10 Awesome Day Trips From Amsterdam

We lived in Amsterdam for over three years and were able to experience a lot of the country. The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated nations in the world, with an efficient train system that connects many lovely towns and villages. You can visualize images of Van Gogh and you cross scenic landscapes filled with colorful tulips in the spring (a particularly picturesque time to visit Holland). While Amsterdam is one of the most unique cities in the world, don’t leave the Netherlands without exploring another Dutch town. Here are 10 awesome day trips from Amsterdam!

 

1) Haarlem

Welleschik - Own work Vleeshal in Haarlem, Niederlande

Haarlem is just a 15 minute train ride from Amsterdam with trains departing Amsterdam Central Station every 15 minutes or so. It’s a lovely town featuring the largest church in Holland and a beautiful non-touristy square to enjoy the casual Dutch lifestyle over a nice eetcafe meal like kipsate (chicken sate) and a tasty drink. If you like beer you should definitely visit the Jopen Brewery, which is near the main square. The Jopenkerk is a former church that has been converted into a brewery and Jopen beers are some of the very best in the Netherlands. Haarlem offers much of the beauty of Amsterdam, on a smaller scale, with an more relaxed pace. For these reasons, I included Haarlem in my small group tour of the Netherlands and Belgium.

2) Zandvoort Van Zee

 

Zandvoort Van Zee is a great town to visit if it’s a sunny day. The Dutch beach scene is an underrated activity for many who live outside the Netherlands. You can reach Zandvoort by train in just 30 minutes from Amsterdam Central Station. In the warmer months, the beach is lined with a good selection of multi-cultural restaurants and clubs right on the beach. For food and drink options, it’s actually one of the best beach towns we’ve come across in the world (along with nearby Scheveningen). The Dutch are a well traveled nation and they’ve brought many slices of the world to their beachside hangouts.

Scheveningen beach beer

3) Den Haag (The Hague) & Scheveningen Beach

While Amsterdam is officially the capital of the Netherlands, the Dutch parliament building (Binnenhof) is in Den Haag. Den Haag is also home to the International Criminal Court, which you can visit. The town has a nice mix of modern and old world architecture as skyscrapers mingle with canals and old world Dutch buildings. While the American Embassy is in Amsterdam, many other nation’s embassies like Canada and Australia are located in Den Haag. Scheveningen Beach is just a 15 minute tram ride from the center of Den Haag so you can combine some history and a beach day all in one!

Hague Parliament, Binnenhof, Den Haag
 

Downtown Hague, Den Haag Netherlands, Day Trips from Amsterdam
 

Scheveningen tall beach sculpture

4) Rotterdam

Awesome Day Trips From Amsterdam, Rotterdam
Rotterdam: A cutting edge European city for architecture

Amsterdam’s rival Dutch city was completely destroyed during World War II, but Rotterdam decided to re-build with modern architecture. Rotterdam is a more blue collar city compared to Amsterdam and residents pride themselves on generally being less pretentious than those from the capital. It has some of the most beautiful futuristic architecture in the Netherlands, but also offers old world beauty around the Oude Haven (Old Harbour). This is a lovely area for a stroll and to enjoy a meal. Just don’t walk around in an Amsterdam Ajax soccer jersey!

 

5) Utrecht

Amsterdam is sometimes called the ‘Venice of the North.’ But Utrecht can also lay claim to that statement. The town has several beautiful canals, that can be strolled closer to water level than you can in most areas of Amsterdam. Many visitors enjoy Utrecht because it reminds them of a smaller and more laid back version of Amsterdam. Utrecht is similar to Haarlem, but with even more canals. There’s several great restaurants that are just a couple feet above the water level of the canals. Urecht is only a 40 minute train ride from Amsterdam.

Awesome Day Trips From Amsterdam, Utrecht
 

6) Delft

Delft is a little further than several towns on this list (about an hour from Amsterdam) but in our opinion, it’s as beautiful as any Dutch town. It has lovely canals and one of the prettiest main squares (grotemarkt’s) in the country. It’s great to visit for the Saturday flea market. Delft blue china is famous and you’ll see a lot of it in shops in Amsterdam. But the flea market in Delft offers an opportunity to buy some antique pieces at good prices. Among other things, you can also tour factories that make modern day Delftware. Delft was also home to Vermeer, who is famous for his painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Awesome Day Trips From Amsterdam, Delft

7) Alkmaar 

An Alkmaar Cheese wheel. You’ll literally see a ton of these if you visit for the Friday cheese market.

A very pretty town in North Holland, Alkmaar can be reached by train from Amsterdam Central in around 45 minutes. The town’s history dates back to 1254 and has a very popular outdoor cheese market every Friday from the first week of April until the first Friday in September. This is a good post on what to expect at the Alkmaar cheese market written by another travel writer. We actually never visited Alkmaar for the cheese market, but on the Saturday we visited we really enjoyed walking around the picturesque center and visiting the National Beer Museum at De Boom. There’s also a cheese museum and a Beetles museum among other attractions in the town. So there’s a wide range of things to do there.

Alkmaar: Our first summer living in the Netherlands in 2008.
Alkmaar: Our first summer living in the Netherlands in 2008.

 

Awesome Day Trips From Amsterdam, Alkmaar

8) Tilburg (for the La Trappe brewery and De Koningshoeven Monastery)

Tilburg itself is not one of the prettiest Dutch towns, but the La Trappe Brewery at the De Koningshoeven monastery was one of the most beautiful afternoons we ever enjoyed while living in the Netherlands. The monastery is just outside of town and you can catch a city bus there and enjoy lunch at the monastery’s cafe before partaking in the brewery tour. While the tour was offered only in Dutch, our guide gave us an English printout and nicely explained a few key things to us in English. We’ve visited a lot of breweries in the world and this is probably the most beautiful of them!

Awesome Day Trips From Amsterdam, La Trappe
 

Entrance to the de Koningshoeven abbey of La Trappe

9) Gouda 

Interestingly, the town of Gouda is actually named after the cheese, rather than the other way around! Gouda’s cheese market runs every Thursday morning from 10am-1pm from the beginning of April until the end of August. While we never visited for the cheese market and actually never visited while living in the Netherlands, I finally had the opportunity to visit Gouda during a business trip to the country last year and really appreciated the beauty of the town. I also had the opportunity to visit the cheese museum located in the beautiful town square.

Gouda features one of the prettiest town halls (stadhuis’s) in the Netherlands and I was very impressed spending a few hours here. You only need a few hours to enjoy a town like Gouda before returning to Amsterdam. You can also combine it with a visit to another town like nearby Den Haag or Utrecht during a long summer day! You can read more about Gouda in my article, Gouda: A Great Day Trip from Amsterdam!

Awesome Day Trips From Amsterdam, Gouda
 

Gouda windmill on the canal
One of several windmills in Gouda

10) Maastricht

Maastricht is one of the prettiest Dutch towns, whose residents speak a softer version of Dutch compared to Amsterdammers.  Unfortunately, it’s a 2 and 1/2 hour train ride from Amsterdam, so we don’t recommend just a day trip unless you find a special daily train pass deal. Occasionally there’s specials on Dutch train passes for sale at stores like Kruidvat and we partook in a long day trip to Maastricht from Amsterdam with these. Keep your eyes open if you’re an expat living in the country, because if you can travel anywhere in the Netherlands in a single day at a really cheap price, then it’s worth visiting Maastricht or Groningen this way. You can always nap on the train ride back like we did!

Where to Stay in Amsterdam?

Hotel prices in Amsterdam vary depending on time of year and availability. Book something with free cancellation as soon as you know your dates of travel, especially for summer and the holidays!

Luxury: 

It doesn’t get more luxurious than the 5 star Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam. Set along the UNESCO World Heritage listed Herengracht canal, the hotel is made up of six monumental 17th century canal palaces. The 2-Michelin star restaurant Librije’s Zusje Amsterdam is perfect for an on site gastronomic experience.

Pulitzer Amsterdam is a great luxury choice located within 25 interlinked 17th and 18th century canal houses, between the famous Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht canals. Combining traditional and modern Dutch design, the hotel has 225 unique guest rooms and suites. It’s walking distance from major attractions, but on a quieter end of the picturesque western canal belt.

Radisson Blu is the one of the best value luxury stays in the center of Amsterdam. Spacious rooms are decorated according to colorful themes. Their on site restaurant serves international meals and an extensive breakfast buffet.

Mid Range:

Citizen M is a comfortable and ultra modern hotel in Amsterdam. Every room at citizenM Amsterdam has wall to wall windows and large beds with luxurious linens. Guests can modify room color, temperature, control the smart TV and also adapt the black out curtains all from an Ipad mini.

We also recommend Motel One Amsterdam and Motel One Waterlooplein as they’re good bang for buck, with a great breakfast buffet featuring delicious higher end bakery quality breads, pastries and croissants. All rooms have a private bathroom, air conditioning and flat screen TV.

Lloyd Hotel offers unique rooms in a transformed historic building. Within 10 minutes you can reach Amsterdam Central Station by tram. Rooms come in different shapes and sizes, so this is a good stay for travelers who get freaked out by cookie cutter hotels.

Budget:

You’ll generally find the best value booking short stay apartments in the Netherlands, especially in Amsterdam’s historic center during summer and popular holidays like New Year’s and King’s Day. If you’ve never used Airbnb, sign up here for free and receive $40 credit off your first stay!

Backpackers should consider fun options like the popular Flying Pig Downtown and Flying Pig Uptown.

Want to travel to Amsterdam for Free?

Play the credit card points game to earn free flights with everyday spending. There’s really no catch as long as you’re responsible with credit (being irresponsible is the catch). We take advantage of credit card bonus sign ups and Chase is one of our favorite cards for the flexibility.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has no annual fee the first year and offers 50,000 bonus points when you sign up. 50,000 bonus points on Chase rewards is worth about $750 in travel credit. There are no blackouts on flights, meaning that if there are seats you can use your points. You can often even earn airline miles with the free flight this way too! The Chase system is easy to use to cash in the points for free flights and hotel stays around the world, making it very popular among travel hackers. You can even transfer Chase points to many airline mileage programs at a 1:1 ratio!

Have Questions About Day Trips from Amsterdam?

I previously guided a small group tour through the Netherlands and Belgium. You can read about it on Recap on Guiding a Tour of Belgium and Holland. You may also want to read my article How to Spend One Day in Amsterdam. Email me at alex@wanderlustmarriage.com if you have questions about planning a trip to the Netherlands! 

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