Amsterdam is a fantastic city, but to get a glimpse of the rest of the country, it could be a great idea to plan a little trip outside the Dutch capital during your stay there. It could be hard to choose which Dutch towns to visit with so many options,. To help you out a bit, here is the Culture Tourist’s list of the 10 best day trips from Amsterdam.
Best day trips from Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a great city, but it would be a shame not to take a day trip from Amsterdam and visit some of the Dutch countryside while there. During my life in the Netherlands, I went on numerous trips from Amsterdam and explored that lovely country back and forth. Considering how much can you see and do in a day, I pick some of the best day trips from Amsterdam you should take during your stay in the Netherlands.
⤷ TIP: If you have more time and would like to spend a night in some of those places, check out some of Culture Tourist’s best weekend trips in the Netherlands.
10 Best day trips from Amsterdam
1/ Windmills at Zaanse Schans
Windmills are one of the most recognisable symbols of the Netherlands. They were first built during the Dutch Golden Age and used for the country’s economic development during the 17th century.
There are still over 1,000 windmills preserved in the Netherlands today. One of the best places to see them is the village of Zaanse Schans. During the 1960s and 1970s, the old historic windmills from the area were brought to this small village. Most of them are open to visitors and are very interesting for learning about the way they were operated in history.
⤷ How to get there: You can visit it on your own by taking a train or bus from Amsterdam (both departing from Amsterdam Centraal Station). Or, you can join this countryside and windmills tour from Amsterdam and visit Zaanse Schans and some other nearby Dutch villages with a guide. I went on this tour a few years ago and really liked it.
Located only twenty minutes away by train, Haarlem makes one of the best day trips from Amsterdam. That charming historic town is home to the oldest museum in the Netherlands, Teylers Museum. Its main square, Grote Markt, is where you can find some of its most beautiful buildings. Haarlem City Hall, Saint Bavo Church and Vleeshal, with two lovely museums located inside, are just some of them.
Haarlem was also home to one of the most famous Dutch Golden Age painters, Frans Hals, in the 17th century. The Frans Hals Museum is a place any art lover should visit while in Haarlem.
Home to numerous excellent restaurants, cafes and local stores, Haarlem should definitely find its place on your list of the best day trips from Amsterdam.
⤷ How to get there: Take a train at Amsterdam Centraal Station. They depart every fifteen minutes, and the ride is around twenty minutes long.
⤷ Read more: Haarlem Travel Guide
Another symbol the Netherlands is world-famous for are tulips. And there is no better place to see all the different kinds of them than in one of the most impressive Dutch gardens – Keukenhof. Over the years of growing tulips, Dutch people learned how to get the most unusual varieties of these flowers.
Keukenhof is a garden open only during the two months in spring. In 2022, Keukenhof will open its doors from March 24th to May 15th. All the florists from the country are working hard all year round to create the most beautiful flower settings that will be displayed at Keukenhof. If you’re visiting the Netherlands in spring, be sure to plan a day trip from Amsterdam to this fantastic place.
⤷ How to get there: You can go there by taking public transport from Amsterdam. However, you can also visit it on a Keukenhof bus tour from Amsterdam.
⤷ TIP: If you don’t visit it during the organised tour, be sure to buy your entrance tickets in advance. Keukenhof garden is very popular, and the queues could be really long.
Rotterdam is one of my favourite Dutch cities and one of the best day trips from Amsterdam. It has a fantastic combination of modern architecture, an urban vibe and a great foodie scene.
The city was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War, and that’s why it’s home to some fantastic modern architecture. One of the most famous sites is definitely the Cube Houses in Rotterdam. If you’re more interested in its naval history, then visiting the Maritime Museum or the SS Rotterdam (which is a hotel today) should be a must.
Another place that shouldn’t be missed in Rotterdam is its Market Hall, where you’ll find some of the best Dutch food together with some international specialities.
⤷ Read more: A weekend guide to Rotterdam
⤷ How to get there: The train to Rotterdam departs from Amsterdam approximately every thirty minutes. It will take you around one hour to get from Amsterdam to Rotterdam.
5/ Singer Laren Museum
This is one of my recent discoveries, and it’s still quite a hidden gem of a day trip from Amsterdam.
Singer Laren Museum is located in a former home of painter William Singer and his wife Anna, who was an art collector. The museum has a modern and contemporary art collection with some great temporary exhibitions. It has a perfect mix of fine art, lovely nature, and great food. So, this trip isn’t a museum visit only. It will feel almost as you’re visiting someone’s house located in beautiful nature.
Taking a bicycle ride through Goois Natuurreservaat, having lunch at the former dining room of the Singer family, following that with a walk around the garden and exploring the museum collection, is a beautiful thing to do during a day trip from Amsterdam. Singer Laren is a boutique museum that provides you with just the right amount of art. And allows you to sit at its cosy restaurant next to the large fireplace and contemplate about artworks you just saw afterwards.
⤷ TIP: Just across the street from the museum is a house where another famous Dutch painter, Anton Mauve, lived. He was a member of the Hague School (later the Laren School). However, you may know him as Vincent van Gogh’s uncle and teacher.
⤷ Read more: What to see in Amsterdam Area
⤷ How to get there: Take a train from Amsterdam Centraal Station to Hilversum, and then a bus from there. It will take you around 45 minutes to get there.
6/ Den Haag
Den Haag is another great Dutch town to visit on a day trip from Amsterdam. I’m always impressed by its small Dutch town vibe, combined with a great international feel.
Den Haag is where the seat of the Dutch government is and where the Dutch royal family lives. It’s also where numerous headquarters of international institutions are located, so you hear English more than Dutch on the street.
Some places that shouldn’t be missed in Den Haag are the Binnenhof complex, the Peace Palace and the town’s historical centre. Kunstmuseum Den Haag is where you can see some fantastic Dutch and international modern art. While the Mauritshuis is where some lovely Dutch Golden Age paintings are, among which Vermeer‘s Girl with a Pearl Earring is the most famous one.
If tulips and windmills are some of the first things coming to anyone’s mind when thinking about the Netherlands, then sandy beaches may not be among the immediate associations. However, the Netherlands is home to beautiful beaches covered with white sand. They are perfect for long walks alongside the North Sea. And some of the most amazing ones are located in the Dutch town of Zandvoort.
They are popular summer spots among the locals. You’ll find numerous restaurants selling delicious seafood and cafes with excellent coffee and wine in them. If you’d like to go on a day trip from Amsterdam as a true local, this could be the right choice.
⤷ How to get there: There is a direct train from Amsterdam to Zandvoort, and you’ll need around thirty minutes to get there.
⤷ Read more: Biking through the Dutch dunes
This name probably sounds familiar if you are a cheese lover. But, the thing is that specific cheese got the name after the town in which it’s produced – Gouda. Each Thursday (April – September), the cheese market is organised in front of the Waag building, which used to serve as the weighting house.
Besides being famous for its cheese production, Gouda is a beautiful historic town with charming architecture and a lot to see and do. The most stunning building in Gouda is its 15th-century City Hall. This lovely Dutch town is home to many more old houses and churches, giving it a charm of a traditional Dutch town.
⤷ How to get there: You’ll need around fifty minutes to get from Amsterdam to Gouda by direct train.
9/ Kröller-Müller Museum
Another museum on our list of the best day trips from Amsterdam is Kröller-Müller Museum. Located in a picturesque Hoge Veluwe National Park in Otterlo and being home to the second-largest collection of Van Gogh’s work in the world, it’s a museum that shouldn’t be missed.
Kröller-Müller is a modern and contemporary art museum with more than 20,000 art pieces in its collection. It’s a great place to see the development of modern art, from the first Impressionist painters to some significant contemporary artists. Some of the most famous paintings in its collection are works of Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, George Seurat, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian etc.
Besides a beautiful collection (of mostly paintings) inside the museum, it has a fantastic sculpture garden located right in the beautiful nature of the Hoge Veluwe National Park. That connection between art and nature makes this museum so unique.
⤷ How to get there: Check out the link below for detailed instructions
⤷ Read more: Visiting Kröller-Müller Museum (how to get there & some other useful tips)
Utrecht is the fourth largest and one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands. With a fascinating history, numerous beautiful old buildings, outstanding museums and a huge student population, it makes one of the best day trips from Amsterdam.
It’s been the religious centre of the country for centuries. That’s why you’ll find some of the most beautiful sacral buildings in the whole country in Utrecht. Besides all the historical buildings, it’s also home to one of the most famous modern houses in Europe – the Rietveld Schröder House. It’s one of the best examples of de Stijl architecture.
The city was home to Dick Bruna, the author of Miffy (or Nijntje in Dutch). A museum in Utrecht is dedicated to it and a lovely place to visit with kids.
⤷ TIP: During my last visit to Utrecht, I climbed the Dom tower and enjoyed a fantastic view from there. I’m definitely recommending doing the same during your visit to Utrecht.
⤷ How to get there: A train to Utrecht departs from Amsterdam every ten minutes. You’ll need a bit less than half an hour to get there.
Some tips for going on a day trip from Amsterdam
⤷ 9292 App – In each article about travelling around the Netherlands, I recommend using the 9292 app. You can put your location and a destination you’d like to visit in it, and the app will find the best public transport option for you.
⤷ Ns.nl website – If you decide to travel by train, be sure to check the ns.nl website for the timetable and ticket prices. It’s handy for planning your trips and finding the best train connections.
⤷ Consider taking an organised tour – If you don’t feel like organising all the details of your day trip from Amsterdam yourself, you don’t have to worry about it. There are some great tours from Amsterdam you can take and visit some lovely towns in the Netherlands. They are especially useful for places that are more complicated to be reached by the public transport, such as the Kröller-Müller Museum. I mentioned some nice tours I recommend in the text above, but you can also check some options of tours around the Netherlands on a link here.
There are many great places to visit on a day trip from Amsterdam. You won’t make a mistake by choosing any of these 10 best trips from Amsterdam. Have you visited any of these places? Would you like to add any other trip ideas? Let us know in the comments!
*Cover photo by Thomas Bormans on Unsplash