The Netherlands or Holland is well-known worldwide for its many canals, tulips, windmills, cheese markets, wooden clogs, masterpieces of Old Masters, Amsterdam’s “Red Light” district, and millions of bicycles.
There are just so many reasons to come to the Netherlands. Here are the top five villages you must visit in the Netherlands, and then some.
Top Dutch Villages
Giethoorn is a unique village in the Netherlands. Known as the “Venice of Holland,” Giethoorn is famous for having no roads, only footpaths, and canals.
As a result, you can float through the streets on your way to several tourist destinations.
The village is home to more than 2,000 residents, willing to share their beautiful village with visitors.
Today, more than 800,000 tourists – both local and international – come here every year to see what this picturesque Dutch village is all about. It is specifically popular with Chinese visitors.
The museums, restaurants, and nature reserves can keep you busy.
Still, the real draw is simply floating along the canals on a “whisper” boat past the adorable houses, farms, and pastures full of sheep, around the lakes, and under old wooden arch bridges.
You can stop your boat anytime to grab a snack or cold beer. The canals and lakes are even prettier in winter when they turn to frozen arenas for skaters.
Come to Giethoorn in the province of Overijssel when in the Netherlands. Hop on a train from Amsterdam Central or take your car for a picturesque drive to this amazing village.
Hoorn is not Giethoorn
Meanwhile, don't mistake Giethoorn with Hoorn, as they offer different types of fun and relaxation.
Hoorn is an important trade center and highlights beautiful Dutch architecture.
There are several terraces and restaurants to check out and places to wind down near the IJsselmeer lake.
Walk along the harbor, beaches, and dunes, and let your feet take you to the picturesque cobblestone streets.
Discover the many boutiques, gift shops, and antique stores, and learn why Hoorn is a well-known shopping destination.
If you are here on a Saturday, check out the local market or the Cheese Market Day on a Thursday during the summer.
Come to Hoorn to see the popular West Frisian Museum (Westfriesmuseum).
Here you will find a rich collection of paintings, silver artifacts, Delft porcelain, and ancient firearms from the Golden Age.
Built in the 17th century, the building itself is noteworthy and clearly one of the prettiest buildings in the village.
Another famous attraction here is the museum steam train. It can take you through Medemblik and Enkhuizen, showing the historic cities in North Holland.
Noordwijk is a tiny village along the North Sea coast, the rougher side of the Netherlands. The sunsets and waters here are amazing.
You'll definitely love some downtime by the beach, watching seagulls fly over your head, and surfers braving the waves.
Noordwijk will definitely give you a different view of Holland – none of the usual canals, meadows, tulips, and more of the sun, sea, and waves.
It is home to 26,000 people and near an area called the “Dune and Bulb Region.”
Noordwijk is also known as the home of Holland’s best hotels with the best restaurants. Getting the best accommodation when coming here shouldn’t be a problem.
Kinderdijk is perhaps one of the most picturesque and most popular villages in Holland. People come here to see 19 amazing windmills that have stood the test of time.
They are fully functioning and have been managing the water levels of this watery village since 1739. The windmills of Kinderjik have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.
Come here if only to take a selfie with these amazing ancient, human-made windmills. Two of them are open to the public. Kinderjik is near Rotterdam.
To get there, take a train from Rotterdam Central station Lombardijen and get on bus 90 from there.
A more picturesque option is a 30-minute ride on a waterbus from the center of Rotterdam near the Erasmus bridge.
4. Zaanse Schans
If you wish to see more windmills, visit Zaanse Schans. This village has several old windmills and houses that were built in the late 1500s to the 1600s.
There used to be more than 500 windmills here along the canals, but sadly, most of them are long gone.
Many of the windmills today have been restored and are in working condition. You can visit each of the five mills and even climb to the top for a small fee.
Zaanse Schans may not have its old glory now; it has nevertheless been restored to portray the original 19th-century Dutch village that it was.
Today, it is such a picturesque town to explore on foot, on a bicycle, or a boat. Try passing by the many museums and craft shops along the canal.
The small town of Lisse is popular for many reasons, but more especially for the Keukenhof Gardens, one of the biggest flower gardens in the world and home to Holland’s most attractive blooms.
Thousands of tourists come here in spring to the spectacular show of colorful tulips and the Bollenstreek Bloemencorso flower show.
Keukenhof Gardens are open for a few weeks only in March to mid-May, but the 17th-century Keukenhof Castle within garden premises will entertain and wow you all year round.
Two other attractions worth checking out are the large Sint Agathakerk catholic church, its amazing stained-glass windows, and the Museum De Zwarte Tulip or Black Tulip Museum.
Learn more about the history of Holland’s most popular flower. You can see artifacts on bulb origins, cultivation, and development.
Lisse and the Keukenhof Gardens are only 30 minutes away from Amsterdam by car.
A lesser-known village, Schin op Geul
Meanwhile, there is a lovely town unknown to many international tourists.
Schin op Geul is an inviting village in the hills of South Limburg between Valkenburg a/d Geul and Maastricht.
It is popular amongst local tourists. A stroll on the hills and forests of Schin op Geul is surely a memorable experience, as you see old castles and churches.
You can perhaps reach the “3 Country Point” in Vaals where you can be in three countries at the same time – The Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium.
There are several other villages and landmarks in the Netherlands worth visiting.
Come and see the flower fields, experience local festivals, try the romantic boat rides, dine along the popular canals, and make friends with the charming Dutch people.
Ask The Dutch Guy is your go-to guide when it comes to The Netherlands. The goal of Ask The Dutch Guy is to showcase the beauty of The Netherlands and to inspire others to explore the country. Read more about Ask The Dutch Guy. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:
- G Adventures for small group tours.
- World Nomads for travel insurance.
- Hostelworld for booking hostels.
- Rail Europe for train passes.