64 things to do in the Netherlands: the ultimate Dutch bucket list

Are you looking for things to do in the Netherlands? Want to make the most of your time here and have the ultimate Dutch experience? Warm up your reading eyes, stretch out your scrolling finger, and load up your excitement, because we’ve got the ultimate list of things to do in the Netherlands!

Eat a stroopwafel

The gooier the better is the deal with this delicious caramel treat.
TOP TIP: Set it over your mug of coffee or tea to melt the caramel inside!

See a windmill

Look at how pretty! Image: 12019/Pixabay

A real one, not one of those fancy new-age ones that look like they were made in Silicon Valley.

Walk around in clogs

Clogs are actually a super-functional shoe. Still, we wouldn’t recommend wearing them to the nightclub.

Visit a coffeeshop (and don’t drink coffee)

Swap beans for strains and you’re pretty much in a hipster cafe! Just make sure you behave.

Drink a cold Dutch beer

If it has too much froth, you’re obligated to complain.

Switch it up and get something other than a Heineken. Image: ELEVATE/Pexels

Drink black filter coffee

Once you go black, you never go back.

Wear traditional Dutch clothing in Volendam

Ever felt like a fashion icon? Now’s your time to don a Dutch garb.

Walk through the red-light district

And pretend not to look in the windows.

Eat some raw beef on bread

No joke, this is a standard Dutch lunch. It’s called Filet Americain and it’s drop-dead delish.

Or, just eat a loaf of bread for lunch

No time in the morning? Just grab that loaf of bread. No spread necessary.

Eat a kroket

We don’t know what’s in it (and probably don’t want to), but it’s bloody delicious.

Take a boat trip through the canals of Giethoorn

It’s the closest you can get to a car-free paradise. Legit.

Visit the IAmsterdam letters

These letters got so popular the city of Amsterdam had to move them on – now you have to chase them around the country!

Eat drop – Dutch liquorice.

If you like disgusting, salty, black things you’ll probably love it.

Visit somewhere other than Amsterdam

Amsterdam is not a country. Head out of the capital to get the real Netherlands.

Dance until dawn in a 24-hour club condoned by Amsterdam’s Night Mayor (yes, it’s a real title)

Dream job? Executive Director of Partying in Amsterdam.

Do so responsibly, of course. Image: Maurício Mascaro/Pexels

Ride a bike

Hop on and take off. It’s just like riding a bike! Wait. What?

Try out wadlopen in Friesland

It’s got a funny name and it’s an even funnier activity.

Get your dose of culture by checking out some art

Kavana from DutchReview admiring some art. Image: Freya Sawbridge/ Supplied.

The so-called Dutch Masters – they were Dutch! Crazy, right? Lucky you we have a list of the best museums to see them in.

Experience the life-changing magic of Uitwaaien at a Dutch beach

Step 1: go outside (beach is recommended). Step 2: Feel the wind in your air. Step 3: Your head is now cleared, congratulations!

Attempt to speak Dutch – Goedemorgen!

You get bonus points for this one if you master the infamous gutter ‘g’ right off the bat.

Check out the beaches 

One thing the Dutch aren’t known for are their beaches. For a good reason? Stop by and find out 😉

See the Tulips at Keukenhof in the Spring

They’re synonymous with the Netherlands, and there’s over 7 million of them in one place!

Wear orange – bonus points if it’s on Koningsdag!

The colour, not the fruit, that would be weird.

Boats on canals Amsterdam Kingsday
People having a blast on the canal in Amsterdam during Kingsday. Image: Annabiasoli/Pixabay

Head back in time at Zaanse Schans

Windmills, clogs, a cheese factory and funny Dutch clothing – for the traditional Dutch experience it’s the go-to place.

Walk with the ghosts of history at Anne Frank house

It’s sad, it’s somber, and it will force you to come face-to-face with a dark part of history, but it can’t be missed.

Mingle with the die-hard fans at an Ajax soccer game

The Dutch bloody love their football, so head to a Ajax game and learn the joys of Links Rechts!

Discover how a windmill works

What a marvel of construction! Besides looking super cute and iconically Dutch, windmills are super-handy. You know, before computers and electronics were a thing.

See the “New” Netherlands in Rotterdam

Photo-of-cube-houses-Rotterdam
Visit the bizarre cube houses. Image: Nicole Baster/Unsplash

More than 30,000 buildings were destroyed in Rotterdam during the German bombings in WWII. Now Rotterdam is the most modern city in the Netherlands and has heaps of crazy architecture!

Sleep in a houseboat

And rock all night. Literally.

Experience the magic of Sinterklaas and join in on the political discussion

Forget Santa Claus and his elves, in the Netherlands it’s all about Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet – a.k.a Black Pete, a.k.a white people in blackface. For real.

Visit one of the outlying islands

photo-of-texel-beach-netherlands-for-surfing
Like Texel for example! Image: Evgeni Tcherkasski/Pixabay

Islands? In the Netherlands? Damn right, and they’re super pretty!

Visit three countries in seconds at ‘Drielandenpunt’ in Vaals

One of the best things about Europe is how you can travel through a bunch of countries in a day. We’re upping the ante though, and challenging you to three countries in seconds.

Sample all the cheese at a cheese market

All of it. No limits. Assert your dominance, look the cheesemonger in the eye, and stuff your face.

Eat poffertjes. All the poffertjes

They’re tiny, fluffy, bite-size pancakes. How many can you fit into your mouth?

Head to a fries restaurant and order ‘frietjes met

It’s iconically Dutch, and this dish will certainly challenge all your prior fries perceptions.

See the political centre of the Netherlands (with some awesome buildings) in The Hague

Photo-of-the-Haag
Look at that skyline! Image: Alireza Parpaei/ Unsplash

Did you know Dutch Parliament sits right on a huge pond? The Hague is an awesome day-trip for that quintessential Dutch experience ?

Walk the streets of Rembrandt and Einstein in Leiden

Leiden is a town stuffed to the brim with history – maybe some of the talent will rub off on you!

Rock out, bounce out or mellow out at one of the many Dutch music festivals

Photo-of-music-festival-Amsterdam
If they still go ahead, that is. Image: Yvette de Wit/ Unsplash

If there’s one thing young Dutchies love it’s music. Festivals are everywhere, especially in the summer, so grab a ticket, pack a tent, and get grooving as the Dutchies do.

Buy some ‘Delft Blauw’ in the city where it all began

Delft is synonymous with Delft Blauw, one of the most iconic products to come out of the Netherlands (you know, except the spice trade and slavery)

Eat a raw fish. Don’t vomit.

Herring is a typical Dutch snack and is literally a raw fish. There’s even a correct way to eat it: tip your head back and let that slimy sea-creature slide down your gullet. Delicious, right?

Jump in a kayak and paddle your way to the countryside

To truly appreciate the Netherlands’ crazy canals, rivers, and dikes, you need to get on their level — literally. Jump into a kayak and explore these crazy waterways!

Stuff your face with pepernoten

These tiny ginger cookies are super-addictive and taste just like Christmas!

Toss back a gin in the place it was invented

Photo-of-Schiedam
The Netherlands is full of hidden treasures. Image: Kevin Jansen/ Unsplash

In need of some Dutch courage? Get your drink on with some gin in Schiedam. You know, for science.

Nearly get hit by a bicycle (happens to the best of us)

“Wow, these canal houses are so bea–” TRING TRING “OPTIEVEN TYFUSTOERIST!”

Climb a giant church tower

When you want to get a godly view, climb one of the many mammoth church towers and laugh at the peasants below!

Head to Dutch ‘Carnival!’

Bright colours, feathers, sequins, and incredibly complex costumes – how can you resist?

See a beautiful bookstore or library

Some are beautiful pieces of architecture to die for. Others are just ordinary buildings with books. You be the judge.

Climb some Dutch stairs. Don’t fall down.

Top tip — turn your feet out to avoid a tumble to the bottom

Drink fresh mint tea out on a terrace in the sunshine

Literally a cup stuffed full of mint leaves. Basically eating vegetables, right?

Tell someone what’s really on your mind

Think their haircut sucks? Tell ’em. That’s the true Dutch Directness way.

Get some Dutch colonial food – Surinamese or Indonesian is a must!

Well, the Dutch may not have been particularly nice colonists (is there even such a thing?), but the food that came back?

Eat kapsalon

kapsalon
It looks strange but it’s actually delicious. Image: Amin/Wikimedia Commons/ CC4.0

The name literally means hair salon, but this dish is anything but. Fries, shawarma meat, and cheese makes up this iconic Dutch-Turkish food. Best consumed when stumbling around drunk.

Eat an apple pie. It’s not just for Americans!

Engage in the delightful afternoon tea of koffie en taart with your closest buddies.

Head to a Brown Bar for a real ‘Gezelligheid’ feeling

bruin cafe is wooden bar with ultra-cosy vibes. Their wooden interiors will take you back in time, and the drinks will flow freely.

Eat bitterballen while drinking beer

bitterballen
The best bar food if you ask me. Image: Rudy and Peter Skitterians/ Pixabay

Treat yo’ self to the art of borrelen, and consume deep-fried snacks while chugging a beer – we’re on board!

Eat a pancake in a forest

You’re walking in a leafy forest, the trees stretching up to form a canopied, green roof over your head. Like Hansel and Gretel, you stumble across an unlikely structure: a giant pancake restaurant. Eat the pancakes, instead of the building. Tip: Utrecht is great for this!

Head to a Christmas Market

You don’t know what festive means until you’ve been to a European Christmas market. Tip: a steaming mug of gluhwein will warm you right up!

Experience ‘Efteling,’ the theme park older than Disney

Be a kid again, go on!

Walk through the old medieval areas of cities

And hobble across the cobblestones of yesteryear past.

Ride a train through the Dutch countryside and marvel at the flatness

polder-netherlands
So flat, but so beautiful. Image: FotoRieth/Pixabay

The Earth is flat, and the Netherlands is proof. Hop on a train to see it for yourself.

Warm up in the winter by munching on oliebollen

These delicious, raisin donut snacks will warm you right up in the middle of winter!

Pretend to be a princess (or prince) in a Dutch castle

The Netherlands rich history means it has hundreds of spectacular castles and forts dotting the tiny land. Put on your best medieval gowns and explore these amazing structures!

Watch a live sex show. Yep, it’s real.

Level of attractiveness varies. You’ve been warned.

One last thing:
Coronavirus has led to some huge lifestyle changes this year, and it will probably continue to for a while. We encourage you to have fun this year and to explore all the Netherlands has to offer, but make sure you keep to the coronavirus regulations. Wash your hands regularly, keep 1.5m from other people, and stay home and get tested if you have possible coronavirus symptoms.

 

How many items have you ticked off the list? What’s your favourite, and what did we miss? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image: Monlaw/Pixabay
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in August 2019, and was fully updated in September 2020 for your reading pleasure. 

Avatar
Samantha Dixon
Sam isn’t great at being Dutch. Originally hailing from Australia, she came to study in the Netherlands without knowing where the country was on a map. She once accidentally ordered the entire ice-cream menu at Smullers. She still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike. But, she remains fascinated by the tiny land of tall people.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Ive done 46 out of 64 and the we remaining remaining 18 there are 3 I cant do.

    Caves in Maastricht, delta works in zeeland, drive over the afsluitdijk, visit kaag island, purchase groceries from the groceries truck, purchases food from the farmers market, observe a May 4th ceremony

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