With the Netherlands being such an expansive country, it may be difficult to see everything in one go. How could you possibly fit historical cities, art galleries, national parks, and coastal adventures into a one-week Netherlands road trip?
Where there’s a will, there is a way – here is an itinerary that will take you from the capital city Amsterdam to the lush landscapes of Arnhem, and onward towards the Zeeland coast.
How to get to the Netherlands
Bookend your Netherlands road trip with Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, the main international airport of the Netherlands. As the capital, Amsterdam doesn’t just offer peeks of the country’s gabled houses and artistic heritage – it’s also the most connected transport hub.
Amsterdam Centraal Station is another great option with connections all over Europe. There are direct connections to Paris and London – just in case you find a cheaper fare or are starting your European journey there. Just book early for the trains between Amsterdam and London or Paris for the best prices.
You can opt between car rentals and train hopping on your one-week Netherlands trip; both are easy to arrange in Amsterdam. If you decide to travel by train within the country, the prices don’t fluctuate so there’s no need to book ahead.
Be sure to read the post on when to visit the Netherlands to help with your travel planning.
Day 1: Start your Dutch Road Trip in Amsterdam
There’s no better place to kick start your one-week Netherlands road trip itinerary than Amsterdam. Filled with seasonal attractions and family-friendly things to do, Netherlands’ capital is chock full of art museums, gabled houses, slinky canals, and startling amounts of green spaces.
The Museum District is a must-visit, and many tourists flock to it. From the Van Gogh Museum to Rijksmuseum’s classic collection, or even Stedelijk’s modern art exhibitions; even a full day’s tour may not be enough! Afterward, head next door to the massive Vondelpark. The 47-hectare urban park spoils you with picnic spots and people-watching benches, lakes, and cycling routes.
You may opt for a bike tour through the neighborhood of Jordaan, as this trendy hotspot is full of boutiques, pubs, and hip everything. The Houseboat Museum and Amsterdam Cheese Museum are just two of many stops; Noordemarkt Market offers up plenty of organic bites, antiques, and knick-knacks. Fancy a slower day? Take a canal cruise through Amsterdam’s famous waterways and admire the sights.
In the evening, you can sign up for a red light district walking tour and learn about the neighborhood’s rich history.
As you can tell, there are plenty of things to do in Amsterdam, especially in the summer!
Where to stay in Amsterdam
With rooms styled like mini-apartments and just 3 minutes from Weesperplein metro downtown, Zoku Amsterdam is an affordable choice with great amenities – like a rooftop terrace.
Day 2: Visit Utrecht
Head southeast to Utrecht, which is just 27 minutes from Amsterdam by train. This mini-Amsterdam is a sight for sore eyes, and a magazine on architectural beauty.
Grab breakfast by a canal-side café or fresh food at Market Vredenburg, which is right next to Utrecht Centraal Station. Continue onto the main Oudegracht canal; it runs through the scenic city center to offer both boutique shops and characterful buildings.
From there, you can check off two of Utrecht’s main attractions: St. Martin’s Cathedral (Dom Kerk) and the adjacent Dom Tower. Climb up the tallest belfry in the Netherlands in exactly 465 steps and enjoy the awesome views! When you’re ready for lunch, pick from the canal-level cafés and restaurants with terrace seating for extra ambiance.
Explore some museums if you’ve got time in the afternoon. Some famous ones include Museum Speelklok (self-playing musical instruments), Centraal Museum (for history, arts, and fashion), and Miffy Museum (character designed by a Dutch artist). Round off the night by trying rijsttafel at Blauw Restaurant.
For more inspiration, read how to have the perfect day in Utrecht.
Where to stay the night in Utrecht
The Nox Utrecht may no longer be a 17th-century gentlemen’s club, but the 23-room boutique hotel retains clean, edgy touches. Smack dab in the town center, it’s a charming base.
Day 3: Historical Arnhem
The stunning national parks near Arnhem are a must for every week-long Netherlands road trip itinerary – you can experience unique accommodations too.
Some of the Netherlands’ most beautiful landscapes lie within Hoge Veluwe National Park. Heathlands, sand dunes and woodlands blend together to house red deer and wild boars. Enjoy its cycling and walking trails, and be sure to tour the iconic Jachthuis Sint Hubertus country residence-slash-museum. Kröller-Müller Museum, a second home to Vincent van Gogh, houses over 180 drawings and 90 paintings by the artist.
Another Arnhem must-visit spot is Veluwezoom National Park, where Buitenplaats Beekhuizen offers up a tent or lodge for a night out in nature.
Arnhem itself is a stop famous for its Open Air Museum, WWII battle history, and great shopping. It’s known for quirky accommodations like B&B Adelaerthoeve (an old airplane hangar turned B&B) and Poortgebouw Doorwerth (gatehouse of a 13th-century castle).
Stay in unique accommodation in Arnhem
There’s nothing like waking up on water surrounded by honking ducks and nature. Located on the Lower Rhine in Arnhem, Drijfpaleis B&B is a unique houseboat stay.
Day 4: Head to Zeeland for the sea
Keep going west to Zeeland for the best fresh seafood! Mussels, oysters and lobsters are a must; not to mention the 650 kilometers of coastline. Lounge on beaches or play water sports. You could spend the entire day along the coast.
Apart from abundant nature, Zeeland features many historic harbors and towns. Middelburg, its capital, boasts a lively city center. Originally fortified against Viking raiders, Middelburg later served as a trade hub. Marvel at gothic architecture such as The Stadshal (former city hall), which carries turrets and red-and-white shutters; or The Abbey with its medieval style and decorative ceiling arches.
For antique shopping, the shops along Langeviele feature unexpected finds. Grab traditional souvenirs like Zeeland’s unique liquors too.
For a Luxury Stay in Zeeland
Warm brick and high ceilings give The Roosevelt luxurious but grounded vibes. Overlooking Middelburg Abbey, this boutique hotel is fitted with an inner garden and snazzy lounge to offer an urban getaway.
Day 5: Modern Rotterdam
Take a day to explore Rotterdam – the Netherlands’ second and most modern city. It’s famous for modern architecture, running from landmarks like the Cube Houses to the market hall, Erasmus Bridge, and skyscrapers.
The largest port in Europe comes with a Maritime Museum so you can learn all about the Netherlands’ fascinating naval history. Families with kids may prefer Miniworld Rotterdam, where you can pick out your next destination via the model city! Rotterdam Zoo should be on your itinerary too, the 25-acre attraction bringing you everything wildlife from elephant enclosures to floating nurseries.
When evening hits, stay out for Rotterdam’s nightlife. From chilling with a cocktail to dancing in clubs, you’ll find unique venues like Now&Wow, Perron, and Op Het Dak. There’s Toffler, a metro tunnel-turned-techno club, and the popular Witte de Withstraat neighborhood.
You’ll want to stay at this Rotterdam gem
Room Mate Bruno Rotterdam sits within a former tea warehouse in, just a short ride from Rotterdam’s iconic Cube Houses. Bold, edgy, and colorful, it’s a popular hotel among young travelers.
Day 6: The Hague
Dedicate the last day of your Netherlands road trip to The Hague and visit the city beach of Scheveningen.
The Hague may be known for its many political seats (the Dutch parliament, the king’s workplace, the UN’s International Court of Justice, etc.) but what draws our eyes is the city’s collection of art museums.
Amble past the shop-lined Grote Markt, central Hague’s traditional pubs and al fresco cafés to see the fine collection of famous artworks at The Mauritshuis and Escher in Het Paleis. When you’re done browsing the art galleries, hop over to Madurodam; a park with scaled models of the Dutch city.
Do visit the urban Scheveningen beach too. Your afternoon itinerary should include walking the pier, snapping shots of the sea from the Ferris wheel, or flying via zip lines. There are plenty of bars and eateries where you can enjoy dinner and post-meal drinks.
Stay in a Stately Hotel in The Hague
Close to Grote Markt’s outdoor eateries, Hotel Indigo the Hague – Palace Noordeinde allows easy access to the Maurishuis and Noordeinde Palace. Set in the former Dutch National Bank, you can still find authentic features like circular vault doors and stained glass!
Day 7: Finish the Road Trip in Amsterdam
Make your way back to Amsterdam and check off any attractions you didn’t manage to see on the first day. Whether it’s a last-minute city tour or a souvenir shopping day, your road trip in the Netherlands has come full circle.