As some of you may know, I am fortunate enough that my Mama was not born in Canada, but in the Netherlands. She came over to Canada when she was little but did leave behind many relatives and family. Something that has given my sister and I the ability to get to know the country quite well. I’ve been a few times in my life, and every time I go, tell myself that I need to go more often! The city of Amsterdam, while being the epi-centre isn’t the only place that needs to be on your bucket list when visiting the beautiful country. So, I decided it was time to share some of the other fantastic destinations in The Netherlands and what to do there – because, although Amsterdam is alluring and bustling, it can really be discovered in 2 – 3 days.
First of all, the entire country of Holland can be toured by train in about 2 hours in any direction from Amsterdam. The Amsterdam Centraal has connecting lines going North to South, and East to West. A lot of what I’m going to share with you, outside of Amsterdam, is going North – but there are plenty of destinations West that I fancy as well.
1 Have a picnic in Vondelpark
And people watch. There is always something going on in this historic site.
2 Visit the Anne Frank House
You’ll likely not be able to go in – because the line-up will be a million years long. But understand where it is, what it is, Google it to get the lay of the land, and then stroll down the road and visit the Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis) before posting up on the patio somewhere for some kaas and een pilsje (cheese and beer).
If you only do one – do this one. The collections inside are just, if not less, impressive that the exterior of the building.
4 Van Gogh Museum
Who wouldn’t want to see the works of someone clinically insane.
5 Eat Cheese
It’s call Kaas. There are multiple kinds – not just Gouda. And even then, there are multiple kinds of Gouda. My favourite are the sheeps’ milk varieties. Perfect amount of funk.
6 Walk through the Red Light District
Just to say you have. But keep your eyes forward, be respectful, and careful of pick-pocketers and people trying to sell you drugs. Just say “Nee” (pronounced “Nay”).
7 Visit a “Café
Or a Coffeeshop – whichever nomenclature you prefer. While it may not be your thing, it’s a part of the laid back attitude of the Dutch – you don’t even need to partake – the coffee is delightful. Actually though, some of the best in the city!
8 Try the Heineken Experience
It’s fantastic. And three beers are included in the price of the ticket. The Heineken family has a pretty cool history, and it’s simply a great time had by all before noon on a weekday!
9 Cruise the Canals
I’ve only done this once. And while I’m putting it as a suggestion here, I wouldn’t do it again. I much prefer seeing the vibrancy of the “walking tour”.
10 Walk the city
Seriously. Walk the city. You can cover good ground of Amsterdam in 3 days. And get a nice work out as well. Just be careful of the Fiets (bikes) – they rule the school.
11 People watch in Leidseplein
There are plenty of restaurants, somewhat pricey, but nonetheless fantastic for people watching.
12 Traverse the Bloemenmarkt
As you’re likely aware, Holland is known for tulips from this flower market has everything, and is situated on floating barges. It’s worth it just for the experience, but beauty just amplifies it.
13 Go to Leiden, or Arnhem or Dieren
To watch a football game! About a 30 – 40 minute train ride from Amsterdam, and totally worth it.
14 Go through Hoorn, en route to Medemblik
And see all the windmills….but don’t stop there!
15 Travel over the Afsluitdijk to Friesland
And eat some Gerookte Paling (Smoked Eel). There are many more things to see and do in Friesland, but that’s almost a post to itself. Ooooo, ideas! 🙂
I think that’s a good start for your first adventure in The Netherlands. If you have any questions, or want any food advice (ie. what to eat in Holland), don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tot Ziens!
PS. Happy Birthday Linds!! This one is dedicated to you, my Dutch sister. 🙂