Travel enthusiasts, holiday bloggers, and yes, even local tourists have said it – the Netherlands is easily the most beautiful country in the world. It is home to modern skyscrapers, the most picturesque mountains, beautiful forests, pristine beaches, historical Instagram-friendly cities, Golden Age canals, and of course, the tulip fields, which when in full bloom create a fairytale-like landscape. For first-time travelers, the Netherlands (or Holland to most people) is in western Europe, and partly in the Caribbean, bordered by Germany and Belgium. If you have not been here and you’re thinking canals, tulips, windmills, and romance, you got it right.
According to holland.com, there is no lack of world-famous icons in the country. The Netherlands is known for its windmills, cheese markets, museums, and Delft Blue earthenware, among others, making it one of the most popular wedding and honeymoon destinations in Europe. Convinced yet?
If you haven’t experienced that unique Dutch-brand of romance or perhaps planning to come and visit for the second, third, fourth time or more, make sure to check out the best and most romantic places in the Netherlands. Couples from all over the world come here not just for the pretty pictures, but for that overall romantic ambience that the country promises.
The Netherlands offers several unforgettable honeymoon destinations for couples looking to spend some quality time alone together. The country has beautiful beaches, mountains, delicious foods, amazing people, and world-famous canals. There are plenty of plenty awaiting visitors in the country’s four major cities – The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and Amsterdam, the enchanting capital.
Once here, the first things to welcome you are the capital city’s network of canals, as well as Amsterdam’s treasure-packed museums, vintage shops, and people who love to have fun and drink. There are so many things to do and plenty more reasons to come, but if you are specifically here to satisfy your appetite for romance, here are the Top Five romantic places in the Netherlands:
1) Canals of Amsterdam
On top of so many holiday lists is the famous canals of Amsterdam, as though the romantic waterways were built solely for couples and lovebirds. Amsterdam’s grachten (in-city canals) stretch to a total of over 100 kilometres, with 1,500 bridges and 90 islands, as well as 1,550 monuments along its sides. Each canal offers an interesting site for couples to take in. The canals are mostly man-made, and the three most popular ones were dug during the Golden Age (17th century). Together they form the Grachtengordel, which means concentric belts of canal around the city. during. According to amsterdam.info, Amsterdam is the most watery city in the world, and its Grachtengordel made it into UNESCO's World Heritage list in 2011.
Hire a private boat and a personal guide to cruise on the water. Nothing beats a lovely slow-paced boat-ride, as you put your arms around your lover while appreciating the various attractions from the water. If you want a more intimate time in the canals, get to the salon boats for a romantic sip of champagne or a lavish dinner with the people you love.
The boat ride is as romantic as the spots you will see and pass along. Hop aboard a canal boat, hopefully on an open-air boat so you could easily take in the sites, or one of the free ferries behind Centraal Station.
Two more options are the canal cruise, where a local guide will tell you about the capital’s history as you glide along, and a paddle boat for rent, allowing you to explore the canal belt at your own pace and liking. Prepare to be amazed as you catch a glimpse of picturesque house canals along the Gouden Bocht (Golden Curve) and the section of Herengracht between Leidsestraat and Vijzelstraat. Also, watch out for the bridge on the corner of Reguliersgracht and Herengracht and 15 other lovely bridges, especially the well-known The Magere Brug or “skinny bridge”. You should return to the skinny bridge in the evening as it is beautifully lit at night.
The Amsterdam canals are more than meets the eyes, really. There are so many surprises at every turn and through narrow lanes. After your romantic boat ride, get lost and discover gardens, restaurants, art galleries, breweries, flower stalls, old monasteries, and historical homes, as well as the hottest European clubs. You could also stumble into a boutique where you can find stylised Dutch-designed homewares and fashion not found elsewhere in the world. Not far away are world-famous galleries, including the Van Gogh Museum that features a large collection of masterpieces by Netherland’s most popular son. Van Gogh Museum is ranked as the world’s Top 35 museum, attracting about 1.5 million visitors each year. A few blocks away are the Stedelijk Museum and Rijksmuseum, which is known for its Vermeers, Rembrandts and other Golden Age treasures. Two museums that specifically highlight the history of the canal rings are Grachtenhuis museum on Herengracht and Woonboot museum.
Biking or walking along the canals is not a bad idea, either. Amsterdammers love a bike ride to the shops, to work, and even to a dinner date. Amsterdam is known as the “City of Bikes” for a reason. As they say, “Two-wheeling is a way of life here,” and experiencing this firsthand with your lover along the canals will be quite an experience, for sure. There are plenty of bikes for hire in the area, or take your lover’s hand as you stroll along the water unhurriedly and take in the beautiful night-lights surrounding the canals. At any time of the day and whether you spend a single penny or not, visiting the canals of Amsterdam is clearly one of the most memorable and romantic things you can do in the capital city. It’s stuff made for movies and fantasies.
Clearly, a romantic ride or stroll along Amsterdam’s canal highway is a must when visiting the city. The pride of Netherlands, the canals are a cultural heritage of “outstanding universal value”, according to UNESCO. If you are visiting Amsterdam, check this article about what to do if you have 48 hours in Amsterdam.
2) Keukenhof Gardens
Another must-see romantic destination is Keukenhof Gardens, known to many as one of the most romantic spots in the Netherlands. The country is known for its beautiful tulips and blooms, and they are best experienced at Keukenhof Gardens. Also known as the “Garden of Europe”, it is the world’s largest flower garden with 32 hectares and about 7 million bulbs, and considered by many as the most beautiful. In addition to tulips, it boasts a collection of irises, lilies, hyacinths, daffodils, orchids, and other flowers. Couples can easily get lost in love while strolling hand in hand inside the gardens, marvelling at the colourful rivers of red, yellow, and violet tulips. If indeed the Netherlands is popular for its tulips, then no tourist should fail to step inside Keukenhof. It is perfect for a romantic stroll and the most breath-taking wedding pictures. To see the bulbs dressed in full splendour, come and visit in mid-March to mid-May, and try to avoid near mid-April because that is when there are so many people around. In 2019, Keukenhof received around 26,000 visitors every day or about 1.5 million a year.
Located in the province of South Holland, Keukenhof is so popular it is hard to miss. To get there from Haarlem, take your lover on the Regional Bus Line 50, or from Leiden, enjoy a scenic 35-minute train ride from Amsterdam Centraal to Leiden Centraal and then take the Keukenhof Express Bus Line 854 to reach the gardens. Next to Amsterdam’s lovely canals, nothing spells romance better than the flowers of Keukenhof. In addition to the millions of tulip bulbs, there are other things to see and enjoy such as the historical walled area, Japanese Country Garden, and the Castle Keukenhof, which regularly hosts festivals, fairs, and classical music concerts.
From Keukenhof, it is not such a bad idea to check out Efteling, another popular destination in the city. It is one of the oldest theme parks in the world and one of the largest in the Netherlands, about twice as large as Disneyland in California. Efteling is a family place, but the greenery, theatre, and bars also promises a romantic getaway for couples.
Kinderdijk, a picturesque village from the late Medieval Age, screams classic Dutch-style romance like no other. The iconic site of 19 windmills that have stood the test of time will leave couples in awe, wondering whether the love they share for each other is as enduring. Kinderdijk is one of Holland’s top attractions and was chosen as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The country treats water with respect, or else it will find 60% of its land submerged under floodwater. The mills were built to address this issue, and thanks to Kinderdijk windmills, Netherlands has been water-savvy for many years and will remain the same for hundreds more. Thus, the windmills are not just a delight for tourists, but also an engineering marvel with practical and life-saving benefits. Walking near the massive structures will send visitors back in time, when the Dutch worked together to make sure they manage one of the most important resources of man – water. The mills harness the power of the wind to transfer water to a higher basin that flows into a nearby river, making sure Kinderdijk stays above water. As a result, the village has created an extensive irrigation system that is both practical and very attractive to tourists.
To get to Kinderdijk from Amsterdam, hop on the NS train to Rotterdam CS. From there, take the metro to Rotterdam Zuidplein and then by bus to Kinderdijk. If coming from Utrecht, take the NS train to Utrecht CS, then Bus 154 to the windmill village. The trip will definitely be worth it after you and your lover take a first glance of the mills. While there, visit the Nederwaard Museum Mill and Blokweer Museum Mill inside the oldest Kinderdijk windmill to better appreciate the village and its people. Come in September to witness the popular “Mills in Floodlight” when the windmills are majestically lit at night-time.
4) Vesper Bar
The Netherlands is all about nature, but there are also major modern dining spots to visit, especially at night. For a very romantic evening in the city, take your special someone and woo them at Vesper Bar. Enjoy a classy James Bond-type evening as you sip the most amazing cocktails in Amsterdam. And, oh yes, Vesper Bar is named after Bond girl Vesper Lynd in “Casino Royale”, the only woman James Bond ever truly loved. Dining and an evening drink at Vesper are very 007-ish, with ladies wearing that little black dress and fabulous high heels and men in a collared shirt and formal pants. This is the place for a drink with the one you love before taking a stroll along the Amsterdam canals.
Located in the heart of the capital’s Jordaan neighbourhood, between the Haarlemmerdijk and the Brouwersgracht, Vesper Bar serves an extensive selection of wines, beers, and cocktails and even offers cocktail workshops, which make for a unique and interesting date. According to local tourists, foreigners, and bloggers, the place is definitely one of the best for couples to visit in Amsterdam.
5) Amsterdam’s Red Light District
Finally, Netherlands is famously (or infamously) known for a completely different reason – prostitution, s*x theatres, and s*x shops. So, why is Amsterdam’s Red Light District a romantic place for couples and tourists? The city’s De Wallen neighbourhood has become incredibly popular having piqued the curiosity and interest of almost all international visitors to the capital. Amsterdam’s Red Light District is unique in the world, as nowhere else is a district such as this considered legal in a modern, developed country. The neighbourhood became well-known for prostitution since the 13th century, and today it is a place for sex, love, and romance; not sleazy, but romantic and nostalgic. A mere walk along the historical De Wallen, enjoying amazing sites near the canal and 14th-century Dutch architecture could get any couple excited to spend the night together to celebrate true love.
So there you have it, five of the most romantic places in Amsterdam, among many others. If you have time, feel free to roam around further and see exciting destinations, including Ijsselmeer Lake, Hoge Veluwe National Park, and the Bloemenmarkt flower market. For the more adventurous couples, visit Frisian Islands, a string of islands that stretch from the Netherlands to Denmark. This is a popular destination for lovers and honeymooners, if only for its stunning sunrise and sunset.
Read also: Best Things to do in Amsterdam at Night
Ask The Dutch Guy your go-to guide when it comes to The Netherlands. The goal of Ask The Dutch Guy is to showcase the beauty of The Netherlands and to inspire others to explore the country. Read more about Ask The Dutch Guy. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram.