Tourist information for The Netherlands
The Netherlands, of which Holland is but a part, is easy to reach from
the UK with a choice of sea crossings followed by a short drive. Lively Amsterdam
is the main attraction, but the towns of Haarlem, Delft, Groningen, Arnhem, Maastricht,
Breda and the Hague are certainly worth a visit, and for lovely easy cycling try
the Hoge Veluwe National Park. Don't forget the famous bulbfields, best seen
Amsterdam is one of Europe's great cities and major tourist destinations.
No matter what you're looking for in a city, you'll find it in Amsterdam.
Built on a network of canals, along which are the beautiful tall houses typical
of the region, the centre of Amsterdam is compact and largely pedestrian - or cyclist
- friendly. Pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants abound, there are boat trips on the
canals and sights at every turn. Amsterdam's red light district is world famous,
but the night life is much more than that. Theatres, concert halls and venues catering
for every sort of music and entertainment mean you are spoilt for choice. Add to
this the wonderful mueums and galleries, especially the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum
and the Anne Frank House, and it's easy to understand Amsterdam's popularity.
North Holland stretches northwards from Amsterdam, and is a popular tourist area.
Visit Haarlem with its beautiful church of St Bavo and the Frans Hals Museum,
as well as the narrow streets cluttered with interesting buildings. The rest of
this area, is worth driving through with stops to admire the many quaint villages,
the windmills, to enjoy the bracing sandy beaches, or to cycle or canoe through
the Het Twiske nature reserve or the Kennermerduinen National Park. All around
the coast are pretty harbour towns, including popular Volendam, Edam
of cheese-making fame, Hoorn, and Enkhuizen with its Zuider Zee
Museum. From Den Helder catch a ferry to the pretty island of Texel.
To the southeast of Amsterdam is the Het Gooi, an area of woods and heathlands,
good for walking and cycling, information on which can be obtained from the main
South Holland is a land of flat countryside, bulbfields and windmills. The Hook
of Holland guards the entrance to Rotterdam's enormous docklands. Rotterdam
is a big city, largely destroyed in the last war, but the Boymans-Van Beuningen
Museum is worth visiting as is the Kijk-Kubus (an upside-down house!). Den Haag
(The Hague), adjoining the seaside town of Scheveningen, is the country's
capital, and is a civilised and attractive city with many interesting historical
buildings and some excellent museums - notably the Mauritshuis and the Gemeentemuseum.
The nearby coast has good sandy beaches and the pleasant resort towns of Katwijk
and Noordwijk. The lively university town of Leiden also enjoys pretty
gabled buildings set along its canals, and is the best base for visiting the surrounding
bulbfields. Delft is much visited for its charming streets and pottery, while
ancient Gouda is famous for its cheese and canalside streets. The unspoilt
town of Dordrecht is close to the eerie Biesbosch (reed forest) which
you can explore by boat or cycle. Historic Utrecht is close to the Utrechtse
Heuvelrug a wooded area with excellent walking and cycling.
The north of the country comprises the provinces of Friesland, Groningen
and Drenthe. The countryside is flat, but green and often wooded, with many
dykes. The two main towns of the area are Leeuwarden in the west and Groningen
in the east. In Leeuwarden visit the ceramics museum at Het Princesshof. South of
here are the lakes and waterways centred on the town of Sneek. In Groningen
enjoy the lively nightlife, the bars and restaurants, the large traffic-free centre,
its many ancient buildings and the Groninger Museum. The pretty coastal towns of
Harlingen and Hineloopen and their nearby beaches are deservedly popular,
and from Harlingen take the ferries to the lovely islands of Terscelling
and Vlieland, best explored by bike.
centre of the country includes the large Hoge Veluwe National Park an area
of heath and woodland, ideal for cycling, and containing the Rijksmuseum Kroller-Muller
housing a superb collection of modern art. Nearby is the town of Arnhem,
surrounded by the cemeteries of those who fell during the last war and with museums
telling the story. The north of this central region is a land of lakes and pretty
small villages intersected with waterways. Cycling, walking, boating and canoeing
are popular here. The town of Zwolle is worth a visit for its ancient walls
encircling the old town and the harbour, as is nearby town of Elburg, once
a seaside town but now looking across reclaimed land.
The southern Netherlands are made up of Zeeland, North Brabant and
Limburg. Zeeland in the west has some lovely beaches and is good cycling
and walking country, and Veere is a lively harbour town. Middelburg
is the main town here and contains some fine old buildings. Travelling westwards
into North Brabant you encounter Holland's first hills, and a change from the
Protestantism of the rest of the country to a more Catholic ambience. The only town
worth a visit is 's Hertogenbosch, with its cathedral, its broad market
square, its museums and, for this part of the country, its restaurants and lively
bars. In Limburg are some real hills. Visit the moving National War and Resistance
Museum at Overloon. In the south is the ancient town of Maastricht,
where old and new co-exist. The old town is full of interesting and lovely buildings,
and outside the town is the hill of St Pietersberg with its caves and galleries.
Around the town are the green and wooded hills divided by rivers that make this
such a good place for walking and cycling.