There’s nowhere more picturesque than these Dutch cities.
Whilst we’re all very much in need of a sunny holiday abroad, there’s no guarantee that foreign holidays will be allowed or advisable by the summer. There’s also no guarantee that holidays in other Dutch cities will be allowed, but we can all still dream of escape! As the weather warms up it fills us with excitement and anticipation for the summer months, and there are plenty of places in the Netherlands that offering incredible scenery, amazing history and warm hospitality.
Utrecht is right in the middle of the Netherlands, making it really easy to get to. Plus, it has the largest church tower in the country, named Dom Toren, which was impacted by the rarest of things in this country – a tornado – in 1674. It’s well worth visiting if it’s open to visitors because once you have climbed the 465 steps to the top the view is unbelievable. Utrecht’s canals have been said to rival even Amsterdam’s, with plenty of places around to enjoy a beer, under normal circumstances.
Alkmaar is full of beautiful old buildings and played an important part in history. In the 16th century, the city was under attack by Spanish forces, and the decision was made to flood the countryside around the city to make life impossible for the invaders. This worked and inspired many other Dutch cities to employ the same tactic. However, the thing that really draws visitors to this city is its obsession with cheese. On Friday mornings in the summer, the cheese market opens, showing how cheese was once sold in the Netherlands. It’s not intended as a functioning market, more of a historical re-enactment, but there are plenty of great cheese shops dotted around the city to visit.
During the Second World War, Rotterdam was almost wiped out completely by German bombers, but the city bounced back from this terrible period. Now the city is full of beautiful, modern buildings. Rotterdam has commemorated the destruction with a statue called De Verwoeste Stad, and it is well worth a visit, as is the Jewish memorial at the Levie Vorstkade. One building that everyone should visit is the White House at the docks, a skyscraper in a Manhattan Art Nouveau style that survived the bombing and looks phenomenal by the old docks where people still restore old boats.
Leiden is quintessentially Dutch, with its windmills, old streets and canals, but it has its own very distinct character. The Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn was born in Leiden and you can visit places that played an important part in his life, like the house in which he was born. It’s sometimes referred to as the city of keys (de Sleutelstad)because tiny keys decorate the facades of Leiden’s buildings, in honour of the Patron Saint, Saint Peter, who is the gatekeeper of Heaven.
Delft is a really charming city – the home of the Orange family. There are plenty of historical places to visit, including the Nieuwe Kerk, which is the final resting place of William the Silent, or William of Orange as he is otherwise known. However, Delft is also the home of delftware, pottery decorated beautifully with white and blue designs. This kind of pottery is famous the world over and you can visit the Prinsenhof Museum in Delft to look at some of this amazing pottery.
Haarlem has to be one of the Netherlands’ most famous cities. Back in 1274 Haarlem was a walled city, and as the city grew the wall extended to cover more land. It once stood over 7.5 metres high, was surrounded by a moat and included 7 gates, but now only one of those gates (the Amsterdamse Poort) is still standing, and it’s a fascinating place to visit. There’s so much to see in Haarlem, like the Frans Hals Museum where you can admire the artwork of the incredible artist and the lovely Windmill Adriaan. It’s one of those cities that just keeps giving.