This post is by Spencer Hart.
You’ll find plenty of sights and attractions in Amsterdam to keep you busy. But if time permits, it’s a good idea to venture further out of the city. Doing so lets you visit vibrant cities and quaint towns, and see classic Dutch windmills and countryside. Better still, you can get to many of them via short train rides or drives. Here are seven easy day trips from Amsterdam.
Just a 40-minute train ride from Amsterdam is the vibrant city of Rotterdam. The country’s second-largest city, it is known for its innovative museums, such as the Kunsthal and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. At the same time, important landmarks like the Erasmus Bridge, Pilgrim Fathers Church and the Cube Houses should also be on your itinerary.
If you are a foodie, you’ll want to check out the bustling Markthal, where you can find a variety of delicious treats. And the historic 17th century neighbourhood of Delfshaven offers excellent canal side shopping.
Read more: Five Reasons To Visit Rotterdam.
Haarlem is a delightful destination in the northwest part of the Netherlands, a short train trip from Amsterdam. Flanked by a defensive wall, it was once an important trading port for the North Sea. Visitors can wander through its well-preserved medieval centre, admiring the beautiful architecture and quaint cobblestone streets. Nearby are some of the country’s most impressive tulip fields.
Haarlem is best known for its hofjes (alms houses constructed around quaint, bosky courtyards) and fascinating art museums, including the Frans Hals Museum, showcasing works by Dutch masters. The imposing St. Bavo’s Church, in Grote Markt, the city’s central square, is also worth a visit.
Read more: How To Spend Two Days In Haarlem.
Giethoorn, sometimes called the “Venice of the Netherlands”, is a picturesque village known for its canals and thatched-roof houses. Here you can immerse yourself in a tranquil, fairy-tale-like ambience. Explore the village by boat, gliding through the narrow canals and enjoying the idyllic scenery. Stroll along the footpaths, visit the local museums and indulge in some traditional Dutch cuisine.
The best way to reach Giethoorn from Amsterdam is by taking a train to Steenwijk and then a bus or taxi to the village, which takes approximately 2-3 hours.
Read more: A Day In Giethoorn, Netherlands.
4. The Hague
Located on the coast, in the western part of the country, The Hague is renowned for its impressive international institutions and cultural offerings. Just a short journey from Amsterdam, the easiest way to reach The Hague is by train, with frequent connections available.
Once there, explore the picturesque Binnenhof, visit the Mauritshuis museum to admire Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, and take a peaceful stroll along the sandy shores of Scheveningen Beach. You could also visit the United Nations’ International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court, which have their headquarters in the city.
Read more: A Day In The Hague.
Leiden is a charming destination for a day trip or an extended stay, with a rich and inviting atmosphere. The easiest way to get there from Amsterdam is by taking a 30-minute train ride. Once you arrive, there are plenty of things to see and do.
Be sure to explore Leiden University, the oldest in the country. Albert Einstein, Baruch Spinoza and René Descartes taught or studied there, while Bibliotheca Thysiana and the Academiegebouw are historic buildings recognised as significant national monuments.
Alternatively, take a stroll along the picturesque canals lined with historic buildings. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Museum De Lakenhal, with its impressive art collections. Leiden also has some lovely parks such as the Hortus Botanicus which is the perfect place for a relaxing walk.
Read more: Leiden, An Alternative To Amsterdam?
Famous for its beautiful medieval centre and lively café culture, Utrecht is a must-visit destination. Approximately half an hour from Amsterdam by train, the city features tree-lined canals, significant Christian monuments and a distinguished university.
Start your visit with the 14th-century Domtoren bell tower, in central Domplein Square opposite the stunning Gothic Cathedral of St Martin. The Museum of Catharijneconvent, housed in a former monastery, is also worth visiting for its impressive religious art and artefacts.
Read more: How To Spend A Day In Utrecht.
If you love cheese, you’ll want to go to Alkmaar on a day trip from Amsterdam. The city is famous for its traditional cheese market, held on Fridays from April to September. You can experience the age-old cheese trading tradition and taste delicious Dutch cheeses there.
Getting to Alkmaar by train takes about 30 minutes. Once there, you can stroll along the canals, visit its historic city centre and check out the impressive St Laurenskerk church. Beer-lovers should also take the opportunity to visit the National Beer Museum.
Read more about How to Spend a Day in Alkmaar.
More Ideas for Day Trips from Amsterdam
If you would like to venture further afield, consider Groningen (2 hours 15 minutes), Eindhoven (90 minutes) or Enschede (2 hours). For those who fancy country hopping, you could also pop into several cities in Belgium or Germany.
Spencer is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years experience producing written content for tourism-related businesses. An ex-pat Brit who now lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, he has visited over 40 countries in the world, but cites Miami Beach in the USA and Palm Cove in Australia as his favourite travel destinations.