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Winters are fairly mild here, so it's the perfect time to explore a different Dutch city.

January 15, 2016

Take advantage of Amsterdam’s great rail connections and jump on a train for a short but sweet break from the city. Try a different Dutch city, or brave the great outdoors—winters are mild here, and you’ll often have the loveliest spots all to yourself.

Rotterdam

See the 17th-century Delfshaven, the port form where the Dutch Pilgrim Fathers sailed, and admire the stunning modern architecture, visit top museums like the Kunsthal (modern art, design by Rem Koolhaas) and Boysmans van Beuningen (Old Masters to contemporary), indulge in a spot of shopping or just enjoy Rotterdam’s great restaurants, including its funky Markthal market.

Stay: Hotel New York is a classy and nostalgic property located in the former head office of the Holland America Line, with a great waterfront location.

EatLas Palmas serves incredible fish in beautiful surroundings—it’s expensive, but a joyous experience.

Related: 20 Long Weekends

Maastricht

In the very south of the country, Maastricht is a different sort of Dutch—it’s more catholic and Burgundian than the Calvinist north. Check out this quaint medieval old town, with its impressive basilica, and visit the excellent Bonnefanten Museum for medieval art, Old Masters, and the remains of Maastricht’s Roman past.

StayBouteaque Hotel is a small but stylish property located on a pleasant square in the heart of town.

EatChâteau Neercanne, in a fairy-tale castle just outside the city, offers superb Michelin-starred food and a unique atmosphere. Tip: eat more affordably at the château’s L’Auberge lunchroom.

Groningen

Amsterdam’s most northerly big city, Groningen is youthful and vibrant, thanks to its ancient university (est. 1614). Visit the spectacular Groninger Museum, designed by Alessandro Mendini (it’s currently showing the travelling blockbuster David Bowie exhibition) and enjoy the refreshingly traffic-free city center (courtesy of the municipality’s pro-biking policies).

Stay: The Prinsenhof Hotel combines modern luxury with old world charm in a wonderful 17the century palace boasting a peaceful courtyard garden. It’s just a short stroll from the center of town.

EatBistro t’Gerecht has won a Michelin Bib Gourmand for its well-priced and imaginative dishes.

Schiermonnikoog Island

Pile on the jumpers and head for the unspoiled Schiermonnikoog, part of the Wadden Islands and a national park. Once home to monks, today it offers an away-from-it-all break: No cars are allowed on the island except by permit, and there are miles of beaches and dunes to explore. Great for walking, cycling, and bird watching. Take the train to Leeuwaarden or Gronigen, and get the ferry at Lawersoog harbour.

StayHotel Brasserie Om de Noord, a luxurious bed and breakfast, offers contemporary chic rooms in the heart of the island’s only village.

EatAmbrosijn serves up sophisticated dishes in pleasant modern surroundings.

Hoge Veluwe National Park

There are two good reasons to come here. One is the pristine landscape, which varies from woodland to savannah-like grassland to surreal inland sand dunes, and the other is the fabulous Kröller-Müller Museum, featuring the world’s largest collection of Van Goghs after the Van Gogh Museum, and much more besides. A network of trails and bike paths (pick up a free bike inside the park) makes it easy to explore.

Stay: Herberg De Boer'Nkinkel, located on the edge of the national park, offers a relaxed, unfussy place to stay.

Eat: De Koperen Kop, right in the middle of the park, is the place top stop off when walking or cycling. The food, which often includes venison from the park’s deer, is traditional and good.

Jane Szita is on the Netherlands beat for Travel + Leisure. She lives in Amsterdam.

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