One week in the Netherlands: Travel Guide & Itinerary

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Nestled between Belgium and Germany, the Netherlands is a beautiful country characterised by its endlessly flat landscape and impossibly colourful tulip fields. Filled with historical, foodie, and cultural experiences, here’s your perfect guide and itinerary to spending one week in the Netherlands.

The Best Day Trips from Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Here are the very best excursions from Rotterdam, Holland. UNESCO windmills, culinary experiences (Gouda), boating harbours, and more!.

Looking for the best Netherlands itinerary? Here's your ultimate guide to the best things to do in the Netherlands (Holland) in one week: including activities, best places to stay, and top travel tips!

Things to know before visiting the Netherlands for the first time

Easy to reach by plane, train, or car, once in the Netherlands, it couldn’t be easier to get around. Though accommodation tends to err on the pricier side of things, travelling by train is surprisingly affordable. For example, the train from The Hague to Leiden costs just a few euro, and the train between Rotterdam and Gouda costs well under ten euro. If you’re planning on doing a lot of train travel while in Europe, you may well consider investing in a Eurail pass. Check out the full details here.

Of all the Netherlands travel tips I could give you, you should know that the Netherlands and Holland are not interchangeable, and they aren’t even the same thing! Whereas the Netherlands is the entire country, Holland is simply one small region of the Netherlands.

When travelling around the country, you’ll soon learn that many people have an incredible level of English. Though I still advise you to learn a few simple words of Dutch (it’s only polite!) in almost every situation we were in, we soon found someone who was able to answer our questions and queries! Bring a simple Dutch phrasebook with you like this one to help you with your travels.

Free & Self-Guided Rotterdam Walking Tour, Holland, the Netherlands. How to spend one day in the Dutch city of Rotterdam! (Cube Houses, Markthal, Oude Haven, etc)

Stop 1: Amsterdam

Stay: 2 nights

Where to stay: The Hoxton, Amsterdam

As the capital of the Netherlands, there’s no shortage of things to do and even more attractions to see when it comes to Amsterdam. So whether you want to enjoy a secret small museum, cycle around the city, or simply want to wander along some historic canals, Amsterdam well and truly has it all!

Some of the best things to do in the Dutch capital include meandering through the city’s many cobbled lanes (known collectively as ‘hofjes‘ these historic streets were once built to house those less fortunate and are now pockets of peace in the heart of Amsterdam) and snap photo of picture-perfect canalside houses.

Read more: The ultimate Amsterdam bucket list

Book now: 3-Hour Guided Bike Tour of Historical Amsterdam

Amsterdam, the Netherlands: canal view in the autumn

Stop 2: Leiden

Stay: 1 night

Where to stay: Van der Valk Hote Leiden

Beautiful and often overlooked in favour of nearby popular cities such as Rotterdam and Amsterdam, your first mistake on this one week Netherlands itinerary would be to forgo a visit to Leiden. After all, the city is home to a plethora of interesting things to see and do, including several small museums, its own castle, and the very bar where the Heineken Star came from!

Of all the places listed within this Netherlands itinerary, Leiden may well be the quaintest of them all. Though technically a city, the Dutch settlement is formed of a tightly compacted maze of walkways, cobbled lanes, canals, and is easily explored on foot over the course of a day or two, giving Leiden more of a friendly town aura than that of an unknowable metropolis.

Nearby, Kasteel Duivenvoorde can be reached by bicycle, car, or public transport, and is easily one of the most beautiful castles in this part of Holland. And for those wishing to stick within the city limits, the hofje where Van Steen once lived, the boat bars of the canals, and the Miniaturist filming locations are all worth checking out.

Read more: Why you must visit the beautiful city of Leiden

Why You Must Visit Leiden, The Beautiful University City of Holland, The Netherlands

Stop 3: The Hague

Stay: 1 night

Where to stay: Hotel des Indes

For those with an interest in politics, The Hague likely needs no introduction. After all, this is where many embassies in the Netherlands are located, not to mention that the sprawling UN Palace of Peace on the fringes of the historic town centre.

But scratch below the surface, and you’ll soon discover a myriad of history, culture, and a foodie scene well worth discovering. Highlights of The Hague include the Mauritshuis (home to Vermeer’s The Girl With the Pearl Earring) and Madurodam, one of the oldest theme parks in Holland. Did you also know that the Hague is not just home to the city, but also to the sea?

Scheveningen was once a fishing village in its own right which thrived on the profits of local herring but has since been absorbed into the fabric of The Hague. Now, the district is one of the best places to head to in the hotter months of the year, when watersports activities can be found and cafés selling cucumber cool drinks and piping hot fries set up shop alongside the golden sandy beach.

Read more: Where to eat vegan and vegetarian in The Hague

Book now: Madurodam Miniature Park Entrance Ticket

Riding the Ferris Wheel de Pier in Scheveningen at Sunset, The Hague, the Netherlands. Here’s why you must visit the popular seaside resort of The Hague

Stop 4: Delft

Stay: 1 night

Where to stay: Hampshire Hotel

If you’ve ever read anything about European pottery, then no doubt you’ll have noticed ‘Delftware’. Also known as ‘Delft Blue’ this iconic pottery is Dutch tin-glazed earthenware and originates in Delft. Today, there are several ways to experience Delftware pottery, including visiting the Delft Pottery De Delftse Pauw factory, where there are free demonstrations throughout the week (as well as the chance to purchase a souvenir from your Dutch trip!)

Even if the earthenware doesn’t interest you, you’re sure to find plenty of other Delft attractions that are much more up your alley. For example, the Nieuwe Church (New Church) is home to William of Orange’s Tomb, while its tower offers stunning views onto Delft’s main town square. for the art lovers, the Vermeer Centre is an absolute must.

Read more: Bierhuis de Klomp, the oldest bar in Delft

Visiting Bierhuis De Klomp, The Oldest Bar in Delft, The Netherlands

Stop 5: Rotterdam

Stay: 1 night

Where to stay: Inntel Hotels Rotterdam

Architecture lovers simply must visit Rotterdam, one of the most unusual cities in Europe, never mind the Netherlands. However, be warned: Rotterdam is a city like no other and if you come with preconceptions then you will surely be sorely disappointed. Instead, visit with an open mind and the city is sure to entice and enthral you in equal measure.

After all, this innovative Dutch settlement is filled with some of the most groundbreaking buildings of modern times, including the ever-so-famous (and very Instagrammable) Rotterdam Cube House. Other highlights of Rotterdam include the world-famous Markthal and plenty of quirky museums. While in the city, be sure not to miss out on Rotterdam’s maritime history, highlights of which can be found in the Maritime Museum and in the Oude Haven (Old Harbour).

Read more: Secret Spots & Hidden Gems of Rotterdam

Book now: Madurodam Miniature Park Entrance Ticket

Free & Self-Guided Rotterdam Walking Tour, Holland, the Netherlands. How to spend one day in the Dutch city of Rotterdam! (Cube Houses, Markthal, Oude Haven, etc)

Stop 6: Gouda

Stay: 1 night

Where to stay: Best Western Plus City Hotel

While many tourists prefer to venture to the larger city of Utrecht, Gouda is easily one of the prettiest towns to be found anywhere in Europe. Home to delights such as the 15th-century Stadhuis (town hall), a still-functioning Dutch windmill (next door you can buy flour that’s been freshly ground in the adjacent mill), and a Catholic church hiding behind a canalside façade, there’s no shortage of quirky things to do in the city that’s best known for its namesake cheese.

Other highlights of Gouda include many stunning canals (without the kind of crowds you’ll likely see in Amsterdam or Amersfoort) and the Gothic Sint-Janskerk Cathedral. Visit during the winter, and you can expect to find Gouda transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with ice skating rink, giant tree, and Christmas market!

To end your one week in the Netherlands, celebrate in style by heading to the vintage bar of Biercafé De Goudse Eend. Housed somewhere between Blekerssingel canal and the historic Waag House (cheese weighing house), this traditional Dutch bar serves all kinds of beers, ciders, and ales, many locally produced. During our visit, we were more than pleasantly surprised to spend our time hanging out with the bar’s latest recruit, a beagle puppy!

Read more: How to visit Gouda, the cheese city of Holland

The Best Day Trips from The Hague, The Netherlands: Here are the very best excursions from Den Hague, Holland. UNESCO world heritage sites, gourmet/ foodie experiences, and tulip museums.

If you have a little extra time after a week in the Netherlands…

Breda, North Brabant

For those who are looking to enjoy the best of Netherlands in more than a week, there’s plenty more to enjoy outside of just the Holland region. For example, the Southern Netherlands city of Breda in the North Brabant province is a hidden Dutch gem that many tourists make the mistake of missing out on during their travels through the low country. When it comes to Breda, hands down the best place to stay is in this four-star boutique hotel.

Breda travel guide: Here are the best things to do in the Southern Dutch city of Breda. Attractions to visit, where to stay, what you must eat, fairytale castles, and more!

Maastricht, Limburg

Otherwise, be sure to head East and towards the border with Germany and that of Belgium. For there, in the Southernmost city of the Netherlands, you’ll soon discover the beautiful destination of Maastricht, which, as a result of its proximity to other European countries, is a beautiful blend of several cultures.

Boasting plenty of history (for example, did you know that d’Artagnan was a real person?) and a fantastic foodie scene, the city is also perfect for those who love the outdoors and nature thanks to an abundance of nearby hiking trails. Fancy visiting Maastricht in the Limburg province? Book yourself a room at this former church turned luxury hotel.

Boekhandel Dominicanen (Bookstore Dominicanen): The Most Beautiful Bookshop in Maastricht, The Netherlands

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About Author

Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, Paris, pizza, and history, though not necessarily in that order. A fan of all things France related, she runs when she's not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming her weight in sweet food. Currently based in Paris after studies in London, she's spent most of her life living in the beautiful Devonian countryside in South West England!

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