Amsterdam may not be as big a city as other European countries, but its network of winding canals that offers different perspectives of the city’s most picturesque sights is something you simply won’t get enough of.
Being one of the most visited cities in Europe, it takes days to fully explore Amsterdam. The rest of the Netherlands, however, has so much to offer and many of them could even rival the quaint charm of the capital.
From old castles, scenic countrysides, medieval towns and even cities from across the border, a lot of these places are accessible within hours and can be explored in one day.
If you’re in the Dutch capital and want to escape the hustle for a day here’s thirteen of the most exciting day trips from Amsterdam, Netherlands.
13 Day Trips From Amsterdam
Hailed by locals and tourists alike as the “Venice of the Netherlands,” Giethoorn is regarded as one of the best day tours from the Netherlands. Only two hours from the Dutch capital by bus, train or private car, a day at this magical little town is something you won’t easily forget.
Giethoorn has canals instead of streets and boats instead of cars so prepare to explore with a group or you can also get your own boat. Wander through town while Manning your boat through the canals and see a stunning perspective of this pretty little town.
Marvel at old churches and museums, at the beautiful thatched roof homes and their gardens. When you’ve had enough of seeing the town from the canals, you can always explore by walking.
Giethoorn has a variety of restaurants, from authentic Dutch dishes to Italian pizza, interesting shops, and rustic buildings. The place is so typically Dutch that a day in Giethoorn may make you tired from walking or manning a boat, but the town’s laidback vibe also relaxes you as you take in its scenery.
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Located in the province of Noord Holland, the city of Alkmaar is famous for its centuries-old traditional cheese market. Only 30 minutes by train from Amsterdam Central, Alkmaar is best visited during spring and summer, from April until September.
Every Friday morning during these months, around 30,000 kilos or 2200 whole pieces of cheese, are lined up and waiting for customers. You can also find out how cheese is traded according to a centuries-old tradition.
Aside from the cheese market, Alkmaar is a picturesque, quaint city that is worth exploring on foot or with a bicycle. You can wander into pretty courtyards, spend an afternoon in cute cafes, check out the nicest local boutiques, and step inside interesting museums.
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The closest foreign city to Amsterdam and easily reachable by train, Antwerp should be on top of your list when you want to take a day trip from Amsterdam, especially if you want to venture out of the Netherlands.
This city is an interesting mix of old and new, with popular historic attractions such as Cathedral Of Our Lady and the Plantin-Moretus Museum for history and literature nerds.
However, the stunning sights at Antwerp start right at the central train station, a grand building considered to be one of the most beautiful train stations. Also check out the Diamond District, as Antwerp is one of the largest diamond districts in the world.
As mentioned earlier, a haven for literature and history geek is the Plantin-Moretus Museum, which has a stunning courtyard and also a UNESCO world heritage site for its role in creating early literature using print presses.
Make sure to visit the Vlaaikensgang, a medieval alleyway dating back to 1591. This secret street is accessed via a door (Oude Koornmarkt 16) is a quiet hidden place that many tourists don’t know about.
Check out the Grote Markt, with its buildings such as the 16th century extremely extravagant guild house. There’s also the Het Steen, a medieval castle that was intended to protect the city from invasions.
For a stunning view over Antwerp and after looking at exhibitions, climb to the top of MAS, one of Antwerp’s main museums.
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Kinderdijk may not be as close to Amsterdam as Zaanse Schans, but it’s still one of the best day trips from Amsterdam. The stunning Kinderdijk network of 19 windmills has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site sincr1997 and is the best place to see a row of windmills in the Netherlands.
It can be reached from Amsterdam by taking the train then transferring to a bus that will bring you to Kinderdijk.
The Kinderdijk area is a scenic place to explore by bike or you can walk on the paved paths.
You may also get on a hop-on-hop-off boat through the canals for another perspective of Kinderdijk or take a cruise tour to see all of the windmills from the water.
Kinderdijk also has dikes, pumping mills and two of the windmills are museums so you can learn how millers once used the windmills to remove water from the marshlands and release water back into the earth for irrigation purposes.
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A good way to take a break and escape the hustle and bustle of touristy Amsterdam is to explore the Dutch countryside, even for a day. Less than an hour from the Netherlands capital, Zaanse Schans is a pretty little village that is quintessentially Dutch.
Likewise, it is one huge museum, with the whole place that’s like a window to old Holland’s industrial past, where you can actually see windmills in action. The picturesque village has wooden cottages, lush green pastures with animals grazing, the river Zaan flowing through, and it’s almost surreal.
Other places you can see in Zaanse Schans are a cheese-making shop, a lumber mill, a wooden clog maker and a restaurant serving Dutch pancakes.
In the Zaans Museum located right next door, you can look at exhibits featuring the biscuit and chocolate maker Verkade.
If you still have a few hours to spare, other interesting countryside villages that offer glimpses to Dutch heritage, culture and industry are Edam, known for its cheese production; Marken for the winding streets, colorful townhouses traditional shoemaker that makes clogs and just across the IJsselmeer Lake is
Volendam, a quaint fishing village that hasn’t lost any of its rustic charms and one of the best places to stock up on souvenirs.
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Known for its history, the baroque architecture, and some of the world’s best chocolate, Brussels offers a wide variety of things to do and see, even if you’re only going to be here for a day.
Only a few hours by train Brussels is one of the best day trips from Amsterdam, as it gets you out of the Netherlands completely and allows you to see another country and back in under 24 hours.
Start exploring Brussels at the magnificent gold-tipped Grand Palace. This is one of Europe’s most impressive squares where you can marvel at some of Brussels’ famous baroque architecture.
Visit the 14th Century Gothic cathedral The Notre Dam Du Sablon, and the Palais Royal which remains the official residence of the royal family. Don’t miss the Manneken Pis, the small bronze sculpture of a naked boy peeing into a fountain which has now become a national symbol.
In between visiting every attraction, enjoy some Belgian delights like waffles, pomme frites (chips/French fries), beer and don’t forget the fabulous hand made chocolates which you can bring back to Amsterdam.
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Founded in 50 BC by the Romans, Maastricht is one of the most beautiful and stylish cities in The Netherlands.
Situated close to both Belgium and German borders, it is also the capital of the south-eastern province of Limburg and can be reached by train from
Amsterdam Central Station in about two and a half hours.
A good place to start exploring Maastricht is through the old city center, where you can see landmarks like the Vrijthof, the Bonnefanten Museum, Saint Servatius church, and the old city walls.
The Treaty of Maastricht was signed here, making this city a symbol of the European Union. It has since attracted visitors from all over, who enjoy the fantastic food, the lovely terraces, and the luxurious shopping street, the Stokstraat.
While in Maastricht you’ll find out soon enough that most of the buildings and even bridges like the Sint Servaasbrug are built during the 13th century.
You should also see the Helpoort or Hell’s Gate, which was built in 1380 as part of the inner defense wall of the city, the Gothic Sint Janskerk, and De Bisschopsmolen mill, Maastricht’s historical (And Working!) watermill.
Take a break from all the exploring by dining in one of the cafes on Vrijthof, and just a few steps away, find one of Maastricht’s unique attractions: Boekhandel Dominicanen, a 13th Century Churched turned into a bookstore and a cafe.
With all these fascinating attractions, Maastricht certainly makes for one of the best day trips from Amsterdam.
While Amsterdam is known for its old canals and buildings, Rotterdam is popular for its cutting-edge architecture.
Less than an hour by train from Amsterdam, this modern Dutch city is often overlooked but is now slowly becoming one of the best places to visit from Amsterdam.
Rotterdam is the Netherlands ’ second-largest city and in many ways is the exact opposite of the capital. While Amsterdam is quaint yet touristy, Rotterdam is modern and edgy but pretty laid back.
Definitely a place for those into architecture and good food, Rotterdam is the place to be if you want to escape the hustle of Amsterdam even for a day.
Some of the must-visits are the bright yellow cube houses at the Old Port and Erasmus Bridge. There’s also the Euromast, a literal and metaphorical highlight.
Make sure you go straight up to the top of the 185m building in a rotating glass elevator and marvel at Rotterdam’s picturesque cityscape.
In recent years, Rotterdam has also spent a lot in converting old worn-out warehouses into street food venues and bars, making the city a new haven for foodies.
Check out the Markthal (Market Hall, with its stunning mural and an impressive variety of food stalls ranging from Dutch delicacies, as well as food from other countries.
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Situated along the banks of the Rhine and located in Northwestern Germany, Düsseldorf is known for its bustling art scene and world-famous beer. A diverse and modern city in Northern Germany it is reached by a train from Amsterdam and takes only a few hours.
If you want to set out to a different country in a city that’s so different from the Dutch capital but as interesting, Düsseldorf should be on your list when considering a day tour from Amsterdam. It’s not very touristy yet and gives you the feeling of being in one of Europe’s bigger cities.
A good way to start getting to know Düsseldorf is by visiting the Schloss Benrath, an 18th-century pink palace in the Rococo style. Schloss Benrath served as a summer residence for Elector Palatine Charles Theodore and his wife Elizabeth Auguste of Sulzbach.
These days, the palace houses 3 museums that contain exhibits on life in the 18th century.
Nearby, the kilometer-long Konigsalle is Düsseldorf’s most sophisticated shopping street, filled on both sides with boutiques, art galleries, and shops by high-end designers.
Adjacent to Konigsalle is Germany’s oldest public park, the Hofgarten, which has the baroque-style Hofgärtnerhaus and the rococo Schloss Jägerhof. Interesting sculptures are scattered throughout the park, as well as historic monuments and memorials.
In the Altstadt meanwhile, is the Marktplatz, the Schlossturm (Castle Tower). which houses one of Germany’s best marine museums, the SchiffahrtsMuseum; the St. Lambertus, church which is one of the oldest buildings in the city and the Carlsplatz Market.
Winding down after hours of exploring, stroll through the Rheinuferpromenade or the Rhine Embankment Promenade which stretches from the Parliament to the harbor.
If you like art, step inside Museum Kunstpalast to see artwork dating from the 3rd century to the present day. The Museum also offers classical concerts and theatrical performances.
Make sure you visit the tallest building in Düsseldorf, the Rhine Tower or Rhienturm the Medienhafen, or Media Harbor, which is a district is filled with modern, high rise buildings and unique architecture.
Before leaving Düsseldorf, relax at a cafe and enjoy not just a hot drink but delicious Viennese-style cakes as well.
The trip may be slightly longer than your average day trip from Amsterdam, but Bruges is so spectacular, it is well worth the effort. This picturesque, medieval town can be reached within three hours from Amsterdam.
Bruges is often cited as one of the most romantic destinations in Europe, with its flower-lined canals, colorful Flemish architecture, quaint side streets, and delicious gourmet food.
A UNESCO world heritage site, Bruges has a charming historical center, lined with impressive architecture from as early as the 12th century. Another must-visit is the Groeningemuseum, which features the works of Flemish painters such as van Eyck and Bosch.
While in Bruges, make sure you try local dishes such as Moules-Frites (mussels and chips) for lunch, accompanied by locally brewed Belgian beers, and, of course, chocolate.
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11.Nuenen / Van Gogh Village
One of the emerging destinations that is easily accessible from Amsterdam is Nuenen or Van Gogh Village. Located in the south, it is reached by train to Eindhoven and then a bus to Nuenen, making it an ideal day trip from Amsterdam.
Neuman got its ‘Van Gogh Village’ nickname because this is where he painted over a quarter of all his famous works.
Nuenen is a rather small village, where Van Gogh also lived with his parents between 1883 and 1885.
While he was in Nuenen Van Gogh had all the time to explore and take in the rural scenery. He paid locals to pose for him, which they willingly did, and after 2 years, Van Gogh produced 195 paintings, 313 drawings, 25 watercolours, and 19 sketches.
All done in Neunen, these make up a quarter of his works in total. One of these pieces is the famous The Potato Eaters.
Exploring the ‘Van Gogh Village’ is like a mini introduction and history lesson of everything Van Gogh. The Vincente introduces you to Van Goghs family, the famous paintings he made when he lived in Nuenen and village life during that time.
Around Nuenen town center, you can see 23 spots that were significant to the artist, 14 of which he painted or sketched.
Some of the buildings that he painted are still there. There are also 17 information columns, and at the press of a button gives details (in English or Dutch) why this particular spot was so important to Van Gogh.
A visit to Neunen, whether you’re into arts or not is pretty laid back and relaxing aside from it gives you insight not just about the life of an artist but history as well.
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You simply cannot go wrong with Paris, and it certainly makes for a satisfying day trip from Amsterdam. Only a few hours by train from the Dutch capital, make sure you set out early, wear comfortable shoes and prepare for a lot of walking.
Paris is definitely more than the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, a walk along the Seine or the Place de la Concorde and Jardin des Tuileries.
While in the French capital, make sure you stroll through the Jardin des Plantes, the main botanical garden in France that dates back to 1626. There’s also the iconic and charming Latin Quarter, home to the Sorbonne University, one of the oldest colleges in Europe.
The place got its name from the theology students who spoke in Latin until the French Revolution.
A day in Paris won’t be complete without seeing the grandiose Pantheon, originally a church until the French Revolution and now contains the tombs of famous French figures such as Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, and Alexandre Dumas.
Take a break from walking at the Luxembourg Gardens, which dates back to 1612 and is one of the most popular parks in Paris. Once you’ve recharged, continue through Sant Germain, the quintessential Parisian neighborhood with its elegant buildings, charming streets, and picturesque squares.
Stay until sunset or early evening to witness why Paris is the city of lights, and before you leave, make sure to get a few boxes of macaroons at Pierre Hermé, Parisian chocolates at La Maison du Chocolat and decadent hot chocolate at Angelina in Rue de Rivoli.
A territory best explored via boat (or ship!) to navigate its islands, or a train or bike for scenic views of the countryside, a visit to North Holland, particularly the West Friesland part is one of the more exciting Amsterdam day trips you’d experience.
The Dutch capital is located right in the Northern part of the country so exploring its more remote parts is pretty easy.
In an hour or so you could be on a West Friesland tour that takes you to places like Marken, which is known for its wooden houses; Texel which is best explored by cycling, walking and horse riding, also the largest of the islands and Zuid-Kennemerland National Park which has forests, beaches, and dunes where you can hike or bike around.
Along with those already mentioned, historic towns from the Dutch Golden Age are also found in this area such as Enkhuizen,
Hoorn Medemblik and the affluent Gooi en Vechtstreek. There are also forests and heathlands, as well as interesting villages to explore. The central town of the region is Hilversum, which is home to some impressive modern architecture.
There’s also Naarden, which has one of the best-preserved fortified towns in the world, and Muiden with its 13th-century castle and other medieval structures.
As with the rest of the Netherlands, North Holland is also known for its cheese.
North-Holland Cheese is a special kind of cheese protected by the European Union, and can only bear this label if it is actually produced in North Holland using traditional methods and ingredients sourced from the region. These cheeses are available in any supermarket in North Holland.
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