This is definitely not for softies: some people call it 'horizontal alpinism'.
Delectable Delft Old master Johannes Vermeer, one of the greatest painters of the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age ( is one of his), lived and worked here, and it's also where the famous hand-painted, blue and white Delft Blue earthenware has been made since the 17th century.
The price of Dutch tulip bulbs skyrocketed and then plummeted, and fortunes were made and lost in the world's first recorded speculative ‘bubble'. The floating flower market () on Amsterdam's Singel canal, Utrecht's flower market and the Aalsmeer flower auction are all must-sees.
To see the tulips growing in in the spring, head to the bulb fields behind the North Sea dunes between the cities of Leiden and Den Helder, or to Keukenhof where you can see an amazing seven million flowers – tulips, narcissi, daffodils and hyacinths – in bloom during March to May.
There’s more to see in the Netherlands than its cosmopolitan and laidback capital of Amsterdam.
The Netherlands may be a small country but it's packed with history, has beautiful countryside bursting with wildlife and unique flora, and a mind-blowing amount of world-class art and museums.
They were built around 1740 and were awarded UNESCO World Heritage site status in 1997.
Texel has long, sandy beaches, Terschelling has huge colonies of birds in the Boschplaat nature reserve, Ameland has a history of whaling, the forested Vlieland is the most remote and Schiermonnikoog is the smallest.
Boat hop between the five or if you're up to the challenge, try or mud-walking – sometimes through thigh-high mud or waist-high water – across the seabed at low tide.
Cosmopolitan Maastricht In the south of the Netherlands Maastricht seems ‘less Dutch' than other Dutch cities; it has Spanish and Roman ruins, French-influenced architecture, an international atmosphere (perhaps because it's so close to Belgium and Germany) – and it's even surrounded by hills.
Set either side of the Meuse river it's a truly beautiful place, with a historic centre filled with churches, squares (have a beer in the cobblestoned square), old houses, fortifications and museums above ground, and miles of tunnels and caves (the Caves of St Pieter and the Casements) underground.