The Netherlands is a very compact country, especially when comparing to Australia. With a fast public transport network, as well as an extensive road network, a lot of the country can be seen even when you don’t have a lot of time! So, when you are flying into Amsterdam, there are many amazing cities, UNESCO heritage sites, as well as historical towns and flower fields that you could check out! Therefore, taking day trips from Amsterdam is a must.
After exploring Amsterdam for 2 days, I suggest you either hire a car or getting on the train and explore some more of this beautiful country.
Though you can’t see everything in the timespan of your holiday, there are still many amazing places that you can see during a couple of day trips from Amsterdam.
Day trips outside Amsterdam
For each of these destinations, I will add if I think it will be worth renting a car for it. In some cases, public transport is going to save you a lot of time and money. But others, like Giethoorn and Kinderdijk, are in my opinion, easier to do with a car.
The public transport system in the Netherlands works pretty well (although many of the Dutchies would disagree) From Amsterdam you reach the other side of the country within a couple of hours. Occasionally you’ll have to take a bus but even this is convenient and accessible. Keep on top of it all with the NS (Dutch rail network) journey planner website and app for train times and disturbances.
Underneath you can find some of the best day trips from Amsterdam, in no particular order.
With the name the Garden of Europe, you know what to expect when you visit this flower garden in Lisse. It is also one of the largest flower gardens in Europe.
So if you are a tulip lover or just want to experience some of natures vibrant colors, then this is a beautiful place to stop over, if you are visiting Amsterdam.
The walk is long around the garden but there are little stops where you can refresh and also a fully-fledged tulip market where you can purchase seeds, merchandise or souvenirs. There are literally hundreds (maybe thousands) of flower beds and thousands of flowers (mostly tulips) in each. It’s hard to imagine but there are so many varieties of tulips – you’d be surprised.
The best time to visit Keukenhof depends on the weather but mid-April to early May is usually the most reliable for tulips. Weekends and school vacations are best avoided. The garden is usually quieter early morning or late afternoon than around lunchtime.
Getting there by train
Keukenhof Gardens are located in Lisse, which does not have a train station. You will have to choose to visit any of the nearby train station and then take the Keukenhof Express Bus to reach the gardens.
I have found that the easiest route is via Leiden. So, At Amsterdam Centraal (Central Station) take the train to Leiden Centraal (Central station). A return ticket is €19,60 and it takes about 35 minutes. From Leiden, you can take the Keukenhof Express Bus Line 854 to reach the gardens.
You can also take the Keukenhof bus from Amsterdam RAI. By bus, it will take you about 35 minutes from de RAI. Prices for 2020 are currently not available yet.
From Amsterdam to Keukenhof By Car
Keukenhof Gardens are about 40 kilometers away from Amsterdam. It is a pretty straightforward drive, so it is doable.
The Keukenhof Gardens can be found at Stationsweg 166A, 2161 AM, Lisse. You will have to take the A4 Highway will getting out of Amsterdam, and take the exit at Nieuw-Vennep to Leimuiderweg/N207. Drive on the road for about 10 KM and you will reach Loosterweg Noord, which is where the gardens are located. Just follow the signs.
The parking fee for cars at de Keukenhof is € 6.
The best tulip fields are in the North of Holland, around 30 minutes’ drive from Amsterdam in an area known as the Bollenstreek (Translated: The bulb district).
The Bollenstreek is where you should go if you want to see the world-renowned Dutch flowers with your own eyes. This is the area where tulip farmers grow their flowers, yielding beautiful vistas every spring and summer.
Kop van Noord-Holland is another region where you can find the famous colorful fields. It is also home to the world’s biggest single flower bulb field. More info on Bulb Flowers in Kop van Noord-Holland, especially the town Zijpe, you find on this website.
I suggest hiring a car if you wish to explore these fields.
If you want to see the famous mills of The Netherlands, then I would say this is the place. Such a beauty!
Kinderdijk is a village in the Netherlands’ South Holland province, known for its iconic 18th-century windmills. It is listed since 1997 as a UNESCO world heritage monument. Its water-management network features 19 mills and 3 pumping stations, plus dikes and reservoirs that control flooding in the polder (low-lying land).
It is such an iconic place, that it is truly a once in a lifetime must-see.
Getting there by train
Kinderdijk is accessible from Amsterdam via both Rotterdam. Take the NS train to Rotterdam Central Station. From there, take the metro to Rotterdam Zuidplein, and then bus 154 to Kinderdijk.
Getting there by car
Drivers can also reach Kinderdijk from Amsterdam via Rotterdam or Utrecht.
From Amsterdam via Rotterdam, take the A4, A13, A20, A16, and A15 to exit 22.
Via Utrecht, take the A2, A27, and A15 to exit 22.
It is just under 100 kilometers, so about 1 hr and a 15-minute drive. I would personally advise to go to Kinderijk by car, it is just less hassle. If you can’t use a car, then it is definitely doable by public transport. Kinderdijk is beautiful and worth a visit, it is not massive, so this won’t be something you can spend hours at.
Zaanse Schans | windmill day trip
If Kinderdijk is just a tad too far and complicated, then I suggest heading to the Zaanse Schans.
Only a 17-minute train ride from Amsterdam Central Station lies this beautiful old town of riverside windmills and historic clapboard houses that will bring you back to the 18th-century.
This town is lovely to wander around in and soak up the olden age atmosphere. You can pop into a working windmill, see how traditional wooden clogs are made by hand. As well as delicious Dutch pancakes at De Kraai and Gouda at the Catherina Hoeve Cheese Farm.
Besides a galore of Windmills and tulips, the Netherlands has some amazing other cities besides Amsterdam that you could check out (shocking, I know) Underneath are just some of the cool cities you can check out when going on a day trip from Amsterdam.
One of the largest port cities in the world, Rotterdam has some of the best architectural buildings in the country. The city was bombed in world war II and lost a lot of its heritage buildings during those bombings. They rebuilt the city and they re-build it with some amazing architecture – WINNING!
The Cube Houses (Kubuswoningen) are one of the city’s most iconic attractions. Another famous attraction in the city of Rotterdam is ‘The Markhallen’ where amazing architecture meats delicious food, what more could you want?
Getting to Rotterdam
The optimal mode of transport between Amsterdam and Rotterdam is public transport. Depending on where you are staying in Amsterdam you can take a bus to Amsterdam central and then a Dutch Railways train to Rotterdam.
The Intercity train (Direction: Rotterdam Centraal) takes 1 hour, 10 minutes to reach Rotterdam Central. I would say that if you are only traveling to Rotterdam for the day, public transport might be your best mode of transport. This way you don’t have to worry about finding parking, not paying crazy parking fees, and the roads between Amsterdam and Rotterdam and some of the busiest in the country. By taking public transport you will have the convenience of arriving in the city center, being near to most of the main attractions. The train service between the cities are very regular so that you don’t have to worry about getting back.
Utrecht is one of the Netherlands’ oldest cities with a compact medieval center set out around canals unique to the Netherlands. It has a similar vibe than Amsterdam, but it is a whole lot less touristy.
The city nowadays is a busy hustle and bustle student town. It has a remarkably diverse range of museums, great shopping 7-days a week, a lot of very tasteful places to eat and cute hotels to stay in.
Getting to Utrecht is pretty straightforward by train. It will take you less than 30 minutes to get to the heart of Utrecht. It will cost about €9 for a one-way ticket. Parking in Utrecht is a bit of a nightmare, so I advise you to take the train.
Haarlem is a city outside of Amsterdam Haarlem is a city known for its Hofjes (enclosed courtyard gardens), and there are beautiful green spaces tucked away behind many an unassuming street – most dating back to medieval times.
Haarlem is very charming, yet not too big – you can see all the highlights in a few hours, plus have time for a bite to eat. There are several restaurants right off the main square in the town center, with some outside tables so you can enjoy the scenery while you eat.
I would suggest taking the train to Haarlem from Amsterdam. By train between Amsterdam-Centraal and Haarlem is only 18 minutes and it drops you off right in the city center. From there you can wander around and pretty much see all the highlights of the city on foot. So no need to bring a car and worry about parking. The price for a one-way ticket is €5.60 per person.
Delft, a canal-ringed city located about 55 kilometers from Amsterdam. The city is known as the manufacturing base for Delftware, hand-painted blue-and-white pottery. In its old town, the medieval Oude Kerk is the burial site of native son and Dutch Master painter Johannes Vermeer. Once the seat of the royal House of Orange, the 15th-century Nieuwe Kerk houses the family’s tombs and overlooks Delft’s bustling market square.
It is much quieter than Amsterdam, but still with a lot of character and style to the old buildings which makes it very interesting. Lots of individual shops to browse around, instead of the usual high street chains.
Train tickets from Amsterdam to Delft can start from as little as €14.80 when you book in advance and are usually more expensive when purchased on the day. Prices can also vary depending the time of day, route and class you book.
Also known as the “Venice of Holland” Giethoorn is a little town that was ripped out of a fairytale. Homes with thatched roofs, canals covered in greenery, and a town with no streets, YEP this little town is just a dream.
This amazing little village is very dependent on its waterways, many of the houses cannot be reached by road. When the postman delivers the mail he travels by punt. (Which is a long, narrow flat-bottomed boat, square at both ends and propelled with a long pole)
Boating has been a popular tourist attraction here for years, with 90 km of boating trips. In Summer the canal is filled to the brim with tourists on boats enjoying the summer’s sun.
The village is located 121 kilometers from Amsterdam. A day journey from Amsterdam to Giethoorn by public transport will take between 2 and 2,5 hours (This is one way). Use 9292.nl planner for the best route from Amsterdam Central Station to Steenwijk.
Because there is no train station in Giethoorn you have to transfer over to a bus. If you are traveling from Amsterdam Central, you need to take a train to Zwolle, and then change to bus number 70. Your final destination is Bushalte Dominee Hylkemaweg. Alternatively, you can travel by train to Steenwijk station and then take bus number 70 to Dominee Hylkemaweg.
If you travel by car it will take you approximately 1,5 hours. See Google maps for directions. There is plenty of parking available (at Beulakerweg 135, 8355 DD Giethoorn) The village center is only 7-10 minutes’ walk from the free parking. It does get very busy in summer, so be there early.
If all that traveling and driving is too much work or if you are worried you are going to end up on the wrong train or bus then you can always take a day tour from Amsterdam.
Some options that you can book:
- Tickets for Giethoorn: Roundtrip from Amsterdam + Free Canal Cruise
From AUD $135,-
– Depart from a convenient location near Amsterdam Central Station and spend a day in the Dutch countryside
– Take a canal cruise with your guide and see antique thatched-roof farmhouses, pretty wooden bridges, grazing horses and more
– Stop off at the Enclosing Dike then head back to Amsterdam and explore its canals with a free canal cruise (worth €18.00)
- Giethoorn Tour
From AUD $ 135,-
– Comfortable bus with airconditioning
– Live guide in English, Spanish and German
– Boat tour in Giethoorn (Weather conditions could influence the boat trip)
– Stop at enclosing dike
The Hague is home to a Gothic-style Binnenhof (or Inner Court) complex and is the seat of the Dutch parliament, and 16th-century Noordeinde Palace is the king’s workplace.
Some of the things that you can see in the city are the Mauritshuis museum, a 17th-century mansion that displays Golden Age art masterpieces including Vermeer’s very famous “Girl With a Pearl Earring.”
Madurodam park contains miniature models of famous Dutch buildings, which offers a great way of seeing a lot of the Netherlands in a day.
Gouda! does anybody else think of the movie – She’s The Man when they hear Gouda cheese? because I do! as famously quoted By Amanda Bynes “you like cheese”? “why yes I do, my favorite’s Gouda!” hahaha SO funny! back to the serious stuff now… 🙂
Gouda is a charming Dutch city south of Amsterdam in the province of South Holland. It’s known for its namesake cheese and seasonal cheese market, regularly held on the medieval Markt square…
Also (if you have a car) drive to one of the local cheese farms. A lot of them offer behind the scenes tours that shows you how they make the world-famous Gouda cheeses.
Some farms that you can visit are:
- Cheese farm de Twee Hoeven – Dutch website
- Cheese farm Hoogerwaard – This farm of the 17th century they produce Gouda farmhouse cheese. A cheese made from raw milk to centuries-old recipe. Without the use of colorings and flavorings.
Closed Sunday. Opening hours visit: by appointment.
- Cheese farm Janmaat – Dutch website
- Cheese farm Jongenhoeve – Dutch website
For a trip back into ‘Old Holland’, head for Volendam, a picturesque town on the shores of the IJsselmeer, just 20 km north of Amsterdam.
The little town is known for its colorful wooden houses and the old fishing boats in its harbor, which is lined with seafood vendors. The Volendam Museum features paintings, sculptures and pottery from 1800 to the present, a gallery of traditional costumes and mosaics made from millions of cigar bands. The Palingsound Museum chronicles the local music scene.
There are also some opportunities to dress in traditional Dutch clothing, including the famous klompen (aka Wooden Clogs)
These are just some of the best day trips from Amsterdam! Even though the Netherlands is small, there is plenty to see and do!
BASIC INFORMATION HOLLAND
Language: | Dutch, though English is spoken pretty much city-wide
Time Zone | GMT/UTC +1
Electricity | Type C two-prong plug. Electrical power in the Netherlands and in most of Western Europe runs on a cycle of 50hz, and a voltage of 230 Volt, alternating current.
Currency | Euro (€).
Tipping | Like in most of Europe, tipping isn’t generally expected. However, it’s polite to leave extra change or round up.
Weather | Keep an eye on the weather report, as Mother Nature can be finicky in the Netherlands. Even in summer, there is a possibility that you might need a jacket.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Whether you are planning to visit in summer or winter, the country has its charms all year-round.
In summer cities like Amsterdam will be pretty busy, but you get to enjoy canal rides in the sun and wander the city in nicer weather. The gardens and tulips will be in bloom so you will get to see some of the tulip fields when visiting.
In winter (when lucky) you get to see the canals iced up and you get to skate them with the locals. Also, late November, into December is a popular time again because of the festive season with Christmas Markets and festivals going on all over the country.
MOVIES TO SPARK YOUR INTEREST
Be sure to check out one of the below movies to spark your interest in the Netherlands:
- Girl with a Pearl Earring | Obviously about the famous painting by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer – explores the story of how the famous artwork came to be. Stars Scarlett Johansson (amazing!) Colin Firth (YAAAAS) and Cillian Murphy (Dreamy)
- The Hitman’s Bodyguard | This hilarious action film stars Ryan Reynolds and Samual L Jackson… I mean what more could you want? It also has an epic chase scene set in Amsterdam – whoop!
- The Fault in our stars | BE AWARE! this movie is sad and will make you cry…… however in this film they do visit The Anne Frank Museum, so if you wanted to get a look in, then be sure to check this movie out.
- Dunkirk(2017) | Partly shot using a few of the picturesque Dutch lakes, this is an incredible story and one I would advise everyone to see at least once in their lives.
- Black Book | Definite must-see Dutch film! Set during the 2nd world war and based on a true story, this movie was rated the best Dutch film ever to be made. Starring Carice Van Houten (GOT Red woman ahh).
- Oceans 12 | Last but not least! this hilarious, comedy, heist film was largely set in and around Amsterdam, showing famous hotels, bridges, streets and our little old train station hehe.
WORDS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Most Dutch people are bilingual and speak English very well (Some smaller towns in the countryside maybe not as good, but you should be able to have a basic conversation). It is however considered very polite to know a few words in the local language, no matter where you are in the world. So here are a few simple words that you can be useful for you.
- Hello/hi | Hallo/hoi
- Thank you | Dank je wel
- Bye | Dag/Doei
- Sorry | Sorry (same, but good to know)
- Good morning | Goede morgen
- Cheers | Proost
- Bon appétit | Eet smakelijk
GUIDE TO THE PUBLIC TRANSPORT SYSTEM
If you are new to the public transport system in the Netherlands, I have written down just a couple of things that you can help you get started.
How to buy a train ticket in the Netherlands?
You will either need to either buy a loose ticket or use a public transport smart card (OV-card). A loose card can be bought at the train station, either on a machine or at the service desk. They are often a couple of euro’s more per trip. So if you are planning to travel quite a bit on the public transport system, then I advise you to buy an OV card. There are two different types of OV-cards, a Disposable card and an anonymous one. The Anonymous card is more suitable if you are using it for more than a day or longer distances. The Disposable card is suitable for a single use or for a short period. These can be bought at the train station.
Dutch Train Etiquette + travel tips
- You do not have to queue up. In the Netherlands, it is a one for all when it comes to getting a seat on the train. So elbows out when getting on at a busy stop and you want a seat.
- There are some sections on the train that are a ‘silent’ coupes. It means that it is a none talking, music, etc coupe. If you are traveling with two people and you want to chat along the way, don’t go into this coupe.
- Trains do get inspected regularly, to make sure you buy a valid ticket or you tap on when entering the platform.
- There are some international trains that you can use with a normal ticket (For example the one to Berlin) Make sure you get an alarm around the time your stops comes up. These trains tend to be pretty hot and one might fall asleep and miss the last stop in The Netherlands. I had this happen to a friend of mine, and her parents had to pick her up somewhere in Germany.
- try to avoid traveling around peak hours, as tickets are more expensive and the trains are very full around that time.
- The website 9292 is handy when working out wich bused and trains to get when traveling to a new destination.
I hope you have enjoyed this post on the best day trips from Amsterdam. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below. Which of these destinations would you like to visit? Let me know below.
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