From old historic cities with charming canals, to new cities featuring contemporary architecture - the Netherlands has a lot to offer. Are you interested in buying a house, finding a job in or visiting a Dutch city? Here are some of the country’s most important cities:
Amsterdam was founded in the 12th century and evolved from a small fishing village to the largest city in the Netherlands, as well as the country’s capital. Home to numerous international companies, many expats flock to this city, which is known for its diversity, charming canals, reliable public transportation system and major museums.
Situated in the province of North Holland, Alkmaar is famous for its traditional cheese market, which begins on the first Friday in April and lasts until the first Friday in September. Granted city rights in 1254, the town has a historical city centre featuring beautiful buildings, such as the tall tower of the Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk.
Almere is a fairly new city in the Netherlands, named after the ancient lake Almere which used to cover the Ijsselmeer. The first house was only completed here in 1976, and nowadays, the city has over 195.000 inhabitants and is the largest municipality in Flevoland.
The second-largest city in the province of Utrecht, Amersfoort has roots dating back to 1000 BC. If you are looking to visit this historic Dutch city, you are in for a treat as it has been well-preserved since the Middle Ages and features many interesting monuments, such as the Koppelpoort.
Situated in the province of Gelderland, Apeldoorn didn’t develop into a large Dutch city until the beginning of the 20th century. Nowadays, it is one of the most important employment centres of the Netherlands; over 100.000 people work here. The city is also home to Het Loo, the favourite country seat of the Dutch Royal family.
First given city rights in 1233, Arnhem is the capital city of the province of Gelderland and a major centre for governmental, judicial and military offices in the Netherlands. It is also an important Dutch-German trade location, as it straddles the lower Rhine river.
Located in North Brabant, Breda was initially a direct fief of the Holy Roman Emperor. It was sold to the Duke of Brabant in 1327 and eventually became an official residence of the House of Orange-Nassau. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed 90 percent of the city in 1534.
Situated in the province of South Holland, Delft is famed for its beautiful and historic city centre which features charming canals, the blue and white Delft Blue Pottery, and the superb Delft University of Technology, as well as one of its former locals: Johannes Vermeer, one of the most famous Dutch masters.
Situated in the province of North Brabant, Den Bosch was originally built as a fortress and was granted city rights in 1185. The official name of the city is ‘s-Hertogenbosch, which is a contraction of des Hertogen bosch (the Duke’s forest).
Located in the province of North Brabant, Eindhoven is the fifth largest city in the Netherlands. Initially, the city was much smaller, but the Industrial Revolution changed all of that - more specifically, the Philips brothers did, when they founded a small light bulb factory in 1891 in Eindhoven!
Situated in the province of Overijssel, only a few kilometres from the German border, Enschede is home to more than 158.000 inhabitants. During medieval times, the city was mostly built of wood, catching fire on multiple occasions, earning the people of Enschede the nickname brandstichters (arsonists).
Famous for its cheese, Gouda is a historical city with a rich history, featuring arson, plague epidemics, economic turmoil and bombings. Situated in the province of South Holland, the city has many impressive buildings, such as their city hall and the St. Jans Kerk, the longest church in the Netherlands.
The largest city in the north of the Netherlands, Groningen, is also known as the “Metropolis of the North.” It’s home to many expats studying in the Netherlands, thanks to the University of Groningen, which was founded in the 17th century and is the second oldest university in the Netherlands.
Situated only 20km away from Amsterdam, Haarlem’s history dates back to pre-medieval times. Haarlem is home to many historical buildings, charming canals, restaurants with terraces, quirky boutique shops, windmills and the oldest museum in the Netherlands: Teylers Museum.
Located in the province of South Holland, Leiden is home to the Netherlands’ oldest university, Universiteit Leiden, which was founded in 1575 by Willem I of Orange. Thanks to its academic legacy, the city is home to what is considered to be one of the most highly educated populations in the Netherlands.
Capital of Limburg and nestled between Belgium to the south and west and Germany to the east, Maastricht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands as it has been inhabited continuously since Roman times. Its beautiful historic city centre attracts many tourists from all over the world.
Situated in the province of Gelderland, close to the German border, Nijmegen is considered to be the oldest city in the Netherlands and has been visited by many historical people, including Emperor Charlemagne. The city is also famous for hosting the largest marching event in the world, De Vierdaagse (Four Day Marches).
The second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world, Rotterdam has humble beginnings as a fishing village in the 13th century. Unfortunately, the city’s historic centre was mostly destroyed during World War II. Nowadays, Rotterdam is a hotspot for modern and innovative architecture.
Not a city in the strictest sense, Scheveningen is a seaside resort and one of The Hague’s eight districts. Scheveningen has four different beaches, offering a wide variety of beach activities and many seaside bars and restaurants to admire the sunset from.
Often overshadowed by Amsterdam, The Hague is pretty impressive as it’s the capital of the province of South Holland, the third-largest city in the Netherlands, the seat of the Dutch government and the Supreme Court, home to the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and many international organisations and NGOs.
Home to three universities, Tilburg is the second-largest city in the province of North Brabant and the sixth biggest city in the Netherlands. During the 17th century, it was known as the wool capital of the Netherlands, due to its high population of sheep.
Situated in the middle of the country, Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands and the capital city of the province with the same name. The city’s historic centre is quite compact and encircled by a medieval canal lined by wharf cellars that house charming restaurants and bars.
Located in the province of Gelderland and on the north bank of the lower Rhine river, Wageningen became famous as the site of the German surrender on May 5, 1945, which officially ended WWII in the Netherlands.
Zwolle is the capital of the province of Overijssel and has been recognised as a city since 1230, although archaeological findings suggest that the area has been inhabited since the Bronze Age. The city is home to one of the tallest and most well-known church towers in the Netherlands: de Peperbus (pepper box).