The Netherlands is filled with beautiful places. There are many regions and areas you should explore in my country and De Kop van Noord- Holland, or the top of the province of North-Holland is one of those regions. You will find the things you have to do in De Kop van Noord-Holland in this article. Discover things to do in The Netherlands countryside and explore the best places to go in The Netherlands to see what this country is famous for.
I’m born and raised in this area in The Netherlands, and I still live here. My life has been fantastic here. There are meadows, flat landscapes, rivers to swim in (as well as small streams that are perfect for trying during winter if the ice is strong enough), cows and sheep in the meadows, windmills, a lot of birds, tulip fields and small villages. And I’m going to take you to my favourite places to visit in this part of Noord- Holland, The Netherlands. From natural attractions in The Netherlands to what to do and see in this region.
De Kop van Noord-Holland is a region in The Netherlands that stretches roughly from the city of Alkmaar until the town of Den Helder and the island of Texel. When you’re looking to escape the bustling Dutch towns, then relaxing in The Netherlands countryside is the perfect place to do so. Wake up with the sound of birds and look out at a meadow with grazing cows while there’s a windmill in the distance.
It truly doesn’t get more Dutch than that. Enjoy this The Netherlands travel blog and guide for this unique region. So, if you want to know what things you have to to in the top of North Holland province in The Netherlands, then this is for you.
Discover why the North of The Netherlands deserves more tourism: Things to do in the Kop van Noord- Holland a region North of Amsterdam
Whether you’re looking for Dutch beaches to visit or the best towns in The Netherlands, in this article about things to do in the top of Noord- Holland you will discover what The Netherlands is known for. This includes plenty of reasons why the North of The Netherlands deserves more tourism, including tips for nature attractions and other things to do in this part of Holland, The Netherlands. Discover what to visit in The Netherlands here.
Note before we start this article
I hate that I even have to say this, because it should be common sense, but do not cross fences to pet cows or sheep. Don’t try to pet them or feed them at all. Admire them, but from a distance. When I travelled through my country, I saw tourists trying to continually walk after sheep who didn’t want to eat the grass out of their hands. Of course, I said something about it. But simply don’t be like this. Respect the animals and country you’re in.
Don’t walk inside of tulip fields either, unless you have the permission of a farmer. Dutch tulip fields aren’t here for your nice Instagram photos. It’s an industry, and it’s the livelihood of the farmers that you are putting at risk when you’re trying to walk in them.
1. Visit the Wadden Island of Texel
The Dutch West Frisian island of Texel is the most popular Dutch island to visit in The Netherlands. It is also the biggest island that we have. Most of the tourists visit the island during summer, so if you prefer the visit outside the primary tourist season in The Netherlands, then I would recommend you to visit anywhere from September- until June. The island is one of the places you have to go to in The Netherlands.
This island in The Netherlands is very famous for having one of the national parks in the country, as well as delicious local cuisine, stunning beaches, local beers and beautiful villages. There are many things to do on Texel, and I would recommend you to stay at least two days in Texel so that you can explore the island. One day in Texel is too short, in my opinion. The ferry to the island of Texel runs from Den Helder, find more information here.
Things not to miss in Texel: the Texelse Bier Brouwerij (beer brewery), National Park Duinen van Texel (dunes of Texel) and towns such as Oudeschild, Oosterend and Den Burg must be visited in The Netherlands.
2. Spot an uninhabited island in The Netherlands
If you’re in the area of the red lighthouse Lange Jaap and Fort Kijkduin, an old fortress in Den Helder that is great to visit, then you must visit a parking space called Kaaphoofd. Usually, I wouldn’t recommend you to visit parking spaces when you ask me where to go in The Netherlands. However, this one is different.
From Kaaphoofd you can see an inhabited Dutch island called Noorderhaaks. Noorderhaaks is also called the Razende Bol and is a sandbank that is famous for being a resting area for thousands of seabirds and seals. It is always moving and changing. This happens because of the Wadden Sea and its tides, plus the influence of the North Sea. You are also able to see the island of Texel from this parking lot. I would recommend you to bring small travel binoculars if you can. Be mesmerized by one of The Netherlands most special sites.
3. Go mudflat walking on the Wadden Sea Unesco World Heritage Site in The Netherlands
Mudflat walking is one of the unique things you have to do in The Netherlands. Walk on the bottom of the Unesco World Heritage Site the Wadden Sea in The Netherlands and discover the country in a completely different way. Around the Wadden Sea in The Netherlands, you will find many places to visit. During mudflat walking, you will learn about the animals, plants and the Wadden Sea and how they had to adapt to the destructive tides of this Dutch sea.
Bring high sneakers that can be thrown away afterwards and wear warm clothing (short pants, sweater, rain jacket, bring a backpack with wrapped up dry clothing) that you don’t mind getting dirty. Because you’re walking on the bottom of a sea in The Netherlands, it’s not a casual stroll down the street.
You can go mudflat walking from Den Helder, which I would do through this site. If you prefer to go mudflat walking from the island of Texel, then I would recommend you to book through this site. You are not allowed to go mudflat hiking and walking in The Netherlands on your own; this is very dangerous. So if you ask me what to do in The Netherlands, then this has to be on your list.
4. Learn about the impact of the Second World War
The Second World War wasn’t a good time for The Netherlands to say the least. Cities were bombed, entire historic areas have been blown up, people were murdered, people were fleeing, and many people died due to starvation during the so-called Hunger Winter. One of the best locations to learn about the impact of the Second World War in The Netherlands is in the maritime city of Den Helder. This is the most Northern city in the province of Noord- Holland and home to incredibly interesting museums about the navy and the Second World War. It’s one of the many places on interest in The Netherlands that are worth a visit.
The Atlantikwall centrum in Den Helder is a great place to learn about the more than 5000 kilometres long wall that the Germans were constructing (with a lot of prisoners) from the top of Norway until the Southern part of France.
There are also more things to do in Den Helder, such as other great museums and fortresses that you can visit. Think of the fortress of Fort Kijkduin. This was built by assignment of Napoleon Bonaparte and also part of the Atlantikwall. This is one of the famous places you have to visit in The Netherlands.
5. Visit the biggest tulip region in The Netherlands
While The Netherlands is very famous for its tulips, there’s only one area that is known for it: the Bollenstreek and Keukenhof area down in Zuid (South) – Holland. That is the tourist destination in The Netherlands, together with Amsterdam. Funnily enough, that area used to have the most tulip fields in The Netherlands at the beginning of the 20th century.
However, it’s not anymore as that quickly changed when many farmers moved to the Kop van (Top of) Noord (North) – Holland region. This region in the province of Noord- Holland has had the most tulip fields in The Netherlands, and the world, for decades. Yet, people don’t know about them nor visit them.
Luckily for you, you have me, and I will have your back when you want to explore and travel to The Netherlands and visit hidden gems. And around the tulip fields, you will have the best places to stay in The Netherlands as well.
6. Find the most beautiful & best small towns and villages in The Netherlands
One thing I love about my country is that it’s filled with the most beautiful small towns and villages. The Netherlands offers so much more than big cities (which I find fun, but only for a little while), Dutch towns are worth exploring as well. The Netherlands is simply filled with destinations to travel to.
In Noord- Holland, these places are only a quick day trip from Amsterdam, and the best part is that barely anyone has ever heard of these places. Which means that if you are a fan of quiet and idyllic places, then you have to visit these in The Netherlands. So if you’re looking for unknown destinations to visit in The Netherlands, then I would recommend you to visit places such as De Rijp, Kolhorn and Schoorl. Nieuwe Niedorp is also a village in Noord-Holland, which is cute to see if you’re in the neighbourhood. One of the things to do in Nieuwe Niedorp is to walk along the Dorpsstraat, as it’s filled with beautiful houses, bridges and a little river.
7. Rent a boat and discover the waterways
If there’s one thing that The Netherlands is famous for, besides the tulips and clogs, it’s water. And with water I mean water is everywhere. That’s not a crazy thought if you think that a big part of the country is below sea-level. And we wouldn’t be Dutch if we didn’t use the water in every possible way. I mean, it’s here, why not use it? When you’re in The Netherlands, renting a boat is one of the things you have to do. So if you were looking for The Netherlands vacation ideas, then this shouldn’t miss on your bucket list.
That’s why one of the best things you can do in The Netherlands, and especially in the Noord- Holland part, is to rent a boat. Take a boat through Alkmaar and surroundings, Geestmerambracht, Broek op Langedijk or sail a ‘rondje Waarland’. You can rent boats in many places, but make sure that you ask how it works in advance. And if you’ve never sailed a motorboat before, then you should practice first as there are quite some narrow rivers and short bridges on these routes.
For sailing a rondje Waarland, I would recommend you to go to this website. You have to be at least 25 years old to rent a boat here and have to reserve the boat in advanced.
If you want to sail around the realm of a thousand islands in Broek op Langedijk, I would recommend you to visit this website.
To rent a boat to sail in Alkmaar and its surroundings, you have several options for boat rentals. The first one is Boot Huren Alkmaar. The second one is Greenjoy boat rentals. And the third option to rent a boat in Alkmaar is Alkmaarse Bootjesverhuur.
8. Go for a hike in the biggest duneregion in The Netherlands
Dunes are critical in The Netherlands. Both for protection of the country as well as from an ecological perspective. The longest and biggest dune region in The Netherlands can be found in Schoorl and its surroundings. You will also see the highest dune in The Netherlands called ‘Het Klimduin’, or the climbing dune. This dune is around 51 meters high, which is high for a flat country like The Netherlands, and it ends in the middle of the main square in the town of Schoorl.
If you’re looking for great hiking areas and routes in The Netherlands, or want to go mountain biking, or just simply discover attractive places in The Netherlands, then a must-do in The Netherlands is bringing a visit to the dunes of Schoorl.
9. Enjoy the West Frisian market
Discover the beauty of The Netherlands on an old market and find where to go in The Netherlands besides Amsterdam. One of the many historic markets you can visit in The Netherlands is the West Friese, or West Frisian, market in the town of Schagen. Schagen is located in the region of West Friesland. During July and August (and usually one Thursday in September), this old fashioned Dutch market in Noord- Holland is held every Thursday between 08:30 and 16:00. Discover the typical West Frisian costumes, enjoy old-fashioned games, see traditional dances and plenty of more. There are ten markets in total, starting from the first Thursday of July.
Every Thursday has its theme and takes place between 08:30 and 16:00. The parade of people usually starts around 10:45, and the best location is the Markt in Schagen.
First Thursday of July: First day and day of the old crafts
Second Thursday of July: Day of dance and music
Third Thursday of July: Day of the animal
Fourth Thursday of July: Day of the traditional dresses
Fifth Thursday of July: Day of the theatre
First Thursday of August: Special guest day
Second Thursday of August: Day of the child and old vehicles
Third Thursday of August: Tilting at the ring and hobby market
Fourth Thursday of August: Special market
First Thursday of September: Final day
10. Visit the most beautiful cities in The Netherlands
Now, The Netherlands is well-known for the city of Amsterdam, but there are so much more beautiful Dutch cities to visit and travel to. In the Kop van Noord- Holland, you will find several beautiful towns that are all near Amsterdam.
So whether you’re looking for easy and quick day trips from Amsterdam to hidden gems, or if you simply want to discover the countryside in The Netherlands the two cities I’ve listed below are perfect for you to visit.
The Netherlands is filled with beautiful scenery, whether that’s inside or outside the cities. And if you were wondering what to do in the Northern part of The Netherlands, then these places cannot miss on your to-do list.
11. Go for a cycle around the West Friese Omringdijk
I told you that the town of Schagen is located in the Dutch region of West Friesland and the West Friese Omringdijk (dyke) is what used to protect this area against the water. There’s a dyke around an entire area, which is why it’s called the Omringdijk, or surroundings dyke (literal translation). Nowadays the dam is not used to protect the low polder area from the rough water of the previous Zuiderzee (sea), it is a monument and kept in great shape. If a dyke happens to break, then this dyke will protect an entire region in combination with other barriers.
The West Friese Omringdijk is mostly original, which is very rare for dykes in The Netherlands. The building of walls in the region of West Friesland started around the year 1000. And the West Friese Omringdijk was closed off in around 1320. Except for an occasional break through the dyke hasn’t changed much. When you’re walking, cycling or driving on this dyke it is tough to imagine south of the wall there used to be two big lakes called Beemster and Schermer. North of the dam there was the Zijpe river, East of this dyke there was the Zuiderzee which was a very rough sea. And West of this long Dutch dyke there were the Rekere and Zijpe rivers.
The West Friese Omringdijk is very famous to everyone who lives in this Dutch area, but barely for the people outside of this region. Wherever you’re starting your cycling, walking or driving route in this part of Noord- Holland, you have to look for a few exciting things.
Curves in the dyke mean that the barrier broke in this part. Creating curves was the cheapest way to repair the dams. When you see two curves shortly after each other, there was a hole in the barrier. Sometimes you will see dykes in front of the main dam, which was used as an extra barrier for the water. Claypits mean that there were renovations and maintenance operations at this particular location.
The Netherlands nature is quite different than most countries but so incredibly unique. When you’re looking for what to see in the Kop van Noord- Holland, then this cannot miss on your The Netherlands itinerary. Some cities and towns that are located within the Westfriese Omringdijk in Noord- Holland are Hoorn, Schagen, Enkhuizen, a part of Alkmaar and Kolhorn.
12. Visit the Flora & Visserijdagen
One of the best and most exciting events in the Kop van Noord- Holland are the Flora & Visserijdagen, or flora & fishery days, in Den Oever. The exact dates of 2022 aren’t know yet, but it’s always between the 20th and the end of August. You can discover everything you want to know about fish and the North Sea here. You can taste traditional Dutch food, sail on a traditional fishing vessel and plenty of more things. Trust me when I say that it is worth a visit.
And if you’re looking for free things to do in the North of The Netherlands, then this event is fantastic as well, especially when you visit on Monday. On Monday you can sail on a traditional Dutch fishing boat and get a piece of free fried Dutch fish to enjoy. There is also a funfair in the village of Den Oever during the entire event, as well as performances on the harbour area plus tons of other things to do in Den Oever.
13. Admire plenty of Dutch windmills
As most of this part of The Netherlands is a few meters below, we used mills to pump out the water to create land. And one thing you cannot miss when you’re here is a visit to one of those old traditional Dutch windmills. But some windmills were also made to grain certain products. You can find them in the best small towns in this region in The Netherlands. However, my favourite windmills are located in the Schermer area (this one was used to pump away water), in Medemblik and ‘t Zand.
You can find the windmill in ‘t Zand at Parallelweg 33 in ‘t Zand. It opens from April- October on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday from 13:00- 17:00. In July & August, this mill is also opened on Monday and Friday from 13:00- 17:00.
14. Go canoeing
With so much water in both creeks and rivers, canoeing cannot miss on your to-do list in The Netherlands. And luckily for you, there are quite a few beautiful routes that you can do here. ‘Rondje Waarland’ is the first one, but I would only do this if you’re experienced as it’s pretty far. From De Luwe Stek in Waarland, you could go to De Weel (where there is a small lake) and back. This is easy, and you will still enjoy the area. You can rent a canoe in Waarland at De Luwe Stek.
Another area that is beautiful to go canoeing is in the surroundings of Julianadorp and Den Helder. At this company, you can rent canoes, but also sup boards. So no matter what you’re interested in, a sporty activity in The Netherlands is always a good idea and fun for many people. It’s simply one of the things you have to do in the Kop van Noord- Holland, and you will discover many beautiful things to see during your trip.
15. Celebrate the start of spring at the Lentetuin
The Lentetuin is one of the most significant flower events in the Kop van Noord- Holland and is one of the must-see places in The Netherlands. The Lentetuin is essentially one, big flower festival where you can discover beautiful flower decorations at this flower show in The Netherlands. This yearly event is celebrates the start of the general flower season and always takes place in the end of February and beginning of March in the town of Breezand. In 2022 the Lentetuin (or spring garden = literal translation) takes place in the first weekend of March. And, there’s a different theme every year!
If you want to arrive by public transport; there’s a free shuttle service to and from railway station Anna Paulowna. Thursday it opens from 10:00 – 21:00, Friday & Saturday from 10:00 – 22:00, Sunday 10:00- 20:00 and Monday 10:00 – 19:00. It takes place at Ceresplein 1 in Breezand and parking is free. Here you will discover one of the best places in The Netherlands to see a beautiful flower show.
16. Experience the kermis
The ‘kermis’ is an event you cannot miss. It translates to a funfair, but it’s more than that. And better. Every town, village and city in this part of The Netherlands has this event. It all starts around the month of May and finishes in October. Yes, there are bumper cars and other attractions, but that’s not why the kermis is something you have to visit to experience this Dutch culture.
Kermis is all about ‘gezelligheid’, which sort of translates to cosy and fun times at the same time. People talk with everyone, dance with everyone and simply have fun. But you have to be open to talking as well, and if you speak English people will be especially intrigued as to why you’re visiting.
Some of the best kermissen in Noord- Holland are, in my opinion; ‘t Zand, Warmenhuizen and Schagen. Kermissen always take place during the weekend and the first few days of the next week, but there are two days that are best to visit. Saturday evening starting at around 23:00 and Sunday evening at around 18:00/19:00 are generally the best time to go. There’s a lot of drinking, dancing and talking. But don’t worry, if you don’t drink, it’s fun as well. I rarely drink and have lots of fun. It’s one of those things you have to see in The Netherlands.
Schagen 18th of June 2021 – 27th of June 2021
Warmenhuizen 15th of August 2021 – 17th of August 2021
’t Zand 10th of October 2021 – 13th of October 2021
17. Beer breweries
Dutch people love beer. We’ve been brewing it for centuries. Not only are we famous for brands such as Heineken, Bavaria and Amstel, but also for having great Dutch craft beer. And in the top of Noord- Holland, you will find plenty of great breweries. The Netherlands is filled with places to visit. Especially when it comes to beer. Do a tasting, go on a tour through the brewery and buy some local Dutch beer as a souvenir (although I cannot promise you that it will make it through the end of the trip…).
My favourite Dutch breweries in this part of Noord- Holland are De Werf in Enkhuizen, the Texelse Bierbrouwerij on the Dutch island of Texel and Proeflokaal De Boom in Alkmaar which is located in the same building as the national beer museum. If you were still looking for things to do in the Kop van Noord- Holland and Northern Netherlands, then maybe these breweries are perfect for you to visit.
18. Find the most beautiful beaches in The Netherlands
This part of The Netherlands is filled with beautiful and long sandy beaches. And the best part? Most of them are only filled with locals, which means there is plenty of space left for you to relax. The most popular beach in this part of Noord- Holland is the beach of Callantsoog, which is why I rarely visit that one in summer. And even then there’s still place for more people. But I simply prefer to visit the beach of Groote Keeten and some other nearby beaches where there are even fewer people.
Beaches are a must-visit in The Netherlands, whether you want to explore the beauty of this country or are looking for The Netherlands and what you have to see when you’re here, a visit to the beach can never go wrong.
19. Walk through stunning Dutch nature
With the countryside comes space and with space comes nature, usually. And there are a lot of beautiful nature reserves to explore in the Kop van Noord- Holland. From dunes to incredible polder landscapes and from former islands to woods. If you want to relax, then visiting one of the areas below is a great place to do so.
Always remember to take care of nature. If you see any trash, take it with you and leave none of your trash behind if you see people walk in places that aren’t allowed or see them throwing trash in nature, speak up. Don’t cross fences, or areas that are forbidden to enter. That’s with a reason. The signs would be in Dutch, obviously, but use a translate tool, and you’re good to go.
When walking through some of the most beautiful places in The Netherlands, you will learn why you have to revisit The Netherlands. It’s a stunning country with so much to offer, and it deserves more visitors that head to the lesser-known parts in The Netherlands.
- Helderse Duinen
- De Putten
- Nationale Park Texelse Duinen/ National Park Dunes of Texel
20. See what’s so special about polders
The Netherlands is filled with sightseeing places. And polders are a typical Dutch thing you have to look at. We are famous worldwide for our water management, and polders are a part of that. These meadows, the villages and towns in Noord- Holland are mainly made from nothing. These areas were extracted from the water to create more land. Polders work together with dykes, rivers, dunes and other forms of water management to create a safe area to live and work on in The Netherlands. Without all of these things, this part of The Netherlands will be underwater within no time.
It’s funny because I don’t think about it. I live here, so I’m used to living a few meters below sea-level. However, for anyone who isn’t used to it, it’s probably an odd experience. There are roads, villages, meadows, towns, industries where there is actually supposed to be water. Luckily we have been living together with water for thousands of years and we have learned that we need to give mother nature more space in order to live with her. Because no matter how high you might build dunes or dykes, mother nature will win if you don’t give her the space she needs. So it’s not a fight against the water, it’s living with water that makes this work.
Perfect areas to see the polders in The Netherlands are the whole part of this part of The Netherlands. Except for the dunes along the coast. But the best villages in The Netherlands for polders are Lambertschaag and Aartswoud, and the Wieringermeer area.
21. Visit former island Wieringen
The former island of Wieringen is one of those beautiful places you can fully enjoy some of the best things The Netherlands has to offer. From discovering the weekly fish market in Den Oever every Saturday morning (08:30 – 12:00) to finding traces from Vikings in The Netherlands. And from seal spotting to admiring the beautiful, traditional farms on the former island.
There are many things to explore and see on the island of Wieringen, and it’s one of the places you have to visit in the Kop van Noord- Holland. And it’s notably one of the cool places in The Netherlands. It has so much to offer and especially for those who want to relax and take a few steps back Wieringen is a great area to visit. And here you will discover beautiful parts that you can and have to see in The Netherlands.
The Afsluitdijk is a dyke between the provinces of Noord- Holland and Friesland in The Netherlands. It separates the biggest lake in The Netherlands, Ijsselmeer, from the Wadden Sea. The Afsluitdijk means closing dyke. It’s crucial to help The Netherlands against floods. Construction was first started in 1927, and the last hole was closed in 1932. A year later the dyke was opened for motorised traffic. On the location where the dam was last closed, you will see a monument called the Vlietermonument. The entire barrier is 32,5 kilometres long.
On the Noord- Holland side of the Afsluitdijk, you will see the Afsluitdijk Wadden Centre. In this centre, you can learn more about the Afsluitdijk, the Wadden Sea, the Ijsselmeer region, engineering and new projects to increase the biodiversity in the lake.
I hope that this has reminded you all again that there are many things to do in The Netherlands outside of Amsterdam. Whether you’re looking for fun or crazy things to do in The Netherlands or some sightseeing, there are many things to do in the Kop van Noord- Holland countryside that will make your dreams come true.
There are many must-visit places in The Netherlands, and the countryside is filled with them. From the best towns to visit in The Netherlands to where to go and famous and cool things to do in The Netherlands. Whether you’re looking for The Netherlands coast, dunes or beaches or simply want to visit the old and beautiful part of The Netherlands. Whatever you want, the Kop van Noord- Holland delivers. By now you know what to do in the top of North Holland, whether you’re visiting for one day, weekend, a week or two weeks. This must-visit place in The Netherlands cannot miss on your itinerary for the provinces of Holland. I hope you enjoyed seeing the many things there are to do in the Kop van Noord- Holland region.
Discover things to do in The Netherlands and top attractions you should visit. But mostly you will discover hidden gems in this part of Holland. Except for the island of Texel and the cheese market in Alkmaar you won’t find many tourists here. Enjoy it. This pristine and beautiful area in Noord- Holland will be your favourite part of your The Netherlands trip. Share this post!!