pond surrounded by trees and tulip beds in Keukenhof gardens

Day Trips from Amsterdam: Exploring Beyond the Netherlands’ Vibrant Capital

Amsterdam is fantastic, and a must-visit if you’re planning a trip to Europe. However, the Netherlands has much more to offer beyond its capital. There’s a diverse range of attractions and experiences available on day trips from Amsterdam, from twenty minutes to a few hours away.

Whether you’re interested in historic charm, indulging in the region’s culinary specialties or relaxing in nature, this article will provide you with a deeper understanding of Amsterdam’s nearby cities, villages and outdoor attractions.

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Planning your day trips from Amsterdam

When planning day trips from Amsterdam, it’s important to consider transportation options, such as train schedules, car rentals, or guided tours. Many destinations are easily accessible by train, offering a convenient and efficient way to explore the Netherlands and beyond. Check out Trainline for timetables and booking options.

Renting a car is also a viable option, and gives you much more flexibility. Compare daily rates for car rentals on sites like Discover Cars and Qeeq. You can also rent bikes, scooters and motorcycles on BikesBooking. If you’d rather not drive yourself, you can always hire a private driver on Get Transfer.

Additionally, guided tours and excursions provide an opportunity to gain insights from knowledgeable local guides and ensure a seamless travel experience. Platforms such as Get Your Guide and Viator offer booking options for day trips and excursions. If booking day trips online, always make sure that transport and admission to attractions is included in the price you’re paying.

If you want to travel independently, you can still book individual attractions and experiences in your desired location. Compare prices on the platforms mentioned above, as well as on Tiqets and Booking.com. Booking also offers flights, accommodation and car rentals, so you can book an entire Netherlands trip conveniently in one place.

Day trip to Keukenhof and the tulip fields

Springtime in the Netherlands is synonymous with blooming tulips, and a day trip to Keukenhof offers a breathtaking display of vibrant colours. It’s located in Lisse, just a short drive from Amsterdam or less than 40 minutes by bus. Buses depart frequently, or you can take a guided tour from Amsterdam which will include transport and admission.

Keukenhof is one of the world’s largest flower gardens, featuring millions of tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. Wander through enchanting flower displays, take a windmill cruise alongside the flower fields, and even learn about the art of bulb cultivation. Bike tours and cheese tastings are also available.

Day trip to Zaanse Schans

For a quintessential Dutch experience, a day trip to Zaanse Schans provides a glimpse into the country’s iconic windmills and traditional crafts. Located just twenty minutes from Amsterdam, this open-air museum showcases working windmills, historic houses, and artisanal workshops.

Visitors can witness the age-old craft of wooden shoe-making, explore the interior of a windmill, and savour the picturesque landscapes of the Zaan River. Be aware that Zaanse Schans is one of the most popular day trips from Amsterdam, so expect crowds over summer. If you want to take a guided tour, book in advance to avoid disappointment.

Day trip to Haarlem

Haarlem is a city located just outside Amsterdam, and is easily reached in about twenty minutes by bus or train. You can also take a slightly longer, but more scenic journey by bike or boat.

Take a canal cruise or a walking tour, or visit the nearby Linnaeushof amusement park. Linnaeushof claims to be Europe’s largest playground, and is a great option for kids. However, the best thing about Haarlem is that multiple attractions are included with your I Amsterdam City Card.

Day trip to Leiden

Leiden is located just over half an hour from Amsterdam. Popular attractions include Hortus Botanicus, the oldest botanical garden in the Netherlands, and the Museum of World Cultures.

Leiden is also the closest major city to the Archeon open-air museum in Alphen aan den Rijn. The archaeological park offers immersive experiences to Roman and medieval history enthusiasts. Activities include making crafts, participating in sports and workshops, and learning survival skills from the time period.

Day trip to Utrecht

Utrecht, often referred to as the ‘hidden gem’ of the Netherlands, is less than 45 minutes by train from Amsterdam. The city’s medieval centre is dominated by the iconic Dom Tower, offering panoramic views of the surrounding area.

Utrecht’s canal network, lined with cafes and vibrant shops, creates a charming atmosphere for visitors to explore. The Centraal Museum and the Railway Museum are worth a visit for those interested in art and history, as are the De Haar Castle and Lofen Palace.

Day trip to The Hague

As the seat of the Dutch government and home to the royal family, The Hague is a city of grandeur and elegance. It’s located around 50 minutes from the Dutch capital.

Explore the historic Binnenhof at the centre of Máximapark, and stroll through the expansive Peace Palace gardens. Art lovers will appreciate the Mauritshuis, the home of Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’, as well as the Panorama Mesdag Museum, where you can experience the largest circular canvas in Europe by standing at its centre. Meanwhile, history enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the Oranjehotel World War II Prison.

The Hague’s coastal location also offers the opportunity to enjoy the sandy beaches and picturesque dunes of Scheveningen. Take a surfing lesson, or if the weather isn’t great then check out the LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre.

fountain on a large body of water in front of city buildings in the Hague
The Hague

Day trip to Rotterdam

Just an hour away from Amsterdam by train, Rotterdam is a city renowned for its modern architecture and vibrant cultural scene. The iconic Erasmus Bridge and the innovative Markthal are must-see landmarks.

Visitors can also explore the city’s maritime history at the Maritime Museum or take a scenic boat tour through the bustling port. Other Rotterdam attractions include Miniworld Rotterdam and the Van Nelle Factory, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Rotterdam is also an ideal base from which to explore the surrounding area. Visits to the nearby De Biesbosch National Park are popular, as are visits to the picturesque village of Kinderdijk. Kinderdijk is known for its iconic windmills, and is less than half an hour from central Rotterdam. It can be easily reached by water taxi, and is conveniently situated halfway to De Biesbosch National Park.

Day trip to Delft

Delft, with its picturesque canals and historic architecture, is a quintessential Dutch city that is easily accessible from Amsterdam by a one hour train ride.

The city is renowned for its blue and white Delftware pottery, which can be explored at the Royal Delft Factory. Visitors can also admire the stunning architecture of the Nieuwe Kerk and the Oude Kerk or take a leisurely canal cruise to soak in the city’s timeless charm.

Discovering Charming Villages: Edam, Marken, and Volendam

A day trip from Amsterdam to the charming villages of Edam, Marken, and Volendam offers a glimpse into traditional Dutch life. Edam is famous for its cheese and well-preserved historic centre, and visitors can enjoy Edam and Gouda tastings as well as clog demonstrations.

Meanwhile, Marken and Volendam showcase the timeless beauty of fishing villages nestled along the shores of the IJsselmeer (also known as Lake IJssel in English). Visitors can explore colourful wooden houses, traditional costumes, and serene waterfronts and fishing harbours, providing a tranquil escape from the bustle of Amsterdam.

Day trip to Giethoorn

Giethoorn is a scenic village characterised by its charming thatched-roof houses and network of canals. It offers a peaceful retreat from Amsterdam into a world of natural beauty, and is located around an hour and a half northeast of the city. It’s most easily reached by car; you can rent one for the day, or book a private transfer instead.

There are no roads in Giethoorn, so locals travel by foot or on the water. Visitors can embark on a boat tour through the tranquil waterways, stroll along quaint footpaths, and immerse themselves in the idyllic countryside scenery.

Day trip to Groningen

Abut two hours north of Amsterdam, Groningen is a lively student city. It’s home to one of the most beautiful stations in the Netherlands, as well as the iconic Martinikerk (Martin’s Church). The famous Romanesque-Gothic basilica was constructed in the 13th century, and is one of Groningen’s most important landmarks. You can even climb the steeple (Martinitoren) for panoramic views of the city.

If you’re looking for something unique to do, take a battleground tour. Groningen was one of the last Second World War battlegrounds in the Netherlands, and tours are both inspiring and educational. For something more light-hearted, visit the nearby Pieterburen Seal Rehabilitation and Research Centre.

Venturing beyond the Netherlands: Day trips to Belgium from Amsterdam

The Belgian border is around two hours from Amsterdam, and border cities like Antwerp and Bruges are popular day trip destinations from Amsterdam. Brussels, though slightly further afield, is also a great option.

Brussels

Two and a half hours by train from Amsterdam is the administrative centre of the European Union. As the capital of Belgium, Brussels offers a blend of rich history, cultural diversity, and culinary delights. Visitors can explore landmarks such as the UNESCO-listed Grand Place and marvel at the intricate Atomium.

Other highlights include indulging in world-renowned Belgian chocolates and waffles; visit the chocolate museum, take a food tour or try a Belgian waffle/chocolate making class.

The city’s museums, art galleries, and vibrant neighbourhoods provide a captivating experience for day-trippers from Amsterdam. Visit the Banksy Museum, Belgian Beer World, and just a few kilometres from central Brussels, the famous Aqualibi water park.

Bruges

Bruges is a postcard-perfect medieval city that exudes charm and romance. A day trip from Amsterdam to Bruges allows visitors to wander through cobbled streets, admire historic architecture, and cruise along tranquil canals. There are no direct trains between Amsterdam and Bruges, so unless you’re driving, journeys can take 3-4 hours due to having to change trains.

The city’s well-preserved medieval buildings, iconic Belfry, and serene Minnewater Lake create an enchanting atmosphere. You can also take a brewery or distillery tour, and visit the Musea Sculpta (sculpture museum). Alternatively, learn about the history of the humble potato at the Frietmuseum.

Antwerp

Two hours from Amsterdam, Antwerp, Belgium’s second-largest city, is a dynamic metropolis renowned for its fashion, art, and diamond trade. Visitors can explore the historic Grote Markt, marvel at the soaring spire of the Cathedral of Our Lady, and immerse themselves in the vibrant fashion district. You could also tour the historic Jewish Quarter, cruise around the Old Harbour or go on a pub crawl.

To conclude, while Amsterdam undoubtedly holds a special allure, the day trips outlined in this article offer an array of experiences that showcase the rich diversity of the Netherlands and its neighbouring countries.

While we focused on Belgium, the German cities of Düsseldorf, Essen and Cologne are also easily reachable. Consider reading Discover the Top 10 Reasons to Visit Germany for further motivation.

Whether you’re drawn to historic cities, picturesque villages, or natural landscapes, these day trips provide a deeper understanding of the cultural, artistic, and natural treasures that await beyond Amsterdam’s vibrant capital.

CTA: Start planning your Netherlands itinerary- check out From Tulip Fields and Windmills to Canals: Exploring the Netherlands for inspiration!

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