The towns and cities of Zuid-Holland (South Holland) cluster around Amsterdam like filings round the end of a magnet. Each has prospered and grown independently, and today their borders virtually overlap one another to such an extent that the region is now dubbed the "Randstad" (Edge City) because locals consider it one mammoth megalopolis, and because Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam all lie on the same geologic ridge at the northwestern edge of the country.
In this fascinating area, you can leapfrog from past to future by journeying from Haarlem—earliest center of Dutch art—to Rotterdam, colossus of the waterways and now home to Europe's most daringly modern architecture; travel through an open-air old-master painting by visiting Vermeer's blue-hued Delft; or check out the refined elegance of The Hague, the Netherlands' seat of government and home to the Dutch royal family.
All in all, the area is small enough to drive through in an afternoon, but it would take you weeks to explore fully. This beating heart of the Netherlands is where the "real" people live. And it's all the more fascinating for that.