Spring may be on the horizon, but don’t give up on taking a winter holiday yet. The Netherlands has a plethora of things to do during the winter months, whether you’re visiting on a weekend city break, or road tripping through the region for a more extended period of time.

In this list, we’ll explore 31 things to see, do and eat whilst exploring Holland. And yes, we actually did everything on this list during a 4-day trip this past December (It can be done), courtesy of Stena Line Ferries.

31 Things to Do in Holland During the Winter via @dipyourtoesin

We’ve never been fans of quickly ticking things off a random travel list, but sometimes we travel to a destination with the intent of coming back with as many ideas as we can for our incredible community of readers like you!

The ease of connections between The Hague, Utrecht, and Rotterdam make commuting between all three cities quite easy. Despite running into a snowstorm during our visit, and then waiting through hours of canceled trains, we were still able to make it through the majority of our planned itinerary.

31 Things to Do in Holland During the Winter via @dipyourtoesin

Pace yourself. If you plan on visiting multiple cities during your stay, choose a few top points of interest and plan your day around those activities or sites. Our list below shares our favourite food/drink stops, museums, sites of interest, and active excursions.

 

The Hague

Located on the Western coast of Holland, The Hague is an effortlessly cool city filled with quaint cobblestone streets, embassies, and colourful homes. It’s also home to a diverse array of restaurants and museums for foodies and art lovers alike. Despite an intimate feeling, The Hague is the largest Dutch city on the North Sea, and the third largest in the Netherlands.

31 Things to Do in Holland During the Winter

Notably, the royal family of the Netherlands resides in The Hague and is known for their open mindedness and ability to connect with locals. As we passed by the royal palace, our guide beamed as he told us about the time he (accidentally) shared a pint with King Willem-Alexander in a local pub.

If rubbing shoulders with the royals is not your cup of tea, The Hague also offers a wealth of seaside activities for winter beach lovers. We certainly plan to return and spend an entire day just hanging around the pier area.

 

1. Stena Line Ferry

Take the Stena Line overnight ferry from Harwich to the Hook of Holland. Return fare for two people begins at £154 (without a car). The ship (superferry) has an onboard cinema, basketball court, multiple dining venues, and extremely comfortable en-suite cabins.

 

2. Royal Walking Tour

Take the Royal Walking Tour with Maurits Burger of This is the Hague. If you’re limited for time, feel free to take the self-guided walking route. However, if you have a few hours to spare, take a guided tour to get prized local insights.

 

3. The Dutch Souvenir Cafe

Grab a coffee at The Dutch and pick up your Favourite souvenirs. 

31 Things to Do in Holland During the Winter via @dipyourtoesin

 

4. Museum hunting

If you’re a fan of museums, make sure to visit Mauritshuis and Escher in het Paleis. Mauritshuis is home to the famed Girl with a Pearl Earring.

 

5. Enjoy the best sharing platters at Blyenburg

Sit down for creative sharing platters at Blyenberg. The venue has a stylish rooftop that is currently undergoing a renovation in time for 2018 summer enjoyment. 

   

6. Feel like a giant at Madurodam

See a miniature sized Holland at Madurodam and learn more about Dutch architecture and history.

 

7. Ride the Ferris wheel over the North Sea

Take a ride on the famed heated Ferris Wheel at Scheveningen Pier. It’s quite a thrilling experience as you teeter back and forth in the swinging pods, watching the waves crash directly beneath you.

31 Things to Do in Holland During the Winter via @dipyourtoesin

   

8. Get Icey at the Ice Exhibit

Test your chill factor at the Ice Expo at Scheveningen Pier. Wrap up warm, as the temperature is certainly much colder inside the exhibit. Check out the ice bar where seats are made of ice, and be ready to toast to a great day, as you drink from glasses made of ice.

31 Things to Do in Holland During the Winter via @dipyourtoesin

9. Wine Bar stop

Stop by Holland’s only (all) Italian wine bar at Solo Vino for a taste of Italy in The Hague. 

10. Have dinner in a former spy meeting place

Book a table for dinner at Jamey Bennett.for an evening of great cocktails and sharing platters. Located at Plaats, one of oldest squares in town, the building was once the home of Gnome Bar; a small venue where spies would meet around WWII.

 

 

Utrecht

The most populous city in the Netherlands can often be assumed by the amount of cyclist perusing the streets. Utrecht was recently awarded the most bike friendly city distinction in the Netherlands. When Utrecht opened a 6000, underground bike parking garage a few months ago, open spots were rarely found.

31 Things to Do in Holland During the Winter via @dipyourtoesin

Often referred to as an ‘off the beaten path’ destination in Holland, Utrecht’s canals can give Venice serious competition with their wharf cellars and pedestrian walkways.

Utrecht stands out from other cities in Holland as it is known for being quintessentially Dutch. It is the only city in the world with wharf terraces that showcase the city’s incredible gastronomy scene.

31 Things to Do in Holland During the Winter via @dipyourtoesin

With its mix of stately buildings, canals, and old world charm, Utrecht also possesses a bohemian ambiance, which creates a powerful space for fine and performance arts to thrive.

If you can manage to navigate through the whizz of delft cyclists, the below suggestions can all be done within 32 hours.

 

 

11. Visit Dom Tower

Climb Dom Tower for incredible views of the city. Tours run every half an hour by reservation only. Tickets are €9 for adults. 

31 Things to Do in Holland During the Winter via @dipyourtoesin

     

12. Lunch at Daen’s

Stop for hearty soups and sandwiches for lunch at Daen’sExplore nearby streets to get great images without so many people milling about.

Rotterdam winter

   

13. Explore wintery blooms

Visit Bloemenmarkt for a look at why Holland is so renown for their flower culture.

31 Things to Do in Holland During the Winter via @dipyourtoesin

     

14. Stop for a coffee

The Village Coffee is a great place to stop for a coffee whilst visiting the city centre. They also have a few delicious gluten and dairy free treats. 

     

15. Eat all the fries

Apparently, you can go crazy for fries at Freitwinkel and try their organic, award-winning fries with a plethora of toppings, like pumpkin ketchup. 

     

16. Explore Utrecht’s canals

Explore Utrecht with a canal ride through the city. This is the best way to explore Utrecht’s unique terrace culture that is claimed to rival Venice.

31 Things to Do in Holland During the Winter via @dipyourtoesin

   

17. Dinner with views

Dinner at PK Bar & Kitchen is located in the middle of the city centre, providing beautiful views over one of the canals. Their ala carte menu provides a wide variety of options for diners alike.

31 Things to Do in Holland During the Winter via @dipyourtoesin

     

18. End your night with Cocktails

Drinks at Loft 88 is a great way to end a full day of exploring Utrecht if you’re staying outside of the city centre. Located in a renovated barn, the loftly venue is a perfect cozy ending to your day.

     

19. Explore the Netherland’s largest Castle

Tour De Haar Castle and learn about the long standing tradition for the Van Zuylen van Nijevelt van de Haar family to reside in the castle for one month every year in September.

       

20. Have lunch next to a castle

Lunch at Koetshuis de Haar is a picturesque experience. With views of De Haar castle’s stunning grounds, Koetshuis is the previous residence of De Haar’s employee’s, horses, carriages and cars. It was converted into a beautiful venue for special events with an onsite restaurant.

31 Things to Do in Holland During the Winter via @dipyourtoesin

       

21. Enjoy the wait for your train with a coffee at the station

Pass the waiting time for your train with a coffee or tea at Bistrot Utrecht Centraal.

 

Rotterdam

Unlike The Hague and Utrecht, Rotterdam is known for its bold, modern architecture. Following WWII’s devastating effects, the majority of the city was completely reconstructed. This led to Rotterdam re-imagining it’s cultural identity through urban architectural ingenuity.

Navigating the city via water taxi is a great way to view Rotterdam’s sites whilst exploring its expansive waterways. After Shanghai, the port of Rotterdam is second-to-largest in the World.

31 Things to Do in Holland During the Winter via @dipyourtoesin

Rotterdam is undeniably hip and unassuming. The city’s old soul is woven into every intersecting line within its contemporary architecture.

Twenty four hours in Rotterdam was not nearly enough. Like us, you may find yourself planning a return visit in the near future.

     

22. Step back into the 1950’s

Stay at the historic SS Rotterdam Hotel and enjoy the 1950’s retro decor. Alternatively, you can visit the moored ship for a tour, cocktails, or dinner.

     

23. Ride the waterways of Rotterdam

Take a Water Taxi around the waterways to get a spectacular view of the city.

     

24. Shimmy over vintage cocktails

Enjoy vintage style cocktails and dinner at NY Basement. Chef Edward de Ridder has comprised a delectable menu that allows for guest 

     

25. Get creative at the tourist info center

Visit the Rotterdam tourist info center (pick up your welcome card). All ages will enjoy their interactive installations designed to help you engage with the city, its history, sites and architecture.

     

26. See Rotterdam from up high

Get a birds-eye view of the city at the Euromast. You can take a 360 degree walk around the viewpoint area, making for great photos day or night.

     

27. Pack a carrier bag, and get ready for Markthal

Sample and purchase local, regional, and international artisanal foods at Markthal. Grateful for Stena Line’s no luggage restrictions, we came back with loose leaf teas, mango vinegar, and artisanal sausages from Markthal. It’s impossible not to take advantage of the wealth of free samples, and even harder not to purchase what you try, so pace yourself!

     

28. Go crazy for cubes

Get your Instagram worthy shots of the iconic Cubehouses and take a tour to see how local residents enjoy life inside one of Europe’s most creative housing structures.

     

29. Explore the city by bike

Take in Rotterdam’s cultural and culinary highlights on a Bike & Bite tour (35-50 euros for one person). This activity can easily be done in the winter as long as there’s not much ice and snow on the ground. During our trip, a snowstorm hit Holland, so instead of biking, we did a walk & bite tour.

     

30. Stop for a taste of the Mediterranean

Enjoy an afternoon full of Mediterranean tapas at Ayla. Rotterdam is lauded for embracing multiculturalism, and that effort is clearly celebrated in the diverse array of world cuisines you’ll find in the city. The patatas bravas reminded us of a sunny afternoon in Spain!

31 Things to Do in Holland During the Winter via @dipyourtoesin

     

31. Explore all the angles at Rotterdam Centraal Station

Take in the cool views of Rotterdam Centraal Station; an architectural marvel of the city, with its strong asymmetric lines and creative design. The inside of the station is no less striking with creative art installations hanging from the light-filled ceiling.

31 Things to Do in Holland During the Winter via @dipyourtoesin

 

Have you ever visited Holland during the colder months of the year? What was your experience like? We’d love to hear more below.

Disclaimer: Our trip was sponsored by Stena Line UK. Although, all photos and thoughts are our own. Return fare for two travelling onboard the overnight ferry begins at £154. While in Holland, we stayed at the Carlton Ambassador Hotel, Star Lodge Utrecht, and the SS Rotterdam.

Co-Founders & Curators at HDYTI

Eulanda & Omo Osagiede are London-based freelance writers and award-winning social influencers who run the popular travel, food, and lifestyle blog HDYTI (Hey! Dip your toes in).