What comes to mind when people think of the Netherlands, also known as Holland, one of the smallest, yet unique countries in Western Europe? For most it’s tulips, cows, cheese, clogs and windmills. All indeed typical items of my homeland, but luckily the Netherlands has much more to offer!
What to think of classy castles, extensive palaces, Japanese gardens, purple heather fields, cherry blossom forests, Unesco Sites, many islands and miles and miles of flower fields and beaches?! Just some of the other unique sights you can find in my country of just 16,100 square miles.
Staycations & daytrips throughout the Netherlands
Although I love visiting other countries, I also did many staycations and daytrips in my homeland before I started my website. Until now I've been to all 12 provinces, but there's still much on my list! And since traveling is more limited due to the coronavirus right now, I decided to explore even more of the Netherlands, while supporting local entrepreneurs and Dutch tourism at the same time.
Exploring the Netherlands for Welkom Terug in NL
That’s also why I joined the non-profit initiative Welkomterugin.nl, as ambassador for my homeland, along with 100 other Dutch tourism professionals. Here we showcase the most unique spots of the Netherlands through personal experience articles and social media posts to inspire locals to explore more of their own country as well.
The past 2 months I visited a lot in the Netherlands, such as: the tulip fields near Lisse, the mills of Kinderdijk, De Haar Castle, Leiden, Zeeland, Giethoorn, Overijssel in the east and several Dutch beaches and quaint towns in the south west. Most places I had been to before, but it’s nice to rediscover them now, combined with unique accommodations for special staycations, about which you can read more here: Authentic Chic Netherlands.
I also have many more local trips planned, among which to: Groningen, Haarlem, Amsterdam, National Park de Hoge Veluwe, Laag-Holland, Zuid-Limburg and my hometown The Hague, which I can't wait to share with you.
Instagrammable & photogenic spots in the Netherlands
I really like discovering and photographing hidden gems, off the beaten path spots, and all the unique villages, quaint towns, beautiful nature and heritage sites the Netherlands has to offer. And although everything can be photogenic in my opinion, and I find it a challenge to capture the beauty and authenticity of every place, some are just more Instagram-mable than others.
But what does Instagram-mable actually mean?
According to the Wiktionary: ‘Adjective: Instagrammable = Lending itself to being photographed and posted on social media; photogenic; attractively wholesome.
Of course this is still quite subjective, but in general the perfect scenes for Instagram worthy pictures are:
Impressive (Unesco) sites, quaint settings and unique architecture, such as palaces, castles, cute towns and windmills,
colorful and flowery settings,
and magnificent viewpoints.
Naturally this also depends on your style, taste and the niches you post about on Instagram. But in general pictures of these kind of places and settings work well because they stand out and look good in a grid, as you can see in this example:
Unfortunately because of that some of these spots are also quite touristic, but remember that places are touristy for a reason; because they’re a must visit!
Most of my favourites are however lesser-known, and crowds can always be avoided when visited off season, and outside school holiday periods. Generally during the months January-May, and from September until end of November, mostly on weekdays.
In this blog I rounded up 11 of the most Instagram-mable spots of the Netherlands, in my opinion and in random order, with many pics to convince you:
1. Keukenhof, local flower fields & tulip routes
Obviously the Netherlands is world-famous for its tulips, and during spring my country turns into flower heaven with all the multi coloured flower fields spread out mainly through the south west, around Lisse, Hillegom and Voorhout.
But also on the island of Goeree-Overflakkee in the south, and Flevoland in the heart of the Netherlands many flower fields and tulip routes can be found. The best time to see the tulips in bloom is, depending on the weather, between start April until half May, when most flowers are cut.
You can easily drive around there to find colorful fields by the road, but remember not to stand or walk in the flower fields without the farmer’s permission, as you can damage their livelihood and income!
To play it safe and see 500 different tulips with permission of the farmer you can also go to the showgarden of my friend Michel, and the tulip fields of van der Slot in Voorhout free of charge. Find more info on this website: Tulip Store Showgarden.
And of course you can also visit the Keukenhof in Lisse for a fee. Although this world-famous flower attraction is more touristy, and can get very busy especially during Easter, it’s certainly worth it to see the gorgeous display of flower combinations and large unique set-up! Get an impression here:
Do check their website in advance, as the Keukenhof was unfortunately closed this year due to corona restrictions: Keukenhof.nl.
2. Cherry blossom season - Amsterdamse Bos
If you want to take some of those Instagrammable blossom pics during sakura blooming season, generally between late March-early April, Japan is the place to be.
But we also have the perfect spot for that in the Netherlands: the Cherry Blossom Park (het Kersenbloesempark) at the Amsterdamse Bos! Here you will find 400 sakuratrees, gifted by Japan’s Women’s Club, initially planted to celebrate 400 years of cultural ties between our countries.
This small village is often referred to as the “Venice of the Netherlands”. It’s very popular, especially among Asian tourists. That’s also why I never visited Giethoorn until last month, now that it’s less busy with tourists.
The combination of the beautiful watery nature area of Weerribben-Wieden and the village itself, consisting of many small canals, cute islands with quaint farmhouses and more than 180 authentic wooden bridges make Giethoorn highly Instagrammable and perfect to explore by boat!
A “whisper” boat (fluisterboot) which is noiseless, electric and environmentally-friendly can be rented privately at: Boatrental-Giethoorn, like we did for 3 hours, which only cost €42 for a luxurious 4 person boat. But you can also do a guided canal cruise or explore the village by bike or on foot to see all the quaint fairytale settings.
This nature area in the south near Rotterdam, has a unique complex of 19 windmills and pumping stations to keep the low country dry, which you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Because of this Kinderdijk was granted Unesco status in 1997.
You can visit some of the museum mills and sail past the windmills by buying an entrance ticket online in advance at: Kinderdijk.com.
But since this is an open nature area it’s also possible to explore Kinderdijk on foot or by bike free of charge.
This quaint region above Amsterdam is a must if you want to experience true Dutch heritage, and appreciate authentic architecture.
In Zaandam, Zaanse Schans, Volendam and the Beemster it seems like time stood still, which is a unique sight. For a similar, less touristic experience I however recommend to visit the smaller nearby villages Edam, Monnickendam, Broek in Waterland and Marken.
6. Kasteel de Haar - Utrecht
The biggest and most luxurious castle of the Netherlands, dating back from the 13th century, located just outside Utrecht. Start June I visited the castle park and its 132 acre estate for the first time and was very impressed!
Although De Haar Castle is among the top 20 of most visited Dutch museums it’s still lesser-known to most, and therefore more quiet.
It can be visited year-round and tickets for the park or museum should be bought online in advance at: KasteelDeHaar.nl.
The Netherlands officially has more than 30 smaller and bigger islands, but the most popular are the WaddenEilanden. These 5 inhabited islands are located in the north and are very authentic.
Texel, Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog can be reached by ferry from the mainland. Each has its own unique vibe with their extensive sand dunes, flora and fauna, quaint light houses and cute villages and towns, easily explored by bike or boat.
The islands are located in the Wadden Sea, declared a Unesco Site in 2009 because of its unique natural habitat and daily process of ebb and flow, enabling you to walk on the bottom of the sea twice a day.
8. Japanse Tuin Clingendael - The Hague
With only a few Japanse gardens in the Netherlands, the one in my hometown is often named the most beautiful, see for yourself why:
Located on the Clingendael estate in The Hague, stunning in itself already, and named a state monument. The Japanese Gardens can be visited free of charge, but unfortunately only open to the public 6 weeks a year, during end of April-start June, and 2 weeks in October, when the gardens are in full bloom.
9. Hoge Veluwe – purple heath in August
Want to cycle or stroll through the woods, past shifting sand dunes, swamps and purple heather fields, while spotting the Dutch big 4, all in the same area?
Then National Park de Hoge Veluwe is the place to be! Situated between Apeldoorn, Ede and Arnhem with entrances on several sides, this is one of my favourite nature areas in the Netherlands.
Especially in August when the heath is in bloom and the fields in several areas turn purple, for example around the Posbank, this becomes a very Instagrammable spot!
10. Paleis het Loo - Apeldoorn
This 300 year old former royal palace in the heart of the Netherlands, now a museum, can easily be combined with a visit to National Park de Hoge Veluwe.
Unfortunately the museum is currently closed due to renovations till 2021, but the palace stables and gardens are certainly worth a visit as well. They're open until 30 September 2020, for which tickets can be bought in advance on: PaleisHetLoo.com.
The Dutch Baroque gardens are unique for the Netherlands, quite resemble and can certainly measure up to the gardens of Versailles! With their symmetrical parterres, impressive fountains, Greek statues and historical planting, dating back to the 17th century, they’re a beautiful sight, as you can see here:
But of course there are many more photogenic spots in the Netherlands, and personally a wide beach and colorful sunset is already very Instagrammable to me, that's why I also have to mention:
11. The beaches of west Holland
Funny enough many foreigners don't know that we also have miles and miles of beaches. Actually the whole west side of the Netherlands lays on the North Sea, where the sun sets every night over big stretches of sand and beautiful dune areas.
From the north to the south there are several seaside resorts, and plenty of villages with access to local beaches, one more quiet than the other.
As I live next to the dunes of Kijkduin, just a 10 minute walk to the beach, I go there often to enjoy the unique nature area and take shots of the occasional Scottish Highlander and magnificent sunsets:
As you can see there are plenty of Instagrammable spots to find throughout the Netherlands. And for more must visit cities and sights in my homeland you can also check this Dutch blog, or several other blogs about the nicest spots in the Netherlands.
Have I stimulated you to visit the Netherlands and come see all these photogenic spots yourself? Or have you been to most of these Instagram-mable spots of my country already?
Always happy to hear from you in the comments below or find me on social media, where I post daily pics, via the icons at the bottom of this page.