10 Best Day Trips from Amsterdam (That Are Worth the Trip!)

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While you can easily spend a week in Amsterdam exploring all the city has to offer, there is also plenty to see outside the city. We want to outline the best day trips from Amsterdam for your consideration.

But first, let’s talk a bit about the city and the draw it has for the area. Amsterdam is famous for canals, beer, marijuana, being flat, cycling, coffee, its red-light district, pancakes… the list goes on.

Founded in the 12th century as “Aemstelredamme” the town went on to become an important city, not just for the region, but for the whole world.

In the 17th century, the city was the financial center of the West. It was the Amsterdam Stock Exchange (the world’s oldest) that was the first to introduce continuous trade in the 17th century.

It was from here that the Dutch East and West Indian Companies sailed to various Dutch colonies and came back laden with goods.

The whole city is crawling with historical sites, from its 17th-century canals (a UNESCO World Heritage site) to the sprawling Rijksmuseum. There’s the famous Heineken Experience as well if you are into beer.

Van Gogh called this city home, as did Anne Frank and Rembrandt. But outside of Amsterdam, there are several more things to do, making the capital a perfect base for exploring nearby towns and countrysides.

So here are a few of the best day trips from Amsterdam you might want to think about when you’re next in the city.

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Amsterdam (Travel Guide)

10 Best Day Trips from Amsterdam

1. Cycle the Countryside

Bike rides along the bike path towards the mill. Typical Dutch landscape. Bicycles and mills are symbols of the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is known for being a haven for cyclists. And that’s for good reason, but not one reason alone; It’s flat, so there are no killer hills to put you off pedal power. The infrastructure is well built, too: purpose-built cycle paths actually began as early as 1911.

the country is also densely populated, meaning journey times are typically short, perfect for cycling. So, what better way to get out of Amsterdam than by bicycle?

Following the River Amstel, getting out into the Dutch countryside surrounding Amsterdam couldn’t be easier. Life gradually shifts to pastoral scenes like colorful houseboats, people fishing, and farmland, and makes for an idyllic few hours’ outing from the capital.

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2. Madurodam

Madurodam, Netherlands

‘Discover Holland in one day.’ That’s the tagline for Madurodam, a model city with 1:25 scale replicas of Dutch landmarks, towns, and cities. For fans of history and miniature, Madurodam is worth at least a few hours.

Let’s face it, everything looks more intricate, and somehow cuter, in miniature. There’s even a scale model of Nieuw Amsterdam, which of course is the name of the 17th-century Dutch name for the settlement which was to become New York City.

Madurodam was built in 1952 and named after George Maduro, a Jewish law student who served as an officer in the 1940 Battle of the Netherlands against the Nazis. Fun fact: then-princess Beatrix was Madurodam ‘Mayor’ until she became Queen in 1980.

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3. The Hague

Binnenhof Dutch Parliament , The Hague Den Haag at spring, Netherlands

If you thought The Hague was a building, think again. It isn’t. The Hague is actually the third most populous city in the Netherlands after Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and although it isn’t the capital, it is the country’s political center.

Most foreign embassies are located here, plus the International Court of Justice, housed in the stunning 1913 Vredespaleis (Peace Palace) and International Criminal Court, both institutions of the United Nations.

The Hague is also home to two of King Willem-Alexander’s royal residences, Huis ten Bosch and Noordeinde Palace. It’s a little longer than an hour to reach this important and thriving center of Dutch culture, so visiting here really is one of the easiest day trips from Amsterdam.

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4. Delft

Canal in Delft

This city has long played a part in Dutch politics, including becoming the capital city of the Dutch Republic in the 16th century. So, as you’d imagine, it’s crammed full of monumental sights.

There’s the Oude Kerk (old church) founded in 1246, the Prinsenhof, home to Dutch independence leader, William the Silent, where he was assassinated (now a museum) the Renaissance beauty of the City Hall, plus Oostpoort (eastern gate) built around 1400, the only remainder of the city walls – and a lot more.

A lot of people will know Delft for the ceramics named after the city. The exquisite decorations of Delft pottery were inspired by the blue and white porcelain of China, who traded significantly with the Netherlands in the early 17th century.

A visit to this city, just over an hour from Amsterdam, is almost like visiting a huge museum.

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Giethoorn, Netherlands

5. Giethoorn

More like something you’d find in Tolkien’s Shire than what you’d expect to stumble across in the Netherlands, this secluded slice of the countryside is about as quaint as you could ever imagine.

Practically car-free (they’re banned from the center of town), adds to that ‘olde worlde’ feel.

Giethoorn is a village in the northeastern part of the country famous for its crisscrossing waterways, canals, and bridges.

There are 180 in total! It’s still only fully accessible via boat, which makes exploring this village from the water instead of the land like being in another world.

These narrow canals are lined with rich countryside greenery and incredibly picturesque thatched cottages. Nicknamed ‘Dutch Venice’, Giethoorn is just an hour and a half from Amsterdam, but it’s as if you’ve stepped through a portal in time.

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6. Keukenhof

Landscape with tulips, traditional dutch windmills and houses near the canal in Zaanse Schans, Netherlands, Europe

Everybody knows that the Netherlands is famous for its tulips. What not everybody knows is that infection of tulip bulbs in the 17th century caused variegated patterns and colors on tulip flowers, which led to what is known as Tulip Mania.

This is the first recorded financial bubble when tulips were fashionable and fetched ridiculously high prices: at its peak in 1637 single tulip bulbs were being sold for many times the annual wages of skilled craftsmen.

And in one particular case, one, yes one bulb, sold for 5 acres of prime real estate.

Keukenhof is a great way to see swathes of the Netherlands’ famous tulips. It’s one of the biggest flower gardens in the world and is home to rainbows of tulips set in different styles of sculpted gardens, originally hunting grounds for Keukenhof Castle.

Walking around the sea of colorful flowers here is pretty dreamy, and pretty easy: it’s less than an hour from Amsterdam.

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7. Edam

Edam, Netherlands

What cheese is made backward? Edam. Get it? It’s ‘made’ backward. A cheesy joke (sorry), but a decent way to demonstrate that Edam is a super universal and internationally known cheese.

And it all comes from the little village of Edam, an easy drive, train or bus ride north of Amsterdam.

Naturally, there’s a lot of cheese-related things to do in Edam, including witnessing a traditional cheese weighing, and learning how the eponymous cheese is actually made. The historical center of town is not to be missed, either.

There’s the 15th century St. Nicholas Church, the grand Louis XIV-style town hall, plus Edam museum is located in a 1530s brick-built house, the basement of which is somehow free-floating on groundwater! (Apparently, this was built by an old sea-captain who missed the sea).

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Amsterdam (Travel Guide)

8. Zaanse Schans

Landscape with tulips, traditional dutch windmills and houses near the canal in Zaanse Schans, Netherlands, Europe

Not even a half-hour from Amsterdam, this is the Netherlands that everyone is used to windmills, flat countryside, and clogs.

It’s one of the most popular day trips from Amsterdam and displays the windmills and traditional green wooden houses that used to dot the Zaan region.

During the 17th century there were a lot more and was considered one of the first industrialized regions in the world.

It was between the 1960s and ‘70s that these were moved on trailers to where they stand now at Zaanse Schans, an all-purpose collection of historic windmills ranging from sawmills and flour mills to mustard mills and oil mills.

There’s also the Zaans Museum to see here, as well as clog-making demonstrations and canal rides.

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9. Bourtange

Aerial view of Fortification village of Bourtange

Sure, Bourtange is a very small village, but it is home to a huge fort that has played an equally huge part in the history of the Netherlands. Fort Bourtange is a mightily impressive star-shaped fort built in 1593 on the orders of Dutch resistance leader William the Silent.

It was built in order to control the only road between Germany and Groningen, a Dutch city which was controlled at the time by the Spanish.

This, and the vast swamp that surrounds it, really messed with Spain’s chances of capturing the fort, which they never did.

Nowadays it’s a museum, practically a living museum at that: the place is perfectly preserved, with a number of historical buildings, including a church and a synagogue, spread over the 11 acres of overlapping pentagons of the fort.

Need to book a car for your road trip adventure? We use Discover Car Hire for comparing car prices to find the best deal. They search both local & international rental companies.

10. National Park Zuid-Kennemerland

National Park Zuid-Kennemerland - Best Day Trips from Amsterdam

Another of the easy day trips from Amsterdam is Bloemendaal, the closest town to the coastal South Kennemerland national park. This is an area of long beaches and grassy sand dunes, as well as fresh forests, all home to wildlife like horses, deer and more.

Swapping the city for natural landscapes that you wouldn’t really expect of the Netherlands – isn’t it supposed to be green and flat? – is easy since this area is easily accessible by bicycle.

And what’s more, the route is dotted with not just beautiful natural scenery, but stately homes, estates and windmills (of course!) meaning that this is as much a cultural day trip as it is a welcome breath of fresh air and reconnection with nature after all the streets and canals of Amsterdam.

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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

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