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What is the nicest part of Holland?

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Kent England
Level Contributor
18 posts
23 reviews
What is the nicest part of Holland?

We are in our 50's, no kids and have never been to Holland so have no idea where to stay. We intend driving our own car and would prefer to stay in a small hotel in the countryside but not too far from a town. I've had a look at Breda and Den Bosch but can't find any decent looking hotels or B and B's and don't even know if these are nice places? Can anyone recommend a nice area to stay and/or a good hotel? Thanks.

Fort Worth, Texas
Destination Expert
for Amsterdam
Level Contributor
12,814 posts
1. Re: What is the nicest part of Holland?

if you have never been to holland ( The Netherlands) than i would think a visit to Amsterdam would be in your intinerary.

Amsterdam, The...
Level Contributor
13,915 posts
76 reviews
2. Re: What is the nicest part of Holland?

Note that Holland is to the Netherlands, what England is to the UK.

In a Dutch forum there was a discussion recently about which province or area was the most beautiful. I think the province of Gelderland (containing De Veluwe, a very green area, and picturesque towns) came out on top, but many Dutch also love the provinces of Drenthe, Overijssel, Friesland, Limburg, Zeeland...

Den Bosch and Breda are pretty cities but I do believe they have paid parking in the center and I don't know if you would consider them 'small towns', but of course you can look up the number of inhabitants, and do a Google Streetview to see if you like it. Den Bosch has a lovely big spa / sauna resort with blue mozaic and Arabic design and such.

Personally I really love the Hanzesteden / Hansa towns, 7 medieval towns along a river. Especially Hattem is very cute, but Kampen is also very beautiful, and the slightly bigger Zwolle and Deventer are beautiful too. The surrounding countryside is also beautiful, by Dutch standards. http://www.hanzesteden.info/en/hansa-towns/

I guess recommendations also depend on which time of the year you're coming. Zeeland is nice in summer for example, and foresty areas are very colorful in autumn (for example Loonse & Drunense Duinen national park near Den Bosch).

I am often able to find nice countryside hotels through booking.com, I just type the name of a town I want to be near and also have a look at the hotels the system comes up with that are in the countryside around it... there is a map option for example. You can also do advanced searches for certain types of hotels only.

If you like dunes and the beach then you may enjoy Blooming hotel in Bergen, it's 6 kilometers from the sea. The hotel itself is modern and in a quiet area close to Bergen which is a small town. That is about the only specific hotel I remember the name of.

I may have also stayed at Bilderberg Hotel Wolfheze once which is in a foresty area near Arnhem, very pretty... but not sure if it was that one. Bilderberg also appear to have a castle for a hotel in that area: Kasteel Doorwerth.

In case you need recommendations for small towns to stay near Amsterdam, just give a shout. But I would definitely NOT recommend driving your own car in Amsterdam, especially if the steering wheel is on the 'English' side. Traffic in the city is hellish with cyclists ignoring all traffic rules and coming from all sides, speeding trams and taxis, confusing lanes... and super expensive parking (if you can manage to find a spot at all). There are special Park + Ride parking lots by the edge of town.

Hope this helps...

Cecilia

Amsterdam

cile.home.xs4all.nl/travel/amsterdam_tips.htm

Edited: 9:34 pm, October 05, 2013
Amsterdam, The...
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for Amsterdam
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29,533 posts
75 reviews
3. Re: What is the nicest part of Holland?

Try the http://www.blisshotel.nl/nederlands/ in Breda which is my current 2nd favourite city in nL

Fort Worth, Texas
Destination Expert
for Amsterdam
Level Contributor
12,814 posts
4. Re: What is the nicest part of Holland?

i have only seen one hansa town...zwolle..really quite pretty..

Amsterdam, The...
Level Contributor
13,915 posts
76 reviews
5. Re: What is the nicest part of Holland?

"Hansa fact: In the Hanze era (the Middle Ages), Amsterdam was only a village, while the Hanze towns were powerful cities with beautiful buildings."

Kent England
Level Contributor
18 posts
23 reviews
6. Re: What is the nicest part of Holland?

Thanks for taking the time to answer so comprehensively! Really helpful!

The Hague, The...
Level Contributor
5,125 posts
108 reviews
7. Re: What is the nicest part of Holland?

All of The Netherlands has something nice to offer. Wherever you go, you see that the carefully designed landscapes are VERY special.

Even the fairly new (1986) province of Flevland, as shown in the marvelous animal documentary in cinema "De nieuwe wildernis" (The new wilderness), that drew over 100.000 in the first week (but it's a bit hard to access, I just mention this for that cinema film).

Personally I love my country for it's varied very landscapes, the dikes, villages and old towns.

A specialty are the dikes along the many rivers. You can find dike routes by googling routeyou.com dijkenroute (you can click on the British flag for English).

There's also a mill route (Molenroute)

For specal accomodation, go to www.erfgoedlogies.nl/en and select what you are looking for.

Erfgoed means Heritage . Also accomodations in other countries on this website.

My personal favourite areas are

nature area Veluwe (Gelderland)

nature area Veluwezoom (east of Arnhem)

area east of Njmegen because it's hilly (main village Berg en Dal with pancake restaurant De Duivelsberg, almost on the German border, with nice view from near restaurant )

the south of province Limburg, because iit's hilly (highest point 321 meters in Vaals, where the 3 countries

Netherlands, Belgium and Germany meet, "Drielandenpunt")

and, as said, the riverdikes

near my city The Hague, I like the nature area up to Noordwijk but this is car-free .

and also near Bergen, (Noord-Holland) is a great dune area

The Dutch organisation ANWB has sign-posted car routes but don't know if descriptions in English.

Driving through the countryside you will easily find these routes.

Some nice villages/towns: Veere in Zeeland, MARKEN near Amsterdam, Bronkhorst near river IJssel (smallest city in the country with city rights, although just a small village, but pretty) . A great B&B nearby is www.spaensweerd.nl .

GIETHOORN !! (often called the "Venice of the North", but just a small village but very pretty and special, a "must-visit" . Has a famous 2-Michelin star restaurant.

In South-Limburg the town of Valkenburg is touristic.

I also like Naarden and Amersfoort.

The Hague, The...
Level Contributor
5,125 posts
108 reviews
8. Re: What is the nicest part of Holland?

P.S.

A nice hotel near Giethoorn is www.stadslogementsteenwijk.nl , declared "the nicest hotel in the province of Overijssell" in one of the last authentic Dutch smithies, in the cute town of Steenwijk.

That famous Giethoorn restaurant is De Lindenhof , has suites but not cheap (closed 2nd half of October).

But this is all just for IF you want to venture that far out to the north.

If you like royal castles, you could see Het Loo in Apeldoorn ,well worth it, also for it's garden, featured in Monty Don's "Around the world in 80 gardens".

But, as said, all of the country is worth visiting.

Amersfoort, The...
Destination Expert
for Amsterdam
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7,208 posts
43 reviews
9. Re: What is the nicest part of Holland?

I'll put another vote in for the Hanze towns, particularly Zwolle where I live about 50% of the time.

It never ceases to amaze me that such a lovely small city, with intercity trains connecting it pretty well all of the Netherlands, hardly ever shows on the tourist radar. This isn't helped by the fact that the local council are pretty clueless when it comes to promoting tourism. Yes they produce a number of quite informative booklets and magazines but they are always in Dutch only. That said it is still well worth a visit, particularly on the market days, Fri & Sat.

Amsterdam, The...
Level Contributor
13,915 posts
76 reviews
10. Re: What is the nicest part of Holland?

@ Brian, it works as a vicious cycle as well... whenever I recommend towns *other* than Delft or Leiden or Volendam, or Bruges Belgium (which are already in all the booklets and websites), people are not that keen on visiting them (for example Zwolle or Kampen or Naarden or Durgerdam). They simply want to hear well-known names. They prefer going to Rotterdam because that has a familiar ring to it, or making their difficult way over to Giethoorn because that's in the guidebooks, rather than stop in lovely but unknown Zwolle. Some are willing to go 'off the beaten track', but only to a certain point. Only very few venture further outside the guidebooks / standard website recommendations.

That keeps those towns unknown to foreign tourists, thus they will not be in the booklets, thus no one will visit and tell their friends, etc.

And indeed, no promotion doesn't help. Utrecht somehow got picked up by the tourist radar and sees a big increase in foreign tourism. Who knows, New York Times may have done a piece about it.

I don't mind though, that way we keep having plenty of really nice towns with hardly any foreign tourists (if any).

Edited: 8:58 am, October 08, 2013