Located in Northwestern Europe, the Netherlands or Holland, is famous for its flat landscape and long shorelines dotted with windmills and cycling routes.

The official language is Dutch but Frisian, English and Papiamento are also spoken there. One of the main appeals of this country is the canals that run through the city as most of its territory is below sea level.

If you’re planning a trip to the Netherlands, here are 12 places you can’t afford to miss for all the fun stuff they have in store.

1. Amsterdam

The capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is famous for its historical infrastructure with a picturesque cluster of canals running all over the city.

It’s the largest city in Holland with a unique blend of cosmopolitan culture and famous museums. It goes without saying that the illustrious Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, or Anne Frank House are the most famous landmarks in Amsterdam.

However, there is more to the city than that. Take long strolls around Grachtengordel with its 17th-century canal houses, take a peek into the Red Light District, and embrace the hop on, hop off canal/bus tours through the city.

There are plenty of seasonal activities for you to enjoy as well – as you’d expect from a city with such rich culture such as Amsterdam!

2. Leiden

Another city that’s famous for its museum is Leiden. The entire city is filled with lush parks, windmills and canals with astonishing natural beauty.

With a collection of science, natural history and Egyptian museums, Leiden is well worth exploring.

The world’s oldest academic observatory is in the Hortus Botanicus – a botanical garden in Leiden.

The 16th-century church of St. Peter has amazing architecture and if you’re a history buff, you can also learn about the association of American Pilgrims at the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum.

3. Rotterdam

One of the busiest ports in the world is in Rotterdam, the second-largest city in the Netherlands. This city has a commercial importance due to its ports but it’s also famous for its nightlife.

The city’s seafaring history is exhibited in the Maritime Museum’s vintage ships. Check out the Delfshaven neighbourhood for a canalside shopping experience and a view of Pilgrim Fathers Church.

There’s a rivalry between Amsterdam and Rotterdam when it comes down to a popularity contest but there is never a clear winner – you’ll just have to visit both!

4. The Hague

The Hague has a massive role to play in the judiciary world. Located on the North Sea coast of the western Netherlands, it’s home to the International Criminal Court and the UN’s International Court of Justice.

The Dutch parliament can be found in the Gothic-style Binnenhof complex. No wonder it’s been dubbed the administrative capital of the Netherlands.

Cosmopolitan, sophistication and outstanding culture – you can find the perfect balance in the Hague. The must see sights include a miniature city in Scheveningen called Madurodam, Gevangenpoort and the Binnenhof.

5. Delft

If you’re thinking of a quaint Dutch town for a romantic getaway, Delft is the place for you. Located between Rotterdam and the Hague, this city is the birthplace of Vermeer – you might know him for his famous painting ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’.

Delftware, the iconic blue and white pottery, is a speciality in Delft. You can take a stroll around the city filled with lovely bars, historical buildings and museums. But the real charm of Delft lies in its relaxed atmosphere.

6. Maastricht

It’s very difficult to think of a Dutch city that doesn’t have a culturally rich component, and Maastricht is no exception.

It’s best described as a medieval old town with cobblestones seemingly straight from a story book. Maastricht used to be a Roman settlement and has done a great job of combining different cultures.

The primary reason for its multicultural diversity is the location – it’s very close to both Germany and Belgium.

7. The Hoge Veluwe National Park

Heathland, sand dunes, wetland and the largest collection of Van Gogh – you can find all of that in one place: the Hoge Veluwe National Park. Situated in the province of Gelderland, it covers an area of 5,400 hectares.

Hoge Veluwe National Park is home to a wide range of wildlife and geographical formations. Visit the Kröller-Müller Museum with the largest private Van Gogh collection and the Museonder with spectacular sculptures.

The park has a bike system you can take advantage of to explore all of the attractions.

8. Keukenhof Gardens

The Keukenhof Gardens is the second-largest flower garden in the world. Often referred to as “The Garden of Europe“, it has a plantation of more than seven million bulbs each autumn.

Keukenhof garden offers various activities such as bike rides, boat rides and flights in the field.

Don’t miss the chance to have a picnic amongst the gorgeous floral landscape. It’s the perfect place for Instagram. The best time to visit the garden is during spring when all the flowers are in bloom.

9. The Old Windmills of Kinderdijk

Even though the country is full of windmills, there are 19 UNESCO-protected windmills of Kinderdijk that are unparalleled. These windmills were designed in 1740 to prevent flooding.

You can also learn a lot about the Dutch water management. These perfectly preserved historical generators are open to the public from April to October.

10. Haarlem

Haarlem is the perfect place for museum lovers with the highest concentration of museums in the Netherlands. Situated on the banks of the river Spaarne, it is the capital of North Holland.

It has still retained its medieval vibe with cobblestone streets and gabled houses. It’s also famous for the tulip fields and hofjes (almhouse). Walk around the Grote Markt to soak up all the energy of the place.

11. Gouda

You’ve guessed it – this is the birthplace of the beloved cheese, Gouda. It’s also famous for stroopwafels and clay pipes. You’ll thoroughly enjoy the glass windows in St. Janskerk and the town hall that dates back to the 15th-century.

Its great rail connection throughout the city makes it very easy to get around and explore.

12. Groningen

Home to the old Martinitoren clock tower, Groningen is a city in the northern Netherlands. Its central Grote Markt Square is home to centuries-old architecture. You can find a Gothic church called the Martinikerk and Northern Maritime Museum. For modern art, try the futuristic Groninger Museum.

If you’re an avid bird-watcher, make your way to Waddenzee, home to millions of migratory birds. Waddenzee is one of the world’s largest wetland ecosystems with an area of nearly 2,500 square kilometers.

Now that you have a complete list of places, it’s time to figure out the fun stuff to do in the Netherlands. But that’s a whole other day’s discussion. Good luck!