Even though I’m fascinated by the western European history and architecture, Netherlands was never on my to-do list. For no reason obviously. Or at least not on the top of my list. Last year, my best friend moved to the Netherlands to do her master’s degree. So in February 2016, I decided to go see her for a week.
At that time, she was living in The Hague, and due to my bad planning, she was in the exams period, which in a way was to my advantage, as I had the opportunity to roam around without her and explore the country on my own.
Obviously, Amsterdam was my first stop and I was instantly impressed by the architecture and the city. The canals and the houses just give this city a very unique and spectacular. What I admired was the multi-cultural vibe of the city in terms of people and shops. You can literally see all kinds of people around and you can be sure no one will look at you twice. That was really refreshing for me. On the other hand, I was a bit uncomfortable with all the adult content everywhere I go. I felt like the city was trying way too hard to preserve the image of Amsterdam like tourists see it.
However, during my second trip to the Netherlands, I took my camera and just started walking. I found some really interesting locations, but mostly, I was happy to take hundreds of photos.
The Hagee is known to be the political heart of Europe as the home of the U.N.’s International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, and most of the embassies in the Netherlands. However, the city has a different vibe compared to the other cities (that I’ve seen) in the Netherlands.
The city center is just as awesome as any other center in Europe. Small streets, lots of shops and restaurants from all the cuisines you can think of. The best part was that I found some of my favorite shops that I don’t find here in Dubai. So that was the highlight of my trip… Shopping never hurt anyone, right?
Even though it was freezing at that time of the year, I really enjoyed walking on the Scheveningen beach. I do advise checking it out if the weather is better. The Scheveningen pier usually hosts some nice markets where you can find food, clothes, jewelry, and other stuff.
The city is located more to the south of The Hague, and it’s relatively a small city known for its history in the famous Delft blue pottery. You can explore the entire city on foot within 3 hours. The city is famous for its old church that dates back to the 13 century
The City Hall is also a very impressive building with a nice colorful façade. It is worth mentioning that the city also has some beautiful canals.
If you can spare an hour or two, I suggest you go visit the Royal Delft museum. It is the last remaining Delft Blue pottery factory from the 17th century where they portray some of their amazing products. My favorite part was the wall where they have specially designed plates for every Christmas from the 70s (not sure about the year of the first plate).
As the name implies, the city is the home of the Gouda Cheese; by the way, it is pronounced (Cha-ou-da). In the city center, there are usually stands for fresh and authentic cheese, and you can buy it from farmers for lower prices.
The city is also the home for Stroopwafels. You might know them as the caramel waffles that are sold at Starbucks. But forget everything you know about those caramel waffles because you will have to try them at Siroopwafelbakkerij van Vliet. It is by far, the best place for fresh and delicious stroopwafels.
This city might not be on the to-do list as it is known to host the largest university in Netherlands, which makes it a city full of expats and young students, which gives a different vibe to the city.
The city is famous for its old canal and beautiful buildings. The most visible and important landmark is the Dom Tower, which is in the center of the city, and if you have the chance to go to the top, you will have a marvelous view of the city. Just make sure to book in advance because tickets sell fast.
St. Martin’s Cathedral is a must see in Utrecht as well, which dates back to the Middle Ages. Its Gothic style exterior is fascinating, even though the interior is a bit plain compared to other Gothic churches. The church is also famous for its beautiful garden, where you can enjoy a nice cup of coffee to change your mood.
Edam is also famous for another type of cheese; Edam Cheese. This is also a very small city and it has some of the beautiful canals I’ve seen in the Netherlands. The simplicity of the town can be visible in every corner and every shop, where you can feel the rich history of the place, given that this city dates back to the 12th century. The well-preserved canals, streets, bridges, and monuments will capture your eyes and make fall in love with the city instantly.
If you’re looking for a warm cup of coffee, make sure to check De Fortuna hotel. The building dates back to 1650 but the hotel was built in 1900. The building is a traditional Dutch house with a beautiful view of the canal, which is a guarantee to have really nice time.
Marken is a small town in the north of the Netherlands. It is known for its unique architecture that can’t be found anywhere else in the region. The wooden houses are so pretty and colorful. There are also a couple of small B&Bs where you can rent a room and spend a few days away from the busy city life.
While you’re there, don’t miss visiting “Paard van Marken”, the famous lighthouse that is still being used to this day. Also, drop by the wooden shoe shop, and get yourself a pair of handmade, authentic Dutch shoes. They are comfy and pretty.
Have you been to any of these cities? What else can I add to my list on my next trip? Leave a comment below