How To Take In The Netherlands & Dutch Culture Outside Of Amsterdam
If anyone is going on a trip to the Netherlands, there’s a nine out of ten chance they are just going to visit Amsterdam. And you can can understand why. Amsterdam is a beautiful historical city that offers everything from museums and historical sights, to the infamous Red-Light District and coffee shops. However, just as London doesn’t represent the rest of England, Amsterdam doesn’t represent the rest of the Netherlands. The rest of the country has a lot to offer. It’s a shame to miss out on the rest of the country by just staying within the capital city borders. So, next time you’re planning a trip to the Netherlands consider the below to make the most of the beautiful country.
Dive Into the Rich History of Other Dutch Cities
Amsterdam has a rich history spanning from the time it was formed in the 13th century to the present. The canals, which attract tourists from all over the world, were key to the Dutch Golden Age, and traces of World War II can be found all over the capital. However, Amsterdam is not the only city in the country that history lovers can go to indulge themselves.
The city of Haarlem, only a 10-minute train ride from Amsterdam, is older than the capital city. Haarlem breathes history and can be found mentioned in texts as early as the 10th century. It was already an important trading post in the Middle Ages and went on to become one of the fastest-growing cities in the Golden Age. For example, it was in Haarlem where the tulip mania was at its height in the 17th century and in correlation with this, it grew both in wealth and in population during the Dutch Golden Age. Traces of this rich history can be found in architecture all across the city. It’s also one not to miss for the food lovers among us with the De Grote Market area being filled to the brim with nice terraces serving excellent food during the summer season.
Another city you cannot skip is the beautiful Utrecht. Only half an hour by train from Amsterdam, Utrecht was a Roman fortress known under the name Traiectum. Traces of this fortress can still be found underneath the city centre and can even be explored when visiting the tourist attraction DomUnder. This museum takes you on a tour beneath the city grounds and under the famous Dom Tower. Utrecht is not only for history buffs as the city also offers the famous Dutch canals and a plethora of cute concept stores with unique products to take back home.
Utrecht is also home to the famous Rietveld house – a house entirely designed by the famous artist.
Explore Museums Outside of the Capital City
It is true that Amsterdam houses some of the best art in its many museums, including the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. However, there are numerous museums with vast collections of art to be found in other parts of the country.
The government city of The Hague houses the museum The Mauritshuis. Located right next to the governmental seat and the office of the Prime Minister, The Mauritshuis offers some of the finest works by Rembrandt and Johannes Vermeer. Arguably one of the most oil paintings in the world, The Girl with the Pearl Earring can be seen here.
Not just the cities offer amazing museums though, as one of the biggest Van Gogh collections in the world can be found in the Kröller-Müller museum, hidden in the middle of the beautiful De Hoge Veluwe national park. You can even hope to spot deer or boars while making your way to the museum. There is much to see inside the museum too as it not only houses the biggest Van Gogh collection outside of the Van Gogh Museum, including the famous Café Terrace at Night, but it is the home of many works by famous abstract artists Piet Mondrian and Gerrit Rietveld.
Reset By Exploring Dutch Nature
Spending time in nature is good for our physical health and mental well-being and luckily, the Netherlands has a huge variety of nature to offer and help reset after hectic city life.
For example, you could visit the many beautiful beaches of the country and participate in the Dutch activity of “uitwaaien”. This term roughly translates to “airing out” and means walking along the coast and letting the wind take away any unpleasant thoughts and worries. You can even do this on one of the beautiful islands of the country such as Shiermonnikoog, which is home to only 900 residents and has an entire coastline filled with soft sand. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a seal on your trip there.
If you prefer the forest to the beach, then you can visit the national park De Hoge Veluwe, home to the previously mentioned Kröller-Müller Museum or the Utrechtse Heuvelrug. These beautiful parks offer many routes for long forest walks.
Or if you prefer taking a boat trip instead, you can get involved in the rich Dutch water taming culture and rent a boat to explore the national park, Weerribben. This park in the northern half of the Netherlands can best be explored by slowly faring on the many lovely canals.
In short, there is a lot to see outside of the capital for you to recharge and expand your Dutch experience by skipping it. While Amsterdam is a beautiful city, it can be overcrowded by tourists. Instead of trying to make your way through them, why not skip the city altogether on your next trip. You can still get your dose of culture and history by visiting Haarlem, Utrecht and The Hague instead. Recharge by visiting one of the magnificent national parks or the island Shiermonnikoog. The Netherlands has so much more to offer than just Amsterdam and it’s a waste to miss out on the rest of the country.
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