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Travel Guide: 5 Days in the Netherlands
Are you ready for 5 days in the Netherlands? I certainly hope so! As for me, I went to the Netherlands in summer of 2019, and I had an amazing time exploring not only Amsterdam, but many of the country’s smaller cities and towns.
I’m not exaggerating either. Without a doubt, I absolutely loved my stay here! Photographs don’t do this destination a justice. You feel as if you’ve fallen into a postcard when you visit here in “real life.”
Shall I list the other ways that the Netherlands blew my socks off? The art museums, tall unique and skinny houses, canals on every street, all spoke to my heart. Without a doubt, I want to visit the Netherlands again soon.
But enough about me and my awesome experiences! Let’s talk about your incredible vacation instead.
At the end of the day, I’d highly recommend the Netherlands to travelers who are visiting Europe for the first time (everyone speaks great English!) or individuals who are insanely adamant against renting a car (the trains are perfect). I’d even recommend solo travel to Amsterdam to all my readers.
This small Western European country is easy to travel around and packs a punch.
5 Days in the Netherlands is Perfect!
Now I’m sure some of you guys are debating whether or not you have enough days to fully appreciate the Netherlands. I mean, 5 days zip by fast when you’re traveling somewhere new and want to see everything.
Welllllllll. I have good news for you.
Don’t worry if you only have a week or so in the Netherlands. You’ll still see a lot and not feel completely wiped out.
First of all, the Netherlands has great public transportation. The trains and buses run (nearly) everywhere, and routes are frequent enough, especially between major cities such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
You won’t be stuck on a train for hours unlike some other countries in Europe. This makes the Netherlands perfectly suited for visitors who have limited vacation time at their disposal.
Furthermore, the cities in the Netherlands are very walkable. Even in Amsterdam, I spent most of the time walking around the city, and didn’t feel like I wasting too much time in transit. It was easy to bounce from attraction to attraction.
You’ll be fine with only a week in the Netherlands, but make sure to pace yourself. Don’t overpack each day with two or three museums and an afternoon trip outside the main city. You’ll feel so wiped out.
Remember: less is always more.
Read More: Lonely Planet Guide to the Netherlands
Netherlands 5 Days Itinerary
In the first part of this guide, I’ve written about six Dutch cities that you should visit on your trip. Feel free to adjust this itinerary according to your own interests and personal preferences.
All these destinations are easily linked using the fantastic public transportation system in the Netherlands.
Day 1: Haarlem
For your first stop, go to Haarlem which is a beautiful and charming small city close to Amsterdam.
Haarlem is a wonderful first stop, because the atmosphere is less overwhelming and busy than nearby Amsterdam, which is important if you’re coming off a very long flight. And don’t worry. Haarlem is easy to reach. The 300 Bus runs between Haarlem’s Train Station and Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on a regular basis.
In Haarlem, don’t miss The Grote Kerk or the Church of Saint Bavo in the main square.
As for beer lovers, don’t miss Jopen Brewery that is located inside a gorgeous church and brews traditional Haarlem beers.
If you’re a fan of museums, then Haarlem has a couple of good options for you to visit. For instance, Frans Hals Museum has a lot of paintings by the Dutch masters on display for you to view.
Not to mention, Haarlem’s a wonderful city simply for strolling through the streets and canals. You’ll find several locally owned places to shop and eat – even if you turn off your phone and ignore the reviews on Google Maps.
Day 2: Delft
Delft is the next charming city on your Netherlands itinerary.
For its size, Delft has a ton of things to see and do, and I promise you won’t be bored at all. Unsurprisingly, Delft is pretty well known and not exactly off the beaten path. Some of you are probably already familiar with Delft due to its trademark product: Delftware also known as Delft Blue.
In Delft, you’ll want to visit the Delft Factory. Take a factory tour and see how this gorgeous pottery is created, as well as learn the history behind the art. You’ll also receive a nice discount in the gift shop at the end of your tour.
Furthermore, Delft has an extremely rich history. You won’t want to miss Museum Prinsenhof which was the location where William the Silent was assassinated. You’ll also want to see Delft’s two famous churches: Old Church and Nieuwe Church.
And the food in Delft. Oh god the food. You can discover some of the greatest restaurants in Beestenmarkt. This area is also a wonderful place to grab a drink and do some quality people watching. I actually think Delft is one of my favorite places in the Netherlands.
Read More: Guide to What to Do in Delft
Day 3: The Hague and Rotterdam
For day three, I would choose either the Hague or Rotterdam to establish as your “home base.”
Personally, I wouldn’t attempt to see both cities, but that’s because I don’t like rushing on my travels. For me, I firmly believe in the “less is more” travel philosophy.
However, if you desperately want to see both the Hague and Rotterdam, then go for it. I won’t judge you, I promise.
As for the rest of you, determining which city to stay in highly depends on your personal interests. Hague and Rotterdam are very different.
In the Hague, you’ll see Johannes Vermeer’s masterpiece “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” at Mauritshuis, and learn all about the Dutch government at Binnenhof.
Meanwhile, in Rotterdam, you’re able to take a tour of Europe’s largest harbor and see funky contemporary street art in all its glory. Rotterdam also has a fantastic and popular food market where you’re able to gorge until your stomach bursts into a million pieces.
Read More: 5 Reasons to Spend a Day in Rotterdam
Days 4 & 5: Amsterdam
Last but not least, we head to Amsterdam. I’ve dedicated 2 days in Amsterdam simply because the city has a plethora of options available for visitors.
It’s so easy to see why international tourists love Amsterdam.
First and foremost, Amsterdam offers tons of attractions for every type of person. For instance, if you love art museums, then check out the Van Gogh Museum – with the world’s largest collection of Van Gogh paintings – as well as Amsterdam’s most visited museum, filled with Dutch Masters, the Rijksmuseum.
Amsterdam also has a deep and fascinating history. You will want to take a free walking tour of the city to learn all about the history and culture. Free walking tours always leave me with a sense of a city’s identity and as a result, I always have a better trip.
Another famous part of Amsterdam’s history is the Anne Frank House. For the Anne Frank House, you need to make reservations well in advance. The hidden attic is small, and understandably, the number of visitors and tickets are capped. Don’t wait til the last minute to make reservations. Don’t miss out, though. The Anne Frank House is a moving experience.
Last but not least, Amsterdam is a great place to go if you’re interested in cool and fancy drinks. Even if you’re not a drinker, one of the coolest attractions to see in Amsterdam is House of Bols Cocktail and Genever Experience. The history is fascinating.
All in all, Amsterdam is wonderful. Don’t skip it, because the city is a major tourist hub. Amsterdam is popular because it’s so great. Stay in a low key local neighborhood, and give yourself time to unwind at the end of the day.
Packing for 5 Days in the Netherlands
For the second part of this guide, I want to talk about essentials to bring for your week in the Netherlands.
Now I’m not going to specify clothing choices or anything like that since this itinerary is meant for any time of the year, but regardless of when you travel to the Netherlands, don’t leave these few items at home!
1. A Quality Guidebook to the Netherlands
Although blogs are great (I mean, I write one!), I also think that traditional guidebooks are very valuable for travelers.
Lonely Planet makes my favorite line of guidebooks. They give tons of information on attractions, restaurants, and accommodation, which will help customize your trip toward your budget and interests.
Lonely Planet has a wonderful guide to the Netherlands that will give you an extensive overview of traveling to the country.
For a more “niche” guidebook, Lonely Planet also publishes a pocket guide specifically for Amsterdam that will help you have the best city break possible.
If you don’t feel like carrying a book, Lonely Planet also has kindle versions of their guidebooks available for you to put on your device. No fuss, no muss.
2. A Power Adapter for the EU
You don’t want your camera or phone to die in the middle of exploring the Netherlands.
If you’re from Canada, the United Kingdom, or the United States, you’re going to need a EU power adapter to keep your devices fully charged.
While a lot of hotels have USB outlets now, I still wouldn’t rely on an abundance of USB outlets to keep your devices’ batteries going strong. So, yeah, definitely bring that EU power plug to keep taking gorgeous pictures of the Netherlands.
3. An Umbrella & Rain Jacket
Argh, the Netherland is notorious for rainy weather. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Netherlands to bits and had some great sunny days, but odds are that you’ll encounter rain at some point in the five days.
So come prepared. Pack a travel umbrella to protect you when those pesky unexpected rain showers burst above your head.
Now remember that you’re going to be carrying this umbrella around all day, so you need to make sure it is lightweight and able to fit in your day bag. Having an umbrella that’s compact makes packing this normally bulky item easier.
Furthermore, you’ll want to have a rain jacket. My “staple” rain jacket has been Northface’s Venture coat. Although it’s a higher price point, the venture rain jacket is durable, easy to pack, and lasts a long time. My jacket from 2013 is still in great condition, haha.
4. Waterproof Shoes that are Comfortable
Just to emphasize: as much as I loved the Netherlands, I didn’t always love the weather. Why? I hate the rain. I am not one of those travelers who can grin and bear it in the rain. I really do. not. like. it.
However, although we might wish others, no one is capable of controlling the weather. And the Netherlands is notorious for rain. So you have to just deal with it.
In addition to the umbrella and rain jacket, I highly recommend packing a pair of waterproof shoes or boots. For example, Merrell is one of my favorite shoe brands with plenty of options like this waterproof boot.
5. A Travel Insurance Policy
Travel insurance is an absolute requirement for your upcoming vacation to the Netherlands. Your policy will cover you if you need to seek medical treatment or cancel your trip if a sudden emergency happens.
As for me, I always book a policy with World Nomads. Their prices are affordable and coverage is comprehensive. You’re even able to purchase adventure travel insurance if you think you’re going to do skydiving or something crazy like that, haha.
So, yeah, never forget your travel insurance. The peace of mind is priceless.
What are your plans for a week in the Netherlands? Share all your thoughts in the comments. I loved the Netherlands, and hope to visit this incredible country again sometime in the near future. As always, thanks for your support.