The Netherlands is full of the cutest small towns you’ve ever seen! The bigger cities offer a lot in terms of culture, museums, shopping, etc, but the small towns pack a punch of authenticity, beautiful walkable streets, and a bunch of friendly people.
As an alternative to Amsterdam, think about visiting the smaller towns to round out an experience in The Netherlands. Because I believe in this so much, I’ve created this post of 7 small Dutch towns worth visiting. Keep in mind that people live in these picture perfect places, so give back to the local community by purchasing items in a shop, staying in a hotel, or eating in their restaurants. That’s what makes tourism that little bit more responsible.
This little town is famous for its gorgeous homes and the part of town that is only accessible by foot or boat. It’s a treat to visit, but my recommendation is to stay the night. A lot of day-trippers head out there, but in the evenings and mornings, you have it all to yourself. It’s the perfect place to take a stroll or rent a boat on your own. Watch OUR VIDEO of this beautiful place.
I was pleasantly surprised when WE VISITED WOERDEN. People are friendly, food is sold at a reasonable price (Amsterdam isn’t cheap!), and it’s so cute! If you like to learn about history, you’ll love this little town. They found a Roman boat when they were digging for a parking garage and decided to leave it where they found it. Yes, there’s a real Roman boat in a parking garage in Woerden.
Take a free tour with their volunteers, visit the Cheese Experience, walk around the market, and have lunch — just like WE DID. They have the last real cheese market in the Netherlands…it’s kind of a big deal.
If you’re looking for a more animated place that gets plenty of visitors and puts on a cheese market to show you how life used to be, then Alkmaar is your place! It’s an adorable and walkable town that’s easy to fall in love with. Just veer away from other visitors sometimes and you’ll find some quiet streets all to yourself. Keep an eye on the bridges, if a boat goes by and the bridge needs to go up, it will be done by hand. It’s a sight to see!
This is a super fun place to take a canal cruise. You may have to duck a few times because the bridges here are super low, but it makes for a very memorable experience
Overshadowed by nearby Volendam, Monnickendam stays quiet in comparison. It feels like a tight-knit town with plenty of corners and streets that make for beautiful photos. There’s even a place to stay that I can highly recommend: APARTMENTS WATERLAND. The room I stayed in had a great morning view of the boats and was ridiculously charming.
With the larger cities, it makes sense to look for specific things to do when deciding where you want to stay or visit. The smaller towns offer so much more than just “things to do”. They offer a feeling that you can’t get anywhere else. That’s why you should visit these towns, but each is completely different — that’s the charm.
You may know the name “Delft” because of its pottery. The famous Delft Blauw (Blue) Pottery is known worldwide. There will be plenty of places to see the pottery and nearby you’ll find a FACTORY where you can see where it all happens. That’s the coolest thing you can do! It will add to your visit so much.
If you don’t want to go to the factory, or before you head over there, take time to wander through Delft. It’s small, has canals, and traditional Dutch architecture that you’ll be looking for. Be sure to wander into the local shops and support them, too.
Yep, that’s the name of the famous Dutch cheese! It’s probably pronounced a bit differently than you might think, too…which you’ll find out pretty quickly when you arrive. Some fun things to do in Gouda are to eat some cheese and learn all about it in the cheese shops around the city, watch a cheese market for yourself, and take a canal tour.
It’s a quaint traditional Dutch town, so you’ll also find a few windmills. You may be able to visit some when you’re in town, and you can buy the products from the windmills! Some are still used today. It’s an all-around Dutch experience in Delft. Give yourself a little time to explore on your own.
Marken is a striking little (former) island with its green homes. One of the most memorable sunset sets I’ve ever seen was from here…so stay a little later than the other visitors and you may be rewarded with that, too. Be sure to head to the lighthouse at the end of a small road with animals on either side. It’s a long walk, or you can rent a bike to make it a bit easier!
There’s something about this little town that stays with you. Maybe it’s just because it’s a bit far from everything else and has an even more distinct personality than the other little towns. It’s something special, for sure. And many people know that, so it’s best to visit during the off-season or mid-week so it’s not too crowded.
I love the Netherlands…I don’t think that shocks any of you! Be sure to watch our YOUTUBE PLAYLIST full of videos from all over the Netherlands (and the playlist will keep growing!) and subscribe to our channel while you are there.
If you do end up visiting these towns, please let us know! Leave us a comment here or catch us on social media (all links are at the top). We love to hear about your adventures 🙂
Wishing you joy and travels!