Are you looking to find some hidden gems in The Netherlands? These are 10 great places to visit, off the beaten track, recommended by a local.
Why should you go off the beaten path in The Netherlands?
When tourists visit The Netherlands, they always seem to go to the same places: Amsterdam, the Zaanse Schans, the Keukenhof, Rotterdam. All of those places are located in the western part of The Netherlands, but there is so much more to see in my beautiful country! In this article, I’ll share some truly hidden gems in The Netherlands. And they are extra fun to visit, because they’re not overcrowded by tourists. Enjoy!
10 beautiful hidden gems in The Netherlands
Are you ready to find out which lesser-known places you should visit in The Netherlands? Here we go:
Last summer I hiked the Pieterpad (a long-distance trail from Pieterburen in Groningen to the Sint-Pietersberg in Maastricht) and one of the nicest cities I hiked through was Venlo. Venlo has a very pleasant city center with a beautiful old town hall. You can also go here for a delicious piece of Limburg pie. In Venlo, you can go shopping or visit one of the museums (the Limburgs Museum is recommended).
Where to stay: B&B Op de Burg.
In recent years I have visited quite a few cities in the Netherlands and the Frisian Hindeloopen has stolen my heart. It is tiny, pedestrian-friendly, full of old houses, lots of water (the famous ice-skating event Elfstedentocht runs straight through this town), and it is beautifully situated on the IJsselmeer.
Where to stay: Atelier B&B ‘Sinnestriel’
Tip: besides Hindeloopen, you can also visit other beautiful cities in Southwest Friesland.
Did you know that there are many beautiful nature parks in Drenthe where you can go for a hike? One of the most beautiful places in Drenthe is the Balloërveld, near Assen and Rolde. The Balloërveld is a huge heath field where you can walk for hours. You really imagine yourself here in a different world! If you are lucky, you can also see a huge herd of Drenthe heath sheep here, which is an impressive sight.
My favorite city in the Netherlands cannot be missed on this list of hidden gems in the Netherlands. Nothing beats Groningen! For many Dutch people, Groningen is quite far away, since it’s located all the way in the north of the country. But it is really worthwhile to go here for a day or a weekend. The Groninger Museum is one of the best museums in the Netherlands (there is now an exhibition about the Rolling Stones!), the city center has numerous fun cafes and restaurants, and there are many beautiful hidden courtyards to be found. For the best view of the city (and the entire province of Groningen), go to the roof of the Forum.
Where to stay: Hotel Miss Blanche
Read more about Groningen: Fun things to do in Groningen
Schoorlse Duinen (North Holland)
In the top part of North Holland (near Alkmaar), you’ll find the highest dunes in the Netherlands: the Schoorlse Duinen. A great area for hiking, since there are at least 60 kilometers of hiking trails. It is a diverse landscape next to (drift) dunes, you also hike through forests and heath. And don’t forget to walk on the beach for a bit. A wonderful place to get some fresh air!
Leiden (South Holland)
In the Golden Age, Leiden was the second-largest city in the Netherlands after Amsterdam. Much has been preserved of the historic city center, which makes walking through Leiden a trip through Dutch history. There are many canals with old bridges (the Visbrug is beautiful!) And in the city, you can even find the remains of a castle from the ninth century (it’s a bit hidden). The city also has great museums, such as Naturalis (with a skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex!), and the National Museum of Ethnology.
Where to stay: Boutique Hotel Steenhof Suites
Alde Feanen National Park
The Netherlands has no fewer than 21 national parks. Almost everyone has heard of the Veluwe, but do you know Alde Feanen National Park? This is located in Friesland, between Drachten and Leeuwarden, and is a beautiful nature reserve full of walking and cycling paths. This is also the perfect place to go boating on sunny days. A nice place to escape from the busy life and to breathe some fresh air.
The Duivelsberg (Gelderland)
During my walk on the Pieterpad, I discovered one beautiful place after another in the Netherlands. One of the places that made a big impression (the area around) the Duivelsberg near Nijmegen. I did not know at all that this region in the Netherlands was so hilly! The Duivelsberg itself is 75.9 meters high and it’s very fun to climb to the top, but there are also many beautiful hiking trails in the immediate vicinity. It almost looks like you’re hiking in France, it is that beautiful!
Lange Duinen (Utrecht)
The Lange Duinen is a nature reserve that is part of the Soesterse Duinen between Amersfoort and Utrecht. I did a great NS hike (with an NS hike you can walk from one station to another train station) in this area a few years ago and this area really impressed me. It is a “living” drifting sand area of considerable size. A place to go for a nice walk and get away from it all. Highly recommended!
Have you ever heard of Schokland? This used to be an island in the Zuiderzee. In the eighteenth century, the Dutch government ordered the residents to evacuate because it was dangerous to live here. Nowadays you can visit Schokland very easily, because it is located in the Noordoostpolder, near Lelystad. There is a museum where you can learn a lot about this special place and how the Noordoostpolder was created. Fun and educational!
Read more about this hidden gem in the Netherlands: Schokland, a hidden island in The Netherlands
How to get around in The Netherlands
Almost every place in The Netherlands is easily reachable, either by car or by public transport. Trains and buses run regularly and leave on time. If you prefer to travel by car, I would recommend renting a car through AutoEurope or Sunny Cars (so you know that all necessary insurances are included).
If you plan to travel by public transport, you can check the website 9292.nl for departure times and itineraries. If you plan to travel by train, you can buy e-tickets at NS.nl or at the train station at one of the machines.
Which hidden gems in the Netherlands have you discovered that are not yet visited by everyone? I’m curious!
Would you like to discover more beautiful places in the Netherlands?
Order one of these great guides:
Or check out one of these articles:
- Bucket list: the most beautiful places in The Netherlands
- Dutch National Park Zuid-Kennemerland: the ultimate guide
- Go cycling and hiking in Southwest Friesland
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