Day trips from Amsterdam
10 day trips From Amsterdam that will have you exploring the heart of Dutch culture and experiencing things most never get to
Dan Haag is a quick drive from Amsterdam and sits nicely along the North Sea. The beach at Scheveningen, the name of the district within Dan Haag, is incredible. There is an incredible pier, a carousel and terrific board walk to take an evening stroll. Further into the city, there is the gorgeous Binnenhof – former center of Dutch government, as well as the Madurodam. It holds a miniature model of Dutch landmarks, buildings and cities. It was a huge hit with the kids and we loved the walk from the Japanese gardens to the Madurodam first thing in the morning.
An excellent resource for planning all of Netherlands can we found with the Lonely Planet Netherlands Guide.
They don’t speak much English here, but that doesn’t stop this city from being amazing for a day trip. Between the Pannenkoekenboot, and Amphibious Bus through Splash tours, there are numerous ways to explore the city. The Euromast is a great way to get the birds eye view is you aren’t interested in a cruise, though it is not very handi or stroller friendly. Diergaardeblijdorp (Rotterdam Zoo) and Mini world Rotterdam are practically beside each other and could easily take up a whole themselves. Take a walk through Delfshaven and find yourself along the beautiful canals with old time boats and an amazing windmill at the end of your journey.
A quick train ride from Amsterdam Central will lead you to the town of Zaanse. Follow the tourists or the handful of signs down a few streets, and try not to be too distracted by the amazing smell of chocolate and waffles in the air. Just over the bridge you will start to see the fields of windmills. The entire area is free of charge, but there is a Zaanse Schans pass available for purchase at the entrance. Each building or museum has a different rate, while some are free. The windmills themselves cost 7 euro to enter and climb. The clog house is free of charge and this is where we spent most of our time; watching them make clogs from blocks of wood, then running around their shop trying to find the most “authentic” (aka cliché) Dutch souvenir for the family. There is also a pancake house (better known as Crepes in Canada as they are flat, not fluffy) and enormous clogs for that perfect photo. Windy days are great as you will see the windmills in action, so save those perfectly calm days for another town.
One of my favourite day trips from Amsterdam is a visit to Amsterdam Forest (Amsterdamse Bos). Amsterdam Forest is a huge artificial park, just 15 minutes by bike south from the city. The park offers something to all of us and is especially great for families! My favourite spot in Amsterdam Forest is Goat Farm Riddammerhoeve where kids can feed baby goats and cuddle with chickens. Although I don’t have kids, I love to go there too and spend some time with the animals.
Furthermore, Amsterdam Forest is great for walking, cycling, spotting Scottish highland cows, admiring a cherry blossom park in Spring. I hope to inspire travellers to leave Amsterdam for a day and take the opportunity to explore the Dutch landscapes. Last but not least the park is home to a pancake restaurant and the goat farm has delicious Dutch apple pie with whipped cream.
A day trip I’d recommend from Amsterdam is a visit to Volendam. And what better way to do this but by bike! The bike route to Volendam mainly follows the driveway and passes through a few other small towns. I loved that it was very well separated from the majority of the traffic and very well marked with direction signs. Volendam is a small fishing town on the shore of the Zuiderzee and a popular tourist destination close to Amsterdam. So expect many tourists there around lunch time, filling the cafes, souvenir shops and fish stands (don’t forget to try the herring!). After tasting the local treats, make sure to take a short stroll away from the crowded shore area and into town. Even though we initially planned to get back to Amsterdam on the same route, we discovered a ferry in Volendam and decided to hop on it to get to the nearby peninsula of Marken and ride to Amsterdam from there. The bike route was going to be a bit shorter and we would also see something new. Marken is a tiny village that boasts its characteristic wooden houses. We got there late and most of the touristy things were closed. So we headed out and first made our way to the lighthouse on the far end of the peninsula for some cool photos. The bike route from Marken to Amsterdam crosses some farmland and small villages. Some of it is also shared with cars, but there were very few of those. So it was quieter and we got to enjoy the sunset 🙂
Haarlem is a medieval city, lively and less crowded than Amsterdam. The Grote Markt is always full of little tables with people sipping coffee in front of the Grote Kerk (the main Church) and others just cycling about. You will probably recognize this area because it has been featured pretty often on several travel guides for The Netherlands. On Saturdays there’s a street market that sells just about everything, from wooden clogs to clothes, Dutch cheese and flowers.
I suggest you to visit the Grote Kerk as soon as you get there, because the cathedral is definitely worth your time. It dates back to the 14th century! You can also stroll through the shopping area, a few narrow streets called “de Gouden Straatjes” (streets of Gold in Dutch). Near Haarlem you can see the Molen the Adrian, a very nice windmill open for guided ours with a little price. From up there you will be able to take some amazing shots of the surrounding area.
If you want to dine here, you can’t miss De Jopenkerk , the best brewery I’ve found in the Netherlands. It’s located in a former Church in the city center. Inside it’s absolutely amazing because it was left more or less as it once was: the beer here is fantastic and you can drink it while eating one of their delicious platters of cheese and sausages.
Forget what you’ve heard about Amsterdam. Sure, it has the red light district. Ok yes, marijuana is readily available. But there is something else growing all over Holland that brings just as many (if not more) visitors from around the world. Right outside of the heart of Amsterdam, even non-flower lovers can find delight in The World’s Largest Tulip Festival where not one, not two, but SEVEN million tulips can be found in beautiful, arrangements rivaling art decor! But be sure to get there during prime time tulip season, which is approximately late April to late May.
We highly recommend a day trip to Edam, one of the two main cheese towns in The Netherlands. Edam is only about 30 minutes from Amsterdam. The town itself is a beautiful little town with very cute bridges, narrow cobbled streets and beautiful houses. You can easily walk around town even with young children. And, of course, the main attraction is the cheese. There are a few shops in town where you can taste and buy from. If you are lucky enough to be there in July or August, there is a fun market every Wednesday.
Only half an hour by intercity train from Amsterdam, Utrecht is a beautiful medieval city also set on canals. The canal area of the city is the perfect place to wander looking up at the centuries old houses above. You can even hire boats to explore the waterways. Don’t miss the impressive Dom Tower – the tallest bell tower in the Netherlands. If you are visiting the area with small children the Miffy (Nijntje in Dutch) Museum is an absolute delight. Children can explore Miffy’s world with lots of pretend play, arts and crafts. Across the road at the Centraal Museum you can discover more about Utrecht’s art and design heritage and the work of Miffy’s creator Dick Bruna.
(literally ‘fairy tale wonderland’) in Enkhuizen is a perfect day trip from Amsterdam with young kids. It’s a fun theme park, especially built for the little ones. Cute ladybug boats, a mechanic horseback ride and automated oldtimer cars instead of thrilling rides, loud music and sensation. Kids will love exploring the enchanted forest with gnomes, elves, wizards and lots of familiar fairy tale characters. In several locations in the park you’ll find shows, all automated with puppets. Kids up til the age of 7 will love this cute fairy tale park.
There’s a direct train connection between Amsterdam Central Station and Enkhuizen (60 mins), from there you can either walk to the park (20 minutes) or take a taxi. In the summer months there’s also a special Sprookjeswonderland tram to take you to the park. Compared to other major attractions in the Netherlands the park is surprisingly affordable and costs €9,95 per ticket (kids 0-2 have free entrance), with free parking. Right next to Sprookjeswonderland you find Enkhuizerzand, with the municipal pool and a beach on the IJsselmeer. Another popular attraction nearby is the Zuiderzeemuseum.
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