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Netherlands Travel & Culture Guide

Dutch windmill at sunset (© SanderStock | iStockphoto.com)

Introduction

The Netherlands is the 10th most populous European countries and the 6th largest economy. Netherlands literally mean the 'Low Countries' because it is low-lying and flat, and much of its land has been reclaimed from the sea and is below sea level, protected by dikes.

This originally a bleak, featureless corner of Europe grew to become one of the wealthiest, most liberal and most influential regions of Europe. Few countries are so evocative in their symbols: windmills, canals, tulips, clogs, Gouda cheese, cannabis coffee shops... Dutch people like to joke that "God created the earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands".

Right after declaring their independence from Habsburg dominion in the late 1500's, the Netherlands became the world's biggest trading empire, setting up colonies in North America (New York), the Caribbeans, along the coasts of Africa and India, and in Indonesia, which was going to become the largest Dutch colony. Nowadays this colonial heritage is still evident from the multi-ethnic make-up of Dutch society, where over 5% of the population hails from Indonesia, Surinam or the Dutch Antilles.

Did you know?

Contrarily to popular belief Holland is not synonymous with Netherlands. Holland only refers to two of the Netherlands's 16 provinces: North Holland and South Holland. Historically the Netherlands designated all the Benelux and French Flanders. Nowadays the whole region is usually referred to as the Low Countries.


Travel Destinations

This is our ranking of the most interesting Dutch cities and towns to visit. We took into account the attractiveness, atmosphere, historical heritage, as well as the number and quality of museums and local restaurants.

Amsterdam
Aerial view of Amsterdam at night ( Rob Harpenau | iStockphoto.com) must-see Amsterdam
Utrecht
Aerial view of Utrecht ( Merijn van der Vliet | iStockphoto.com)
outstanding Utrecht
Haarlem

Vleeshal, Haarlem ( Eupedia.com)
outstanding Haarlem

Gouda
Town hall, Gouda ( Zbynek Burival | Dreamstime.com)
very good Gouda
Rotterdam
Townhall of Rotterdam ( Peter van Vuuren | iStockphoto.com)
very good Rotterdam
Breda
Grote Kerk & Grote Markt, Breda
very good Breda
Nijmegen
Nijmegen
very good Nijmegen
Keukenhof Gardens
Keukenhof Gardens (© Nicole Aletta Planken-Kooij | iStockphoto.com)
must-see Keukenhof Gardens
Leiden
Marina, Leiden ( Eupedia.com)
outstanding Leiden
The Hague
Dutch Parliament, The Hague ( jan kranendonk | iStockphoto.com)
outstanding The Hague
Middelburg
Abbey of Middelburg ( Eupedia.com)
very good Middelburg
Groningen
Frozen canal, Groningen ( Patricia Hofmeester | iStockphoto.com)
very good Groningen
Veere
Marina, Veere
very good Veere
Bourtange Fortress
Bourtange Fortress
very good Bourtange Fortress
Maastricht
Mosan architecture, Maastricht ( Eupedia.com)
must-see Maastricht
Delft
Canal and houses, Delft ( jan kranendonk | iStockphoto.com)
outstanding Delft
Dordrecht
Marina in Dordrecht ( Jan Kranendonk | Dreamstime.com)
very good Dordrecht
Deventer
Bergkerk at night, Deventer ( Arie J. Jager | iStockphoto.com)
very good Deventer
's Hertogenbosch
Paleiskwartier - Armada, Den Bosch (photo by Cro-Cop2 - Creative Commons Licence)
very good Den Bosch
Zwolle
Sassenpoort, Zwolle ( Alain Lacroix | Dreamstime.com)
very good Zwolle
Vlissingen
Harbour of Vlissingen ( Kora Brouwer | Dreamstime.com)
very good Vlissingen

Other Attractions

good Arnhem
good Leeuwarden
good Tilburg
good D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station ※

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Eupedia's Rating System

Cities, towns, villages & historic buildings

  • : Moderately interesting - nice for a quick stop
  • : Recommended - to visit if you have time
  • : Outstanding place - really deserves to be seen
  • : Best of the country - shouldn't be missed
  • : Best of Europe

Natural attractions

  • : Moderately interesting
  • : Recommended
  • : Highly recommended
  • : World-class natural attraction
  • ※ : UNESCO World Heritage site


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