3 Cities Outside of Amsterdam to Visit in the Netherlands

Haarlem photo by @mrmarkdejong via Unsplash

Must-see Cities Near Amsterdam

Lush green fields, the stingy coldness of the air, and stunning canals—the Netherlands is a reputable country for a reason. In spite of the flatness and size of the country, walking on the cobbled streets will surely tickle your senses. This pocket-sized country is packed with nature and history. While the rest of the tourists simply aim to visit Amsterdam, there are other cities in the country that deserve the same amount of courtesy and adoration.

Haarlem photo by @mrmarkdejong via Unsplash
Haarlem photo by @mrmarkdejong via Unsplash

If you happen to be in the Netherlands and want to avoid the busy streets of the capital, here are three cities that you shouldn’t miss out on!

Haarlem

At the very top of the list is a quaint city approximately fifteen minutes by train from Amsterdam—Haarlem. Found in North Holland, this historically rich city has been consistently famed as “Mini Amsterdam” due to its resemblance to the capital. The remarkable canals flow through the city, making it a picturesque view wherever one goes. As soon as you exit the train station, small shops full of snacks and souvenirs are lined up.

Taken from outside of Haarlem’s train station
Taken from outside of Haarlem’s train station

Once you’ve passed through the dainty streets and picked up some Dutch fries and mayo, you will find yourself allured by the architecture found in Grote Markt. The center of Haarlem, this city square is where the cathedral named Groke Kerk is located. Surrounding Grote Kerk, there are numerous coffee shops and restaurants where one can bask in the sunshine when it’s out. Local markets fill the corners of the square, making it a worthwhile walk.

Haarlem’s Grote Kerk
Haarlem’s Grote Kerk

Found in poster cards and advertisements for Haarlem, the Molen de Adriaan is a windmill located 2 kilometers away from Grote Markt. Built in the 18th century, the wooden windmill is an astonishing site when viewed from across the water. A guided tour is possible if you’re planning to climb up it!

Molen de Adriaan from across the water
Molen de Adriaan from across the water

Once you’re exhausted from exploring the city, there’s an old church that has been reconstructed into a brewery called De Jopenkerk. Nothing better than washing away all the tiredness with beer!

Leiden

Moving a little bit further away, Leiden is home to the oldest university in the country, Leiden University. You can reach Leiden Centraal from Amsterdam within less than 30 minutes, making it just a bit of a stretch compared to Haarlem. Located in South Holland, this city is known for its hip population and striking Dutch architecture.

Canals of Leiden
Canals of Leiden

One can visit a windmill museum called the De Valk Windmill Museum. Found at the very center of the city, this will give visitors a clearer vision of why these towering pieces of art have been considered as a critical part of Dutch culture throughout the years. Aside from the knowledge you’d gain from the museum, there’s also nothing more exhilarating than getting to go inside another windmill, right?

View from the top of Burcht van Leiden
View from the top of Burcht van Leiden

If you’re up for a slight uphill walk, the Burcht van Leiden can also be visited. This military keep turned park is a great place to unwind. Once you’ve reached the very top of this fort, you can stroll around it and witness the stunning views from the top. Some of Leiden’s historical buildings can be located from the top of the fort, so keep your eyes open!

The Hague

Perhaps the farthest competitor on the list, The Hague is located roughly 45 minutes away from Amsterdam by train. This city found on the western coast of the Netherlands is home to a vibrant expat community. Most notably known as the location of the U.N.’s International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court, this city is certainly not to miss when in the Netherlands! Just hop off the Den Haag station and you can begin walking through this lively part of the country.

There are innumerable things to do in The Hague. One of the most wondrous experiences one can partake in while in the city would be to visit its famous museum, The Mauritshuis. The Mauritshuis was initially built in 1633 for a governor named John Maurice; the building’s classical architecture has surely been maintained gracefully throughout the centuries. For a fee, visitors will be able to spectate on the 17th-century Dutch paintings—most notable of these would be the famous Girl With The Pearl Earring of Vermeer. There are various guides available in the museum as well if you’re keenly interested.

Vermeer’s Girl With The Pearl Earring as seen in The Mauritshuis
Vermeer’s Girl With The Pearl Earring as seen in The Mauritshuis

Once you’re finished with The Mauritshuis, don’t forget to visit the Binnenhof. Walking around the complex will take you through grand Gothic buildings that signify the growth of The Hague throughout the centuries. Most notable of these would be the Ridderzaal, a non-religious building that stands at the very center of the Binnenhof. This complex is currently home to the meeting places of the Dutch Parliament and other government buildings, representing the political purpose of The Hague.

View of the Ridderzaal in the Binnenhof
View of the Ridderzaal in the Binnenhof

There surely is more to the Netherlands than just Amsterdam. If you happen to be in this small but lovely Northwestern European country anytime soon, don’t forget to check the trains and routes! You might find yourself in one of these cities in one ride.

Amsterdam Travel and Tour Packages

Searching for the best hotels and affordable flights? Check out our complete list of affordable hotels and resorts via Agoda or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

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