21 beautiful towns in the Netherlands that aren’t Amsterdam

There's more than just Amsterdam out there.

There are so many beautiful towns in the Netherlands, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in that city life. Here are 21 stunning options for you to check out while escaping from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam. 

If you’re new here and are after something that isn’t just Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Amsterdam, then you’re in luck.

READ MORE | 19 best day trips from Amsterdam: the ultimate travel guide

Whether you’re a tourist or a resident of the lowlands, we’re always on the lookout for beautiful towns to visit in the Netherlands.

1. Giethoorn

With its picturesque atmosphere, a large concentration of canals, and countless boats, Giethoorn is known as “the Venice of the Netherlands.”

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Look at how cute this house in Giethoorn is! Image: Pixabay

The place is postcard-perfect: everything is incredibly clean, people’s lawns are perfectly trimmed, and all the houses are matching.

It’s good to know that in the summer months, the place is busy! Like, really busy. Giethoorn is especially popular with group tour agencies, so if you’re looking to hire your own private boat, do it well in advance.

2. Zutphen

Located on the Berkel and IJssel rivers, Zutphen is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands and has one of the best-preserved medieval town centres in northwestern Europe.

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A skyline with a history. Image: Depositphotos

Nicknamed the Torenstad because of its large, historic buildings and variety of towers that form the city’s skyline, this “Hanzestad” has a rich history going back to the days of the Romans 1,700 years ago.

Some of the things you definitely shouldn’t miss on your visit include the wine house, the museum, and Zutphen’s unique library.

3. Amersfoort

Amersfoort is one of our personal favourites. The whole place is incredibly picturesque and drenched in history.

The iconic Koppelpoort, which was built in 1425, dominates most pictures and looks especially good at night. However, there is a lot more to Amersfoort than just this.

Apart from the Koppelpoort, the city centre is beautiful as well — it’s the perfect place to go for a walk and explore.

There are plenty of bars, restaurants, and museums located within Amersfoort, making it an ideal place for a day trip.

4. Zierikzee

Zierikzee in Zeeland is a small port town with a dynamic history. There are 568 national monuments in and around the city centre, which places Zierikzee in the top ten Dutch cities with the greatest number of monuments.

It is the most historically preserved town in the province of Zeeland.

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Ziekerzee is full of historical monuments. Image: Depositphotos

The first thing we recommend doing when you come here for a day trip is to simply wander around. Zierikzee has beautiful squares and alleyways that you can easily get lost down.

After that, head to the former town hall for some history or do some shopping in the local boutiques.

5. Texel

While technically not a town, the serene island of Texel has had a rich and turbulent history, which includes a brush with the American Revolution and the location of WWII’s last battlefield.

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The island of Texel attracts all types of adventurers. Image: Unsplash

Today, it’s a paradise for hikers, cyclists, horseback riders, artists, and sheep (it even has its own breed, called the Texelaar). Texel has something for everyone, from historians and nature lovers to sheep and birdwatchers.

6. Delft

Delft is a beautiful town located between Rotterdam and The Hague. It’s your typical Dutch town, with beautiful architecture and lots of little cafés and shops.

Delft is the perfect place if you want to spend the afternoon somewhere truly Dutch and sit on the terrace with a coffee or a beer.

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Delft is one of the most charming towns in the Netherlands. Image: Unsplash

There are also plenty of free things to do in Delft, including strolling through the weekend markets or walking around the parks. I also recommend checking out Nieuwe Kerk or heading to the botanical garden.

In case you didn’t know, Delft is THE place to buy Delft blue porcelain (duh).

7. Bunschoten-Spakenburg

Are you eager to venture off the beaten track and explore less touristy destinations? Consider visiting Bunschoten-Spakenburg!

Two neighbouring towns with a buzzing history and culture that you may have never even heard of.

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Don’t forget to check out the harbour. Image: Depositphotos

Spakenburg is the most famous fishing village along the southern area of the former Zuider Zee, which is now broken up into two big lakes, the IJsselmeer and Markermeer.

Bunschoten is a farming village right next door. As time went on, the two villages prospered and grew closer to each other, and they eventually merged in 1965 to become Bunschoten-Spakenburg.

8. Haarlem

Located close to Amsterdam, Haarlem is always recommended for people who aren’t keen on the hustle and bustle of the big city but still want to enjoy pretty canals and a quintessential Dutch city.

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Look at this beautiful town! Image: Michielverbeek/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

It’s the perfect place to walk around if you’re after great architecture, windmills, shops, and all things Dutch.

READ MORE | Why I love Haarlem: a local’s guide to the Spaarnestad

Make sure to explore the markets in the giant market square, visit the cathedral (it’s beautiful!), climb a windmill, or check out the array of shops and restaurants.

9. Gorinchem

Gorinchem is the Netherlands’ largest and most beautiful fortified city. It’s located along the Waal River, an extension of the Rhine, in the province of South Holland.

This historic town, together with the village of Woudrichem, Castle Loevestein, and Fort Vuren, form the Vestingdriehoek (The Fortress Triangle) — a critical part of the Old and the New Dutch Water Lines that defended Holland for centuries from invaders.

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A fortress walk in Gorinchemwill bring you to both the corn mill De Hoop and Dalempoort. Image: Depositphotos

Wander around the harbour and enjoy the flower displays by the water or take the five-kilometre self-guided fortress walk (Vestingwandeling).

The walk takes you over the earthwork ramparts past barracks, artillery sheds, an old tollhouse, the Dalempoort gatehouse, the caponier, two flour mills, and many other fascinating buildings with a military purpose.

10. Valkenburg

Valkenburg, in the southern province of Limburg, is a place rich in history. It’s home to Valkenburg Castle, which offers beautiful ruins that you can go and explore.

Walking around the centre, in general, is also beautiful. It’s definitely one of those forgotten places to visit, and we highly recommend you go!

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The view from Valkenburg Castle. Image: Pitlane02/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0.

Apart from wandering around and looking at all of the beautiful architecture (check out the train station!), there is a variety of different museums, shops, restaurants, and cafes.

Christmas is an especially nice time to visit as they have a Christmas market in Valkenburg caves! It’s a very unique experience.

11. Willemstad

Exploring Willemstad is quick and easy. You can take a leisurely walk through the streets lined with attractive houses. Some of the entrances to the front doors are over little wooden bridges crossing a narrow channel of water.

There is a wide choice of restaurants with outdoor terraces under a row of trees in the middle of a divided main street.

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Get a taste of history. Image: Jim Goyjer/Supplied

A walk along the town’s rampart takes about 45 minutes. Along the way, you’ll encounter several historic remnants, such as a military gunpowder house built by Napoleon when the French occupied the town in the early 19th century.

He liked the fortified town so much that he stockpiled gunpowder there. No fear, it’s empty now, but the building remains.

12. Leiden

Not only is Leiden great in every way: in its small quaint streets and abundance of canals, but it’s also the home of DutchReview! I’m definitely not to be biased here, but Leiden is a beautiful place to visit.

READ MORE | 17 unforgettable things to do in Leiden in 2023

It has the most canals in the Netherlands after Amsterdam, and it’s home to 15 great museums.

We recommend you visit the Leiden markets and the different museums — such as The Museum for Antiquities and the Museum of Ethnology, take a boat trip, shop, or sit on one of the terraces with a biertje.

13. ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch)

We absolutely love ‘s-Hertogenbosch, a.k.a. Den Bosch! You’ll find this beautiful place in Noord Brabant. The city is a mix of old and typically medieval buildings, canals, a beautiful cathedral and also very modern and trendy architecture.

It’s also home to the bulb houses, which have sat there since the 1980s.

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Can you believe these are from the 1980s? Image: Pixabay

On your next visit, take a boat trip along the canals and enjoy the absence of hoards of tourists that you usually see in Amsterdam.

You can also visit St. John’s Cathedral and take a walk or cycle to take in all of the amazing architecture.

14. Maastricht

Maastricht is often forgotten, seeing as it’s so far away from the capital. It shouldn’t be, though! Maastricht is a beautiful city, with lots of medieval architecture and plenty to do.

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Maastricht has a really cosy atmosphere. Image: Flickr

It’s especially popular with students and is so close to Belgium and Germany that it’s the perfect place to go if you want to hop over the border.

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

Marvel at the gorgeous architecture as you take a walk around the city, visit the flea markets, go to the market square, visit some museums, and drink on the terraces!

15. Naarden

Naarden is a small town close to Amsterdam. It’s pretty well known due to those popular pictures showing the shape of the town. From above, you can see the place is shaped like a star, as the whole town is surrounded by moats.

It looks this way because, historically, it was part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam, making this fortified town even more beautiful and interesting than it was already.

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Naarden looks even cooler from above! Image: Pixabay

Apart from taking a drone shot, or maybe not, as the residents may find that a bit annoying at this point, you can check out Vestingmuseum.

It is dedicated to the town’s defence history; visit one of the oldest churches in the Netherlands, just walk around and take in the sites, or go for food and drink in one of the many cafés and restaurants.

16. Hoorn

The beautiful little town of Hoorn is located in Noord-Holland, near Lake IJsselmeer. Not only is it picturesque, but it’s also close to a lake, sand dunes and the countryside.

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Hard to beat a view like this. Image: Pixabay

This makes Hoorn a popular place to go for water sports — staycation, here we come! Hoorn is great to walk or cycle around, and there are museums, a shopping area, restaurants, and cafés — what more could we want?

17. Utrecht

Utrecht is a beautiful and typically Dutch city that is often forgotten (Amsterdam and Rotterdam seem to rule the roost). Once the religious capital of the Netherlands, this quaint, medieval city radiates around the Dom Tower — the tallest church tower in the Netherlands.

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You’ll never get lost with the Dom Tower in sight! Image: Depositphotos

With beautiful old houses, bridges, and canals that ring the city, Utrecht is often regarded as a little Amsterdam — just without as many tourists. There’s no shortage of interesting things to do and see in this historic city.

18. Roermond

Roermond is a town in Limburg, located very close to both Germany and Belgium. It’s the perfect place to go if you’re visiting from outside of the Netherlands or if you’re looking to try somewhere new afterwards.

The town is located on the lower Roer on the east bank of the Meuse River — so it’s a beautiful destination to visit for the day.

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Roermond has a stunning castle. Image: Pixabay

If you love to shop, you’re in luck as Roermond has a designer outlet and a variety of popular high-street shops, cafés, and restaurants.

Not only is wandering around the town beautiful, but the place is also a stone’s throw away from the lake districts, offering lots of walks and loads to do. If water sports are your thing, then this is the place to be.

19. The Hague

The Hague is an immensely popular place to be for internationals — to live, work and visit. Once you’ve gone there, you can see why. The Hague is a hub for innovation, business, and multiculturalism.

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Perhaps not the view you’d think the Hague would have, yet a very beautiful view it is. Image: Depositphotos

It’s both modern and historical, so it’s a great mix. It’s also home to the government and the International Court of Justice.

READ MORE | 7 things you didn’t know about the Hague

You can walk around the Binnenhof grounds (the Dutch parliament), explore the Peace Palace, visit Scheveningen Pier, check out many different museums, and shop on the large high street.

20. Veere

The small town of Veere has a rich history. Located in the province of Zeeland, it is unique for its strong kinship to Scotland.

No other European town played a more important economic role for Scotland than Veere once did between the 16th and 17th centuries.

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A 15th century gothic church that you can see in the Dutch city of Veere. Image: Depositphotos

Veere is definitely worth a visit. The centre square may be small, but the atmosphere is soaked with history along with the small streets — a reminder of the town’s glory days.

READ MORE | Organ concerts and vaulted ceilings: 15 churches to visit in the Netherlands

The town’s charming shops offer clothing, culinary delicacies, decorations, and of course, souvenirs.

21. Alkmaar

You may have heard of Alkmaar because of the Alkmaar cheese market. But Alkmaar isn’t just great because of all of the cheese (even though that definitely is a big bonus). It has a historical city centre and is filled to the brim with things to do.

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Look at all that cheese. Image: Yoshi/Wikimedia Commons/Public domain

Walking or biking around the historical centre should definitely be on your to-do list too. There are loads of shops, restaurants, and cafés to keep you occupied on your visit.

READ MORE | 17 Dutch towns with the funniest names

There are also a few museums in Alkmaar (did someone say cheese museum and beer museum?!) that are worth a visit.

Have you visited any of these gorgeous towns? Which Dutch town is your favourite? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Pixabay
Emma Brown
Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.

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49 COMMENTS

  1. Leiden is my favourite of all the places I have visited … but there are others that are also well worth considering …. Deventer, Middelburg and Alkmaar come to mind.

  2. Hoorn is one of my favorite, small to medium, towns in N. Holland. I am a bit prejudiced because my best friend lives there.

  3. Hey there, for me there are a few more beautiful towns in the Netherlands that you should visit. Or not, so they don’t get crowded…
    My list includes:
    Leeuwarden, not only the capital of Friesland but also a bit like a miniature Amsterdam without all the tourists.
    Groningen
    Sneek and Bolsward, old Hanse towns with tons of beatiful restored building, churches, town halls, canals
    Harlingen with it’s port
    Franeker with the world’s oldest and still funcitioning planetarium
    Den Helder with the Marine museum
    Lelystad, not very old but the capital of Flevoland, the “artificial” province, hosting both the aviation museum at the airport and the history museum in Batavia stad plus the wharf and the sailing vessel Batavia
    Harderwijk, also an old Hanse town with a beautiful and city centre, just walk around and discover small streets and shops

    and many more…

    And no, I am not Dutch, just a crazy German guy that spends all his free time 600km away from home in the Netherlands. My family adopted that habbit already.

  4. The Netherlands has many beautiful cities and towns and Leiden and Delft are my favorites.
    But I like to mention Elburg, a town in Gelderland that between 1392 and 1396 was rebuilt after a flood in the form it is seen today, with a moat and a city wall, together with a gridiron street plan. Back in the 70s as student of TU Delft my fiends and I studied the urban plans of that city. The profiles if the streets coincided with the function each street has. A walking tour is the best way to experience the beauty of the town.
    In 1367 the city was recorded as a member of the Hanseatic League.

  5. I love Maastricht. I used to stay at the old Commerce Hotel and walk to the bars and restaurants in the ally ways.

  6. Den Bosch, Breda and Heusden in North Brabant are all beautiful historic towns. Also old Hansatown Zwolle in Overijssel is lovely. Edam is a picture perfect little town in North Holland. Alkmaar is also very pretty. From the article I agree that Delft, Haarlem, Giethoorn and Maastricht are all worth a visit.

  7. Ik ben een ras echte Haarlemmer from 1940 en ge-emigreerd in 1963 naar Canada ; spreek nog goed ” hoog Haarlemmer dijks ” .

  8. Very well described. I would also recommend Enkhuizen, in the north. A small fishing town with lots of farming. Having the 14th century cathedral cum lighthouse, Drommedaris. You can see the open air Zwiderzee museum. It’ll be fun! I worked there long back.

  9. I’m from Ens, N.O.P. and also became acquainted with Emmeloord where I have family in both places. However, I was taken to Giethoorn and fell in love with that town. The boat ride was enjoyable.

    • Yes my laatste stop in Utrecht…toen op vliegtuig naar 🇨🇦 1967)mooie stad Utrecht heb nog family daar .🇳🇱 Love mijn Kleine landje.

  10. We were blown away by Giethoorn. Such a beautiful village. We took a boat tour so could see the beautiful house from the water too. Highly recommend.

  11. Hindeloopen, Alkmaar, Hoorn all immediately spring to mind, but there are so many beautiful places in the Netherlands.

  12. I was born in Rouveen ( Gemeente Staphorst) and lived there until I was 12 at which time we moved to Canada, I remember buses full of tourists coming through as it is a very picturesque town, In those days almost everyone wore costumes except for three of us girls whose parents were not farmers. The farmer girls would stand by the roadside holding up their large aprons in which the tourists would throw candies…..we missed out though.I understand much has changed since we left in 1951.

  13. afijn, na alle reacties te hebben gelezen kan ik ook de volgende plaatsen aanraden of aanbevelen: Etten-Leur waar Vincent van Gogh heeft gewoond, Breda Vlissingen, Middelburg, Rotterdam, Hoek van Holland, Den Haag. Ik ben inmiddels heel NL met de trein rond gereisd.

  14. How come no one has mentioned SLUIS by the sea absolutely beautiful,very pretty ,fab restaurants and lovely shops, everyone is in tortoise mode, and only 10 mins away Knokke in Belgium ,also by the sea and lovely, we go there 6 times a year at least from England,should have moved there years ago, and has been our regret!

  15. Fantastische foto’s van Nederlands plaatsen ik mis foto’s van onze plaats waar van we zijn vert naar Engeland en dat is Maassluis met zijn prachtige binnenstad en het mooie winkelcentrum Koningshoek

  16. I would love to explore Valkenburg – though I am confused with its location – is it near Maastricht? Or Near Wassenaar ? Leiden in Zuid Holland? I see both on the map — both have a kasteel nearby… Could someone / the author pls clarify. Thank you

  17. You’ve missed Dordrecht. The oldest city in Holland and sometimes referred to as the Venecia of Netherlands due to all it’s canals. You’ll find some movies and documentaries are shot in the city due to it’s timeless streets and buildings. You should come and visit!

  18. I have had the pleasure of visiting all the places on the list and many more. Weesp is my favourtie because I was born there, it’s an old fort city.

  19. The old fortified city of Hulst is worth a look. My family except me came from the nearby village of Sint Jansteen so I may be sentimental about it. Visiting Gemeente Hulst , my pleasure every morning was riding all the way around Hulst on top of the old earthworks still surrounding the city. The old church has Bishops buried beneath the floor as far back as 900 so it’s at least that old. And not to forget the old City Molen which once beIonged to a family friend. I do recall tour busses from other countries stopping there so Hulst is not unknown but it’s not touristy in the least.

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