19 best day trips from Amsterdam: the ultimate travel guide

Out of the city, into the Netherlands

Thinking about taking a day trip from Amsterdam? Wat leuk! (How nice!) There is heaps to see in the Dutch capital, but you can discover even more outside of the city. 

Picking what to do and see in a short time can be confusing and complicated — but we have some top travel recommendations, no matter what you want to see!

Here are 19 of the best day trips you can take from Amsterdam — sorted by distance. 😉

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Day trips less than 30-minutes from Amsterdam

If you won’t be in the city for long, a 30-minute day trip from Amsterdam is perfect if you want to get out of the city for a day! Here are our top picks for nearby towns and cities. 


1. Zaanse Schans: a picture-perfect town of windmills

A trip to the Netherlands would be incomplete without seeing windmills — and there’s no better way to see them than in the historical town of Zaanse Schans. 🍃

This quaint village gives visitors an accurate impression of Dutch living in the 17th and 18th centuries.

From cheese and dairy factories to traditional windmills and historical museums, you’ll live, breathe, and experience the old Zaan style of living. Classic!

🚗 Travel time by car: 21 minutes
🚃 Travel time by train: Amsterdam Centraal – Station Zaanse Schans, 17 minutes
Don’t miss: Zaanse windmills, Honig Breethuis, Museumwinkel


2. Haarlem: the river city

An ideal day trip from Amsterdam, Haarlem is located between the Spaarne River and coastal dunes — did someone say beach? 🏖

Canalside-view-of-Haarlem-in-the-Netherlands
Wouldn’t you just love to take a walk along the Spaarne river? ✨ Image: Depositphotos

This city has everything: bustling markets and shopping streets, plenty of family-friendly cultural activities like museums, comedy clubs, concerts, and cuisine choices to die for. 🍴

If you’re looking for a change of scenery but still want to have lots of activities to do, Haarlem is the place for you. 

🚗 Travel time by car: 30 minutes
🚃 Travel time by train: Amsterdam Centraal – Station Haarlem, 19 minutes
Don’t miss: St. Bavo’s Kerk (church), Grote Markt, Bloemendaal aan Zee


3. Broek in Waterland: a village fit for sea captains

Broek in Waterland made a name for itself back in the 16th century — a popular vacation destination for sea captains! 🧑🏻‍✈

If you’re looking for a getaway from the big city, Broek in Waterland is the definition of an idyllic Dutch town. 

READ MORE | The 10 best authentic Dutch villages that you have to visit

With a population of fewer than 2,500 people, this village has quiet streets and picturesque nature. 🌿

Old-traditional-harbour-of-Broek-in-waterland
A perfectly picturesque harbour. 🛶 Image: Depositphotos

Its standout feature is its traditional wooden houses, with more than 80 of them considered National Heritage Sites. 

There are also lots of biking and walking routes nearby. If you’re looking to get some fresh air and exercise while on a day trip from Amsterdam, check out the biking tours around the town!

🚗 Travel time by car: 14 minutes
🚃 Travel time by train: Amsterdam Centraal – Broek in Waterland, 18 minutes
Don’t miss: Traditional village townhouses


4. Marken: a former island in the Zuiderzee

Marken was separated from the Dutch mainland in the 13th century by a storm, turning it into an island in the Markermeer lake. ⛈ 

Residents of the town built wooden houses on artificial hills to prevent more flooding damage. To this day, these picturesque homes remain a popular cultural attraction. 

Only nine kilometres in area, you can easily walk across the whole town and island.

On your walk, you can visit the cosy town harbour or enjoy the scenic route of fields, forests, and the lakeshore. 🚣🏼

This lovely town has historical connections to Volendam, so you could make it a longer day trip from Amsterdam and visit two towns with one ferry. 😉

🚗 Travel time by car: 27 minutes
🚃 Travel time by train: Amsterdam Centraal – Marken, 45 minutes 
Don’t miss: Paard van Marken Lighthouse, The Marken Museum


5. Volendam: a traditional Dutch fishing town

Volendam is the best-known fishing village in the Netherlands. You can visit the old harbour full of traditional Dutch ships, many of which are still in use! 🎣

This day trip from Amsterdam would be incomplete without trying some of the fish delicacies — you can finally conquer your fear of raw haring (herring) and smoked eel, or stick to the delicious kibbeling (deep-fried codfish). 

Volendam-seaside-villages-and-town
Volendam offers a beautiful seaside town, fresh ocean air, and delicious food. Image: Depositphotos

Volendam is also one of the few towns where you can experience the traditional Dutch clothing style.

It’s one of the most recognisable traditional Dutch costumes, with charming hats and clogs (not everyone wears them, so they’re extra special). You can even wear the clothes yourself for a souvenir picture!


Day trips less than one hour from Amsterdam

If you have a little more time on your hands, these day trips from Amsterdam are worth checking out!

They’re just a tad further away from the Dutch capital, but you’ll find some beautiful monuments and sites if you make the trip. 


6. Hoorn: the pearl of the IJsselmeer

Hoorn is located by the IJsselmeer, an artificial sea-turned-lake in Noord Holland. This harbour town has a lively centre, with plenty of shops, terraces, and restaurants to enjoy.

If you’re looking for an authentic Dutch maritime village, Hoorn is the go-to choice. 

Old-harbour-of-Hoorn-in-the-Netherlands
An artificial island destination, this day trip from Amsterdam is plenty of fun. Image: Depositphotos

You can also check out historical monuments like the historic ship and 16th-century warehouses, the defence tower built in the 16th century, and the Oosterkerk (Eastern Church) for fishers and sailors!

If you want to get active, you can try out some water sports (although we can’t guarantee comfortable water temperatures 🥶) or take a walk on the beach and dunes around the area. 🚶🏻

🚗 Travel time by car: 35 minutes
🚃 Travel time by train: Amsterdam Centraal – Station Hoorn, 33 minutes
Don’t miss: Westfries Museum, The Red Square, De Hoornse Straatjes


7. Leiden: the city of arts and sciences

With canals and architecture to rival Amsterdam, Leiden might be one of the most underrated places. We should know — it’s our headquarters and one of our favourite Dutch cities!

A walk through the city centre will show you all the trendy restaurants, bars, and cafés.

Leiden is also home to cute unique shops where you can buy handmade ceramics, old-fashioned mechanical wristwatches, and vintage records. 

A university city since 1575, Leiden has been a prominent art and science centre of the world.

The inner city is full of museums and historical buildings like the Leiden Citadel and the old city gates. It was also home to more Dutch artists than you might expect — Rembrandt, Steen, and more! 👨🏼‍🎨

Plenty of trains pass through Leiden, making it a convenient day trip from Amsterdam. 😌

🚗 Travel time by car: 42 minutes
🚃 Travel time by train: Amsterdam Centraal – Leiden Centraal, 43 minutes
Don’t miss: Hortus Botanicus Leiden, Hooglandse Kerk, Museum de Lakenhal


8. Utrecht: the very centre of the Dutch mainland

Utrecht is the Netherlands’ bright, beating heart connecting the east to the west at the centre of the Netherlands.

Built around the Dom Tower, you can see this spectacular monument from all around the city — so you’ll never get lost!

The historic city is surrounded by an old moat called The Singel, built for defence in the 12th century.

One of the most special parts of Utrecht is its unique terraces: landings right next to the canals that thrive with bars and restaurants. 

Terraces-on-canals-in-Utrecht
Combining two very Dutch things: canals and terraces! Image: Depositphotos

With lots of places to shop and eat, cultural spots like museums and concert halls, access to nature, and beautiful inner-city sites, you won’t run out of things to do in Utrecht

This city is a super convenient day trip from Amsterdam because of the direct intercity train (the fast train that travels between cities) that runs four times an hour. The journey is less than 30 minutes! 🚅

🚗 Travel time by car: 44 minutes
🚃 Travel time by train: Amsterdam Centraal – Utrecht Centraal, 26 minutes
Don’t miss: The Dom Tower, Rietveld Schröder House, Hoog Catharijne


9. Rotterdam: a city with an unmatched skyline

A city of skyscrapers, bright buildings, and modern facades, Rotterdam is the metropolis of the Netherlands. 🏙

Rotterdam was heavily bombed during World War II, which is why you see far less iconic Dutch architecture from the 17th century, like in Amsterdam or Leiden.  

The city has a thriving nightlife scene, sophisticated shopping streets and markets, hip cultural attractions, and a wealth of good food.

Rotterdam might be best known for its expansive port and the iconic skyline that graces the river Maas. ⛴

It’s also another convenient day trip from Amsterdam with direct intercity trains running every 15 minutes from the central stations!

🚗 Travel time by car: 1 hour and 1 minute
🚃 Travel time by train: Amsterdam Centraal – Rotterdam Centraal, 41 minutes
Don’t miss: Markthal, The Euromast, The Cube Houses, Blijdorp Zoo


10. The Hague: city of international peace and justice

The Hague is the political capital of the Netherlands, making it a perfect pairing for a day trip from Amsterdam, the cultural capital.

This Dutch city is filled with historical monuments and museums, is the only major city with a beach and has an international scene second to none in the Netherlands. 

You can enjoy a beautiful city centre with places to eat and shop to your heart’s desire, or perhaps go hiking in one of many scenic locations in the Hague like the Haagse Bos. 

If you’re looking to dip your feet in the (albeit, freezing) sea, look no further than Scheveningen Pier.

It’s the perfect place to sit by the beach, grab a drink, and enjoy the sea, whether it’s doing water sports or just lounging. 🙂

🚗 Travel time by car: 58 minutes
🚃 Travel time by train: Amsterdam Centraal – Den Haag Centraal, 53 minutes
Don’t miss: Peace Palace, Buitenhof, Madurodam, Scheveningen Pier and Boardwalk


11. Delft: home to Vermeer and Delft Blaauw

Delft has an international reputation for being the hometown of Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer and the originator of Delft Blaauw (Delft Blue) pottery.

It is the definition of a full-sized city with a small-town feeling — gezellig! 🔵

View-of-main-square-in-Delf-the-Netherlands
Delft has a stunning main square — it makes for the perfect place to start your adventure in this lovely town! Image: Depositphotos

The city boasts beautiful architecture and historical sights like the Eastern Gate from the old city walls to the New Church of Delft.

If you’re curious about experiencing another student city, Delft’s busy nightlife will keep you up on your feet all night long. 💃🏻

🚗 Travel time by car: 59 minutes
🚃 Travel time by train: Amsterdam Centraal – Station Delft, 1 hour and 5 minutes
Don’t miss: Delft City Hall, Old Church of Delft


12. Gouda: the birthplace of iconic Dutch cheese 

Which came first, the cheese or the city? For Gouda, the city is the namesake for this world-famous cheese. 🧀

It’s a surprisingly old city with plenty of old monuments and buildings from as early as the 13th century, like the city hall (formerly surrounded by a moat!) and St. John’s Church. 

Saint-John's-church-tower-in-the-city-of-Gouda-the-netherlands
Gouda has beautiful scenery in this modern landscape. Image: Depositphotos

The city is quaint, but the centre bustles with shops, restaurants, bars, and cafés.

Check out the weekly Markt (market) on Thursdays and Saturdays and the first Fairtrade Street in the Netherlands, where all street food is sustainably produced and sold!

🚗 Travel time by car: 1 hour
🚃 Travel time by train: Amsterdam Centraal – Station Gouda, 53 minutes
Don’t miss: Gouda cheese market, Old City Hall, The Waag (weigh house) Museum


13. Schiedam: home to the world’s tallest windmill

Yep, you heard that right! While there are windmills all around the Netherlands, Schiedam has the tallest traditional windmills of all, standing at 26.6 metres. 🍃

Tall windmills for a tall group of people, it seems. 🤷🏻

Tallest-windmill-in-Schiedam-the-netherlands
Take a look at how tall this windmill is! It’s almost unbelievable. 🤯 Image: Depositphotos

Schiedam is also known for being the Netherlands’ gin capital, with the city producing the most jenever (also known as Dutch gin) in the country.

There are multiple bars museums where you can check out the production process. 🍸

Apart from windmills and gin, you can visit Gothic cathedrals, 14th-century churches, and history museums, creating an excellent combination of culture and recreation in one day trip from Amsterdam!

🚗 Travel time by car: 55 minutes
🚃 Travel time by train: Amsterdam Centraal – Schiedam Centrum, 1 hour and 8 minutes
Don’t miss: National Jenever Museum, Jenever ‘t Spul, Liduina Basilica, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam


Day trips over an hour from Amsterdam

If you’re looking to get out of the region and visit a far off place (for Dutch standards), here are some longer day trips from Amsterdam!


14. Dordrecht: a historic trading port

Dordrecht is the oldest city in Holland (we mean the old province of Holland and not the so-called “country”!).

There are plenty of cultural spots, including seven churches and several historical monuments-turned-museums. 

Harbour-and-canal-in-dordrecht-the-netherlands
You can spend a whole day just walking along the canals of Dordrecht. Image: Depositphotos

While most of the Netherlands is surrounded by canals and dikes, water and boats make a unique part of Dordrecht’s cityscape. 

As an old trading port, there are plenty of historic boats scattered around the old harbours connected by canals. Check out the canal network and catch a boat tour! 🚤 

🚗 Travel time by car: 1 hour and 5 minutes
🚃 Travel time by train: Amsterdam Centraal – Dordrecht Centraal, 1 hour and 34 minutes
Don’t miss: Dordrechtsmuseum, Munt van Holland (Mint of Holland), Grote Kerk


15. Tilburg: Dutch textile central

Tilburg is the second-largest city in Noord Brabant and is a city with a focus on turning old into new. ✨

Originally famous for its textile industry, the city has now made a name for itself for its energetic street art, world-class museums, urban scene, and as one of the greenest cities in the Netherlands. 

Don’t miss a trip to the LocHal library, a former warehouse converted into a library and the 2019 World Building of the Year!

If you visit in July, Tilburg runs a 10-day fair that draws more than a million visitors every year. 🎡

🚗 Travel time by car: 1 hour and 28 minutes
🚃 Travel time by train: Amsterdam Centraal – Tilburg Centraal, 1 hour and 52 minutes
Don’t miss: Textielmuseum, Stadsmuseum Tilburg, Tilburg Kermis


16. Groningen: the hidden gem of the north

Despite being far away from most big cities, Groningen attracts many travel buffs, making it the perfect day trip from Amsterdam if you really want to get out of your surroundings. 

Groningen has a compact city centre with restaurants and shops, beautiful sites like the Martini Tower and Grote Markt, and contemporary art museums. 🗼

As a student city, Groningen has exciting nightlife — plenty of clubs and bars included. 😉

Along with an energetic centre, quiet countryside surrounds Groningen city, which you can enjoy.

You can hike on one of the beautiful trails through the dunes and along the coast or take a cycle route around artificial hills, forests, and old forts. 

🚗 Travel time by car: 2 hours
🚃 Travel time by train: Amsterdam Centraal – Groningen Station, 2 hours
Don’t miss: Groninger Museum, Martinitoren, Groningen City Centre


17. Den Helder: city of the sun

Surrounded by water on three sides, Den Helder is a maritime city at heart.

On the northernmost point of the Dutch coast, the city has a lot of naval sights to see, including the largest naval base in the Netherlands. 

Den Helder boasts a rich history with the largest Dutch naval base, a historic harbour, and fascinating marine attractions, including the North Sea Aquarium and three museum ships (museums homed in historic ships from the Dutch Navy!). 

If you’re seeking nature and scenery, the city has a wide variety of landscapes — you can take a refreshing hike around the dunes and polders surrounding the Wadden Sea. 

🚗 Travel time by car: 1 hour and 10 minutes
🚃 Travel time by train: Amsterdam Centraal – Den Helder, Steiger TESO, 1 hour and 40 minutes
Don’t miss: Fort Kijkduin, The Marine Museum, Lange Jaap Lighthouse


18. Giethoorn: Venice of the Netherlands

A picture-perfect landscape, Giethoorn is an almost entirely car-free village, replaced with boats and, of course, bicycles.

READ MORE | 21 beautiful towns in the Netherlands that aren’t Amsterdam

You don’t want to miss a boat tour around this scenic town or a pleasant hike around the area. 🚶🏻

Giethoorn is a Dutch town through and through — with winding canals, countless boats, and quaint matching houses, it doesn’t get more gezellig than this. 🧘🏻

🚗 Travel time by car: 1 hour and 26 minutes
🚃 Travel time by train: Amsterdam Centraal – Blauwe Hand Bus Station, 2 hours
Don’t miss: Boat tour through Giethoorn, Gondola festival, Giethoorn walking route


19. Bourtange: the medieval fortress village

While the name suggests a beautiful rural town in France, Bourtange is actually in the Netherlands! Although, it might be the longest day trip from Amsterdam yet. 

This small village is a perfectly restored fortress town from medieval times in the north, built in the shape of a star. ⭐️

Aerial-view-of-bourtange-village-in-the-netherlands
Literally and figuratively a star of a town! 🤩 Image: Depositphotos

With a population of 430 people, there isn’t much room for proper shopping — but you can check out smaller quirky shops with Delfs Blaauw pottery, candles, other gifts, and trinkets. 

We recommend exploring the mediaeval architecture which you’ll find all over the city. From fortified walls and traditional houses to windmills, visiting Bourtange is like visiting a village-sized museum!

🚗 Travel time by car: 2 hours and 35 minutes
🚃 Travel time by train: Amsterdam Centraal – Bourtange Bus Station, 3 hours and 16 minutes
Don’t miss: City fortifications, Church of Bourtange


How to get around the Netherlands for day trips

There are a couple of ways to get around for day trips in the Netherlands depending on what you’re comfortable with; taking public transport, hiring a car, and cycling. 

Using the Dutch public transport system for day trips

Public transport in the Netherlands is reliable and easy to use — most big cities have trains, trams, and buses, and some, like Rotterdam and Amsterdam, even have metros and ferries. 

If you’re travelling between cities and towns, you can buy many types of (cheap) train tickets. The day ticket is the most common and accessible ticket to travel on any train during off-peak hours. 

You can buy tickets on most trams and buses within cities. Metro and train stations have machines to buy tickets. The Netherlands also has an extensive night public transport system that you can use.

taking-the-amsterdam-public-tram-system-on-day-trips-from-amsterdam
Several of the bigger cities, like Amsterdam, are also home to their own tram networks. Image: Freepik

An OV-chipkaart (public transport card) can be the easiest option if you plan to make a lot of day trips from Amsterdam using public transport.

With this, you can load a balance on so you can check in and out of the turnstiles with ease.

You can usually buy an anonymous OV-chipkaart in the major train stations. Just go to the NS service desk and ask to buy one!

Hiring a car to visit Dutch towns and cities

There are five major car rental companies where you can hire a car: Avis Budget, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Europcar, Hertz, and Sixt.

If you’re flying into Schiphol Airport, you can rent a car from one of these companies directly at the airport. You can pre-book a car or just go with the flow and see what’s there on the day!

If you’re arriving in Amsterdam another way, these car rental companies have rental locations in the city itself. 

Biking on a day trip from Amsterdam

Biking around your desired day trip city is a great way to get a feel for Dutch cycling culture! 

If you have a personal OV chipkaart (only available to residents of the Netherlands), you can go full circle and rent an OV-fiets.

photo-of-man-and-woman-cycling-on-their-day-trips-from-amsterdam
Cycling is hands down the best way to get around a city in the Netherlands. Image: Depositphotos

The NS has set up bicycle rental locations at most train stations, bus and metro stops, and P+R facilities which you can rent for a few hours at a time. 

If you only have an anonymous OV-chipkaart or none at all, you can rent a bicycle from companies in Amsterdam.

Different types of bicycles are available for hourly/daily rates. We promise you don’t have to bike like a seasoned Dutchie — but do be careful on the bike paths. 

Day trips from Amsterdam: frequently asked questions

What are the best day trips from Amsterdam?

Where can I see windmills near Amsterdam?

Where can I see tulips near Amsterdam?

Can you do a day trip from Amsterdam to Bruges?

Where is it easy to travel to from Amsterdam?

What’s close to Amsterdam by train?

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Katrien Nivera 🇵🇭
Katrien Nivera 🇵🇭
Third culture kid Katrien has been working as a writer and editor at DutchReview for over two years, originally moving to the Netherlands as a tween. Equipped with a Bachelor’s in communication and media and a Master’s in political communication, she’s here to stay for her passion for writing, whether it’s current Dutch affairs, the energy market, or universities. Just like the Dutch, Katrien lives by her agenda and enjoys the occasional frietje met mayo — she just wishes she could grow tall, too.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. How about Utrecht? Or Harderwijk? Edam? Or with a slightly longer drive Sneek or Bolsward, Harlingen, Leeuwarden? I could even provide some tips on why and what to enjoy.

  2. Where is Haarlem on this list?? Closer to Amsterdam than Leiden, only 15 minutes by train. Full of history, canals, restaurants, bars and shops.

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