Last updated: 8th November 2022
Most visitors to The Netherlands come to visit Amsterdam, but many are also looking for exciting day trips to see more of The Netherlands. I lived my entire life in The Netherlands and asked hundreds of my fellow Dutchmen about their favorite day trips to select Amsterdam’s 11 best day trips for you.
The 11 best day trips from Amsterdam are shown in the table below.
|Nr.||Day Trip||Distance from Amsterdam||How to get there|
|1||Visit the windmills of Zaanse Schans||17 km (10.6 mi.)||Train|
|2||Visit the Beemster polder, a UNESCO heritage site||28 km (17.4 mi.)||Car|
|3||Visit Volendam. Marken or Monnickendam||22 km (13,7 mi.)||Car|
|4||Watch tulips at Keukenhof or around Lisse||38 km (23,6 mi.)||Car|
|5||Enjoy a sunny day at the beach of Zandvoort||30 km (18,6 mi.)||Train|
|6||Visit the quaint city of Delft||65 km (40,4 mi.)||Train|
|7||Walk in Rembrandt’s footsteps in Leiden||47 km (29,2 mi.)||Train|
|8||Visit the Delta Works in Zeeland||161 km (100,0 mi.)||Car|
|9||Visit the windmills of Kinderdijk||98 km (60,9 mi.)||Car|
|10||Visit the cheese markt in Alkmaar||39 km (24,2 mi.)||Train|
|11||Go hiking over the mudflats of the Wadden Sea||159 km (98,8 mi.)||Car|
I have described these 11 best day trips from Amsterdam below and provided links if you want to know more about a specific day trip.
If you are more visually orientated, I suggest you scroll down to the bottom of this page to watch the fantastic Youtube video The Netherlands Beyond Amsterdam. This Youtube video has been viewed almost 8 million times in just a few years and will give you an excellent overview of The Netherlands outside of Amsterdam.
You can then check out the details of your preferred day trip.
1. Visit The Windmills of Zaanse Schans
The characteristic Dutch windmills are ubiquitous in The Netherlands, and there are still close to 1200 Dutch windmills. If you want to understand why there are so many windmills in The Netherlands, you may be interested in reading another article on this website; why is The Netherlands known for windmills?
These Dutch windmills are maintained and operated by volunteers who enjoy keeping the tradition alive. The best place to admire and visit windmills when you stay in Amsterdam is Zaanse Schans, just north of Amsterdam.
In the area around these windmills of Zaanse Schans, a picturesque residential area of the 19th and 18th centuries has been recreated with wooden houses, barns, and workshops. You can see how clogs are made, visit a cheese factory, and eat pancakes with the children. It is essentially an open-air museum exhibiting the industrial past of Zaanse Schans.
You can also make a boat trip to experience the environment from the water, which is nice. Zaanse Schans is a charming little village with more than just windmills; you can find more information here. I highly recommend that you visit Zaanse Schans early in the morning because it can get very crowded with visitors.
How to get there: There are plenty of organized day trips to Zaanse Schans, but you might also hop on the train to Zaandijk – Zaanse Schans. Local trains from Amsterdam Central Station can reach this railway station in 17 minutes. You can then walk to the Zaanse Schans in about 15 minutes.
2. Visit The Beemster Polder; A UNESCO Heritage Site
The Beemster polder is one of the earliest examples of the drainage of large areas. For example, 43 windmills drained the Beemster polder at the beginning of the 17th century. That was a unique achievement in those days if you consider how large the Beemster polder is.
If you drive through the Beemster Polder, you will note how flat the region is and how systematic the drainage canals’ design is. You will immediately understand why a large part of The Netherlands is below sea level.
The Beemster Polder has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as a masterpiece of creative planning. The design of this newly acquired land reflected the ideals of antiquity. It is remarkable that this large Beemster lake was turned into fertile soil four centuries ago and has been cultivated ever since. As a result, cheese from the Beemster polder is one of the best cheeses produced in the Netherlands.
Suppose you are interested in the history and technology of water and hydraulic management of the Beemster and The Netherlands. In that case, we recommend you visit the visitor center of the Beemster Polder World Heritage site in Middenbeemster.
How to get there: The Beemster polder can best be visited by car because it is a large area and difficult to explore without a car.
3. Visit Volendam, Marken Or Monnickendam
The picturesque towns around the IJsselmeer, Volendam, Monnickendam, and Marken appeal to visitors’ imagination, with their authentic facades, fishing boats, and picturesque harbors.
If you have time, you can visit more than one of these quaint villages. For example, I love the combination of Volendam and Marken because you can take a boat trip between these two villages.
How to get there: A car is the best way to explore these traditional Dutch villages. Alternatively, book an organized trip because there are plenty of them.
Why Visit Volendam?
Volendam has only 22.000 inhabitants but attracts around 2.5 million visitors annually. And there is a reason for that.
Volendam’s harbor is a quintessential example of the intense focus on the sea of the Dutch. As a result, the Volendam harbor area is justifiably one of the most distinct and beautiful parts of the Netherlands you will find.
For centuries, Volendam was a fishermen’s village whose inhabitants lived from what the sea had to offer. The tiny houses illustrate that it was still a hard life and that one had to work hard to survive. Yet, living next to and on the water is what The Netherlands is all about. The fresh wind at the IJsselmeer will let you experience that feeling like nothing else.
After the Afsluitdijk was built in 1932, fishing was no longer viable after the saltwater Zuiderzee turned into the IJsselmeer’s freshwater. Fortunately, these fishermen’s towns reinvented themselves as top-rated tourist attractions and found other income and employment forms for their population. For example, Volendam is known for its unique costumes. Frau Antje, the girl who promotes Dutch cheese in Germany, wears a Volendam costume.
If you have more time available, we highly recommend taking a boat trip to Marken, another fishing town we described below in more detail. A boat trip over the IJsselmeer will let you experience how it is to be on the water, and being on the water is very much a Dutch thing.
Why Should I Visit Marken?
Marken is a beautiful picturesque Dutch village located on an island, but it can be reached by car via an embankment. However, taking the boat from Volendam to Marken is more fun. Marken is also less crowded than Volendam, which makes the atmosphere in Marken more authentic than in Volendam.
Marken is best known for its beautiful green wooden houses that are a familiar sight in many tourist brochures about the Netherlands. There are plenty of bars and restaurants around the harbor with fantastic views over the water towards Monnickendam.
I recommend you stroll around the village to admire the green wooden houses. You will not need more than an hour to see the entire town. It will probably be one of the highlights of your visit to The Netherlands.
Tip: Visit the wooden shoe factory in Marken and discover why the Dutch loved their wooden shoes or get a pair of them yourself.
Why Should I Visit Monnickendam?
Monnickendam is the least tourist-oriented of these three fishermen’s villages. However, if you want to experience how life here really used to be, you should visit Monnickendam. Monnickendam gives you a feeling that life has just gone on, and they didn’t notice that the world around them has changed completely.
Monnickendam will be an excellent harbor to stay over for the night if you visit this region with your boat. It is a very different atmosphere than in the two other Volendam and Marken.
4. Watch Tulips At Keukenhof
If you happen to visit Amsterdam in springtime, one of the best day trips you can make from Amsterdam is to enjoy the colorful tulip fields of the Keukenhof, the most beautiful spring garden. Keukenhof and the surrounding area around Lisse are among the best places in the Netherlands to admire the blooming flowers in springtime. The best period of the year to visit Keukenhof is between mid-April and mid-May.
Millions of visitors enjoy the 7 million flowers that make the Keukenhof one of the most popular attractions of the Netherlands. The Keukenhof is reasonably close to Amsterdam (38 km) and can best be reached by car.
Unfortunately, the Keukenhof and the surrounding area are extremely crowded with tourists when the tulips are blooming. Read the 6 best places to watch Dutch tulips for free if you are looking for equally beautiful tulip fields in The Netherlands that are less crowded with tourists.
How to get there: There will be plenty of organized trips to Keukenhof during springtime. However, a car is far easier and allows you to explore the tulip fields around Keukenhof.
5. Enjoy A Sunny Day At The Beach Of Zandvoort
If you visit Amsterdam and would like to spend a day at the beach, Zandvoort is the beach you should consider. This is because you reach the beach of Zandvoort in less than 30 minutes by train. In addition, the train station of Zandvoort is located next to the beach, making it very easy for you. However, be aware that trains to and from Zandvoort will be very crowded on sunny days.
Zandvoort is one of the best beach resorts in the Netherlands and is very popular among the young and hip. There are about 35 beach clubs in Zandvoort, some of which rank very high on the yearly national hit list of “places to be” and “coolest beach clubs “.
I have written another article about the 25 best beaches and beach resorts in The Netherlands if you want to go to a Dutch beach other than Zandvoort.
How to get there: If you hop on the train in Amsterdam, you will arrive at Zandvoort beach in about 30 minutes.
6. Visit The Quaint City Of Delft
Delft is a charming Dutch city because it is a compact city with a fascinating history, beautiful architecture, and lively terraces. This mix of the Netherlands’ history with a compact historical city center with many young people makes Delft a lively and vibrant Dutch city.
Delft is absolutely worth visiting. Delft played a vital role in the Netherlands’ history as the home of William of Orange, the Netherlands’ founder. William of Orange lived in The Prinsenhof, now a museum you can visit. Delft was also the home of Johannes Vermeer, one of the world-famous Dutch painters of the 17th century. Last but not least, Delft is known for its Delft Blue earthenware, the tin-glazed white-blue ceramic pottery.
Delft has many charming canals and historic houses, just like Amsterdam, but a fraction of the tourists wander around compared to Amsterdam. I live close to Delft, come there often, and love this quaint little city.
How to get there: A train will take you an hour from Amsterdam to the center of Delft.
7. Walk In Rembrandt’s Footsteps in Leiden
Rembrandt lived in Leiden for the first 25 years of his life. It was in Leiden that he developed his exceptional talent to become world-famous. These early years in Leiden were crucial for Rembrandt and shaped him as a painter.
You can buy a booklet with a Rembrandt Walking Tour description in Leiden at the tourist information office in Leiden. This Rembrand Walking Tour will last about two hours, and you will visit all the important sites in Rembrandt’s early years.
Walking through Leiden is like walking in an open-air museum because the city’s center has been exceptionally well preserved. All the important locations in Rembrandt’s period in Leiden are within walking distance. It is remarkable how well Leiden has maintained the spirit of the Golden Age.
Rembrandt’s development in Leiden was stunning and made him a famous painter in The Netherlands, much more famous than his contemporary, Johannes Vermeer. Find out what happened in Rembrandt’s early years that made him the best painter ever in The Netherlands.
How to get there: Leiden is just 36 minutes away from Amsterdam if you hop on the train. Leiden Central Station is in the middle of the center and just a few minutes’ walking away from the medieval part of Leiden.
8. Visit The Delta Works In Zeeland
The Dutch built the Delta works after the floodings in 1953, which killed about 1800 persons. Those floodings made crystal clear how vulnerable to floodings the Netherlands was. In another post, I described that 26% of the Netherlands was below sea level, and 59% could easily be flooded.
The Delta Works is the Netherlands’ primary defense system against high water in the southwestern part of The Netherlands. The Delta Works consists of 5 storm surge barriers, two locks, and six dams. The Delta Works is one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
- The Delta Works is an innovative water management project:
- Closing the sea’s open inlets shortened the coastline from 700 km to approximately 80 km.
- The storm surge barriers are unique because they are open when the weather is average, but they close when needed to provide optimal protection against the water.
The storm surge barrier in the Oosterschelde is the highlight of Delta Works. This storm surge barrier is 9 kilometers long and consists of 65 pillars from 30 to 40 m high, anchoring firmly in the sea. There are massive slides between these pillars that can go up and down.
The storm surge barriers that can open and close to protect the rivers are particularly ingenious. For example, the Hollandse IJsselkering and Maaslantkering are storm surge barriers for rivers (see a picture of the Hollandse IJsselkering below).
How to get there: The only realistic option to visit Delta Works is by car. However, you can also book an organized trip, of which there are plenty.
9. Visit The Windmills At Kinderdijk
If you want to understand how the Dutch created their land out of the water, I recommend visiting the windmills of Kinderdijk. The windmills and water management system of Kinderdijk are impressive. There is no better place to showcase the age-old struggle of the Dutch against the water than Kinderdijk.
The windmill complex at Kinderdijk, with its 19 windmills, is a pivotal part of an extensive hydraulic and water management network to keep the polders of the Alblasserwaard dry. It is such an innovative water management project that UNESCO has recognized the Kinderdijk windmill complex as one of the World Heritage Sites in The Netherlands.
The Kinderdijk windmill complex is a prototype of how water management has been set up in The Netherlands. A windmill can transport water 2-5 meters upwards, depending on the type of technology. In Kinderdijk, a two-step water transportation process is used to bring the water up to the river’s level to be transported back to the sea.
How to get there: Kinderdijk can be reached by public transportation, including a trip on the spectacular water bus, but that will be a hassle. So instead, it is far easier to reach by car. Alternatively, organized trips are also available to visit the Kinderdijk windmills.
10. Visit The Cheese Market In Alkmaar
The Netherlands is one of the largest exporters of cheese globally. As a result, you can buy Dutch cheese all over the world. That is remarkable for such a small country, and you may wonder why the Dutch produce so much cheese.
The Dutch produce so much cheese out of necessity since only grass grows well at their low-lying soggy farmland below sea level. The Dutch produce almost 900 million kg of cheese annually, most exported. The value of Dutch dairy exports is almost € 8,0 bln (US$ 9,5 bln) annually. The Dutch must have done something right if this soggy farmland turned into a global dairy export powerhouse…..!
There are still five cheese markets in the Netherlands. These five Dutch cheese markets occur in Gouda, Alkmaar, Edam, Hoorn, and Woerden every week during summertime.
At the markets of Gouda and Woerden, actual genuine trading in cheese still takes place. The other three cheese markets are tourist attractions but are worth visiting to experience a bit of Dutch culture with a long history.
How to get there: The easiest way to get to Alkmaar from Amsterdam is to hop on a train that will bring you in 37 minutes to the center of Alkmaar.
11. Go Hiking Over The Mudflats Of The Wadden Sea
How to get there?
Hiking over the mudflats of the Wadden Sea is one of the unique activities possible in the Netherlands. The overwhelming tranquility of the Wadden Sea makes mudflat walking an unforgettable experience.
The best Wadden Sea mudflat hikes are between the mainland of Groningen and Ameland or Schiermonnikoog. You can also hike to sandbanks like Engelsmanplaat or Simonszand or depart from these sandbanks. Short mudflats hikes close to the mainland of Groningen are also possible.
The Wadden Sea is one of the last remaining areas in the Netherlands where natural processes have remained largely undisturbed. As a result, the Wadden Sea is an area where you hear nothing but the sound of the wind and the birds. I find the Wadden Sea beautiful, just beautiful….!
How to get there: The only realistic option to reach the north of Groningen is by car.
Best Youtube Video: The Netherlands Beyond Amsterdam
Most visitors to The Netherlands come to The Netherlands first and foremost to visit Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is Europe’s best-preserved 17th-century city while, at the same time, Amsterdam has a contemporary edge. Amsterdam is a progressive city, invigorated by a time-honored live and let live. However, Amsterdam is not a big city, and you will have seen all the instagrammable highlights of Amsterdam after 2-3 days.
Many visitors then make a day trip to see more of the Netherlands. I suggest watching the Youtube video below to get a good impression of what The Netherlands offers beyond Amsterdam.
This Youtube video has been viewed almost 8 million times in just a few years and will give you an excellent overview of The Netherlands outside of Amsterdam.