Sloten canal, Amsterdam

Holland Travel Guide

A short break to Holland reveals a land of contrasts where clusters of small islands huddle together and magnificent sandy beaches fringe the mainland. This lush scenery, together with the country’s vibrant cities provided inspiration for master painters like Van Gogh and many more artisans through the ages; leaving Holland a unique cultural legacy that will enthral you.

Small, cosmopolitan and home to probably the nicest people in the world, Holland is a great destination whether you go to relax, get active, or be with your family. With regular DFDS Seaways ferries sailing direct to Amsterdam, you can take a comfortable overnight cruise to Holland, then arrive refreshed and ready to enjoy all the things Holland has to offer. In a country famed for its maritime past, sailing is the ideal way to begin your short break in this fascinating nation.

See Holland's Coast and Countryside:

Travelling through the Dutch countryside or along its beautiful coastline offers so much to see and do. If you choose to visit the coast, go island hopping among the Frisian Islands and discover The Frisian Island of Terschelling, with idyllic beaches and nature walks. If you visit April - September, you can experience mud-flat walking, a local recreation where Frisians hike between the islands during low-tide, or you can hire a flat-boat ship to sail on, for a truly Dutch experience.

If you prefer to sunbathe, then the seaside resorts of Zandvoort and Bloemendaal are popular places for visitors to unwind, taking in some sun as peaceful summer breezes blow over the nearby dunes and dikes.

If you’d rather visit the countryside on your short break, you’ll find plenty of places where you can drink in Holland’s natural beauty, or break a sweat in sports activities, or both. The lush Lower Rhineland area, on the border of South Eastern Holland and Western Germany offers unique flora and fauna, crystal-clear lakes and innumerable activities to participate in; hiking, golfing and horse-riding on land, or canoeing, sailing, surfing and waterskiing on bucolic rivers. You can hike or cycle across vast heaths in the De Hoge Veluwe National Park; get there early and you’ll catch a glimpse of its deer, boar and eagles. Holland also has a selection of captivating parks and gardens, including the Monde Verde ‘Gardens of the World’ and the famous Keukenhof Spring Gardens; 80 acres of floral exhibitions that attracts millions of visitors per year between March and May.

See The Culture:

Tradition and culture is important in Holland and you needn’t travel far to find it. Alkmaar in North Holland is famous worldwide for its cheese market. You can see authentic houses, historic ships and clog-making demonstrations in Zaanse Schans, the open-air conservation area and museum 9 miles north of Amsterdam.

Volendam is the post-card town of Holland; one of the few still to feature folk festivals where the traditional, colourful pointed bonnets are worn. Haarlem is Holland’s ‘Bloemenstad’; its ‘Flower City’, and the historical centre of its tulip growing district.

A plethora of museums await too, there’s the Openluchtmuseum, in Arnhem, with 85 authentic buildings providing an historic picture of life in the country as it was and the Palace Het Loo in Gelderland, which recreates the era of the House Of Orange.

Rotterdam has many museums showcasing artists from the Romantic and Northern Renaissance movements, with paintings by Monet, Van Gogh and Heironymus Bosch displayed. Amsterdam’s best known museum, the Rijksmuseum, is near to port and easy to visit; it shows works by Rembrant, Johannes Vermeer and Frans Hals. 

Take the kids:

If you take your short break with family, you can keep the kids entertained at the Madurodam miniature replica of Holland’s famous cities. Your little ones can tower over skyscrapers and cars built at 1:25 scale. Walibi world, a giant theme park with some of Europe’s best thrill rides, is also guaranteed to be a hit with any adrenaline seeking family member. 

Watch our video of Holland: 

Click below to watch our video of the wonders of Holland that await you. For more videos about destinations in Holland visit the DFDS Seaways YouTube Channel.

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City Guides:

Arrival Guides

Discover Holland when travelling by car:

When travelling by car, discover what lies further afield from the popular main Dutch cities. Everything is easily accessible within short distances, so you can pack a lot in on a short break to Holland! Read more about discovering Holland by car.

Get Active:

Holland is not only perfect for the cycling enthusiast; Holland is also the perfect country to explore on foot. Vast heaths can still be found in the provinces of Drenthe and North Brabant and in the National Park De Hoge Veluwe. There are also plenty of possibilities to explore the beaches and the dunes behind them on foot. There is always something happening on the Dutch lakes, rivers and seas. Water-skiing is popular in Holland, so why not try Zeeland’s delta, or the lakes between Flevoland and Gelderland to catch some waves? But if you’re more of a sailor, it’s easy in Holland to rent sailboats and motorboats for cruising down a canal, or sailing on a lake with a picnic on board. In Friesland enjoy a day out on a historic Skutsje flat boat ship, for a true Dutch experience. Read more about getting active and cycling in Holland.

Quaint Dutch towns and unique cities:

Further afield from the main Dutch cities you will also find many other picturesque Dutch towns and cities worth the visit. Go on a canal cruise, get lost in a corn field maze or enjoy one of the many other events and attractions in Breda. Leiden, Rembrandt's birth place, has a great city centre which is famous for its canals and perfect shopping. This University City is always alive with a friendly atmosphere. Haarlem is definitely one of the most beautiful historical cities in Holland. The city is located on the river Spaarne, about 20 km west of Amsterdam and near the coastal dunes. It has been the historical center of the tulip bulb-growing district for centuries and bears the nickname 'Bloemenstad' (flower city), for this reason. Read more about Haarlem and other Dutch Cities.

Family days out:

For a great way to explore parts of North Holland, take a trip on the steam train which dates from 1926 and leaves from Hoorn to Medemblik in North Holland daily. There are several theme parks in Holland for a fun family day out; The Efteling park near Eindhoven, is where fairy tales come to life. Walibi world is not the place for the faint hearted! This park is in the region of Flevland only 20min away from Amsterdam. Young visitors will no doubt enjoy themselves at the Duinrell park near The Hague. The world-famous miniature city Madurodam is in The Hague and presents everything Holland is famous for, replicated to the smallest detail on a scale of 1:25. Look, there is a monkey on your shoulder! This can happen to you in the Apenheul the monkey zoo, in Gerderland. Here you can walk through woods where monkeys roam around freely. Read more about Holland’s attractions and Family days out.

Holland travel blogs

For regular blogs on Holland and how to enhance your experience in this fabulous country, visit our

Holland travel blog archive


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