Amsterdam is a gorgeous city that easily makes it to the list of my favorite cities in the world. However, the Netherlands has many more beautiful places and experiences to offer. Two days are more than enough for you to see the main attractions of Amsterdam. And once done, you should definitely spend some time to explore a few other Dutch towns nearby.
We spent four days in the Netherlands, two of which were on day trips from Amsterdam. In this post, I’m going to share more about these awesome day trips we took. All of them can be completed fairly easily via public transport from Amsterdam. That too, under an hour. So, without much ado, let’s have a look at 3 best day trips from Amsterdam that you shouldn’t miss.
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Best Day Trips From Amsterdam
While compiling a list of the best day trips from Amsterdam, Haarlem is always top-of-mind. It’s a quaint little Dutch city, just about 20 minutes from Amsterdam by train. Even though it’s much smaller in size than Amsterdam, it’s a unique powerhouse of culture and history.
Not just that, it’s a shopping paradise with its many quirky boutique and concept stores. It also has a bunch of delightful cafes and restaurants that serve yummy food. That, minus the crowds of tourists you generally see in Amsterdam, makes it a perfect choice for a day trip.
How To Reach?
Haarlem can be easily reached by public transport from Amsterdam. If you’re taking the train from Amsterdam Centraal, you can reach Haarlem under half an hour. You can check out train timetables and plan your trip using the NS website. Or you can simply use Google Maps, like we did, to find the next bus from wherever you are boarding.
Things To Do
- Head over to Grote Markt which is the most bustling part of Haarlem. It houses the Grote Kerk, one of the most noted monuments of the city dating back seven centuries. This remarkable piece of Gothic architecture was sanctified as a Cathedral but later converted to Protestantism. Also known as St. Bavo’s Church, it is a UNESCO heritage site and houses some gorgeous artwork from the Renaissance.
- The Grote Markt is also lined with numerous restaurants and cafes that offer mouth-watering dishes. Grab some lunch at any of these. We tried the Kipsate (Chicken Satay) at Grand Cafe Brinkmann which was delectable!
- If you’re interested in art by the Dutch Masters, do check out the Frans Hals Museum.
- And of course, if you love shopping Haarlem is the place to be. Don’t miss the concept stores like ID, Jansje, and Kloffie when you’re at the Grote Markt square.
- Finish off your day trip to Haarlem with a visit to Jopenkerk, a brewery that was previously a church. It is known to serve the best beers in Haarlem.
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2. Muiderslot Castle
A trip to Muiderslot Castle in the town of Muiden makes for one of the best day trips from Amsterdam. The castle, originally built in the 12th century, has a fascinating history. I’m not going to go into its details because much of it will be covered on the guided tour.
However, it’s interesting to note that it was built and razed to the ground within a span of 20 years, and then rebuilt a hundred years later at the same spot! Today it’s a part of Rijksmuseum and also a shooting spot for many TV shows set in the Middle Ages.
How To Reach?
You can take a train to Weesp and then bus 110 that goes to Bussum Station via Muiden P&R. Or from Amstel Station, you can take bus 320 that goes to Hilversum via Huizen. Or bus 327 going towards Almere Haven from Amstel Station. Google Maps will come in real handy for finding the optimal mode of transport.
Things To Do
- Take a guided tour of the castle which is included in the entry ticket fee. The castle has a moat around it and connected to the mainland by a drawbridge. The castle also houses interactive games and exhibitions and cute costumes for kids to try. You can walk up to the towers and check out the windows meant for soldiers to hurl stones at invaders. There’s even a video simulation where you can practice doing this yourself!
- Explore the gardens around the castle which are gorgeous and beautifully maintained. In summer, the gardens are in full bloom and look incredible! We, of course, got to experience it in fall which has a different kind of appeal.
- Take a while to stroll through the charming little town of Muiden along the canals or stop to grab a bite.
3. Zaanse Schans
This is perhaps my most favorite one on the list of best day trips from Amsterdam. Zaanse Schans is pretty much a quintessential Dutch village which is also an open-air museum. It is a window into old Holland where you can actually see windmills in action.
If you’ve ever wondered what Holland might have looked like in the 1800’s, look no further. Zaanse Schans is where you can see it all. The beautiful village with its wooden cottages, lush green pastures with animals grazing and the river Zaan flowing through it looks almost surreal.
How To Reach?
From Amsterdam Centraal, take bus 391 which will drop you off at Zaanse Schans.
Things To Do
- Once in Zaanse Schans, you’ll feel as if you have been transported back in time. You can simply wander through the pathways taking in the sights and sounds. Or visit the cheese-making and wooden clog-making shops.
- You can even take a tour of the operational windmills. This involves an additional charge although entry to the village is free. If you’re planning to visit the windmills, make sure to check the Zaanse Schans website for days and hours when visits are allowed.
- There is also a museum that showcases the industrial past of Holland. Entry to the museum also involves a fee.
Which of these day trips from Amsterdam excites you the most? Let me know in the comments below.
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