Best Day Trips from Amsterdam
Amsterdam is arguably one of the best cities to visit in the world and it is a great place to visit museums, art, coffee shops and culture — but there is much more to the Netherlands than Amsterdam. Within an hour from Amsterdam, you can visit the tulip fields, windmills, and even climb up sand dunes and lie on the beach and work on your tan!
The Netherlands is a relatively small country, so you can get to Utrecht in 30 minutes or even Belgium in 1.5 hours since the country is relatively small. Even traveling from the northernmost city in the Netherlands (Groningen) to the southernmost point (Maastricht) takes roughly two hours.
The Netherlands has an excellent system of public transportation that allows travelers to travel anywhere in the country. The trains generally run on time and are modern and comfortable. The Dutch railway company NS has a website on which you can get train schedules.
Holland is the world capital of cycling! There are over 32,000 kilometers of bike paths stretching out in all directions, letting you cycle from one city to another with ease if you wish. For nearby cities like Haarlem and Leiden, it is possible to bike from Amsterdam Centraal in an hour to these cities.
With this list of the top day trips from Amsterdam, you can get away from Amsterdam and explore the rest of the Netherlands.
Amsterdam Day Trips
In this list of day trips from Amsterdam, only places within a two-hour train ride from Amsterdam were included. It is possible to access all of these sights in one day by public transportation.
Recommended Amsterdam Day Trips
The short train ride to Haarlem makes it an ideal day trip from Amsterdam. Haarlem is often described as a smaller, more compact version of historical Amsterdam. Haarlem is less hectic than Amsterdam and offers a more authentic experience. It is essentially a suburb of Amsterdam so it is easy to get to. In fact if the hotel prices in Amsterdam are to high for you staying in Haarlem is a good alternative.
Haarlem is seen as a quieter, gentler Amsterdam – which is in fact only 15 minutes away by train.
Haarlem’s Christmas market is quite possibly the top Christmas market in the Netherlands. The event is centered around the city’s Grote Markt (main square). On a regular Saturday, however, the square will have local stalls offering cheese, clothing, souvenirs, and more. There is a church located right near the square and a variety of bars and cafes.
Throughout your stay, be sure to enjoy a boat ride along the canals, observe the authentic windmill located directly in the city, and finish the day at Jopenkerk, a church-turned-brewery. And, trust me the beer here is way better than the beer at the T’ij brewery in Amsterdam even though that one is located in a cool windmill.
2. Tulip Fields in Lisse and Keukenhorf, Netherlands
Most tourists come to the Netherlands in the springtime to view the world-famous tulip fields. Lisse is the best place to see them. Just 40 minutes by train from Amsterdam, Lisse is an easy day trip from Amsterdam. The striking colors of the flowering tulip bulbs are a typical sight in Holland during the spring. The bright red, pink and yellow colors are overwhelmingly beautiful and are a must see, or should we say, a must experience!
Keukenhof is situated in Lisse, and is one of the world’s largest flower gardens. The park is home to over 800 beautiful tulip and flower arrangements. There are several attractions around the gardens, including a petting zoo, art installations, restaurants, and boat trips. Tourists do tend to overcrowd this area. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you purchase fast-track tickets that include transfers.
You don’t have to go to Keukenhof to see the tulips; there are plenty of tulip fields scattered all over the Lisse province that are open to the public. We suggest renting bicycles and cycling around the fields to admire them. You can also take a tulip bicycle tour with a guide to see them.
3. Zaanse Schans
The Netherlands isn’t complete without mentioning the iconic Dutch windmill and wooden clogs. The Dutch are known for their windmills, and the closest one to Amsterdam is Zaanse Schans, a town dating back to the 19th century. Looking around you at the Zaanse Schans, you will see nothing but history. Take a tour of the wooden windmills and try on traditional Dutch clogs and savour some Dutch cheese. Zaanse Schans is one of the very best places to visit in the Netherlands.
The Zaanse Schans takes its name from an earthen sconce, a fortification from the Eighty Years’ War (the uprising against Spanish rule). From 1961 to 1974 old buildings from all over the Zaanstreek were relocated here from all over the Netherlands.
Getting to Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam by bus can be accomplished in 30 minutes from Central Station.
In the Netherlands there is no shortage of adorable towns, however, Delft stands out as my favorite. Delft is best known for its pottery, especially Delftware pottery! There is even a factory here that produces Delftware. Delft is not only known for the pottery, but also for its beautiful churches, charming boutiques, and cozy cafes.
Delft is a popular tourist destination in the Netherlands, famous for its historical connections with the reigning House of Orange-Nassau, for its blue pottery, for being home to the painter Jan Vermeer, Vermeer is buried in the Old Church.
Make sure you climb the clock tower for the best view in Delft. Delft is the perfect place to visit if you’d like to see beautiful Dutch architecture without the crowds that Amsterdam attracts.
5. The Hague (Den Haag) & Scheveningen Beach
The Hague is located approximately one hour train ride away from Amsterdam and is the perfect day trip destination. The city is beautifully designed and the city has a sense of calm about it, even though it is surrounded by a large amount of activity. It is a city on the western coast of the Netherlands on the North Sea. It is famous as the place where war criminals are tried but it is much more than that.
Koningsdag, or King’s Day, is held annually on 27 April. It is traditionally celebrated with fairs and flea markets throughout the city. On this day, the color orange predominates at a festival (which sells orange cotton candy) and has scores of informal street markets.
The Hague is also home to one of the finest beaches in the Netherlands called Scheveningen Beach. This beach is one of the most popular attractions to The Hague and is particularly popular with tourists and locals alike. The white sand beach stretches for miles and includes a Ferris wheel on its pier.
6. Alkmaar Cheese Market
If you are eager to experience the world-famous cheese of the Netherlands, then you should visit Alkmaar. Alkmaar, not Gouda is the cheese capital of the Netherlands, and there are many cheese-related attractions for visitors to enjoy! Every Friday from March through September, there is a cheese market, which is particularly interesting to say the least.
Alkmaar has many medieval buildings that are still intact, most notably the tall tower of the Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk, where many people from Alkmaar hold their wedding ceremony.
This Dutch city is 30 minutes from Amsterdam by train and has more than just cheese. Visit the Dutch Cheese Museum or the National Beer Museum, while Belgium and Germany are more well known for beer, the beer scene in the Netherlands is very healthy.
Among the most popular cities near Amsterdam, Rotterdam is one. The reason for its popularity is that it is modern and different than any other state in the country. During World War II, the whole city was destroyed by bombs and rebuilt in a totally different style. Rotterdam is home to many fine examples of modern architecture, much of it inspired by the city’s waterside setting, as well as a response to the devastation of WWII.
This unique city can be reached by a fast train in just 45 minutes. This allows plenty of time for exploration. The most popular sites here include the famous cube houses, the Markthall (market hall) and the Erasmus Bridge. Nevertheless, a leisurely stroll through the streets and a discovery of the city is much more enjoyable.
Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands and has a fascinating history. This city is located only 30 minutes by train from Amsterdam and is among the most popular Amsterdam day trips. While most people think of Amsterdam when they think of the Netherlands. Utrecht is the lively, beating heart of Holland, an ancient university town built around the Dom Tower. Utrecht is known for its city center with wharf cellars along the canals housing cafes and terraces by the water.
Utrecht is celebrated for its canals, which run through the center of the city. In addition to the unique design, the lower section of the canals is complemented by outdoor eating areas for restaurants during the warmer months. Besides the unique canals and restaurants, Utrecht is an amazing city to stroll around and explore.
Upon exploring the city, you’ll find that Utrecht is full of special places. For example, you can drink the best coffee in the city in the vibrant Voorstraat, find all your groceries in the multicultural Lombok and taste and feel the city’s archaeological history at Castellum
Leiden is an old and historical city in the Netherlands that can be reached by train in 30 minutes from Amsterdam. It is best known for its historical significance as a university town and for its stunning old architecture dating back to the year 1575. It reminds me a lot of Leuven in Belgium or Heidelberg in Germany. It is the best place to explore museums, canals without tourists, restaurants, and coffee shops.
Although Rembrandt spent much of his life in Amsterdam, he was born and raised in Leiden. In fact, he attended classes at the city’s university for some time before deciding to pursue a career as an artist. There are several tributes to Rembrandt around the city including a plaque on Weddesteeg that marks his birthplace.
The Floating Christmas Market in Leiden is another favorite of Amsterdammers. This quaint market boasts more than 90 stalls that sell a variety of festive foods, warm drinks, and handcrafted items. You’ll also find a floating ice rink, as well as a small stage where performances are performed round the clock. This yearly event has won multiple awards, including the “Best Christmas Market in Europe” in 2016.
10. Antwerp, Belgium
Taking a day trip from Amsterdam does not necessarily mean remaining in the Netherlands. By crossing the border into Belgium, you will arrive in Antwerp in no time at all. It may seem impossible to travel from The Netherlands to Belgium in one day, but thanks to the high-speed Thalys train it is quite doable.
Antwerp is an ancient center of medieval architecture and history, completely distinct from the Netherlands. Taking this day trip will provide you with a chance to explore another country, learn about a different history, and see a beautiful city nearby.
The old city center is steeped in history. You will find it in ancient building-fronts on narrow streets or in the imposing Grand-Place. The Plantin-Moretus Museum is the only museum in the world to be classified as a Unesco World Heritage site.
Belgian beers are world-famous, and Antwerp is an excellent place to improve your acquaintance with them. The De Koninck Antwerp City Brewery offers an ideal introduction to the world of beer. Het Pakhuis and Antwerpse Brouw Compagnie are other breweries where you can taste authentically brewed Belgian beer. One of the top-rated beer bars in the world, the Kulminator is located in Antwerp and there are a host of other good pubs.
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