Amsterdam is a beautiful city that attracts millions of visitors every year. But the Netherlands have so much more to offer than just its lively capital! You can easily see the best of Amsterdam in one day and then spend some more time to explore the rest of the country. We live in Belgium and often visit Holland for short day trips. In this post I am sharing some of the best day trips that you can make from Amsterdam in the Netherlands. 11 of them can be easily visited by public transport, in less than an hour. But I also included a few other must-see places in the Netherlands that can easily be visited as a day trip from Amsterdam, but where you would need to take a car or join an organised tour, since using public transport would probably make it too difficult to visit in just a day.
This selection of the best day trips from Amsterdam includes some of our favourite places in the Netherlands. In addition, I asked my fellow travel bloggers to share their favourite day trips from Amsterdam as well. I want to show you the other side of the Netherlands and to inspire you to get a bit off the beaten path. Find out!
Best day trips from Amsterdam
In no specific order, these are some of the best day trips you can make from Amsterdam. Some places like Zaanse Schans, Keukenhof Gardens, or Alkmaar Cheese market are very popular and overrun with tourists. While most others are rather quiet and less visited, yet definitely worth a short trip if visiting Amsterdam for a few days.
1. Zaanse Shans
Zaanse Schans is a wonderful day trip from Amsterdam where you can experience quintessentially Dutch things like windmills and wooden clogs. The village is an open air museum which showcases the industrial past of the region, including the ubiquitous windmills. You can wander through the picturesque village and experience a Dutch town like it would have looked in the 18th-19th century. In addition to the operational windmills that you can visit inside, there is a cheese making shop, a lumber mill, a wooden clog maker and a restaurant serving Dutch pancakes. The Zaans Museum located right next door tells the story of the industrial past, with particular attention to the biscuit and chocolate maker Verkade.
Getting to Zaanse Shans is easy. Take a 15 minute train from Amsterdam’s Centraal Station and then it is a 20 minute walk to the village. You can wander around the village for free, but will need to pay to enter the wind mills and the Museum.
Submission by Dawn from 5 Lost Together. You can find more tips for visiting Amsterdam on her blog.
TIP: Zaanse Shans is the most popular destination for organised half-day and day trips from Amsterdam, often in combination with other the other great locations nearby. It might be a good option for those short on time or not willing to deal with the practical aspects of planning a day trip from Amsterdam. Here you can find the best deals for Zaanse Schans tours.
2. Keukenhof Gardens
Keukenhof is an impressively large flower garden boasting up to seven million flowers. It is only open for two months of the year and is filled with amazing collections of flowers in every colour imaginable. I’m definitely no gardening enthusiast and at first this sounded like something that would appeal more to my grandmother. But we ended up spending a good few hours wandering through the brightly coloured displays.
There are cafes located throughout the gardens for a coffee break. Entrance costs is a little steep (16 EUR), but it’s worth it. The garden is about a 40 minute drive from Amsterdam, but can also be reached by bus or bike. The best time to visit is mid-April when most of flowers are in bloom along with the tulips in the surrounding fields. Arrive early in the morning to avoid the heavy crowds that build up throughout the day.
Submission by Rohan from Travels of a Bookpacker. Here you can find more practical information to help you plan your visit to Keukenhof and the Dutch tulip fields.
TIP: Keukenhof is a popular springtime day trip from Amsterdam with many options varying from private transfers to small group tours. If you are visiting Amsterdam from mid March till mid May, don’t miss it! You can find the best deals for Keukenhof day trips here!
Rotterdam is an amazing city that sometimes gets overshadowed by its bigger sister city, Amsterdam. However, Rotterdam is extremely up and coming and is not to be missed on a trip to The Netherlands. The best part is that it just so happens to be a 35-minute train ride from Amsterdam which makes it the perfect day trip! If you have more time, I recommend staying for the weekend to immerse yourself in the cool architecture and hip city vibes.
Be sure to start your day trip in the city center! Go to the massive Markthal, check out the cube houses and walk down the cute street of Pannekoekstraat! Then, check out the art wall and Luchtsingel Bridge before walking over to have a drink outside on Witte de Withstraat. If you have time, check out the Delfshaven area which has some of the only buildings that weren’t destroyed by WWII! I recommend renting a bike or joining a guided bike tour – it’s the best way to see the highlights of Rotterdam in just a few hours. I promise you won’t regret a day trip to Rotterdam!
Submission by Katie from The Traveling Spud
TIP: The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe. Don’t miss the chance to see the harbour in action – join a 75-min harbour cruise.
4. The Hague – Den Haag
Most visitors to the Netherlands only visit Amsterdam, but there are so many reasons to visit The Hague (Den Haag), only 50km away and next to the beach! The city is home to The Girl with the Pearl Earring, it’s collection at the Mauritshuis Museum is only rivalled by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Take a stroll through the country’s seat of parliament, the Binnenhof and take in the architecture. Visit the gorgeous Peace Palace, which presides over international law – take a tour, or admire this impressive building from the outside. Explore the world of M.C Escher at the permanent exhibition of the Het Paleis. The beach terraces on Zwarte Pad at Scheveningen are the place to be on a warm summer day. Chill out on a lounger while a DJ spins tropic-house in the background. You can extend your day trip to The Hague by staying for an all night beach party.
Submission by Gabrielle from Boarding Call Blog. You can find more tips on the Hague on her blog.
TIP: A highly-rated Grand Holland Tour visits The Hague in combination with Rotterdam and Delft in just one day from Amsterdam.
5. Alkmaar cheese market
Alkmaar, just 30 min ride by train, is one of my suggestions for an unforgettable day trip from Amsterdam. It’s a charming little town, best know for its centuries old traditional cheese market. Don’t miss it, especially if you find yourself in Amsterdam during summer months. Alkmaar cheese market takes place on Friday mornings, weekly, between April and September. Here you can find more inspiration and info for visiting the Alkmaar cheese market.
TIP: Take a train to Alkmaar where you can either explore the town individually or book a guided tour of Alkmaar and the Cheese Market.
Gouda is much more than just a famous cheese town. With it’s compact size and a 55 minutes train ride from the Dutch capital, Gouda is a great day trip from Amsterdam. These are my recommendations for a visit:
Explore Gouda’s rich history and architectural delights:
- The Town Hall on the central market square is an impressive monument that can not be missed.
- St Jan church with its stunning stained glass windows is the tallest church in the Netherlands.
- Courtyards, some yards even date back to 1449!
- Admire the facades of the Gouda houses with special ‘gevelstenen’, some even date back to 1609.
Try Gouda Cheese, Stroopwafels and Beer:
- The Gouda cheese market occurs from April to the end of August. On Thursday mornings you can witness cheese making, cheese trading and weighing cheese in De Waag.
- Stroopwafels are syrup waffles and my favourite Dutch treats. Try the waffles at the traditional Van Vliet bakery, where thousands are freshly baked daily.
- If you are a beer lover, visit Den Gouwen Aar and get yourself a local Gouda beer.
Submission by Maartje from Quokka Travel. You can find more information about visiting Gouda on her blog.
TIP: Join a guided monument walking tour of Gouda and see the best of this beautiful town in just 2 hours.
Utrecht is a smaller and more laid back version of Amsterdam and one of the must do day trips. With many more canals than Amsterdam, Utrecht is less touristy which will instantly make one fall in love with the picturesque streets laden with small cafes which are located right on the edge of water.
The city has a vibrant student culture as it is home to the largest university in the Netherlands and also has many beautiful churches, marvellous galleries and museums and amazing yet inexpensive shopping options. Do not miss the spectacular view of the city from the Dom Toren, but keep in mind there are over 450 steps to climb to get to the top!
How to reach Utrecht: Direct Sprinter train from Amsterdam and get off at Utrecht Centraal. Duration: 40 minutes
Submission by Ketki from Explore With Ecokats
If you’re looking for a day trip from Amsterdam, Haarlem is by far the easiest choice. Only 15 minutes away by train, Haarlem is the quintessential fairy tale Dutch city, but without the hordes of tourists you’ll see in Amsterdam.
It’s mandatory to stroll around Haarlem’s Grote Markt central square (which hosts a lively market on Saturdays), and visit the stunning St. Bavo church, where Mozart once played. If you’re into museums, the eccentric collection at the Teyler’s Museum is worth anyone’s while. If not, there are several small canals near the central square, if you allow yourself to get a bit lost.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to either De Overkant for the best sandwiches in the city, or De Friethoes for the best fries and mayonnaise. Finish it off with a round of craft beer and bitterballen at Jopenkerk, a hip church-turned-brewery, and you have the perfect day in Haarlem!
TIP: If you are not sure where to start, you can also book a private walking tour of Haarlem.
Submission by Alex from Lost With Purpose.
Located a short 30 minute train ride away, Leiden provides all the charm of Amsterdam with less than half the tourists! Recognised locally as a University Town, they have a harbour, canals, gorgeous restaurants and coffee shops.
Furthermore, Leiden is home to some world class museums. Their wing of the Rijksmuseum even has an Egyptian Temple gifted to the the Netherlands in 1971! And don’t forget the city’s windmill museum – Molen de Valk – which is still operated my amateur millers today and offers the most incredible view above Leiden from its upper stories.
Submission by Vicki from Make Time To See The World. Check her blog for the top things to do in Leiden to help plan your trip!
TIP: See the highlights of Leiden with this 2-hour walking tour.
10. Muiderslot castle
If you’re obsessed with castles, you need to take a day trip to Muiderslot castle! This castle, only 40 minutes from Amsterdam by bus, dates back to the 12th century, and even has a proper moat. It is the perfect day trip with kids as Muiderslot includes many interactive exhibitions (including knight inspired games) for children, costumes for kids to try on, and even have falcons on the weekends. The castle is free with the iAmsterdam card and it’s at its best in summer when the garden is in bloom! The town itself is very cute and very Dutch.
Submission by Karen from WanderlustingK. You can read more about Muiderslot and other Dutch castles on her blog.
11. Amsterdam Forest
Visiting Amsterdam Forest is one of my favourite day trips from Amsterdam. The forest is a huge artificial park and just a 15-minute bike ride south from the city. The park offers something to all of us! Amsterdam Forest is great for walking, cycling, spotting Scottish highland cows and there are many activities for kids. If you visit in spring, the cherry blossom park is worth a visit. I try to inspire travellers to leave Amsterdam for (half) a day and explore the stunning Dutch landscapes.
My favourite spot in Amsterdam Forest is Goat Farm Riddammerhoeve where kids can feed baby goats and cuddle with chickens. Although I don’t have kids, I love to go there too to spend some time with the animals and eat delicious Dutch apple pie with whipped cream.
Submission by Maartje from Quokka Travel. Check her blog for more information about visiting Amsterdam Forest.
11+. Here are more suggestions for unforgettable day trips from Amsterdam
In addition to these 11 day trips that you can easily make from Amsterdam, there are many more incredible experiences that are worth considering in the Netherlands. However, some of them are a bit more difficult to reach by public transport and are best visited either by renting a car or as a part of an organised tour.
- Giethoorn – a little village with canals instead of streets and boats instead of cars (see featured image).
- Kinderdijk – UNESCO World Heritage Site with the most famous windmills of the Netherlands. Kinderdijk is one of my favourite places to visit with kids. Here you can read more about our visit to Kinderdijk.
- Efteling – the best theme park in the Netherlands and one we visit with kids at least twice a year. Don’t miss the Fairytale Forest!
- Kröller Müller Museum and The Hoge Veluwe National Park. Visit the second-largest Van Gogh collection in the world (80+ paintings and 180+ drawings) and ride a bike through a beautiful park. Perfect way to spend a day outside of Amsterdam!
- Discover the Dutch countryside by bike from Amsterdam.
**One last tip** Amsterdam is an extremely popular year-round travel destination, so make sure to book your hotels and day trip tours as soon as possible. Accommodation prices skyrocket when availability is scarce, and some tours get sold out very quickly as well. You can find the best deals for Amsterdam accommodation here.
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