Although it’s not the home of the country’s government, Amsterdam certainly holds the pride of place when it comes the cultural, financial, and social aspects of the Netherlands. From its world-renowned red light district to the Anne Frank museum and the Vincent Van Gogh Gallery to the original home of Heineken, the choice is vast and varied and will certainly keep you busy during your stay. As well as all of the above you will have a choice between a host of smaller museums, open-air markets, canal trips and the social life so allow yourself plenty of time or else.
Currently the largest port in the world, much of this remarkable city was destroyed during WW II. Nevertheless, there is plenty to see because while only small parts of the old city remain, its position as the centre of the Dutch economy means that attractions are numerous. Among the most popular are the Euromast and Space Tower which standing at 605 feet is the tallest point in the country, the Museum Boymans van Beuningen which houses a unique collection of art dating from the fourteenth century to the present day, the Maritime Museum Prins Hendrick, home to a host of marine artefacts and of course the tours of this world famous harbour.
Home to the country’s government and its queen, The Hague is also home to over sixty foreign embassies and serves as the seat of the International Court of Justice. A fascinating city located in the south west of the Netherlands, the central part of the Old Town which is known as the Binnenhof is one of the most interesting urban settlements on the continent. As well as this check out Madurodam Miniature Town, the Panorama Mesdag which is the largest panoramic circular painting in the world, the Parliament buildings, the Puppet Museum and the recently renovated Gemeentemuseum, a municipal museum housing a superb collect of modern art.
The fourth largest city in the Netherlands and one of the oldest, its location on a slightly elevated section of land has meant that the floods which have hindered the development of many urban area have not really had any lasting effects on Utrecht. Having played a leading role in religious affairs in Europe during past centuries, the host of churches in the city is probably its biggest attraction. Visit the Cathedral of St. Michael, St. Janskerk, St. Jacobkerk and St. Pietereskerk as well as the House of the Teutonic Order and the Hospice of St. Bartholomew. And, if you are running out of time for your Dutch adventure the good news is that day trips from Amsterdam to Utrecht are extremely easy to organise.
Situated in the southern part of the country, Maastricht’s history dates back to 50 BC making it the oldest town in the Netherlands. Today evidence of its first settlers the Romans is still visible in the fortress walls and narrow cobblestone streets which remain. As well as this, however, you can also visit the Bonnefanten Museum and the Baths and ruins at Heerleen on the outskirts of the city. And when you tire of the Roman influence, check out the Schatkamer Onze Lieve Basilica, St. Janskerk church and its tower and the caves of St. Pietersberg, a ten kilometre labyrinth of tunnels created over the centuries.
For the ultimate getaway from city life, this is the perfect destination. A ‘Blue Flag’ beach of international fame, Noordwijk is located between Amsterdam and The Hague as well as being close to Keukenhof, the heart of the bulb growing area. Popular in summer for the host of water and leisure activities on offer in the sea, the lakes and the dunes it is equally popular in winter for those who enjoy the fresh air and visiting the many museums in the area. Add to this the small town charm combined with the big city facilities on offer and you will see why Noordwijk is so special to both the locals and the thousands who visit every year.