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Northeastern Netherlands

Few travellers venture to this far corner of the Netherlands, but those who don't go are missing out on the country's rural heart, a place where traditions are kept alive and prehistoric relics dot the landscape. The Netherlands' best-known walking trail, the Pieterspad, legs it from here, from Pieterburen 490km south to Maastricht.

Provincial capital Groningen is a buzzing, youthful city. Museums, restaurants, bars, theatres, canals, festivals – it's the north's cultural point of reference and a fine base for exploring.

On the coast, try the strangely intriguing pastime of wadlopen (mudflat-walking). Or head to Bourtange, on the eastern border with Germany; its hefty defences are just as forbidding now as they were in the 16th century. South, Drenthe is a great garden with shifting tableaus of sheep pastures, stream-cut peat bogs, marshlands and fascinating hunebedden (neolithic burial chambers), often accessible only by bike or on foot.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Northeastern Netherlands.