Modern-day Amsterdam is famous for its liberal views, where cannabis is sold in coffee shops, and sex is promoted in the Red Light District, but the city’s historical highlights are not be missed in its museums, art and architecture. Take a bike ride round Amsterdam’s canal grid or soak up the cosmopolitan vibe at one of the many sidewalk cafes.
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Stroll along quaint Delft’s cobbled streets, shop for blue and white delftware (beware of fakes), and visit the town’s historical churches – Nieuwe Kerk’s tower offers fine views and Oude Kerk houses the tomb of Dutch artist and Delft resident Johannes Vermeer.
Oude Kerk and Nieuwe Kerk
Open: 11am-4pm Monday to Friday, 10am-5pm Saturday in January, 10am-5pm seven days a week February to March, 9am-6pm seven days a week April to October, 11am-4pm Monday to Friday, 10am-5pm Saturdays November and December
Tickets: Both churches Adult €3.75 (+€3.75 for the Tower in the new church)
Time your visit with this city’s North Sea Jazz Festival in summer and discover why edgy Rotterdam is known for being a popular hangout for partygoers.
Den Haag (The Hague)
Home to the Dutch royal family, International Court of Justice, and plenty of smartly dressed diplomats, Den Haag has a regal air about it. Culture and cuisine are top priority — gaze at Dutch masterpieces at Mauritshuis museum and book a table at one of the many restaurants on Denneweg.
Open: 1pm-6pm Mondays, 10am-6pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 10am-8pm Thursdays
Located down south with Germany and Belgium its closest neighbours, Maastricht has been the site of many an invasion, but rather than feel defeated, this city thrives on its mixed heritage.
Frieslanders pride themselves on retaining their own language and culture and there’s a distinctly different feel in this northern area to the rest of the Netherlands. Mainlanders flock to the four islands of Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog to lie on long sandy beaches or cycle in open spaces.
Spring in the Netherlands means fields of blooming tulips. Keukenhof, near Leiden, open its gates for three months of the year and thousands of visitors traipse the gardens’ paths ogling at the display of brightly-coloured bulbs.