The Netherlands 101: Holland

It’s amazing that so much is packed into tiny Holland. It’s one of the 12 provinces that make up the mighty country of The Netherlands. Holland, it turns out, has just about every Dutch treat that you could ask for and more. From the amazing art to the bright green countryside, Holland delivers. While Amsterdam is the crowning jewel of this area and a highlight for many travelers, there is far more than this incredible town on offer. Here we go!


Modern Rotterdam is the business hub for much of the area. This huge port city not only serves The Netherlands but also supports many other EU partners in global trade. While it looks like there isn’t much to enjoy, you can spend a laid back day seeing this town and its highlights. Check out the modern art at the Boijmans Museum then tuck into some international food on Witte de Withstraat. This street represents the country’s diverse history and is lined with plenty of cafes and boutiques. Round out your visit with a simple harbor ferry ride. You can find them right by the Erasmus Bridge in the middle of town.

The Hague and Delft

Just six miles away from Rotterdam is the lovely city of Delft. Full of real life Vermeer scenes and plenty of blue and white dishware. Delft’s historic city center square is a great jumping off point to explore the stories of the artist at the Vermeer Center, William of Orange at the Prinsenhof, and the iconic earthenware at the Royal Dutch Delfware Factory. It is easy to spend two days here if you add in the Delfhaven Port that’s a little closer to Rotterdam.

Meanwhile, the important business of the region takes shape just to the East. The Hague offers one gem worth seeing as you pass through making your way around. Vermeer’s enigmatic Girl With A Pearl Earring can be found in Mauritshuis Museum. There are other heavy hitters like Rembrandt and Rubens hanging about. You’ll find it’s worth the detour. It’s less than 10 minutes from the train station and this museum is covered by the Museumkart pass.

The Zuiderzee

Probably the most fascinating story of the Netherlands is that it’s actually bigger than it used to be. In fact, though the use of windmills and dike engineering, the country is far bigger than it used to be. For the best look at the Zuiderzee, which is the vast, shallow inlet dutch technology controls, head toward the north Hoorn and Enkhuizen for two enlightening museums on both the Zuiderzee itself and the Dutch East India Company.

Kinderdijk and Windmills

If there is one last thing that makes The Netherlands so unique, it has to be the windmills. For the best chance to see windmills in action, check out one of the following choices:

  • The Netherlands Open Air Museum in Arnhem toward the west. This open air museum gives you a day’s worth of historical fun. It’s the Williamsburg of The Netherlands.
  • The Kinderdijk Windmill Park to the south. This grouping of 13 windmills is an easy ferry ride from Rotterdam. Two of the windmills are tourable and you can get a good peak at the inner workings in this pretty little setting. Renting bikes when you hop off the ferry is a great choice. Expect to spend about half of a day to thoroughly enjoy.
  • The Zuiderzee Museum in the historic triangle to the north. With one tourable windmill and so much to see this might be just the little dose of wind power you need.
  • The Lieden Windmill Museum to the south. To get into the nitty gritty of how a windmill works, use this massive mill to climb in and get a close up look at all the pieces and parts.

Boat rides through that famous town, Geithoorn

One last note, there is a lot of Insta chatter about the town of Geithoorn. This very picturesque town with streets of water may be toward the top of your list. Thousands of people also put it at the top of their list. Expect it to be about 1.5 hours from Amsterdam and Hoorn. The benefit of connecting this scenic drive with Hoorn is that you can enjoy the A7 highway which takes you right over the Zuiderzee dikes. Check out this video to decide if getting to this particular site is worth it for you.