Bicycles lining a bridge over the canals of Amsterdam with church in background. Late day light. Netherlands.

How to make the most of a road trip through The Netherlands

When innovation meets tradition, and where a countryside riddled with tulips and windmills compete with skyscrapers of the big cities, that’s when you get The Netherlands. A country known for its art and visionary architecture, there’s really no substitute for this country of wonder and imagination.

 

Here, we’ll guide you through The Netherlands and give you a route that’ll take you through the best of this amazing country. But remember, the trip is yours! Take a detour or veer off the beaten track and make this journey entirely your own. 

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Rotterdam
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Starting off in Rotterdam, the first thing to know is that it’s a hub of design and architecture. With the beautiful glass-arch food market Markthal, the giant chrome dome of Boijmans Van Beuningen and the unique neighbourhood of Centrum, the artsy types won’t be going hungry here. If you’re in the mood, try one of the city’s many microbreweries, where they of course serve new and artisanal takes on classic cuisines. 

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Driving on Erasmus Bridge. Rotterdam, South Holland, Netherlands.
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The Hague
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Located right next to Rotterdam, The Hague also boasts a great scene for design and architecture. It also serves as the main hub for the country’s government and the International Court of Justice. The city’s main cultural draw is Mauritshuis, where the works of Rembrandt, Vermeer and Fabritius clad the inner walls. Beyond Mauritshuis, be sure to check out Gallery Row, where contemporary and classic designs meet in a spectacle of art. For the beach goers, the Hague’s coastal scene is just as great as it’s art. The pristine beach of Scheveningen is where you can enjoy a picnic and watch the Atlantic waves roll in. 

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 The Ferris Wheel The Pier at Scheveningen, The Hague, The Netherlands on a Spring day, couple man and woman mid age on the beach
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Amsterdam
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Travelling north from The Hague we end up in Amsterdam. The capital city of The Netherlands, and by far the most famous, Amsterdam is a city absolutely teeming with things to do. Take a leisurely walk (or bike) through the cosy streets riddled with shops and hidden gems, soak up the Dutch culture at the Rijksmuseum or Van Gogh-museum, have a relaxing picnic at the green expanse of Vondelpark, take a quintessential canal tour of the city’s iconic waterways, visit the Anne Frank Museum and learn about the horrors, and resistance, of the German occupation during the second world war at the Verzetsmuseum, or just take a breather and have a bite to eat at one of the city’s many cafés and restaurants. In short, when you arrive in Amsterdam there’s really nothing you can’t do.

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Canal in Amsterdam
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Groningen
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Going further northwest from Amsterdam, across the spectacular Afsluitdijk causeway, we arrive in Groningen. This city is a student mecca, with over 40 000 students living and learning in this vibrant and youthful city. When it comes to nightlife, Groningen has almost no equal. There are no closing times here, which means that no matter the time of day you can always count on the bars being open.

 

Even though Groningen is mainly a student city with a wonderful nightlife, there’s still a lot for those looking for a calmer vacation. Visit the Groninger Museum, have a coffee at Prinsentuin Gardens, shop for lunch at the Vismarkt Farmers Market or wander around the streets of Binnenstad District and discover your favourite new café or restaurant. 

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Diverse group of people enjoying a road trip and festival
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Flevoland
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You can’t have a road trip through The Netherlands and not visit the gorgeous tulip fields that fills the countryside with colour and fragrance. To do this, head southwest from Groningen and steer towards the area of Flevoland. Here you’ll find vast swaths of fields filled with tulips in red, purple, yellow, white, and pink as well as windmills that will make you think you stepped into a postcard. There’s not much to do here but letting the views speak for themselves.

 

For a city getaway, drive just a bit further south to the city of Utrecht.  

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Landscape of Netherlands bouquet of tulips and windmills in the Netherlands.
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Utrecht
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Utrecht is a city with a deep heritage harking back to the height of the Roman Empire, over 2000 years ago. As such, there’s a ton of history to be seen and experienced here. For the best view of the city, head up the 465 winding steps of the Domtoren Church. Standing at 112 meters, this 14th century cathedral is revered in Utrecht. Head down the steps and go even further, into the underground DOMunder exhibit, where you can relive the city’s ancient history. For a classic Dutch experience, look no further than to the Canals Area where little streets filled with cafés, restaurants and shopping are complemented by beautiful waterways. 

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Nijmegen
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A short drive east of Utrecht lies the beautiful city of Nijmegen. This is The Netherlands’s oldest city, and with a medieval city centre juxtaposed with an modern urban feel, Nijmegen is a must-see for anyone keen on exploring what the Netherlands is all about.

 

Visit the sprawling square of Grote Markt, where open-air markets are held on Saturdays and Mondays. When the markets aren’t open, you can always rely on the abundance of cafés and restaurants that are shadowed by the impressive medieval church Stevenskerk, located just a few blocks away. For shopping, look no further than to the oldest shopping street in the Netherlands; Lange Hezelstraat.

 

If you’ve had enough sightseeing, make one last stop. Go to the MuZIEum just a few minutes south of Stevenskerk. At this one-of-a-kind museum, there is nothing to look at. No masterworks of Van Gogh or Rembrandt. No centuries old furniture or swords. There is, in fact, nothing. At the MuZIEum, you’ll be able to experience what it’s like to be blind, with a full one hour-tour in complete darkness. You can also book a tasting where you’ll have a meal in the dark, relying solely on taste and smell to figure out what you’re actually eating. 

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Quick Facts

Distance from Amsterdam to Groningen

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Distance from Amsterdam to Groningen
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You should expect a two hour drive from Amsterdam to Groningen depending on traffic

Distance from Groningen to Nijmegen

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Distance from Groningen to Nijmegen
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Expect a three hour drive from Groningen to Nijmegen, if you’re passing through Flevolands tulip fields on the way. 

Distance from The Hague to Amsterdam

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Distance from The Hague to Amsterdam
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From The Hague, you should expect a one hour drive to Amsterdam, but feel free to take the road less travelled up the coastline to Amsterdam!

Try the local cuisine

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Try the local cuisine
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Even though Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Nijmegen are hubs for excellent high-end restaurants, don’t be afraid to try the local cuisine! Usually, that’s where the country expresses itself the best. 

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