Although Amsterdam is surely the most famous place in the Netherlands, the country has a lot to offer and luckily, all the interesting places are within reasonable distances and very well connected. Historic towns, picturesque canals, unique museums, and gorgeous landscapes can be easily explored by taking day trips from Amsterdam.
Zaanse Shans is a traditional Dutch village and an open-air museum with quaint wooden houses and famous historic windmills set amid lush vegetation and endless green grasslands. Visitors can take a stroll through the picturesque village and imagine how life looked like centuries ago. Besides being a step back into Dutch history, this is also one of the most photogenic spots in the Netherlands. A tour of the windmills and the traditional local shops and workshops will fill your day with interesting experiences. Visitors can take part in traditional cheese-processing and wooden clog-making demonstrations and the beautiful village has also a museum about its industrial past.
To get to Zaanse Shans, take a 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam’s Centraal Station to the city of Zaanstad. The village is 1.5 km walk from the platform. Another option is to take bus 301 from Amsterdam towards Zaanse Schans.
A trip to Amsterdam in the spring must definitely include a visit to the Keukenhof Gardens because it is the perfect time to explore the sprawling parkland with its seven million flower bulbs blooming into an extravagance of bright colors and stunning botanical displays. The flower garden houses 800 kinds of tulips, but the range of floral arrangements is massive. It’s easy to spend a full day at Keukenhof since the garden has 15 kilometers of pathways and the offers for activities abound throughout the day. You can admire the extensive art installations, watch an indoor botanical demonstration, or take a guided tour through the tulip fields.
Keukenhof is a 40-minute drive from Amsterdam, but there are also frequent direct buses that do not take more than an hour.
Utrecht is a beautiful medieval town with a relaxed, yet vibrant atmosphere, where visitors can delve into the historical heritage of the Netherlands. Once the most important city in the country, Utrecht is now home to the largest university, which adds a youthful character to this historic city. The beautiful streets and numerous winding canals make Utrecht a picturesque location, and there is plenty to do here, from the streets filled with busy sidewalk cafes and inexpensive shopping havens, to beautiful churches, galleries, and intriguing museums. The Dom Toren, the tallest church tower in the country, built in 1382, offers gorgeous views over Utrecht.
Direct trains from Amsterdam arrive at Utrecht Centraal in 30 minutes.
A quintessential Dutch town, Haarlem is an authentic place packed with cultural and historic sights. Although very close to Amsterdam, Haarlem is much more relaxed. The medieval Gothic architecture is as stunning as in the capital and a boat tour on the canals is much more affordable. The main attraction of Haarlem is the beautiful central square and its lively market, but the town has plenty of chic boutiques, concept stores, and elegant restaurants to keep you busy. The most unique place in Haarlem is probably the church turned into a brewery where you can have the best beer in town. The nightlife is also worth a visit on its own.
Haarlem is only 15 minutes away by train from Amsterdam and the trains run very often. From the train station, it’s a ten-minute walk to the center.
Marken is a former island in Markermeer turned into a peninsula, where a thriving fishing community developed in the 19th-century. Now a popular seaside getaway, Marken can be reached by land or ferry. The scenic views and the vibrant cultural history of the place attract many visitors, since the village has preserved intact relics of its traditional culture, including the beautiful green wooden houses by the harbor. Besides its rich culture, Marken is worth visiting for the stunning scenery. A beautiful lighthouse from 1838 now surrounded by water has become the most photographed spot on the peninsula. The village also has a museum which showcases the history of the former island. A traditional fisherman’s house is part of the museum’s collection.
To get to Marken, take bus 315 from Amsterdam Central Station. The journey takes under an hour.