Exploring the Netherlands beyond Amsterdam — an insider’s guide
Think beyond the canal-side coffee shops
Urtrecht, the fourth-largest city in the Netherlands, is the kind of place you’ll want to live in to finish writing your book — even if you’ve never planned to pen one. Between the toy town charm of the winding canals and the intimate cobblestone streets that surround them, bell towers that have witnessed hundreds of years go by, or hotels that were once monasteries frequented by knights and emperors — you’re bound to lose track of the era, and the day.
Here’s how to plan your vacation in the Netherlands
Who wouldn’t want to live in a 14th-century monastery-turned military hospital-turned hotel with 650 years of history behind it, and a rumoured Roman burial ground underneath? This national monument was constructed in 1348. Spend the day lunching by their never-ending garden, unwind at their wellness centre, and retire in any one of their luxurious rooms. Karelv.nl
Trajectum Lumen is a free-for-all light tour that can be experienced after dark. Take off on a bicycle and see these installations breathe life into the rich past of this town. My favourite is the work under the arched bridges. Also, do not miss the spooky green light emerging from the earth, where the border of the Roman Empire once existed.
At the foot of Utrecht’s greatest attraction, the highest church tower in the Netherlands, Dom Tower, is the historical centre of Dom Square. And underneath Dom Square, lies an actual archaeological site that offers a glimpse into the city’s 2,000-year-old history. Spot bricks with boot-marks of Roman soldiers or the remains of the Dom Cathedral that was partially destroyed by a freak tornado in 1674.
Bistro Terrace at Grand Hotel Karel V
Hardly 60 km from the old world of Utrecht is the futuristic skyline of Rotterdam. The city that was bombed to the ground during the Second World War—the Rotterdam Blitz, as it is known—gloriously re-emerged as an architectural playground for new ideas and bold design: look out for the Central Library with a cascading glass facade, Cube Houses that are certified neck-twisters, and a movie theatre that could have very well belonged in a movie.
Designed by a firm founded by the world’s most controversial architect, Rem Koolhaas,Hotel NHow Rotterdam is the striking structure you’ll notice long before you get there. Floor-toceiling views of the glittering Erasmus Bridge made the stark and spacious room even harder to leave. Special points to the breakfast spread for chocolate Lego, a dedicated Bloody Mary section (because why not), and the coincidental cereal dispenser.
Any true-blue to-do list for Rotterdam would be lacking without a trip to the Cube Houses. According to Rotterdam. info, architect Piet Blom “wanted to design a kind of village within the city and saw the houses as trees”, and in the process, created these iconic homes that feature on every Rotterdam magnet and postcard. And yes, you can very much move around inside one of them.
Europe’s ‘capital of cool’ is also its hipster central. Shop, eat or drink at the grungy warehouse turned- Fenix Food Factory—everything you order is prepared or produced right there, be it the beer, coffee or bread. A “shop, restaurant,gallery, artlab and espresso bar”, POSSE is a house of strange things that you must check into. De Markthal is another unique architectural showpiece designed by the renowned firm MDRDV: an arched business and residential structure that nestles an enormous food market in the centre—the largest in the Netherlands.
Across 32 hectares, Keukenhof showcases 800 variesties of tulips.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’s Business Class sets you up well for what to expect in Holland—be it the delectable cuisine or impeccable hospitality. The full-flat seats help too. It connects most Indian metros to a variety of destinations in the Netherlands. Klm.com