Top 10 things I love about the Netherlands

Three pictures: canal, tulips, windmill - all things I love about the Netherlands


It’s currently raining here in Rotterdam, so I’m holed up thinking about how happy I am to be here and everything I love about this country. There are certainly more than this, but a top 10 list is always good. And hopefully this post will inspire you to visit the Netherlands too.

1. Canals

A canal lined with house boats in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

When people think of the Netherlands, they probably picture beautiful canals. This is what first made us fall in love with this country. We arrived in Amsterdam and were awestruck. And every time we’ve returned, we’ve felt the same feeling. They’re so lovely and romantic and relaxing. And they’re a bit different in every city. We also especially like the canals in Utrecht.

Small boat going down a tree-lined canal in Utrecht, the Netherlands

2. Windmills

Windmills and a boat at Kinderdijk in the Netherlands

Windmills are everywhere in the Netherlands. Earlier this year, we took a trip to Kinderdijk to see a whole bunch of them. When we flew into the country a few days ago, we noticed them on water in the North Sea. But my favorites are the ones that just pop up as you’re walking about a city.

Two windmills in front of autumn-colored trees behind a lake in Rotterdam

3. Bikes

Bikes in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Everyone bikes in the Netherlands. I’m still learning how to do so in the cities without killing myself, but it’s such a great way to get around that I’m determined to master it. It’s also quite a flat country, so that should make things easier. And, the bikes make the cities look so much more aesthetically appealing!

4. Tulips

Dark purple tulips at Keukenhof in the Netherlands

The tulips at Keukenhof are unrivaled. A trip there is a must if you’re a flower fan. One photo can’t do it justice, so read this post for out even more pretty tulip pictures and get tips on visiting Keukenhof.

5. Cheese

Wall of cheese in the Netherlands

Dutch cheese (kaas) is my favorite. Especially the oldest, darkest, most crystallized types. I love walking into a store and asking for whatever they recommend. I’m never disappointed.

6. Stroopwafels

Stroopwafels are my favorite cookie hands down. Caramel goodness sandwiched between two tasty, spicy thin wafer cookies. I’ll eat any of them, but the fresh one I had in Volendam last year was definitely the most memorable. And the proprietor of this shop taught me how to make them too!

7. Bitterballen

Bitterballen are unique to the Netherlands. They are fried balls of a meaty roux, served with mustard. They are delicious and a great snack to accompany a few beers.

8. The beer selection

The beer selection in the Netherlands is ridiculously awesome. Being so close to Belgium, you can find pretty much any variety of Belgian beer here. But Dutch beer is also really great. And there are bars that specialize in it. Like one of our favorite bars in the world, Proeflokaal Arendsnest in Amsterdam. Or our favorite brewery in Rotterdam, Kaapse Brouwers.

9. Albert Heijn

Albert Heijn (AH to us) is a supermarket chain. I’ve loved supermarkets and food shopping my whole life, but AH takes it to a whole new level. It’s not the cheapest shop in the Netherlands, but coming from New York City, everything’s cheaper! It has the best selection of fresh food, premade food like salads and (at some stores) sushi, staples, stroopwafels, and even beer.

10. The people

And I’ll end with a little something sappy. We’ve found the people here nothing but kind and helpful. And I love their straightforward, no nonsense manner … I feel like I fit in! We feel lucky to have made some wonderful friends here in the Netherlands and look forward to making more.

We’re excited to see if this list changes the longer we spend here. What do you love about the Netherlands? Let me know in the comments!

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49 thoughts on “Top 10 things I love about the Netherlands

  1. Kristine says:

    Lovely points made about the Netherlands! That view from the airplane is especially nice! I’d only visited Amsterdam for a very short trip too long ago, looks like I have to go back and note all these listed in your post!

  2. olyboly92 says:

    I have been to The Netherlands 3 times in my life. And I just love everything of this beautiful city. I have been almost everywhere except Giethoorn. You have maybe some photos on that place?

    enjoy your vacation. Any time you have questions of The Netherlands you can always contact me.

  3. Karen says:

    I absolutely LOVE the Netherlands. We’re moving back this week and I’m so excited for many of these things, especially the beer.

    As a side note, not every Dutch city has canals, but in general, they’re pretty cute. I DO love the ones on Utrecht.

  4. omnivagant says:

    Aww this makes me so happy to read! I was born and raised in the Netherlands but have been abroad for over a year now! Sometimes I forget what an amazing country it actually is and how lucky I was to live there. I would love some proper Dutch cheese and bitterballen right now haha!

  5. Ruth says:

    It difficult not to love The Netherlands after reading and seeing all this. I went there many years ago but would love to go back. At this point, I can appreciate more what makes the country unique including cheese and waffles.

  6. Christina says:

    While I don’t live in the Netherlands, this list is literally why I LOVE VISITING the Netherlands! (ok except maybe the bikes. they terrify me haha) But I used to hate cheese until I tried Dutch cheese, and now i’m a raving cheese lunatic… also the fruit juices at Albert Heijn give me life. Okay – rant over, but awesome post!

  7. Nana | PatagoniaDreaming says:

    Bitterballen! I already love that idea! I only visited Holland once, a small city where I did a competition in martial art, so I dont really know the country. It is said that there are more bikes than people in Holland – I think it could be true:)

  8. Alice Cardillo says:

    Cities with canals and preponderant water are my favorite! The fact that it’s so easy to move around with the bicycles is even better 🙂 I’ve never been but I’d definitely like to go!

  9. Suitcase And Wanderlust says:

    I loved your post. It makes me want to go to the Netherlands right now. I can see myself shooting the canals and windmills already. Thank you!

  10. nomadepicureans says:

    What a lovely post, I can totally see why you love the Netherlands! I actually think it’s like Denmark in many ways (bikes and windmills much? haha). An I also love grocery shopping, lol.

  11. kad8585 says:

    So surprisngly enough, I have never been to the Netherlands. I am dying to go but can never find a flight that works. But I too love the picturesque tulips, windmills, and canals. Plus I could always gor for some cheese with a side of cookies!! Yum!!

  12. Teja says:

    I only visited the Netherlands in brief bits before my current trip (I’m in the Netherlands now), and thought Amsterdam was pretty cool but maybe also pretentious. So I was just emkay with the Netherlands. But this time around I’m staying in Den Haag, and for longer, and have time to spend with my local colleagues. I’m liking the Netherlands much, much better this way. The Dutch are quite warm under their direct manner.

    • Sarah and Justin says:

      Yes I’ve found that about the Dutch friends I’ve made here as well. I quite like that direct manner being that I grew up in NYC 😉 And I always loved Amsterdam – even if it is a bit touristy – but have loved other parts of the country even more.

    • Sarah and Justin says:

      You should explore more of the country. Amsterdam is great – we truly love it – but the other cities and smaller towns are really lovely as well and for the most part much less touristy.

  13. Phillip says:

    Very nice run-down! I’m also an American living in the Netherlands, but I’m up north in Groningen. I absolutely love it here. Your last comment, albeit sappy, is super accurate! The people here make me feel more at home than anywhere else I’ve been in Europe. Their English skills are just an added bonus.

    • Sarah and Justin says:

      How do you find Groningen? We’ve heard great things and it was tentatively on our itinerary last year, but ended up going to Maastricht instead. Would love to check it out one day.

      • Phillip says:

        Sorry for the delay in my response! Groningen is wonderful. It’s small enough that you could plan a weekend trip if you just want to zoom about the city center. I think I’m more partial to it because I’m a student and there are two large universities here, so plenty of young 20 somethings always out and about.

  14. masabutara says:

    I loveeee Netherlands! Especially Amsterdam but other cities are pretty too (for example Rotterdam with its Market hall oh my god foodie heaven). And alll cheese and stroopwaffles. As you can probably see I’m all about food 😀

  15. Kay Rodriguez says:

    Really enjoyed reading this! I was only in the Netherlands for about 24 hours the last time I was there, so I’m going to have to go back for longer and use your tips 🙂

  16. Pingback: One day in Rotterdam | How Dare She

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