Things to Do in North Holland
Teylers Museum is an art, natural history, and science museum in Haarlem — it is the oldest museum in The Netherlands. Founded in 1778, and open to the public since 1784, the museum was once used for public demonstrations of scientific experiments. Today, it is known as the best-preserved 18th-century public knowledge institution for the arts and sciences in the world, and is slated to become a UNESCO world heritage site.
Most of the museum’s exhibitions showcase natural history like rocks and minerals, fossils, and some of the very first equipment used by physicists and other scientists. There’s also something for the fine-art lover, including a selection of works by Dutch masters like Rembrandt van Rijn and some prints and drawings by Michelangelo and Raphael. Other exhibits include fossils that are millions of years old, machines that generate electricity, and historical books and coins. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions a few times each year.
The Frans Hals Museum is known for its collection of paintings by the Dutch Golden Age masters. Nearly all the pieces date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, when Haarlem was known as the “City of Painters,” and as you make your way round the museum exhibits you’ll see works by the likes of Ruisdael, Jan Steen, Saenredam, Van Goyen, Heda, and of course, Frans Hals. Fifteen of Hals’ enormous civic guard pieces are showcased here and are a highlight of any visit. In particular, look out for Hals’ famous twin portraits, Regents and Regentesses of the Oudemannenhuis.
Built in 1609, the attractive building changed purpose from almshouse (where Frans Hals lived out his final years) to orphanage before becoming the art museum you can see today in 1913.On a visit to the Frans Hals Museum, it’s worth looking out for the separate section containing a replica of a 17th-century Haarlem street.
Opened in 1874, The Netherlands’ Groninger Museum is the most-visited art and history museum in its province. The post-modernist building that houses the museum is made of three main pavilions, each designed by a noted architect: Philippe Starck, Alessandro Mendini, and Coop Himmelb(l)au. In addition to the permanent collections that range from fashion to art to architecture, the museum has an ‘Info Center’ where visitors can use computers and watch films and documentaries to get all sorts of bonus information about the museum’s exhibits. The info center also has a lounging area where visitors can kick back and read any number of art magazines and periodicals the museum subscribes to.
Kids will love the ‘Discovery Space’ and the ‘DIY Studio,’ which are bursting with cabinets and drawers to browse through, interact with, and create from. The studio is available to school groups during the week, and open workshops are hosted by the museum on the weekends.
Windmills are the quintessential symbol of the Holland landscape and a visit to one is a must for first-time visitors. Located in the rural countryside of Schermerhorn, the Windmill Museum is located in one of the eleven mills left of the former windmill complex of Schermer polder. Visitors can tour the mill from top to bottom and enjoy views of the surrounding Dutch countryside.
Volendam is a quaint Dutch fishing village known for its colorful wooden houses and old fishing boat-lined harbor. The Volendam Museum gives visitors a taste of what life was like in the village during the 19th century. The museum features life-size dioramas, traditional clothing displays, fascinating artifacts, and the highlight - a collection of mosaics made from millions of cigar bands.
Wood creaks, wheels turn, and steam hisses as you step on board a thrilling journey through time. The Museum Stoomtram Hoorn-Medemblik is a museum on wheels that moves from village to village across the west Frisian countryside in The Netherlands. Between the historic ‘Zuiderzee’ towns of Hoorn, Medemblik, and Enkhuizen, the engine whistles along the tracks while passengers sit back and enjoy views of windmills, meadows, and fields of blossoming tulips. The Steamtram Museum Hoorn-Medemblik highlights the history of steam trains in the Netherlands, and the role rural rail transport played in the country’s development.
The Steam Tram Museum purchases, restores, and conserves a collection that represents this heritage of rural rail transport, including the last remaining pieces of Dutch steam tram rolling stock. The museum boasts an impressive collection of Dutch steam trams including nine steam locomotives, diesels, around 30 coaches and 20 freight wagons. There’s also four restored stations and a large collection of signals and signaling devices.
Located just 45 minutes west of Amsterdam, South Kennemerland National Park is a nature reserve of sand dunes, coastal forests, wetlands, and beaches. Visitors are drawn to the park’s exceptional bird-watching opportunities, nature trails, and cycling paths. Zuid-Kennemerland National Park is one of the most popular national parks in Holland and is an easy day trip from Amsterdam.