Maria Hedian
Maria Hedian
New York City, New York State, USA
Solo Traveler | Event Producer | Marketing Creative

25 Unique Things to See and Do in Holland

The first thing you think of when you hear Holland? Amsterdam. Red Light District. Windmills...maybe. The point is that many people don't realize there is so much more to Holland than the two or three things it is widely known for. The beauty of staying in a place for an extended period of time is that you can really get a chance to look for all the cool and interesting things many people don't often know about. Holland is full of places and experiences that are worth seeing, some a little further and more interesting than others, but still totally worth the experience. I've rounded up some of the highlights from my journey through Holland in the hopes that you will use it as a guide when venturing out and finding your own quirky things about this wonderful country. Happy exploring! 

1. Museum Vrolik

Meibergdreef 15 | J0-130, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Interesting museum located in the medical university campus that is not for the weak of stomach. If you are interested in the human body or deformities of the body, this is the place for you. Admission is low at only 3 euros per person, especially for what you get to see. They also sell brochures that further explain the exhibits in other languages. All in all, it was a unique experience just when I thought I had seen it all in Amsterdam!

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2. De Roos

Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat 183, 1071 BW Amsterdam, Netherlands

A little bit of heaven hidden within a crazy city. De Roos (meaning, The Rose) is a one-stop shop for wellness and healing. They offer courses and workshops, from various levels of yoga to deep meditation. Additionally, they have a fully equipped kitchen, a conservatory, a terrace, a gift shop and a meditation room. I mean, what's not to love? The gift shop is incredible - they have every kind of stone you can imagine with their appropriate meaning and function, gorgeous statues, incense, books, yoga mats, etc. etc. The conservatory is the most serene place to go relax with a good book, a coffee and a side of pie. De Roos also has a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan friendly options available.

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3. Beatles Museum

Pettemerstraat 12A, 1823 CW Alkmaar, The Netherlands

A random little museum in Alkmaar dedicated to the Beatles. It looks small from the outside, but once you step inside, it's pretty amazing. You're transported to a different world as you look around at the immense collection of memorabilia the owner of the place has. If you're a Beatles fan, this place should be on your list of places to check out!

4. Vesting Bourtange

Willem Lodewijkstraat 33, 9545 PA Bourtange, Netherlands

This tiny town is absolutely worth a visit when in the Netherlands. The fortification itself is stunning to see in person. According to our local guide, the waterways were reconstructed in 1960 to make the place look pristine for visitors. The history and architecture of this place are great. There isn't much else to do in the area besides walk through town and get a bite to eat. Make sure to visit early, as cafes and restaurants are not open at night. Overall, it's a great place to spend a few hours learning history and witnessing beautiful architecture.

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5. Pyramide van Austerlitz

Zeisterweg 98, 3931 MG Woudenberg, The Netherlands

Spectacular monument to see in person! The huge pyramid is an amazing piece of history and worth seeing and climbing. Be sure to stop by the visitor center first before making the climb for some background information on the monument, including facts on the Napoleon time-frame that led to the creation of this monument. The surrounding area is predominantly green and beautiful to walk through after you've climbed to the top. There are restaurants and shops available as well.

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6. Hagelswag -- CLOSED

Heisteeg 8, 1012 WC Amsterdam, Netherlands

If you've been to Holland, you have definitely heard this word or at least seen it in shops or restaurants. Hagelswag is the typical Dutch food of bread with butter and chocolate sprinkles. This store is the epitome of Dutch chocolate deliciousness! It is well laid out and allows you to try samplings of various chocolates. The delicious chocolate sprinkle comes in a fancy glass bottle (you can buy them in a box if you're traveling). It makes for a perfect or a wonderful souvenir to remind of this lovely city. Prices are reasonable!

7. De Poezenboot

Singel 38G, 1015 AB Amsterdam, Netherlands

A cat lover's paradise! This amazing place was created to shelter and care for homeless cats on the streets of Amsterdam. There is no admission fee, but please be kind and donate. The place itself is not too big and it definitely has an interesting smell, but you can't expect otherwise when you have so many cats in confined space. The best thing about De Poezenboot is that it is not a typical [horrible] made-for-tourists-making-the-animals-miserable type of place. The hours of operation are wacky, catering to the cats needs. If they are overwhelmed, the boathouse does not open.

8. Clara Maria Cheese & Clog Farm

Bovenkerkerweg 106, 1188 XH, Amstelveen, The Netherlands

A beautiful 160 year old farm about a half hour from Amsterdam, famous for their fresh cheese and clogs! We decided to set out and see this interesting landmark after hearing friends of ours talk about how great of a time they had. Upon arrival, we were greeted by their staff and were promptly taken to a demonstration on how to make wooden clogs. It was fascinating to see! We were then taken to a room where they make cheese on the farm and were able to sample various flavors. The farm has a huge gift shop where you can buy cheese, clogs and a wide selection of Dutch souvenirs. My favorite part of the whole experience was being able to go to the barn and pet the some of the animals. It was a beautiful experience and a nice break from the craziness of the city.

9. Ruïne van Brederode

Velserenderlaan 2, 2082 LA Santpoort-Zuid, Netherlands

Fantastic ruins in a peaceful retreat. I was lucky enough to visit on a weekend when the town was a middle age theme universe and actors were walking around in costume. Some light bites were served, mainly cookies and small biscuits. The castle ruins were incredible to walk through. Admission is minimal, 2 or 3 euros - which is more than reasonable for what you get to see and learn about. Every aspect of the castle is well documented and this is what makes the tour so fantastic. Highly recommend visiting this awesome place. Just be sure to check their schedule as they have specific operational hours.

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10. Noord Tip

Nieuwendammerdijk 417, 1023 BM Amsterdam, Netherlands

A restaurant and large bike rental shop in North Holland. I recommend the bike tour, it is absolutely beautiful! You have the opportunity to ride through old Dutch villages just outside the city in Waterland, making any stops you like as you go. We had a really great time. The restaurant has a full service bar and delicious food. It is a pretty large venue and was lots of fun. We were there for a while after getting back from our bike tour!

11. ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo

Plantage Kerklaan 38-40, 1018 CZ Amsterdam, Netherlands

I am not usually a fan of zoos, however the iAmsterdam card provided free entry and th group I was with wanted to go, so we checked it out. I was pleasantly surprised to find that unlike other places, this zoo gave its animals vast amounts of space to live comfortably in. We learned from one of the guides that the Artis had recently been renovated to provide better homes to its inhabitants. The zoo is well laid out and you can easily spend two to three hours enjoying all of the beautiful animals!

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12. Holocaust Memorial Walk

Burmandwarsstraat 53, 1091 SL Amsterdam, Netherlands

A walking tour through Amsterdam and a must-see when you are visiting this city. The Holocaust Memorial Walk takes you through the old Jewish Quarter where you learn about the tragic story of the Holocaust. It always takes you through various important landmarks, including Anne Frank's high school and the theatre that served as a deportation centre. The tour itself is so well organized and full of information. The tour guide is very knowledgeable answered all of our questions. It is a somber walk, especially as you learn more and more in depth details, but it is important to learn about. This, along with the Anne Frank Haus should be on your list of historical places to see when in Amsterdam.

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13. Spui Book Market

Spui, 1012 Amsterdam, Netherlands

Knowing that I am an avid reader, my friend (a Holland native) pointed me in the direction of the Spui Book Market. Being accustomed to the hundreds of popup markets all over New York City, I went not at all expecting it to be as glorious as it was. While the majority of books are in Dutch, if you search you can find treasures. I walked away with a few English books, vintage maps and an insane fashion sketchbook I will cherish till the day I die. Important to note: the market is only up on Fridays, be sure to get there early and go either by foot or tram. It is impossible to get around by car!

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14. Botanical Gardens (Hortus Botanicus)

Rapenburg 73, 2311 GJ, Leiden, The Netherlands

Walking through the historic city of Leiden, the Hortus Botanicus is a must see place to stop at. It features a beautifully maintained garden with lots of exotic tropical plants and trees both in temperature controlled glass houses and outdoors. They even have flesh eating plants! (This was the coolest thing to see in person.) Beautiful walk through the garden, especially the Japanese garden, with the picturesque canal running beside and an old observatory in the premises. The Gardens are definitely worth a visit on your next trip to Holland!

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15. A’DAM Lookout

Overhoeksplein, 5, 1031 KS Amsterdam, Netherlands

The A'Dam Lookout building is in Amsterdam, but a bit complicated to get to. You have to take a ferry (free to the public) that is not pedestrian only, so be careful! The ride is only about 10 minutes long, maybe less, and the views are nice. Once you get off, you can see the magnificent building in front of you. There is a small section with the AMSTERDAM sign, similar to the well known tourist attraction in the center. The pictures come out cool because there is water behind them. Tickets are a bit pricey but you can buy entrance only or a combo with the swing. Note, if you have the iAmsterdam card, you get a discount here. The way up is really cool, the elevator goes up fast and with colors on the ceiling. The views from the top are gorgeous and you're able to take pictures from all sides. Outside, there is a DJ and tons of bean bags to sit out and relax. The swing itself it so fun, but much too short of a 'ride' in my opinion. Everything is timed perfectly and very organized.

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16. Int Aepjen

Zeedijk 15-1, 1012 AN Amsterdam, Netherlands

Oldest bar in Amsterdam with plenty of drink options to choose from! It's right in the city center, steps away from Centraal Station and hidden within the Red Light District. They don't serve food, so make sure to eat before heading there. The street it's on has plenty of restaurants and small cafes around. Cool place to visit, even if just to say you were there!

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17. Loopgraafbrug (Moses Bridge)

Schansbaan 8, 4661 PN Halsteren, Netherlands Province: North Brabant

An hour and a half drive from Amsterdam, this architectural masterpiece is breathtaking to see in person. Imagine seeing an infinity pool on either side of this bridge but water is almost at body length as you walk by. It is quiet and peaceful all around and you will see many people biking in the area. I can't recommend this place enough!

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18. Amsterdam Oersoep

Beurspassage 1, 1012 LW Amsterdam, Netherlands

A short passage giving way to the main street in Amsterdam. The walk is only about 5 minutes, tops, but it is beautiful to walk through and photograph. Usually packed with people, so if you want a picture, be sure to go early in the morning as this will work best with the light. There are shops all around. Be sure to look up as some of the best art can be found on the ceiling!

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19. Labyrint Drielandenpunt

Viergrenzenweg 97, 6291 BM Vaals, Netherlands

A park with various things to see and do, including climbing a tower that will give you views of Holland, Belgium AND Germany! The climb itself is exhilarating and not recommended for anyone scared of heights. There are restaurants and little shops around, so you can get a bite to eat or some souvenirs on your visit.

20. AFAS Stadium

Stadionweg 1, 1812 AZ Alkmaar, The Netherlands

Driving from north to south Holland, you can't help but notice this immense red structure. On my last trip, I decided to take a look inside. There is a free shuttle bus from the local train station to the stadium, which is perfect (especially for anyone traveling to watch an event). It was the middle of the week, which meant no game were playing so entrance was a breeze and parking was ample. Inside, the place is huge. There are lots of cafes, restaurants and shops. It made me realize that watching a game here is probably so much fun. Next trip, I will be sure to do it.

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21. Keukenhof Gardens

Bezoekadres | Stationionsweg 166 A, Lisse, The Netherlands

When I decided to go on my trip to Amsterdam, I realized it coincided with a huge flower show at Keukenhof Gardens. So of course, I had to go. Getting there from the city is a bit of a drive (you can also go by train and bus). Expect lots of people during the time of the show (April/May) and long lines, however it is worth it to go at least once in your life - especially if you like flowers! There are rows and rows of beautifully colored tulips surrounding the entire place. It's magnificent. There are also some small exhibits where you can take pictures and there is even a windmill and small boat you can go on! Overall, it's a wonderful experience everyone should try!

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22. De Waag

Nieuwmarkt, 1012 Amsterdam, The Netherlands

In the past, cities used to have weigh stations to weigh all of their merchandise before it was sold. However, centuries ago, these weigh stations were actually used to weigh people who were accused of witchcraft to determine whether they were actually witches. The belief was that witches weighed next to nothing. How could they fly on broomsticks if they were heavy? Oudewater became famous for these weigh stations. The museum itself is small, but learning about the legends while taking a look at items from the 1400s made this one of the most interesting places!

23. The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision

Media Parkboulevard 1 | Media Park, 1217 WE Hilversum, The Netherlands

Great place to learn about the history of Dutch radio and television. Most exhibitions are interactive and you are also given a personal guide. Unfortunately, the majority of this museum is in Dutch with very little translation available. I was fortunate to go with a friend from the area who was able to translate it all for me. While the museum keeps you entertained and busy for a few hours, it wouldn't have been the same had I not had my friend there to translate.

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24. Molen De Adriaan Museum

Papentorenvest 1a, 2011 AV, Haarlem, The Netherlands

Located in the center of Haarlem, this windmill is a cool site to check out. The guides are friendly and so informative. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes as there are lots of narrows and small spaces to climb through to get to the top. Once you're there, it's a beautiful site to see with the river and the center of town in full view. While there are lots of windmills all over Holland, this one seems to be quieter and in the perfect setting for beautiful views and pictures.

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25. Foto de Boer

Haven 82, 1131 ET Volendam, The Netherlands

One of the best things you can do in Volendam. Is it touristy? Yes. It is cheesy? Maybe. But you have a great time doing it and laughing the whole time. Getting dressed in those long dresses, hats and clogs with friends was one of the highlights of my trip. The printouts are a bit expensive, but this is totally to be expected as this is a pretty touristy thing to do. However, how often can you take a picture with authentic Dutch apparel? The friends I went with are all from Holland and had never done this before. We all had such a great time!

Last updated at Jan 29, 2019