It’s almost unquestionable that the first destination to visit in the Netherlands is Amsterdam, the capital. Sure, Amsterdam has really a lot to offer to their visitors, but there’s a lot more to discover – and it only takes an hour or less to truly experience the Dutch tradition and culture. We’ve also added one Belgian city to the list, can you guess which one is it?
Let’s see the top 10 picks of the best day trips from Amsterdam!
The second largest Dutch city is without any doubt among the most popular day trips from Amsterdam. And there are several good reasons to that. From being the major European port, Rotterdam has evolved in a city of architectural wonders during the past 10 years. Although it may not be your first choice when it comes to planning an exciting trip, it is surely worth the visit in the form of a day trip because it’s only 50-minute drive from Amsterdam!
What to see and do
So, what is there to see while visiting Rotterdam? The first stop should definitely be Markthal, one of the largest European indoor market halls. With over 100 food stalls and 20 shops and restaurants, it is easy to “kill” an hour or two in Markthal. And what’s more, the building itself houses 228 apartments – how impressive is that? Another architectural miracle in Rotterdam are the so-called Cube Houses. These houses sit tilted on a hexagonal pole and on the inside are divided into three levels, connected by a narrow staircase. There is not a single straight wall inside these houses, so you can imagine the frustration of the residents when it comes time to buy the furniture. Due to their popularity among tourists, some of the residents offer the tour for the visitors who can see what it’s like to live in a “cube”. And if you want to stay overnight in one of the cubes, you can book yourself a bed at StayOkay Hostel, located in one of the larger cube houses.
Where to eat
The best option to get yourself a good meal is at aforementioned Markthal. There’s literally everything for everyone. You can choose between the wide array of different types of cuisine. PastaBar Sicily for the lovers of Italian food, Elliniko restaurant if you’re up for some gyros or Gate of Damascus for halal-friendly appetizers. And if that’s not enough there are other 100+ options and believe us, it will be hard to decide!
How to get from Amsterdam to Rotterdam
The easiest way to travel between Amsterdam and Rotterdam is by bus. Buses depart from Amsterdam Sloterdijk and travel time is 50-60 minutes. Book your ticket starting from €5:
Although Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, The Hague is the political centre of the country and it’s known to many for its International Court of Justice. Counting only 49% of the population being Dutch, the Hague stands out as the most international city in the country. Not so surprising if we consider the fact that the “oldest World Court” houses more than 150 international organisations. But what’s the deal with its sights?
What to see and do
The Binnenhof(en. Inner Court) is a must-visit when doing a walking tour around the Hague. It is one of the oldest complexes of parliament buildings in the world that is still in use. Originally built as part of the count’s castle, these buildings now house the meeting chambers of the Parliament and the offices of the Prime Minister. In the center part of the Inner Court you will see Ridderzaal(en. Knight’s Hall), the oldest building of the complex dating from the 13th century. Admission to courtyard and Ridderzaal reception hall is free, but you can get yourself a guided tour starting from about €6 and find out all historical details at first hand. Want to know what it’s like to visit the entire Holland in 2-3 hours? Then you should pay a visit to Madurodam – a miniature park and one of the top attractions in the Hague. Located in the Scheveningen district, Madurodam offers the visitors a wide collection of famous Dutch landmarks such as Rijksmuseum, Schiphol Airport, tulip fields, Rotterdam port, Binnenhof, etc. The miniature replicas are made in 1:25 scale and you can visit the park every day between 11am and 5pm. Madurodam also offers the stories on interactive touch screens and all stories about Holland are available in Dutch, English, German, French, Spanish, Russian and Chinese.
Where to eat
Obviously, the idea of almost any active traveller is to find some cheap places to have a decent meal, so here’s the short list of the restaurants where you won’t have to spend a fortune:
- Het Haringhuisje – A Dutch seafood restaurant where you can get the best herring in the town.
- Baladi Manouche – Middle Eastern food with various vegan, halal and gluten free specialties.
- Warung Mini, Kopi Kopi, Mr. Bap – If you are craving some good Asian food, these three restaurants will definitely help!
- Sapore Homemade Italian Food – The title says pretty much says it all.
How to get from Amsterdam to the Hague
The approximate travel time from Amsterdam to the Hague is between 40 and 60 minutes and buses depart from Amsterdam Bijlmer station. Book your ticket here:
The fourth largest city in the country is a true Medieval-looking type of city. Utrecht used to be the religious centre in the Netherlands and, until the Dutch Golden Age, it also played the role of a country’s most important city. Why? Utrecht has the largest university in the Netherlands which makes the city the main student destination, and, due to its central geographical position, Utrecht is also predominant when it comes to rail and road transport.
What to see and do
The history of Utrecht is quite rich. Not only can this city boast the amazing structures and buildings in the Old Town, but it also gives its visitors the opportunity to explore castles and country houses in the outskirts of the city. The first landmark on your to-visit list should be Dom Tower, the highest and oldest church tower in the Netherlands. Built in the 14th century, this 112-metre high tower is open to public and it’s a perfect spot for a panoramic view of Utrecht. But beware – visitors need to climb 465 stairs to get to the top! Besides the iconic Railway Museum, one should pay a visit to Museum Speelklok or how the locals like to call it – the “most cheerful” museum in the country. With a guided tour, you will get an insight in the history of self-playing music instruments such as music boxes, musical clocks, pianolas, barrel organs and a turret clock with carillon. For an outdoor activity, we suggest taking a stroll around Wilhelminapark, located in East Utrecht. The park is especially popular during summertime when many students and young people gather here for picnics and barbecues. And a treat for the end, De Haar Castle, the largest castle in Holland. Don’t let the look of the castle fool you – although it may look Medieval, the castle was actually built between 1892 and 1912. A fairytale-like castle attracts many visitors due to its stunning gardens and impressive exhibition collection. How to get here? Take a bus line 111 from Vleuten Train Station and get off at Kasteel de Haar bus stop.
Where to eat
For a quick cheap meal go to Dapp Frietwinkel Utrecht. Fresh french fries with a dip are a perfect snack on the go. If you are looking for big portions of food for a good price, then Burger Bar Utrecht is the place for you. Hema Utrecht-Centrum is a classic cheap diner which offers typical Dutch food.
How to get from Amsterdam to Utrecht
Average travel time by public transport between Amsterdam and Utrecht is around 30 minutes and you can easily reach Utrecht by train leaving from Amsterdam Central. Trains depart every 15 minutes from Amsterdam Central between 06:00 and 01:00 and once an hour during the night. Buses to Utrecht leave from Amsterdam, Station Duivendrecht. Check departure times and buy your ticket in the table below:
The Dutch-speaking part of Belgium is one of the favourite day trips from Amsterdam. Why do people like to visit Antwerp? Is it the fact that this city perfectly combines the vibe of a modern city and Renaissance architecture? Or the largest Belgian chocolate museum in the world? Both? Both.
What to see and do
Located right in front of the Antwerp’s Central Station, the first stop is certainly something you don’t want to miss. Known as the Chocolate Nation, this museum is entirely devoted to Belgian chocolate. For €15 you get an hour and a half of experiences and tales of chocolate brands and chocolatiers, along with a unique insight into Belgian chocolate traditions and innovations. The ticket includes chocolate tastings and a guided audio tour in Dutch, English, French, German or Spanish. The central spot of Antwerp, however, is its Grote Markt with the Town Hall which dominates the square’s western side. Apart from the Town Hall, the most distinctive characteristic of the Old Town are the so-called gildehuizen which used to be the headquarters of the city’s 16th and 17th-century guilds. Besides the largest chocolate museum, Antwerp also boasts the largest Gothic church in the country. The Cathedral of Our Lady was finished in 1521, however, it suffered many serious damages over the past centuries. Antwerp is also a city filled with museums, so here are some of the museums you can check out: Museum aan de Stroom (MAS), Plantin-Moretus Museum, Rubens’ House (Rubenshuis), Museum Mayer van den Bergh, Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Red Star Line Museum.
Where to eat
For a traditional Belgian dish, visit Ernest Bistrò. The restaurant is located in the heart of the Old Town and the ambient inside is quite tradition-oriented. Although the plates might come off as “too simple”, the ingredients are always fresh and top quality. One cannot miss trying Belgian waffles while visiting Antwerp, so head to Wafelhuis Van Hecke to get yourself the best waffles in the town. Some of the other places that might interest you, but will not affect your budget too much: Dilbi (Middle Eastern, Arabic), Via Via (European), Restaurant Zagreb (Mediterranean, Croatian), No Worries (Belgian, Dutch)
How to get from Amsterdam to Antwerp
It’s possible to reach Antwerp from Amsterdam either by train or by bus. Trains to Antwerp leave every 30 minutes from Amsterdam Centraal and average travel time is around 2 hours. If you prefer traveling by bus, check the departures and buy a ticket in the table below:
Also known as the Garden of Europe, this stunning flower garden is located in the small town of Lisse, Netherlands, only 38 kilometres from Amsterdam. Keukenhof park is open every year from mid-March to mid-May and if you plan your trip to Amsterdam during this period, make sure to set a day aside to visit Keukenhof.
What to do
The story behind the name of the garden dates from the 15th century when the hunting grounds of nearby Teylingen Castle were the “kitchen garden” or keukenduin, where the inhabitants could grew fruit and vegetables. But the real birth of Keukenhof was in the middle 19th century when landscape architect Jan David Zocher restructured the grounds around the castle and set the foundations for the gardens today. However, the garden first opened to the public in a much later period, in 1950 to be precise. Nowadays, the gardens cover an area of 32 hectares and showcases more than 7 million tulip bulbs. During the eight-week period when this tourist attraction is opened, more than 800 000 visitors stroll through this magnificent park. Before entering the park, make sure to take a free map – the gardens are huge and you will definitely miss something if you don’t get yourself a map. Keukenhof is not only about tulips, there are other bulb flowers featured in the gardens as well such as daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, lilies-of-the-valley, bluebells, snowdrops, irises, etc. Interestingly, every year the park has a different theme and all exhibitions revolve around it. For example, in 2019 the theme was Flower Power.
Where to eat
You can find various restaurants and food stands in Keukenhof, serving stroopwafels and poffertjes. Or if you prefer to eat a proper meal, you can order something at Asian or Italian restaurant. Besides that, you can always bring your own food and have a picnic at the picnic meadow or on benches throughout the park.
How to get from Amsterdam to Keukenhof
There’s no actual direct line from Amsterdam to Keukenhof, so that’s why most people visiting the park opt for the direct shuttle from Schiphol Airport. If you buy a ticket in advance, you can get a combo ticket for €25 which includes entrance ticket and transportation to and from Keukenhof. For other transportation options to Keukenhof, see more info here.
This tiny Dutch village is for sure something you’ve never seen before. If you are looking for a peaceful and tranquil place, then book a train ticket to Giethoorn! The Dutch like to call this place “the Venice of the North” (but when you think about it, aren’t all of the places with canals in the Netherlands the Venice of the North?). But unlike Venice, Giethoorn is much smaller and it is not overcrowded with tourists so visitors can really enjoy the idyllic atmosphere. And when you add to that the fact that there is not a single road built in Giethoorn, you get a recipe for a perfect day trip!
What to see and do
Probably the most popular tourist activity in Giethoorn is a boat ride. Visitors can either rent a boat themselves and enjoy a romantic ride at their own pace or get a guided tour around the town on canals. Don’t forget to visit Museum Giethoorn ‘t Olde Maat Uus, a museum which will take you more than 100 years back in history and show you how the people of Giethoorn once lived here. Museum de Oude Aarde offers to visitors the exceptional collection of gemstones and minerals and visitors can also buy some gemstones as a souvenir.
Where to eat
Geythoorn fast food joint is one of the places in Giethoorn where you can grab a coffee or a drink but also have a quick cheap meal. For example, a full breakfast (coffee, bread rolls, ham & cheese, fried egg and orange juice) will cost you only €5.50. Vishandel Gerrits & De Boer serves combo meals, usually fish based with fries as a side dish. Here you can try Dutch kibbeling, deep fried battered chunks of fish, usually served with a mayonnaise-garlic sauce or tartar sauce.
How to get from Amsterdam to Giethoorn
To get to Giethoorn, you will need to take a train from Amsterdam Centraal to Steenwijk. Once there, buy bus tickets directly at the train station and catch the bus to Dominee Hylkemaweg (bus stop in Giethoorn).
Only 15 minutes by train from Amsterdam Central and you will find yourself in one of the most photo-friendly destinations in the Netherlands. Amsterdam’s less crowded “brother” is a great option for a day trip (or even a half-day trip), especially if you are on a tight schedule. Such rich history, amazing architecture and thrilling culture scene will surely leave you breathless!
What to see and do
The main gathering point in Haarlem would be, if you ask locals, Grote Markt – the central market square of Haarlem. The market is at its liveliest on Mondays when everything is freshly brought to vending stalls – veggies, seafood, flowers, fresh bread, croissants, pastries and much more! However, visiting market on a Saturday is a true local experience! Try fresh gouda, edam or maasdam cheese and sausage and a “broodje haring” (herring in white bread – a Dutch specialty). Don’t forget to visit St Bavo Cathedral after you finish with shopping. This cathedral is definitely worth the visit since it houses magnificently decorated organ, played once by Mendelssohn, Händel and the 10-year-old Mozart. Another historic fact that Haarlem can boast is the fact that Teylers Museum is the Netherlands’ first and oldest museum, open to the public since 1784. The museum was named after Pieter Teyler van der Hulst, a rich banker and silk manufacturer from Haarlem. Nowadays, the permanent exhibition at the museum includes fossils, minerals, coins, medals and paintings made by famous artists like Michelangelo and Raphael. In case of a rainy day, next museum on your list should be Windmill de Adriaan. The typical “postcard” windmill is actually a working replica of the original that burned down in the 1930s. Spare an hour for a guided tour (€5) for some amazing historical facts about windmill construction and operation. And don’t forget to pose for an unforgettable photo!
Where to eat
If you’re up for some crispy fries with delicious dips, head for Frietkamer. Brownies&downieS Haarlem will not only fulfill your hunger, but it will warm your hearts as well! Jopenkerk is by far the most authentic restaurant pub in Haarlem since it was built inside of an old church. For a romantic dinner by the river, visit Spaarne 66.
How to get from Amsterdam to Haarlem
As it is mentioned already, the best way to reach Haarlem from Amsterdam is by train from Amsterdam Centraal. Trains depart approximately every 7-8 minutes from 05:30 to 01:00.
Another remarkable student city in the Netherlands is for sure Delft. Counting over 22 000 students, we could definitely call it a “young town”. Although the population are 1⁄4 adolescents, Delft is a typical Medieval town. The name derives from the word delven which means “to dig” and it refers to canals which are the main characteristic of this town.
What to see
The one thing that will probably pursue you into booking a train ticket to Delft is the fact that this is quite a compact town. It will take you less than an hour to do the tour of the historic part of town, so there’s no rush. Take your time and wander through the streets and soak up the idyllic atmosphere. The first stop is the central market square or the Markt and its majestic Nieuwe Kerk. Though its name literally translates to “new church”, it is, in fact, anything but new. Built in the 15th century, this church boasts a 108-metre high Gothic tower which offers amazing panoramic views of the city and its surroundings. Also, to get these views, prepare yourself for quite a climb because 376 steps await! You thought only Pisa had a leaning tower? Well, you were wrong! Delft’s Oude Kerk (Old Church) was built around 1250 and it contains a number of important works of art and it’s a must-see while on a visit to Delft. Other significant sights include Delft City Hall, The Lambert van Meerten Museum, The Eastern Gate (Oostpoort), The Vermeer Centre and Windmill De Roos.
Where to eat
Thuis by Ladera is the place to go if you are looking for quality food, large portions and cheap prices. This cozy place with friendly service will make you feel as if you are at home waiting for your mom’s specialties. Happy Tosti Delft Voldersgracht is perfect for breakfast, and what’s best – it’s gluten-free and vegan friendly! If you are not fond of trying new things, you can always get yourself a pizza in Ciao Ciao starting from €6.
How to get from Amsterdam to Delft
Trains or buses are the most convenient transport options from Amsterdam to Delft. Direct train from Amsterdam Centraal departs regularly every day and it takes around 45 minutes to Delft train station. Alternatively, you can always choose bus as a cheaper option:
Just north of Amsterdam, this typical Dutch village is best known for its collection of well-preserved historic windmills, some of them still used for making spices, sawing wood or grinding oil. The famous Zaans Museum is an open-air museum established in 1994 and it’s free for all visitors. Although the village can be visited during whole year, the majority of the windmills are open only from April to October. Visitors can also bring home gifts from the souvenir shops, see how the traditional Dutch clogs are made or even pay a visit to a nearby cheese farm! The Catharina Hoeve is an authentic 17th-century cheese farm and upon arrival visitors can witness cheese making demonstration and try some of the best cow, sheep or goat cheeses. And what’s best, demonstrations are available in multiple languages.
Where to eat
For a lunch break in Zaanse Schans, go to De Hoop op d’Swarte Walvis which has a romantic terrace with the view overlooking the iconic windmills. Restaurant De Kraai is perfect if you are up for something sweet – cakes, different sorts of pancakes, both sweet and salty.
How to get from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans
Most people get a guided tour or excursion to Zaanse Schans, but in case you prefer to do the tour of the village on your own, you can simply catch the train from Amsterdam Centraal to Zaandijk Zaanse Schans station. Travel time is around 15 minutes.
Zandvoort is one of the main beach resorts in the Netherlands, known to the people for its long sandy beach bordered by coastal “dunes”. The town of Zandvoort dates all the way back to 1100 which makes it actually older than the capital Amsterdam. Throughout history, fishing was basically the only important part of Zandvoort’s economy up until the 19th century when the first beach resort was opened in 1828. After that, local tourists pretty much knew where to spend their summer vacations.
What to see and do
Zandvoort’s beaches are one of the main things which attract visitors every year. More than 38 different pavilions along the beach offer drinks and food for the tourists. If you are up for full-on “Adam” costume, you can visit a nudist beach which is almost 2.5 kilometres long. The sports beach is also quite fun – you can try kitesurfing, beach volley, windsurfing or paragliding. For racing fans, Circuit Park Zandvoort is a must-visit! Check out the list of the upcoming race events on their official website to know when to expect the real spectacle! Holland Casino is also very popular among tourists, but have in mind that you need to dress fancy and be at least 18 years old to enter the casino.
Where to eat
As already mentioned, there’s a big number of pavilions along the beach where you can get food. But besides that, there are various restaurants available in the town centre: Greek, Indonesian, Chinese, Thai and Italian. There’s everything for everyone’s taste!
How to get from Amsterdam to Zandvoort
The easiest way to get to Zandvoort is by train from Amsterdam Centraal. Travel time is around 30 minutes and the train departs every 30 minutes.