Rotterdam — a city where everyone loves to rave about the quirky new-age architecture, its multicultural quotient, and the resilience and ‘realness’ of the Rotterdammers. But living in a city you love should not stop you from exploring places around it because you never know what you’ll find. Here are some day trips you can take from the city!
1. Oosterschelde in Zeeland
The largest national park in the Netherlands is just an hour-long drive away! Every time you visit this national park it might look completely different because of the changing tides. It is home to different animals and plants, making it a very special and important place for any nature-lover.
Oosterchelde has cruises to take you around the park, plenty of walking trails — so get out your hiking boots, and a whole lot more for you to explore. You might even spot some porpoises out in the waters if you’re lucky!
Who else loves a good fairy tale? If you do, then Efteling is the place for you. This theme park is centred around well-known fairy tales with many different activities, whether you have kids — or if you’re just a child at heart. Ride the roller coasters, enjoy theatre performances, or even try out their 18-hole golf course! They also have their own holiday resort, so you could always turn it into a weekend trip to take with the family.
Another fun option can be found right here in Rotterdam and is guaranteed to be one of the best places to spend a day with your family (without having to venture out of the city). It’s on the very edge of North Rotterdam — so it’s very easy to reach.
Founded all those years ago in 1923, this park has evolved into one of the most fun ways to spend a day out when the sun is shining. It is a small-scale amusement park, so don’t expect the extravagance that Efteling offers. Nonetheless, they still offer everything you need to make sure it’s an interesting day for you and the little ones.
4. Hoge Veluwe
This park is one of the largest continuous nature reserves in the country. I haven’t had a chance to visit this beautiful reserve yet but I have read a lot of great reviews.
The reserve has a very varied topography where you can find everything from lush, green forests to high sand dunes. It also homes a diverse collection of flora and fauna, so if you’re into that, you should definitely make a trip to this unique nature reserve in the Netherlands.
As you would expect, the reserve is well constructed for cyclists to explore. You could drive to one of their entrances at Otterlo, Hoenderloo and Schaarsbergen, and then make your way through with your bikes.
5. Museum Voorlinden
A really interesting day trip you can take from Rotterdam is to Museum Voorlinden — a contemporary art museum which is surrounded by beautiful forests, a carefully landscaped garden, a restaurant, and amazing art to really open up your mind. Like any other museum, they have their own permanent and temporary exhibitions.
You can easily get to this stunning museum by car or by public transport. They have all the practical information you’ll need to get there on their website.
6. Windmill parks near Rotterdam: Kinderdijk and Zaanse Schans
Who doesn’t have windmills on their things-to-do-in-the-Netherlands list? If you’re a traveller or someone who actually has lists like that, then you have to visit these attractions. Windmill parks have long existed in the Netherlands to harness sustainable energy. Kinderdijk and Zaanse Schans are perhaps the two most well-known windmill parks in the Netherlands with thousands of foreigners flocking to these sites every year.
A lot of people debate on which one is the best (as did we), so why don’t you go there yourself and find out? These attractions make for perfect day trips from Rotterdam!
7. The tulip season (yes, not a place but a period)
I know tulip season is long gone for now, but it will come back around next year. Thousands of tourists always flock to the Netherlands to experience the famous tulip season. Beautiful fields filled with thousands of colourful bulbs are a real treat for the eyes, and should not be missed by anyone!
Don’t know about the famous Dutch tulip season? Check out our video to learn more.
Has the video got you hooked and are you already planning to visit? Check out our full article on everything you need to know about the tulip season — when’s the best time to visit? Where else you can see the tulips? How to get there? DutchReview has always got you covered.
8. Road trip to Belgium
Looking for a quick road trip that you can take? Maybe you want to get out of the Netherlands for a day? The great thing about living in a small country with good infrastructure is that you can easily visit the neighbours.
Go to Belgium for their great waffles, some refreshing beer, and of course their chocolates! DutchReview has already visited Antwerp, Mechelen, and Brugge. They’re all beautiful towns and just a short drive from Rotterdam. There are other cities on our list like Ghent and Brussels, and they should be on yours too!
The only time I went to Delft was to visit the Ikea store. It is the closest one to Rotterdam which was pretty accessible. As I was sitting on the bus, looking out the window, I was a bit underwhelmed — it looked like any other Dutch town, but man was I mistaken. The city of Delft has a lot to offer to people who are looking for a bit of history, a bit of old Dutch architecture, and a whole lot of fun.
READ MORE | Day Trips from Amsterdam: What to see in Delft
If you’re looking for more things to do on a day trip in the city, we have heaps of suggestions of free things you can do in Delft.
10. Dordrecht and De Biesbosch National Park
Did you know that Dordrecht is the oldest city in Holland? (Yes, Holland, not the Netherlands.) This small little Dutch town is the fifth largest city in South Holland, and is exactly what you would want from a small Dutch city! You’ll find quintessentially Dutch things here, such as the long winding canals and row houses, and many interesting monuments and museums giving testament to the prosperous history of this city on the water.
READ MORE | A day trip to Dordrecht: the perfect day out
Ahh, Leiden — or as we like to call it, the headquarters of DutchReview! We have a personal bias when telling you about this cosy student town, but that’s only because it has a lot to offer to all of its visitors. It gives you a taste of Zuid-Holland life, and is nothing short of a quintessential Dutch town!
You can also sign up for the Rembrandt Experience, a specially curated route to learn about all things Rembrandt, from when he lived in Leiden. To be fair, this city cannot be seen in just a day if you love exploring the regional culture through museums. But if you get a little taste of it, we guarantee you that you will be back!
While you’re here, come drop by the office to say hi at PLNT Leiden too! (We have a killer rooftop with chickens.)
The sixth-largest city in the Netherlands needs to be on your list! If you haven’t been already, then you’ve obviously not been reading DutchReview. We love the city for everything it has to offer.
It may be small, but there’s a lot to do in this dynamic city. Tilburg is currently being re-developed and is known for repurposing its old buildings in the edgiest ways — like the LocHal, an old industrial locomotive hall that is now one of the most beautiful libraries in the Netherlands. While you’re in Tilburg, take a stroll through the city or hire an e-step to see all of the magical murals — you’ll never look at graffiti the same.
Just browsing through our Tilburg page, you’ll be greeted with many suggestions that might tickle your traveller’s heel (a variation of getting your funny bone tickled). Visit Doloris when the sun is shining for their amazing rooftop views of the city. Is the sun being unreliable? Go there anyway. Doloris offers an out-of-this-world kind of experience in their maze.
Don’t feel like chilling on a rooftop and you have your hiking boots? Did you know that Tilburg has lots of nature to offer, and is also home to the largest wildlife zoo in the Benelux? The Safaripark Beekse Bergen is a safari-themed park that you can travel through either by boat, bus or your own car.
For the more adventurous people, you can even go on foot. It is open all year round! So visit the elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards, and buffalos, and see how they’re liking the Dutch weather.
If you’re looking for a day trip from Rotterdam that even their Wikipedia page recommends, then Gouda is the place for you! The city is famous for various things like its cheese (of course you’ve heard of Gouda, the cheese!) and its amazing Dutch architecture!
Gouda is only a 30-minute drive (according to Google) or a 20-minute train ride away from Rotterdam. Or if you’re feeling particularly fit, hop on your bike for one and a half hours, and you’re there!
You can go to the Gouda cheese market and relish in one of the Dutch addictions. Or you can wander around the city centre and go explore the Sint Janskerk or their famous city hall. They have other gorgeous buildings showing you how amazing Dutch architecture is. Looking for another option? Visit Jurassic Golf Adventure Park in Gouda. Trust me, you will not regret it!
14. Visit The Hague and Scheveningen
No list of day trips from Rotterdam is complete without a mention of The Hague. A city full of embassy and government buildings —visit The Hague if you are getting tired of the modern architecture.
If the sun is shining out there, make sure to pack your swimsuits! Scheveningen is one of the best beaches in the Netherlands, and you don’t want to miss it. Scheveningen is known for its beautiful beach with a very busy pier where you can gaze out into the sea on a warm day.
There are also heaps of free things you can do in The Hague.
Another option is Sea Life, a huge aquarium you can wander through for hours learning more about the 150 different species of fish they have there.
Want to visit the whole of the Netherlands for a day trip? Yes, it’s possible. Visit Madurodam for a small taste of a country that is already arguably rather small. This interactive miniature park also teaches you a little bit about the history and culture of the Netherlands. It’s an absolute treat for people of all ages, so get this on your list!
Have you ever been on a day trip to Schiedam from Rotterdam? Not yet? That is hard to believe because it is one of the most accessible, and closest places to visit from the city! If you just hop on the green, yellow or red line on the metro, and take it for 15-20 minutes, you’ve reached its centre!
Schiedam has some of the best windmills, and it’s the gin capital of the world. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.
Aah, good ol’ Amsterdam! A city that is (unfortunately) on everyone’s “Dutch cities to visit” list — the capital has evolved into a top tourist destination. It is a burgeoning city that continues to grow, attracting tourists, Dutchies, and expats alike. But is it with good reason?
That remains debatable (to me). But if you’re looking to do a day trip from Rotterdam so that you can tell your friends back home about your visit to the one Dutch city they have probably heard of, then read on.
Things to do in Amsterdam on a day trip
Any popular tourist destination comes with numerous tourist traps to avoid. DutchReview, being a site that wants to help you avoid these traps, has a lot of articles detailing everything you could possibly do in Amsterdam. We cover topics from how to behave when going to the red light district, to a cat lover’s guide to Amsterdam! It all depends on the kind of things you want to see there.
ARTIS Royal Zoo
Go to the oldest and largest zoo in the Netherlands! You can plan your trip so that you get to see what exactly you came there for. They have a schedule on their website, so don’t forget to check it before you go so that you can make the most of your visit there.
Zuid-Kennemerland National Park
It’s one of the best national parks in the Netherlands and is very close to Amsterdam. It is picturesque with a beach and sand dunes everywhere. Like other national parks, you can do lots here like swimming, hiking, horse riding, and more!
Other things to do in Amsterdam on a day trip
You could take a ride around the city on a boat, visit the many museums like the Van Gogh museum or the Rijksmuseum, visit the botanical gardens, or enjoy one of the many parks! There’s so much for you to choose from that we had to write a separate article: 30 things to do in Amsterdam.
If you’re someone who is looking for the best coffeeshops or wondering what the rules are for smoking weed, we have everything covered for you. Once you get your weed fix, you’re probably going to be looking for a place to ease those munchies — there are loads of great restaurants in Amsterdam.
The city that is the hardest to pronounce, Utrecht is your perfect getaway if you are tired of visiting the crowded tourist places in Amsterdam. A city I like to call mini Amsterdam — Utrecht is a great alternative when you want to sail along canals, ride through small Dutch streets, and enjoy a drink on the terraces.
My favourite thing about the city is that it has been dubbed the UNESCO City of Literature (see my bio down there). This was the driving factor of why I wanted to hop on that train and find myself at the centre point of literature in the Netherlands. Spoken word events, book readings, and so much more happen almost every day. They even have some events in English.
Besides that, the city has the iconic Dom Tower in the city centre which gives you amazing views of the city. If you’re someone who likes to see a city from up above, this could be the perfect spot for it. They’re currently restoring it, but you can still go inside.
If you’re into castles, then head to the Castle De Haar. The architecture styles are neo-gothic, with the oldest building dating back to the 14th century. The castle gardens stretch out for acres and frequently play host to a number of events throughout the year. There are more castles in the Netherlands you can see, so if this one is not your cup of tea, never fear because there are more.
Well, there you have it! 17 great day trips to take from Rotterdam! If you’re looking for more things to do in Rotterdam itself, there are a bunch of fun and free things at your disposal. Exhausted all the mainstream things and looking for some hidden gems in Rotterdam? We’ve got you covered on those too!
What’s your favourite day trip from Rotterdam? Tell us in the comments below!
Feature Image: Visual Stories || Micheile/Unsplash
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in April 2019 and was fully updated July 2021 for your reading pleasure.