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Amsterdam is truly a biker’s city, although pedaling along the labyrinthine... more
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Amsterdam
Amsterdam is truly a biker’s city, although pedaling along the labyrinthine streets can get a little chaotic. Stick to walking and you won’t be disappointed. The gentle canals make a perfect backdrop for exploring the Jordaan and Rembrandtplein square. Pop into the Red Light District if you must—if only so you can say you’ve been there. The Anne Frank House is one of the most moving experiences a traveller can have, and the Van Gogh Museum boasts a sensational collection of works.
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In a quirky Dutch-ism, Amsterdam may be the official capital of the Netherlands,... more
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The Hague
In a quirky Dutch-ism, Amsterdam may be the official capital of the Netherlands, but it’s The Hague (Den Haag) where the government sits (along with several international courts, for which the city’s best known). Cosmopolitan and cultured, The Hague is Holland’s third-largest town, with just under 500,000 people. Conveniently, the beach resort of Scheveningen is part of The Hague, and en route lies the family-friendly Madurodam, a fascinating 1/25 miniature display of a fictitious Dutch city.
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Holland's most modern city began as a fishing village in the 13th century. It... more
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Rotterdam
Holland's most modern city began as a fishing village in the 13th century. It was developing into an industrial and trading power when German bombers destroyed the city centre and harbour in 1940. However, Rotterdam's unique architecture now brings many visitors to cycle around this urbane, cosmopolitan city. Old Dutch-style houses can still be found in historic Delfshaven, from where the pilgrims set sail in 1620. Cultural offerings ranging from the summer carnival to classical music can compete with those of Amsterdam.
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This ancient and historic city houses many buildings going back to the early... more
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Utrecht
This ancient and historic city houses many buildings going back to the early Middle Ages. Until it was overtaken by Amsterdam in the Dutch Golden age, Utrecht was the most important city in the Netherlands. It was and still is the See of the Archbishop of Utrecht, the most important Catholic leader in the Netherlands. The University of Utrecht is the largest in the Netherlands. One of the unique features of the city is the wharf system in its inner canals. Before the city was fully canalised, parts of the Rhine River flowed through the city center. Most prominent of the historic buildings is the Gothic Cathedral of Saint Martin, the construction of which lasted for almost 200 year, beginning in 1254.
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Though often overshadowed (especially for tourists) by its much larger and more... more
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Haarlem
Though often overshadowed (especially for tourists) by its much larger and more famous neighbor Amsterdam about ten miles east, Haarlem’s history actually goes back further. And with about 150,000 people, it’s the capital of the Noord-Holland region. The Teylers Museum, with its unique collection of art and artifacts, is the oldest museum in the Netherlands. The fantastic Frans Hals Museum has many works by the artist and other Haarlem schoolers. Grote Markt, the main town square, is a must-see.
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Vermeer’s birthplace and a true gem, Delft sits between The Hague and Rotterdam... more
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Delft
Vermeer’s birthplace and a true gem, Delft sits between The Hague and Rotterdam in the country’s southwest. The city’s name comes from the Dutch word for digging, fitting since canals are a highlight here. Others include the 13th-century Old Church, the 15th-century New Church and the Prinsenhof, once home to William of Orange and now a museum. Delft has long been a center for fine ceramics, and traditional hand painting methods can still be witnessed at Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles.
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Zandvort is to Amsterdam what Brighton is to London--a large seaside resort... more
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Zandvoort
Zandvort is to Amsterdam what Brighton is to London--a large seaside resort easily reached by train. It takes half an hour to get there from Central Station. It has a long sandy beach and, in common with the rest of the Netherlands coastline, an expanse of sandy dunes which serve to protect the low lying country from the sea. In the summer months, beach bars catering to all tastes line this beach. It is also the site of the Netherlands' most important car racing circuit.
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Monolithic gates still protect Amersfoort, a well-preserved medieval city that... more
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Amersfoort
Monolithic gates still protect Amersfoort, a well-preserved medieval city that remains connected to its history. Built into the foundations of 13th-century defensive walls, the Muurhuizen wall houses are one of the city’s most intriguing features. Art enthusiasts should visit the Mondriaan House (birthplace of abstract artist Piet Mondriaan) and the Armando Museum, a collection of works by the famed Dutch painter.
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At over 2000 years old, Nijmegen has had a pretty full life. Its transition from... more
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Nijmegen
At over 2000 years old, Nijmegen has had a pretty full life. Its transition from Roman military camp to modern municipality has not been without growing pains, but today Nijmegen is thriving, largely because of its lively student population and its status as a hub for political activism. Try to visit during the internationally popular Nijmeegse Vierdaagse four-day walking festival and the epic Zomerfeesten summer party. They happen at the same time, because why not?
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Touching Belgium on its west and just a few miles from Germany to the east,... more
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Maastricht
Touching Belgium on its west and just a few miles from Germany to the east, Maastricht is the capital of Holland’s southernmost region, Limburg. A town rich in history and culture, Maastricht boasts two wonderful town squares: Vrijthof, with Sint-Servaas Church, Sint-Jan's Cathedral and many bars, cafes and restaurants; and Markt, home to the town hall and, on Wednesday and Friday mornings, a fantastic vendor market. The city’s Vestigingswerken, or old town fortifications, are another big draw.
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