Let's pretend you're visiting the Netherlands, but only have a few days to explore. Let's also pretend you've been to Amsterdam and have a hankering for experiences off the beaten path. What should you do and where should you go? The Netherlands is full of gems that somehow fly under the radar (or get swallowed up in the Amsterdam buzz) and I think it's time to show some new places a little love.
My parents visiting next week was excellent motivation to think long and hard about my favorite local-ish spots (and a few new ones) to fill up the itinerary. While we won't hit all 10, having options will come in handy in the event of unpredictable weather and moods.
1) Biking to the Biesbosch and beers at Stay Okay: The Biesboch is home to a very expansive stretch of tidal wetlands that includes countless shady trees and reeds, networks of rivers and islands and lots of wild life. It is in a word, beautiful. While the National Park is HUGE, part of it borders Dordrect, making it an ideal afternoon mini-excursion and the StayOkay hostel is a quaint little spot to enjoy a beverage and dessert right on the water.
2) The Dordrecht Market: This is one of the best outdoor markets I've ever been to. The first time I visited I was blown away by the size, diversity and public assembly that seemingly materializes from nowhere.
3) Leiden for whisk(e)y tasting and exploring: Leiden is a charming student town and the birthplace of Rembrandt. While this will be my first visit, I've heard many rave reviews of the picturesque architecture, nightlife and canals. However, when a friend turned me on to this bar, vising Leiden became much more enticing.
4) Utrecht: for beautiful sightseeing, Gothic Churches like the historic St. Martin's Cathedral then a tasty burger at Firma Pickles Burger & Wines.
6) Villa Agustus in Dordrecht: a beautiful hotel and restaurant in the middle of an enormous (vegetable) garden, on the Wantij in Dordrecht. Their seasonal menus are based on what's growing in the garden. A truly unique location that's worth going out of your way to experience.
7) Scheveningen Boulveard at The Hague: there's a beach in the Netherlands? Yup and Scheveningen Boulevard has the most over the top beach clubs you've ever seen!
8) Spido Tour of the Rotterdam Harbor: another on my "to do" list. This in an opportunity to experience one of the world's largest ports for 75 minutes on a very large ship. I plan on walking a few meter after tour to the gorgeous Hotel New York.
9) The Efteling: Spend a day at the non-commercialized Mega-Disneyland built on a nature-park that serves alcohol and allows you to picnic in.
10) Het Plein: Another great location at The Hague. This is the original town square that hosts beautiful government buildings like the Ministry of Defense in addition to more bars and cafes you would ever need to choose from.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, it’s a great start. Dutchies, what would you add?