What do you picture when you think of the Netherlands? For some, this conjures up the image of cobbled wooden shoes and wheels of cheese; for others, it might bring to mind the red-lit alleyways and coffeeshops of Amsterdam city center. In reality, this country offers so much more: from beautiful nature excursions to inspirational art installations, the Netherlands is full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Check out these ten amazing summer experiences for a vacation you will never forget.
Be Blown Away By The World-Famous Windmills
Set among the meandering canals and fields of the Dutch countryside, you will find this UNESCO world heritage site: the windmills of Kinderdijk. Take a boat tour through the area and explore the Overwaard Museum Mills to find out about the history and importance of these charming buildings. Don’t miss Illumination Week – Monday through Friday on the first week of September – when the world-famous windmills are illuminated by colorful floodlights and accompanied by an evening market.
Admission: from €16 / $19, prices vary based on date. Check here to find tickets.
Get Inspired At The Van Gogh Museum
Vincent Van Gogh has become one of the most infamous and popular painters in modern times. So it might surprise you to find out that the Dutch painter lived a very humble life, selling less than a handful of his paintings while he was alive. Find out more about the life of the great artist while touring through the breathtaking paintings at the Van Gogh Museum in the heart of Amsterdam.
Admission: € 19 per person, free admission under 18 years old
Hours: Tues – Sun; 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (weekdays) / 6:00 pm (weekends)
Bask At The Scheveningen Beach in Den Hague
We promise the beach is just as beautiful as it is difficult to pronounce! Soak up the sun, or get your adrenaline pumping on the pier at Bungy Jump Holland where you can leap out over the ocean on the sixty-meter bungee jump. Come in later summer to enjoy the International Firework Festival which happens on the third week of August and hosts one of the most spectacular fireworks shows in all of Europe.
Have Fun At The County Fair
The Tilburgse Kermis fun fair runs from July 16 to July 25 and offers more than 200 attractions! The three-kilometer-long fair has something for everyone to enjoy: rides, games, live music, and beer halls. Show your pride on Pink Monday, or join the rubber duck race by “sponsoring” a duck to race down the river for a chance to win a fun prize!
Explore The Fairy Tale Theme Park
If you’re looking for some wholesome family fun, check out the Dutch Disneyworld: De Efteling. This theme park is filled with magical scenery to spark your imagination, along with enchanting shows, and wild rides.
Admission: From € 38,00; check here for details
Hours: Open Mon-Fri; hours vary, check here for details.
Paddle Along The Giethoorn Canals
Enjoy a scenic boat tour through this unique Northern town where no cars go. Rather than roads, the town is connected entirely by canals and hosts an unmissable boat parade called The Gondelvaart (Gondola Tour) on the last Saturday of August.
Boat Tours: from €35 / $42
Stroll Through Scenic Utrecht
Perhaps the most underrated and overlooked city in the Netherlands, Utrecht boasts beautiful canals with extraordinary wharf cellars, cafés, and terraces by the water. Admire the architecture as you stroll along the romantic canals, and climb up the historical Dom Tower for a better view. At night follow the Trajectum Lumen, a combination walking route and light-art installation, for a unique self-guided tour of the city.
Cycle Through The National Park
To get the full experience of life in the Netherlands, you will need to rent a bicycle. It is the most popular form of transportation and the best way to enjoy the scenery. Get out into the countryside and cycle through the spectacular De Hoge Veluwe National Park. Keep an eye out for black woodpeckers and deer-like horned Mouflon, then drop by the market on the fourth Sunday of the month to buy local food and hand-made goods.
Celebrate Diversity In Rotterdam
Rotterdam is set apart from the rest of the country by its modern architecture, love of hardcore music, and multicultural population. The city is a melting pot of cultures and traditions, which they celebrate every year at the Summer Carnival. Come on July 10th to elect the Carnival Queen and enjoy the events leading up to the parade and party on Saturday, July 31st.
Stop To Smell The Flowers
Although the Netherlands’ famous tulips only bloom from March until May, the country is full of brightly colored flowers all year round. From June until the end of August you can enjoy dahlias and carnations in the majestic fields between Leiden and Haarlem in the South. Although the famous Keukenhof Garden is closed for the year, the area around it features some of the most beautiful flower fields in the country.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com