One of the things that I’ve loved about living in the Netherlands is how easy it is to take weekend trips within the Netherlands and the surrounding countries. While living in Amsterdam, we took weekend trips at least once a month to a new city. I’ve been to every single place on this list and I hope that it inspires you to take one of these suggestions for weekend trips from Amsterdam (or anywhere else in the Netherlands).
I’ve put a star next to the weekend trips from Amsterdam where you would want to take an alternative form of transformation (e.g. car, bus, plane) due to the high cost of the Dutch trains, especially if you’re with more than two people. Click for tips for finding cheap Dutch train tickets!
- Utrecht / De Haar*
- Den Bosch
Utrecht & De Haar
Utrecht is an easy day trip from Amsterdam, however, don’t underestimate its charms! There’s something so relaxing about strolling the gorgeous two-story canals after dark prior to dipping into one of the many cozy cafes. If you only have one day in Utrecht, you’ll end only see the city center. Click for my guide to Utrecht.
Once you get up in the morning, be sure to get a hearty breakfast at one of Utrecht’s many fantastic brunch places prior to seeing Kasteel de Haar. This stunning fairytale castle is technically close to Amsterdam although you might be surprised about the hassle of getting a mere 22 kilometers out of Utrecht. Still, it’s worth visiting to see the grounds and the entrance hall.
We recommend staying overnight at Hotel Dom, a cozy boutique hotel with an unbeatable view of the Domkerk as long as you don’t mind being woken up by the church bells. Alternatively, consider staying at Mother Goose, a 4* boutique hotel with bespoke decorated rooms.
Recently, we finally got to Amersfoort for a weekend. This city is all about slowing down. It’s full of cute boutiques for those who love shopping and filled with great breweries producing craft beer, its historical legacy. The well preserved medieval center without the crowds makes for the perfect counterpart to Amsterdam’s hustle and bustle for those looking for a night of quiet. Click for my guide to Amersfoort!
We stayed at De Gaaper, a small hotel in the historic center, although you’ll find a few options for hotels that won’t break your budget if you reserve ahead.
Rotterdam was destroyed during World War II,
One day is enough to get a small taste of the modern center while two days gives you a chance to sample Rotterdam’s hip nightlife and visit some of its other neighborhoods. Notably, Delftshaven is a historic town that was incorporated into Rotterdam that feels a world away from the rest of Rotterdam.
Dordrecht is oft forgotten,
Efteling is a Dutch amusement park in Brabant that actually predates Disney. Its unique universe with its quirky illustrations makes it a delight for both adults and kids to experience the rides and art that you’ll see throughout the amusement park.
Although you can easily visit Efteling during one day, the schlep down to Efteling (2+ hours) makes it more suitable for a weekend trip. I’d recommend combining it with visiting Tilburg, the nearest city to Efteling. Click for your guide to efteling.
Located in Zeeland, Middelburg packs some punches. Somehow, people often forget about this Western part of the Netherlands, but with many delicious proud food traditions, their own language, and regional clothing. Zeeland is a hefty ~three hour trip from Amsterdam, which is why I recommend staying overnight.
The city of Middelburg, Zeeland’s capital is full of beautiful ornate Dutch architecture although one of the most impressive buildings in the city (that is free to walk through) is the Middelburg abbey, which is now repurposed for other uses. If you tire of the sights, there’s many lovely cafes to step into and antique shops to browse. Click for tips for visiting Middelburg.
Just a bus ride (or train ride away from Middelburg) is Yerseke. This small Zeeland fishing town is why Zeeland is famous. You’ll find a number of oyster pits with the restaurants serving fresh oysters right above them. If you’re a foodie, it’s hard to resist the chance to try the rare Oosterschelde lobster, mussels, and oysters.
First head to Zwolle for the day and the night. This charming Dutch city hides a beautiful bookstore (only open on Saturdays) that dates back to 1465. Needless to say, there’s something special about hearing the organ played as your browse their selection of gifts and books.
Zwolle has a medieval city center with many Rijksmonumenten (historic buildings) make for a relaxing day trip from Amsterdam. If you’re looking for an affordable weekend away, Zwolle is a great bet.
Giethoorn is that crazy village in the Netherlands without roads that you’ve seen all over Pinterest. Unfortunately, Giethoorn is much harder to get to independently than many people realize as it’s about two hours by train/bus from Amsterdam.
Unfortunately, the secret is out about Giethoorn as it receives nearly 200,000 visitors each year. It doesn’t stop Giethoorn from being beautiful, but you might want to stay overnight in one of the charming bed and breakfasts along the canals to experience Giethoorn without the madness of the crowds.
I finally visited Valkenburg for the first time and I cannot wait to bring my parents-in-law here. This historic city in Limburg is famous for its quarries (known as caves…) that you can tour year round, perfect for lovers of history. During the Christmas market season, Valkenburg becomes to the Christmas City of the Netherlands.
Valkenburg makes a great base for trips within Limburg, which is full of picturesque hills. Many Dutchies love to come down here to spend a day cycling along the hills and discovering cute small towns along the way. I’d say that Valkenburg is a good location for a weekend away from Amsterdam if you’re looking to experience something not so flat.
Up in the North of the Netherlands, Texel sits just a ferry away from Den Helder. This picturesque island is full of blooming purple heather during the fall, perfect for a relaxing weekend trip during the off-season. (Texel gets quite popular during the summer with international tourists!)
Along the coast, you’ll spot numerous birds, making this a birder’s paradise. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll also spot wild seals along Texel’s many beaches. The main attractions on Texel are relaxing, sipping on the local beer (made from local ingredients), cycling around the island, and enjoying its adorable small towns. There is a reason why people come here year after year although reserve your accommodations early
Maastricht is one of the main university cities of the Netherlands. This charming city is one of my favorite getaways. There’s something about Maastricht’s narrow cobblestones streets filled with cute boutiques.
Be sure to give yourself a chance to visit Selexyz, a stunning bookstore in a 12th-century church. Taste
Can we leave out Friesland? This province of the Netherlands has its own language (the closest language to English). I’d recommend exploring Friesland by car if possible as it will give you far more flexibility than if you go by train as the public transit between towns can be limited. The best time to visit Friesland is during August when a sailing competition (Sneekweek Zeilden) occurs.
Friesland is famous for its twelve towns and although it’s not fully possible to visit all of them in a weekend, I’d recommend getting a taste of Friesland. I’d recommend basing yourself out of Leeuwarden, Friesland’s capital and the 2018 European city of culture. From here, explore Sneek where Weduwe Joustra has a museum/distillery, see the planetarium at Franeker, and experience the docks of Harlingen.
Weekend trips from Amsterdam outside the Netherlands
You can always find a cheap flight somewhere from Schiphol, but I’ve decided to focus on destinations that are a quick train ride away from the Netherlands, perfect for a weekend away. For many of these destinations, it might be more affordable to take
Antwerpen is my go-to weekend getaway when I’m feeling that wanderlust setting in. Although I’ve been to Antwerp so many times that I can’t even count, it still manages to offer more things to do. To be fair, most of my time in Antwerpen has revolved around sitting in beer bars and exploring the museums. Although you’ll hear
Only an hour from Maastricht, Aachen is a history geek’s dream destination. Here, you can see Charlemagne’s burial place within the epic Aachen Cathedral along with pieces from the treasury. Part of the charm of Aachen is just walking around this city, although you can make a weekend of visiting Aachen by combining it with the picturesque Monschau, a beautiful German town with half-timbered houses and a medieval center.
Just a short hop away from the Netherlands, Brussels feels familiar yet different. The distinctive French-style architecture makes Brussels a treat to explore, especially for lovers of comics and street art. Chocolate lovers will also be in heaven as they sample chocolates from some of the most famous chocolatiers in the world. Despite its fame, Brussels feels small enough that you can reliably explore it during a relaxing weekend as you experience the best of both sides of Belgium.
Even if you’ve been to Paris before, Paris is so large that you’ll find something new whether you intend to–or not. Beyond the iconic sights, Paris has something for almost everyone. During our time living in Paris, I spent countless hours exploring the secret courtyards and its covered passages. I still have the feeling that I need another million years to see the corners of Paris that I’ve missed.
Thanks to the Eurostar, you can be in London in only three hours! London reminds me of a lot of New York. It can be loud, dirty, and crowded. London is also charming, diverse, and cultured. A weekend in London is just enough to get a taste of this diverse capital city. Click for a guide to London.