Interrail in the Netherlands: the ultimate country guide 🇳🇱
Table of contents 🇳🇱
The Netherlands overview
Netherlands is a mix of natural and cosmopolitan beauty. A lively country full of museums, historical sites, hipster coffee shops, quirky hotels, a buzzing food scene and photogenic spots at every corner. The Netherlands is a country full of gems of all kinds. From beautiful and vast farmland, iconic windmills and tulips to delicious waffles and gouda cheese.
The Netherlands is one of the flattest countries in the world with one-fifth of the country being below sea level. Thus, in the Netherlands, water is everywhere, seen in its typical narrow canals. The north of the Netherlands is home to beautiful nature and the start of the internationally known hiking trail, the Pieterpad, leading all the way to the most southern point of the country. The train system is modern, inexpensive and punctual. Also, this amazing country has some of the most bicycle friendly places in the world.
The Netherlands is home to an amazing art scene, medieval towns, music festivals and many lovely towns along the water. You will fall in love with its rich history, liberal culture and many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It has its charms all year-round, but an exceptionally beautiful time of year to visit the Netherlands is in spring when the country’s iconic tulip fields are in full bloom. December is also a popular time because of the Christmas Markets and festive atmosphere all over the country.
The top 5 cities to visit in the Netherlands
Often dubbed the ‘Venice of Northern Europe’ due to its fascinating canal system, Amsterdam is a charming city well known for its history, the architecture and its iconic narrow houses. The home to Van Gogh’s museum and Heineken Brewery has something for everyone.
Rijksmuseum, with the Rembrandt and Vermeer masterpieces, is one of the world’s finest museums and The Anne Frank House leaves no one unimpressed. In Amsterdam, you can also find some of Europe’s finest art and architecture, dating back to the 15th century. Take a canal boat tour down Amsterdam’s canals, the Old Centre, Red Light, Dam Square, Grachtengordel and Museum districts. Or, simply cruise the narrow streets on bicycles, just like the locals do.
With its liberal coffee houses, cannabis coffee shops and the Red Light District, Amsterdam is a Mecca for the liberal. Also, consider ordering an “I Amsterdam City Card”, as it provides you with free or discounted entry to the many museums and attractions in the city.
When you want to relax aren’t interested in visiting ‘coffee shops’, check out one of over 1,000 bruin cafes, or brown cafes. They are named after their wood panelling and tobacco-stained walls, and are great places to sit, drink and enjoy the local beer.
Rotterdam is one of the busiest shipping ports in the world, but it is hard to find any buildings built before 1945, as most of Rotterdam was destroyed in bombings during WWII. This gives the city a modern, futuristic vibe, in contrast to other Dutch cities.
With an active nightlife scene, cool street art, a very modern skyline, a buzzing foodie scene and plenty of museums, Rotterdam is a completely different Netherlands altogether.
The Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has one of Europe’s finest art collections, while Markthal, which is not just the city’s top food market, is also an architectural masterpiece. The market’s crazy ceiling was designed by artist Arno Coenen and features giant fruits and vegetables. De Rotterdam is the city’s most iconic building, and home to offices, a hotel and modern apartments, as well as the largest building in the whole of Netherlands. Another architectural icon is Rotterdam’s famous cube houses, designed by Piet Blom at an angle of 45 degrees.
An evening on Witte de With Street is the best way to get to know Rotterdam’s a buzzing nightlife scene.
The Hague is a hub of international life, governmental structures and the centre of European justice. This gives the city a more conservative look in contrast with Amsterdam. The Hague (locally called Den Haag) is also the residence of the royal family.
All in all, The Hague is full of personality, rich with great architectures, unmatched culinary masterpieces and beautiful natural spaces. It is located right on the beach and Scheveningen is a resort-like area full of beach clubs, boutiques, hipster coffee houses and the best seafood available, where you can surf, relax on the sand or stroll the boardwalk.
The Mauritshuis Museum is one of Netherlands’ best art houses, while the miniature city of Madurodam showcases all of Netherlands’ highlights on a 1:25 scale. The Escher in Het Paleis museum shows the works of the famous Dutch artist M.C. Escher.
This car-free, picturesque city is one of the top visited places in the Netherlands. Its beautiful network of canals makes it a unique city with vibrant life and lots of cultural attractions.
Utrecht is an incredibly walkable city, with an arty, student vibe, as well as cafes clustered around squares and alongside canals, particularly along Oudegracht. Oudegracht is the city’s main canal and split on two levels: on the street level, you’ll find typical Dutch houses, shops, cafés, restaurants… and, on the water level, you can enjoy the terraces of restaurants.
Wander around the medieval old town, which is the country’s oldest one. Visit the Speelklok museum, which holds the collection of internationally famous self-playing musical instruments, and be sure to check out Wilhelmina Park – Utrecht’s botanical garden.
Maastricht is a magical city located in the south of the Netherlands along the Maas river, jeweled with lots of historic buildings, splendid churches, finest restaurants and cute shops.
Maastricht’s close proximity to Belgium and France has had a profound influence on the city’s culture, seen in pavement cafes and cobbled streets. Maastricht is also the birthplace of the European Union, European citizenship, and the euro.
Walk along the big squares lined with bars and cafes and visit Maastricht’s gorgeous bookstore.
People who visit the Netherlands also visit...
Which Interrail pass do I need to travel around the Netherlands?
Interrail Global Pass
Interrail Benelux Pass
Do I need to make train seat reservations in the Netherlands?
Domestic trains in the Netherlands do not require a reservation.
Reservations are compulsory for international night trains and international high-speed trains.
You can make reservations for domestic and international high-speed trains and night trains:
Through the Interrail Reservations Service.
At a ticket desk at local train stations.
By phone through the NS high-speed call centre: +31 (030) 2300023
Where to stay in the Netherlands
ClinkNOORD - Amsterdam
CityHub - Rotterdam
The Golden Stork - The Hague
BUNK - Utrecht
The Green Elephant Hostel - Maastricht
Events in the Netherlands
Rotterdam International Film Festival
National Restaurant Week
Read more about the Netherlands on our blog
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Are you thinking about exploring Amsterdam on your Interrail trip? It is one of the most popular destinations for interrailers and there is so much