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I’ve been living in Holland for over four years now. One of the best parts of the Netherlands is how easy it is to take day trips within the Netherlands! I include insider tips from my time living in Amsterdam for the best day trips from Amsterdam to other gorgeous Dutch cities, including Gouda, Leiden, and Giethoorn. I include easy day trips from Amsterdam as well as off the beaten path day trips from Amsterdam.
An index of the 20 best day trips from Amsterdam covered in this post
- Lisse for the Dutch tulip fields
- Broek in Waterland to experience “small-town Holland”
- Zaanse Schans
- Beverwijk Flea Market
- Muiderslot Castle
- The Hague and Scheveningen
- Kasteel De Haar
- Nederlandse Kremlin
- Day trips to skip in the Netherlands: Volendam
- Information about taking the train in the Netherlands
A bit of an explanation about the Netherlands and taking day trips from Amsterdam
The Netherlands is a small country compared to many other countries, so you can cross the Netherland in about 3.5 hours at its widest part. As a result, what one person may consider an easy day trip from Amsterdam might seem quite long to another person. I’ve tried to cap all the one-day trips outside of Amsterdam at two hours with public transit.
I’ve tried to group these day trips into easy to find categories, so you can determine what’s best given your time. Time estimates come from Amsterdam Centraal and do not include the time to get a ticket!
Taking day trips by train in the Netherlands
It’s very easy to take day trips from Amsterdam as the Holland region has a well-integrated bus network and the Netherlands, in general, has a robust train network that works most of the time. Be warned that on weekends and late nights, you’re more likely to encounter train delays/cancellations due to construction on different train tracks.
The Dutch train system is commonly referred to as NS and you can go to their website or download their app to buy tickets/check ticket prices. It is also possible to buy a ticket on the day of. Dutch trains within the country do not typically have assigned seating (unless it’s an international train), so you don’t need to worry about the train selling out. You might be standing for a bit and if you don’t want to stand, you can splurge for a first-class ticket where seats are available.
It’s good to build in a bit of extra time in case the trains aren’t running well. Most of these trains run at least once an hour towards most major cities, if not once every fifteen minutes. Bus schedules should be checked as they are heavily impacted by the day of the week. Be sure to make sure that you can make your connection and note the last bus/train out of more remote locations. Renting a bike can help your mobility a lot!
Taking day trips from Amsterdam by car
With a car, most of these places are even closer although you’ll need to find parking, which is typically not free. You’ll find cheaper parking on the outskirts of the city centers. Most major Dutch cities are good about having paid public parking, but it might be a bit of a walk from the city center.
I haven’t included Kinderdijk here as it’s a tough day trip from Amsterdam although possible if you’re very committed to visiting these beautiful windmills. It’s far easier to visit from Rotterdam and you can read my guide on how to visit Kinderdijk independently here. I’d recommend visiting Zaanse Schans instead.
Day trips from Amsterdam less than 30 minutes away
Haarlem for a quintessentially Dutch town
Haarlem is a typically Dutch town only fifteen minutes from Amsterdam by train. If you’re tired of the crowds and you don’t have that much time in the Netherlands, I recommend visiting Haarlem.
This adorable Dutch town has a stunning medieval church, a church turned brewery, cute canals with affordable boats that you can rent, an interesting science museum that explores what science has meant historically, a gorgeous square with a nice market, and a lot of architecture.
How to get from Amsterdam to Haarlem: Catch a train towards a number of destinations (Den Haag, Zandvoort, Beverwijk), just check that it stops at Haarlem. The train ride should be about fifteen minutes. From the train station, it’s a ten-minute walk to the center.
Lisse for the tulip fields in the Netherlands!
Almost everyone that I’ve met who was planning their first trip to the Netherlands in spring asked me about taking a day trip to visiting the tulip fields outside of Amsterdam. It’s very easy to take a day trip from Amsterdam to Lisse, the town of Keukenhof.
Keukenhof is more of a garden and although you’ll see tulips, the actual tulip fields are outside of Keukenhof in the surrounding towns. It’s very easy to combine a half-day visiting the tulip fields with visiting Haarlem.
How to get to Keukenhof/Lisse from Amsterdam: Take a train to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Take the bus towards Keukenhof. From Keukenhof, follow my free self-guided tulip field tour towards Hillegom and take the train back from Hillegom.
It’s also possible to take a bus from Haarlem to Keukenhof if you want to combine a half-day in Haarlem with visiting the tulip fields in the morning without a tour. The train ride/bus should take about thirty minutes in total.
Broek in Waterland to experience “small-town Holland”
If you’re interested in taking a day trip to the Dutch countryside without going too far, you can take a bus from Amsterdam Centraal to the picturesque town of Broek in Waterland, just outside of Amsterdam.
If you want a taste of the cute farm animals, polders, and small towns that dot most of the Netherlands, Broek in Waterland is a great day trip from Amsterdam.
How to get from Amsterdam to Broek in Waterland: Take the 312, 314, or 316 bus from Amsterdam Centraal until you get to Broek in Waterland in about fifteen minutes. If you’re into cycling and the weather is good, it’s also possible to cycle out to the countryside within thirty minutes!
Who can resist the pull of cute windmills and clogs? Zaanse Schans is an iconic sight for tourists around the world although you need to be prepared for the crowds, especially in peak season. Be sure to stop into the clog workshop for hand-carved clogs, which make a great souvenir from the Netherlands.
The actual town is pretty adorable, so don’t miss the first Albert Heijn supermarket. On the way back, consider stopping off in Zaandam to see the iconic modern take on Dutch houses at its iconic hotel.
You really only need a half of a day from Amsterdam to visit Zaanse Schans. It’s best to avoid the afternoon as the tourist buses are particularly active then. I recommend coming early or staying until sunset for the best views without the crowds. I’ll be updating this post soon with a complete guide to Zaanse Schans including some cool places to eat in Zaandam, which is full of upcoming restaurants now.
How to get to Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam: If you’re taking the day trip from Amsterdam and prefer to walk less, take the 391 bus towards Zaanse Schans. Although it’s possible to take the train, you’ll have a 1.5km walk from the platform towards the village of Zaanse Schans. The weather can quickly change and the bus is a better bet…
Day trips from Amsterdam about thirty minutes away to one hour away
I consider Utrecht to be one of the most perfect day trips from Amsterdam. This stunning city, only thirty minutes from Amsterdam by train, has two-story canals, medieval history, kid-friendly museums, and a stunning atmosphere.
Surprisingly, most tourists don’t leave Amsterdam, so if you’re trying to experience the history and culture in the Netherlands, I recommend Utrecht. This lively city has innovative restaurants, great beer, and the tallest church tower in the Netherlands. If you’re not sold, you will be when you arrive.
How to get from Amsterdam to Utrecht: Take the train towards Utrecht Centraal, which takes about thirty minutes.
Leiden is another cozy university town that is easy to visit from Amsterdam. Although it’s sleepier than Utrecht, those interested in enjoying the historic grounds of the university, the pretty historic city center, and one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world might be curious to stop off in Leiden. Be sure to catch market day if you can as Leiden becomes alive during this time with many vendors!
As the pace is slower here and there are a bit fewer things to do here, I’d recommend combining Leiden with one of the nearby cities if you’re interested in experience both sides. If you’re a fan of history, I recommend retracing the steps of the Pilgrims in Leiden, who lived here before leaving for America.
Leiden is on the way to other Dutch cities, so if you’re interested in heading to Rotterdam or The Hague, you might be able to stop off in Leiden for a short wander while taking a day trip from Amsterdam. Click for my one day guide to Leiden.
How to get from Amsterdam to Leiden: A number of trains heading towards Zuid Holland stop in Leiden and it should take about 25-35 minutes on the train depending on your starting point in Amsterdam.
Hoorn is often left off the list of day trips from Amsterdam, which surprises me as this town is the real deal. Many tourists flock to Volendam for a reason that I don’t comprehend, however, Hoorn is where Dutch tourists go to experience the charm and beauty of this harborside city that played a significant role in Dutch trading historically.
The city center dates back to the 16th century and the architecture is considered one of the most beautiful in the Netherlands. Prices here are very reasonable as they don’t get many foreign tourists and I think that
Hoorn is a great day trip that allows you to experience an authentic town that is not yet overrun by tourists. Once you visit Hoorn, you’ll wish that you were staying the night. Click for your complete guide to Hoorn!
How to get from Amsterdam to Hoorn: Take the train towards Enkhuizen and get off at Hoorn. It’s possible to combine Hoorn with the Nederlandse Kremlin (info below) if you’re looking for something different than the typical day trips from Amsterdam.
Alkmaar is the “cheese” capital of Holland and if you’re a cheese lover, there’s nothing cheesier than the cheese market in Alkmaar. It is a tourist attractio
(For a less touristy cheese-focused day trip from Amsterdam, head to the Dutch cheese markets in other Dutch cities, including Woerden, Gouda, Hoorn
Beyond cheese, Alkmaar is a historic city with well-preserved architecture with stunning canals, so if you’re interested in enjoying a walk in a gorgeous Dutch setting, Alkmaar might be a good option for a day trip from Amsterdam. It’s an easy train journey here and the town is seriously adorable.
How to get from Amsterdam to Alkmaar: Take the train from Amsterdam Centraal to Alkmaar Centraal, which should take about thirty minutes. The city is a short walk from the train station.
If you’re lucky enough to be in the Netherlands during one of its good days in summer, you can head to the beach. Most people don’t associate the beach with the Netherlands as it’s typically too cold to take a dip in the North Sea.
There’s a nice boardwalk and if you’re looking for a quiet day trip from Amsterdam, consider stopping off in Haarlem for the afternoon after a relaxing morning walk along the beach. (Haarlem is only ten minutes from Zandvoort.) You can also enjoy the nearby dunes and forest of Zuid-Kennemerland National Park if you’re looking for a hike. Although we don’t have proper mountains, the dunes are nice for a walk.
How to get from Amsterdam to Zandvoort: Take the train from Amsterdam Centraal towards Zandvoort aan het Zee. The train should take about twenty-five minutes if it’s direct. It’s also possible to take the bus from Haarlem.
This sleepy medieval town is perfect for those interested in enjoying a walk through a historic center away from the crowds. Most of the appeal of Amersfoort is taking it easy in its cozy cafes and strolling along its cozy canals. The city got rich off beer and you can believe that the beer-making tradition continues today at the various craft breweries around the city!
How to get from Amsterdam to Amersfoort: Take the train towards Deventer or Amersfoort Vathorst and get off at Amersfoort Centraal. It takes about 40 minutes from Amsterdam if the trains are running well.
Day trips from Amsterdam one hour away
For people who feel like they’ve seen the typical Dutch architecture and they’re looking for something different, Rotterdam is the perfect day trip from Amsterdam. A lot of people compare Rotterdam to New York, which is easy to see.
This iconic Dutch city was reconstructed after massive damage in World War II in a modern style unlike anywhere else in the Netherlands. Rotterdam is one of my favorite cities to bring friends who don’t have much time in the Netherlands. Don’t miss the gorgeous Blaak Houses, the Markthal, Witte de Withstraat for cool restaurants, or the iconic Erasmus Bridge. Don’t miss Amsterdam’s cooler big brother. 😉
How to get from Amsterdam to Rotterdam: Take the train to Rotterdam Centraal or Rotterdam Blaak. I recommend Getting off at Rotterdam Blaak as it’s a shorter walk to the major sights of the city. It takes about forty minutes on the train.
Be careful about getting on the Intercity Direct from Amsterdam Centraal to Rotterdam as there’s an extra fee compared to the slower train. You can be fined for not having a supplemental ticket, even if you didn’t know better. (Guilty). It is faster on the Intercity Direct, so it’s worth it if you have limited time!
This stunning castle is one of my favorite day trips from Amsterdam. Muiderslot castle dates back to medieval times and it’s one of those castles that you imagine when you think of a children’s book. Complete with a moat and look-out towers, you’ll find enough to do while visiting Muiderslot Castle for one day. It’s free with the iAmsterdam card as a bonus! The town of Muiden is absolutely adorable too, so it’s definitely worth the forty-minute journey from Amsterdam by train then bus.
The Hague and Scheveningen
The Hague is my new home and I love this adorable former capital of the Netherlands, which is an easy day trip from Amsterdam for those interested in culture. The Hague is often considered boring if you ask Dutchies, but the historical city center, complete with the working palace of the Dutch King, stunning Binnenhof, Peace Palace (the home of the International Criminal Court of Justice), Mauritshuis museum (The Girl with the Pearl earring is here!) and the beach resort of Scheveningen are the big attractions in the Hague.
I don’t feel that enough people appreciate the amazing mix of cultures here as the Hague boasts the largest Chinatown in the Netherlands and a significant international population.
Either way, take a day trip to the Hague via the train heading towards Rotterdam and get off at Den Haag Centraal or Den Haag HS station. (Both train stations are 15 minutes from the city center). You can click for detailed directions on how to get to the Hague from Amsterdam by train.
If you’ve ever heard of Delftware, you’ve maybe heard of Delft. This charming city, famous for its pottery, is a beautiful and easy day trip from Amsterdam. My husband works in Delft, so I routinely visit this city. It’s full of stunning canals, cozy cafes, and historic churches.
In summer, it can be a little crowded in the Grote Markt square, but the tourists from the tour buses usually don’t stick around beyond going to the Delftware factory. Compared to Amsterdam, you can take a breath of fresh air here and admire the gorgeous architecture! It’s generally quiet here and many of my friends who visit me tell me that it’s straight out of a storybook. I’m inclined to agree.
To get to Delft from Amsterdam, you will need to hop on the train to Vlissengen from Amsterdam Centraal. It will take about an hour and you’ll get off at Delft. It’s a short walk to the city center of Delft from the station. The train will cost about 28 euros round-trip as of 2020.
This charming city (pronounced G-h-oo-da with a hard Dutch G) is one of the best cheese destinations in the Netherlands. Although most tourists head to Alkmaar for the cheese market, Gouda is a great place to try Gouda cheese at its source.
There’s lots of sleepy Dutch countryside around here, perfect for a bicycle ride, after exploring the small historic city center. Stock up on cheese while you’re here! You’ll also want to try a siroopwafel here!
It takes about an hour to get to Gouda from Amsterdam. You can transfer after looking up the directions on Google or on the NS train app, however you can also get on a slower train that will be direct. Your choice! The journey will cost about 13 euros per way.
Dordrecht is a beautiful city known as the Venice of Holland. This island that has been separated from the rest of the land due to a flood was only accessible by boat for many years. (It’s still possible to take a boat ride around the city!)
It’s full of charming warehouses and cozy cafes. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing day trip if you’re looking for an off the beaten path day trip.
In order to get to Dordrecht from Amsterdam, you’ll need to take a train about 1 to 1.5 hours. It’s possible to go to Rotterdam before transferring to another train or even a ferry if you’re looking for a slower scenic route through the countryside! Otherwise, there is a direct line although it will take longer (1.5 hours). It’s a 20-minute walk to the city center.
Beverwijk Flea Market (Bazaar)
This off the beaten path day trip from Amsterdam takes you to Europe’s largest covered market where you can buy practically anything. There are different sections for antiques, flowers, fruit, computers, restaurants… etc. The cool part is that the Beverwijk market feels like you’ve left the Netherlands as it’s so diverse.
Although you can spend half a day here, market lovers and deal hunters will want to have the full day as the market is massive. My father-in-law took a day trip to the Beverwijk flea market and felt like he only saw 10% of the market while browsing for antiques. There are over 2500 stalls, so bring a big bag with you as you’re likely to carry a lot of souvenirs back to Amsterdam.
How to get from Amsterdam to the Beverwijk Flea Market: Take the Sprinter train towards Alkmaar. The station is Beverwijk. It’s a bit of a long ride (55 minutes), however, you’ll get there eventually although you might need to transfer depending on the day.
Day trips from Amsterdam up to two hours away
Kasteel De Haar
Kasteel De Haar is one of the most magnificent castles in the Netherlands without question. This castle dating back to the 1800s is romantic, grand, and unique. It’s still owned by the original family and for those obsessed with fairytale castles, Kasteel de Haar must be added to your Dutch bucket list!
Although Kasteel de Haar looks close to Amsterdam and Utrecht, it’s more involved to get here than I realized initially. As a result, you really need a full day from Amsterdam to get here and to probably see the grounds. I’ve been several times and I underestimated the size of the castle, which is why I had to come back.
Kasteel De Haar is easiest with a car without question, but it’s possible to get to Kasteel de Haar with public transportation if you’re able to put up with two transfers, including one to a bus. It’s best to go to Utrecht by train before taking another train to Vleuten (the destination to type in!). From there, you will transfer to a bus. The total journey if it goes well, the journey takes approximately an hour, but it can take longer if you miss the bus.
This city in the Netherlands outside of the Noord and Zuid province is the capital of Overijssel, a Dutch province. Zwolle enjoyed its prominence in the Hanseatic League, however with the end of the Zuiderzee, it ceased its influential role in trading.
The city center is cute and charming although I think that it’s worth coming here solely for the Waanders in het Broeren bookstore, a gorgeous bookstore in a converted Catholic church. If you’re a book lover (like me), it was worth the one and a hour train journey from Amsterdam to Zwolle. (You’ll need to pass through Zwolle to go to Giethoorn, so maybe stop here for a meal!)
In order to get to Zwolle from Amsterdam, you can catch a direct Sprinter train towards Zwolle. The total journey should take about 1.5 hours.
You’ve definitely heard of Giethoorn. This idyllic village, a favorite among foreign tourists, has canals instead of roads. As much as I was skeptical that it would live up to the images that I saw online, it truly did. Renting a boat and taking an independent day trip to Giethoorn is 100% possible, so you can read my guide to Giethoorn for more information.
Getting from Amsterdam to Giethoorn is fairly complicated involving buses as well as trains, so you need at least 2 hours when starting off your morning in Amsterdam. As much as I want to claim that it’s an easy day trip from Amsterdam, it’s not and requires quite a bit of effort without a car. It’s worth it in my opinion. You will need to pass through Zwolle.
This off the beaten path attraction in the Netherlands is a testament to passion. Created by a Dutch welder/artist over the past twenty years, this quirky attraction is something really different. I thought that I’d only be here an hour but ended up spending about 2-3 hours here.
The owners speak some English, however, you don’t need much of an explanation beyond appreciating the time and effort that got put into this creative work of art. There’s a cute kitty that will follow you around and it’s very possible to combine the Kremlin with Hoorn or Alkmaar within one day trip from Amsterdam. Email beforehand.
Getting to the Nederlands Kremlin without a car is possible, but you’ll need to take a train towards Schagan prior to catching a bus (#150 towards Alkmaar). Get off at Nieuwe Niedorp and walk until you get there. It takes about an hour and a half from Amsterdam to get here, so it’s a bit of commitment.
Day trips from Amsterdam to skip
Volendam is a bit of a tourist trap and there are many other cities in the Netherlands that you can visit to experience the cuteness of a small town on the sea. Instead, I recommend Hoorn. Volendam is very easy to visit by train.
Do you need a tour to take a day trip from Amsterdam?
No! The trains and buses work great here in the Netherlands. All of these day trips are possible using public transportation. In the case of Giethoorn, I believe it’s easier with a car, but that’s just my opinion.
Train information for the Netherlands
Unless otherwise noted, you will need to take the train to these destinations. Prior to going on the train, you need a ticket. You can purchase a train ticket one-way or roundtrip at the NS machines using a credit/debit card. You can also buy your ticket on your phone using the NS.nl website or the app. Just ensure that you have a charger with you! I often will print my ticket for longer journeys in case my phone dies.
In order to do so, you’ll need a credit card or debit card with a chip. If you have a card without a pin, your card should work, but friends of mine occasionally have issues. Most larger stations have a staff member who will help you purchase tickets during the day. Smaller stations don’t always have staff members on hand or a toilet within their families.
Prior to getting on the train, tap your card against the gates. Important note: Be sure to tap out when you get off the train as you can invalidate your ticket (if it’s round-trip) if you forget.