The Hague (Den Haag)!
- Delft & The Hague
- Maastricht & Valkenburg
Delft & The Hague
Delft is so gorgeous; I think I almost cried when I saw how beautiful it was. I love little cities that has the authentic and local flavor, which is not destroyed by tourists and commercialization. In Delft, you have the most beautiful and colorful houses, nearly lined up by the canals and city square. You also have local Dutch seafood shops by the canals. Buy a platter of raw herring and sit on the benches by the canals on a good sunny day. It can’t get better than that.
The Hague is the political capital of the city, with government official buildings, embassies and the King’s palace here. You can even go into the Palace’s Garden in the city centre, where the king works. Den Haag has the famous Mauritshuis Museum with the painting of the girl with the pearl earrings and Rembrandt’s painting of the Anatomy Lesson. There is also a beach at the end of the city, where you can make nice cycling tours.
Best season to go to Delft & Den Haag: May
Netherlands is known for their tulips right? You know the Dutch love to cycle right? So what happens when you mix them up? You get a beautiful cycling trip from Leiden to Haarlem, or the other way round.
Celebrate spring with the most picturesque view of Netherlands as you cycle from the south to the north of Netherlands. Be spoilt with the view of millions of tulips as you cycle through the tulips farm. Fun fact, Netherlands is the largest producer and exporters of flowers!
If you feel like spoiling yourself even more, continue your journey to Keukenhof Garden near Leiden. The cycling trip is straight forward, and you can follow this national geographic trail for the tulips garden.
From Leiden to Keukenhof Garden
The easiest way is to take the public transport if you are not too keen on cycling. Take the Arriva Keukenhof Express from Leiden Central station and you will arrive within 30min.
If you choose to cycle (cheaper), you can rent the bicycles at the train station and cycle along the fields to Keukenhof Garden. Follow the google maps direction above. It takes about 1 hour, so be prepared.
Best time to visit Leiden: Tulips festival (May – June)
They say that Nijmegen is the oldest city in Netherlands, but Maastricht was an older city as a Roman settlement. Nonetheless, Nijmegen celebrated her 2000th birthday in 2005.
The most famous event is Nijmeegse Vierdaagse. It is a four-day march in the city; a summer festival. It is the largest even in the entire Netherlands and largest walking tour in the world! For 4 days, people walk between 30, 40 or 50km in the area. It lasts for 10 days which ends with parties and concerts everywhere, every single day! In fact, I feel that every festival is simply another reason to party. You’ve got to love Netherlands.
Best festival in Nijmegen: Nijmeegse Vierdaagse in Summer
Utrecht is the largest student city in Netherlands. Maybe it is just me, but I think the shops like Pull & Bear, Zara, Mango, etc. has more options and discounts for shopping. I got a super cute top for just €4 in Pull & Bear!
Of course, the city is not just about shopping. You have the landmark of the Dom Tower there, 2 main canals that run through the city and nice cafes all around. Utrecht is very close to Amsterdam, just 30min train ride away. So people like to compare the cities.
Utrecht has less tourists, and it has a more local “flavor”. It is less commercialized and I enjoy Utrecht a lot. It’s beautiful in summer, because you get to kayak around the city through the canals.
At night, there is also a night tour called Trajectum Lumen. Follow the lights on the ground to know more about the city and facts about places. It is free, and a great way to explore the city! You can even download the app that gives you information about each light installation. (Andriod Play Store, Apple iTunes Store)
Best thing to do in Utrecht: Trajectum Lumen, free city night tour
Alkmaar has canals and beautiful architecture like many other cities. But the reason you HAVE TO GO to Alkmaar is for cheese. Yes, yes, you’re going to say that there is cheese literally everywhere in Netherlands. You can get them in shops, specialty stores, weekend markets, whatever. But in Alkmaar, they have the famous cheese market which is an exact replica of how cheese was traded in the past!
The cheese market is at the main square: Waagplein. It also the typical background of Alkmaar for postcards and tourist shots. The Waag is a weighing-house, where they weigh the cheese. It is now a cheese museum: Kaasmuseum.
The cheese market shows how cheese was traded in the past. The cheese porters will wear traditional costumes and use traditional techniques to transport the cheese. Of course, this is now a replica for tourists but it’s nice to watch.
The replica cheese market is held every Friday morning from 10:00 to 12:30 in Spring and Summer.
Best time to visit Alkmaar: Friday morning in spring and summer
If you are interested in a different type of Netherlands, visit Waddensea. It is on the islands at the Northern tip of Netherlands. This pace is unique because you can WALK to the islands during low tides! And when the high tide is back, you can take the boat to go back to the main land.
However, do not expect that the ground would be concrete cement. It is usually a mudflat where your shoes will get dirty. Nonetheless, it is an interesting experience. Sometimes you might even get to meet seals or jellyfishes along the way!
Best thing to do in Waddensea: WALK to islands and take the boats back
Zandvoort is located at the North West of Netherlands. A 30min train ride away from Amsterdam, it is a place for nature and the beach. It is a place for surfing, but note that the water is from the North Sea. Meaning it is very bloody extremely cold.
One of the most popular beach resorts in Netherlands, Zandvoort has beach clubs and bars lined along the sandy coast. It is a great weekend getaway for families and friends. What you might be interested in though, is the existence of a nudist beach in Zandvoort.
The nudist beach is between pole 69 and 71. Of course it has to start from pole 69. And there are a total of 7 beach pavilions there:
- Adam & Eva
- Paal 69
- South Beach
The Netherlands is known for the open-mindedness and so it is common to find “uncommon” things like nude beaches. In fact, there is a tradition in the Netherlands, where people run into the sea during the New Year for good luck! Please do not be a creep and take pictures on the nude beach. Open your mind then you are there. For South Beach, nudity is not mandatory, but encouraged.
Best time to visit Zandvoort: Summer
Maastricht & Valkenburg
Of course Maastricht has to be in this list somewhere. It is the oldest city of Netherlands, over 2000 years old. It was first built by the Romans when it was conquered. Most parts are not destroyed, just built upon.
In World War 1, Netherlands decided to remain neutral like Switzerland, and was not destroyed. They tried to do it again in World War 2, but failed. Since Maastricht is so close to Germany (40min drive away), it was one of the first cities to be captured by the Germans. Hence, the buildings were not destroyed. Of course, over time, the buildings were demolished to expand the city. However, you can still see old castle walls, canons and forts around the city!
Valkenburg is touristic area thanks to the famous attractions and monuments like
- Castle Valkenburg
- Castle Den Halder
- Kasteel Schaloen
- Roman Katakomben
- Velvet Cave
- Museum Land van Valkenburg
Just a 15min train ride away from Maastricht, you can spend a day exploring Valkenburg and have some nice coffee by the many cafes there!
Best thing to do in Maastricht & Valkenburg: explore the old ruins
You know how Netherlands is known for windmills right? Kinderdijk is a famous yet authentic village with 19 windmills there. It is yet another UNESCO world heritage site, like Amsterdam.
There, you get to see the old windmills in the landscape of Netherlands. Sunset there is also a typical postcard pictures. The popular method of transportation, unsurprisingly, is to cycle along the windmills. In fact, you can even visit one of the windmills where it is also a museum: Museummolen.
Best thing to experience in Kinderdijk: 19 Windmills
Trevellers is my way to change the world. Through my stories, tips and lessons learnt, I truly hope to inspire you to get out of your comfort zone, see the world and see who you truly are. Travel is more than just taking a selfie. Travel is an adventure, where you can truly become who you are, give you the time to reflect and grow to become the person you’ve always wanted to be.