Though it’s home to plenty of trademark cultural treasures, there’s a lot more to Holland than its capital city of Amsterdam. The country-wide flat landscape of sparkling canals and technicolour tulips make this famously laid-back country a true cyclist’s paradise, and to cap it all off, there’s a delightful choice of unusual places to stay.
Amsterdam does indeed have plenty to offer, including the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gough museum and a parade of fine art that dates back to the 17th century’s Golden Age. You can also view the house in which the diarist Anne Frank famously took refuge during the Second World War.
But if you’re hankering after something a little less touristy, you could try strolling through historic, sleepy Haarlem instead, and browsing the old town centre market.
Naturally, cheese and flowers are the delectable delights that Holland is most known for…and if you’re a confirmed cheeseaholic then a visit to Edam or Gouda will do very nicely indeed! Edam is also the ideal choice if you’ve ever wanted to visit a quintessential Dutch town; filled with quaint houses, windmills and open farmland, it’s about as classic as you can get.
Lisse, meanwhile, is home to the largest flower garden in the world. Open from March to May, the colour-splashed Keukenhof Gardens are a springtime joy to behold.
In the mood for a mountain hike? Maastricht is home to Sint Pieter, one of the Netherlands’ only ‘mountains’. It won’t take you very long to climb, but that just gives you more time to explore this fascinating area. There’s a fortress at the top, and an intriguing network of underground tunnels that once kept Dutch art safe during the war.
Nestled beautifully between The Hague and Rotterdam, Delft makes for the perfect day trip, home to its very own trademark blue-and-white pottery. You’ll also stumble across unspoiled Renaissance architecture, and the Vermeer Centre museum – the famed Dutch painter of Girl with a Pearl Earring was born and died here.
There are plenty of places to hire bikes in Holland, so why not take advantage of the country’s 20,000km of dedicated paths? Hoge Veluwe National Park is the perfect place to start, filled with wildlife-dotted greenery. Move onto Utrecht, one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world and oozing with sumptuous cafés (and remember: in the Netherlands, a coffee just isn’t a coffee unless it’s accompanied by a caramel-soaked stroopwafel).
Continue this blissfully slow pace of life with a visit to the ‘Venice of the North’, otherwise known as Giethoorn. No cars are allowed in the city centre, so all that’s left for you to do is rent a boat and glide serenely through the scenic canals.
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