13 Best Day Trips from Amsterdam (by train or car)

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Amsterdam, the Netherlands’ capital, is famous for its canal cruises, unique architectural style, bicycle culture, and Red Light District, but there is plenty more to the Netherlands than this iconic city. You can easily spend a week in Amsterdam, enjoying the sites, cruising down canals, and trying local specialties like Stroopwafels, but you can also take many day trips from the city.

The surrounding towns offer new adventures in the Dutch countryside and are perfect for enjoying beaches and small towns known for cheese, hand-painted porcelain, old windmills, and, of course, the iconic tulip fields (if you are visiting in April). 

Here are thirteen of the best day trips you can take from Amsterdam, all reachable by public transportation!

Edam 

Just an easy 40-minute train ride from Amsterdam Centraal, Edam is a picturesque town in North Holland. This town is best known for its namesake semi-hard cheese, invented in the Netherlands. Stroll through Edam’s charming streets, lined with traditional Dutch architecture- a fun day trip from Amsterdam.

Of course, visiting the Edam Cheese Market, held weekly during the summer months, is a must. With costumed traders, a festive atmosphere, and large yellow wheels of tasty cheese, this cheese market will be the highlight of your visit.

Volendam

Just a stone’s throw from Edam, Volendam is a quintessential Dutch fishing village, and it’s one of the best day trips from Amsterdam. You can take public transit from Edam to Voldendam and get there within just ten minutes! 

Known for its busy harbor and colorful wooden houses, Volendam is perfect for a leisurely walk along the waterfront. Wander into its quaint shops along the promenade and stop for a drink at one of its cafes. 

Don’t forget to try some freshly caught seafood and visit the local museums to learn about this area’s rich maritime history. At the Volendam Museum, you can experience the traditional culture of this town as if you stepped back in the 19th century. 

Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse

If you’re in the Netherlands from late March to early May, visiting the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse should be at the top of your to-do list (it is only open during tulip season). Lisse is only about a 45-minute drive from Amsterdam, making it an easy day trip for those looking to immerse themselves in the natural beauty and cultural charm of the Netherlands.

Known as the “Garden of Europe,” Keukenhof boasts over seven million tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils – making it one of the most extensive flower gardens in the world. Walk through the meticulously landscaped winding pathways, enjoy the peaceful water features, and snap a picture of the tulip fields before you leave.

Royal Flora Holland Visitor Centre

For flower enthusiasts, the Royal FloraHolland Visitor Centre is just a 40-minute drive south of Amsterdam or about an hour via public transportation. Located in Aalsmeer, this visitor center is the largest trading center for flowers and plants in the world!

While the flower auction is now conducted online only, it is still a great place to walk around and marvel at the massive amounts of tulips, greenery, and other plants. Go on a guided tour to learn more about this business’s global logistics and enjoy interactive activities. 

Zaandam

Just 20 minutes from Amsterdam, Zaandam has no shortage of things to do during a day trip – you could easily spend a whole day here enjoying museums, traditional houses, historic windmills, and more. You can start at the Zaanse Schans, an open-air museum showcasing traditional Dutch windmills, houses, and workshops. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a 17th-century village!

History buffs can visit the Zaans Museum, located at the Zaanse Schans. This museum houses exhibits on the industrial heritage of Zaandam, giving you a look into Dutch history. Another fun spot is the Wooden Clogs Museum and Factory. This family-run museum offers clog-making demonstrations and a gift shop. There is also a 17th-century cheese farm with a demonstration area and costumed workers. The Catharina Hoeve cheese farm and shop offer loads of different varieties of local cheeses to try and purchase, and the best thing is that most of the cheese does not have to be refrigerated immediately, making it a great souvenir to enjoy at home.

Ornate building with decorative trims painted in green and blue.

Head to downtown Zaandam to explore the local shops and boutiques. While you’re here, you’ll also see the Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Zaandam. This famous hotel has an incredibly colorful facade, including a dark green, bright blue, and red exterior!

Delft 

Located in the western Netherlands, about an hour from Amsterdam, Delft is lined with traditional buildings and sparkling canals, making it one of the best day trips from Amsterdam. Stroll along the Delft Canal to enjoy the cafes, historical monuments, and views that line its waterways.

Renowned for its hand-painted blue and white pottery, Delft boasts incredible art and a rich history. Visit the Royal Delft Factory, which dates all the way back to the 17th century, to see artisans at work, attend a painting workshop, or check out their impressive pottery display. They also have a delicious cafe with outdoor seating in a picturesque garden. It is a great way to unwind from a day of sightseeing. 

Rotterdam

As the second-largest city in the Netherlands, Rotterdam is known for its contemporary architecture and vibrant cultural scene. It’s one of the most popular day trips from Amsterdam and one of my favorite cities to explore. It also has one of the most beautiful train stations in the Netherlands, so the best way to get here is via a quick train ride.

Head up the Euromast Tower, the tallest building in Rotterdam, to enjoy incredible sweeping views. Afterward, spend some time exploring the famous cube houses, tilted at a 45-degree angle and unlike any other architecture in this city!

If you get hungry, visit the Markthal. This extremely unique building is home to over 100 food stalls, bars, and restaurants.

About 20 kilometers from Rotterdam, you’ll find 19 historic windmills in Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Take a boat tour or cycle around the area to fully appreciate these iconic windmills, which have been meticulously preserved and are still operational.

Alkmaar

Located north of Amsterdam, Alkmaar is another haven for cheese lovers. The Alkmaar Cheese Market, held every Friday from April to September, is a lively event where you can witness cheese trading and taste various Dutch cheeses. This traditional cheese market is centuries old, so it’s definitely worth a visit.

You can also spend a day exploring Alkmaar’s many canals and lively shopping scene. It’s not a bad place to get lost for an afternoon!

Gouda

South of Amsterdam, Gouda is synonymous with its namesake cheese. Visit the Gouda Cheese Market to watch the age-old cheese trading rituals held every Thursday during the summer. 

Beyond cheese, this historic city offers beautiful stained-glass windows in St. John’s Church and a charming historic center. Don’t miss the City Hall, located in the center of Market Square—the gothic architecture looks straight out of a fairy tale. 

Utrecht

About an hour from the Dutch capital is Utrecht. Often overshadowed by Amsterdam, it boasts a dynamic arts and music scene, making it a cultural hub worth exploring. Known for its picturesque canals, medieval architecture, and lively cultural scene, Utrecht provides a blend of history and modernity. The Dom Tower, the tallest church tower in the Netherlands, dominates the skyline and offers panoramic views of the city. The city’s old town features narrow, winding streets lined with cafes, shops, and museums. While you’re here, check out the nearby Gothic Cathedral of St. Martin, enjoy a musical at Beatrix Theater, and enjoy shopping in the Hoog Catharijne (The Mall), offering a plethora of stores complete with specialty shops and dining experiences. 

This city also has a vibrant café culture. You’ll find several of these cafes and restaurants along the Oudegracht Canal – grab a drink and enjoy the view!

The Hague 

It is just a little over an hour by train from Amsterdam to The Hague. This area is home to the Dutch government and the royal family. Also known as “den Haag,” The Hague is a paradise for those who love culture and history!

Start at the Binnenhof, a collection of buildings dating back to the 1200s. This is the seat of the Dutch government and the oldest House of Parliament in the world! Some of the most famous buildings include the official residence of the Prime Minister and the Gothic Ridderzaal, where Parliament is opened each year.

If you’re an art enthusiast, visit the Mauritshuis, a stunning Dutch art museum, to see Vermeer’s The Goldfinch or Girl with a Pearl Earring. The Peace Palace is another must-visit—while you might not be able to go inside if the court is in session, it’s still worth admiring from the exterior. 

Haarlem

Just a short train ride from Amsterdam, Haarlem will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a fairytale with its cobblestone streets and medieval architecture. Visit the Frans Hals Museum to admire art from the 16th century.

Wander through Haarlem’s shopping district, also known as ‘de Gouden Straatjes.’ However, going off the beaten path will lead to hidden gems like specialist stores, unique shops, and quiet cafes.

Noordwijk

For a relaxing beach day in the summer, head to Noordwijk, just 45 minutes from Amsterdam. Beach Noordwijk Aan Zee is a lively beach resort with sandy shores, dunes, and a lively promenade. This is the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy the coastal beauty of the Netherlands.

Besides the beach, this town is also home to the Space Expo, where you can learn more about space missions through exhibits showcasing real rockets and meteorites.

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Sam wearing backpack and hat walking through town.

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