These are the 10 most popular Dutch cities for a day trip (and they might surprise you)

When asked which city in the Netherlands they would like to visit for a weekend, the Dutch had an overwhelmingly clear answer: Maastricht. 

We know that we praise Amsterdam all the time at the DutchReview, but today’s focus is on the beautiful historic Dutch city of Maastricht. ✨ 

A survey by Columbus Travel asked 3000 Dutchies what their favourite municipality is for a city trip within the country — and almost half of the respondent wants to discover Maastricht for a city trip in the Netherlands! 🥇

With all the upcoming public holidays and long weekends, Maastricht could be a perfect destination that is only a train away for most. 

Why Maastricht?

Maastricht has a lot of charm with a historical city centre, nature all around, and boat rides along the river Maas. 

The historical part of the city draws in a lot of visitors for a walk through the city. There’s also a unique, beautiful bookstore that’s been integrated into the vast old Dominicanenkerk. 

READ MORE | A day trip to Maastricht: what to see, do, and eat

Besides all of the parks scattered around the city and along the river Maas, there are also boat cruises that you can hop onto and go up the Maas. From there, you actually go into Belgium for a few moments on the river and smell the crispy Belgian waffles. 

Maastricht also has extra bragging points for having one of the highest points on the Dutch mainland. The Sint Pietersberg peak can be seen from most of the boat rides (even though it’s only 171 metres high). ⛰️

READ MORE | Why is the Netherlands so flat? The complete explanation

Who took second place on the podium?

The Dutchies voted for the cultural hotspot of Haarlem as the second most popular place to visit for a weekend away, snagging votes from almost one-third of the respondents. 

Haarlem also has a beautiful historic city centre with plenty of cultural activities, including museums scattered around the city. 

Many also say that they enjoy the gezellig Burgundian atmosphere in Haarlem. 

READ MORE | 18 charming things to do in Haarlem

Staying in the Netherlands for a little holiday

The Columbus Travel editor-in-chief, Mark Mackintosh, says that “The Dutch have become more curious as a result of the corona crisis and are more willing to look beyond the calibrated tourist favourites.”

Charming cities that aren’t the usual big tourist destinations are attracting more and more Dutch visitors. Amsterdam is getting some competition now, as it ranks only 17th on the list for Dutchies. 

RankingCity
1Maastricht
2Haarlem
3Ede
4Deventer
5Leeuwarden
6Groningen
7Nijmegen
8Den Bosch
9Leiden
10Arnhem

What city would you recommend for a weekend away in the Netherlands? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Naomi Lamaury
Naomi Lamaury
Naomi came to the Netherlands four years ago for her studies with two suitcases and without ever having been to the country or knowing much about it. Now, you can find her eating ‘bitterballen’ and fighting against the Dutch wind on her bike every day like a local. Naomi enjoys writing about what is going on around her alongside a warm cup of coffee.

59 COMMENTS

  1. Don’t forget Utrecht, the canals in Utrecht belong to the most beautiful in Europe. And remember to take a look at ‘de Dom’.

  2. Delft!
    It is a smaller town with big historic impact. Hometown of Johannes Vermeer, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, and Hugo Grotius, amongst many others. The looks of the center are similar to Amsterdam, downsized. The feel is way more tranquil.
    Certainly worth to visit.

    • So is Haarlem… You can compare many of these old Dutch cities with another. Most of them have a beautiful historical city centre. But hey! you can’t put a hundred cities in a top 10 list.

    • What’s your point though.. The author asked what cities commenters would recommend, this is an answer 🙂 (which I happen to agree with, though somewhat biased since it my city of birth ;))

  3. I’m amazed that Alkmaar is not on the list, it’s o gorgeous town, with a beautiful old part and very cozy new(er) citycenter all on walking distance

  4. You should defenitely put Alkmaar on your list. Beautiful historic center with a lot of nice shops and bars,restaurants.

  5. Deventer is one of the oldest cities, with a written history of 1300 years. Remnants of the Viking attacks (802 AD) can still be seen. The “Bergkwartier” with the Bergkerk (church on the hill) in the centre (built 1100) is one of the most attractieve living areas in the city with houses dating back to the 1400-hundreds. Across the river IJssel (indeed; TWO capitals!) is a magnificent hotel with a gorgeous city view. The city has the oldest house in the country that is still inhabited (built 1130). Recommended days to visit: Friday and / or Saturday (market days).

    • Having been familiar with Zutphen for over thirty years, through good Dutch friends met on a French camp site, as you do, I have to say we only visited Deventer for the first time, last year! Big mistake, should have visited in tandem with Zutphen, we have missed well over fifty visits to this lovely town. AND our friends lived on Deventerweg in Zutphen, we have no excuse.

  6. Dordrecht, the oldest town of Holland!!
    History everywhere.
    Bussiest river intersection.
    Ferry ride to Rotterdam, festivals, museums, nature ( de Biesbos) etc.etc.

  7. Definitely 8 Den Bosch. Has everything on a walkable distance. Museums, restaurants, nature, beautiful buildings, beautiful shops and just a few towering-big-buildings

  8. For me, Zwolle is the most beautiful city in the Netherlands. The city is rich in historical buildings, has as a provincial capital also a lot of culture to offer, plus a large number of very good restaurants.

  9. Middelburg, beautiful historic city, surrounded by lovely beaches and water on the Walcheren peninsula. Great local fresh food from the sea, great shopping center. More sun hours a day in comparison with all the other parts of the Netherlands.

  10. Hattem, small medieval Hanseatic city on the IJssel edge with lots of historical elements. Also home of the Voerman and Anton Pieck museum.

  11. What about Den Haag. That city has it all: historie, green, beach, elegance, culture. Chosen as the best city for quality of living in the world.

  12. I grew up in Leeuwarden, beautiful old town. A lot easier to visit in one day, then Amsterdam! For one example pisa is not the only crooked tower in the world, visit the oldenhove! They stopped building because it started to lean over!

  13. Try the really small historic towns with “city rights” like Buren. Which has a neat restauration history too, btw.

    Or Zutphen with an overly charming city center.

  14. The Vaalserberg is higher than st Pieter.
    (Wikipedia) :
    De Vaalserberg is een heuvel bij het Nederlandse dorp Vaals, met een hoogte van 322,4 meter boven NAP.[1][2][3] Vlak bij de top van de heuvel ligt het Drielandenpunt, waar Nederland, België en Duitsland aan elkaar grenzen. De top van de Vaalserberg is het hoogste punt van Europees Nederland. Vlakbij staan twee uitkijktorens; aan de Nederlandse kant de Wilhelminatoren en aan de Belgische kant de Koning Boudewijntoren.

  15. Schiedam is also a great place to visit, some scenes in the movie Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht from 1979 with Claus Kinski were filmed here.

  16. Off course the dutch won’t choose Amsterdam as their favorite, Amsterdam is overrun with tourists, way to expensive and just too busy.

    My personal favorites are Utrecht, Leiden, Delft, Gouda and Deventer, but any city with a historical city center is worth visiting, even small cities or towns. But also Rotterdam, with it’s modern city center is worth visiting and The Hague, where our government is seated, has a very rich history that is still visible everywhere.

    So do skip Amsterdam and explore the other cities. They will give a much nicer and more authentic experience of the Netherlands.

  17. We skip all of holland and entering the Netherlands we got a lot of nice city’s and villages full of dutch traditions expats love to being here i see them here in coffeeshops………………………..not smoking weed but drinking good dutch coffee 😉
    i come originaly from Enschede that is near the dutch/german border now this day’s i live in 033 “amersfoort” both cities got some good stuff for the tourists come over and see what i mean 🙂

  18. Dordrecht – the town to be!
    Loads of history: old churches, Huis van Gijn, Dordtse munt, politcal history, and much more, beautiful canals and old houses around every corner
    Beautiful and old shopping centre the Voorstraat,
    Nice water bus to national park the Biesbosch or a trip by water bus to Rotterdam

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related posts

Latest posts

14 hidden gems in Rotterdam you have to visit

You've devoured all the Rotterdam top 20 lists and think you have seen everything the city has to offer? Well, no, no, no, dear...

Dutch Quirk #13: Be innovative (and not be shy about it) 

The Dutch have been renowned for their innovative spirit for centuries, and they’re not about to change anytime soon! Why would they, when it...

Dutch history hacked: 2500 years of Dutch life in 7 minutes (VIDEO INSIDE)

We know the Dutch are a pretty strange bunch and, to be honest, up until now, we couldn't know for sure that they weren't...

It's happening

Upcoming events

The latest Dutch news.
In your inbox.