The Best Netherlands Movies to Watch Before Your Trip

If you are planning a Dutch holiday, we have gathered the best Netherlands movies to watch before your trip. This fascinating country has so much to offer, not just in its stunning landscapes and rich history, but also through its cinematic contributions. Immersing yourself in its culture through film can be a fantastic way to prepare. 

This post includes Dutch films as well as many from production studios around the world that highlight the Netherlands. The country’s picturesque cities and countryside, with their iconic canals, tulips, and historic architecture, have provided the perfect backdrop for countless films, attracting filmmakers from all over the world.

I am grateful to have been able to visit the Netherlands twice in the last two years. As the founder of Trip Scholars, I spent a lot of time learning more about this fascinating country both before and after my trips. In this post I’m sharing some of my favorite films and highlighting how they will enhance your trip. I have also asked other travel writers, some Dutch and others who have visited, to share some of their top recommendations.

This curated selection includes stories of historical heroism and artistic genius to modern-day romances and dramas. Whether you’re a cinephile, a casual movie watcher, or planning a Dutch holiday, these films will transport you to the heart of the Netherlands and help you have your very best trip!

If you are planning a trip, I encourage you to start a watchlist months (or even years!) before you visit. This will allow you to gain a much richer and deeper understanding of the country long before you visit. The films will likely inspire deeper study– whether that is learning more about a particular person, cooking a Dutch dish at home, or diving deeper into the history of the country. 

Dutch Films: Biographies & Art

The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)

“The Diary of Anne Frank” is an essential film to watch to better understand life in the Netherlands during World War II. This adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary offers a poignant look at the life of a Jewish girl hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam. The film brings to life the annex where Anne and her family hid, located in what is now the Anne Frank House museum.

Viewing or reading “The Diary of Anne Frank” before visiting the Anne Frank House provides a deep emotional connection to the experiences of Anne and the others who lived in hiding. It transforms the museum visit from a historical tour into an exceptionally powerful experience. Knowing her story brought me to tears on the tour, just as it has for countless others.  Watching or reading it in advance will allow you to appreciate the courage and resilience of those who fought for survival amidst unimaginable adversity.

Anne Frank House, Amsterdam: Display of Translations of Anne’s Diary into Over 70 Languages

Plan Your Visit to The Anne Frank House

Tickets to the highly moving Anne Frank House almost always sell out quickly and far in advance. These tickets can only be purchased directly through the museum’s website here. They become available every Tuesday at 10am CET for a visit six weeks later. Mark your calendar to get online from home and secure your tickets early to avoid disappointment.

Consider this supplemental walking tour

(Please note this tour does not include entrance to the Anne Frank House)

Girl With a Pearl Earring (2003)

“Girl With a Pearl Earring” is a visually stunning film that explores the story behind Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting of the same name. Directed by Peter Webber and starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth, the film is set in 17th century Delft, Netherlands. It imagines a nuanced relationship between Vermeer and the young woman who becomes his muse. The film is a feast for the eyes, rich with the colors and light that characterize Vermeer’s work, and offers a glimpse into Dutch life during the Golden Age.

For those visiting the Netherlands, watching “Girl With a Pearl Earring” will enhance your appreciation for Dutch art and history. It’s a perfect prelude to visiting the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, where the painting is housed. It is also a valuable film to watch before visiting the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, where you will find The Milkmaid and other stunning paintings by the artist. The film invites viewers to ponder the stories behind other works of art they encounter, enriching their experience of the country’s world-renowned museums and galleries.

Plan Your Visit to the Mauritshuis Museum

Nightwatching (2007)

Directed by Peter Greenaway, “Nightwatching” is an intriguing exploration of Rembrandt’s most famous painting, “The Night Watch.” The film delves into a fictionalized account of how Rembrandt (played by Martin Freeman) uncovered a murder plot through the commission of the painting, set against the backdrop of 17th century Amsterdam. It’s a fascinating blend of historical fact, speculation, and artistic interpretation, offering insight into the Dutch Golden Age’s complexities.

For travelers, “Nightwatching” provides a captivating backstory to one of the Netherlands’ most iconic artworks, housed in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It invites viewers to consider the layers of history and meaning behind the masterpieces they see, enhancing their museum visits with a sense of intrigue and discovery.

Plan Your Visit to the Rijksmuseum

Loving Vincent (2017)

“Loving Vincent” is a remarkable film for its method as much as its subject matter—the world’s first fully painted feature film, which explores the life and death of Vincent van Gogh. Each frame is an oil painting on canvas, done in the style of Van Gogh, created by a team of artists. The film travels through the landscapes that inspired Van Gogh, bringing his art to life and delving into the man behind the myth.

Watching “Loving Vincent” before visiting the Netherlands, especially the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, offers viewers a profound connection to the artist’s work. The film encourages a deeper understanding and appreciation of Van Gogh’s contributions to art and his unique perspective on the world. It’s a visually stunning prelude to standing in front of his paintings, many of which depict scenes from the Dutch countryside.

Get Your Tickets to the Van Gogh Museum

(These tickets are almost always sold out in advance. Purchase early to avoid disappointment.)

The Best Way to See the Museums in Amsterdam

Amsterdam boasts some of the most inspiring and thought provoking museums in the world and if you expect to visit more than a couple of them, I highly recommend purchasing the I amsterdam City Card. It gives you affordable access to over 70 museums, a canal cruise, a bicycle rent, and use of city-wide public transportation. You can purchase the card to be active for 1-5 days and just activate it when visiting your first site of the trip. The digital option on your phone makes it very easy to use and navigate your time in the city.

You will still need to make reservations for some sites like your canal cruise and the Rijksmuseum. With the exception of the highest tourist season you can usually book these within 48 hours, and often immediately before entering while standing in line to enter.

Get Your I Amsterdam City Card Museum Pass

It is very important to note, that both the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum are not part of the I amsterdam City Card Museum Pass and need to be purchased separately. These two museums are almost always sold out weeks or months in advance and you can expect to see very disappointed people outside of both of these museums. Be sure to purchase these particular tickets early in your trip planning process.

I offer all of my best advice on visiting museums in the two posts, Museum Tips: How To Make the Most of Visiting a Museum and Tips For Visiting a Museum With Kids.

If you want to visit all of the Amsterdam museums mentioned in this article, I recommend purchasing all three of these tickets: the Van Gogh Museum, the Ann Franke House, and the I Am Amsterdam Card.

Dutch Movies About History

The Admiral (Michiel de Ruyter) (2015)

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“The Admiral,” known as “Michiel de Ruyter” in Dutch, is an epic historical drama that brings to life one of the Netherlands’ most celebrated heroes, Admiral Michiel de Ruyter. Set in the mid-17th century during the Anglo-Dutch Wars, the film showcases the tactical brilliance and bravery of de Ruyter as he fights to protect his country against invasions and political intrigue. With spectacular sea battles and detailed period costumes, the film is a testament to the Dutch spirit of determination and independence.

Visitors to the Netherlands will find “The Admiral” a thrilling introduction to the country’s maritime history. The film provides context for the importance of the sea to Dutch identity and prosperity. Exploring maritime museums such as the National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam becomes a more immersive experience with the knowledge of de Ruyter’s exploits, connecting the past with the present in a tangible way. You will also be able to appreciate exhibits depicting de Ruyter in the Rijksmuseum more deeply.

Plan Your National Maritime Museum Visit and Time on the Canals

The Mill Featured in the Short Film, History of Dutch Windmills with Han Kuijper

History of Dutch Windmills with Han Kuijper

This short documentary will help you better understand the history, engineering, and beauty of Dutch windmills. I am especially partial to this film because Han Kuijper and his wife Kelly are our very dear friends. Han is an amazing teacher and frequently hosts tours of the windmill, which is a national monument. It was built in 1632 and is their actual home, so both the tours and this film offer unique and captivating views into life as millers.  

If you are visiting the countryside of the Netherlands, you will delight in seeing the picturesque windmills throughout your trip. In this short film, Han narrates a history of Dutch windmills and brings us on a personal tour of his mill. This will help you understand and appreciate the windmills on a much deeper level beyond their beauty.

The beautiful photo of the windmill at the top of the article is of this windmill. Han and Kelly also offer canal tours of Alkmaar on their 1930’s cabbage boat as well as highly unique and immersive lodging in the Miller’s House and Liefke Houseboat that are on the property with the Mill. I have stayed in both of them and they were highlights of my trips to the Netherlands. If you are looking for a truly historic and authentic experience in Holland, I encourage you to learn more at I Love Windmills.

De Storm (The Storm) (2009)

“De Storm” is a gripping drama that tells the story of the 1953 North Sea flood, a catastrophic event that devastated parts of the Netherlands, claiming thousands of lives. The film follows a young woman who loses her baby to the flood and her desperate search to find him amidst the chaos. It’s a powerful portrayal of a pivotal moment in Dutch history, highlighting the strength and resilience of the Dutch people in the face of natural disaster.

Watching “De Storm” before visiting the Netherlands can deepen visitors’ understanding of the country’s relationship with water and its innovative flood defenses. It adds context to visits to the Delta Works, the monumental engineering project designed to prevent such a disaster from happening again. The film serves as a reminder of the forces that have shaped the landscape and character of the Netherlands.

Photo by Donna Meyer from NomadWomen.com

The Resistance & Dutch War Films About WWII

Riphagen: (The Untouchable) 2017

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A true story, this biopic about Andreas “Dries” Riphagen (beautifully played by Jeroen van Koningsbrugge), is set in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation of World War II.

In the beginning, we think Driese is working with the Dutch Resistance, helping Jews safeguard their belongings and escape to safety. It’s not long before we learn the truth: Riphagen is a Nazi collaborator. His job is to locate and confiscate Jewish property, money, and other valuables for the Reich.

He’s good at his job, which he does by making his victims trust him. Once he’s secured their wealth, keeping most for himself, he adds their names to the lists for deportation. Driese is cunning, with a likable façade and a black, evil soul, the consummate conman and traitor. He well earned his true-life title as “the worst war criminal in Amsterdam.”

The film’s eye for period detail is on point, making the look and feel pitch perfect. It sticks pretty closely to the true story, with a few deviations for artistic license. At the end, short screen notes describe what happened to each of the characters.

Watching Riphagen before a visit to Amsterdam will bring home the reality of what the Dutch—and especially Dutch Jews—suffered during the Nazi occupation. Your trip will be richer for knowing this history, especially if you are there on May 5, Remembrance Day, when those who died in the war are remembered with a national two minutes of silence. It is deeply moving.

Contributed by Donna Meyer from NomadWomen.com

The Resistance Banker (Bankier van het Verzet) (2018)

This period drama is set in Zaandam and Amsterdam during the World War II Nazi occupation. With a perfect eye for detail, it captures the essence of that time, its horrors, its challenge to try to live an otherwise normal life, and the sometimes exciting sense of living on the edge.

This is a true story of the Dutch Resistance during the war. A mid-level banker, Walraven (Wally) van Hall, is drawn into the Resistance after discovering a Jewish client/friend has committed suicide, with his family, after being told to report for deportation.  

Using his professional skills, Wally, together with his financier brother Gijs, creates an underground bank to finance the Resistance. When they realize they need more money—a LOT more money—to support a nation-wide train strike that could fundamentally derail the Nazi occupiers’ plans, they invent a plan for the largest bank fraud in Dutch history, involving counterfeit treasury notes, sleight-of-hand briefcase handoffs, and close calls. Watch the film to find out if they are able to pull it off. Remarkably, it’s all true–this really happened.

In the end, this isn’t a happy, feel-good film, but it’s an important one. It lets us see what life under the Nazi occupation was really like. It will give any trip to the Netherlands deeper meaning. I suggest seeing it before visiting the Dutch Resistance Museum. Then while wandering Amsterdam, look for stolpersteine, brass sidewalk plaques placed where those who disappeared into the jaws of the Holocaust lived their lives “before.”

Contributed by Donna Meyer at NomadWomen.com 

The Assault (1986)

What makes “The Assault” captivating is its deep dive into a harrowing piece of Dutch history, set against the backdrop of World War II. This film, directed by Fons Rademakers and based on the novel by Harry Mulisch, intertwines the personal with the historical in a narrative that spans several decades, starting from a tragic event during the Nazi occupation. It’s set in various locations around the Netherlands, bringing to life the country’s dark past and its journey to recovery.

Watching “The Assault” before visiting the Netherlands offers a profound context to the sites associated with World War II, such as the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam or the National Monument on Dam Square. Understanding the sacrifices made by the Dutch people during the occupation will add layers of meaning to your visit, making historical landmarks not just sites to tick off your list but memorials to reflect upon deeply.

Black Book (Zwartboek) (2006)

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Directed by Paul Verhoeven, “Black Book” tells the story of a Jewish singer who becomes a spy for the resistance during World War II. Set in the latter part of the occupation, it highlights various locations in the Netherlands, including The Hague and the surrounding countryside. The film offers a blend of drama, suspense, and romance, providing a nuanced perspective on Dutch resistance efforts during the war.

For those visiting the Netherlands, “Black Book” serves as a compelling backdrop to the country’s World War II history, offering insight into the resistance movement and the complexities of survival under occupation. Visiting the Dutch Resistance Museum in Amsterdam after watching this film will be a profoundly moving experience, giving faces and stories to the artifacts and exhibits.

Plan Your Visit to the Dutch Resistance Museum

Contemporary Netherlands Movies

Antonia’s Line (1995)

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The movie Antonia’s Line takes place in an anonymous village in the Dutch countryside—the birthplace of its main character, Antonia. Post World War II, she returns to the town with a daughter and no husband to see her dying mother.

With humor and practicality, Antonia stays and settles back into village life, rekindling old relationships with quirky characters on her own terms. Choosing not to marry, instead preferring a long and loving relationship with a neighboring farmer, Antonia weaves a rich tapestry of friendship and family over several generations that is welcoming to all and judgemental of none. The multi-layered story, narrated by Antonia’s great-granddaughter, masterfully advocates the theme of feminine autonomy.

Due to its exceptional performances, profound storytelling, and strong character development, Antonia’s Line deservedly won several awards, including an American Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1996. 

Seeing this film will connect you to the Dutch countryside and the people that live in it on a deeply emotional level. Inspiring you to visit the quieter places where life and its oddities remind us of our universal human connections.

Contributed by: Janice Moskoff at Gatherandgotravel.com

Alkmaar Canal

Queen (2013) 

Queen is a coming-of-age story of a young girl who goes to honeymoon alone after she is ditched by her long-term boyfriend on the day of her wedding. An innocent girl named “Rani”, which literally means “Queen” in Hindi, embarks on a trip to Paris and Amsterdam alone, since all the tickets were pre-booked. Coming from a conservative Indian household, this is not just her first solo-trip but her first exposure to the world outside her small town. 

Amsterdam is not just a location, but a character in this fun-filled romcom. The canals, the cafes, the amalgamation of cultures all around the world – Amsterdam’s unique character comes through in this film. 

Remember the famous line from John Green’s Fault in our Stars? “Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin”. The film doesn’t have such a profound quote about the city, but the essence of the quote shines through the story, more in Queen than in the film adaptation of Fault in Our Stars.

Rani moves into a hostel and shares a room with three strangers from different nationalities. This is an unthinkable leap from her life where the only guy she ever went out with was her long-term boyfriend, always with her younger brother tagging along like her bodyguard. From a girl who always conformed to societal norms and judged other women for their choices, she slowly opens. 

Amsterdam doesn’t change who she is but makes her the best version of herself. The sequence of her strolling in the red-light district in search of someone and shopping for her family in the sex-shop is hilarious. In fact, I came to know about this place from the movie itself, long before my first trip to Europe

Contributed by Sinjana of Backpack & Explore

The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

“The Fault in Our Stars” is not just a heart-wrenching love story between two young cancer patients, Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) and Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), but it’s also a beautiful ode to the city of Amsterdam, where a significant part of the story unfolds. Directed by Josh Boone and based on the bestselling novel by John Green, the film captures the essence of youthful love and the poignancy of life through its Amsterdam backdrop, featuring scenic canal rides, the Anne Frank House, and the charming streets that define the city’s character.

For travelers, especially those who are fans of the book or movie, visiting Amsterdam after watching “The Fault in Our Stars” can be a moving experience. The film highlights some of the city’s most beloved landmarks, which become more than just tourist spots; they transform into powerful reminders of Hazel and Gus’s journey. Exploring Amsterdam with the narrative of the film in mind adds a layer of emotional depth to the experience, making it not just a trip through a historic city, but a journey that explores the themes of love, loss, and the beauty of living fully, no matter how much time we have.

Plan Your Visit to Keukenhof, the World’s Largest Flower Garden

Love is All (Alles is Liefde) (2007)

“Love is All” is a heartwarming romantic comedy that weaves together multiple love stories, set against the backdrop of Amsterdam. Directed by Joram Lürsen, the film captures the city’s vibrant atmosphere during Sinterklaas season, offering glimpses into Dutch traditions and the everyday lives of its inhabitants.

For travelers, “Love is All” provides a light-hearted yet insightful look into contemporary Dutch society, showcasing the universal themes of love and connection within the unique context of the Netherlands. It’s a perfect prelude to visiting Amsterdam, making every canal bridge and cobblestone street feel like a scene from a love story.

Adventure & Thriller Movies in the Netherlands

PROOI (English title: Uncaged or PREY) (2016)

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Dick Maas stands out as one of the Netherlands’ most accomplished film directors. Having worked primarily within the horror and comedy genres for over four decades, he knows how to tell a good story and how to make his movies spectacular and unforgettable. 

Maas shoots in his beloved homeland, featuring local actors and crews – except for Do Not Disturb (1999), which was co-produced in the Netherlands but starred William Hurt and Jennifer Tilly, and the internationally-produced Down (2001), the remake of his 1983 movie De Lift

His latest release, Prooi, centers around a massive lion wreaking havoc and prowling Amsterdam’s streets and tourist attractions such as Vondelpark and the canals. It even goes inside a bus and attacks its passengers. It’s like “Jaws in the city” and a great introduction to both the capital and Dutch pop culture. Huge fun!

Contributed by Vanessa Morgan, creator of the website Traveling Cats and author of several thrillers and movie guides.

Ocean’s Twelve (2004)

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A splendid heist and great performances by George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts make “Ocean’s Twelve” delightful. This “Ocean’s Eleven” sequel by Steven Soderbergh promises charm, comedy, and depth. The film depicts Amsterdam’s beautiful canals and architecture.

Terry Benedict, a powerful opponent, blackmails Danny Ocean and his gang to repay the money they stole from him with interest, forcing them out of retirement. This sends them across the Atlantic to Amsterdam for a major theft. They use Dutch culture and scenery to execute a critical theft in a foreign city. While the film is fiction, its backdrop in Amsterdam’s lovely streets and canals gives credibility to the adventure.

By giving guests a cinematic backdrop to the Netherlands, “Ocean’s Twelve” can enrich their experience. Amsterdam’s old buildings, tiny alleyways, and rivers are like a character in the film. Visitors can walk in the protagonists’ footsteps and experience the city’s culture, history, and liveliness. 

While Ocean’s Twelve shows Amsterdam’s allure, Eindhoven could also be a dynamic setting for the crew’s future adventures.

The film encourages visitors to explore the Netherlands outside the regular locations. For fans of heist films and European escapades, it provides a fun introduction to Amsterdam and the Netherlands. 

Contributed by Lavina Dsouza at continenthop.com

Ready to See it in Person? Find Your Best Dutch Lodgings Today!

The Best Netherlands Films to Watch Before You Visit

If you have appreciated watching these films, I also encourage you to visit the EYE Film Museum in Amsterdam while on your trip. It is a combination cinema, museum and film archive in a stunning futuristic building.

Each of these films offers a unique perspective on the Netherlands, blending history, art, and culture in ways that will enrich your visit. Whether you’re wandering through the cobbled streets of Amsterdam, exploring the country’s museums, or marveling at its engineering masterpieces, these cinematic experiences will add depth and color to your journey. 

Have you watched any of these films? Do you have others that you recommend to travelers? Please tell us about them in the comments. Happy watching, and even happier travels! 

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