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5 Small Towns To Visit In The Netherlands To Avoid The Summer Crowds

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It feels as though summer travel is increasing everywhere around the globe. With sky-high prices, and popular spots overloaded with tourists, a trip to the outskirts is extremely welcome.

According to Railtech, summer ticket prices have increased since the start of the season, and more and more tourists are flocking to the Netherlands to get a taste of the friendly culture and care-free nature of the country. Train travel specifically grew over 63% compared to 2022. 


It often feels overwhelming for travelers to research quaint towns that are worth visiting. Luckily for tourists, Europe is thriving with charming towns waiting to be explored: many of which still remain under the radar from the throngs of summer crowds. 

The Netherlands is best known for its charming canals, laid-back lifestyle, and thriving cities. With overpopulated areas becoming even more so during the busiest seasons, sometimes you’ll find some of the best places off the beaten path.

Here are 5 small towns to visit to avoid the summer crowds:

Leiden canal view, netherlands


In the Northeastern Province of Overijsell, Giethoorn is a small town filled with quaint waterways, boats, and runs mostly car-free.

Known as the ‘Venice of the Netherlands,’ Giethoorn is about an hour from the capital city. If you’re looking for magical charm, this is it. Like something out of a picture book, you won’t believe how cute this quaint town is. 

A fairytale village, the major standout here is the fact that it’s only possible to get around by foot, bike, or boat. Thatched cottages and flowers line the canals.

Though it’s still quite popular amongst tourists, it remains less so than overcrowded Amsterdam. 

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Giethoorn, netherlands canal


Similar in style to Amsterdam, Delft is a canal-lined city in the Western part of the Netherlands.

Sandwiched between the Hague and Rotterdam, Delft is pretty easy to get to. Rainbow-colored tulips fill the city for a perfectly picturesque view. 

Venture through the lively market square, boat the canals, or admire the blue and white pottery. Whether you’re into museums or history, there’s plenty to explore in Delft that’ll keep you busy for a few days.

Picturesque Medieval Canal Of Delft, Netherlands, Northern Europe


A university town in the South, Leiden is best known for its stunning architecture and its botanical garden founded in 1590.

About 30 minutes from Amsterdam, take a quick train to Leiden Centraal to beat the summer crowds. 

With a large variety of museums and outdoor parks, Leiden is a thriving city for tourists looking to experience a different vibe in the Netherlands.

Aside from Amsterdam, the city has the most amount of waterways and charming bridges throughout. Home of the infamous Leiden University, the city always has a buzzing atmosphere about it.

Leiden old town


A cobblestone city filled with gothic-style architecture, Maastricht sits on the Southern tip of the Netherlands.

With a huge cultural scene, the city is the perfect place to visit if you want to experience a local region of the country with delicious foods.

The Romanesque Basilica of St. Servatius is home to a large collection of Religious artwork for all the art lovers out there.

If you’re looking to backpack through Europe, this is the ideal area to be. Next to the Rhine Valley in Belgium, everything is right on the way. 

Maastricht, Netherlands aerial view of town


Once a huge trading port, hints to the city’s medieval past are still very much ever-present.

With cobblestone streets and charming houses, it’s mostly famous for its surrounding tulip fields.

As a close neighbor, it takes only 35 minutes to reach Amsterdam if you want to visit. The city is dotted with colorful houses and scattered windmills.

With an array of canal restaurants and hidden cafes, the best way to get around (like most of the Netherlands) is to bike and see what you stumble upon. 

Haarlem, Netherlands tourist on bike path

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Tuesday 1st of August 2023

Rhine Valley in Belgium made my day, lol

Dimple Chauhan

Monday 31st of July 2023

FYI - Geithoorn is the most crowded small town during summers.


Monday 31st of July 2023

This post is hilarious, actually made me laugh. You state four cities as small towns and the first place you name is the most overrun of all the places in the Netherlands...


Lisa, born and raised in the Netherlands


Sunday 30th of July 2023

Besides the generic text, the photos are mixed up. The one for Giethorn is actually Leiden.


Saturday 29th of July 2023

What a generic post probably written by AI, but definitely not by a human that has visited any of these places. Giethoorn has the highest density of tourists in the Netherlands and the other places are just big cities by Dutch standards (not ‘towns’).