One of the most popular tourist spots in the world is undoubtedly Amsterdam. The vibrant and cultural capital of the Netherlands has many unique qualities: bike- and pedestrian-friendly roads, diverse culinary fare (read: lots of fries and bitterballen), countless art galleries and attractions. It is also the second most densely-populated country in the whole of Europe! 

Having said that, the Netherlands is a beautiful country with a lot more that can be explored. Here, we bring you to eight hidden gems of this low-lying kingdom.


1. Rotterdam – The second-largest city in the Netherlands


Rotterdam, the second-largest in the Netherlands after Amsterdam, is full of wonder and excitement. It is just less than an hour’s train ride from the capital, Amsterdam. It’s home to the largest port in the world, the Europort, where cargo ships aplenty pass through to the other side of the world. 

Step onto its shores and you’ll quickly learn why it’s one of the most architecturally fascinating places in the country and, really, the whole of Europe.

To understand its vast maritime history, a must-visit is its Maritime District – populated with large historic boats restored to their former glory and humble houseboats that are still occupied by locals.

The Maritime Museum Rotterdam provides a look into the city and how the sea has been a crucial part of its infrastructure. You’ll get to see paintings, centuries-old vessels, and, of course, plenty of ships.


Rotterdam’s iconic Cube Houses - one of the city’s most popular things to see. Image credit: Ivan Tan


But what’s striking about the city is its unique architecture – often unconventional and certainly different from your usual skyscraper. For a small fee, curious visitors can explore the city’s iconic Cube Houses, a residential development with homes tilted at 45 degrees.

Near the museum is the Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk, or the Church of Saint Laurence.

It was originally built in 1449 and has since been a landmark in the city. Its interior sports beautifully decorated arches which lead to high vault ceilings. A glorious and inspired sight once you walk past its doors.

With its museums, shopping, restaurants and nightlife, Rotterdam is happening and there is much to see and do.



Another popular place to visit in Rotterdam is the Markthal - a state-of-the-art building which houses an indoor food market with plenty of diverse food choices under one roof, and a residential and office building.


2. The Hague – The capital with the best window into the country’s past


The historic royalty of the Netherlands is not something often talked about, but it dates back to centuries of influential rulers and warriors. At the Hague, you feel like you’ve travelled back in time.

The time needed to travel from Amsterdam to The Hague is largely the same as Rotterdam. If you’re feeling for a nice drive, it’ll only take you an hour to arrive.

A perfect example of the city’s mediaeval allure is the Ridderzaal, or the Knights’ Hall, first built sometime in the 1200s.

The meticulously-restored gothic building usually plays host to state receptions and parliament sessions, but it’s also open to visitors. It’s big, very big. It measures 40m by 20m, with a regal exterior that feels larger than life when you stand in its courtyard.

In the city centre, do spend time enjoying the serene view of the Hofvijver (Court Pond), a lake with a perfect backdrop of the city skyline.



Even if you are not a fan of museums, you must visit the world renowned museum, the Mauritshuis. It has an amazing collection of Dutch and Flemish art, including Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Girl With A Pearl Earring’.


The collection of work by M.C. Escher is housed in Escher in Het Paleis, a former Royal Palace. Image credit: Ivan Tan


But if you want to experience different perspectives instead of merely awed, the Het Paleis houses a collection of work by legendary artist M.C. Escher, an artist famous for his diverse set of illusory images. This will be the best place to take in his legacy.


The International Court of Justice, established in 1946. Image credit: International Court of Justice


The Hague is also home to many international institutions of law and arbitration, including the International Court of Justice – it has an interesting visitor centre that offers a free audio guide tour. 

In the warmer months, the Scheveningen beach, with cafes galore, attracts hordes of surfers, carnival fans and those who just want to enjoy the sun. 


3. Eindhoven – The Dutch city where industrial design meets nature


Slightly south of Amsterdam – a train ride will take up to two hours – Eindhoven has a history of its own. 

Originally a settlement with a wooden castle dating back to the 13th century, it has now blossomed into a city with duality: an eye for cutting-edge architecture while honouring the elements of its humble past.

The Eindhoven Museum is where you get to learn about the city during the middle ages, with faithful recreations of old buildings and villages, along with immersive re-enactments.



To contrast the mediaeval expedition, you can take a gander at the spaceship-shaped Evoluon building - a science museum built by the electronics company Philips in 1966, but later on converted into a conference centre in 1998. It looks straight out of a UFO movie from the 1980s.

If you want to step into a specific area steeped in history, you can travel to the town of Nuenen, which is 10km away and was the main hideout for a reclusive artist Vincent Van Gogh during his life.

Of course, you can’t visit Eindhoven without paying tribute to its most recognizable export – the electronics brand Philips. Learn about its beginnings, not just of the company but its long range of electronics, at the Philips Museum.

If you’re looking for a place for a drink or two, head over to Eindhoven Bottle Distillery for some freshly-brewed beer and spirits made by a small and dedicated team of specialists. They’ll be happy to give you a tour of their brewery, and learn the secrets behind their processes.


4. Kinderdijk – The windmill town


What’s the Netherlands without her windmills? Such picturesque and quaint structures that provide much and demand little.

Windmills can be found aplenty in the city of Kinderdijk. This UNESCO World Heritage site has 19 windmills lined along a dyke – a long embankment – that looks stunning from afar. Built around 1740, the windmills are a part of a larger water management system to prevent flooding. Together with its canals, the windmills and pumping stations of Kinderdijk have kept the area dry and refreshing for over 700 years.


Windmills lined along a dyke in Kinderdijk. Image credit: Ivan Tan


If you wish to have a closer look at the windmills and learn more about the history behind them, you can hop on a boat tour which will bring you to two windmill museums (Museum Mill Nederwaard and Museum Mill Blokweer). 

Kinderdjik is in general easily explored on foot or bicycle, so you can have long stretches of leisurely travel while admiring the city’s surroundings.

It’s a little trickier to get to Kinderdjik from Amsterdam. It’s recommended to make a trip to Rotterdam first, after which you can sail on to Kinderdjik (via the country’s unique ship, the Waterbus). The trip will only take 30 minutes, and costs EUR10.50 (S$15) for a return-trip ticket.


5. Lisse – The town that blooms in spring


If we’re talking less-visited places in the Netherlands that have an undeniable reputation of their own, it would include Lisse.

Nestled between the cities of Haarlem and The Hague, Lisse has one main attraction that will appeal to everyone: its flower fields.

It hosts the Keukenhof, arguably the world’s most well-known flower park. While winter weather may seem the most tempting for a visit, Keukenhof rewards you greatly when you visit in springtime.

During this season, endless rows of flowers and tulips will bloom for two months, making an amazing sight that only nature can offer.

Lisse is also known for its unique export of flower bulbs, which has allowed people all over the world to witness a blooming flower in the comfort of their home garden.

These flower bulbs are also paraded in an annual ceremony that passes through Lisse, starting in Noordwijk and ending in Haarlem – if you fancy a dedicated road trip.

Visiting various tulips gardens will make one hungry. With the town’s seaside charm comes Chique En Simpel, which offers a mouth-watering menu of seafood delicacies that are locally sourced.


6. Utrecht – The city that’s proudly car-free


So far in our list, various Dutch cities have boasted a beautiful mixture of its royal past and bustling present.

In the city of Utrecht, it takes away one of the most important inventions of our lifetime: the car. Getting there is also the easiest – it only takes a half-hour train ride to arrive from Amsterdam.


Restaurants and cycling paths alongside the beautiful canals in Utrecht. Image credit: Ivan Tan


Its streets are entirely car-free as it boasts itself as a cyclist-first city, making it one of the largest car-free residential districts in the world. The beautiful canals give a different charm compared to anywhere else in the Netherlands, perfect if you are looking for some much-needed exercise. The tree-lined walkways make for a very pleasant walk or run.

Because it’s so homely, Utrecht may not have awe-inspiring buildings to gawk at, but it does not lack in attractions and unique offerings.

The Sonnenbergh Museum & Observatory looks to the stars to illuminate its surroundings. 

You can use one of their industry-standard telescopes at night to view stars as a group – its oldest being 150 years old. Evening events are a regular feature on their calendar.

If you’d rather not be out of this world, go back down – way below into the underground museum of DOMunder, which tells the 2000-year history of the city.

It also leads up to the DOM Cathedral and DOM Tower, so you’ll feel like you’ve completely scaled its heights from top to bottom.


7. Giethoorn – The village out of a fairy tale


We’ve talked about how the Netherlands has that old-timey magic beyond its capital. Travel 90 minutes north-east of Amsterdam and you’ll find its most picturesque destination that will appeal to both children and adults who’ve held on to any measure of whimsy.

Giethoorn is something straight out of a Dutch fairy tale – full of peaceful lakes, stunning forests, wide-open farms and wooden bridges. You’d almost want to dress for the occasion!


Views of Giethoorn as you travel through the canals via a rowing boat. Image credit: Ivan Tan


It’s also known as the Dutch Venice, but Giethoorn’s modest land size and population makes it feel like a village that’s yet to be discovered by anyone else. A highlight for any visitor is to hire a rowing boat to explore its canals.

There is also a good network of walking paths. This makes exploring the town on foot very easy!

You will need to wear comfortable shoes – getting there from Amsterdam requires a two-hour train ride to Steenwijk. From there, you can take a 30-minute bus ride, so plan your route accordingly.


8. Otterlo – The village with greenery and culture aplenty


Otterlo is the perfect place to spend a few hours, or even a day, if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the cities.



Its crown jewel, the Hoge Veluwe National Park, is nature as pure as it can get in these modern times. Originally built as a hunting park in the early part of the 20th century, Hoge Veluwe is now a mega park. If you’ve had enough tall buildings to gawk at, here’s the place for you to wind down and soak in everything that nature has to give. 

Exploration in the park can be done by car or on bicycles, the latter which are completely free to rent and use.


The Kroller-Muller Museum has the second-largest Van Gogh collection in the world. Image credit: Ivan Tan


Hoge Veluwe National Park is also home to the highly regarded Kroller-Muller Museum, with its large and stunning collection of Van Gogh’s work. Aside from paintings, you’ll get to see drawings, sculptures, and much more. Best part? Free entry!

The fastest way to get to Otterlo is, surprisingly, by car, only requiring an hour’s long drive. If you don’t have a driver, or you’d rather save money, take the long route by opting for a two-hour train ride. At least there will be plenty of scenery to admire along the way!


Flying to the Netherlands has been easy to do from Singapore, with direct flights operated by Singapore Airlines and KLM. However, in order to visit these amazing cities, you will first need to land in Amsterdam, where you can get the most out of its world-class experience before digging into what the country truly has to offer.

As its locals do not usually practise a lunch culture, it’s normal to find restaurants empty, or closed, in the afternoon. This is a good time to buy fresh groceries and try your hand at whipping something up! 

“Veel plezier!”, which means “Have fun!” in Dutch.


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