1 week in the Netherlands
A week long adventure in the Low Lands
1 week in the Netherlands is the right amount of time to cover this little country's highlights! Arm yourself with an Interrail Pass to find canals and world-famous art in Amsterdam, picturesque windmills in Zaanse Schans, castles in Utrecht, and authentic Dutch gezelligheid in Maastricht!
Day 1 // Amsterdam
From Amsterdam Central Station, walk straight ahead to Dam square and the Royal Palace. Circle round to find yourself on Amsterdam's 400-year old Canal Ring. It'll be hard not to fall in love with the crooked buildings.
Visit the Anne Frank House on the Prinsengracht, and hop on a canal cruise to explore the city from a different view. At night, have a bite to eat on the lively Zeedijk street and venture out into Amsterdam's Red Light District.
Day 2 // Amsterdam
Start your day at the Rijksmuseum, and let its beautiful collection guide you through Dutch history. Next door is the Van Gogh museum, housing the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world.
Nearby you'll find the trendy De Pijp neighborhood. Wind up your day in the buzzing cafés and restaurants, and take a walk through the Albert Cuyp Market. If you like your beers, check out the Heineken Experience!
Tip: King's Day
One of the things to do on King's Day is to spot the king and queen in one of the cities of the Netherlands. Each year the royal family visits diferent region, where they talk to locals, play silly Dutch games and tour around specific places of importance.
If that's not your cup of tea, go shopping on one of the many flea markets or visit a music festival - make sure to dress in orange!
Dates to remember
King's Day: 27 April
Day 3 // Zaanse Schans
You can't get more Dutch than the Zaanse Schans! With beautiful old windmills from the 18th and 19th century, as well as picture-perfect wooden houses, it makes for a fantastic day trip from Amsterdam.
You can sample local cheese and chocolate, and see how clogs are made in various shops and museums. Treat yourself to a plate of traditional Dutch pancakes, or the sweet bread known as Duivekater.
Day 4 // Groningen
Located in the far north of the Netherlands, Groningen is an old trade city with a large student population. Climb the Martini tower for the best views, and have a drink or two at the Grote Markt below.
Spend your afternoon at the dynamic Wadden Sea, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can walk the mud flats (wadden) during low tide, and take a boat to the Frisian Islands to spot seals and a wide variety of birds.
Day 5 // Utrecht
Utrecht is a lively student town, with at its center the majestic Dom Tower. Climb to the top for a spectacular view of the Old Canal, lined with bars and restaurants right at water level. Go to Tivoli for a fun night out!
The area around Utrecht is perfect for cycling. You'll find the recreational lakes Loosdrechtse plassen to the north and the woods of the Utrecht Hill Ridge to the east. Don't forget to check out the magnificent De Haar Castle!
Tip: Liberation Day
Liberation Day, or 'Bevrijdingsdag', is the day on which the Dutch celebrate freedom after being liberated from the Nazis on 5 May, 1945. They celebrate each year by having music festivals all over the country, with performances by Dutch and international artists. The best of all: you can enter these festivals for free!
Dates to remember
Liberation Day: 5 May
Day 6 // Rotterdam
Skyscrapers welcome you as you arrive at Rotterdam's brand new station, giving the city a modern and 'un-Dutch' appearance. The Market Hall and the Cube Houses are some examples of the city's remarkable architecture.
Rotterdam is hip and happening these days, with many cool bars and music venues. Walk through Delfshaven to see what the city used to look like - it's one of the few areas that survived the bombings of World War II.
Day 7 // Maastricht
The city of Maastricht dates back to Roman times, and offers history around every corner. Check out the country's oldest church, the Saint Servatius, and the so-called Hell's Gate (Helpoort) in the medieval city walls.
Charming Maastricht is a great place for shopping, eating and drinking. Have a beer on the Vrijthof square, stroll along the Meuse river, and visit bookstore Dominicanen, located beautifully in a 700-year old church.
The end of February shows an interesting division between the northern and southern provinces. While it's just business as usual in the north, there's an all-out street party happening in the south that lasts for 3 days.
Colourful Maastricht is one of the best places to join in the festivities, but you can have a wonderful time in any place 'below the rivers'.
Dates to remember
Plan your journey
Start planning your trip with the Interrail timetable. You can use it to find the departure and arrival times of European trains. You can also check if your trains require an advance reservation.