The Netherlands is a country known worldwide for the colourful buildings that line the canals, cheese, and of course, Amsterdam. But there’s so much more to see than the Red Light District, more to eat than space cakes and chips, and more to do than take a boat ride along the canals. To get a real feel for the country, a one week tour of The Netherlands spent visiting different cities is perfect!
A week is long enough to see a few different sides. Train travel is so quick and easy across the country. You could choose to base yourself in one city and visit the others on day trips, or pack up and move about as you visit different cities. This 1 week tour suggestion runs from Saturday to the following Sunday to give the most experience but with just 1 week of annual leave! The days can of course be switched around, but it’s been planned in a way that captures some of the cool markets the different places have.
Days 1-3: Amsterdam
Arrive in Amsterdam, drop off your luggage and head straight out. With 3 days to explore the city, it’s a great idea to check out a section of the city each day. If you’re based in the centre, use your first day to admire the charming streets of Jordaan, Anne Frank House, Dam Square, Nationaal Monument, the shopping district and enjoy a daytime tour of the Red Light District.
For another day, venture further south to the Museum district. Here you’ll find the famous Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Vondelpark and the Heineken experience among many others. It’s an enjoyable walk from the city centre, but if you don’t feel like it, then it’s the perfect opportunity to hire a bike or make the most of a hop-on-hop-off canal cruise. It’s touristy, but it’s a great way to see the city from another view, and a must on any tour of The Netherlands.
The last day in the city gives you time for a wander through the Nieuwmarkt district, down past Rembrandt House Museum and to Waterlooplein. There’s a market there 6 days a week, so if possible try and time the visit to this huge market to catch that. From there you can either head to the zoo, explore the local area or see more of the centre such as Rembrandtplein and the floating flower market.
Come evening, there’s still time for a walk through the Red Light District. It’s best to visit in the dark to see the full effect of the windows lit up, and be aware that you’ll be offered entrance to many different sex shows as you walk around. It’s a busy and somewhat controversial area, but it’s interesting to see one of the many sides of Amsterdam before you leave.
Day 4: Rotterdam
Following a significant amount of damage in the Second World War, Rotterdam used the opportunity to build itself up and become an architectural dream. The impressive buildings are modern, tall and interesting to check out. It’s just 40 minutes on the train from Amsterdam, so grab an early train and enjoy a day here. There’s plenty to fill the time, and it’s easy to hire a bike to do a whistlestop tour, enabling you to see as much as possible.
From Rotterdam it’s quick and easy to continue the tour of The Netherlands and venture out to Gouda and The Hague. It’s a great shout to use Rotterdam as a base for a few days so you can unpack and settle a bit.
Day 5: Gouda
A quick 20-25 minute ride on the train takes you to the small town of Gouda. You might recognise the name, and that’s because of…cheese! It’s worth visiting on a Thursday between April and August, as you’ll be lucky enough to witness a bit of history with the Gouda cheese market. Other than that, there’s the charming streets to wander, a church and city hall to check out and a couple of museums if you’d like insight into the city.
You can see most of Gouda in half a day, or stretch it to a full relaxing day by checking out some of the cafes on offer. If you want to make the most of your time, head back to Rotterdam early afternoon and spend the afternoon visiting the impressive Markthal and cube houses.
Day 6: The Hague
Half an hour by bus or train and you’ll find yourself in the seaside city of The Hague. Home to the Dutch government, The Hague has plenty to keep you busy for the day. The impressive waterside Binnenhof is a 13th century castle you can wander around, or maybe Madurodam is more your kind of thing with it’s miniature city models on display. There are also plenty of museums on offer, an amusement park, and if the weather is good enough, a walk along a stretch of the 11km beach at Scheveningen, the most popular resort just a short bus ride from the city centre.
Day 7: Utrecht
One day in Utrecht gives you the perfect amount of time to get out and about to see the sights of this compact city. If you’re staying for the night, BUNK Hotel is a cool place to stay, conveniently located near the train station in the city centre.
There are a few key sights to see in Utrecht, such as the Dom and if you’re visiting on a Saturday there’s a popular flower market in Janskerkhof. Aside from that, the best part of Utrecht is just having a wander and seeing the different shops, charming streets or taking a walk along the canal. There’s often something happening in Vredenburg such as an arts or food market, and from there you’re close to the winding shopping lanes.
Day 8: Amsterdam
Coming to the end of the tour of The Netherlands, a quick 25-minute train ride takes you back to Amsterdam Centraal. If you have an early flight booked, the train to the airport will take 5-10 minutes longer. But, if you have time to spare, there’s a luggage store close to the train station where you can leave your bags and enjoy a few more hours of Amsterdam, luggage free! Got any parts of the city you didn’t manage to fit in before? Or maybe you want to end the trip on a high – not that kind – and head to the top of A’DAM Lookout where you can swing on top of a 20-storey building. What a way to end the trip, right?
Currency: Euros – card is widely accepted but make sure you have cash for the smaller shops. Language: Dutch, but many people speak English to a very high standard. Food to try: Fries, croquettes, stroopwaffel, mini pancakes (poffertjes) and of course, cheese! There are so many dishes to sample, but these are my favourites. For more local recommendations, check out this site. Riding a bike: Do as the locals do and hire a bike! Be aware that there are rules of where you can and can’t ride, be sure to check with the bike hire before setting out.
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