After you’ve had your fill of the fantastic things to do in Amsterdam, you can easily get on a train or join a tour to explore some of the many other destinations in the Netherlands. Because the Netherlands is small, most of its highlights may be reached on day trips from Amsterdam.
What’s near Amsterdam?
One of the most popular day trips from Amsterdam is to the beautiful gardens and tulip fields of Keukenhof. The attractive ancient fishing towns along the Ijsselmeer, the former Zuiderzee, and the open-air museum in Enkhuizen are also worthy of your time. Both are around an hour’s drive north of Amsterdam. Zaanse Schans also has the country’s largest concentration of old Dutch windmills.
Haarlem, Hoorn, and the famous porcelain producers of Delft are also nearby. Day trips from Amsterdam can also take you to two particularly enticing Belgian cities: Brussels and Bruges.
With this selection of the top day trips from Amsterdam, you may discover the most enjoyable activities near the city.
11 Best Day Trips From Amsterdam
Giethoorn: The best day trips from Amsterdam
The canal village of Giethoorn, sometimes referred to as the “Venice of the Netherlands,” is undoubtedly one of the best day trips from Amsterdam. Because there aren’t any roads in this green village, the best way to travel is by boat, much like in a storybook.
To contribute to Giethoorn’s attractiveness, the residences are generally magnificent ancient cottages that have retained the ambiance of days gone by. The thatched roofs of the cottages here are particularly well-known, adding to Giethoorn’s picturesque atmosphere. While you won’t want to miss a boat ride, there are various trails across town for you to walk or cycle along as you take in the beauty of the hamlet.
Keukenhof Gardens is the “Garden of Europe”
The Netherlands is highly recognized around the world for its flowers, particularly its tulips. The beautiful Keukenhof Gardens are only 38 kilometers southwest of Amsterdam, on the outskirts of the town of Lisse. Keukenhof, often known as the Garden of Europe, is the ideal spot to see the country’s abundant floral richness. It literally translates as “kitchen gardens.”
Keukenhof is widely regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful spring gardens. It spans 79 acres of land in the Netherlands’ bulb belt. It is also set in a picture-perfect landscape, formerly the kitchen garden (or keuken) of a big country estate.
More than 700 species of tulips, hyacinths, crocuses, and daffodils are produced in a complex with restaurants, patios, and exhibitions. Every year, more than seven million flower bulbs are planted here. Keukenhof Gardens also hosts a variety of flower-related events and festivals, including flower exhibitions, fairs, and concerts.
A Keukenhof Gardens and Flower Fields Half Day Tour is a simple way to spend half a day here. This enjoyable six-hour coach tour takes you through the Dutch countryside, past the tulip fields in Lisse, before arriving at Keukenhof, where you’ll have plenty of time to meander through the gardens. The tour includes hotel collection and drop-off, as well as the services of an experienced guide. There are morning and afternoon choices available.
Investigate Enkhuizen and the Zuiderzee Museum
Enkhuizen is one of the nicest cities in the Netherlands. It is located on the Ijsselmeer, a shallow lake formerly part of the ancient Zuiderzee.
Enkhuizen’s historical attractions include two 15th-century churches and 17th-century town walls and gates. The Dromedaris Tower is a must-see. This fortress remnant was built in 1540, and its carillon is considered one of the best in the Netherlands.
You may take the ferry from the town’s lovely harbor to the Zuiderzee Museum, an open-air museum focusing on the region’s rich cultural traditions. There are fascinating displays of the Zuiderzee’s nautical history and the continuous process of land reclamation here.
Among the highlights are a handful of intact 17th-century structures, many historic boats, and items related to the region’s fishing traditions. Volendam, a historic fishing community on the IJsselmeer, is located about 40 minutes south of Enkhuizen. It’s well worth seeing its traditional fishing boats and colorful residences.
Go to the Alkmaar Cheese Market: One of the most well-known tourist attractions in the Netherlands
Alkmaar is a lovely town located 42 kilometers north of Amsterdam on the North Holland Canal and only eight kilometers from the North Sea. Alkmaar is a great day excursion from Amsterdam, with beautiful architectural landmarks and historic guild houses dating from the 16th to 18th centuries.
However, the world-famous Dutch Cheese Market is the true highlight of a visit to this lovely town (Kaasdragersgilde Kaasmarkt Alkmaar). The cheese market is one of the most well-known tourist attractions in the Netherlands. It is held every Friday in front of the town’s Weigh House strictly adhering to centuries-old traditions.
The first such market was held here in the 1590s, and the plaza is now covered with more than 23 tons of huge, round Edam and Gouda cheeses. Observing the cheese porters adds to the experience. These porters, dressed in white and wearing guild-colored headgear, carry as many as 80 Edam cheeses on cradle-like racks to be weighed. The crowds are greeted, and bells are rung before anything is shipped off. At 11:20 a.m., English-language explanations of the rites are provided.
After that, visit the Alkmaar Cheese Museum. It is housed in the Weigh House and has intriguing displays and exhibits on the history of cheesemaking and its significance to local culture and economy.
Walk around the streets of historic Haarlem: Recommended day trip from Amsterdam
Historic Haarlem is located on the tiny River Spaarne, about 19 kilometers west of Amsterdam. It is only seven kilometers from the North Sea coast. Haarlem, founded in 1245, was a beehive of artistic activity throughout the 17th century. It was becoming home to many of the country’s most famous painters, some of whose works may be viewed in the excellent Frans Hals Museum.
The 14th-century Grote Kerk is a feature of the city’s historic main plaza (St. Bavokerk). The slender, 40-meter-tall tower of this massive Late Gothic edifice stands out. The church’s numerous luxurious furnishings are also noteworthy. The three antique model battleships, a tribute to the church’s status as the Seamen’s Guild chapel, are particularly interesting.
Check out the famed 18th-century Müller Organ as well. It is said to be one of the greatest such instruments in the world, with a distinctive tone and design.
Finally, don’t forget to go inside the Old City Hall. It was built in the 13th century and is remarkable for its high tower and opulent interior.
Visit the Zaanse Schans Open-Air Museum to see the Historic Windmills
The Zaanse Schans open-air museum (Zaans Museum) is so picturesque that it’s difficult to realize it’s a real community. The museum was designed to protect structures threatened by industrial expansion. It is based on the old village of Zaanland as it would have looked around 1700.
Typical 17th and 18th-century wooden houses and windmills were pulled down and carefully recreated on the site, creating a vivid image of life in prior ages. The fact that the majority of the residences are occupied adds to the overall effect.
Its big array of still operational windmills is also noteworthy. An oil mill, a paint mill, a mustard mill, and a sawmill are among them. A cheese-making dairy, a historic bakery, a grocer’s shop, a clog workshop, maker’s, and a clock museum are among the other heritage structures that are still in operation.
There are guided excursions available, as well as a very enjoyable boat ride on the Zaan. This enjoyable trip provides excellent views of historic houses and windmills from the water.
The excursion includes a boat ride between Marken and Volendam in the summer. These well-liked tours are available in half- and full-day lengths. With multiple dedicated routes crisscrossing the area, the museum is also a popular destination for cyclists and hikers.
Don’t miss Bruges, the Canal City
The canals that characterize Bruges, Belgium, are one of Europe’s most gorgeous cities. It began as waterways connecting the city to the Zwin estuary and the North Sea. Beautiful views of historic houses, exquisite bridges, and little gardens await you as you cruise or walk along these scenic rivers.
The main square is dominated by the market hall, which dates from medieval times and has been magnificently preserved. Views of the city’s famous spires and steeply pitched rooftops can be seen from its tower.
Brussels, Belgium’s capital, is lovely
Brussels, Belgium’s capital, is also the European Union’s capital. And, despite its gorgeous Gothic and Baroque architecture and a number of renowned arts and other museums, it is not as congested with tourists as many other European capitals.
Its principal square, the Grand Place, is grand indeed and one of Europe’s most attractive and well-preserved public squares. It is surrounded by guild buildings built in the late 1600s in the Baroque style, with ornately carved gables and balustrades with gold ornaments.
In addition to these and other Baroque monuments and older Gothic structures, Brussels is home to some of the finest specimens of Art Nouveau design. Victor Horta’s most notable works from the early twentieth century can be seen in Brussels.
On a full-day trip to Brussels from Amsterdam, you’ll have time to find some of these and enjoy that famous Belgian chocolate. Following attractions such as the Royal Palace and the Manneken Pis statue, you’ll see a chocolatier demonstrate and taste some of the products before having free time to explore the city on your own. The journey begins and ends at Amsterdam’s Centraal Station.
Delft: One of the best day trips from Amsterdam
Delft is located south of Amsterdam between The Hague and Rotterdam. It is famed worldwide for its famous blue and white porcelain, created in the 1600s. Most of the charming Old Town buildings originated from the following century when Delft’s ceramic manufacturing and export were at their peak.
Delft features some beautiful Gothic churches and art museums, in addition to its gorgeous old buildings and canals. The sole remaining maker of the famed Delftware is Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles (Royal Delft in English), where you can see the artists at work and view the collection of historical pieces.
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Kampen: One of the prettiest towns in the Netherlands
The old Hanseatic town of Kampen is located four kilometers above the IJsselmeer on the left side of the IJssel. Kampen is one of the most beautiful towns in the Netherlands. It dated back to the 12th century and was formerly the country’s main commercial center with the Baltic region, France, and England.
Many of Kampen’s most prominent historical features, notably the 15th-century Town Gates, have been preserved. The rectangular Koornmarktspoort on the banks of the IJssel, the Broederpoort with its four corner towers, and the Cellebroederpoort, a rectangular construction with two circular towers, are the best specimens.
The Tower of the Holy Ghost is often known as the New Tower because it was completed in 1664. It is located immediately west of Kampen Town Hall.
Steam Train to Medemblik: Day trip from Amsterdam you shouldn’t miss
Stoomtram Hoorn Medemblik, a 20-kilometer heritage railway line that runs from the similarly lovely town of Hoorn, is the finest way to get to Medemblik. You’ll have plenty of time to tour the town before returning to Hoorn (the route can also be done in the other direction).
Medemblik, founded in the 10th century, is located on the IJsselmeer and is home to Kasteel Radboud, a historic stronghold that has been totally restored and makes for an excellent photograph. St. Bonifaciuskerk, a 15th-century Late Gothic hall-church featuring the monument of Lord George Murray, a Jacobite commander at the battle of Culloden in Scotland in 1745; and the 17th-century Weigh House (Waag), used to weigh cheese.
Another must-see is the Dutch Steam Engine Museum, housed in an old pumping station and houses a collection of steam engines used on ships and in industry, the majority of which are still in operating order.
Tip to getting around
Although many of these daily activities are accessible by public transportation, consider hiring a car for the day to increase your flexibility and independence. You can manage your time and schedule with your own four wheels, and depending on how many people are in your group, renting a car may even be less expensive than other modes of transportation.
That concludes our list of the top day trips from Amsterdam. From Amsterdam, you may experience not only different sections of the Netherlands but also the various features that make it so great.