There are some unique places to visit in the Netherlands, besides the usual Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The Netherlands has so much more fun things to offer. For a small country like ours, we have many different sights to explore, from rural areas to pretty beaches and the Dutch islands.
Unique sights in the Netherlands
Most of you are probably familiar with the larger cities, the tulip fields, maybe even a few of the smaller cities. But have you been to the largest fresh-water tidal areas of Europe? Or have you been to our northern Wadden Islands? Find out the extraordinary sights the Netherlands has to offer:
National Park the Biesbosch
National Park the Biesbosch is one of the largest parks in the Netherlands and the largest fresh-water tidal areas of Europe. Two European rivers come together in this wetland area. In the network of rivers and creeks, the beaver is the most popular animal. The Biesbosch is also super important for the geese migration. Explore the forests, creeks and islands by boat, canoe or kayak. Enjoy the extensive flora and fauna and maybe even camp outside. Together with my father and brother, I used to sail out here with a small sailing boat and even camp onboard. However you choose to explore the Biesbosch, it will be an adventure!
The northern Wadden Islands
The Wadden Islands are a true gem and are often overlooked when travellers visit the Netherlands. In Summer they’re very popular amongst Dutch and German tourists. Even so, every day of the year is a true joy to spend here, a few of the most unique places to visit in the Netherlands.
The Wadden Islands are spread out, like a pearl necklace, along the coast of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. Eight of the islands belong to the Netherlands, of which only five are inhabited. Also called the 5 pearls of the North.
From the Dutch mainland, it’s only a ferry ride away. Every island is unique in its own way. What they all have in common are the beautiful flora and fauna, amazing sea life and a laidback atmosphere. Hikers, surfers, thrillseekers (I once did a skydive at Texel) and beach lovers can all find a place here.
Vineyards in the Netherlands
Winemaking is not only for the more southern countries in Europe anymore. Climate change has ensured a better climate in the Netherlands for producing wine. The Dutch wine is not the sour liquid it used to be. Cool vineyards to visit in the Netherlands are spread out through the country:
- The Frysling is the most northern vineyard of the Netherlands. In 2018 it has won the title ‘Best vineyard of the Netherlands & Belgium’. They offer a tour and tastings upon appointment. Perfect to combine with a trip to the Wadden Islands!
- Vineyard De Koen is close to de west coast and is named after the thousands of small islands that used to at the exact same location as the vineyard is now. De Koen organises tastings and tours in season and you can even book a high wine tasting!
- In the middle of the Netherlands lies Betuws Wijndomein, and grow grapes on 7 hectares of land. They offer many activities varying from tastings to dinners and even a make-your-own-wine workshop.
Can’t get enough? Also check out Wijnhoeve De Kleine Schorre (in the southwest), with 45.000 vines one of the largest vineyards of the Netherlands. Or Apostelhoeve, the first vineyard (1970) in the Netherlands, located in the far south close to the border with Belgium.
The unique Zeeland province
The Zeeland province is in the far southwest part of the Netherlands and is also one of the most unique places to visit in the Netherlands. This is a part that should be underwater if it wasn’t for our water management. A popular thing to visit here is the Delta Works, which was our solution to the flood of ’53. The province exists of multiple peninsulas and almost everything involves around the water here.
Some of the best things to do in Zeeland are:
- enjoying fresh oysters and other seafood
- go sailing, kitesurfing or kayaking
- visit the dunes and beaches
- visit the small cities Middelburg, Vlissingen and Zierikzee
- go seal searching
Lake IJssel & Lake Marker
These two lakes are tucked in between mainland left and right separated from the Wadden Sea in the north by a dyke. It is also a dyke that separates the two lakes with Lake Marker in the south and Lake IJssel in the north.
When my father had finished building his 16-meter sailing yacht, we once sailed these lakes hopping from one fisherman’s town to another. All of them equally amazing. We hopped between Marken, Volendam, Hoorn, Enkhuizen, Medemblik, Urk and probably more. Cute harbours, great seafood, wooden houses and signs of old Dutch traditions is what they have in common.
My Dutch grandma once thought it was fun to dress me like a traditional Dutch milkmaid (including wooden clogs) in Volendam when I was 3 or 4 years old. If I can find the photo, I’ll upload it here for your amusement. But I can tell you, I do not look happy. Update: found it!
You can rent a ship and sail these lakes if you’re skilled and licensed, or you can go with an organised tour like this one. If you don’t have sea legs, no worries, you can also go to one of the fisherman’s towns by car or public transport. Either way, they are excellent for a day trip! PS. If you follow the links of the towns, you can find my favourite stays here as well.
Like I said earlier, the Netherlands has so many great sights and unique things to do and see. Read more about flower fields, King’s Day, Kinderdijk and more in my local guide of the Netherlands!
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♥ – Dani