Having recently topped the list of the best city in the world for Millennials, Amsterdam is definitely the place to be. That said, if you've already been to its coffee shops, red light district, museums, and canal-side cafes once or twice, it could be time to try something new. And if you find yourself in this situation, you're probably wondering where else in the Netherlands is just as good. Luckily for you, we've made a list of our top six picks. As for the half? Well, you'll have to wait and see.
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For Old-World Culture
The fourth largest city in the Netherlands behind Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague, Utrecht is home to the largest university in the country, meaning it's packed with people in their twenties. Full of medieval history and the ancient buildings that go with it, Utrecht is a culture-lover's dream and just a half-hour drive from Amsterdam (you know, if you have commitment issues). The wharf system of the inner-city canals are what make Utrecht most unique; where parts of the Rhine River once flowed, you can now find bustling restaurants, shops, and museums commemorating everything from centuries-old artwork to the city's historic railway center.
For Endless Nightlife
While Utrecht was home to the largest university in the country, Leiden is home to the oldest and most prestigious. Considering Einstein was a regular professor there, you can essentially take this as the Harvard of the Netherlands. Filled with over 23,000 young and intelligent Millennials, the historic city charm (most of the buildings are from the 17th century) is complimented by an endless nightlife scene. Mixing old world with new, we suggest seeking out the Einstein cafe for a social dinner scene, the 'Owl' bar (which has been built into what used to be a monastery), Barrera to bump elbows with locals, and NEXT to dance until dawn.
For Beach-Side Vibes
If you find that canals lose their cool factor after about a day, a trip to The Hague should be in order. Often referred to as the 'city by the sea', The Hague is actually the official government capital of the Netherlands, and is therefore home to plenty of museums, mansions, and embassies. If that's your kind of scene, we definitely recommend Mauritshuis for world-renown works of art, Gemeentemuseum for the world's largest Mondrian collection, or Louwman Museum for one of the most impressive private car collections in the world.
If that starts to wear on you too, The Hague is also home to the district of Scheveningen, a long stretch of beach known for its loud and lively atmosphere. Here you can find a pier complete with an esplanade and a lighthouse. It's a little like Santa Monica beach in Los Angeles (though not as warm), and will definitely shake things up.
For Fashion Finds
For all those who live and breathe fashion, Arnhem is truly an inspirational city. Completely destroyed in WWII, the city has since rebuilt itself as a modern fashion hub, complete with a fashion and design institute (which trained the famous Dutch designer duo Victor & Rolf) and an annual expo each June. Shop your way through the Modekwartier (the fashion district) before exploring Castle Doorwerth (one of the oldest castles in all of Holland), Burgers' Zoo, or drinking up history at the Netherlands' wine museum (yes, it exists). And if you find yourself intrigued by the city's aforementioned WWII history, you can also explore Arnhem's portion of the liberation route; a path that takes you through sites of major importance.
For Innovative Architecture
A major port city in the Dutch province of South Holland, Rotterdam is bursting with seafaring history and bold, modern architecture. Similar to Arnhem, Rotterdam had to be almost completely reconstructed after WWII, meaning the buildings here are much younger than those you'll find in Utrecht or Leiden. See what stimulates innovation across the rest of the country with a visit to the city's famous Cube Houses, Van Nellefabriek (a UNESCO World Heritage site), and De Unie (a neoplastic dream come true). Between buildings, take advantage of the abundant shopping, dining, and cultural options to round out your experience. You may not be able to fit it all in one trip, but with it's ever-changing skyline, no two visits to Rotterdam are the same anyways.
For Incredible Food
The city of Maastricht is a point of convergence for multiple cultures. Here you can soak up Spanish and Roman ruins, French and Belgian architecture, and mingle with university students from all over both Europe and the world. Naturally all of that cultural sophistication has seeped its way into the dining scene, which is a highlight of this gorgeous city. To experience the more historical aspect, visit the Bisschopsmolen, a bakery that still uses the oldest working watermill to grind its grains for bread. Then, to get a taste of the French influence of the city's culinary scene, stop for dinner at Au coin des bons enfants, Tout à Fait, or Bouchon d’en face. Trust us when we say that being full of food has never been so good.
For Island Life
Counting as just half a city (because it isn't really one but should still be on this list), the gorgeous island of Texel is filled with small-town vibes and a slow-moving pace. In the spring, this little spot receives more sun than anywhere else in Holland, so you can go for lengthy walks on the beach, down drinks on outdoor patios, and bicycle along fields filled with rows upon rows of tulips. As far as food goes, the beach is lined with picturesque restaurants where you can try the island's famous dish: Texel lamb. And just in case meat isn't your thing (or you love the artisanal food concept), the island has spots where you can pick your own fresh fruit and vegetables, and farms where you can taste cheese made from the local cows and sheep on the island. That, friends, is about as authentic as Dutch experiences get.
Still sticking with Amsterdam? Plan your visit for King's Day 2018!