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Best Day Trips from Amsterdam According to An Expat

Amsterdam is a world-class city to visit and it’s a fantastic place for museums, art and culture — but there is so much more to the Netherlands than Amsterdam. Within an hour from Amsterdam, you can weave your way through multi-colored tulip fields, visit quintessentially Dutch windmills, and even climb up sand dunes and lay on the beach.

What I love most about living in Amsterdam is that nothing is far from here!  Since the Netherlands is a relatively small country, we can travel from Amsterdam to Utrecht in just 30 minutes or across the border to Belgium  in just 1.5 hours. And even traveling all the way up to the northernmost city of the Netherlands (Groningen) and down to the southern point (Maastricht) takes just 2 hours.

With this list of the best day trips from Amsterdam, it’s easy to venture outside of Amsterdam’s confines and see a whole new side to the Netherlands. 

day trips from amsterdam - tulip fields in lisse

Day Trips from Amsterdam

In this list of day trips from Amsterdam, we have included only places that are within 2 hours by train from Amsterdam. These are all completely doable in one day and can be reached by public transport.

I’ve listed these day trips from Amsterdam starting with my favorite day trips first. At the bottom of the post, I’ve also included details on how to do these Amsterdam day trips by public transport, by car, by bike as well as my recommendations for Amsterdam day tours.

amsterdam day trips - gouda cheese market

Best Amsterdam Day Trips

1. Haarlem

Haarlem is one of the easiest day trips from Amsterdam as the town is just 20 minutes by Train. Haarlem is described as a quaint, compact version of historical Amsterdam with its canals and architecture. However, Haarlem is much less busy than Amsterdam and offers a more authentic experience.

Haarlem’s Christmas market is my favorite Christmas market in the Netherlands. It is centered around the city’s Grote Markt (main square). But even on a normal Saturday, you’ll find that the square plays host to a market with local stalls selling cheese, clothing, souvenirs, and more. There’s a church right at the square and a melange of cool bars and cafes.

While in Haarlem, be sure to enjoy a boat ride along the canals, view the authentic windmill that sits directly in the city, and finish off the day at Jopenkerk, a church-turned-brewery.

  • How Far: 20 minutes by train
  • How to Get There: Catch the Intercity train from Amsterdam Centraal
  • Book: Haarlem Highlights Bike Tour

amsterdam trips - haarlem old town

2. Lisse & Keukenhorf Tulip Fields

Most people visit the Netherlands in spring (late March to early May) to see the world famous tulip fields. The best place to see them is definitely Lisse, which is an easy day trip from Amsterdam at just 40 minutes by train. 

Located in Lisse, Keukenhof is one of the largest flower gardens in the world. The park has over 800 stunning tulip and flower arrangements. Besides the gardens, there’s also a petting zoo, art installations, restaurants, and boat trips. It does get overcrowded with tourists. So we recommend booking fast-track tickets that include transfers.

You don’t have to go to Keukenhof to see the tulips though; there are plenty of tulip fields sprawled across Lisse that are free to view. We recommend renting bikes and cycling around the fields to admire them. You can also join a tulip field bike tour to see them with a guide. 

  • How Far: 1 hour by train + bus
  • How to Get There: Take the train to Amsterdam Schiphol and take bus 361
  • Book: Dutch Countryside & Tulip Field Tour

lisse tulip fields - great day trip from amsterdam   lisse tulip fields - great day trip from amsterdam

3. Zaanse Schans

You can’t visit the Netherlands without seeing the iconic Dutch windmills and wooden clogs. There are two popular windmill fields in the Netherlands and the one closest to Amsterdam is the 18th/19th-century village of Zaanse Schans. Get the quintessential Dutch experience here by touring the wooden windmills, trying on traditional clogs and sampling Dutch cheese. Zaanse Schans is easily one of the best places to visit in the Netherlands.

A day trip from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans is easy via a 30-minute bus ride from Central Station. If you are short on time and want to see as much of the Netherlands beyond Amsterdam as possible, check out this windmills day tour.

  • How Far: 30 minutes by bus
  • How to Get There: Take bus 891 from Amsterdam Centraal Station
  • Book: Zaanse Schans Windmill Tour

closest day trips from amsterdam - zaanse schan windmills

 

4. Kinderdijk

The second place to see the authentic Dutch windmills is in the south of Holland in Kinderdijk. This village is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to 19 windmills dating back to the 18th century. It is a great place to visit to learn about how the Netherlands functioned centuries ago and to admire the stunning scenery.

However, Kinderdijk is not the most accessible day trip from Amsterdam. Getting here by public transport with just one day can be quite a rush as there are no direct journeys, and you will end up spending a lot of time in transport. But you can always rent a car and drive the 1.5 hours or book an Amsterdam day tour.

  • How Far: 2 hours by train + bus
  • How to Get There: Take train to Rotterdam and then bus 190
  • Book: Kinderdijk and Madurodam Excursion

day trips from amsterdam to kinderdijk

5. Volendam, Edam and Marken

One of the most popular day trips from Amsterdam is visiting the Waterland, home to three particularly picturesque villages: Volendam, Marken and Edam. Honestly I didn’t have a great impression of the area on our first trip to the Netherlands more than 15 years ago, as there was torrential rain. But when we revisited last year, we had a completely different experience and really enjoyed all three towns.

Volendam is the most touristy and the town’s promenade is lined with souvenir shops, indoor/outdoor eateries, and Dutch clichés. In contrast, Edam is sweet but not saccharine, and is full of history and charm. It is best known for its famous cheese covered in red or yellow wax. Edam’s Wednesday morning market is held year-round, but is best in July and August.

Nearby is Marken, a much quieter town, home to an iconic lighthouse. Take a 40-minute walk out to the lighthouse, picturesquely situated at the far end of the island, at the tip of a sandy spit.

  • How Far: 2.5 hours by train + bus
  • How to Get There: Take train to Rotterdam and then bus 190
  • Book: E-Scooter Tour & Boat Cruise

amsterdam day tours to volendam

6. Texel Island

Easily the coolest Amsterdam day trip you can do is catching a ferry to Texel, one of the Dutch Wadden islands in the North Sea. The rugged island is known for the bird-rich Dunes of Texel National Park, with its sandy beaches, grass-topped dunes and forest trails. Texel is definitely one of my favorite places in the Netherlands.

The island’s icon is the bright red 15-year-old lighthouse that stands at the northern tip. Don’t miss seeing seals at Ecomare, a nature museum, aquarium and wildlife sanctuary for seals and birds. Most locals bring their bikes on the ferry to cycle all over the island; you can also rent a car and catch the car ferry (which costs between  €25-37 per vehicle). Book your ferry tickets here.

  • How Far: 2 hours by train + ferry
  • How to Get There: Take Intercity train to Den Helder, then catch the Texel ferry (20minutes)
  • Book: Texel Island E-Bike Tour 

text island lighthouse - coolest day trip from amsterdam  texel island hiking sand dunes

7. Hoge Veluwe National Park

Another one of my personal favorite spots in the Netherlands, De Hoge Veluwe National Park is one of the largest nature reserves in the country. The park sprawls across 5,400 hectares or 13,343 acres of forests, heathlands, and ponds that are teeming with life. This is the best place in the country to spot wildlife, including wild hogs, red deer and mouflons.

We love hiking in the various trails of the park, but the most popular way to explore the park is by bike. There are over 40 kilometers (25 miles) of cycling paths and 1,800 bicycles for free use. These white bicycles can be found at the Hoenderloo, Otterlo and Schaarsbergen entrances. We rented an incredibly cute treehouse studio here and highly recommend staying there if you have a car.

  • How Far: 1.5 hours by train 
  • How to Get There: Take the Intercity train to Utrecht, change train to Ede-Wageningen, then bus 108 towards Apeldoorn
  • Book: Veluwe Small Group Tour

hoge veluwe national park hiking - best day trips from amsterdam   veluwe country cabin

8. Delft

There is no shortage of cute towns in the Netherlands, but Delft is by far my favorite. Delft is most famous for its pottery, specifically Delftware pottery! There is even a Delftware factory here. Beyond the pottery, Delft is also blessed with quaint Dutch architecture, beautiful churches, cute boutiques, and lovely cafes.

Be sure to climb up to the top of the clock tower for the best view of Delft. A visit to Delft is ideal if you are yearning for some time to admire the beautiful Dutch buildings without the crowds Amsterdam attracts.

  • How Far: 1 hour by train
  • How to Get There: Take the Intercity train from Amsterdam Centraal
  • Book: Delft Guided Walking Tour

day trips from amsterdam to delft  day trips from amsterdam to delft

 

9. The Hague (Den Haag) & Scheveningen

The Hague is located a quick one-hour train ride from Amsterdam and offers the ultimate Amsterdam day trip experience. This is the Netherlands political capital and where you will find the stunning Peace Palace (Vredespaleis), the Dutch Parliament (Binnenhof and Ridderzaal) and other important political buildings. The architecture in the city is stunning and it is the perfect place to walk around and feel the peaceful vibes while in a big city.

The Hague is also home to one of the best beaches in the Netherlands called Scheveningen beach. This beach is one of the main attractions to The Hague and a hotspot for tourists and locals a like. It is a white sand beach that stretches for what seems like miles and it even has a pier with the Ferris wheel on it. There are also some beaches in Amsterdam if you don’t have time to go all the way to The Hague, but if time permits the journey is well worth it.

  • How Far: 50 minutes by train
  • How to Get There: Catch the Intercity train from Amsterdam Centraal or Schiphol
  • Where to Stay: The Hague City Discovery Game

the hague - easy day trip from amsterdam by train

10. Rotterdam

Rotterdam is one of the most popular cities near Amsterdam. Its popularity stems from how modern and different it is from everywhere else in the country. During WW2, the whole city was destroyed by bombs and was rebuilt in a completely different and more modern style.

A fast train can bring you to this unique city in just 45 minutes and give you maximum time for exploring! The top things to see here are the famous cube houses, Markthal (market hall) and Erasmus Bridge. However, simply strolling the streets and discovering the city for yourself is more than enjoyable.

  • How Far: 40 minutes by train
  • How to Get There: Take the Intercity train from Amsterdam Centraal
  • Where to Stay: Rotterdam Food & Market Tour

rotterdam day trip from amsterdam  rotterdam day trip from amsterdam

11. Zwolle

Zwolle is an off-the-beaten-path day trip from Amsterdam which means there are very few tourists exploring this Dutch gem. Exploring a city without tourists makes the experience more enjoyable and you really feel like you are more a part of the Dutch lifestyle. Zwolle is around an hour by trainfrom Amsterdam and is located in the Netherlands North-East province.

In Zwolle you will find a great art scene complete with the cities Art Nouveau district and Musuem de Fundatie. Plus, the city has a great food scene with charming cafes to Michelin stared restaurants such as De Librije. There really is something for everyone!

  • How Far: 1h 15minutes by train
  • How to Get There: Take the Intercity train to Almere, then towards Groningen

zwolle day trip from amsterdam

12. Utrecht

Utrecht it is one of the older cities in the Netherlands with an incredible history. This city is a short 30-minute train ride from Amsterdam and is one of the most popular Amsterdam day trips. 

One of the best features of Utrecht is the trenched canals that sit in the middle of the city. These are not only unique look looks wise but in the warmer months the entire lower section of the canals are filled with outdoor seating areas for restaurants. Beyond the unique canals and restaurant experience, Utrecht is a wonderful city to walk around an enjoy the stunning surroundings. 

  • How Far: 30 minutes by train
  • How to Get There: Take the Intercity train from Amsterdam Centraal
  • Where to Stay: Castle & Utrecht Tour

weekend trips from amsterdam to utrecht

13. Zandvoort

Zandvoort Aan Zee is a surprisingly lovely beach along the North Sea and the closest to Amsterdam. It is located only 10 minutes from Haarlem and a 25-minute train ride from Amsterdam. You can easily cross two day trips off with one by exploring Haarlem in the morning and then Zandvoort in the afternoon.

If you are visiting Amsterdam in the summer and you get a nice, sunny day, a visit to Zandvoort is a great idea. The water in the North Sea will be pretty cold even on the hottest day of the year, so be prepared for that! Besides Zandvoort, the entire coast is dotted with wide, sandy beaches. Some of my favorites include Castricum, Noordwijk and IJmuiden.

  • How Far: 30 minutes by train
  • How to Get There: Take train to Zandvoort aan Zee from Amsterdam Centraal, then walk 17 minutes 

zandvoort - closest beach to amsterdam

14. Giethoorn

Giethoorn is an idyllic Dutch village that’s one of the most unique and special places to visit that has a charm like no other. There are no roads in Giethoorn, just canals weaving their way through the town. Make sure to rent a boat to navigate around town and see Giethoorn from the water. It costs around €15/hour and you can drive it yourself.

Boating around this stunning picturesque village is an awesome experience, especially on a warm day in summer. However, the journey here by public transport is quite difficult and the best way to get here is with a tour or by renting a car and driving.

  • How Far: 2 hours by train + bus
  • How to Get There: Take train to Almere, change train to Steenwijk, and take bus 270
  • Book: Day Tour to Giethoorn

enjoying the canals of Giethoorn    enjoying the canals of Giethoorn

 

15. Leiden

Leiden is an old and historic city in the Netherlands reachable by a 30-minute train ride from Amsterdam. It’s best known as a university town and as a place with stunning old architecture dating back to 1575. It is a great place to visit for museums, exploring tourist free canals, amazing restaurants, and coffee shops.

Leiden’s Floating Christmas Market is another hot favorite among Amsterdammers. The cozy market boasts nearly 90 stalls that sell various festive foods, warm drinks, and handcrafted items. You’ll also find a floating ice rink and a small stage with around-the-clock performances. It’s no wonder this yearly affair was awarded the prize for “best Christmas market in Europe” in 2016. 

  • How Far: 40 minutes by train
  • How to Get There: Take direct train to Leiden from Amsterdam Centraal
  • Book: Day Tour to Leiden 

leiden - 30 minutes away from amsterdam

16. Alkmaar Cheese Market

Calling all cheese lovers, if you are visiting the Netherlands eager to taste their world-famous cheese, then a visit to Alkmaar is in order. Alkmaar is the cheese capital of Holland and the city is full of cheese related attractions for tourists to enjoy! There is a cheese market every Friday morning from March to September which is interesting to say the least.

This Dutch city is a 30-minute train ride from Amsterdam and there is more to do than just enjoy the cheese. Visit the Dutch Cheese Museum, National Beer Museum, or take a tour of the iconic City Hall.

  • How Far: 35 minutes by train
  • How to Get There: Take direct train to Alkmaar from Amsterdam Centraal
  • Book: Alkmaar Tour & Cheese Market Visit

alkmaar cheese market

17. Gouda

If you can’t make it to Alkmaar for the cheese market on Fridays, head over to the second cheesiest city in the Netherlands: Gouda. This day trip from Amsterdam is again perfect for cheese lovers. Where is a better place to taste Gouda cheese than its birthplace?

The city is also very historic, so once you stock up on cheese you can walk around the city streets and explore. Be sure to stop for a beer and stroopwafel along the way. Gouda attracts fewer visitors than Alkmaar so you can enjoy the cheese shops without a ton of people.

  • How Far: 1 hour by train
  • How to Get There: Take direct train to Gouda from Amsterdam Centraal
  • Book: Gouda Monument Walking Tour

visit gouda as a day trip from amsterdam by train

18. Hoorn

Hoorn is a beautiful harborside village located in North Holland. This gem is often overlooked for other day trips from Amsterdam; however, this means you have the whole town to yourself. There is quite a bit to do in Hoorn beyond exploring and admiring the medieval city streets that will keep you enthralled for hours. Be sure to check out the reconstructed VOC ship and visit some of the shops and cafes in the 17th-century city center.

  • How Far: 35 minutes by train
  • How to Get There: Take Intercity train to Hoorn from Amsterdam Centraal
  • Book: North Holland by Steam Ship & Steam Train

north holland hoorn

19. Kasteel de Haar 

When people think of the Netherlands, castles aren’t the first thing that come to mind. Located 1.5 hours away from Amsterdam, the stunning Kasteel de Haar makes for one of the best day trips from Amsterdam. You can also combine a trip to Kasteel de Haar with Utrecht.

De Haar is the largest castle in the Netherlands, once the private residence of the Van Zuylen family, whose descendants still stay here yearly. Few castles in Europe can rival De Haar for its regal architecture: a medieval fortress made up towers and ramparts, moats, gates and drawbridges.

Like a real fairy-tale castle, it rises majestically from parkland with impressive trees, old gardens, and ponds. De Haar Castle is a historic monument alive with year-round activities such as guided tours (for adults and children), exhibitions, theatre, and events. Every December, it also hosts the atmospheric and lively Country & Christmas Fair.

  • How Far: 1.5 hour by train + bus 
  • How to Get There: Take train to Utrecht, change train to Vleuten, then bus 127 to Haarzuilens
  • Book: Castle and Utrecht Day Trip

castle day trip from amsterdam - kasteel de haar

20. Antwerp 

Taking a day trip from Amsterdam doesn’t always mean you need to stay in the Netherlands! Cross over the border to Belgium and you’ll be in Antwerp in under 1.5 hours! Although it may seem insane to travel from The Netherlands to Belgium on a day trip it is actually doable, thanks to the high-speed Thalys train.

Antwerp is a beautiful middle age city full of history and renaissance architecture, and is quite different from the Netherlands. This is the perfect day trip to see a whole new country, learn about a different history, and see a stunning city only a short train ride away.

  • How Far: 1.5 hours by train
  • How to Get There: Take the Thalys train from Amsterdam Centraal or Schiphol
  • Book: Private Day Trip to Antwerp

antwerp - day trip from amsterdam to belgium


Weekend Trips from Amsterdam

I can go on and on with more interesting sights near Amsterdam, but there are places that are further out and deserve spending 2-3 days exploring. For those with time to spare, I would recommend planning weekend trips from Amsterdam to see the following places. They are all within a 4-hour drive or train journey from Amsterdam Centraal.

  • Efteling — A fairytale theme park just 2 hours by train from Amsterdam (great for families!)
  • Maastricht — Historical city with medieval architecture and vibrant cultural scene, 2.5 hours by train
  • Groningen — University city with a futuristic contemporary art museum, 2.5 hours by train
  • Ghent and Bruges, Belgium — Belgium’s 2 most charming towns, also 2.5 hours by train
  • Brussels, Belgium — Belgium’s capital and centre of European culture, 2 hours by Thalys train
  • Cologne, Germany — Famed for having one of the best Christmas markets in Germany, 3 hours by train
  • Paris, France — Global centre for art, fashion and romance, 3.5 hours by Thalys train

bruges belgium - weekend trip from amsterdam


Amsterdam Day Trips by Train

The Netherlands has an excellent public transport system, so much so that you can get ANYWHERE by train (even to national parks). Trains are modern, comfortable and punctual. The Dutch railway system is known as NS and you can see train schedules on their website. 

To take trains/buses in the Netherlands, you need a single-use chipcard or an OV-chipkaart (smart card).  If you plan to use the train often, we recommend buying an ‘anonymous OV-chipkaart’ at NS ticketing machines or the service desk. There is a one-time fee of 7.50 and you can charge credit at any NS ticketing booth. If you want to travel by train, you need at least 20 euros worth of credit on your OV-chipkaart! 

Update: Due to COVID-19, public transport in the Netherlands has reopen to all travelers as of 1 July but you must wear a face mask. This also applies when you travel by taxi.

amsterdam day trips by train

Amsterdam Day Trips by Car

It’s slightly faster to get to places by car in the Netherlands, though car rental and parking are not cheap. Car rental costs around €60-80/day and parking fees range from €2 to 5/hour. Most roads have no tolls in the Netherlands.

The road network in the Netherlands is extensive and well-maintained as well. The road signs are very clear, which makes driving a car in the Netherlands easy and safe.

If you’re looking to rent a car, check out DiscoverCars.com. We always use them as they have consistently given the best prices and customer service. Currently they are quoting €120 for a 3-day weekend rental in Amsterdam.

Book Your Car Rental!

Amsterdam Day Trips by Bike

Holland is the ultimate biking country! More than 32,000 km of bike paths stretch out in all directions, so you can easily cycle from Amsterdam to another city if you’re up for it. The signage for cyclists is excellent, making it difficult indeed to get lost as a cyclist. For nearby cities like Haarlem and Leiden, you can actually bike from Amsterdam Centraal in an hour.

You can rent bicycles in many places, including in the vicinity of Amsterdam Centraal or at your hotel. Rent a simple single-speed bike, possibly with a coaster brake: they’re easy to use. In addition to renting bikes, you can also opt for an organised cycling tour with a guide. 

bike lanes in veluwe national park

Amsterdam Day Tours

For those who are tight on time and prefer to pack in as much as possible, it might be wise to sign up for an Amsterdam day tour. These Amsterdam day tours include transport and knowledgeable guides, and some even combine a few places into one day tour.

I recommend booking with Get Your Guide, who offer a huge range of day tours throughout the world. I’ve booked with them many times, and I have never been disappointed. Prices are good and customer service is excellent.

Here are some great day tours that combine a few places in one package:

  • Volendam + Edam + Zaanse Schaans Windmills Tour
  • Rotterdam + Delft + The Hague Full Day Tour
  • Kasteel de Haar + Utrecht + Rieveld House Full Day Tour
  • Guided Keukenhof Tulip Gardens + Zaanse Schaans Tour
 

Thanks for reading all the way to the end of our Amsterdam day trip guide! I hope we’ve covered everything you need to know about day trips from Amsterdam. Let us know in the comments field below if you have any questions and we’ll be more than happy to answer them.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. I earn a small commission when you book through my links, at NO extra cost to you. I only recommend companies that I personally use and trust.

About the Author: Samantha Karen

Samantha Karen is the founder of the travel blog Sam Sees World. She is a twenty something traveler on a mission to explore the world to seek the new and unknown so she can document her experiences and inspire others to explore this wondrous world. Her objective is to learn about the world while also searching for her place in it. Check out Sam Sees World for valuable information on the best things to do, see, eat, and experience while traveling.


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amsterdam day trips - weekend trips from amsterdam  day trips from amsterdam

The post Best Day Trips from Amsterdam According to An Expat appeared first on Wild Junket Adventure Travel Blog.



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