Amsterdam is definitely our favourite place in the world – but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t more to see and do in the Netherlands. Here, we take you through some of the best day trips from Amsterdam.
1) Zaans Schans & Giethoorn
If you’re looking to get out of the city and enjoy the tranquil, beautiful and historic Dutch countryside, the best way is to join a Dutch countryside tour. We Are Amsterdam’s tour takes you to see the windmills at Zaans Schans before going on to Giethoorn (click here to book). Giethoorn is a beautiful village surrounded by idyllic countryside, where countless thatched cottages from the 18th and 19th centuries were built on little peat islands connected by wooden bridges. There are no cars in the village and (aside from bicycles) the sole means of transport is by boat! Visiting Zaans Schans and Giethoorn on a Dutch countryside tour is the easiest and best way to see the best of the country’s most beautiful rural areas.
Haarlem is a beautiful medieval town, just a short distance from Amsterdam by train. Its historic centre is often described as a peaceful, non-touristy version of Amsterdam but the city does have some of its own unique charms. Like Amsterdam, Haarlem got a small canal route going through the city where you can sail on. The Grote Markt is a beautiful square under the shadow of the imposing Groote Kerk and is often described as being one the best markets in the Netherlands. The Grote Kerk is an extremely impressive building dating from the 1500s – housed inside this church is the original organ played by some of the great composers themselves, including Mozart and Handel! Haarlem makes a great day trip from Amsterdam for those looking to experience a bit more of the ‘real’ Holland.
On a sunny day, it can feel like the whole of Amsterdam is heading to the beach at Zandvoort. This beach is only a short journey from Amsterdam and is well worth the trip if you’re feeling like a bit of sea, sand and sun during the hot summer months. There are a number of fantastic beach bars which go straight onto the sand (Mango Beach Bar is arguably the best!) and although the water isn’t particularly tropical, you’ll see plenty of locals and visitors taking a dip in the bracing North Sea!
4) Cheese Markets
If there’s one thing the Dutch do well, it’s cheese -so it comes as no surprise that the country’s famous cheese markets, where you can see cheese farmers and buyers negotiating prices (this involves slapping one another’s hands and shouting prices – a slightly unusual technique honed to perfection over centuries!)
The best, and most famous cheese markets, are situated in towns like Alkmaar, Edam, Gouda and Hoorn. All of these can be reached easily by train and visiting these towns make an ideal day trip from Amsterdam. Although in some of these markets, the transactions are merely a re-enactment (like Gouda), they still provide an insight into an important part of Dutch history and culture, and a great place to pick up or try some delicious cheese.
5) Den Haag (The Hague)
The Hague is the third largest city in the Netherlands and is located on the western coast of the country. As well as being home to the parliament, the supreme court and a number of international institutions (the international court of justice (ICJ) and the international criminal court (ICC) as well as the fourth largest base for the United Nations), the Hague houses both the Noordeinde Palace (where the King works) and the Huis ten Bosch (his usual residence).
The city is also home to a number of really good museums – one of the best is Escher in the Palace, where works by the popular Dutch artist are displayed. If the sun is out and you fancy heading to the beach, Scheveningen is only a short distance from the centre of town.
Want to see more of the real Holland on a day trip from Amsterdam? Book our Dutch countryside tour here to check out Zaans Schans, Giethoorn and much more!
Would you like to read some more detailed information about incredible places around Amsterdam? Check out the best day trips from Amsterdam blog our friends from fromthetravellingtom wrote.