Visit iconic Amsterdam, beachside Haarlem, Alkmaar’s cheese markets and the multicolored tulip fields in the “Noord.”
Enjoy the natural beauty and immerse yourself in the cultural delights of North Holland.
Ride your bike like a Dutch native around Amsterdam’s historic canals, sample the cheeses of Edam and Alkmaar, explore the coastal dunes and national park around Haarlem and tour art galleries and museums.
Fly to Schiphol Airport, located in the Haarlemmermeer, a lowland reclaimed in the 1800s from a body of water that separated North Holland from South Holland. Board a train to beautiful Amsterdam, a wonderland of 17th-century houses, numerous canals, intimate cafés, grand palaces and mansions. Don’t miss the Van Gogh Museum, the astoundingly huge Rijksmuseum and the Rembrandt House. Numerous little canal house museums give you a glimpse into the lives of wealthy merchant families during the period between the 17th and 19th centuries.
A short trip away by train or bicycle is Haarlem, full of historic churches and charming narrow streets filled with cottages and unusual boutique shops. Spend a few hours wandering through the Frans Hals Museum, which celebrates Haarlem’s most famous Golden Age portrait painter and his contemporaries. Not far from Haarlem, find the Zuid-Kennemerland National Park, where you can hike through coastal dune habitats to the beach.
When you explore the little towns surrounding Amsterdam you’ll find each has its own flavor, quite literally. Edam has the famous eponymous cheese and Alkmaar is known for its Friday cheese market. Zaanse Schans has historic food-production sites, from a 17th-century bakery to a liqueur distillery and working spice mill as well as numerous wooden windmills.
Between Alkmaar and Den Helder are North Holland’s famous tulip fields, at their prettiest from March through May. Continue north to the West Frisian Islands to see the nature reserves of Griend, Rottumerplaat and Rottumeroog, islands in the Wadden Sea UNESCO World Heritage area. Camping is popular in summer, especially in June, when Terschelling Island has a week-long theater festival. Plan a sailing trip or take your bike on the ferry to explore the islands’ historic lighthouses and windmills.