Seeing The Netherlands on a road trip is a perfect start to discover the best destinations and things to see in The Netherlands and Holland. That’s why you will discover the perfect The Netherlands itinerary in this blog, by a born and raised Dutch local.
The Netherlands and road trips seem words that don’t always fit together that well. However, while The Netherlands is a small country, there are many places to see and visit in The Netherlands. No matter what season you arrive, a road trip through The Netherlands and Holland is always a great idea.
Note: It’s also possible to do most of this trip through The Netherlands by public transport. However, you’ll have a harder time to get to the local tulip fields in Flevoland and the nature reserve in Flevoland. You won’t have any trouble reaching the other places. So if you’re not comfortable driving and would like to experience this road trip itinerary for The Netherlands anyway, then I can recommend you to skip the province of Flevoland part of this 7 day road trip itinerary for The Netherlands.
This road trip itinerary for The Netherlands lasts anywhere from 6 days, if you skip Flevoland, to a one week or two-week itinerary for The Netherlands. It depends how long you’re planning to stay in The Netherlands and what areas you like best. However if you’re looking for inspiration for a The Netherlands itinerary for 3 or 5 days, then I’m sure that you will find a perfect road trip route for The Netherlands as well. You can even make this road trip as some of the best long weekend trips from Amsterdam or create it in some 4 day road trips from Amsterdam.
In this roadtrip you will cover three provinces of The Netherlands, but of course there’s plenty of more things to do in those provinces besides the places that I will show you today. But with this road trip itinerary you will get a general idea of The Netherlands. The following provinces will be covered in this road trip itinerary blog: Friesland, Noord- Holland and Flevoland.
You can find some of the best roads in The Netherlands which makes it very easy to find some of the best scenery in The Netherlands. In this road trip itinerary for The Netherlands you will discover one of the most scenic drives, best scenery and most beautiful villages in The Netherlands. This makes it one of the best places to do a road trip in Europe.
Discover one of the best road trips from Amsterdam, The Netherlands
We start our road trip at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Schiphol Airport is the biggest international airport of The Netherlands and the hub for the Royal Dutch Airline of KLM. Millions of people pass through this airport every year, whether it’s for a visit to The Netherlands or as transit.
Schiphol Airport is, in my humble opinion, one of the easiest airports to fly through and not anywhere near chaotic as airports such as Charles de Gaulle in Paris. Schiphol Airport is also the place where you’ll be picking up your rental car in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
I can recommend you to rent a car at either Enterprise Rent- A – Car or at Europcar. It’s definitely best to rent a car at the airport instead of going to the city of Amsterdam first.
As Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is a big airport, there are many things to do and many restaurants to eat at either before or after security. For a full guide on Schiphol airport, including opening times of restaurants, information on the only museum in an airport in the world and plenty of more, I can recommend you to click the link below.
Table of Contents
Day 1: Explore Flevoland, its tulip fields and nature reserve
From Amsterdam you will make your way to the province of Flevoland. Flevoland is the twelfth province in The Netherlands that exists since 1986. This province has been made from a part of the so-called Zuiderzee. This sea doesn’t exist anymore as we now have the Afsluitdijk that has closed the entrance and the Zuiderzee is now the Ijsselmeer. There was a need for more agricultural land, so we drained the water and created land. Nowadays you can find lots of tulip fields in the province of Flevoland, which is the reason why you should include this province on your spring road trip through The Netherlands.
You can find the best tulip fields Flevoland all around the province. But remember don’t go in the tulip fields. In the Noordoostpolder you will find Profytodsd Tulpenfestival that starts from mid- april until the beginning of May. Near Emmeloord they created walking, cycling and car routes to follow the tulip fields in Flevoland. It’s free to attend. Then you can find more tulip fields in Flevoland around the towns of Creil and Espel.
In and around Dronten, Swifterbant and Lelystad, Flevoland, you will find many tulip fields. As well as many other activities as there’s a tulip route in this part of Flevoland. Besides tulip fields you can visit several businesses on this tulip route in Flevoland. From a cheese farm to a gallery and potato farm. If there’s a tulip flag on the house or business, you can visit the place. If you’re more into picking tulips yourself, then I can suggest you to visit Hanneke’s Pluktuin in Biddinghuizen. In this picking garden for tulips in Flevoland there are 80.000 tulips planted, divided into 250 species. So there are always tulips that fit your style and taste.
Some of the best restaurants in Lelystad are De Gordiaan and BijDeBuren.
Note: Tulip fields in The Netherlands in general bloom between mid April and the beginning of the first week of May. However, as it’s nature the exact time differs.
Up next it’s time to visit the most famous nature reserve of Flevoland, the Oostvaardersplassen. You can find the visitors centre of the Oostvaardersplassen at the following adres: Kitsweg 1, 8218 AA Lelystad. It’s closed on Monday (unless it’s July or August), but opened from 10:00 -16:00 the other days during low season. During high season it opens from 10:00- 17:00. The Oostvaardersplassen and three other nature areas are combined into the Nieuwland national park in The Netherlands. This is the 21st National park of The Netherlands.
The reason why you must visit the Oostvaardersplassen is because this is a unique area for The Netherlands. This future national park of The Netherlands is a swamp area that is very popular with all kinds of birds and has its own changing dynamic/ developments every season.
Day 2 & 3: Travel through Noord- Holland and visit the tulip fields, cheese market and more
After enjoying the tulips in the province of Flevoland, it’s time to get back to the province of Noord- Holland via the Houtribdijk. From here you will make your way to Alkmaar.
Alkmaar is a city that is mostly known for its cheesemarket. At this cheese market you will see how they used to trade cheese, as well as get a good understanding of the entire process. The cheese market in Alkmaar takes place on Friday morning from the end of March until September.
After visiting the cheese market of Alkmaar, it’s time to explore the town itself. Alkmaar is a medieval city in Noord- Holland, The Netherlands, that dates back to the 13th century. There are plenty of things to do and see in Alkmaar. From great museums, to beautiful monuments. And from the best restaurants of Alkmaar to incredible courtyards that take you away from the bustling city of Alkmaar.
Up next it’s time to discover the broadest dune region of The Netherlands (at one point even 5km wide) that can be found in the town of Schoorl. In the middle of the town you will find the highest dune of The Netherlands at 55 meters high. If you’re willing to discover a nice calm area to recharge after a busy day in Alkmaar, then visiting Schoorl is a great idea. Located near the sea, you have everything that you want here. Dunes, pine trees, heather and plenty of more. From nice walking routes, to a perfect mountainbike route to cycle your heart out, Schoorl is the place to be.
After visiting Schoorl we will visit some local tulip fields in Noord- Holland, without tourists. We all know how beautiful tulip fields can be, especially without tourists. This area of Noord- Holland, called De Kop van Noord-Holland, is one of the best places of The Netherlands to visit for tulip fields. I would recommend you to roughly start driving the following routes from Schoorl:
Route 1: Petten – Sint Maartensvlotbrug – De Stolpen – Schagerbrug – ’t Zand – Anna Paulowna
Route 2: Dirkshorn – ‘t Veld – Nieuwe Niedorp – Aartswoud – Kolhorn – Moerbeek – Schagen – Oude Sluis – Anna Paulowna
Both of these routes are perfect if you’re planning on finding tulip fields in Noord- Holland. There are also places where you can rent a bike if you’re interested in that as nearby some cities there are plenty of tulip fields to be found such as in Schagen and Anna Paulowna. If you want to rent bicycles to see the tulip fields, it’s best if you reserve them in advance. You can find more exact street names, restaurant options, activities and events to get the most out of your tulip fields experience in The Netherlands below.
You can visit the cheese market and Alkmaar in one day. Or depending on the weather, and how fast you are at exploring, even add Schoorl in there as well. I would at least take half a day to visit the tulip fields of the Kop of Noord- Holland.
Day 4 & 5: Visit the magnificent Dutch province of Friesland and one of the Frisian Islands
From Anna Paulowna you’ll be making your way to the province of Friesland, which means you have to cross the Afsluitdijk. The Afsluitdijk is the longest dike/ dam of Europe at 32 km and keeps the Wadden Sea (Unesco World Heritage Site) and the IJsselmeer separated. You will visit the Afsluitdijk more intensely on the latter part of this road trip itinerary for The Netherlands, but first you will head towards, one of the 11 Frisian cities, Bolsward.
Not many foreigners have heard of the city of Bolsward, which is a good thing for you. That means that you won’t find many tourists here, while there are still plenty of things to do and see in Bolsward. You can discover a beautiful, old church that has been turned into an exhibition room with a glass roof, or take a canal tour through the canals of Bolsward. Sit on the terrace and enjoy a locally brewed beer. But there’s so much more to do in Bolsward and I’m sure that you will love the city as much as I did. It’s not the biggest city, but definitely worth visiting.
I would recommend you to either spend the night in Bolsward, or drive straight to Holwerd instead and take the ferry to the Wadden Island (Frisian Island) of Ameland. It’s best to leave your car in Holwerd and either take the boat or go mudwalking from Holwerd to Ameland. The latter is a great idea to discover the Unesco World Heritage Site the Wadden Sea and why it’s such a special area, so I can definitely recommend you to do that. On Ameland you can rent bikes to get around, or even take public transport, but I personally think that bikes are an easier way to explore Ameland. There are many things to do on Ameland, so that’s why you have to at least spend the night and one full day on the Wadden Island of Ameland. For more information, I linked to another article I wrote, about spending one day in Ameland, below.
Day 6: Explore Harlingen and find many things to do
From Ameland you will return to the town of Holwerd. Then you will make you way to, yet another one of the 11 Frisian cities, Harlingen.
Harlingen is a beautiful city and one of the destinations in Friesland you have to visit. The historical centre of Harlingen, or Harns in Frisian, is beautiful to visit. From the old harbour where you’ll see many historical ships, to discovering the authentic Harlingen pottery at Harlinger Aardewerk- en Tegelfabriek. And from taking a boat trip to watch seals on the Wadden Sea to watching the most beautiful sunset at the beach of Harlingen.
Day 6: Be prepared to be mesmerized by the longest dike in Europe; the Afsluitdijk
One of the final stops is the Wadden Sea Centre, which is located on the beginning of the Afsluitdijk. Here you will discover everything about the Ijsselmeer region, the Afsluitdijk, a fish migration river and plenty of more. There are exhibits as well as interactive impressions of the local surroundings and you get to know everything about the engineering and other innovative projects that will be completed at the Afsluitdijk. For more information about the Wadden Sea Center, click here.
The last stop on the Afsluitdijk is the monument. This is the spot where the Afsluitdijk was closed in 1932. While personally I don’t find it that intruiging, you do have a wonderful view of the Wadden Sea on one side and the Ijsselmeer lake on the other side. And that in its own is worth a quick stop.
Day 7: Visit one of the many medieval cities nearby Amsterdam
After a visit to the Afsluitdijk, it’s time to continue your way back to Amsterdam, but not before you’ve visited the medieval city of Hoorn. This city can be visited as a perfect day trip from Amsterdam as it’s one of the nearby towns you must visit. However, in this case Hoorn is also located on the route to get back to Amsterdam. Hoorn is a city that dates back to anywhere between the end of the 8th century and the beginning of the 12th century. It’s a city that is located on the edge of the biggest sweet water lake of The Netherlands, the Ijsselmeer.
This fact and the history of the city combined make Hoorn a great city to visit for one day or half a day. There are plenty of things to do and see in Hoorn, The Netherlands. Including buying a typical Dutch food called broeder. What is there to do and see in Hoorn?
After a visit to Hoorn, whether you stayed for one full day, or just half a day, it’s time to return to your home base that is Amsterdam. If you’ve visited Amsterdam before, then you might think that there’s not much left to see. I disagree. What most people don’t know is that Amsterdam has a countryside and cute villages. Not within the city, but within the municipality of Amsterdam. However, the fun fact is that you can find the countryside in Amsterdam with just a short cycle ride. This as well as non popular museums and incredible restaurants in Amsterdam can be found in a 2 day itinerary for Amsterdam I created so you can enjoy the local side of Amsterdam.
A road trip through The Netherlands in Europe is perfect no matter what route you take. Sometimes you like a place or area more than the previous one and that’s okay. Stay somewhere as long as you like, as long as you enjoy the trip. It’s your trip, not one of someone else. You can decide that you want to spend more time in Harlingen or on Ameland for instance. It’s very easy to make this The Netherlands 7- day road trip itinerary into a two-week itinerary for The Netherlands.
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I hope this article was useful for you. If you want to spend more time in the province of Friesland I can recommend you to have a look here. If you want to extend your road trip through The Netherlands then I can definitely say that visiting Groningen is a very great idea, as well as the fortified city of Bourtange. Thank you for reading! Share this post!!