The Netherlands, with its iconic windmills, tulip fields, and love for cheese, is a country that everyone should explore deeply. So next time you visit, venture further than popular Amsterdam and Rotterdam to uncover the many hidden gems scattered across the Netherlands countryside. These beautiful places all offer something unique and give true insight into what it’s like to live like a Dutch local. In this blog post, you’ll discover lesser-known corners of the Netherlands, where charming streets, enchanting canals, and idyllic landscapes await. I promise you will surely fall in love with these small towns in the Netherlands so add them to your itinerary and start discovering more of this beautiful world.
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🎥 Check out my Instagram video here on how beautiful the Netherlands countryside is!
My Instagram story highlights have some info on visiting Beemster & Aalsmeer.
5 Beautiful Towns and Areas in the Netherlands Countryside
1. De Beemster area
Beemster, is one of the most beautiful areas in Laag Holland and you will really feel like you’re in the Dutch countryside. It is composed of the towns of Zuidoostbeemster, Middenbeemster, Westbeemster, and Noordbeemster. Beemster is part of the UNESCO World Heritage for its unique polder area. Over 400 years ago, it was a large lake and it was transformed into farmland after Amsterdam started to become too populated.
One of the highlights is touring the area in a Twizy, those adorable green electric cars (pictured below). For €70, you can rent them from the fabulous spa and resort, Fort Resort Beemster, and be fully prepared to explore rural Netherlands.
On your tour, definitely visit the tulip fields at Nicolaashoeve. If you want to avoid the crowds at Keukenhof, a famous flower garden that attracts millions of tourists each year, then this quiet farmhouse is for you. It dates back to 1858. This place remains undiscovered by tourists, allowing you to have the tulip fields all to yourself. In addition, Nicolaashoeve offers guided tours where you can learn about the various aspects of farm life, such as milking cows, making cheese, or tending to the crops.
Another great thing to do in Beemster is to visit the cheese farm, Kaasboerderijgroot. Here you can buy local cheese and learn about the process of cheese making. The farm also has a beautiful tulip field behind that you can admire too! If you haven’t had enough cheese, then head to lunch at De Kerckaen for lunch. I truly loved this relaxed cafe with pretty decor and amazing mustard soup.
While here, don’t miss the cutest little windmill ever! The windmill is called De Nachtegaal (Google Maps) and is still in operation! This stop was really enjoyable and again you’ll have it all to yourself!
🏨 Where to Stay: Fort Resort Beemster, a beautiful spa and resort in Zuidoostbeemster.
🚗 How to Get Around: Beemster is located 30 minutes by car (distance: 20 miles/32 km) from Amsterdam. When you get there, you can rent a twizy from the Fort Resort Beemster! A green electric car that is so much fun. Or rent a car from Discover Cars to find the best deal.
Aalsmeer is a beautiful Netherlands countryside town, known for its stunning landscapes and rich horticultural heritage. Here you will find many flower attractions and they are open all year round! Aalsmeer is home to the largest flower auction in the world! It is called the Royal FloraHolland Auction and is renowned for its size and importance in the global flower trade.
My top pick for visiting the area would be stopping by The Historische Tuin, a beautiful historical garden. It is a living museum that showcases traditional Dutch gardening techniques and features a variety of plants, and flowers that reflect different periods in Dutch history. They offer tours where you can learn about the incredible collection of rare and exotic plants. After, you can walk through all the gardens at your own pace. They also have a nice cafe and there are boat tours you can take to see a lilac greenhouse! You will learn about the long process of growing lilac and see so many growing along the paths surrounding the waters you pass through on the boat.
For dinner, head over to Brasserie Dehaven for some traditional Dutch cuisine or Restaurant On the Rock to get some amazing sushi with a great vibe.
🏨 Where to stay: Hotel Restaurant de Jonge Heertjes is nearby and offers a convenient location to explore Aalsmeer.
🚗 How to Get Around: Aalsmeer is located only a short 20 minute drive (distance: 14 miles/23 km) from Amsterdam. It is best to drive or bike as public transport is limited. Rent a car from Discover Cars to find the best deal.
Giethoorn is a picturesque village in the Netherlands that feels like it has come out of a true storybook. Known as the “Venice of the North,” Giethoorn is a place you don’t want to miss during your visit to the Netherlands.
The village is famous for its enchanting canals and rustic thatched-roof cottages, which create a postcard-perfect scene at every turn. As you stroll along the narrow footpaths that wind through the village, you’ll fall in love with the peaceful surroundings in this Netherlands countryside village.
One of the best ways to explore Giethoorn is by taking a boat tour. Hop aboard a traditional punt or whisper boat and navigate through the canals that crisscross the village. Along the way, you’ll find many charming houses lining the waterways.
Continue your tour of Giethoorn by learning more about its history and culture. You can pay a visit to the Museum Giethoorn ‘t Olde Maat Uus to do just that. Housed in an authentic farmhouse, the museum showcases the village’s past, providing insights into the traditional way of life in this unique place. End your perfect day dining with a view of the canals. Try ’t Vonder or De Grachthof which both offer a taste of Dutch food and canal views.
🏨 Where to stay: You can stay in Amsterdam and day trip or you can stay in Giethoorn to really get a glimpse of what it’s like there. My recommendation would be Hotel de Harmonie which has rooms overlooking the canal (Book here).
🚗 How to Get Around: It is best to drive there as public transport can take much longer. Rent a car from Discover Cars to find the best deal. It will take about 1.5 hours to drive there (Distance 74 miles/119 km). Alternatively, you can take a day trip from Amsterdam like this one and they will take you there and entertain you while there too! (Book the Tour here)
4. Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Schans is a beautiful Netherlands countryside destination to add to your itinerary. It is a famous place to visit to see the windmills but did you know there are many other things to do in the surrounding area too? You can spend the perfect day by basing yourself overnight at the most unique hotel in the world. If you’ve ever seen the lego like building on your Instagram feed that is actually a hotel believe it or not and it is located in Zaandam! Inntel Hotels Zaandam’s hotel facade is made up of 70 traditional Dutch buildings that have been stacked on top of each other, creating a striking architectural feature in the town. The town itself is quite quirky and offers a lot of fun and unusual things to do just moments away from Amsterdam. The hotel is located literally next to the train station and you can get here in 12 minutes from Amsterdam Centraal Station.
To spend the perfect day here, start your morning in Zaanse Schans, just 2 stops on the train from Zaandam. It will take 20 minutes to get there including walking time. This destination is very busy with tourists so it’s best to go early. Before zipping to the windmills, stop through the neighborhood of Gortershoek. This is the most quaint and charming area where you can see all the cute little Dutch homes (like the first image above). There’s a really nice cafe called Het Zaanse Bakkertje where you can stop by for some snacks or breakfast.
After exploring the cute street, head to the windmills then back to Zaandam where you can enjoy lunch at Restaurant JP188 in front of the river with a nice beer. Do some walking around Zaandam, explore the funky art gallery (The PLAY room), and then end your day with dinner at Cafe Fabriek, a cozy restaurant in an old building with a small art house cinema.
🏨 Where to stay: Base yourself in Zaandam at Inntel Hotel (pictured above) which must simply be the most instagrammable place on your Netherlands countryside trip!
🚆 How to Get Around: You don’t need to depend on a car to explore the area! The train and walking journey is just 12 minutes from Amsterdam to Zaandam and from Zaandam you can take a bus or train to Zaanse Schans and arrive in under 20 minutes. You can purchase a 1-3 day Amsterdam Travel Ticket and not have to deal with buying train or bus tickets each time you board (buy here).
Photo by Thomas Bormans on Unsplash
Another place to see windmills in the Dutch countryside is Kinderdijk. It is one of the most beautiful places in South Holland with its iconic windmills and serene landscapes. You can easily see why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, being the home to a remarkable collection of 19 well-preserved windmills. In Kinderdijk you will find the highest concentration of windmills in the world.
While you’re here you can visit the Kinderdijk Museum to learn more about the history of these impressive windmills. Other fun activities include taking a boat tour down the river or riding a bike in the area. All in all, you can spend a couple hours here and its an easy day trip from Amsterdam or Rotterdam.
🏨 Where to stay: Amsterdam or Rotterdam would offer the best options and you can day trip here. I would suggest the Mainport Design Hotel in Rotterdam (book here).
🚗 How to Get Around: It is best to drive there as public transport can take much longer. Rent a car from Discover Cars to find the best deal. It will take just over an hour to drive there (Distance 58 miles/94 km). Alternatively, you can take a day trip from Amsterdam like this one or even a direct boat from Rotterdam.
I hope you enjoyed this post on the most beautiful towns in the Netherlands Countryside! Comment at the end of the post and let me know what your favorite towns are.
For more reading, you may also like these:
🌷Netherlands Tulip Fields without the Crowds
💎 Best Hidden Gems in Europe
📸 Most Beautiful Cities in Europe
💜 Lavender Fields outside of London
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