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Get Out of Amsterdam When in the Netherlands

 The Netherlands is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, combining gorgeous waterways, lush vegetation, ideal weather, and fascinating architecture. Sadly, many tourists don’t venture out of Amsterdam (the Netherlands' capital), and miss out on all the beauty this country has to offer. Whether you’ve visited before or you’d like to go there in the future, remember these 13 locations, some of which surpass Amsterdam in beauty, and all of which will provide you with a trip of a lifetime.​

 

1. Keukenhof Gardens, Lisse

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The Keukenhof Gardens are spectacular botanical gardens located in the city of Lisse, and have earned the nickname “Europe’s Gardens”. Established in 1949 to allow flower merchants and growers to display the Netherlands' flower variety, it now sees some 7 million new flowers planted yearly. These gardens spread over 320,000 square meters (3.4 million square feet), making them the world’s largest flower gardens, and attracting scores of visitors annually.

Please note that tours are available during tulip season (March-May). Click here to visit the gardens’ official website and get more information about the flowers, as well as visiting times.

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2. Markthal, Rotterdam

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Markthal is a large market located in a huge compound in the city of Rotterdam that also includes apartments and office buildings. The new compound was opened in 2014, and cost $201 million. It has 228 apartments and over 100 stores, bars, and food stands. The building itself is made of grey stone, and the front is decorated with small glass windows, held in place with steel wire. Visitors can also enjoy the world’s largest mural, painted over 4,000 pieces of glass in the building’s inner part. The mural is the work of artist Arno Coenen, which was selected out of nine international contestants and drawn in a unique three-dimensional method.

3. Ijsselmeer

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The Ijsselmeer was created in 1932 when an inland sea, the Zuiderzee, was closed by a 32-kilometer (20-mile) dam, the Afsluitdijk. This fresh water lake’s average depth is 5-6 meters (16-19 feet), and its surface freezes over entirely during the winter.

4. Gouda

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The city of Gouda is located in the south of Holland and was established in 1272. If the name seems familiar, it’s because this is the place of origin of the famous Gouda cheese. Gouda’s traditional cheese market is held every summer and is a remarkable experience, bringing together all the local farmers, who bring and sell their homemade cheeses.

 

Traditional cheese tasting is done by pushing a hollowed cylinder into a cheese wheel, and each purchase is done the old-fashioned way, allowing tourists to see the celebratory weighing ceremony.

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5. Giethoorn

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The small town of Giethoorn is located in the Dutch province of Overijssel in the east of the country, and its name is an abbreviation of “Goat Horns” in Dutch. When it was established, instead of building roads, residents instead used the plethora of waterways and moved from place to place by boat. This has given rise to the town's nickname: “The Venice of the Netherlands”.

Nowadays, the town is divided into a modern area, which includes roads and modern houses, and a traditional area with its water canals and traditional Dutch homes.

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6. Binnenhof, The Hague

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While Amsterdam is the Netherlands' capital, the Hague is where most of the country’s government bodies are located, including the royal palace. The Binnenhoff, located in the center of The Hague, is a courtyard built in medieval times and since the 13th-Century, it has been the home of the Dutch government. These days, it is home to the houses of parliament, the office of the prime minister, and the Hall of Knights (used for official events). The Hall of Knights is open for organized visits once a week.

 

7. Madurodam

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This miniature town can be found close to The Hague, and serves as a great attraction, particularly for families with children. The tiny town was created in 1952, as a donation from the parents of George Maduro, a Jewish officer in the Dutch army that was murdered in a concentration camp, and whose parents wished to commemorate him in a way that would make children happy. The town is built in a quarter-circle shape, and walking through it will take you past miniaturized models of the royal palace, the ancient town, and some more famous, modern buildings.

One of the most beloved structures is a tiny version of a chocolate factory, that, for one euro, will send a small truck up to the roof with a candy bar. Madurodam is accessible to parents with baby strollers, as well as disabled people.

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8. The Neeltje Jans Artificial Island

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Located in the Zeeland province, close to the Belgian border, Neeltje Jans was created as a great wave barrier. The barrier protects the Netherlands' shoreline from waves coming from the North Sea. Construction lasted from 1950 and 1997 and is considered to be one of the Seven Modern Marvels of the World.

Among the many gorgeous lookout points, the island is also home to a water park that both parents and children can enjoy all year round, and includes water slides, pools, a seal show and changing exhibitions.

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9. Breda

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The city of Breda is located in the south of the Netherlands, by the Belgian border, and is the perfect place for any architecture enthusiasts, as well as people who wish to see the more classical Dutch architectural styles. Roaming the alleyways of the old city reveals glimpses of preserved medieval buildings, and the local church offers a wonderful vantage point that overlooks most of the area. At the beginning of every September, Breda turns bright orange as it holds the official international Redhead Festival.

10. Delft

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The city of Delft in the south of the Netherlands contains many narrow alleys, wide water canals, and bridges with breathtaking views. Delft’s buildings and churches are built in an impressive Gothic style, and it is famous for the many workshops that produce amazing works of art made of blue china. The tradition of producing blue china in Delft goes back to the 17th-Century, and tourists can purchase some of these incredible works of art in the many workshops and museums.

11. The Schermer Region

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In Dutch, Schermer means “Clear Lake”, and is a beautiful rustic region in the north of the Netherlands that, until 2015, was considered to be a separate municipality, but is now part of Alkmaar. This serene area is what comes to mind when people think of Holland: wooden bridges spanning over water canals, large windmills, thick vegetation, and tiny wooden homes. A visit to Schermer will feel like a visit to a fairy-tale land. 

 

12. Hoge Veluwe National Park, Gelderland

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Hoge Veluwe Park is 21 square miles (55 square kilometers) in size, and is located in the Gelderland municipality, in eastern Netherlands. The park was established in 1909 as a private estate belonging to a rich businessman and, in 1935, he handed it over to a foundation. It eventually became the Netherlands' second national park. It was built on the country's largest terminal moraine (the edge of a glacier, marking its final advance). This makes the area incredibly diverse, with a variety of natural views, unique vegetation, and an unusually large concentration of wildlife. In springtime, visitors can see deer, wild boars, mouflons (wild sheep), badgers, foxen, and more.

13. Biggekerke, Zeeland

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Added to the Zeeland municipality in 1966, Biggekerke is a town that is located in the south-western part of Holland, populated by less than a thousand people. This sleepy town is the best place for anyone who wishes to experience a traditional Dutch lunch, lying down on gorgeous grassy fields that overlook beautiful streams and watching some of the world’s most magical sunsets.

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