20 Cities in The Netherlands

- This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure.

The Netherlands (or Holland) is a remarkable country in Western Europe. The Netherlands has 98% of its borders within continental Europe and a small percentage in autonomous island territories in the Caribbean. Home to the Dutch language, great food traditions and fanatic football fans, the country is also known for scenic beauty and a rich cultural heritage, with a lot to see and do, from national parks and gardens, picturesque windmills, romantic canals, historic towns and cities in The Netherlands.

The Netherlands is largely a flat country with very few hills and mountains. One-quarter of the country is below sea level, most of which has been reclaimed from sea and lakes. These low-lying areas are called polders, and the science behind how the country manages to keep the seawater from coming in and drains water out of these polders using dikes, canals and pumping stations, is quite fascinating. The Netherlands is flat for the most part, making it perfect for being explored by bicycles. You even have bicycle lanes and bicycle-friendly road rules everywhere. Fun fact: The country has more bikes than people.

You’ll be surprised to know that The Netherlands is smaller than West Virginia in the USA and not even half the size of Tasmania in Australia. It’s one of the most densely populated countries in Western Europe. Amsterdam is the country’s main financial centre and most populous and popular city. However, the Hague is the country’s administrative centre and where the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court reside. Rotterdam, Utrecht, and Eindhoven are the major cities, and most of the country is within a few hours of driving distance from Amsterdam. You will also find an excellent public transportation network of trains, buses and trains, which makes exploring the Netherlands very easy.

Many cities in the Netherlands have a historical past dating back to medieval and even Roman times and have a well-preserved centuries-old architecture in the form of castles, churches and even university buildings. There are some unique architectural wonders in the Netherlands like the star-shaped Naarden, the Erasmus Bridge and Cube Houses in Rotterdam, the Rijksmuseum and Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, and the Centraal Museum in Utrecht. Most cities in the Netherlands have a Grote Kerk (Great Church) in the city centre, built centuries ago and reflecting the architectural skill of the time.

One thing you should not miss while visiting the Netherlands is to try Dutch cuisine, which is simple and traditional. Many dishes are made using locally available ingredients. Try the Dutch-style pancake called Pannenkoek, fluffy Poffertjes, creamy Stamppot, delicious bitterballen, tasty alternative to the French fries – the Riefkook, the popular stroopwafel and many more. Oh, and your culinary tour would not be complete without trying out the Dutch herring, a local delicacy everywhere in the Netherlands. The Dutch love their cheese and The Netherlands is also one of the world’s largest cheese exporters of Edam and Gouda cheese.

If you aren’t already aware, the Netherlands is also known for its liberal policies towards soft drugs such as cannabis which can be consumed legally in coffee shops. So next time you visit a coffee shop in Amsterdam or Utrecht, go ahead and enjoy a cannabis-infused latte or muffin.

Like many other neighbouring countries, tourism is a significant industry in the Netherlands and a great time to visit during the late spring and summer months, from April to September. Be ready to pay slightly higher prices for everything during this time, as you’ll find a lot of tourists and backpackers everywhere. The comfortable weather is also ideal for exploring everything from the beautiful countryside to visiting a beachside place to enjoying outdoor activities in a park. Don’t miss the seasonal tulip gardens, a significant tourist attraction in spring. Some famous gardens where you can enjoy the Tulip bloom are Keukenhof Gardens, the Noordoostpolder tulip fields, the Anna Paulowna, and the Floriade World Horticultural Expo.

Cities in The Netherlands

20 Netherlands Cities To Visit

1- Amsterdam

aerial view of skyline of Amsterdam
Amsterdam is right at the top of the list of the largest cities in the Netherlands. 

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and one of the most popular tourist cities in Europe. 

The city has something for everyone, from picturesque canals and stunning architecture to its museums, cultural attractions and coffee shops selling weed.

You can spend a few days or relax for many weeks enjoying Amsterdam’s nightlife, cafes, and interesting museums or walk amidst the beautiful houses along the canals.

One of the things you should do in Amsterdam is to take a canal tour and enjoy the picturesque scenery around you or wander through the charming and quaint Jordaan neighbourhood lined with art galleries, cafes and street musicians.

Whether you’re an art lover or just like to wonder looking at centuries-old paintings, The Van Gogh Museum will surely thrill you, as it houses the largest collection of Van Gogh’s works in the world.

Some other famous attractions here are the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum and the Bloemenmarkt floating flower market.

Let off steam and enjoy the lively nightlife scene in Amsterdam by spending an evening at the Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein.

Hop on a bus or a train and travel anywhere in the Netherlands within a few hours.

Here are some of the most popular tours in Amsterdam:

2- The Hague

The Hague cityscape downtown skyline
The Hague should be on your list of cities in the Netherlands to spend time in.

Also called Den Haag, The Hague is the seat of power in the Dutch government and the residence of the Dutch royal family.

Don’t be fooled by this quiet but charming city, one of the country’s largest cities.

The Hague has a unique cosmopolitan feel to it while being quintessentially Dutch.

While the large mansions, canals and parks remind you that you are still in the Netherlands, the central area where offices, embassies and government buildings are there has a laidback and cosmopolitan feel.

The multi-cultural city has several interesting buildings, monuments, museums like the Mauritshuis and Escher museums, the Binnenhof, the Panorama Mesdag and several dining and nightlife options.

The Hague is where you will find the important International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court.

The iconic Peace Palace and many United Nations institutions offer tours and make for an interesting visit.

Shop for crafts and souvenirs at the famous Haagsche Bluf shopping district, and take in the lively atmosphere of the city’s commercial hub.

Top tour: The Hague City Canal Cruise.

3- Rotterdam

Aerial panorama of Rotterdam
Rotterdam is number two on the cities in the Netherlands list by size.

If you heard of one other city in the Netherlands other than Amsterdam, it has to be Rotterdam.

The German invasion during World War II saw many of Rotterdam’s historic buildings destroyed.

The city was rebuilt after that, and Rotterdam now has one of Western Europe’s most futuristic and innovative architecture.

The city has many attractions like the Euromast, Erasmus Bridge, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and the Rotterdam Zoo.

If you like festivals, the famous Rotterdam Film Festival happens in February and the North Sea Jazz Festival in July.

Top tour: Rotterdam Harbour Boat Tour.

4- Utrecht

Utrecht canals old historical city
Utrecht is one of the best cities to visit in the Netherlands for its lovely architecture.

Utrecht is one of the oldest university cities in the Netherlands, known for its beautiful canals, architecture, and upcoming arts and culinary scene.

The city’s main landmark is the Dom Tower, a 112-meter-tall Gothic tower from where you can have a bird’s eye view of the city.

The Centraal Museum, Museum Catharijneconvent and Utrecht Botanical Gardens are popular evening attractions.

If you like trains, you must visit the Railway Museum, dedicated to the history of railways in the Netherlands, with many exhibits, interactive displays, and a collection of old trains.

Top tour: Utrecht City Canal Cruise.

5- Eindhoven

Exterior of a 19th century Father Church (Augustijnenkerk)
Eindhoven is one of the best cities in the Netherlands to visit if you love design.

Eindhoven is the design capital of the Netherlands, home to the famous electrical firm Philips and many design studios and art centres.

Visit one of the many museums here, including the Van Abbemuseum of modern and contemporary art, the DAF Museum of industrial design, and the Philips Museum, where you can learn about the company’s history.

If you are interested in nature-related activities, the region surrounding the city is home to several beautiful natural areas, such as the Strabrechtse Heide, which offers excellent opportunities for hiking and cycling.

Visit the famous annual light festival, GLOW, which showcases innovative light installations and projections throughout the city.

Top tour: Eindhoven Motion Imagination Experience.

6- Maastricht

aerial view of Maastricht
Maastricht is not one of the largest cities in the Netherlands but you will enjoy the storybook atmosphere.

Maastricht is one of the farthest cities from Amsterdam in the southernmost part of the Netherlands.

The city is very close to the Belgium and German border.

You can see the influences of both these countries on everything in the city – from its medieval-era architecture to art, local traditions and even the local cuisine.

Being a university city, you’ll find a lot of floating population here, especially in the city centre and cafes.

The city’s sites include its famous historic centre, historic buildings like the Basilica of Saint Servatius and the Gothic-style town hall.

If you like museums, this Netherlands city has many famous museums, including the Bonnefanten Museum of fine art and the Natural History Museum.

Stroll the narrow streets lined with many restaurants and cafes serving traditional Dutch, Belgian and German fusion cuisine.

The local specialty of Limburgse vlaai pie is a famous bakery item here, which can be a tasty finish to your meal.

Top tour: Maastricht Escape Tour – Self-Guided Citygame.

7- Leiden

Channel in Leiden, Netherlands
Leiden is one of the major cities in Netherlands to explore and it has a distinct university-town vibe.

If you are looking to explore a South Holland province, you must visit the charming and historic city of Leiden.

You can reach the city under an hour from Amsterdam and The Hague, making it a good day trip destination.

Leiden is home to the Netherlands’ oldest university, The University of Leiden, where you’ll find many local and international students pursuing medicine or law, giving the city a relaxed university-town vibe.

The city has many historical sights and buildings dating back more than a thousand years ago and houses medieval architecture and a historical town centre.

The city played an important role during the Dutch Golden Age and is famous for its beautiful 17th-century architecture, such as the City Hall, Stadhuisplein, and the Pieterskerk church.

The university houses the Hortus botanicus Leiden Botanical Garden, founded in 1590, where the tulip was introduced to Western Europe.

Top tour: From Leiden City: Kaag Lakes Windmill Cruise.

8- Haarlem

Haarlem City Hall on a blue sky day
Haarlem is one of the major cities in the Netherlands to tick off your to-see list.

Haarlem is a charming and quintessentially Dutch city in the western Netherlands close to Amsterdam.

Known for its beautiful medieval architecture, historic landmarks, and artistic heritage, the city’s significance in Dutch History is visible in its 17th-century buildings such as the Grote Kerk (Great Church), the Town Hall, the Frans Hals Museum and the Teylers Museum, which is the oldest museum in the Netherlands.

If you want to spend time amidst nature, Haarlem serves as a base to explore nearby nature parks, gardens, and waterways.

Haarlem is also known for its famous Haarlem Jazz & More Festival and the annual Flower Parade, which attracts thousands of visitors annually.

The city is popular for its proximity to beaches and has many dining and shopping attractions too.

Top tour: Haarlem 50-Minute Sightseeing Canal Cruise.

9- Volendam

harbour and traditional village feel of Volendam
Volendam may not be one of the biggest cities in the Netherlands but it’s a delightful city with a village feel.

Volendam is a picturesque fishing village located close to Amsterdam.

The village is known for its Dutch architecture, traditional costumes, colourful wooden houses, and scenic harbour and provides an escape from bustling city life.

Being a fishing village, Volendam is famous for its seafood dining options, particularly the smoked eel, which can be enjoyed in many of the local restaurants and cafes.

If you have time, visit the Volendams Museum, which showcases the cultural and historical heritage of the village, and the Art Hotel Spaander, which features an impressive collection of artworks.

You can also take boat tours of the nearby Markermeer Lake or explore the scenic countryside surrounding the village to spend time amidst nature.

Top tour: Amsterdam Zaanse Schans, Volendam, and Marken Day Trip.

10- Middleburg

Middelburg is an 8th-century coastal town on a peninsula near the Belgium border.

The town’s closeness to the North Sea made it an ideal location to set up a trading port for the Dutch East India Company (VOC).

Due to its advantageous geographical location, Middleburg played an important role in Dutch Golden Age in the 1600s.

Middleburg has many museums and galleries, like the Zeeuws Museum, which features exhibitions on the region’s cultural history.

If you’re interested in medieval history, the impressive Gothic-style town hall, the medieval Abbey Tower, and the imposing Gothic-style St. John’s Church are worth exploring.

11- Breda

street in the centre of the city of Breda
Breda is one of the best cities in the Netherlands near the Belgium border.

Breda is a short distance from the Belgian border and the city of Antwerp on the Amsterdam-Antwerp train line.

Proximity to the Belgium border makes it one of the first Dutch cities to encounter when entering from Belgium.

Breda is where the Dutch royal family was founded 600 years ago.

The city’s main tourist attractions are a well-preserved historic centre with an impressive Gothic Cathedral and the Breda Castle, which still has an old-worldly charm.

If you are travelling with children, the canal-side park of Valkenburg is worth exploring for its kid’s playground and relaxed atmosphere.

The city has hundreds of bars, shops, and fascinating museums. 

Top tour: Breda Escape Tour – Self-Guided Citygame.

12- Groningen

groningen netherlands
Groningen is one of the big cities in Netherlands and a university town.

Groningen is a university town in eastern Netherlands, a few hours from Amsterdam and a short distance from the coast.

Groningen is popular for its art and cultural scene, with enough museums, galleries and theatres to keep any art lover busy for days.

The town’s beautiful canals and waterways, large parks, diverse museums and picturesque countryside make the city a popular weekend destination from Amsterdam.

The city’s central Grote Markt square is home to the centuries-old Martinitoren clock tower.

If you don’t mind visiting an adult-themed museum, the Het Nederlands Stripmuseum is dedicated to comics and graphic novels, featuring exhibits on Dutch and international comic art.

Top tour: Welcome to Groningen Private Tour with a Local.

13- Nijmegen

Nijmegen is a small border town in the eastern part of the Netherlands.

Its proximity to the German border kept the city busy throughout history, first as a trading hub and later during World War II becoming the first city to fall after the German invasion.

Nijmegen is famous for its museums like the Valkhof Museum and Museum Het Valkhof, which showcase Roman artefacts, the centuries-old Stevenskerk Gothic church, picturesque Kronenburgerpark and Goffertpark, and the popular shopping street of Sint Annastraat.

The Four Days Marches (Vierdaagse) is an annual walking event in the third week of July when the city comes alive with music, food, festivities, and a great time to visit the city.

14- Den Bosch

Two flags of the Dutch city of 's-Hertogenbosch or Den Bosch
‘s-Hertogenbosch is one of the best cities to visit in the Netherlands to learn more about Dutch history.

Den Bosch, also known as ‘s-Hertogenbosch, is a historic city home to St. John’s Cathedral, one of the Netherlands’ most beautiful churches.

You can explore Den Bosch’s historic buildings and picturesque streets in a unique way using the Binnendieze, a network of canals in the city centre.

The Noordbrabants Museum and the Design Museum Den Bosch are good places to spend an evening exploring local art.

If you are interested in Dutch history, visit the Jheronimus Bosch Art Center to check out the works of early Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch.

Spend time in the cosy city centre, and visit the 13th-century brick house De Moriaan on the central square.

Oh, and don’t miss tasting the local specialty Bossche Bol, a chocolate-coated pastry, and the traditional Dutch stews in a restaurant in Korte Putstraat to make your trip more memorable.

Top tour: Den Bosch Noordbrabants Museum Entry Ticket.

15- Zwolle

City canal of Zwolle
Zwolle is one of the best cities in the Netherlands east to visit.

Zwolle is a transportation hub in eastern Netherlands that serves as a gateway to the northern Netherlands and is surrounded by three rivers.

Some interesting places to explore in Zwolle are the futuristic Museum de Fundatie, the historic Sassenpoort from which you can have a bird’s view of the city, and the concert hall of Hedon Zwolle where you can attend a concert.

Like many other cities in the Netherlands, beautiful waterways surround Zwolle, and a boat tour is a fabulous way to explore the city and its surroundings from a unique perspective.

Don’t forget to visit the famous Waanders in de Broeren, a bookstore in a converted church with a wide range of books, a cafe and a gift shop.

Top tour: Zwolle Escape Tour – Self-Guided Citygame.

16- Giethoorn

cottage in giethoorn
Giethoorn is a picturesque town in the Netherlands.

Giethoorn is a picturesque and car-free village close to Amsterdam and is often referred to as the “Venice of the Netherlands” due to similar no-car rules in Venice.

The village is a must-visit to enjoy the Dutch countryside and village life.

Where else can you find a village in modern Europe where bicycles and boats are the main modes of transport?

You can find thatched-roof farmhouses, gardens, and fields lining the canals that transport you back to before modern transportation was introduced.

Rural village life is a perfect getaway and a much-needed respite from city life.

The village is a short distance from Amsterdam and makes for a memorable weekend trip.

Top tour: From Amsterdam: Giethoorn Day Trip by Bus and Electric Boat.

17- Naarden

Naarden is a unique star-shaped fortified town that is well-preserved, surrounded by a moat of water and located on land in the shape of a six-pointed star.

The town is interlaced with canals, ramparts, bastions and ravelins.

When in Naarden, you will be welcomed by a 15th-century church with stunning stained-glass windows and the Vestingmuseum, a museum dedicated to the history of the town’s fortifications.

After visiting the town, you can also enjoy hiking and cycling along the scenic trails of the nearby Naardermeer nature reserve.

Top tour: Naarden Escape Tour – Self-Guided Citygame.

18- Zutphen

If you want to visit a Dutch city that’s not too crowded with tourists but has great Dutch architecture, you can visit the charming town of Zutphen.

Located in the province of Gelderland, the town is characterised by its beautiful surroundings and wealth of stunning Dutch architecture, including narrow cobbled streets, historic buildings and cultural landmarks.

You can visit the centuries-old St. Janskerk Gothic church, well-preserved fortifications, historic towers and The Walburgis, established as a Roman collegiate church during the 11th century.

You can also hike and cycle around the surrounding forests and rural countryside to satisfy the nature lover.

Top tour: Zutphen Escape Tour – Self-Guided Citygame.

19- Enschede

Flag of Enschede, Netherlands
Enschede is one of the cities in the Netherlands to tick off your to-visit list.

Enschede is a city in the eastern part of the Netherlands, near the Dutch-German border.

Many prominent German cities are close to Enschede, making it the first city to encounter from northern Germany.

Take the Grolsch beer tour to enjoy authentic local beer.

The Roombeek Cultural Park, made from renovated old factory complexes, is a good place to enjoy an evening of cultural activities.

Visit the Rijksmuseum Twenthe and De Museumfabriek museums, or relax in the lively Oude Markt while visiting this city.

Don’t miss the Nature Reserve Het Rutbeek, a parkland where you can relax on the lakeside, play games like paintball, surfing and flyboarding, take a dip in the lake, and enjoy a family outing.

Top tour: Enschede Sherlock Holmes Smartphone App City Tour.

20- Tilburg

Tilburg is the Netherlands’ city of textiles and the first place you should visit in this city is the Textielmuseum, where you can learn about the city’s golden era of the 19th century.

With scenic streets filled with fantastic shops, restaurants and bars, you’ll find plenty to do in this cool urban area.

Other attractions Tilburg is Stadsmuseum, Van Gogh’s drawing classroom where, as a 13-year-old, he attended his first drawing classe and the biggest pop stage in the south: pop centre 013.

Top tour: Tilburg City Exploration Game ‘The Walter Case’.

Previous articleRenting A Car In London
Next article20 Cities in Belgium
cropped vamsee chandra.jpg
Vamsee Chandra lives in Hyderabad in India and is a financial markets trader by profession. An engineer with an MBA, he is a free-spirited traveller at heart. He has visited 17 countries on three different continents (Asia, Europe and North America) and has a personal target of visiting 50 countries before he retires. His favourite city is Paris, for its amazing museums and people. His favourite building is Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world, and his favourite countryside is the Bavarian region in Germany, where the Neuschwanstein Castle is located.