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Updated: 26 April 2023
Are tulips, art, windmills on your mind for the upcoming travel season? What about paintings by the great Dutch masters? Incredible row homes with mind-boggling staircases? Then I bet you’re headed to the Netherlands in the near future.
Not surprised. I absolutely loved the Netherlands. This small country is safe and easy to navigate, which makes visiting the Netherlands in 5 days possible.
As for me, I had an amazing time exploring not only Amsterdam, but many of the country’s smaller cities and towns, such as Delft and Haarlem, which I could truly envision myself living in longterm.
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.
Dutch Travel Tips for 5 Days in Netherlands
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.
Getting Around the Netherlands
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 can find more information about transportation at Ns.nl, which is the official page for traveling throughout the country.
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.
Walkability in the Netherlands
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. If you need additional help, I’d invest in a Lonely Planet Guide to the Netherlands to pick the cities that deeply appeal to you.
What to Pack for 5 Days 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.
A Netherlands packing list could take an entire post if I wanted it to.
To summarize, though, here are some essentials for your short trip to the Netherlands.
Essentials for 5 Days in the Netherlands
- A Quality Guidebook to the Netherlands: I’ve already referenced Lonely Planet’s Guide to the Netherlands, because I think LP makes the best books. I own a bunch of them! 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.
- A EU Power Adaptor: 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.
- An Umbrella & Rain Jacket: Argh, the Netherland is notorious for rainy weather. So come prepared. Pack a travel umbrella to protect you when those pesky unexpected rain showers burst above your head. 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.
- Comfy Waterproof Shoes: 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.
- Travel Insurance Policy: 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.
Itinerary for 5 Days in the Netherlands
For 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.
As I’ve said earlier in this guide, all these destinations are easily linked using the fantastic public transportation system in the Netherlands.
Day One: Haarlem
For your first stop, go to Haarlem which is a beautiful and charming small city close to Amsterdam.
Sure, you can do Haarlem as a day trip from Amsterdam, but I personally recommend spending the night here.
After all, 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.
Accommodation in Haarlem:
- For hotels, I recommend staying in Carlton Square Hotel (see prices on TripAdvisor.com or Booking.com) or Hotel Lion D’Or (see prices TripAdvisor.com or Booking.com). Both are in central locations in Haarlem.
- Looking for a hostel? Somewhere such as Hello I’m Local Hostel is the perfect option for you to connect with other travelers.
Day Two: Delft
Delft is the next charming city on your Netherlands itinerary. On this blog, I’ve written an entire guide to Delft, because I love this city so much.
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.
Accommodation in Delft
- For hotels in Delft, I have two centrally located recommendations for you to stay. Hotel Arsenaal Delft has plenty of charm (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com). Another highly rated option is Casa Julia (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com).
Day Three: 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, there are so many reasons to spend a day in Rotterdam. So. Many. Reasons.
For instance, 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.
Accommodation in The Hague & Rotterdam
- For hotels in The Hague, I recommend the pretty Carlton Ambassador Hotel (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com). As for Rotterdam, I recommend staying at Hotel Mainport Rotterdam, which is beautifully situated on the harbor (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com).
- In particular, Rotterdam has wonderful hostels for solo travelers who want to connect with other people. For instance, King Kong Hostel is incredibly popular with younger travelers.
Days Four and Five: 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.
Accommodation in Amsterdam
- Without a doubt, my favorite hotel in Amsterdam is The Highland House. This lovely boutique hotel isn’t far from the main train station. Plus, the people who run it are so, so, so nice. You feel like you’re coming home (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com).
- For a highly rated hostel, The Bee Hostel is absolutely delightful. This hostel is considered a luxury/boutique hostel, so it’s perfect for solo travelers who are seeking to splurge a little bit on their visit to Amsterdam! Worth it!
What are your plans for 5 days 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.