Unique Architecture

The Dutch have always excelled at unique architecture, from Golden Age canal houses to attention-grabbing visual statements continuing to be built across the country.

Amsterdam's Canal Ring Each narrow, gabled canal house has its own distinct personality.

Rotterdam The entire city is a showcase of boundary-pushing modern and contemporary architecture.

Rietveld-Schröderhuis Utrecht home designed by a leading exponent of the De Stijl movement.

Groninger Museum Groningen’s art and archaeology treasures fill a trio of architect Alessandro Mendini's phantasmagoric buildings.

Rijksmuseum The facade of Pierre Cuypers’ magnificent design from 1875 has Renaissance ornaments carved in stone.

NEMO Renzo Piano’s green-copper, ship-shaped science museum in Amsterdam is a modern classic.

ARCAM Amsterdam’s Centre for Architecture is a one-stop shop for architectural exhibits, guidebooks and maps.

Sassenpoort Zwolle’s twin-turreted marvel is the last remaining gate from its Hanseatic trading-centre glory days.

Art

Powerhouse museums packed with masterpieces proliferate throughout the Netherlands.

Rijksmuseum The Netherlands' top treasure chest overflows with Rembrandts, Vermeers, Delftware and more.

Van Gogh Museum Hangs the world's largest collection of the tortured artist's vivid swirls.

Stedelijk Museum Renowned modern art from Picasso to Mondrian to Warhol.

Hermitage Amsterdam Features one-off, blockbuster exhibits showing everything from Matisse cut-outs to Byzantine treasures.

Mauritshuis The magnificent royal collection in Den Haag encapsulates all that's great about Dutch art.

Museum Boijmans van Beuningen Rotterdam's greatest museum has works from Bosch onwards.

Kröller-Müller Museum A beautiful national park shelters a sublime collection of Van Goghs and other masterpieces.

Frans Hals Museum Reason enough for any art lover to visit Haarlem.

Museum Catherijneconvent Contains Utrecht's cache of religious art tracing the history of Christianity in the Netherlands.

Jheronimus Bosch Art Center The city of Den Bosch’s tribute to its native son and his detailed medieval canvasses.

Markets

Every city and town in the Netherlands has open-air markets at least one day a week. Some specialise in organic foods or antiques; most are held on beautiful central squares.

Albert Cuypmarkt Amsterdam’s largest and busiest market: a browser's paradise heaving with flowers, food, clothing and more.

De Hallen Themed weekend markets (eg Dutch design) take place inside the capital's former tram sheds.

Waterlooplein Flea Market Amsterdam flea market piling up curios, New Age gifts, cheap bicycle parts, clothing and more.

Oudemanhuispoort Book Market Secondhand booksellers' stalls fill a moody Amsterdam covered alleyway.

De Bazaar Beverwijk One of Europe's largest open-air markets (food, clothing and homewares), with a deliciously global flavour.

Westergasfabriek Sunday Market A quality craft and gourmet food market sets up monthly at these converted gasworks.

Haarlem Grote Markt Mondays and Saturdays see stalls fill Haarlem's great square.

Delft Markt Thursday's market day on the main square is the liveliest time to visit charming Delft.

Middelburg Markt Market stalls piled with local produce and handicrafts fill Zeeland's capital's central square each Thursday.

Cycling

While the entire country is a cyclist's dream, there are some good day-trip choices that won't leave you too pooped for a night out. It's easy to rent bikes.

Waterland Near Amsterdam, combining classic Dutch scenery: cows, dykes, canals and lots of expansive green fields.

Bulbfields In spring, cycle west from Leiden past fields of tulips exploding in colour.

Weerribben-Wieden National Park Bike routes circle through this old land of peat farming that is rich with birds.

Frisian Islands Laced with tiny car-free villages, polders, salt marshes, forest and windswept cycling trails.

Hoge Veluwe National Park Enjoy nature, beauty and the country's best ice cream while using the park's free bikes.

Ooijpolder Route Skirt the protected banks of the Waal river from Nijmegen to the German border.

Nationaal Fietsmuseum Velorama Visit Nijmegen's fascinating collection of vintage bicycles from the golden age of human-powered transport.

Breda Border Loop Amble along the Mark River valley, visit a Belgian shrine-village then return through the Mastbos Forest.

Scheveningen Ride north or south along invigorating dunes and beaches to leave Den Haag crowds behind.

Kinderdijk Join the pedalling masses along the canal-side cycling path at this iconic World Heritage–listed site.

History

With a history as rich as the Netherlands', you'll find historic sites at every turn.

Anne Frank Huis The secret annexe, Anne’s melancholy bedroom and her actual diary are chilling reminders of WWII.

Amsterdam Museum Intriguing multimedia exhibits take you through the twists and turns of Amsterdam’s convoluted history.

Kamp Westerbork Disturbing museum/memorial at the site of a Nazi ‘transit camp’ for deportation of Holland’s Jews during WWII.

Hindeloopen Tiny former fishing village that's like a time warp to when people eked out a living here.

Thorn With a curious history of feminine independence, this is one of the Netherlands' prettiest villages.

Deventer The entire old part of the city still has a Hanseatic League echo 800 years on.

Hunebedden Centrum In Drenthe province, mysterious funerary constructions of giant boulders mark the Netherlands’ earliest settlements.

Airborne Museum Hartenstein Learn about the botched WWII battle Operation Market Garden in Arhem's leafy suburb of Oosterbeek.

Bourtange Meticulously restored pentagonal fortress in the remote southeast corner of Groningen province.

Leiden The country's oldest university, Rembrandt's birthplace and where American pilgrims raised money to lease the Mayflower.

Islands

With so much water around, at times much of the country feels like an island. But there are some proper ones, laced with a mesmerising kaleidoscope of gold-sand beaches, windswept dunes, forest and bird-rich marshland.

Texel The largest Waddenzee island has sublime produce, including cheese, chocolate, ice cream, beer and wine.

Vlieland The least-visited of the Frisian Islands is almost entirely natural and an ideal place to go slow.

Schiermonnikoog Home to beautiful beaches, the smallest Frisian Island is a hot spot for wadlopen (mudflat walking).

Marken Once an island fishing port, this tiny, traditional village is now linked by a causeway.

Pubs

The Netherlands' cafés (pubs) are ideal places to drink, eat, meet and make friends, and experience the country's unique gezelligheid (conviviality, cosiness).

't Smalle Amsterdam's most intimate canal-side drinking, with a gorgeous historic interior.

De Sluyswacht Swig in the lock-keeper's tilted quarters across the street from Rembrandt's house-turned-museum.

't Oude Pothuys Generations of music students have performed at this ancient Utrecht pub.

Cafe DeRat Unassuming Utrecht spot pouring a changing array of craft brews and sought-after Lambics.

De Oude Jan Teensy Delft café opening to a sprawling terrace with a live-music stage.

De Heks An amiable Deventer crowd gathers at this café, which has an excellent beer selection.

La Trappe Brewery Mingle with die-hard Trappist beer fans in the cafe of Tilburg's famous monastery brewery.

Cafe Wolthoorn Contender for the country’s most authentically vintage café is in Groningen, billiard table and all.

Café De Beyerd Breda's shrine to beer culture brews its own.

Proeflokaal in den Uiver Nautical-themed Haarlem café with shipping knick-knacks and a schooner sailing over the bar.

Windmills

Perhaps nothing is more emblematic of the Netherlands than its windmills. Travelling the country you'll see many of the 1200 surviving originals.

Zaanse Schans Tour these still-operating windmills and discover how they did far more than just pump water.

Kinderdijk The 19 windmills arrayed along a dyke here are a Unesco World Heritage site, best enjoyed on two wheels.

De Valk Leiden's landmark tower windmill, built in 1743 and now a museum.

Museummolen De Walvisch Grains to make gin were ground at this picture-book windmill near Rotterdam, in action since 1794.

De Gooyer An 18th-century Amsterdam grain mill, now with a brewery at its base.

Rotterdam Delfshaven's historic architecture includes a classic Dutch spinner.

Keukenhof Gardens The Netherlands' most famous flower gardens also have a working traditional windmill.

Brouwerij 't IJ Not a windmill, but an organic Amsterdam brewery beneath the sails of the De Gooyer windmill.