Other Dutch cities
Outside of the capital,
Amsterdam, Holland has a number of other fine cities worthy of a visit. For more information on some of the country’s biggest cities, check out our
Rotterdam, The Hague, Haarlem and
Utrecht pages. However there are even more wonderful cities to discover in Holland.
Famous for its cheese market and sense of history, Alkmaar is a small city which is often described as a mini Amsterdam due to its narrow, canal-laden streets and genteel architecture. Between 10am and 12.30pm, every Friday from the first Friday of April to the first Friday in September, Alkmaar holds a cheese market in the city centre. Alkmaar also has a beach and sand dune reserves within easy driving distance, so it’s a great place to plan a driving holiday to Europe.
Another city known all around the world for its cheese, Edam cheese was the most popular cheese in the world between the 14th and 18th centuries, and was especially popular with sailors and in distant colonies - its ability to age well made it perfect for long journeys. The cheese market runs weekly in the summer, and you can also see how Edam is made in the Cheese Weigh House. Like most traditional Dutch cities, Edam is also known for its canals and beautiful buildings, and is a perfect escape for food-lovers!
Another city with an eponymous cheese, Gouda is home to beautiful gothic architecture, excellent shopping and wonderful outdoor cafes. Wander along the narrow, geranium-and-canal-lined streets or indulge in the city’s historic heritage – with trips to the Sint Janskerk and the Old City Hall, one of the oldest gothic city halls in the country, a must. For the more energetic visitor, Gouda is very cycle-friendly which will allow you to explore the city and its beautiful rural surroundings at a different pace.
Located near the border with Germany on the banks of the River Waal, Nijmegen is the country’s oldest city and has stood for over 2000 years. The city is steeped in history, from its roots as a Roman settlement in the 1st century BC, through to the Second World War where it was the first Dutch city to fall after the German Invasion in 1940. Nijmegen may have been scarred by conflict, but its charm lives on today with plenty of beautiful architecture to appreciate, while museums such as The Liberation Museum allow you to explore more about the city’s historical significance.
Castles, mills and man-made caves characterise this town in the south of Holland, which is also home to the oldest surviving train station in the country. Sandwiched in between the borders of Belgium and Germany, Valkenburg has endured its fair share of battles and invasions, with no less than six castles in the local area including the ruins of Valkenburg castle which sit atop Heunsberg hill, the only Dutch city to have central fortifications on a high hill. The man-made marl caves offer guided tours, sculptures and charcoal drawings to see, and some even host Christmas markets in the winter.
For a flavour of traditional Holland, a trip to Volendam will satisfy those looking to experience traditional Dutch culture. Originally the harbour for neighbouring Edam, Volendam became a town in its own right in the mid-14th century and is a very popular tourist attraction, welcoming many visitors keen to see traditional clothing, cheese farms and clog factories nearby. The town itself was home to artists such as Renoir and Picasso in the late 19th century and the harbour has retained a similarly bustling atmosphere from which you can rent boats for tours, or stay on land and discover the labyrinth of restaurants, bars and shops.
Ideally located a half hour drive away from our
port in IJmuiden,
Keukenhof is host to the world’s second largest flower garden. Some 7 million bulbs are planted each year in the grounds covering 32 hectares which attracts around 800,000 visitors annually. Open for a two month period between March and May, visitors can enjoy up to 30 flower shows as well as a sculpture garden boasting approximately 150 works of art. The idyllic gardens surround the grounds of Castle Keukenhof which unlike the gardens is open all year around and hosts many events such as festivals, classical music performances and Christmas fairs.
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