If you’ve only got a few days in The Netherlands, head straight to Madurodam near Den Haag for a mini-tour of the whole country – all in miniature. A 30-minute day trip from Amsterdam and a tram hop (number nine) out of Den Haag at Scheveningen, the park has three themed zones containing intricate models of Holland’s cities and landmark buildings, all scaled down to 1.25.
All the important architectural styles of The Netherlands are represented, from the gabled canal-side houses in Amsterdam to the Gothic magnificence of the Peace Palace and Parliament Buildings in Den Haag. There are models of canals and churches, windmills that turn by solar power, bridges that lift and plenty of bulb fields too.
And Madurodam just got better. Its new displays are truly interactive exhibits that allow visitors to help at Edam’s cheese market, land a plane at Schiphol airport, load containers onto cargo ships in Rotterdam’s docks and even save coastal fields from flooding by closing the Oosterscheldekering storm-surge barrier.
Aspiring pop stars can create their own light shows in the theater and future engineers get to operate a wind farm. There’s a perfect scale model of the 17th-century trading ship The Amsterdam, which sits outside the Scheepvaart National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam, and tiny windsurfers on the waves at Deltawerken. The staff at Madurodam make all the models themselves, scaling them down from original architectural plans.
A hop-on hop-off mini-train putters around the edge of Madurodam and there are shops in which to buy massive wooden clogs and Dutch cookbooks, plus two restaurants offering traditional Dutch brown bean soup, lots of cheeses and spiced cookies.