culturally rich society back home. Tiny Holland may just have the world's densest concentration of great artists, and shows off their works in several world-class museums. Be sure to venture beyond Amsterdam — take advantage of the efficient train network, which puts nearly every Dutch destination within an easy day trip. Rent a bike and cruise the flat countryside. Wherever you roam, look behind its placid exterior, where you'll find a complex mix of modern technology, honored traditions, quaint countryside, outrageous architecture, and no-nonsense, globally minded people.


At a Glance

Best Home Bases

▲▲▲ Amsterdam The dynamic capital, lined with Golden-Age architecture, boasts magnificent museums, a lively food scene, diverse nightlife, and an eye-opening Red Light District, along with bustling streets and markets and bikes everywhere.

▲▲ Haarlem Cozy, quiet burg with its own top attractions, plus easy access to big-city Amsterdam.

▲▲ Delft Picturesque hometown of Vermeer and Delftware with college-town vibe — a good base for day-tripping to The Hague and Rotterdam.

Day Trips

North of Amsterdam

▲▲ Edam, Volendam, and Marken Postcard-perfect region of Waterland harbors with the adorable cheesemaking village of Edam, the tourist depot of Volendam, and the fascinating former fishing hamlet of Marken.

Hoorn and Enkhuizen Time-warp duo of the Golden-Age merchant’s town of Hoorn and charming village of Enkhuizen, with an open-air museum that preserves lost Zuiderzee culture.

▲ Alkmaar and Zaanse Schans Holland’s tasty cheese capital — Alkmaar — with its Friday cheese market, and Zaanse Schans, an easy-to-reach though touristy folk museum.

Flevoland Intriguing province reclaimed from the sea featuring Schokland, a former fishing village now surrounded by dry land.

South of Amsterdam

▲▲ Rotterdam Europe’s busiest port with soaring skyscraper architecture and 21st-century buzz.

Keukenhof and Aalsmeer Flower-power destinations with fabulous tulip gardens (Keukenhof, open only in spring) and famous floral auction scene (Aalsmeer).

Leiden Historic, charming college town that was the Pilgrims’ last stop before Plymouth Rock.

▲ The Hague Governmental hub with excellent art museum (Mauritshuis), international courts, and nearby beach.

East of Amsterdam

▲▲ Museums near Arnhem Two Dutch treats — the granddaddy of open-air museums (Netherlands Open-Air Folk Museum) and a world-class collection of Van Gogh masterpieces (Kröller-Müller Museum).

▲ Utrecht Bustling university city with the Netherlands’ largest medieval old town and its best railway museum.