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Expat Exchange - Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to The Netherlands (Plus, Itineraries) 2024
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Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to The Netherlands (Plus, Itineraries)

By Betsy Burlingame

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Summary: For those contemplating a move to The Netherlands without a specific locale in mind, embarking on a look-see or exploratory journey to explore various expat havens can provide invaluable insights. Here are some top suggestions for places to explore while scouting out The Netherlands.

Moving to The Netherlands - Best Places to See While on a Look-See Trip to The Netherlands (Plus, Itineraries)

Taking a Look-See trip to The Netherlands is an invaluable step for anyone considering a move to this culturally rich and diverse country. Such a trip allows potential expats, retirees, and digital nomads to explore various cities and towns firsthand, gaining insights into the local lifestyle, amenities, and community vibes. It's an opportunity to assess the practicalities of daily life, from public transportation to shopping and entertainment options, and to envision where you might feel most at home. A Look-See trip can also help in understanding the cost of living and the local job market, which are crucial factors in making a relocation decision.

Recommended Itineraries

For a 10-day trip, consider starting in Amsterdam for a couple of days to experience the capital's vibrant culture and history. Then, move on to Utrecht and The Hague, spending a day or two in each. Dedicate a day to exploring Haarlem and Leiden, which offer a more laid-back atmosphere. If time permits, visit Eindhoven or Maastricht to get a sense of life in the southern part of the country. For a 20-day trip, extend your stay in each city, and add destinations like Groningen, Delft, and Rotterdam to your itinerary. Also, consider visiting the regions of Brabant and Limburg, where you can explore cities like 's-Hertogenbosch and Venlo, to get a feel for the local lifestyle away from the main tourist hubs.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam, with its iconic canals and historic architecture, is the Netherlands' most famous city and a magnet for expats and digital nomads. The city boasts a population of around 800,000 and offers a cosmopolitan lifestyle with a plethora of cultural activities, cafes, and international restaurants. Despite its bustling urban environment, Amsterdam maintains a bike-friendly atmosphere with excellent public transportation. The cost of living is on the higher side, but many find the trade-off worth it for the city's unique charm and dynamic job market.

Travel Tip: While in Amsterdam, don't miss the chance to visit the Anne Frank House, a museum dedicated to the Jewish wartime diarist. For a culinary treat, try traditional Dutch pancakes at The Pancake Bakery.

Utrecht

Utrecht is a favorite among those who seek a balance between vibrant city life and a more relaxed pace. With a population of over 350,000, it's known for its medieval old town and the Dom Tower, which offers panoramic views of the city. Utrecht's cost of living is slightly lower than Amsterdam's, and it's well-regarded for its cultural events and friendly community. It's also centrally located, making it a convenient base for exploring the rest of the country.

Travel Tip: Visit the historic De Haar Castle, located just outside Utrecht, and enjoy a meal at Olivier, an atmospheric Belgian beer café set in an old church.

The Hague

The Hague, or Den Haag, is the seat of the Dutch government and the International Court of Justice, giving it a prestigious international character. With a population of over 500,000, it offers a mix of city life and beachside relaxation, thanks to its proximity to the North Sea. The Hague has a significant expat community, which contributes to its diverse cultural scene. The cost of living is moderate, and the city is known for its green spaces and high quality of life.

Travel Tip: Take a stroll through the Binnenhof, the heart of Dutch politics, and enjoy a meal at the nearby Restaurant 't Goude Hooft, one of the oldest inns in The Hague.

Haarlem

Haarlem, a charming city with a population of around 160,000, is known for its picturesque streets, historic buildings, and laid-back atmosphere. It's close enough to Amsterdam for commuting but offers a quieter, more affordable alternative for living. Haarlem has a thriving cultural scene, with plenty of museums, shops, and restaurants to explore.

Travel Tip: Visit the Frans Hals Museum to admire works by the Dutch Golden Age painter, and enjoy a meal at the Jopenkerk, a brewery and restaurant located in a former church.

Eindhoven

Eindhoven, in the province of North Brabant, is a hub for technology and design, with a population of over 230,000. It's home to the High Tech Campus Eindhoven and the Design Academy Eindhoven, making it an attractive city for professionals in these fields. The cost of living is reasonable, and the city has a young, dynamic vibe, with plenty of cultural activities and a growing international community.

Travel Tip: Explore the Strijp-S area, a former industrial zone turned creative district, and dine at Radio Royaal, a restaurant set in a former Philips factory.

Maastricht

Maastricht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, located in the southernmost part of the country. With a population of around 120,000, it offers a unique blend of Dutch and Belgian influences. The city is known for its historic center, vibrant cultural life, and excellent dining options. Maastricht is also a university city, which adds to its lively atmosphere. The cost of living is moderate, and the city's location makes it a great base for exploring nearby Belgium and Germany.

Travel Tip: Visit the Vrijthof, Maastricht's main square, and enjoy a meal at Café Sjiek, the first eatery in Maastricht to serve traditional regional dishes.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


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SJB Global
SJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
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SJB GlobalSJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

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