The 11 best authentic Dutch villages that you have to visit

It's worth looking beyond the Randstad 😍

Looking for an authentic Dutch village to visit for a day trip outside of Amsterdam? There are plenty of beautiful little spots worth exploring!

Dutch cities are beautiful, we all know that. But what about the villages? They deserve some love too. Besides, cities can be busy and overcrowded.

So, instead of pushing your way through the bustling streets of Amsterdam yet again, why not take a trip to some of the quiet, tranquil, and quaint places in the Netherlands? 🚌

READ MORE | 7 underrated places to live outside of the Randstad

As someone who has been exploring the Netherlands for years, here’s my guide to 11 authentic Dutch villages you simply have to visit.

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1. Beesel: the Dutch village of the dragon

Beesel is a village in Limburg, a province in the south of the Netherlands. It was founded in 1275, so it’s been around for quite a while.

Nieuwenbroeck Castle is one of the oldest preserved buildings in Beesel. Image: Peter van der Wielen/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

Beesel started as a ship bench and remained so for over 500 years, belonging to Spanish Opper-Gelre until 1713.

The village has plenty of lovely Neolithic architecture as well. Like all good villages, it has a wonderful, cosy atmosphere.

It also has a metre-high dragon adorning its roundabout, which refers to the village’s yearly tradition of staging a spectacle based on the legend of George and the Dragon. πŸ‰

πŸ“Location: Beesel, Limburg

2. De Rijp: home of the herring

De Rijp is in the Alkmaar municipality in North Holland. If you’re excited about the Netherlands’ favourite food (herring), then this is the place to visit!

Picturesque canals of De Rijp. Image: arch/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Historically, De Rijp was surrounded by lakes, so herring fishing was an abundant source of revenue for the area. 🐟

As the potential birthplace of Holland, De Rijp also has some of the oldest wooden houses in the Netherlands.

READ MORE | What’s the difference between Holland and the Netherlands?

It also has some rather hilarious stained glass windows in its church, which contain imagery, not of God, but the next best thing: herring!

πŸ“Location: De Rijp, Alkmaar

3. Naarden: Dutch fort or village?

Naarden is a village that really needs to be appreciated by air. We mean, just look at that awesome town layout! 😍

The unusual outline of this village is the result of it being a star fort. Its distinctive shape was also important in more modern times.

Doesn’t Naarden look like a scene from Game of Thrones? Image: Depositphotos

During World War II, allied bombers would cheer when they passed overhead, knowing they were on their way back to safe territory.

READ MORE | 21 beautiful towns in the Netherlands that are not Amsterdam

Apart from that, Naarden is also home to the fascinating Dutch Fortress Museum.

πŸ“Location: Naarden, Gooi, North Holland

4. Kinderdijk: we’re big fans

This village is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so you know it’s going to be good. Kinderdijk is home to the largest collection of old windmills in the Netherlands β€” 19 in total!

Could it get more idyllic than this? Image: Depositphotos

If you’ve been craving some of those mandatory Dutch windmill pictures for your Instagram, this village is simply something you cannot miss.

READ MORE | Best windmill site in the Netherlands: Kinderdijk or Zaanse Schans?

You can buy tickets for a tour of two windmills that have been turned into museums if you fancy getting deep into the history of this beautiful place, or you can just admire these awesome structures from afar.

πŸ“Location: Kinderdijk, South Holland

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5. Loosdrecht: let loose and take a vay-cay

This Dutch village is perfect for visiting in the summer months, as it’s most famous for the lakes that surround it β€” the Loosdrechtse Plassen.

Loosdrecht is actually really two separate villages, Old Loosdrecht and New Loosdrecht.

Fancy a house by the water? We’ll take two! Image: Depositphotos

Old Loosdrecht is mainly made up of beautiful lakeside villas β€” the area is a favourite haunt of the wealthy.

New Loosdrecht, on the other hand, is quite densely populated and a bit less exclusive.

As a tourist, both sides of the village are worth exploring. You can enjoy the lakes by boat or from the shore while you’re there. πŸš£πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ

6. Vinkeveen: for the water nymphs

If you’re visiting Utrecht, you might as well pop by Vinkeveen, which is another fabulous village that’s as beautiful from above as it is from its pretty streets.

Could it really be? Is that a floating Dutch city? Image: Ewout Pahud/Supplied

Vinkeveen is famous for its lakes, which you can see in the picture above.

They’re used for swimming, diving, and yachting on approximately three days of the year when the Dutch weather is good. πŸ˜‚

πŸ“Location: Vinkeveen, Utrecht

7. Lisse: terrific tulips

You can pretend all you want, we all know you moved to the Netherlands for the tulips.

Enjoy endless tulip fields in Lisse! Image: Depositphotos

Lisse is near Keukenhof, the *cough* somewhat expensive *cough* park where you can see more tulips than you’ll ever need. 🌷

When visiting Lisse, not only can you see the beauty of seemingly endless fields of flowers, but also a very authentic Dutch village!

And you can feel all smug about avoiding a tourist trap, as well.

πŸ“Location: Lisse, South Holland

8. Broek in Waterland: Insta-worthy and hyper-Dutch

In our opinion, Broek in Waterland is probably the most spectacular of Dutch villages.

Plus, it’s super close to Amsterdam and has just about the most Dutch name for a village we’ve ever heard!

Broek in Waterland is one of the Netherlands’ most charming places. Image: Ben Bender/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

Its proximity to the capital does mean it gets a bit overrun with tourists, who all understandably want to experience rural Dutchness without travelling too far outside the capital. 🌳

Broek in Waterland has actually been a tourist hot spot for generations, acting as a vacation town in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Thanks to its monument status, the village is very well preserved.

If you’re looking for something that’ll please your wanderlust and Instagram feed, some of the houses are pastel-coloured or white, making the whole village very aesthetically pleasing. πŸ“Έ

9. Bronkhorst: a city? Kind of?

Now, Bronkhorst is quite a trek from Amsterdam, but luckily, the public transport system in the Netherlands is really good. And besides, this town (or city) is well worth it.

Explore quaint streets and old Dutch houses. Image: Depositphotos

Although Bronkhorst has only 157 inhabitants, it was granted city rights in 1482.

That means it technically has a (somewhat limited) form of self-governance. πŸ™ŒπŸΌ

It is an absolutely gorgeous village to walk around: quiet streets, authentic Dutch architecture, and plenty of greenery.

There are also some really nice bike routes in the surroundings of the village. 🚲

10. Thorn: from swamp to pomp

Thorn is in Limburg and has a really cool combination of great architecture and fascinating history.

It’s known as the white village for obvious reasons: all of its typical Dutch brick houses have been whitewashed, which gives it a lovely, clean, summery vibe.

Thorn is known for its white houses and pretty streets. Image: Depositphotos

Thorn began as a swamp near the Roman road between Maastricht and Nijmegen. In the 10th century, it was drained, and a monastery was established.

In the 13th century, this monastery became a convent. The nuns made wine which is still made and served in the village, though the convent itself closed in the 18th century. 🍷

πŸ“Location: Thorn, Limburg

11. Bourtange: the star of the show (literally)

Bourtange is a unique village located in the province of Groningen, all the way up north. It was built between 1580 and 1593, during the Eighty Years’ War.

What is now a popular tourist attraction, used to be a part of the glorious fortification on the border between the northern Dutch provinces and Germany.

Have you ever seen a village shaped like this? ⭐️ Image: Depositphotos

Over time, people started leaving Bourtange, until the village was completely emptied around 1960.  

READ MORE | A day trip to Bourtange: the tiny village steeped in Dutch history

After some restorations, the fortress now exists as a quaint little village and outdoor museum. Visitors can see the historic Market Square, a candle maker, and various charming shops and restaurants.

πŸ“Location: Bourtange, Westerwolde

Will you be visiting one of these gorgeous Dutch villages soon? Or have you already been to any? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!  

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Ailish Lalor
Ailish Lalor
Ailish was born in Sydney, Australia, but grew up by a forest in south-east Ireland, which she has attempted to replace with a living room filled with plants in The Hague. Besides catering to her army of pannenkoekenplantjes, Ailish spends her days convincing her friends that all food is better slightly burnt, plotting ways to hang out with dogs and cats, and of course, writing for DutchReview.

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  1. Don’t forget to visit the oldest town in the Netherlands: Nijmegen. Walk the town with for only €4 per person.

  2. The author comments on the 3 days of summer that the Netherlands has….we have been here for the last two summers, both of which have been glorious! Last summer started as early as April and seemed to end mid September. If you’re comparing summer’s to ‘hot’ countries (of which I have lived), then the temperatures may not be what you class as summer, but the temperatures for the last two years have been between 25-35 degrees, which I think is more enjoyable than 30-40 degree heat. Yes, it does rain a fair bit here too, but having lived in a far wetter country it’s not too bad.

  3. In my opinion the prettiest villages in The Netherlands are Heusden in Brabant (1,5h from Amsterdam) and Edam in North Holland (40min from Amsterdam). And of course Giethoorn in Drenthe but that is overrun by tourists.

  4. I’m a flight attendant based out of LAX, we had the Amsterdam route for about 2 years and for my base it was my favorite trip. I loved Amsterdam and I did visit a few of the outlying towns. These I have not and they all sound beautiful and I can’t wait to go back once our travel allows. The pandemic has restricted out travel for now. Great article

  5. What about Grave . It’s a very old little city that still has some of the walls from the castle. It was also very important at the end of WW2. Watch the bridge to far.

  6. The islands on the top of The Netherlands are sooooo beautiful! I especially recommend Texel, where I grew up! There is so much beauty there!


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