Holland is a land of many winding canals, amazing architecture, old churches, traditional windmills, and rich culture. These things easily made us fall in love with the area. During our trip, we spent most of our time in Rotterdam and did several day trips from there. The places we visited were sometimes even better than our home base of Rotterdam. Can you guess which city was our favorite? It may not be what you expect.
Located about 25 minutes by train from central Rotterdam, Schiedam will impress you with its windmills. When we arrived there, it was pouring down rain, so we sought cover under some trees until it stopped. Unfortunately, Aaron forgot his jacket, so he was completely drenched. The sky finally started to clear, and we were able to actually enjoy seeing these huge windmills. We found them all along a canal so you could see many in a short distance. These were built in the 1700s and are the largest in the world. We also considered going to Kinderdijk to see the windmills, but this was more convenient to our location. How could you not love them?
We took a train to Delft, about a 30-minute ride from Rotterdam. This town was recommended to us by our Servas hosts and it was pretty amazing. After leaving Germany and seeing many churches and cathedrals, this was our first taste of some old buildings in The Netherlands. Delft has an Old Church (Oude Kerk) and New Church (Nieuwe Kerk). We climbed the 376 steps to the top of the New Church and the view from the top was stunning. At the top, you can get a great panorama of the area.
The town had a lot of charm and a central square to visit where the New Church resides. A five minute walk from the New Church is the Old Church, which leans slightly due to its proximity to a canal which has eroded its foundation. With a leaning tower and so much history, this place should not be overlooked. We loved it!
Den Haag (The Hague)
We spent a nice sunny day walking around with our Servas hosts in Den Haag, which was a real treat. After being landlocked for so long, it was wonderful to see the ocean again. Den Haag has a much more laid back atmosphere to Amsterdam and Rotterdam and has many of the same characteristics. It has canals, beaches, historical buildings, art, and culture to discover. There are also some really fun statues near the beach. How could you miss this?
As one of the top destinations in Holland, Amsterdam was quirky, charming, and full of canals to explore. We enjoyed a canal tour there which was the most pleasant part of our trip there. From the relaxing waters, we found a unique perspective of the town. It was a calm location in a bustling and crowded city. Beyond the tour, we discovered the Ice Bar where we were served beer glasses made of ice that we enjoyed in well-below-freezing temperatures. It was a unique place to escape the masses for a bit. It is a very walkable city, but Amsterdam feels more bicycle-centric. So many bikes!
This was our home base because it had a lot to offer. During our time there, we had hosts available to show us around and provide us tips on all of the above cities. We made a real connection with them and consider them friends. They introduced us to Turkish pizzas, which became a budget staple. We wouldn’t have even considered going to Delft, Den Haag, or Schiedam without them. That aside, Rotterdam was amazing and what we looked forward to most in Holland.
We also stayed at the cube houses for two nights just for the experience of a hostel and being in the cubes. There we met fellow travelers and connected with a few of them with some interesting conversations. Outside of the cubes, we were close to the famous Markthal which is enormous. The inside walls are covered in artwork and the food stalls were awesome. This indoor market was fun to explore. We also visited the SS Rotterdam, which is a retired cruise ship that has been turned into a museum. There are so many things to do here!
This video highlights some places mentioned in this post so you can see firsthand what it is really like there. Holland will definitely be a part of our next trip to Europe.
Our Favorite City
It was hard to pick a favorite, but we choose Delft. We love old churches and cathedrals, and Delft had more of the old than some of the other places. It was also a smaller town which made it easier to navigate. Of course, all of these cities are easy to fall in love with for different reasons. We would definitely recommend you visit at least a couple of these on your next trip to Holland.
What makes you fall in love with a city or country?
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