The Netherlands is a relatively compact country with a reliable transportation system, which means that within an hour away from Amsterdam you can find yourself in a whole other style of beauty elsewhere in the country. From tiny fishing villages to historical towns and flower fields, taking day trips from Amsterdam is a must. We recommend finding the most suitable accommodation in Amsterdam and use it as an exploring base. Of course, dedicate a couple of days to find some of the best things to do in Amsterdam.
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Day trips from Amsterdam
Train travel is the easiest way to travel around Amsterdam, incredibly well connected you’ll be able to reach most other Dutch cities or towns via rail. Occasionally you’ll have to take a bus but even this is convenient and accessible. Keep on top of it all with the ND (Dutch rail network) journey planner website and app for train times and making bookings. If you’re travelling on Monday, make sure you check what’s open since it’s common for businesses and even major attractions to be closed.
Like most cities in western Europe the weather is truly unpredictable so carrying an umbrella or waterproof coat everywhere with you is a wise decision!
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A quick and easy day trip from Amsterdam is the world famous flowers gardens in Lisse. The easiest way to get there is by using the dedicated bus service which takes about 40 minutes- you can even cycle there. Like stepping into wonderland, this is a true feast for the senses, over seven million flowers blooming over 32 hectares of gardens to explore.
You could easily spend the day amongst the colours and scents of these gorgeous flowers, particularly as there are cute cafes dotted throughout the whole garden. Make sure you take a camera because you’re going to want to take gorgeous pictures.
Finally, don’t forget to pick up your ticket online in advance as it gets incredibly crowded and if possible, avoid weekends and public holidays. Since the garden is only open in the Spring (end of March until Mid-May), they receive millions of visitors each year. You can even skip Keukenhof Gardens itself if you’re only interested in seeing the tulip flowers, the pride and joy of the Netherlands as there are tulip fields situated all around Lisse so hiring a bike and exploring yourself is very possible.
This is one of the easiest day trips to take from Amsterdam as the trains are incredibly regular and it only takes half an hour to get there. One of the most historically charming cities in the Netherlands, it features historical church buildings from the Middle Ages.
People generally head to Utrecht from Amsterdam to enjoy the famous canals as well as the gorgeous De Haar castle. Waterfront platforms allow you to sit out on the canals and enjoy a drink or meal in one of the waterside cafes or restaurants. Follow the most popular Oudegracht Canal through the town for a beautiful walking tour of the city’s most famous sights.
The city centre itself is pedestrianised and dominated by The Dom, a modern structure that allows a fantastic view of the city. Utrecht is very popular as a shopping destination due to the sheer number of vintage and antique stores, hunting for treasures here is great fun. With quirky museums to visit and wholly different vibe to Amsterdam, this is an easy day trip to see more of what the Netherlands has to offer.
For a breath-taking escape from bustling Amsterdam that just fifteen minutes away by train, you can’t do better than Haarlem. This beautiful medieval town centre features magnificent churches, canals, and municipal buildings that predate the Dutch Golden Age so you know you’re in for some exciting architecture experiences.
It’s like stepping into a fairy-tale and thankfully there are far fewer tourists here than in Amsterdam so the side streets are a lot more peaceful. There are plenty of quirky things to get up to in Haarlem, you can even find the craft brewery Jopenker located within a former church and visit the eccentric collection at Teyler’s Museum. Eating and drinking your way around the city is one of the best things to get up to here with local restaurants, sandwich shops and bakeries abound. Make sure you get some fries and mayonnaise at De Friethoes before you head off for a delicious snack.
Delft, often associated with the iconic blue and white china Delftware is a stunning medieval city which lies between The Hague and Rotterdam. Just under an hour by train from Amsterdam, you can be in this incredibly photogenic city getting lost on the cobbled streets and gazing at the medieval architecture. Some of the highlights to see in the area include the Nieuwe Kerk, a protestant church where you can see the tomb of William of Orange, after that head to the stunning 13th-century Gothic church Oude Kerk, famous for its 9-tonne bell.
The best thing to do Delft is to wander the streets and enjoy the many local shops, cafes, and bakeries. Starting at the main square which is the liveliest part of the town, you can try local produce and indulge in excellent gelato and coffee, set aside some time for people watching at the Ten to Three Bakery, a cute and relaxing spot in the centre. Delft is a wonderful spot to pick up souvenirs due to the abundance of china shops and vintage store to peruse. Vintage Island is one of the sweetest vintage shops in the city and you can pick up some reasonably priced European fashion.
North of Amsterdam and a little further away and slightly harder to get to than most day trips on this list, you can reach Giethoorn after a 1.5-hour drive. You can either take the bus, hire a car, or choose one of the organised tours so there’s still a few options.
Giethoon is particularly special as transport around the village is done via the canals and boats are used instead of cars. There’s a distinctly Venice style vibe to this quaint little place and it’s one of the most sought after day trips from Amsterdam, for this reason, making it exceptionally busy in the Summer. The main thing to do in Giethoon is to enjoy the tranquillity, listen to the birds and enjoy being in a Netherlands water town. Taking a canal cruise is a must-do here and don’t forget to take your camera because it’s like stepping into a painting.
The political hub of the country and the former capital, The Hague is a convenient day trip (just 40 minutes away by train) and a perfect city to explore on foot. With quaint and historic architecture at every turn, the largest Chinatown in the Netherlands, and beautiful beaches and coastline to enjoy, The Hague is incredibly diverse.
Visit the Van Kleef distillery dating back to the 1800s to try Dutch alcohols and stroll The Passage, a UNESCO recognised arcade which predates the famously covered passages of Paris. One of the crowning jewels of the city is the Peace Palace, built in the 1920s and now The International Court of Justice. Tours of the palace do happen but they have to be booked well in advance. A real city of art, The Hague is worth going to simple to visit The Mauritshius art gallery, permeant home of The Girl with the Pearl Earring and the fantastic M.C Escher Museum. Don’t miss The Haagse Market, a historic market where the locals shop.
Not just a cheese, the charming town of Gouda is a perfect day trip from Amsterdam, just 55 minutes by train the full of historic architecture and quaint shops. Of course, being in Gouda you’ll find the historic cheese market that the city was initially made famous for (held on Thursdays between April and September), it’s well worth trying to catch and makes for some interesting photos particularly as it’s held in the impressive central market square with its beautiful Town Hall.
The facades of the houses in Gouda are particularly picturesque as well as the open courtyards with some dating back as far as 1449. Gouda is one of those paces that you stroll around taking lots of pictures and people watch from a local café or eatery. A particularly relaxed day trip for people who love cheese and history!
Very much associated with the prestigious Leiden University, the oldest in the Netherlands, this charming city has developed around academia with its architecture dominated by stunning university buildings like the Leiden Observatory, scholarly museums, libraries, and the botanical gardens. Just 30 minutes from Amsterdam, the city is as attractive as Amsterdam full of canals, waterside cafes and colourful buildings but with about half the tourists.
Aside from enjoying a meal on the harbourside and wandering the side streets dipping into shops, the best thing to do in Leiden is museum-hoping! Some world-class museums and sights are located here including a gifted Egyptian Temple in Rijksmuseum and the windmill museum Molen de Valk where you can catch an incredible view of the city and learn about the famous millers.
The quickest and easiest day trip on this list as it’s still within the city limits. Taking a bike fifteen minutes south of the city you’ll find the huge artificial park that is Amsterdam forest. If you don’t have much time in the city and want to see a little countryside while you’re there, then this is ideal.
You can traverse the forest on foot or cycle around and in the spring during the cherry-blossom season or the Autumn season, it’s alight with colours. There are lots of activities for children including seeing Scottish highland cows and parks. It’s an ideal way to see the Dutch landscape without spending anything or going too far.
Known for its famous wax covered cheese, once favoured by the Dutch sailors on their voyages this quaint village has a lot to offer in terms of history, charm, and ambience. Just 30 minutes by bus from Amsterdam, it’s easy to combine a trip to Edam with the fishing villages of Marken & Volendam.
If possible, try to visit Edam on Wednesday as the morning market is incredibly traditional and offers an insight into Dutch culture. It’s particularly special in July and August when farmers bring the cheese by boat and horse into the town dressed in traditional garb. Not just about cheese, you’ll find beautiful side streets with cafes and bakeries, and small shops to explore.
A day trip to Rotterdam is great fun being so vastly different to Amsterdam but with so much to do and see. It’s just over an hour from Amsterdam on the train and you get to enjoy splendid views of the country as you go. You’ll find yourself wanting to return to the Netherland’s second city for its laidback vibe, its cool skyline and its culinary wonders. Some of the unmissable architecture in the city are the famous yellow cubed houses, the three huge railway bridges across the River Maas, and the Markthal which also doubles as a foodie delight.
There are some fantastic modern museums in the city like the famous contemporary art museum Boijmans van Beuningen, the World Museum which pays tribute to Rotterdam’s multicultural history, and the fascinating Dutch Photography Museum. For great coffee shops and bars along the waterfront, head to Witte de Withstraat, the hip and young hub of the city. Make sure you walk along the river and take in the incredible’ views before heading back to Amsterdam.
Marken & Volendam
Visiting these famous water towns makes this day trip easily accessible by bus although it can even be combined with a visit to nearby Edam. The trio makes up the aptly named picturesque ‘Waterland’ area. To get there you can take a direct bus to Volendam and then travel by local ferry to Marken which runs all year except when the lake is frozen.
Seeing the Dutch way of life in these peaceful fishing towns is a welcome escape from the busy city of Amsterdam and it’s hard to believe that you can reach such provincial areas within an hour. Aside from strolling the canals and relaxing in local cafes, many people take the trip to this area to see the nearby Zaanse Shans windmills for some iconic pictures.