Found in the western part of the Netherlands is the picturesque town of Amsterdam. This port city is connected to the North Sea coast and is well known for its canals, great art scene and historical monuments.
As soon as you arrive you will be amazed by the natural beauty and impressively well preserved older sections. Did you know that this town, which is nearly 700 years old, is actually being supported by nearly 11 million wooden poles? This is because the city lies only a meter above sea level and much of its foundations were constructed on clay!
Although Amsterdam values its history, it is also becoming more modernized and is a fantastic place to go on vacation. Below we've gathered some great Amsterdam day trips that are worth checking out, but if you would rather stay inside the city centre you will still find lots to do.
Why not check out the world class museums in Amsterdam? This town is actually home to the most museums per capita in the entire world! No matter how you choose to spend your vacation you can benefit from using an Amsterdam luggage storage facility to keep your suitcases safe while you are out and about.
How to get out of Amsterdam
Moving around Amsterdam is simple and quite fun, since there are so many ways to travel! You can take a boat ride around the canals or catch the metro, bus and tram to navigate the streets. The older areas of the city are easily traversed by foot, and you will notice that most locals choose to get around by bike. If you want to learn more about the public transport services within the city check out this guide on how to get around Amsterdam.
As for getting in and out of town, you will have several different options here as well. Head to the Amsterdam Centraal Station to take a high-speed train to other nearby cities, or the Port of Amsterdam to get places by boat. Getting a ticket for a coach bus or securing your own means of transportation from one of the car rental companies is also a great choice.
From Amsterdam to The Hague
Situated just 50km away from the lovely city of Amsterdam is the Dutch town of Den Haag, also known as The Hague. It is a great place for art lovers and admirers of architecture with grand buildings to admire, like the Binnenhof and the Peace Palace.
The Hague is home to the Dutch royal family as well as the country's seat of parliament and the UN's International Court of Justice making it a crucial place for the Dutch government. Want to see some historic masterpieces like The Girl with the Pearl Earring? Head to the Mauritshuis Museum! After you've had your fill of art and architecture you can relax on the nearby beach.
How to get to The Hague:
Getting from Amsterdam to Den Haag will be a breeze. If you have access to a car then you will only need to drive for about 45 minutes and it is a fairly easy trip via the A4. The bus can also get you there in about the same time, or you can catch a ride from the train station which will take just over an hour.
From Amsterdam to Alkmaar
Another one of the nearby places worth a visit is the town of Alkmaar. It is a great choice for a touristy day trip that is filled with things to do and places to see, but one activity that you just can't miss is the incredible Gouda Cheese Market! This event is held once every week so you should reserve this activity for Friday mornings.
The tradition first began sometime back in the 1950s and each week nearly 23 tons of cheese is brought out. If you want to learn more, stop by the Alkmaar Cheese Museum afterward! This is one of the best day trips from Amsterdam for foodies and if you really enjoy it you might be interested in checking out the best street food in Amsterdam as well.
How to get to Alkmaar:
Your trip from Amsterdam to Alkmaar will be simple and quick, making it the perfect activity for a day when you don't know what to do. You can get here easily by car taking the A9 or the N244 and you will only have to be behind the wheel for about half an hour before reaching your destination. If you don't feel like driving you can take the Intercity or direct Sprinter train which will take between 45 minutes to an hour.
From Amsterdam to Giethoorn
Nicknamed the "Venice of the Netherlands", the fairytale-like village of Giethoorn should definitely make your list of day trips from Amsterdam. Come enjoy the fresh air and admire the traditional houses while on a boat tour through the picturesque canals. The old buildings, dated bridges and wooden houses hold a rich history and it is a great spot to go and just walk.
Pick up some food to have a picnic and make sure to bring your camera since you will want to capture the beauty of the small town! If you like this day trip then you might want to check out other hiking trails in Amsterdam.
How to get to Giethoorn:
Although the charming town of Giethoorn is absolutely breathtaking, it is not that easy to get to. You can get here using the Intercity train and a couple of buses but it can be a hassle, which is why we recommend driving there yourself. It is still a bit of a journey but you can reach the village via the A6 and A1 in a bit under an hour and a half. Rest assured, the colorful houses and famous canals are worth the trip!
From Amsterdam to Keukenhof
Lots of people like to travel to Keukenhof and it is usually for one main reason; the picture-perfect gardens and tulip fields. Unfortunately, this activity is only available for a couple of months every year and if possible you should try to schedule a visit for mid-April since that is when most of the flowers will be in bloom.
However, anytime between mid-March to mid-May will be optimal for this Amsterdam day trip! If you can you should visit both the Keukenhof Gardens and the nearby Lisse Tulip Fields in one day. You will have to pay to get in but they do offer day tours that can be worth your time.
How to get to Keukenhof:
The beautiful city of Keukenhof is easily accessed from Amsterdam by both car or from Amsterdam Centraal Station. The train ride will take anywhere from just over an hour to about an hour and a half, making it an easy day trip from Amsterdam. Hop on the A4 or the A5 if you are traveling by car and just about a half hour later you will be strolling through the beautiful fields of flowers.
From Amsterdam to Zaanse Shans
For a truly fascinating glimpse into the Dutch countryside, you can head straight to Zaanse Shans which is relatively close to Amsterdam itself. This is where you will find a fantastic open air museum that resembles a small town from the 18th or 19th century. Be aware that people do still live here so be mindful of where you wander since many of the houses are private property.
There are lots of things to do that will richen your experience, like a visit to an old lumber mill, stopping by a cheese market and shop, or seeing how a wooden clog maker does his work. If you get hungry you should absolutely visit the restaurant and make sure that you try some of the delicious Dutch pancakes! Lastly, a tour around the Zaans Museum is a must and can teach you a lot about the history of the area.
How to get to Zaanse Shans:
Zaanse Shans is very close to Amsterdam so you have no excuse to not visit. It will take only 20 minutes to reach by car and about half an hour by train. You can also get here by bus and metro in under an hour!
From Amsterdam to Rotterdam
If you feel like you've seen enough of the city's history then Rotterdam might be the best next stop. Step foot into a more contemporary town that is growing to become one of the major Dutch cities and is home to some impressive modern architecture. Come admire the unique and vibrant cube houses or the Market Hall that was built in the shape of a horseshoe! The hall is a fantastic place to get lunch since it is home to several stalls serving different kinds of food.
You can still get your fill of local culture in the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen which is home to masterpieces from several famous artists. If you want to admire the entire area from above, make your way to the Euromast Tower which can give you a 360-degree view of Rotterdam from its rotating glass elevator. At the top, you will be 104 meters high in the air giving you a birds-eye-view!
How to get to Rotterdam:
A day trip from Amsterdam to Rotterdam won't be too difficult to navigate. Get behind the wheel and merge onto the A4 and you can be there in under an hour, or get a ticket from one of the city's train stations for the Intercity railway. In a bit over an hour, you will reach the modern city of Rotterdam.
From Amsterdam to Volendam
Our next choice for day trips from Amsterdam is Volendam, an old fishing village complete with a picture-perfect landscape. Stop and admire the scenery for a bit before heading off into the streets where you can find cool buildings like St. Vincent's Church. When you've seen enough here you can catch a ferry over to Marken, a peninsula island that was separated from the rest of the land during the 13th century after it was hit by a storm.
How to get to Volendam:
Volendam is not too far away from Amsterdam at all so you will only need to drive for about 20 minutes on the N247 to reach it. If you need to take public transport then you will have several options by bus or on the Intercity and Sprinter trains which will take anywhere from half an hour to 45 minutes.
From Amsterdam to Haarlem
Finally, if you want to learn a bit about the medieval history of the Netherlands while visiting Amsterdam then we recommend a trip to Haarlem. This historic city dates back all the way to 1245 and both its character and age have been well preserved. First, we recommend that you check out some of the local artistic talent in the Frans Hals Museum.
Next, go and admire the incredible Gothic buildings, like the Grote Kerk, which can be seen from the town's central square. Don't forget to check out the Old City Hall which is a sight to see both inside and out, making guided tours well worth it. Finally, satisfy your retail therapy in the Haarlem shopping district which is home to antique stores, boutique shops and more! If you want to do more spending afterward, take a look at these places for the best shopping in Amsterdam.
How to get to Haarlem:
If you feel like taking a trip back to medieval times you won't have to travel very far at all. Haarlem is found only 20 minutes away from Amsterdam by car; you can take the A9 or the N200. If you want to get there even faster and without having to drive, grab a ticket on the Intercity and Sprinter trains which can get you there in under 15 minutes.
Sightseeing in and Around the Dutch Capital
Amsterdam is one of the best spots to vacation in North Holland because there is just so much to see both inside the city itself and in the other major cities surrounding it. If you want to take a break from the canals of Amsterdam you can spend half a day or more exploring a town nearby, and each of the ones mentioned above can offer you and completely unique experience. Keep them in mind when you are planning a day trip from Amsterdam!