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North Holland & Flevoland

The quintessentially Dutch province of Noord-Holland (North Holland) wraps around Amsterdam like a crown. Less than 20km west of Amsterdam, but entirely its own city, elegant Haarlem is the region's capital and a charming example of 17th-century grandeur. Canals traverse its centre, while wide, sandy beaches fringe its western edge.

Further afield, smaller centres range from mast-filled Golden Age ports such as Hoorn and Enkhuizen, with architecturally resplendent historic centres, to canal-laced towns and villages like Alkmaar and Edam, famed for their cheese and centuries-old cheese markets. Across the region, bucolic expanses of windswept countryside span extensive polders (areas surrounded by dykes where the water can be artificially controlled) to windmill-dotted farmland grazed by cows and sheep, fields of flowers and magnificent dune-scapes, especially on the idyllic island of Texel just a 20-minute ferry ride offshore.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout North Holland & Flevoland.