Best Dutch Villages to Visit in the Netherlands


The Netherlands, known for its picturesque canals, vibrant cities, and tulip fields, has much more to offer than meets the eye. While Amsterdam and Rotterdam are popular destinations, the Dutch countryside is dotted with charming villages, each with its unique character and beauty. In this article, we’ll take you on a journey through some of the best villages to visit in the Netherlands, highlighting their distinct features and attractions.

Traditional Dutch Villages

When one envisions the Netherlands, the iconic images of picturesque canals, windmills turning gracefully in the breeze, and charming thatched-roof houses come to mind. It’s the quintessential Dutch experience, and you can immerse yourself in this enchanting world by visiting the traditional Dutch villages. Here, we explore the timeless beauty and cultural richness of some of the most iconic villages that define the Dutch countryside.

Giethoorn: Venice of the North

Often referred to as the “Venice of the North,” Giethoorn is a fairytale-like village where the primary mode of transportation is not by car but by boat. Nestled in the province of Overijssel, Giethoorn is characterized by its quaint canals that wind their way through the village, charming thatched-roof houses, and lush, flower-filled gardens. Visitors have the unique opportunity to explore Giethoorn by boat, gliding through serene waterways surrounded by vibrant, well-tended gardens. If you prefer to stay on land, bicycles and footpaths offer an equally charming perspective.

Zaanse Schans: A Living Museum

Zaanse Schans, a historic village near Amsterdam, is a living museum of Dutch traditions and craftsmanship. It’s renowned for its iconic working windmills, where you can explore their interiors, witness grain-grinding, and enjoy a variety of products. The village also features well-preserved wooden houses along cobbled streets, hosts clog-making demonstrations, and offers cultural insights through its museums. Don’t forget to savor a diverse range of Dutch cheeses at the cheese farm for a delicious culinary experience.


Volendam is a picturesque fishing village in the Netherlands, situated along the IJsselmeer. It’s renowned for its well-preserved Dutch architecture and strong cultural ties. Locals often proudly don traditional Dutch costumes with wooden clogs and bonnets. The village is a popular tourist destination, famous for its fresh seafood, including herring and smoked eel, enjoyed by the picturesque harbor. Volendam is also a gateway for exploring the surrounding Dutch countryside and waterways, making it a charming and culturally rich destination for visitors.


Situated on the banks of the River Amer, Amerongen is a small yet picturesque village with an air of aristocracy. The village’s crown jewel is the majestic Amerongen Castle, a stunning example of Dutch Renaissance architecture. The castle, with its elegant gardens and courtyards, is a testament to Amerongen’s historical significance.

Abcoude: A Serene Canalside Retreat

Nestled in the province of Utrecht, Abcoude is a charming village that offers a serene canalside retreat.The village is a treasure trove of cultural heritage, with well-preserved buildings that tell the story of Abcoude’s rich history. The picturesque St. Nicholas Church, dating back to the 15th century, stands as a testament to the village’s enduring charm. Visitors can enjoy the pleasant ambiance of Abcoude by dining at one of the local restaurants or cafes, savoring traditional Dutch cuisine.



Bronkhorst, known as the “smallest city in the Netherlands,” is a hidden gem that feels frozen in time. This picturesque village features cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and a tranquil river running through it, creating an authentic and intimate ambiance. The centuries-old houses, many of which have been transformed into charming shops, galleries, and museums, add to its charm. Bronkhorst Museum offers insights into the village’s history and the artistic inspiration it has provided over the years.


Kolhorn in North Holland offers an authentic Dutch village experience centered around its historic harbor, providing insights into maritime history. The village’s traditional waterside houses add to its unique charm. Kolhorn is known for its welcoming atmosphere, where locals readily share their heritage and way of life. The harbor bustles with sailboats and small vessels, creating a lively yet relaxed ambiance. In Kolhorn, you’ll find the simple pleasures of Dutch village life, where the timeless beauty of the countryside meets the warmth of its people.

Artistic and Cultural Villages

The Netherlands has a rich cultural heritage, and its villages are no exception. In these quaint settings, you can delve into the artistic and historical treasures that have shaped the nation’s identity. Here, we explore some of the villages that have made their mark on Dutch culture and art.

Delft: A Pottery Paradise

Delft is celebrated worldwide for its iconic Delftware pottery. As you explore the historic town center, you’ll encounter charming canals, cobblestone streets, and picturesque squares. The local museums provide a glimpse into the city’s artistic heritage, showcasing the craftsmanship and artistry behind Delftware. And, of course, Delft is renowned as the hometown of Johannes Vermeer, the Dutch painter known for “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and other masterpieces. You can visit locations associated with Vermeer, adding a deeper layer to your artistic journey.

Leiden: A Hub of Academia and Culture

Leiden, a city of canals and culture, is known for its prestigious university and the academic legacy it holds. But beyond its scholarly significance, the city boasts a vibrant cultural scene. Numerous museums showcase a wide range of art and history, and it’s the birthplace of the renowned Dutch artist Rembrandt. Visitors can explore the museums and landmarks associated with his life and art. As you stroll through Leiden’s historic streets and along its scenic canals, you’ll find a rich tapestry of culture and creativity.

Vreeland: A Glimpse of the Dutch Golden Age

Vreeland, a charming village along the river Vecht, offers a delightful journey into the Dutch Golden Age. Known for its historic architecture and beautifully preserved canal-side houses, it’s a place where time seems to stand still. The village’s buildings reflect the prosperity and artistry of this bygone era, and you can enjoy a stroll along the canals to admire their beauty. Vreeland’s peaceful ambiance and its connection to the Dutch Golden Age provide a serene and culturally enriching experience.

Vollenhove: A Village of Rich History

Vollenhove is a village steeped in history, with a picturesque harbor that invites exploration. The old town center, adorned with historic buildings and canals, is a testament to Vollenhove’s enduring charm. Here, you can immerse yourself in the past as you wander through the village’s streets and along its waterways. Moreover, Vollenhove boasts beautiful gardens and parks that offer a serene escape and complement the historical tapestry of the village.

Countryside Villages

While the Netherlands is known for its bustling cities and vibrant culture, it also hides charming countryside villages that offer a serene escape from the urban bustle. These villages are like stepping into a different world, where the pace is slower, the landscapes are more open, and nature’s beauty takes center stage.

Gouda: A Cheese Lover’s Delight

Gouda is renowned for its cheese, and its lively cheese market is a testament to this. The town is also adorned with beautiful town halls and historic churches, reflecting its rich history. Don’t miss the chance to savor some delicious local cheese, whether at the market or in one of the quaint cheese shops and take a stroll through the charming market square. Gouda’s rustic charm will transport you to a simpler time.

Edam: Cheese, Canals, and Serenity

Edam is another village celebrated for its cheese, most notably its namesake, Edam cheese. The annual cheese market is a must-see, where you can witness the vibrant tradition of cheese weighing and trading. Beyond cheese, Edam’s picturesque canals and historic architecture create a tranquil setting, inviting visitors to take a stroll and embrace the village’s peaceful ambiance. It’s a place where history and simplicity blend seamlessly.


Woudsend: Serenity Amidst Lakes

Woudsend, nestled in the province of Friesland, is a serene village surrounded by lakes and waterways. For water sports enthusiasts and nature lovers, this village is a haven. Boating, sailing, and exploring the beautiful natural surroundings are popular activities here. Whether you’re seeking adventure or simply a tranquil retreat, Woudsend offers the best of both worlds, combining water-based excitement with the soothing beauty of nature.

Elsloo: A Peaceful Countryside Retreat

Elsloo, a small and idyllic village in the southern part of the Netherlands, is a hidden gem nestled amid lush countryside. The village’s rural surroundings make it a haven for nature lovers. Here, you can take peaceful walks, immerse yourself in the serene landscape, and enjoy the tranquility that Elsloo offers. It’s a place to escape the hustle and bustle, embracing the simplicity and beauty of the countryside.

Unique Villages

The Netherlands is a tapestry of diverse landscapes and cultures, and its unique villages reflect this rich variety. From well-preserved windmills to isolated island communities and thriving natural wonders, these villages offer experiences that stand out from the ordinary.


A UNESCO World Heritage site, Kinderdijk is famous for its well-preserved windmills, highlighting the Dutch mastery of water management. Visitors can take scenic bike routes and explore the historic engineering marvels. It’s a testament to the Dutch ingenuity in managing water, and the windmills provide a fantastic backdrop for photos.


This isolated village offers a glimpse into traditional Dutch island life. With its charming wooden houses, local customs, and a historic lighthouse, Marken is a unique experience. The village is located on a small island in the Markermeer, and its colorful houses and close-knit community create a sense of timelessness.


Drimmelen is a village in North Brabant, known for its natural beauty and waterways. It’s a gateway to the Biesbosch National Park, a unique freshwater tidal zone in Europe. Visitors can explore the park’s wetlands, go on boat tours, and observe wildlife in their natural habitat.


Dreischor, situated on the island of Schouwen-Duiveland, is renowned for its well-preserved historic center. The village is home to a picturesque church square and a wealth of historic buildings, making it a place where history comes to life.


While the major Dutch cities certainly have their allure, the Netherlands’ villages offer a unique, intimate experience. Whether you’re drawn to the traditional charm of Giethoorn, the coastal beauty of Scheveningen, the cultural richness of Delft, the countryside serenity of Edam, or the uniqueness of Kinderdijk and Marken, these villages are sure to leave you with lasting memories of the Netherlands beyond its cityscape. Don’t hesitate to explore these hidden gems and discover the rich tapestry of Dutch village life. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, nature, or a bit of everything, the villages of the Netherlands have something special to offer every traveler. So, grab your camera and sense of adventure, and set off to explore these delightful Dutch destinations.


  • Lizette Schuurman

    Hi! I am Lizette (35), a born adventurer and addicted to traveling. I have been traveling around the world since I was 16, the freedom is wonderful. Get up and see what the day brings, enjoy the little things and meet like-minded people.I prefer to sit with my feet in the sand and a coconut in my hand. No luxury, just a simple hut by the sea. I also like to dive into the water, armed with my camera, in search of turtles, colorful fish and corals.I have already crossed quite a few things off my ‘bucket list’, from swimming with whale sharks and climbing a volcano to skydiving above the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Nothing is too crazy, I love going outside my comfort zone and trying new things.I currently live with my boyfriend in Friesland, where we have our home base. Every year we travel for a few months, usually to Asia. Knowing more? On my own travel blog you will find inspiration & tips about tropical destinations, paradisiacal beaches and hidden places!

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