Go city tripping in The Netherlands! There are many beautiful cities in the Netherlands which are great to explore on a weekend. You’re going to love these Dutch cities!
The best cities in The Netherlands
There are many great cities for a city break in The Netherlands. Have you ever spent a weekend in one of these cities?
Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, cannot be missed on this list of fun cities in the Netherlands. The city attracts millions of tourists every year and that is for good reason because the city center with the canals is a beautiful sight.
I’ve lived in Amsterdam for more than 12 years and I loved exploring the canals early in the morning (tip: go early to avoid the crowds). It’s incredibly beautiful! In addition, there are also a lot of beautiful parks in Amsterdam and interesting museums to discover on the days when the weather is not that good.
- Travelguide: Fodor’s Amsterdam: with the Best of the Netherlands
- Top attractions: Van Gogh Museum, a canal cruise, The Upside Down (the largest Instagram museum in Europe), visit a concert in the Concertgebouw, and the Amsterdam Museum.
- Hoteltip: The College Hotel
- Extra tip: with the Amsterdam City Card you get access to many museums, you can the public transport for free, go on a canal cruise and rent a bike.
In the city of Groningen, no less than 25% of the inhabitants are students, which makes it feel like a very young city. There are many fun things to do in Groningen and you can easily spend a weekend here. For example, climb the Forum or the Martinitoren for a great view of the city, visit the latest exhibition in the Groninger Museum, or discover one of the many beautiful hidden courtyards.
- Hoteltip: Hotel Miss Blanche
- Extra tip: don’t forget to discover the most beautiful places in the province of Groningen.
Dordrecht is the oldest city in Holland and you will absolutely notice that when you go for a stroll through the city center. The city is full of beautiful old buildings and you can see the most beautiful stepped gables. In Dordrecht, you’ll also find many cool vintage shops and you will love visiting one of the old and typical Dutch brown cafes. Dordrecht is also a fun city for nature lovers, De Biesbosch National Park is located right next to the city.
- Hoteltip: Heer&Meester Bed&Breakfast
There are several beautiful cities in the province of Gelderland and Nijmegen is certainly one of them. Nijmegen was founded by the Romans and is, therefore, one of the oldest cities in The Netherlands. It is great to discover the narrow old streets in the city center, but you can also take beautiful walks along the river Waal.
In Friesland, you have the famous eleven cities (“elfsteden”) and Dokkum is one of them. Dokkum is located in the northeast of the province and is nice and compact. It has a beautiful old city center, which is surrounded by strongholds that even have some very Dutch windmills on them. Dokkum is known for the murder of Saint Boniface in 754. It is highly recommended to check out the Boniface Chapel and learn more about this special history.
From Dokkum you can make fun day trips to, for example, National Park Lauwersmeer or the island of Ameland. Another fun fact: Dokkum is the northernmost city in The Netherlands.
- Hotel tip: Hotel de ABDIJ Dokkum
- Extra tip: also discover the other beautiful sights in the province of Friesland.
Zwolle is the capital of the province of Overijssel and it’s one of the most beautiful Hanseatic cities in The Netherlands. The historic city center is a protected cityscape and is surrounded by canals. Walk along with the remnants of the old city wall, check out the centuries-old Sassenpoort, go shopping in the Waanders bookstore in the enormous Broerenkerk (a church), and discover the interesting architecture of Museum de Fundatie.
- Hotel tip: De Pelsertoren
Apeldoorn is the perfect base for lovers of culture and nature. The city center is perfect for finding great cafes and restaurants and if you want to go shopping, but outside the center, you’ll find some beautiful sights.
The most famous attraction in Apeldoorn is Paleis Het Loo, a palace with beautiful royal gardens. Although the palace is currently closed for renovation, you can still take explore the beautiful gardens. In Apeldoorn, you also have the Apenheul (a zoo with monkeys), Children’s amusement park Julianatoren Apeldoorn and the beautiful City Park Berg & Bos. Haven’t seen enough yet? Apeldoorn is also a good base to discover De Hoge Veluwe National Park and Veluwezoom National Park.
- Hotel tip: Bilderberg Hotel De Keizerskroon
Because of the cheese market, Alkmaar is a popular city for many people to visit. But of course, there are many more things to see and do in Alkmaar. It has a beautiful historic city center, which makes exploring the city by foot a must. VERW There are also some interesting museums to visit, such as the Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar and the Beatles Museum.
- Hotel tip: Wolf Hotel Kitchen & Bar
- Must see: visit the cheese market and join a guided tour to learn more about the city.
Just like Groningen, Leiden is also a student city. In Leiden, you’ll find the oldest university in the Netherlands. This is also a very old Dutch city, full of canals and monumental buildings. You can wander around here for hours and discover something new every time.
There are also many nice museums in Leiden to visit, such as Naturalis (with the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex!) and the Museum of Ethnology (Museum Volkenkunde).
- Hotel tip: B&B Hart van Leiden
- Fun activities: take a cruise on the canals, visit the Hortus botanicus Leiden (the oldest botanical garden in the Netherlands), and of course the Museum of Ethnology.
I couldn’t resist adding one of the Frisian Eleven Cities to this list of awesome cities in the Netherlands. Hindeloopen is perhaps the most beautiful town in the Netherlands. It is tiny, has less than 1000 inhabitants (yes, Hindeloopen is really a city, because it has had city rights since 1225), and is a picture to see.
It is authentic, full of canals, narrow paths (cars are not allowed in most places) and you’ll have a great view of the IJsselmeer. It’s perfect for a night away in The Netherlands!
- Must see: visit Museum Hindeloopen to learn more about this beautiful town.
- Hotel tip: Atelier B&B ‘Sinnestriel’
- Extra tip: go on a city trip in Southwest Friesland and discover even more beautiful small towns like Hindeloopen.
Of course, The Hague cannot be missed on this list, because this is a great city for a weekend away in The Netherlands! The city is a nice mix of old and new and it is a lot of fun to look around the Hofvijver and the Binnenhof: this is the political center of the Netherlands.
You can also enjoy a breath of fresh air on the beach of Scheveningen. The Hague is a perfect city for those who want to combine culture, history, and nature in one city trip.
- Fun activities: The Mauritshuis, SkyView de Pier (a huge Ferris wheel on the beach), and Madurodam (a miniature version of The Netherlands).
- Hotel tip: The Collector Hotel
The last nice city in the Netherlands on this list is Maastricht, the southernmost city of the country. A weekend in Maastricht feels like a weekend abroad for many Dutch people, because Maastricht is located in a hilly landscape that you don’t see much in the rest of the country.
It is a beautiful old town full of historic buildings. Enjoy a beer on a terrace on the Vrijthof, climb the Sint-Pietersberg (this is also the endpoint of the Pieterpad, the most famous long-distance trail in The Netherlands), and take a long walk along the river Maas. Maastricht is a great city which you will certainly enjoy!
- Interesting things to do: Visit the Caves of Maastricht and Fort Sint Pieter.
- Hotel tip: The Student Hotel Maastricht
Where do you stay during a city trip in the Netherlands?
For each city in this list, you’ll find a tip for a great and unique place to spend the night. If it’s not for you or the accommodation is already fully booked, there are usually plenty of other options. These are a few great websites to find beautiful and unique places to stay in The Netherlands:
- Booking – perfect for beautiful hotels, B&Bs and apartments
- Naturehouse – beautiful accommodations in nature. This way you can really relax during your city trip.
- Musjroom – unique places to stay.
Of course, this list of great cities The Netherlands contains only a small selection, there are many more beautiful cities. Other recommendations for a city trip in the Netherlands are, for example, Middelburg, Deventer, Haarlem, Rotterdam, Arnhem, and Venlo.
What is your favorite city in The Netherlands?
More tips for a trip in The Netherlands
Would you like to discover more beautiful places in The Netherlands? These books are full of inspiration:
You can also read a lot about other beautiful places in The Netherlands on this website. Check out one of these articles:
- These are all the national parks in The Netherlands
- Hidden gems in The Netherlands: off the beaten path
- Schokland – a hidden island in The Netherlands
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