You all know the red-light district and the coffee shops in Amsterdam. You probably also know of the Keukenhof, Zaanse Schans and possibly Kinderdijk. Perhaps you have even practiced your pronunciation of the name “Scheveningen.”
But did you also know the following places?
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One – Kagerplassen, Zuid-Holland
Roughly situated between Amsterdam and Leiden. I live quite close to the Kagerplassen, and to my shame, I only discovered them recently, but what a wonderful discovery that was! It is a beautiful area to cycle, walk the dog (or yourself) or to relax near or on the water. In the middle of the Kagerplassen is Kaageiland, a tiny and charming island that will take you back in time. It’s a good starting point for a cycle tour taking you through all the villages, but you can also rent a boat here and explore the waters, or hang out on the beaches and terraces.
Two – Museum Beelden aan Zee, Scheveningen
Lies somewhat hidden in the dunes at Scheveningen (you could say the building is incognito). The museum has a large collection of sculptures from sculptors all over the world, made from all kinds of materials. Temporary exhibitions often have interesting themes (“Territorial Bodies”, “Contemporary Sculpture from Israel”, for instance) and show that sculpture can be a lot more than you would think. My personal favorites are the Fairytale Sculptures by Tim Otterness, which are in the museum sculpture garden.
Three – Westerbork, Drenthe
You may have heard about Camp Westerbork near Westerbork, Drenthe. Though not the happiest place, it is well worth the visit: the museum on the site is impressive, especially its exhibitions on survivor’s stories. After the museum visit, do take some time to wander through the woods: ironically enough, the camp has stunning natural surroundings.I personally needed the walk after taking in so many moving stories, and the Westerborkerheide is perfect for that.
Four – Roman catacombs in Valkenburg, Limburg
Early in the 20th century, the Dutch were impressed by the catacombs in Rome, and decided to build a copy in Valkenburg. This resulted in an enormous labyrinth in which you could, supposedly, walk around for weeks without taking the same route twice. The catacombs form a museum, in which you can take guided tours.
Five – Ghost village Marnehuizen, Groningen
Marnehuizen is a village, with houses, a bank and a supermarket, but no-one lives there, or has ever lived there. It’s a village used by the army to practice fighting in urban areas. It’s open to the public only during the Open Monumentendagen (a weekend in September in which all kinds of monuments all over the country are open for visitors).
Next time: Five festivals and events in the Netherlands you shouldn’t miss!