Are you a non-Dutch student studying in the Netherlands and wondering where to go? Are you a Dutch student wondering why someone would go to your city? In this article, there will be presented some of the nicest towns that you probably have not visited. No, you would not find places such as Amsterdam, Leiden, Utrecht, Rotterdam, Den Haag, Maastricht, or Nijmegen (the town we live in) here. These are certainly nice cities to visit, or perhaps to live, but definitely too mainstream that anyone has visited.
1. Zwolle, Overijssel
Zwolle is one of the oldest cities of the Netherlands. It dates back to 800 AD when it was founded by Frisian merchants and the troops of Charlemagne the Great (Karel de Grote). Because of it strategic location, between four rivers, Zwolle became a major trading port for the region. In 1230, Zwolle was officially recognized as a city by the bishop of Utrecht. When visiting the city, make sure you visit the churches and the city gates .
Zutphen was also one of the cities to receive early city rights, even preceding Zwolle in early 1190s. It has been a settlement from the 300 AD. Only around 800 AD did its people build a fortress to protect it from Viking attacks. Nowadays, Zutphen is a home to multiple houses built in 14 century architecture and a few 18-19 century houses of well-to-do merchants.
3. Amersfoort, Utrecht
Yet another city to gain its city rights in the 13 century AD, Amersfoort has been a home to hunter-gatherers settlement in the Mesolithic period. Koppelpoort, which still stands, is a combined land and water gate which was built as a part of the second gate of the city after its enlargement in the 15th century. The city can offer plenty of nice views in one of its gezellig cafes near the Koppelpoort. (I heard they offer great special beer from a beer lover!)
4. Oisterwijk, Noord Brabant
Oisterwijk makes it to the list not because it is one of the smallest towns but because it might be one of the quietest town in the Netherlands (at least the ones worth going to). If you would like to run away from the hectic life, spending the day in one of the town’s cafes might be the perfect thing to do to energize yourself.
5. s-Hertogenbosch, Noord Brabant
Home to the DenBosch ballen ( Dutch dessert that originated in the city) and a home to the painter Hieronymus Bosch, Den Bosch has a lot to offer. This is a town worth visiting as it has a number of gezellig cafes, a boat tour is a must because you will learn a bit about the city’s history, and it has plenty of musea. Not to mention that it celebrates carnaval very differently from Nijmegen and Maastricht.