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Are you not sure when and how to take the best day trips from Amsterdam? Well, well, well, buckle in and get ready. This travel guide is all about day trips in the Netherlands.
Why did I dedicate an entire post to this topic? Good question. I mainly decided to write this post, because most visitors go to Amsterdam and … never leave the city’s limits. Which is a real shame.
I don’t like to judge other people’s travel choices, but at the same time, don’t act like them and ignore every other city and town in the Netherlands. These day trips are wonderful. I promise.
Hopefully, after you read this guide, I’ll even convince you to go to some of these places. After all, I want you to enjoy great adventures outside of the country’s most famous city.
I’m serious. The Netherlands has so many gems that it’d be a shame to miss them.
Time for some real talk. Part of the reason I wanted to go to Amsterdam so much was because of the abundant number of day trips.
You guys, I’m the Self-Proclaimed Queen of Day Trips. I love them.
Why? According to my personal travel style, I enjoy having a consistent base, a hotel/hostel/apartment where I can leave all my luggage, while still remaining flexible enough to see enormously different cities. Day trips fit into my “less is more” philosophy.
And the best day trips from Amsterdam? Are. So. Easy. To. Do.
Let me repeat that.
Amsterdam Day Trips Are Easy
Now it doesn’t matter if you’re spending 2 days in Amsterdam or 2 weeks. Regardless of time limits, you should be able to take advantage of the wonderful day trip opportunities right outside of Amsterdam.
As I’ve said a million times on this blog, the Netherlands has a glorious public transportation system in place for locals and travelers. Both buses and trains run on a regular basis. For example, the buses headed to the Zaanse Schans run every fifteen minutes (roughly) in the summer. NJ Transit ought to take notes.
Without a doubt, the country’s great public transportation makes perfect sense given the population density and small land mass of the Netherlands.
And guess what? You can do all of the trips in the guide strictly using public transportation. No private cars, no guided tours (unless you want to).
All in all, day trips aren’t a hassle to do on your own in the Netherlands, which is a blessing for all you independent solo travelers out there.
7 Best Day Trips from Amsterdam
In this post, I’ve included seven of the best days trips from Amsterdam. I was lucky enough to go to all of these cities and towns on my summer holiday in the Netherlands.
Of course, this guide doesn’t cover each and every day trip available to travelers. Rather I want you to use this post as a starting point, and then supplement with your own research.
Happy Dutch Travels!
Haarlem is one of the most popular day trips from Amsterdam. And it’s so easy to understand why!
First of all, it’s wonderful to escape the crowds in Amsterdam and still see beautiful homes and windmills worthy of postcards.
Don’t mistake me, I love Amsterdam, but Haarlem appears as if the city was shrunken down to a more manageable size. Not to mention, all the irritating, uh, party happy tourists disappear completely too. Perfect, huh?
How to Reach Haarlem from Amsterdam
The train is a quick and efficient way to reach Haarlem from Amsterdam.
Go to Amsterdam Centraal Station and then buy a ticket for the Intercity train ride to Haarlem. The train only takes fifteen minutes! That’s nothing in the grand scheme of things, right?
Upon arriving in Haarlem, it’s about a ten minute walk to the huge Grote Markt. Not bad, huh? I don’t think I’ve ever done a day trip so close to a major city.
What to Do in Haarlem
Don’t skip the historic heart of Haarlem – which is Grote Markt. The interior of the stunning cathedral, Grote Kerk, will take your breath away.
Not to mention, if you’re in Haarlem in August, you might even find yourself in the middle of a Jazz Festival! It makes sense that Grote Markt is home to the city’s best events. Check the calendar ahead of time.
But surprisingly? My favorite thing to do in Haarlem was drinking craft beer inside a church. Yup, you’ve correctly read that sentence. Go to De Jopenkerk. The atmosphere is fascinating.
Last but not least, take a walk along the canals and see the courtyards. Haarlem has some gorgeous homes, with public courtyards, and exploring and taking photos is a wonderful way to pass the time on this Amsterdam day trip.
Next on our list is the picturesque university town of Delft. And oh, man, I adored Delft with every fiber of my being. It’s perfect, and is absolutely among the best day trips from Amsterdam.
Delft is a small city that is associated with many famous Dutch figures, such as Johannes Vermeer and William the Silent. Which means there’s plenty in Deflt to keep you occupied for a day.
How to Reach Delft from Amsterdam
You can travel to Delft from Amsterdam by train in under an hour. Again, go to Amsterdam Centraal and take one of the many Intercity trains down to Delft.
Since Delft is one of the farther day trips (haha, an hour, seriously), you might want to spend an entire day enjoying the town. Cause why not?
What to Do in Delft
Without a doubt, one of the most popular things to do in Delft is take a pottery factory tour and see all the gorgeous examples of Delft Blue earthenware.
Although some of the earthenware is prohibitively expensive, the rich royal blue is still a splendor to behold. What can I say, I’m a sucker for window shopping.
Another one of my favorite things to do in Delft was visiting the Museum Prinsenhof Delft. This was the home of William the Silent. It was also the location of his assassination.
Last but not least, Delft is home to two incredible churches: Niewue Church and Old Church. In the Niewue Church, you’ll find the mausoleum of William the Silent.
Rotterdam is Amsterdam’s gritty and contemporary city sister. If you want to see real and raw Netherlands, as well as some powerful industry, then you need to take a day trip to Rotterdam.
Personally, I loved Rotterdam a lot more than I had originally expected to! It’s certainly a place filled with surprises!
How to Reach Rotterdam from Amsterdam
Rotterdam is a very quick ride from Amsterdam. The good news is that since both cities are so well populated, train connections are fast and frequent. You won’t have to wait long for a train to go to Rotterdam even if you just missed your planned departure.
The Sprinter Train takes roughly an hour.
The bus is another option if you’re tighter on money. However, the bus also takes much longer to reach Rotterdam, about two hours. So decide if time or money is more valuable on your Dutch trip.
Honestly, I won’t stress over taking public transportation between Rotterdam and Amsterdam.
What to Do in Rotterdam
Personally, I think the best thing to do in all of Rotterdam is go on a boat tour of the city’s gigantic industrial harbor and learn all about the shipping trade. I was shocked at just how huge this harbor was.
Another fun thing to do in Rotterdam is to eat every single piece of food in the Market Hall. Depart from the Rotterdam Blaak stop and the Market Hall is right there. Come with an empty stomach.
In Rotterdam, it’s super fun to even “get lost” and check out all the street art. Again, the contemporary vibe makes Rotterdam a cool place and a striking contrast to Amsterdam.
Read More: 5 Reasons to Take a Day Trip to Rotterdam
4. Zaanse Schans
Ahhh, Zaanse Schans! This day trip absolutely blew my mind and exceeded all my expectations. I’m officially in love. You can’t come to Amsterdam and skip Zaanse Schans.
Is it super popular? Yes, but it’s easy to understand why.
How to Reach Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam
Reaching Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam is the biggest piece of cake. Seriously, you could do this day trip in your sleep even if you’ve never gone overseas until now.
The easiest way to go to Zaanse Schans is taking the Rnet-bus 391 from Amsterdam Centraal. This bus drops you within a short walking distance to the windmills.
What to Do in Zaanse Schans
First and foremost, Zaanse Schans is a great place to go to see the windmills. As I’ve said, they are super popular for a reason, and harken back to the industrial age.
Furthermore, the windmills have some cool museums inside where you can learn all about wind energy.
However, you’re also able to go to chocolate factories, a delicious cheese shop, and a brewery. Like the Market Hall in Rotterdam, come to Zaanse Schans with your stomach empty and ready for plenty of food.
Although most people only spend an hour or two in Zaanse Schans, it’s worth taking your time to actually see the adorable town. I promise.
Read More: The Best Things to Do in Zaanse Schans
Hoorn is another one of the best day trips from Amsterdam. The city of Hoorn is very historically significant, harkening back to the “golden days” of Dutch Trade.
Furthermore, Hoorn is a lot less touristic than some other day trips mentioned in this article. While I personally don’t mind tourists (at least not all the time), Hoorn is great for travelers who wish to move away from the main attractions and instead experience a real slice of Dutch Life.
You’ll find many things to do in Hoorn especially at the Westfries Museum and the harbor area.
How to Reach Hoorn from Amsterdam
There are two different options to reach Hoorn from Amsterdam. Both are worthwhile.
First is the train. The intercity train only takes about 32 minutes and is a direct route from Amsterdam Centraal.
However, for a cheaper option, take the 314 Edam – Hoorn Bus from Amsterdam Centraal for a (yet another) direct route to this adorable city. Now, in my humble opinion, I personally recommend the bus especially if you’re visiting Volendam and Marken on the same day (like I did, haha). The pass lasts for the entire day so you don’t have to purchase multiple tickets.
What to Do in Hoorn
Despite not being as “touristy” as some other options on this list, Hoorn has plenty of attractions to offer visitors and it’s easy to spend an entire afternoon here.
Hoorn’s biggest attraction is probably Westfriesmuseum – which displays several incredible artifacts from the 1500s – 1800s – and you’ll learn all about United East India Company.
Not to mention, Hoorn’s harbor is also incredibly beautiful. In the summer months, watching the boats is very enjoyable as is taking a stroll along the water.
Finally, once a week in the summer, you can go to Hoorn to see the Cheese Market! This cheese market was so much fun with music and costumes. And the best part? No tourists!
6. The Hague
Next on our list of the best day trips from Amsterdam is the Hague.
You probably know the Hague as the governmental core of the Netherlands. And I’m sure you’ve heard of the Peace Palace too. But Hague has even more to offer the conscientious day tripper.
How to Reach the Hague from Amsterdam
On my own visit, construction was taking place on the tracks near the Hague. And that … wasn’t very fun, haha.
Now, as far as I know, it’s still possible and convenient to take the train from Amsterdam Centraal to Den Haag HS. This is NOT the central station, meaning you will have to walk quite a bit to reach the main attractions in the Hague.
As a FYI, it’s very easy to pair the Hague and Rotterdam together in a single day trip. Connections run all the time between Hague Centraal and Rotterdam’s many stations.
What to Do in the Hague
Art fans (or anyone who’s interested in the Dutch Masters) need to flock to the Hague. Without a doubt, The Mauritshuis is the place to go for learning about masterpieces.
To be brutally honest, I liked The Mauritshuis more than the bigger art museums in Amsterdam, mostly because it wasn’t jam packed. For example, you can stand right next to The Girl With A Pearl Earring and marvel at her incredible facial features without a hoard of people nudging you to move. An artist’s dream come true.
The area known as Binnenhof is also very pleasant for walking. This scenic area is home to all the major government buildings such as houses of the States General of the Netherlands, as well as the Ministry of General Affairs and the office of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands.
Read More: 5 Day Itinerary for the Netherlands
7. Volendam & Marken
Last but not least opt to take a trip to Volendam and Marken. These small towns have a ton of charm to offer travelers coming to the Netherlands.
Personally, I love the water. I think it has to do with taking so many vacations to the Jersey Shore and Marco Island, so perhaps I’m partial to both Volendam and Marken.
How to Reach Volendam & Marken from Amsterdam
Go to Amsterdam Centraal and purchase a bus ticket that lumps together Volendam and Marken to save money. This pass lasts for the entire day and is available at the kiosks inside the information center.
You’ll want to take advantage of the Volendam-Marken ferry, too. You can either buy a round trip or one way ticket at the ferry kiosk. It’s roughly a forty minute ride, and you’ll experience gorgeous views of both seaside towns. Take plenty of pictures from the deck.
What to Do in Volendam & Marken
Volendam is pretty touristic. I felt like I was on a cheesy boardwalk in New Jersey, but I still enjoyed exploring this seaside town. Come here to eat waffles and buy cheesy souvenirs, not to search for authenticity.
Additionally, I’d avoid Volendam in the summer on the weekends. You’ll lower the chances of getting caught up in a crowd by visiting Volendam mid-week.
As for Marken, it’s a beautiful place to simply be. The delightful green homes and lush countryside provide splendid opportunities for photography.
Deciding Which Amsterdam Day Trips to Take
As you can see, Amsterdam offers a ton of great day trips opportunities. I know I talked a lot about the best day trips from Amsterdam, but it’s so hard to choose the top choice.
If you have a week or more in Amsterdam, then, sure, it’s possible to see and do everything listed in this article.
However, depending on your itinerary, you may have to make some choices based on your personal interests.
I advocate seeing as much as possible, but don’t waste too much time staring at the interiors of trains and buses either. Who wants to do that? Ew.
Instead pick a day trip or two and enjoy them.
What do you think are the best day trips from Amsterdam? Are you going to the Netherlands in the near future? What do you want to see and do? Share all your thoughts in the comments section! Thanks for reading!