3 Amsterdam-like cities to avoid the masses

When people think about the Netherlands, they think of Amsterdam. And it is a truly beautiful city. Most Dutch people I know, never visit the city much, because of how touristic it is. There are loads and loads of visitors every year, smoking weed, visiting the sex museum and cycling on the wrong side of the road. It’s a very popular city. But did you know there are actually a couple of cities that look a lot like Amsterdam, but are a whole lot less crowded? Here’s three Amsterdam-like cities in the Netherlands to avoid the masses!


Delft is a famous Dutch city that, just like the other cities in this blogpost, has the same canals and quaint little houses that Amsterdam does. It’s cute and pictoresque and easy to photograph without hundreds of other tourists! Make sure to check out the market square and the library.


A city famous for it’s cheese and cheese markets, Alkmaar is really lovely. It’s not too crowded, except in the summer and it’s close to Amsterdam. Don’t miss the cheese museum and markets.


My favourite city has to make the list: Utrecht. It’s what we Dutch would call gezellig, great for shopping, gaming in the arcade and it has the best pancakes in the country. Check out my city guide for all the highlights!

The Botanical Gardens of Delft

Last week, summer finally made its entrance and I am so happy to go outside again! I’ve made plans and filled up my planner for the summer! So far, I’ve visited Delft and Utrecht. Other plans I made, are seeing a Bob Ross exhibition, taking a walk with Alpaca’s and of course our roadtrip to Nice. I’m excited, I love it when the sun is shining again and we can do fun things!

Anyways, I’ve talked a little bit about Delft already. A beautiful city centered between Rotterdam and The Hague, that looks a lot like Amsterdam, minus the tourists. Besides wandering the city, having lunch and visiting the library (check out my earlier post), we also visited the botanical gardens.

In the Netherlands, botanical gardens are usually part of a university. Last year, I visited the gardens in Utrecht, which were part of Utrecht University. The ones in Delft were part of the TU Delft (Technical University). It was hard to find the entrance as Google Maps had the wrong entry point, and we walked around the gardens before finding the entrance, which of course, was on the other side from where we started walking. We didn’t mind, though, because it was sunny and we had time.

I always love visiting gardens like these. They’re so peaceful and quiet and usually beautiful, with birds flying around, butterflies and bumblebees everywhere. Unfortunately, the gardens in Delft were a lot smaller than I’d hoped, and also a lot less elaborate than others I’ve seen before.

But we did find pretty flowers! There was a section on almost-extinct plants that were really pretty, and also there were flowers and bulbs in the entire area.

I must say these were not the best botanical gardens I’ve visited because they were really small and there wasn’t that much to see. The gardens in Utrecht had ponds, fountains, a small bamboo forest and glasshouses filled with butterflies. There was mention of glasshouses in this garden too, but they were closed because of covid. I don’t think I even saw them. We did see a lot of ‘restricted area, only for employees’ signs, which was no fun.

I think we only spent about an hour inside. There was one restricted area that seemed to be rented out and when we were there, the people there seemed to have brought in a marching band! I’m not even kidding. We were enjoying the peace and quiet when we suddenly heard a trombone playing! Soon the other instruments followed. It was not like they were horrible, it’s just that you don’t except to hear that in gardens like these. We quickly left.

I would definitely recommend paying a visit to Delft, but I’d skip these gardens. They are pretty, but there’s another park nearby that’s free and I think I wouldn’t pay the €6,- entrance fee again. It was okay for one time, we did enjoy the sun and the pretty flowers and I’m glad we went, I just don’t feel the need to visit them again, whereas I’m pretty sure the botanical gardens in Utrecht could become a regular spot for me.

A sunny Day in Delft

Last weekend it was time to visit yet another Dutch city I’ve been wanting to visit, namely: Delft! Delft is located on the west side of the Netherlands, just between Rotterdam and The Hague. It’s a historical city, because it’s the place where Willem van Oranje was murdered. The city is also famous for the color blue. Delfts Blue is typically Dutch, though I must say I found little blue in the city itself.

Delft is yet another city that looks a lot like Amsterdam. There are lots of canals and small houses, but the city is way smaller than the capital and way less crowded. It also doesn’t smell like weed as much as Amsterdam does.

Bicycles, canals and bridges. It’s a really beautiful city to walk around in, especially when the sun starts shining. We spent our morning in the botanical gardens (more on that later) and then set out to explore.

The city is known for its iconic blue pottery and tilework. I suspected, and hoped, to find lots of it in the city itself. There are several Delfts Blue museums and potteries, but the are all closed now because of covid. I did find this gigantic heart in the city center. It’s not Delfts Blue, but if you squint hard enough and use a little bit of imagination, you can think it maybe represents the color in the city. There are some Delfts Blue pottery shops for tourists to be found in the city, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Besides canals, there are really a lot of beautiful buildings in the city. I’m not sure what building this is, but as it’s close to the TU (Technical University), I’m guessing it has something to do with it, though I can’t be sure as I can’t find the building on google maps and there weren’t any signs (and also, we weren’t supposed to be here, oops!)

I really wanted to visit the library. As you may know, I work in the library of Nijmegen myself, buying books for a living. Before covid started, we had a congress where someone from the library of Delft came to talk about theirs, and told us how the books were categorized, using a system designed by children who loved to visit the library. I won’t bore you with the details, but of course I wanted to see for myself. And it truly looked good. The library was innovative and playful and one area was even called the WegisWeg which is the Dutch translation for Diagon Alley.

After the botanical gardens and the library, we decided to get something to eat, so we walked towards the great marketsquare, which was packed with terraces and people. I’m thinking this is something I will have to get used to again, because crowds like this scare me. This time though, we were starving so when we finally saw a free table, we sat down and ordered lunch.

We sat down at ‘t Konings Huys. It was the only place available, but we had seen that someone had ordered nachos so we weren’t picky. I had tomato soup and boyfriend ‘shared’ his plate of nachos. The food was alright (you can’t go wrong with nachos!) but the drinks were absolutely yummy! I had a virgin strawberry mojito and boyfriend had a straight lemon. It was really good!

After lunch we walked back to our car, taking another route as to see even more of the city. It was funny because the city center was really crowded but the streets around it were quiet. We saw some people doing some kind of treasure hunt and the bigger canals were filled with the students’ rowing club but most tourists and locals seemed to be having a good time in the city square.

We had a great time. A beautiful city, the sun was shining and I was wearing a skirt for the first time in forever, there were nachos, botanical gardens, flowers and a great library. What more could a girl want?