The Netherlands is famous for its liberal culture, being flat as a pancake, and the amazing city of Amsterdam. Amsterdam attracts travelers from all over the world looking to experience everything the city has to offer. However, there’s much more to the Netherlands than Amsterdam. This article will explore the most famous landmarks in the Netherlands, both in Amsterdam and outside.
We have traveled and written extensively about the Netherlands, and in particular about Amsterdam. Still, to make this article as complete as possible, we have invited a few fellow bloggers to present some of their favorite landmarks in the Netherlands.
Famous landmarks Netherlands – Amsterdam
The canals of Amsterdam are easily the most famous landmark in the Netherlands and one of the postcards of Amsterdam. They mark the city and create a stunning setting for any trip. The three main canals (Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht) were dug in the 17h century creating a concentric belt around the city. The whole network of canals has more than 100 km of waterways, 90 islands, and 1500 bridges, and 1550 monumental buildings making Amsterdam the “Venice of the North.”
In the Seventeenth-Century Canal Ring Area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht was declared a UNESCO heritage in 2010. It’s simply impossible to visit Amsterdam without appreciating the canal network, as they are part of the whole old town, where most of the attractions are.
We truly recommend taking a boat tour through the canals to learn more about them and enjoy the best scenic spots from the water. It’s a wonderful experience, and each canal has historic, important, or interesting sights.
By Ophelie from Limitless Secrets
The Rijksmuseum is one of the most notable landmarks of the Netherlands. This is actually the National Museum for Art and History and the largest art museum in the country. It’s located in Amsterdam in the area of Museumplein. This green square gathers all the most important museums of Amsterdam.
It’s very easy to access as it’s in the center of Amsterdam. You can get there by public transport. The best is by tram (lines 2, 5, 6, 7, or 10). As you don’t want to lose too much time in lines, you should buy a skip-the-line ticket!
The building was designed by Pierre Cuypers and built in 1885. It’s worth the visit for many reasons. On the one hand, the architecture is stunning inside and outside. It was, in fact, listed in the Top 100 Dutch heritage sites in 1990! And on the other hand, the art collection is impressive. It features the most famous art pieces of the Dutch Golden Age, with paintings from Johannes Vermeer (the Milkmaid, for ex.), Rembrandt (the Night Watch, for ex.), Frans Hals, Jan Steen, and other artists.
Therefore, it’s the most visited museum in the Netherlands. Overall, it recorded roughly 2.7 million visitors in 2019. And it’s, of course, one of the best things to do in Amsterdam.
Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh Museum is one of the most popular destinations in the Netherlands. Located in the Museum Square (Museumplein) next to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, it’s visited by more than 1.5 million people every year. It contains the most extensive collection of art created by Vincent van Gogh, one of the most popular painters of all time.
The permanent collection includes over 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and 750 letters from the Dutch master. It is organized chronologically so you can learn about the life and work of van Gogh, watching his development as an artist and how his work has evolved. Besides Van Gogh’s artwork, there’s also a nice collection of other impressionist and post-impressionist artists.
The modern building that houses this collection was originally projected by Gerrit Rietveld (opened in 1973), and then a new wing was created by Kisho Kurokawa (1999). It’s a beautiful modern brilliantly created to admire works of art, making it a landmark by itself. So, even if you aren’t too fond of impressionism and Van Gogh, you can admire the building.
It goes without saying that this is a very sought attraction and you should buy the tickets beforehand. You can book them here.
The Van Gogh Museum is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam in Winter, check here the others.
Anne Frank House and Museum
From Tanya Bindra by MY RIGHT SOCK
The Anne Frank House is a biographical museum dedicated to Anne Frank, a Jewish teen best known for her memoir “The Diary of a Young Girl.” It is located in Prinsengracht 263, Amsterdam, where she hid for over two years during World War II.
Anne received the diary as a birthday present and regularly journaled it for two years before she and her family were arrested and deported to concentration camps. Anne died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at the age of 16, just weeks before the end of the war.
The building contains the concealed rooms behind a swinging bookcase where Anne Frank and her family stayed in hiding, an exhibition on her short life and pursuits, and an educational exhibition about discrimination and persecution. Several artifacts are on display, including videos, photos, and documents.
Anne’s room is still decorated with magazine clippings showing a young girl’s celebrity idols, dreams, and passions. A small window in the room was her only peek into the outside world.
Her handwritten journal inspires visitors from all over the world, and her book has been translated into more than seventy languages.
Visiting the Anne Frank House humanizes the horrors of the Holocaust. Anne’s story is only one out of six million victims and serves as a stark reminder of a grim period in modern history.
While Amsterdam already draws millions of tourists every year, visiting the Anne Frank House in itself merits a trip to the city. Though if this is a topic that interests you deeply, besides visiting the house, there are also some tours about the fascinating story of Anne Frank.
Royal Palace in Amsterdam
By Alice from Adventures of Alice
Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and the Royal Palace is a stunning monument in Amsterdam’s Dam Square, but it wasn’t always surrounded by such grandeur.
Originally, the building was designed to be a city hall after being commissioned during the middle of the 17th century. Made from yellowy sandstone that came all the way from Bentheim in Germany, this monumental structure at once captured what made Amsterdam so confident and helped make them Europe’s largest secular building for its time period.
It wouldn’t stay that way forever, though; Louis Napoleon changed things up when he turned it into an official palace – just like his namesake who had done before him with Versailles back home in France. And plenty of reminders are left inside the walls, too, reminding us how majestic this place once was.
The Burgerzaal encapsulates well Amsterdam’s central role in global affairs. The marble hall, laid with maps and equipped with figurative sculptures of the four elements on its arches, was designed for all-powerful burgomasters.
It also houses Empire Style sculpture made during Louis Napoleon’s rule; this includes furniture that exemplifies his regime as one filled with mythological symbolism.
Damrak Houses in Amsterdam
By Dymphe from Dymabroad
Another one of the best landmarks of the Netherlands located in Amsterdam is the Damrak Houses. You can find these near the central train station of Amsterdam. More specifically, you can see the houses when you walk from the central train station to Dam Square or vice versa. So getting there is as easy as it can be.
These houses are iconic for Amsterdam. That’s because they are great examples of the architecture of canal houses in the city. Each house is different and has unique features, but together they look great! What’s great is that you can see them in full when you are at Damrak because there is water between the place where you stand and the houses. This allows you to see the houses from the bottom to the top. This makes it also one of the most Instagrammable places in Amsterdam.
Some of these houses are very old, dating back to the year 1598, which makes seeing them an incredible experience! The houses of Damrak aren’t on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list, unlike some other canal houses in Amsterdam, but they are worth visiting for sure!
Netherlands Famous Landmarks – Rotterdam
Cube houses Rotterdam
By Lavina Dsouza from Continent Hop
The cube houses in Rotterdam, also known locally as Kubuswoningen, are residential areas full of bright yellow houses where people actually reside!
They are quite an iconic landmark synonymous with Rotterdam. They are located above Blaak metro station on Overblaak Street, about a twenty-minute walk from the Rotterdam train station at a 45-degree tilt.
Thirty-eight small cubes ‘stuck’ next to each other can be seen from the station and are an excellent example designed by architect Piet Blom in 1977 to showcase the optimal use of space.
However, even though the houses seem trendy and possibly cramped from the outside, they’re pretty spacious from the inside, with the lobby on the ground floor, the living and kitchen on the first floor, and the bedrooms on the second.
Since people were inquisitive about these houses, sometimes even wondering what they were, and many took ‘Instagram-able pictures here, the owner opened a show house to act as the Show Cube Museum (Kijk-Kubus) to show visitors how the houses actually look from the inside.
By Laura Meyers from Laure Wanders
One of the Netherlands ‘ most famous landmarks is the 802-meter long, cable-stayed Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam. Even though this bridge started in 1986, it was only finished in 1996, when Queen Beatrix inaugurated it. Dutch architect Ben van Berkel designed the bridge, often nicknamed ‘the swan’ due to its graceful design resembling a swan.
With its height of 139 meters, the Erasmus Bridge is the tallest in the Netherlands, connecting the north and the south part of Rotterdam. In addition to this, it’s also the biggest and heaviest bridge of its kind in Western Europe.
This striking piece of architecture and engineering can easily be reached by tram, and it is a must-see attraction on a visit to the city. You will have a beautiful view of the river Maas and the surroundings while you cross it (which can be done by walking, cycling, or driving).
Don’t forget to admire the quite unique bridge from afar as well, as it makes Rotterdam’s skyline!
Van Nellefabriek in Rotterdam
By Lara from The Best Travel Gifts
One of the most distinguished landmarks of the Netherlands for modern architecture lovers is the Van Nellefabriek in Rotterdam. This aesthetic complex of factories was included on UNESCO’s world heritage list in 2014. The factories are a prime example of 20th-century industrial architecture, not just of the Netherlands but also of Europe.
The Van Nellefabriek was designed by Leendert van der Vlught and J.G. Wiebenga and was built around the 1920s. The factory symbolizes the combination of constructivist architecture with the progressive ideas about working conditions, which were unique at that time. The Van Nellefabriek was designed to provide a lot of daylight at the workplace. It was also one of the first-ever factories that provided a garden for workers, lunch breaks, and modern bathrooms.
The factory is located close to Rotterdam’s canals, roads, and railway. Though it is no longer a factory, it is still used as a meeting place, event location, and office complex.
A visit to the factory can be arranged through the Chabot Museum. Tickets cost only 15 euros, including a bus from the Chabot Museum to the factory and a great in-depth tour around the Van Nellefabriek.
Windmills of Kinderdijk
By Emma Caldwell from Emma Jane Explores
The beautiful windmills of Kinderdijk are a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site located just outside the city of Rotterdam. This unique Dutch village features fields waving tall grass and farmland, with traditional water-pumping windmills dotted throughout the area. The site is significant, not just because it is an area of incredible beauty but also because it is the largest group of traditional windmills in the entire country of The Netherlands.
To access the village, it is best to set up a base in Rotterdam and then take a water bus to the site of Kinderdijk. Ticket packages can be purchased, including the water transport, so booking online in advance is a good idea to take advantage of the package. If you are in Amsterdam, you can book a small tour here.
Once you’re at Kinderdijk, wandering through the quiet polder is a must. Simply follow the paths winding around the windmills on foot. Avid cyclists may also be keen to take their bikes for a leisurely ride around the area. Tickets also give visitors access to a couple of museums in the area.
One allows you to go inside a windmill, set up as a traditional home, to give visitors an idea of what life would have been like inside a windmill. Another gives visitors access to a working windmill where the miller demonstrates how the water pumping system works.
Famous landmarks Netherlands – other regions
Dom Tower, Utrecht
By Bruna Venturinelli from Maps N Bags
The Dom Tower is nothing less than the tallest church tower in the Netherlands, and this landmark is easily reached from the capital city since Utrecht, where it is located, is an excellent day trip from Amsterdam.
Towering over 112 meters in the sky, this imposing attraction is seen from many points throughout the town. John of Hainaut designed it in the 14th century as part of the St Martin’s Cathedral in the heart of Utrecht.
Visitors who would like to train their legs are welcome to climb the 495 steps to the top and view the whole city. Alternatively, you can also take the lift, which takes you to the top within 3 minutes only.
Both options require payment. The fee for the stairs is 10 euros, and the lift is 17,50. However, the stairs ticket includes a 60-minute guided tour taking you to the historical rooms and galleries of the tower.
Also, the Dom Tower is open all year round, but these are unusual times, so check opening hours in advance.
Although not a UNESCO site, this tower is part of the country’s Dutch heritage sites along with 99 other hand-picked historical monuments. In other words, it is a must-see!
Keukenhof in Lisse
By Jade Laurenza from The Migrant Yogi
Of all the Netherlands ’ most famous landmarks, the gardens of Keukenhof are among the most visited. Keukenhof is the largest garden in Europe, though it is only open to the public a mere eight weeks out of the year.
From March to May, the Keukenhof Gardens attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors (1.5 million in 2019!) eager to admire over 7 million planted bulbs representing over 800 species.
The gardens span 32 hectares (79 acres), so plan to spend a few hours exploring the manicured gardens and themed pavilions.
Adult admission to Keukenhof is €18,50 as a single ticket, though there are plenty of ticket options to choose from (including some of which include transportation from Amsterdam).
Keukenhof is located in Lisse, a small town in South Holland, a short ride from Amsterdam. While in Lisse, explore the world-famous tulip fields that the Netherlands is known for. Be forewarned that these fields are private, so think again if you’re hoping to wander amid the tulips. Take your photos from the roadside. A great way to explore the tulip fields of Lisse is to rent a bicycle and explore it the Dutch way.
Martinitoren in Groningen
By Erin Elizabeth Hynes from Pina Travels
The Martini Tower, or “Martinitoren” in Dutch, is the oldest and the tallest church steeple in Groningen. This tower is the pride of Groningen, a small city in the north of the Netherlands, about a 2-hour drive or train trip from Amsterdam. The Martinitoren is in the northeast corner of Groningen’s Grote Markt, the city’s main square. It serves as the bell tower for an attached church known as the Martinikerk. Inside the tower is a brick spiral staircase consisting of 260 steps that lead up to the carillon within the tower, which contains 62 bells.
The Martinitoren is open to visitors on a daily basis. Visitors can book a guided tour online or by phone. A one-hour tour brings visitors up the tower’s 250 steps. There’s no lift, so climbing the stairs is the only way up! You can view the attached church’s vaults, ornaments, and bells as you climb. The passages become narrow and damp as you go higher, eventually bringing you to the bell tower. At 97 meters tall, the Martinitoren is the tallest building in Groningen. Once you reach the bell tower, you’re treated to panoramic city views!
By Anukrati Dosi from Bulbul on the Wing
Popularly known as the Venice of the Netherlands, Giethoorn is the kind of place you would want to visit in a heartbeat. Giethoorn is one of the most scenic and unspoiled destinations in the Netherlands. It is a 123 km drive from Amsterdam.
You can visit Giethoorn by becoming part of a tour or using public transportation. You can take a train from Amsterdam Centraal to Utrecht Centraal (duration is half an hour), and change the train from here to Steenwijk (a one-and-a-half-hour journey). The return train ticket would cost you around 50 euros. From Steenwijk train station, you can then get a bus to Giethoorn. The bus ticket for the return bus journey would cost you around 8-10 euros. However, it’s much easier to go on a tour like this.
You wouldn’t have seen a place so spectacular and picturesque until now. The place hardly seems real. Surrounded by lakes, reed beds, and forests lie Giethoorn, with many cute farms with thatched roofs and wooden bridges. You can travel the waters on a punter or an electric boat. A 2-hour boat tour takes you past the gorgeous 18th and 19th-century farmhouses and under the bridges.
Little cafes and restaurants are lining with the canals. However, the best option is to buy your picnic supplies from the supermarket there. Do not forget to buy fresh orange juice.
By Manouk Oord from Groetjes uit Verweggistan (With Love from Far Away)
Wanting to see the famous Dutch windmills? Zaanse Schans is the place to be! Zaanse Schans is located near the city of Zaandam. It is pretty close to Amsterdam and also easy to reach by bus (40 minutes from Amsterdam Central Station) or by train (17 minutes and 15 minutes walking).
In the 19th century, the industrial revolution reached Zaanstreek. Zaanse Schans nowadays shows you what life was like in these times, with mills, storage houses, and water connecting it all. It is almost like an open-air museum that you can visit for free to see the history of the Netherlands. You can visit some of the buildings, like the mills, which still function and show you, for example, how they made different colors of paint.
Zaanse Schans is free to visit, but some mills ask for a small entrance fee. The Zaans Museum next to it also asks for an entrance fee but is very interesting and well worth the price. Apart from the history, you also learn about the famous brand Verkade with their chocolate and cookies
The architect Cornelis de Jong looked for authentic buildings from the time in the country and made sure they were relocated to the site to preserve the heritage. However, it is not a UNESCO World Heritage site because it was created in the 1960s.
De Haar Castle, Utrecht
By Jennifer from Family Trip Guides
The Netherlands has some incredible castles, and the largest of all is De Haar Castle, just 30 minutes south of central Amsterdam. It is beautifully restored with impeccable gardens, a full interior tour, and a moat.
The history of the current castle goes back to 1391 when the De Haar family received a castle. There was lots of history around the castle for a few hundred years until 1892, when the owner married a member of the wealthy Rothschild family. They used their enormous wealth to restore the castle for the next 20 years, including 200 rooms, electrical lighting, and central heating. Interestingly, the family gave the castle to a foundation in 2000 but reserved the right to spend one month per year at the castle. At that time, the building is closed to visitors.
The castle is beautiful from the moment you walk on the suspension bridge over the moat next to the towers and turrets! Modern comfort and medieval architecture make for a lovely visiting experience. The gardens and forests around the castle are also stunning. The cellars are now a gift shop and a cafe in the old carriage house. Its locations like this make travel, especially as a family, all the more inspiring!
By Richard Meek from RJOnTour
The Binnenhof is a lovely place to explore – it has a church, castle, a big lake, cobblestone courtyards, ornate gates, and beautiful buildings. It is also home to the Ridderzaal, otherwise known as the Knights Hall. The Ridderzaal is a beautiful building used for the state opening of parliament. Originally the Ridderzaal was a ballroom; currently, it is a grand ceremonial hall.
The Binnenhof complex is free to explore the courtyards and exterior and also walk around the Hofvijver. The Hofvijver is a lovely lake that opens up some splendid views of the area; it’s also a great place to enjoy some local herring. Visitors can also book a guided tour, which is a great way to access the Knights Hall and the Parliament Building. They do tours in both Dutch and English. Also, the Mauritshuis, an art museum, is on the site too.
The Binnenhof is a fantastic Dutch landmark, especially for people interested in Dutch history, politics, or architecture.
Windmill De Adriaan, Haarlem
By Sydney Richardson from A World in Reach
A visit to Haarlem would not be complete without a stop at Molen De Adriaan. The windmill is an iconic Dutch landmark that has been a part of Haarlem for centuries.
Molen De Adriaan dates back to 1779. The windmill, built by Adriaan de Booys, was originally constructed to produce cement and paint. Tragedy struck in April 1932 when the windmill was completely destroyed by a fire. This shocked the residents of Haarlem, who immediately sprung into action to rebuild the windmill. Fundraisers for the reconstruction of the mill began right after the fire, but it took several decades for the mill to be rebuilt, with reconstruction beginning in 1999. Finally, on April 23, 2002, exactly 70 years after the destructive fire, the windmill reopened.
Today, Molen De Adriaan is a Haarlem landmark especially popular among tourists. The windmill is fully functional, and guests can take guided tours of the mill, even seeing the mill in action when a miller is present.
Haarlem is the perfect destination for a day trip from Amsterdam. Molen De Adriaan is located in the center of town – you can’t miss the windmill right on the banks of the river Spaarne. You can book a day trip to Harlem here.
By Iris from Mind of a Hitchhiker
At the southern terminus of the Netherlands is Maastricht. Founded by the Romans, it hosts some of the oldest structures in the country. Maastricht is culturally different enough from places like Amsterdam and The Hague to attract the curiosity of many domestic day-trippers.
The first stop of many visitors is the Vrijthof – the central square – where they’ll encounter the protestant Sint-Janskerk (Saint John’s Church) next to the roman catholic Sint-Servaasbasiliek (Basilica of Saint Servatius). Having two huge churches this close to each other is a fairly rare phenomenon. Sint-Janskerk used to be catholic as well until the reformation.
Painted in red, the 15th-century Gothic-style Sint-Janskerk church tower forms a beacon for the whole city. One of the most wholesome activities to do in Maastricht is to ascend the Sint-Janskerk. At 80 meters high, it’s the tallest tower in Maastricht. Going up is possible between Easter and autumn and requires working legs and a little stamina for the 218 steps. You’ll have a beautiful vista of the city, the square, and the hills beyond the borders from the viewing platform.
Traveling to Maastricht can be done by train from any major Dutch city. There’s also a train from Belgium and a bus from Germany. Since it’s so far south, you might want to include Maastricht into an itinerary with Cologne and Aachen in Germany and Liège in Belgium instead of only Dutch cities.
By Anuradha from Country Hopping Couple
Madurodam is a beautiful miniature park in the Netherlands in the Scheveningen district in The Hague. The park contains 1:25 scale model replicas of some of the most famous Dutch monuments, buildings, and landscapes, bringing the Netherlands to life in a mini version. If you want to taste everything in Holland in one place within a short duration, Madurodam is the place to be. You can find most of the iconic landmarks in the Netherlands, like Binnenhof, Delta Works, Tulip fields, Windmills, Rotterdam Port, Schipol airport, and traditional Dutch canal houses. There are over 5000 miniature trees and flower blossoms in all seasons.
Madurodam was opened in 1952 and had ever since then attracted millions of visitors every year. It was named after George Maduro, a Dutch law student who fought the Nazi forces and died at Dachau Concentration Camp in 1945. In 1946, Maduro was honored with the Medal of Knight Fourth class of the Military Order of William, the Netherlands’ highest and oldest military decoration.
Madurodam is one of the country’s top 5 most visited theme parks. It is a perfect tourist attraction for all ages. The park features a lot of interactive, hands-on experience, which makes visiting Madurodam all the more interesting. For instance, visitors can load containers on a cargo ship at the Port of Rotterdam and let the airplane take off from Schipol Airport.
Madurodam can be reached by either a tram or bus from The Hague Central Station, and the journey takes about 10 minutes.
* Cover photo by olgysha via Depositphotos
Did you enjoy this article? Have a look at our other posts about the Netherlands:
- Fun things to do in Amsterdam in Winter
- What is the Netherlands famous for?
- What is Amsterdam known for?
- What to do in a layover in Amsterdam?
Pin it for later