Latest update: 3 August 2022
Once you’ve ticked off all the highlights of Amsterdam, it’s time to explore the surroundings. So here are a few ideas for the best day trips from Amsterdam.
Day trip #1: Visit another Dutch city
Public transportation in the Netherlands is pretty good. So you can easily jump on a train and head to another Dutch city. From Amsterdam, the train to Haarlem takes about 20 minutes. It’s about 45 minutes to get to Utrecht or close to an hour to Rotterdam, Delft, or Den Haag. You can speed things up by using international trains.
Day trip #2: Explore Monnickendam
Explore Monnickendam and its surroundings by foot and boat. This picturesque and idyllic little town is only a twenty-minute drive by car or a little over half an hour by public transport. And it’s gorgeous. Wander the streets to see the historic houses, have a locally brewed beer, and head to the tea garden to rent a whisper boat to venture into the wetlands.
Read more about a day trip to Monnickendam.
Day trip #3: Go to an island – Texel
Texel is the biggest Waddeneiland we have in the Netherlands. It’s only 9 kilometers wide and 25 kilometers long, so its size makes it a perfect day trip from Amsterdam. I recommend you rent a car, as it’ll take you about an hour to get to the harbor in Den Helder. With public transport, count on over two hours. Park your car for free at the port, hop on the boat, enjoy the 30-minute sail, and rent a bicycle to explore the island.
Here are a few things you can do on Texel when it rains.
Tip! Transportation. Always a hassle. If you’re looking to rent a car, try Sunny Cars or EasyTerra. You can buy train tickets at the train station, but for international trains that run between Dutch cities, it’s easier to book in advance. And as for public transport in Amsterdam, buy a GVB ticket.
Day trip #4: The Venice of the Netherlands (a.k.a. Giethoorn)
Giethoorn is a super famous town because of its cute waterways and pretty bridges. Be sure to charge your camera. Roam the streets and walking paths next to the water and definitely go on the water too! There are plenty of options: boat tours, boat rental, pedal boats, Stand Up Paddling… You’ll have a fun-filled day in one of the main highlights of the Netherlands. Public transport will take about 2,5 hours, or it’s 1,5 hours by car. You might want to check out an organized trip too.
Find out what you can do in Giethoorn.
Day trip #5: Go to the beach
If the weather allows, definitely head out to Zandvoort. Either for a beach bumming day, maybe a surf, or a long beach walk in the wintertime. Zandvoort has a long, wide beach with A LOT of beach clubs. It’s also the home of Circuit Zandvoort, where the F1 races take place (go Max!). On weekend days in the summer, definitely don’t try to get to Zandvoort by car. Finding a parking spot is horrible. So opt for public transport. It’s only a 25-minute train ride to the beach of Zandvoort.
Day trip #6: Check out Volendam and Marken
You won’t regret spending a day in Volendam and Marken. The unique fishing villages are famous for a reason. Get your picture in a traditional costume, eat fish, and much more. I recommend you rent a fat bike while you’re there. It’ll give you the freedom to quickly get a feel of the surrounding area and make your way to Marken.
Getting to Volendam only takes you about half an hour by bus from Amsterdam Central Station. So you get to have a full day of exploring!
Get all the tips for fun things to do in Volendam and Marken.
Day trip #7: See the flowers at Keukenhof
If you’re in Amsterdam between mid-March and mid-May, you owe it to yourself to find out what this year’s opening days of the Keukenhof are. It’s only open a few weeks a year, so if you have the chance, go check it out. It’s a beautiful open-air exhibition of millions of flowers. There is a special Keukenhof Express bus leaving from Schiphol regularly during the opening season. It takes about half an hour to get there. You can, of course, also opt for an organized tour or go by car. But, remember that it’ll be busy and you may get stuck in traffic.
Day trip #8: Visit the former island Urk
Urk is a former island: in the 1930s, a dike connected Urk to the mainland. However, the people from Urk hold on to their island status. As a result, it’s a pretty unique place to explore. It has lovely alleys and good stories, and it borders the IJsselmeer. So the fishing scene is lively, and the harbor has some nice spots for a bite and a drink.
I think it’s best to drive up to Urk, about a 1,5-hour drive from Amsterdam. Public transport will take you at least two hours. So if you decide to do that, make sure you leave on time to have a full day of Urk.
Day trip #9: Go to the Amsterdam castle – Muiderslot
Funnily, the Muiderslot Castle is often referred to as the Amsterdam Castle. It’s not in Amsterdam; however, you’ll find it in Muiden. And probably no Dutch person will recognize the name, Amsterdam Castle. It, of course, owes the ‘international’ name to the proximity to Amsterdam, but it still takes you about an hour by public transport or half an hour by car to get to Muiderslot. It’s a perfect day trip though, as you can combine it with the historic center and a visit to Pampus.
Tip! So what do the locals do around Amsterdam to soak up some nature? Well, we obviously have our city parks like Vondelpark and Westerpark. But I like to go to venture out a little further to Amsterdamse Bos, ‘t Twiske, or Spaarnwoude.
Day trip #10: Hiking at the Stelling van Amsterdam
The Stelling van Amsterdam (the Amsterdam defense line) is a defense line full of fortresses, nature, cycling and walking routes, and hikes. It’s a beautiful area to find some relaxation and escape the busy city. You’ll find pleasant walking trails of about 5 to 20 kilometers long – although multi-day hikes are also an option. Find a route overview on the website.
These are the nature hikes near Amsterdam I tried.
Day trip #11: Photograph the mills of the Zaanse Schans
As a native Dutch person, you’d think that I would have at least one proper Zaanse Schans picture. But no, it was rainy and grey every time I went – typical Dutch weather, I’d say. The advantage of making a day trip to the Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam on a rainy day is that it’s less overcrowded. Quiet even. Seeing the mills working and exploring the area full of wooden houses is fun. It’s best to take the bus from Amsterdam Central Station. That’ll only take you about half an hour.
More travel inspiration for the Netherlands
Useful links for travel in the Netherlands
- Travel guides. I love the practical travel guides from Lonely Planet, buy them at Bol.com or Book Depository. The latter has longer delivery times but is often cheaper. I always like it to see my own country through the eyes of foreign visitors.
- Accommodation. Forever favorites: Booking.com, Natuurhuisje, Campspace , and Airbnb. Or try a holiday resort viaBelVilla or Roompot. Rather stay in a hostel? Try HostelWorld. Something different: BoerenBed.
- Activities. You book the best tours and activities with GetYourGuide and Viator. For tours with locals, go to WithLocals or Hi,hi Guide. And for bike tours, try Baja Bikes.
- Car rental. My go-to car rental companies are EasyTerra and Sunny Cars as they have all-inclusive / worry-free offers.
- Public transport. Use the regular public transport options, or find a bus, train, or something else on Busbud or Omio.
- Travel gear. Buy your gear at Bever or Decathlon, or simply at Bol.com.
- Package deals. Rather go on a catered trip? You have plenty of options. For the Dutch: ANWB vakanties orTui, or maybe Vakantie Discounter? Or try a yoga retreat in the Netherlands.
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