10 Best Cities in Netherlands

The Netherlands (Holland) is a European country, bordering Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and France in the Caribbean as the Dutch territory Sint Maarten borders French territory Saint-Martin. The people, language, and culture of the Netherlands are referred to as “Dutch”.

With over 17 million people on an area of just 41,543km², it’s a densely populated country with its gorgeous capital Amsterdam being just one of many interesting cities. Once a great naval power, this small nation boasts a wealth of cultural heritage and is famous for its painters, windmills, clogs and notoriously flat lands. A modern European country today, it preserved its highly international character and is known for its liberal mentality. As a founding member of EU and NATO, and host to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands is at the heart of international cooperation. Its small size, welcoming attitude to travellers and many sights make it a unique and fairly easy to discover destination and a great addition to any European trip.

1. Amsterdam

Impressive architecture, lovely canals (grachten), museums and liberal attitudes

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. With more than one million inhabitants in its urban area (and almost two and a half million inhabitants in its metropolitan area), it is the country’s largest city and its financial, cultural, and creative centre.

Amsterdam derives its name from the city’s origin as “Dam” of river “Amstel”. In the past, the name was “Amstelredamme” which later changed as “Amsterdam”. Amsterdam is one of the most popular destinations in Europe, attracting over 7 million international travellers annually.

Amsterdam is colloquially known as Venice of the North because of its lovely canals that criss-cross the city, its impressive architecture and more than 1,500 bridges. There is something for every traveller’s taste here; whether you prefer culture and history, serious partying, or just the relaxing charm of an old European city.

2. Rotterdam

green city on the Rhine: Sonsbeek, Veluwe and Meinerswijk, old quarters and mansions, cultural events

Rotterdam is a municipality and city in the Dutch province of South-Holland, situated in the west of The Netherlands and part of the Randstad. The municipality is the second largest in the country (behind Amsterdam), with a population of approximately 601,300 people and over 2.9 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area (combined with The Hague).

The port of Rotterdam is the largest in Europe. From 1962 to 2004, it was the world’s busiest port; then it was superseded by Shanghai. Now Rotterdam is the fourth biggest port in the world.

Rotterdam is known as a city of architecture. A few square kilometres of the city centre offers a complete overview of what the twentieth century has produced in terms of modern architecture. Due to this more modern atmosphere and the presence of several relatively high buildings (for Dutch standards), the city is especially interesting for Dutch people to visit.

3. The Hague

The judicial capital of the world, the seat of government and the royal family

The Hague is a city in the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. It is the seat of the Dutch parliament and government, and the residence of King Willem-Alexander, but it is not the capital city, which is Amsterdam. The municipality has about 500,000 inhabitants, with the greater urban area numbering about one million. The Hague lies on the North Sea and is home to Scheveningen, the most popular seaside resort of the Netherlands, as well as the smaller resort of Kijkduin.

4. Utrecht

Historic centre, antique stores and the Rietveld-Schröder House

Utrecht is a city in the central Netherlands that has been a religious center for centuries. It has a medieval old town, canals, Christian monuments and a venerable university. The iconic Domtoren, a 14th-century bell tower with city views, stands opposite the Gothic Cathedral of St. Martin on central Domplein square. The Museum Catharijneconvent shows religious art and artifacts in a former monastery.

5. Maastricht

Fortified medieval city showing the different culture, style and architecture of the south

Maastricht is the southernmost city in the Netherlands, and is the capital of the province of Limburg. Situated on the Maas river, within walking distance of Belgium and cycling distance of Germany, it claims to be the oldest city in the Netherlands (a claim it shares with Nijmegen). A great place to spend some time, it contains some magnificent buildings and culture, taking the form of plenty of old houses and buildings, lovely cathedrals and a spectacularly cobblestoned town centre. The city is also well known for its fine cuisine, excellent shops and multicultural atmosphere.

6. Delft

Historic unspoiled town with the world-famous blue and white ceramics

Delft is a mid-sized city in the west of the Netherlands. It’s a beautiful, unspoiled town with traditional architecture, canals and bikes. It’s also home to the world famous blue and white ceramics. Delft makes a great destination for a day-trip or can serve as a base to explore the region. And if the bustling crowds of Amsterdam are not really your thing, Delft is a lovely alternative, offering an equally interesting insight into the cultural wealth of old “Holland”, on a far more intimate scale.

7. Eindhoven

Fifth largest city, brainport of europe, little less touristic so you can really experience the Dutch culture

Eindhoven is a major city in the province of North Brabant in the Netherlands. With a population of over 213,000 people, it’s the fifth largest city of the Netherlands. It is by no means a main tourist destination in the country and most travel guides will devote no more than a page or two to it. Nevertheless, this bustling and modern city has a lot more to offer.

Eindhoven’s history is dominated by industrial development and is inextricably linked to electronics giant Philips and, to a lesser degree, DAF Trucks. Although those industries have mostly disappeared, Eindhoven remains a European technology hub, hosting a technical university and many technically oriented companies and cooperation initiatives. In addition, over the past decade the city has become the capital of Dutch design.

8. Arnhem

Green city on the Rhine: Sonsbeek, Veluwe and Meinerswijk, old quarters and mansions, cultural events

Arnhem is a city and municipality situated in the eastern part of the Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of Gelderland and located on both banks of the rivers Nederrijn and Sint-Jansbeek, which was the source of the city’s development. Arnhem had a population of 156,600 in 2017 and is one of the larger cities of the Netherlands. The municipality is part of the Arnhem-Nijmegen Metropolitan Area which has a combined 736,500 inhabitants. Arnhem is home to the Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen, ArtEZ Institute of the Arts, Netherlands Open Air Museum, Airborne Museum ‘Hartenstein’, Royal Burgers’ Zoo, NOC*NSF and National Sports Centre Papendal. The north corner of the municipality is part of the Hoge Veluwe National Park. It is approximately 55 square kilometers in area, consisting of heathlands, sand dunes, and woodlands.

9. Groningen

Student city with a relaxed atmosphere and nightlife till the sun gets up

Groningen is a city in the Netherlands with 201,000 inhabitants and is the capital of the northern province of Groningen. Groningen was founded around 950 A.D. at the site of a Roman camp and has a rich history, which can clearly be seen from the old medieval buildings in the down town area. In the 13th century, when Groningen was an important trade centre, its inhabitants built a city wall to underline its authority. The city had a strong influence on the surrounding lands and made its dialect a common tongue.

10. Nijmegen

Oldest city of the country, known for its marches, left-wing politics and large student population

Nijmegen, historically anglicized as Nimeguen, is a municipality and a city in the Dutch province of Gelderland. It is situated on the Waal river, close to the German border. Nijmegen is the oldest city in the Netherlands, the first to be recognized as such in Roman times, and in 2005 celebrated 2,000 years of existence. The municipality is part of the “Stadsregio Arnhem-Nijmegen”, a metropolitan area with 736,107 inhabitants.