If you are staying in Amsterdam for more than a day, you might want to see some other places in the Netherlands. This post will help you find out which are the best day trips from Amsterdam. All trips are organized based on the means of transportation, which will allow you to choose the best option for your stay in the Dutch capital. Some trips will be easier if you rent a car, others are perfectly doable by train. If you don’t want to bother with the organization yourself, you can always book an organized tour. In some cases this would be even the best option, as otherwise you might need to change a few trains or buses in order to reach the place.
Read more: Discover Amsterdam with these 4 walking routes.
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- 1. Best day trips from Amsterdam by train
- 2. Best day trips from Amsterdam by car
- 3. Best day tours from Amsterdam
- 4. Day trips to Belgium from Amsterdam
- Final words
1. Best day trips from Amsterdam by train
Travelling by train in the Netherlands is really comfortable and a good way to explore the country. Amsterdam has perfect train connections to all major cities, which makes them the ideal destination for a train day trip from the Dutch capital. You can easily reach by train Utrecht, Alkmaar, Groningen, Nijmegen, Arnhem, Den Bosch, Rotterdam, Haarlem, The Hague, Breda, Maastricht, Roermond. The train stations in the Dutch cities are in general located only a 10 minute walk from the city’s center, which quite often is along a lovely boulevard-type of a street, lined up with shops and lovely buildings.
Here’s my selection of the best destinations to visit by train from Amsterdam.
Den Bosch (‘s-Hertogenbosch)
From the Central train station in Amsterdam (Amsterdam Centraal) to Den Bosch, it takes about an hour. The train station in Den Bosch is just a 10-minutes’ walk from the city’s main square. Besides, it’s quite a pleasant walk, as you’ll pass by the Dragon Monument – one of the symbols of the city.
Den Bosch is a lovely historical city and a preferred day trip from Amsterdam. The city centre has a lively Market Square, especially if it’s one of the market days (Wednesday, Friday or Saturday). When in Den Bosch, do not miss St. John’s Cathedral (Sint-Jan) – a fine example of Gothic Architecture. If you are an art lover – the Noord Brabant Museum and the Steedelijk Museum are a must-see. Enjoy a drink at the Parade and get lost in the small alleys around the Market Square. If you have a bit more time – take a boat trip on the Binnendieze – the old sewerage channels of the city.
Prepare for the trip: Discover what to see and do in Den Bosch.
It takes about an hour and 15 minutes to reach Rotterdam by train from Amsterdam (Amsterdam Centraal). There is a direct connection between the two cities, but you can also change in Utrecht or The Hague. The train station in Rotterdam (Rotterdam Centraal) is itself an attraction. The modern building was finished in 2014 and is a real eyecatcher.
Rotterdam is like no other city in the Netherlands – it’s modern, it’s hipster and it’s vibrant. It’s one of the few places in the Netherlands where the skyline is dominated by high-rises. When in Rotterdam, take a boat tour in the harbour. Europort used to be the biggest port in the world, but it lost its first place some years ago, now being only the biggest one in Europe. If you love great views, climb to the top of the Euromast tower and if you need a bit of an adrenaline rush, you can go down with a zip-wire. Don’t forget to take a look at the famous Cube Houses and the colorful Markthal.
From Amsterdam (Amsterdam Centraal) to The Hague is a bit less than an hour. The connection beween the two major cities in the Netherlands is really good and there are trains every 30 minutes.
Although Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, The Hague is the seat of the government and more or less the political capital of the country. When in The Hague, do not miss to visit the Mauritshuis, where you can see Vermeer’s masterpiece ‘The Girl with the Pearl Earing‘. Walk around the beautiful Gothic palace Het Binennehof that serves as a seat of the Dutch two chambers of Parliament. The office of the Prime Minister is also there. A bit of the bitten path is the lovely Museum Mesdag which houses the beautiful panorama installation (cyclorama).
Utrecht is perhaps the easiest day trip from Amsterdam by train. It takes a bit less than 30 minutes to reach Utrecht from Amsterdam (Amsterdam Centraal). The train station in Utrecht (Utrecht Centraal) flows into a gigantic shopping mall with numerous shops, restaurants and cafes. You can spend the whole day there, not even getting out of the train station, but that won’t be fair for Utrecht.
Utrecht is absolutely charming with its canals and the cafes at the water level. When in Utrecht, visit the beautiful Dom (the cathedral of Utrecht). You can climb to the top of the cathedral for some amazing views or get underneath it for some Roman ruins. In Utrecht you can visit the lovely Centraal Museum or get off-the-beaten path and check out the quirky Museum Speelklok, where you can admire their unique collection of self-playing instruments.
It’s a bit of a journey from Amsterdam to Maastricht, but you won’t be disappointed. From Amsterdam (Amsterdam Centraal) to Maastricht it takes about 2 hours and half. The train connection is direct, so you can sit back and relax and enjoy the countryside as you’ll be crossing much of the Netherlands by train.
Maastricht is the second most beautiful city in the Netherlands and is often called the ‘pearl of the South’. The locals just love a day trip to Maastricht combined with some first class shopping. When in Maastricht, visit the beautiful Vrijthof Square with the St. Servatius Basilica and the St. John’s Church. The Bonnefanten Museum with its art collection won’t disappoint you either. If the weather is nice, you can take a boat trip on the Meuse River.
Tip: If you are visiting Amsterdam around the Christmas holidays, Maastricht will be a great place to experience the Christmas markets in Europe. The Maastricht Christmas Market is the most popular Christmas market in the Netherlands.
Read more: Read here how to spend the perfect day in Maastricht.
From Amsterdam (Amsterdam Centraal) to Alkmaar is just a bit less than 40 minutes and the trains run every 20 minutes, all this making Alkmaar an easy day trip.
The city is mostly famous for the traditional cheese market held on the Market Square each Friday morning. The cheese market originated in 1365 and has been kept alive through the centuries. You can also visit the Cheese Museum in Alkmaar and why not afterwards the Beer Museum. Alkamaar is not only cheese and beer, though. It’s quite a pretty Dutch city with typical architecture, rich history and of course a network of picturesque canals.
Haarlem is a super easy and perhaps one of the most popular day trips from Amsterdam by train. The trip from Amsterdam (Amsterdam Centraal) to Haarlem takes only 15 minutes. I would just say, even if you have a half day, jump on the train and visit Haarlem!
Haarlem is one of those historical places in the Netherlands that seem as if the time has stopped. When in Haarlem, do not miss the St. Bavo Church (Sint Bavo Kerk) and the Frans Hals Museum with paintings of one of the most famous Dutch painters. In Haarlem you can admire one of the the most famous windmills in the Netherlands – De Adriaan. The windmill is also open for visits.
2. Best day trips from Amsterdam by car
Although most cities in the Netherlands are within an easy reach from Amsterdam by public transportation, there are still a few places, that will be better if you visit them by car. Not that you can’t do this by public transport, but you will need to hop on/off a few times on buses or trains. There are also places, which you need to see by travelling through them, that’s why going there by car is more advisable. There are also organized tours to those places, if you don’t feel like renting a car and driving in the Netherlands.
Here is my selection of the best day trips from Amsterdam, that are better done by car:
De Haar Castle
De Haar Castle is a 40-minutes (39 km) drive from Amsterdam. However you’ll be taking the busiest of the highways in the Netherlands – A2, so be prepared to experience a few traffic jams if you driving in rush hours.
De Haar Castle is located near Utrecht. It is without a doubt the most famous and most visited castle in the Netherlands. It’s also considered the most beautiful one. The castle was restored in 1892 by the famous Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers in a Neo-Gothic style. The original castle dates back to the end of the 14th century. The castle is surrounded by a beautiful park and gardens. You can visit both the castle and the park. The entry only for the park is 6 EUR and for both the castle and park – 17 EUR. Kids (aged 4-12) pay respectively 4 EUR and 11 EUR.
De Rijp and De Beesmster Polder
The best way to discover the De Beemster Polder is by car. You can drive along the meticulously designed polder patterns and stop in quaint little villages like De Rijp, Middenbeemster, Driehuizen, Grootschermer, etc. From Amsterdam to De RIjp by car is about 30 minutes (33 km).
Once an important harbour, De Rijp turned into an inland town after the sea was drained in the 17th century to make place for more land. The regained land from the sea is known as polder, and the area around De Rijp – De Beemster Polder, is included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In the last years most of the houses have been beautifully restored and the little town is full of charm. You can find there some of the oldest wooden houses in the Province of North Holland. Another lovely place to visit is the Museum Mill (Museummolen) in Schermerhorn, which is a part of a complex of 3 polder windmills. There are 11 polder windmills remaining in the Schermer (De Schermer) from the 17th century, when the Dutch pumped the Scher Lake empty. An entry ticket to the Museum Mill costs 4,50 EUR.
Prepare for your trip: What to in De Beemster Polder and where to stay
Enkhuizen and Zuiderzee Museum
Driving on the 27 km long dam from Lelystad to Enkhuizen is something that you can do only in the Netherlands. It’s an amazing experience as you will be driving for kilometers surrounded only by water. You’ll go also under the only working naviduct in the world – the Krabbersgat. A naviduct is like a bridge for boats. Going from Amsterdam to Enkhuizen via Lelystad takes a bit longer than via A7, however the journey is absolutely worth it. Amsterdam to Enkhuizen via Lelystad is 90 km (1 hour 20 min) and via A7 – 65 km (60 min).
Zuiderzeemuseum is an ethnographic complex which tells the story of a community that’s gone, as the Southern Sea (Zuiderzee) isn’t there anymore. You probably know that the Dutch are very good at playing God and creating their own land. What once was Zuiderzee (the Southern Sea), today is IJsselmeer (Lake IJssel), after they built the Barrier Dam (Afsluitduik) in 1936. Half of the lake was further drained and there was created the 12th Dutch province – Flevoland. In this ethnographic village you can see different old crafts and even take part in workshops. They have also an amazing collection of traditional costumes! Entry tickets cost 17 EUR in the summer months and 9.50 EUR in the winter months. Kids (aged 4-12) pay respectively 11 EUR and 6 EUR.
Although you can reach the Dutch island of Texel by public transport, it’s easier if you rent a car. Once on the island, however, you won’t need the car. It would be better to walk or bike around. Driving on the island is strongly discouraged. The distance from Amsterdam to Texel is about 100 km, but as you will need to take also the ferry, the journey can take up to 2 hours.
If you are in search of a quiet place with gorgeous sunsets, green waters and vast sand beaches – you’ll find it all on this small West Frisian Island. Not to forget the little quaint villages, the pastoral landscapes and the great local food. A part of the island is a protected area as one of the 20 National Parks in the Netherlands. When on Texel you should visit Den Hoorn – a lovely small village at the southern part of the island, Den Burg – the major town on the island, De Cocksdorp and its famous light house, and the seal sanctuary at Ecomare (De Koog). An entry ticket to Ecomare for adults is 13,75 EUR and for kids (age 4-13) – 9,50 EUR.
Het Loo Palace
Het Loo Palace is an easy drive from Amsterdam. It takes about an hour (87 km) to reach the most famous Dutch palace near Apeldoorn.
There aren’t many palaces in the Netherlands, but from the few that are still there, Het Loo Palace is undoubtedly the most beautiful one. And not only the palace is worth the visit. The meticulously manicured and kept Baroque gardens contrast with the natural and a bit wild beauty of the English park. Let’s say Het Loo Palace is the Dutch Versailles, but not because it looks like the palace near Paris, but because of its significance and role through the centuries as the palace of the House of Orange-Nassau (the Dutch Royal House).
The easiest way to reach Efteling is by car, although you can also take a Flixbus from Amsterdam. It takes about an hour and 15 minutes (105 km) from Amsterdam to Efteling, but one should consider the business and the traffic jams if visiting the park during the holidays or in the weekend. Check out here for other options on how to get to De Efteling.
If you need a bit of an adrenaline rush during your stay in Amsterdam, the Efteling with its roller-coasters is a great idea for a day trip from Amsterdam. The Efteling is mostly known as the second best theme park in Europe after Euro Disney in Paris (France). According to the Dutch, it is the most beautiful one in Europe. The Efteling (or De Efteling in Dutch) is not just roller-coasters and head-spinning attractions, but it also tells local legends and famous fairy-tales with such a passion that you forget you aren’t a child anymore. So, the park is not only for children. The landscaping of the park is also beautiful. Make sure to get on the Pagode from where you will have an amazing view over the countryside.
Prepare for your trip: Check out this post, packed with lots of practical tips and insider information about visiting the Efteling.
3. Best day tours from Amsterdam
Some of the attractions in the Netherlands, like Kinderdijk or Keukenhof, could be best visited with an organized tour. Of course, you can always rent a car or take the bus or train, but if you are staying in Amsterdam only a couple of days, an organized day tour to the best Dutch attractions will save you all the hassle. All these one-day excursions from Amsterdam are by bus and you can buy tickets in advance for the attractions. Some of them combine a visit to more than one attraction, which can be useful if you want to see as much as possible during your visit to Amsterdam and the Netherlands.
Kinderdijk is one of the most iconic places in the Netherlands, as it reveals the engineering genius of the Dutch. It is also among the most popular day trips from Amsterdam. Kinderdijk is not just a row of windmills that look beautiful against the setting sun or in the blue hour. These were actually water management installations that regulated the water level. They are also one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Netherlands.
Recommended tours from Amsterdam to Kinderdijk
Prepare for your trip: Read here why the windmills at Kinderdijk are one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The post contains practical tips about visiting Kinderdijk.
Tulips! Lots of tulips! Everywhere! You can’t find a place more Dutchy than that. Unfortunately, being a spring garden, Keukenhof is open only in the period March-May. It’s a perfectly manicured garden, where each year they plant more than 7 million spring flower bulbs. Hyacinths, tulips, crocuses, and daffodils in most amazing shapes and colors create intricate patterns and you get lost in a maze of colorful spring flowers. For sure, this is the most beautiful and colorful day trip from Amsterdam.
Prepare for your trip: Get answer to all your questions about visiting Keukenhof. I’m giving insider tips that will help you spend the perfect day at Keukenhof. After all, I’ve visited the park myself about 10 times already.
Recommended tours from Amsterdam to Keukenhof
It’s the best if you combine a vist to the Keukenhof with a visit to one of the tulip farms to see the famous tulip fields.
Zaanse Schans is all about windmills! Visit this small museum village and step back in time. Zaanse Schans is a representation of how life was in the 18th and 19th centuries in North Holland Province. You can visit the windmills and learn how they work and what they were used for. There are also handcraft workshops, where you can see how clogs were made or sails for the ships. Although Zaanse Schans is very pretty, it tends to be quite touristy, as everybody wants to take a glimpse of that nostalgic Dutch reality, long gone now. Is it a tourist trap? No, it’s just a tourist attraction, that still feels authentic.
Recommended tours from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans
They call it the Venice of the North or the Dutch Venice and indeed Giethoorn completely deserves its nickname. Imagine an idyllic small village with no streets but canals instead. Beautiful houses, mostly farms, with thatched roofs, lots of green and flowers and the willows hanging above crooked bridges. Unfortunately the last years Giethoorn has been discovered by the tourists and is suffering from overtourism. Nonetheless, the place is simply gorgeous and too cute not to see it on a day trip from Amsterdam.
Recommended tours from Amsterdam to Giethoorn
Marken & Volendam
Volendam is a typical fishing village with traditional fishermen houses with wooden facades. In Volendam you can spot locals wearing traditional costumes in the daily life. Has time really stopped? No, Volendam just goes its own way. Once attracting a crowd of famous painters, today Volendam hasn’t lost any of its charms. It tends to be a bit touristy, but it is still quite pretty.
Recommended tours from Amsterdam to Volendam
4. Day trips to Belgium from Amsterdam
As distances in Europe aren’t that big and the Netherlands is pretty small, you can even visit another country on a day trip from Amsterdam. The easiest day trip abroad from the Dutch capital is Belgium. Brussels, Antwerp and the romantic Brugge (Bruges) are the perfect destinations if you want to discover a bit of Belgium on your trip to the Netherlands. If you want to organize the trip yourself, the best option will be to take the train. Of course, you can always rent a car and drive to the south. If you don’t feel like catching the train, you can always opt for an organized bus tour to one of the cities.
Here’s my selection of 3 easy day trips to Belgium from Amsterdam:
There is a direct train connection between Amsterdam and Brussels. It takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes. You can also travel via Antwerp or take the Thalys, the high speed train. The Thalys however stops at Brussels South (Bruxelles-Midi), which is a bit off the city centre. Other trains from Amsterdam stop at the central train station in Brussels (Brussel Centraal). However, there is a good connection between the two stations. Each 3 minutes there’s a train and it takes only 3 minutes to get from the one to the other. If you choose to travel by car, the trip takes about 2 and a half hours (215 km). Alternatively you can always book an excursion from Amsterdam.
The capital of Belgium is truly lovely and not overwhelming. In a day trip from Amsterdam you can discover a lot. Start with the amazing Grand Place, the main city’s square, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Check out what the Manneke Pis is wearing today and stroll along the famous Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. Visit the Royal Palace and the Old Masters Museum. If you are into surrealism, the Magritte Museum is a must. Don’t leave Brussels without trying the Belgian waffles, Belgian chocolates or Belgian beer.
Antwerp is super easy to reach from Amsterdam by train. It takes about an hour and 50 minutes and there’s a direct train connection. If you take the Thalys, the high speed train, you’ll be quicker in Antwerp – in an hour and 15 minutes, but it’s more expensive. If you choose to travel by car, the trip takes about 2 hours (160 km).
Antwerp has one of the loveliest market squares in Europe. And I am not exaggerating. Take a snap-shot of the famous Brabo fountain and hear the legend about the young man who killed the giant and saved the city. If you love fine arts, you have to visit the House of Rubens (Rubenshuis). Walk along the river Scheldt and visit the fortress Het Steen. For modern and contemporary art visit the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom) and the M HKA (Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst).
Bruges (Brugge) is a bit more difficult to reach by train. The journey takes anywhere between 3 to 4 hours, depending on where you will change trains and whether you’ll take the Thalys. There’s no direct train connection between Amsterdam and Bruges (Brugge). A drive from Amsterdam to Bruges (Brugge) is about 3 hours (250 km). My advice would be to book an organized tour to Bruges (Brugge). It’s hassle-free and quicker.
Although it’s a bit difficult to reach from Amsterdam, Bruges makes it for the most romantic day trip out of the Dutch capital. The beautiful medieval town centre is a also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When in Bruges, just walk around and enjoy its quaint beauty. Get to the top of the Belfry and visit the Church of Our Lady to see one of Michelangelo’s masterpieces. Learn about the beguines in the famous Beguinage (Begijnhof), which is the other UNESCO World Heritage Site in Bruges. When in Bruges, don’t forget to try the special Belgian French fries paired with a Belgian beer. You can even visit the French Fries Museum (Frietmuseum) to find out who invented the French fries – the Belgians or the French.
Read more: Curious about who the beguines were? Read this post about the famous beguinages in Belgium. There are 12 beguinages in total that are listed together as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
When you are spending a couple of days in Amsterdam, it’s always a good idea to travel a bit outside of the Dutch capital. As the Netherlands is pretty small, you can visit virtually any place on a day trip from Amsterdam. Even places in Belgium can be visited on a day trip. In some case it will be advisable to travel by train, in others – to take an organized tour. Whichever you will choose, depends on your time limits, whether you want to drive yourself, or you want a hassle-free experience.
- Best places to visit by train from Amsterdam include all the major cities like Utrecht, Alkmaar, Groningen, Nijmegen, Arnhem, Den Bosch, Rotterdam, Haarlem, The Hague, Breda, Maastricht, Roermond.
- Best places to visit by car from Amsterdam include all castles, national or natural parks, small villages and other attractions like theme parks.
- Best places to visit with a tour include attractions like Keukenhof, Zaanse Schans, Kinderdijk, or Giethoorn. Basically, these are place that are difficult to reach by public transportation and if you don’t or can’t drive would be better to book a tour.
Need more tips about visiting places in the Netherlands? Or you want to ask what is better, to take the train or book a tour to a given place? Join my private Facebook Group Exploring the Netherlands and ask your question there!