I’ve Been to Amsterdam, but not The Netherlands


Since sharing lives with a proud Brabantse Mensen (folks from the region of Brabant)who has also called Amsterdam ‘home’, I’ve come to experience and love the hidden treasures that remain unearthed across this small Western European nation. For those seeking to venture beyond the tourist path, cities like Utrecht, Den Haag, ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Leiden offer unique insight into the broad and diverse cultural fabric of the Netherlands.

Den Haag

On this trip, I’ve managed to find a place in The Hague, or if you want to impress the Dutch barista down the road – ‘Den Haag’.

Hot tip: drag out the ‘a’ and clutch the back of your mouth to make a ‘chhhh’ sound, instead of pronouncing the ‘g’ (experienced better in audio).

Steeped in grandeur, Den Haag is the political heart of the Netherlands. With its regal palaces, elegant boulevards, and world-class museums, this timeless city exudes an air of sophistication. Explore the opulent halls of the Mauritshuis, home to masterpieces like Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” or delve into Dutch and EU political history at the Binnenhof.

The city’s handy coastal location allows for relaxing beach strolls in the nearby town of Scheveningen, where sea, sand, and sun merge into a delightful seaside experience.

Spring in Den Haag

Utrecht

As the country’s fourth-largest city, Utrecht boasts a picturesque canal network, lined with beautiful wharf cellars and stunning historic buildings. Its crown jewel, the Dom Tower, dominates the skyline, offering breathtaking panoramic vistas.

Utrecht is also renowned for its vibrant café culture, bustling shopping streets, and rich cultural scene that includes museums, galleries, and lively festivals.

Utrecht – with the ‘u’ pronounced as ‘oo’ – will capture your intrigue with its blend of medieval charm and vibrant modernity.

Leiden

Leiden is a city that effortlessly blends history, academia and artistic beauty.

Leiden University, founded in 1575, remains one of the oldest educational institutions in the Netherlands, and has attracted brilliant minds and nurtured groundbreaking research throughout its storied history. Speaking of brilliant minds, the city is the birthplace of renowned painter Rembrandt van Rijn. Lose yourself in Rembrandt’s masterpieces and works by many other talented Dutch artists at the Museum De Lakenhal.

In Leiden, the past seamlessly merges with the present, creating an atmosphere of timeless charm. Of course, if academia and art aren’t your thing, a terrace seat with an ice-cold pils (pilsener) is never too far away in the Netherlands.

‘s-Hertogenbosch

Thankfully, the Dutch have saved us the embarrassment of dribbling by being OK with just ‘Den Bosch’.

Nestled in the southern province of North Brabant, this bourgondisch city epitomizes Dutch charm. On top of all the quintessential Dutch treats, like enchanting canals, medieval churches, cobble-stone pavements and stunning architecture, Den Bosch is also known for its festival culture, none more so than the colourful Carnival parties during February every year. For a more passive experience, lay out your picnic rug, pop some champagne and find a cozy spot by the banks of the Dommel River and enjoy the Bossche parade, where unique forms of art float across the river during Summer (video above).

And finally, a non-negotiable, If you do find yourself in Den Bosch, you’d be silly to miss out on a mouthful of Bossche Bol; a cream-filled pastry native to the city. Pick your days and times, otherwise, you’ll find yourself in a long line of hangry Dutchies.

This European holiday, spare a couple of days outside of your token Amsterdam trip and traverse this flat land, you’ll be sure to find diamonds as you step off the beaten path on your journey through the Netherlands.

Be sure to visit the Jheronimus Bosch Art Centre while in Den Bosch

This European holiday, spare a couple of days outside of your token Amsterdam trip and traverse this flat land, you’ll be sure to find diamonds as you step off the beaten path on your journey through the Netherlands.

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