The Netherlands has a little bit of everything that Northern Europe has to offer – except for mountains. You’ll find a deeply embedded love of the arts, remnants of a Roman past, significant and marvelous palaces, castles, and a feast of fresh and honest food and drink. Cobbled city streets arch over canals (the ever-present symbols of Dutch civilization) and Gothic town squares anchor the social and stylish Dutch lifestyle. You can walk through fields of tulips or cycle around the legendary windmills, but to really experience Dutch culture you’ll need to shrug off the stereotypes and head into the urban spaces. Here are seven charming and engaging cities that should be included in any tour of The Netherlands.

1. Amsterdam

A tour of the Netherlands wouldn’t be complete without a visit to its capital – and not just for the freewheeling counterculture. Amsterdam is a treasure trove of Flemish architecture, significant historical sites, and world-class museums, not to mention a tastemaker and trendsetter in design and cuisine. The elaborate system of canals that criss-crosses the narrow streets offers a bit of a pastoral slant in the bustling metropolis. As in other Dutch regions, bicycles rule the roost here, but you can easily get around the compact city center on foot. Despite its reputation, Amsterdam is not a city of seedy back alleyways and sex clubs – there are so many chic, classy, and charming experiences in every region of the city. Amsterdam