The city of canals Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourist destinations. The canal cruises, museums, parks, diamond factories, flea markets and wonderful medieval architecture buildings and churches are some popular things to do in Amsterdam and when you are done exploring these to the core get out of the city to one of the lesser known towns that are an absolute time warp. These charming towns are a respite from the touristy crowd and the bikes filled streets of Amsterdam and can be easily visited on a day trip thanks to the well-connected rail network and buses. These towns also make for some great weekend trips from Amsterdam.
The fishing villages of Waterland comprises of three pretty villages of Edam, Volendam, and Marken. Marken and Edam are quiet and laid back while Volendam is much commercial with numerous restaurants and souvenir shops. The quaint village of Marken has a well-preserved tradition and culture which beckons most of the tourists. Saunter through the cobblestone alleys winding through the colorful wooden cottages and a maze of small fishing canals and experience an aura of old Holland. The wooden shoe factory at Marken, Edam museum housed in a 16th-century building and the cheese factory and Volendams Museum at Volendam is definitely unmissable.
The villages can be easily reached via the network of buses running between the fishing villages of Waterland and other small Dutch villages. Buy a day pass from the Amsterdam central station which is valid on the bus route through villages of Edam, Volendam, and Marken. A bus from Amsterdam central to Marken takes around 40 minutes.
Keukenhof garden is the most breathtaking and colorful stretch of flower garden which is popular for the millions of tulip bulbs planted at the beginning of every summer. The garden is open to the public from mid-March to mid-May when tourists all over the world visit the garden and explore the variety of tulips and numerous flower exhibitions set up in the garden. One can also visit the sprawling fields of the tulip in Lisse which make for a spectacular show of colors.
The Keukenhof Gardens can be reached by bus or by booking a day tour. Amsterdam to the Keukenhof Gardens takes around a 40-minute drive through the beautiful countryside. Mid-April is the best time for the visit when the probability of blooms adorning the garden is very high.
The first things that come to mind when one thinks of day trips from Amsterdam are the windmills of Zaanse Schans. The small pretty neighborhood in Zaandam region of Netherlands is a quintessentially Dutch village home to several windmills dating back to medieval times. The village is an open air museum where visitors can also visit the cheese and chocolate factory or the windmills offering a demonstration on the stone grinding of spices and grains.
Zaanse Schans can be reached from the Amsterdam’s Centraal Station by a 20-minute train ride and another 15-minute walk from the station.
The city of Rotterdam is home to some of the amazing architectural buildings and skyscrapers. The Cube Houses, Erasmus bridge, the De Rotterdam or the Markthal which is a wonderful shopping complex are must see on a visit to the city. There are several guided tours offered to walk you through the construction and history of these buildings. The historic Delfshaven is a pretty neighborhood in Rotterdam which has well-preserved medieval buildings surrounding the harbor lined with several trendy restaurants and cafes.
Rotterdam is just a 35-minute train ride away from Amsterdam.
UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kinderdijk village is yet another popular location in Netherlands known for the windmills the other being Zaanse Schans. The city is home to 19 monumental windmills dating from the 18th century. The guided tours walk you through the working of the windmills and its history. One can also explore the pretty village of Kinderdijk and its windmills on a boat tour. Kinderdijk is close to Rotterdam and a water bus from Rotterdam is the quickest way to reach the Kinderdijk village.
Amsterdam Centraal to Kinderdijk is a 2-hour train ride. There are trains from Amsterdam Sloterdijk and Amsterdam-Zuid station with train changes which takes around 2 hours 3o minutes.
Leiden is home to Leiden University, the oldest university in the Netherlands. Most interesting thing to explore in Leiden would be the hundreds of building in the center bedecked with large murals of poetry from famous poets. The 15th century Hooglandse Kerk and the 14th-century Pieterskerk are the prominent churches in the city. The city of Leiden has beautiful canals, restaurants and some of the interesting museums like Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, the De Valk Windmill Museum, The SieboldHouse and the Museum Boerhaave.
Leiden Centraal is a 30-minute train ride away from Amsterdam-Zuid station.
Delft is a charming city with a remarkable old town center home to numerous well-preserved historical buildings and sights set amidst the maze of canals. The Oude Kerk is the oldest church dating back to the 13th century, other prominent sights include the Nieuwe Kerk with its imposing Gothic tower, the Renaissance City Hall and the Oostpoort (Eastern gate) and several important museums. Take a walk along the canal lined with exemplary Dutch buildings and quaint cafes tucked away in these picturesque buildings.
The direct train to Delft is a 45-minute train ride away from Amsterdam-Zuid station. There are also trains to Delft via Leiden Centraal which is also a 45-minute train ride.
The city of Alkmaar is popular for its traditional cheese market. Alkmaar is home to several notable medieval buildings of which the tall tower of the Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk is the most imposing. The Alkmaar’s cheese market at the Waagplein held every Fridays in the summer is one of the most wonderful traditional markets in Netherlands and the selling of cheese in traditional methods is a great sight to behold.
The best way to reach the city of Alkmaar is a 30 min train ride from the Amsterdam Sloterdijk railway station.
Zandvoort is a coastal town close to Amsterdam popular for the stretch of golden sandy beaches and coastal dunes. The beach hosts several water sports activities like sailing, surfing, and paragliding. The beach is lined with numerous trendy bars and restaurants. While in Zandvoort one can also visit the 13th-century Brederode Castle and the world heritage site of Fort Vijfhuizen.
Amsterdam Sloterdijk to Zandvoort aan Zee direct train is a 30 minutes train ride. There is also a good frequency of trains via Haarlem which also takes around 30 minutes.
The charming Dutch city of Haarlem is just a 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam. The Grote Markt or the central market square is the most popular landmarks in Haarlem surrounded by prominent landmarks like Teylers Museum the oldest museum of Netherlands housing remarkable works by Michelangelo and Rembrandt, historical buildings like city hall, 14th-century Sint-Bavo Cathedral and Stadsbibliotheek Haarlem, the Haarlem Public Library.
Saunter along the tranquil maze of canals exploring the wonderful architecture of the historical city, visit one of the medieval courtyard gardens, the city is famous for or hit the streets lined with several of the boutique shops and traditional markets, the city has something in store for everyone.
The city of Hague is the seat of the Dutch government and home to the popular Jan Vermeer’s famous painting, ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’ housed in the Mauritshuis Museum. Some interesting things to do in Hague are a tour of the impressive Peace Palace which houses the International Court of Justice and exploring the oldest buildings of Hague the Grote of Sint-Jacobskerk church and the Binnenhof a complex of buildings along the Hofvijver lake. The Old City Hall of Hague is a Renaissance style building on the Groenmarkt housing a historical picture gallery. The famous Japanese garden is also something not to miss in the Hague.
Amsterdam-Zuid railway station to the Hague central station is train journey of little more than half an hour.
Utrecht is home to Utrecht University, the largest university in the Netherlands. The city of Utrecht is much similar to the city of Amsterdam with the beautiful canals and remarkable museums but with a much lesser crowd and a more relaxed atmosphere. The skyline of Utrecht is dominated by two imposing buildings the Dom Tower, the tallest belfry in the Netherlands and the Rabobank-tower. The old town of Utrecht has several interesting medieval buildings of which Oudegracht or the old canal is a prime landmark which is lined with monumental buildings. The serene canals are lined with quaint outdoor cafes, marvelous churches, and numerous shopping arcades.
A direct train connects Amsterdam to Utrecht Central with a journey time of 40 minutes.
The best way to explore places in and around Amsterdam is by public transport and the Amsterdam and Region travel ticket which offers unlimited public transport valid on trains, trams, and buses.
Day Trips from Amsterdam to Other Countries
Brussels the Belgian capital is a couple of hours away from Amsterdam by train. The Grand Place is an iconic landmark of Brussels which is at a walkable distance from the Central station of Brussels. Other prominent sights like Manneken Pis, Place Royale, and Kunstberg can all be easily explored on foot from Grand Place.
The Belgian city Antwerp is around an hour train ride away from Amsterdam. The city is famous for Diamonds and Flemish Renaissance architectural buildings in Grote Markt or market square.
The Belgian city of Bruges which gorgeous canals and tranquil aura exude a romantic aura. Amsterdam to Bruges day trip may sound infeasible with a journey time of 3 hours which is little more for a day trip.
Cologne is a 2,000-year-old German city well known for the magnificent twin-spired Cologne Cathedral an epitome of glorious gothic architecture. There are several prime museums like Museum Ludwig and 12 Romanesque churches spread across the city which can be easily explored on foot. Early morning trains connecting Amsterdam to Cologne take around 2 hours 30 minutes.
Dusseldorf is another German city worth a visit for the St. Lambertus Church and Schlossturm (Castle Tower) dating from 13th century. Dusseldorf has several prominent streets lined with a high-end brand and boutique shops which make for a great shopping day out. Amsterdam to Dusseldorf train journey takes a little more than 2 hours.
Amsterdam to Paris day trip isn’t really feasible with a journey time of close to 4 hours. All you can do is visit the Iron lady and indulge in some local delicacies and shopping.
Which are your favorite day trips from Amsterdam? Share with us in comments.
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