Small in size, but large in character, The Netherlands is one of those places where good things come in small packages. Once a large Republic that dominated the world of exploration, The Netherlands is now home to 16.5 million, of which 26% are underwater.
While most visitors zip through the capital city of Amsterdam, 10 days gives you a well rounded view through this open-minded, yet pragmatic country.
How to get there
You will fly into Schiphol Airport, the 4th largest airport in Europe. Carriers that fly into Schiphol include KLM, Delta Air Lines, British Airways, Continental, United, and US Airways to name a few.
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Note: The Netherlands is on is on Central European Time (CET) at GMT + 1:00.
The Netherlands is part of the Schengen Agreement which means American visitors with a valid passport can visit without a visa for 90 days.
From Schiphol Airport, the best way out is via the domestic train line at the station located directly underground.
Amsterdam: 3 days
Welcome to Amsterdam; the sin city capital of Europe! You’ll arrive to Central Station an impressive Neo-Renaissance building that dates back to 1889.
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On Day 1, you can walk from Central Station down to the first Canal Ring to book a Canal Cruise. On the cruise, you’ll pass by the Prinsengracht, one of the canals where the Anne Frank House is located.
Fuel your travel energy with an order of bitterballen, a famous Dutch treat which is normally paired with a pint of beer. You can also check out the Heineken experience. The evening can be spent in Zeedijk for dinner and Leidesplein for bar hopping.
You can easily make Day 3 all about renting a bike and exploring Vondelpark. Bike your way towards the famous Albert Cuyp market or the Bloemenmarkt. Don’t say goodbye to Amsterdam without enjoying a show, either at Boom Chicago or Concertgebouw.
Half a day in Leiden and Delft
Leiden is home to the oldest University in The Netherlands and the birthplace of Rembrandt. Explore by strolling the big shopping street on Haarlemmerstraat and Breestraat.
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If you’re traveling in the springtime, take a bus to visit the Keukenhof.
Hop on the rail once more to go further south to the town of Delft. You can find the best Delft Blue here to bring home as a souvenir. Pay your respect at the New Church and the Old Church with hold the tombs of famous Dutch figures.
Enjoy a typically Dutch dinner at Spijshuis de Dis.
Half a day in Utrecht and Gouda
With a rich history that dates back to the Roman Empire, Utrecht is now a busy, youthful city that has come to life. Start by shopping in the indoor shopping center Hoog Catharijne, located right in the Central Station.
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Once you’ve escaped, take the bus to the Dom Tower. This Gothic church is the highest in The Netherlands after climbing 465 steep stairs.
Take a leisurely walk through the Oudegracht; a canal going through the city center. On a sunny day, everyone will be on the canal sides which are used as patios at pubs and restaurants.
If you’re a fan of nightlife, you can stay in Utrecht and enjoy dinner at Stadskasteel Oudaen , a restaurant built from an old castle. The best clubs are Tivoli, Pakhuis and Hofman.
Or, those who are visiting in the summertime must take a side trip to Gouda for the cheese market. Every Thursday morning, locals reenact the old cheese weighing process with large rounds of Dutch cheese. (Only in the summer)
Treat yourself to a fresh stroopwafel in the city where it was first made.
3 days in Rotterdam
Welcome to the 2nd largest city in The Netherlands: Rotterdam. This up and coming city is known for having the largest port in Europe, its elite architecture and for tragically being bombed during WWII.
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Begin Day One in Rotterdam by visiting the Euromast tower. Brave adrenaline seekers can go abseiling on the very tower. After observing your lovely view of the port city, take the Metro into town to see the Cube houses.
If you’re looking for a multifunctional place to experience, check out the SS Rotterdam: A docked cruise ship that is a restaurant, hotel and tourist attraction.
If you haven’t had enough shopping, make your wallet happy at the Beurstraverse on Day 2. At the end of your shopping street you’ll see the construction at Rotterdam Central station.
Spend your lunch time at the Pilgrim House. This is located in the famous Delfshaven neighborhood that escaped the Rotterdam bombing. Close by is the historical Resistance Museum. Get close to the Rotterdam skyline at Wilheminaplein and visit Hotel New York.
Your last day in Rotterdam should be special which is why you should dine at the family-friendly Pancake Boat. Or, if you prefer a romantic scene, take your lover to Opazzo for Italian. Adults can enjoy after hours at Locus Publicus, a reputable pub.
1 Day in The Hague
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Close by is the Mauritshuis, featuring the famous piece by Vermeer: Girl with a Pearl Earring. If you’re able to make reservations ahead of time, the Peace Palace impressive to visit, since it’s the International Court of Justice.
On a warm day, catch the sunset by taking Tram 1 to the seaside resort of Scheveningen. Enjoy frites or delicious fish and chips from the sea.
Last day in Hook van Holland and Zeeland
There is no easy way to say goodbye to such a surprising country like The Netherlands. Something that is well known about the Dutch is the way they handle water. Rent a car and drive to the Maeslantkering by the Hook van Holland.
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This is a storm surge barrier which is part of the Delta Works project which protects the country from floods. Head further south to Neeltje-Jans; a water theme park and where the most important storm surge barrier, the Oosterscheldekering is located.
Your trip ends at Zeeland, a popular beach area for not only the Dutch, but many Europeans. Westkapelle is a lovely beach town where you can enjoy the village and the sea by just relaxing after your first grand tour of The Netherlands!