1. Zaanse Schans
Think of the Netherlands, and immediately think of windmills, clogs, and the traditional Dutch architecture. A typical day trip from Amsterdam is to Zaanse Schans: a stunning village, close to Amsterdam, which centers around these typically Dutch symbols.
The village was created gradually, by carefully moving buildings here from within the Zaan region. Because of this, the village perfectly represents the history of the 18th and 19th centuries, transporting visitors back in time. This makes Zaanse Schans feel like a huge open-air museum, with preserved windmills, factories, and other historical exhibits.
Getting to Zaanse Schans
Getting to Zaanse Schans is super quick, making it easily one of the best day trips from Amsterdam! Take a train from Amsterdam in just 17 minutes or the bus in 30 minutes. If you prefer to have a guide, transport, and all activities included, opt for a half-day tour. This is one of the most popular ways of seeing the village.
2. Rotterdam – Perfect Day Trip From Amsterdam
Rotterdam is one of the most underrated travel destinations in the Netherlands! During the war, it was heavily bombed and the majority of the city had to be rebuilt.
Because of this, although old parts of the city do exist, it has become more famous for its artistic atmosphere, and daring design. Because Rotterdam is very different from other cities in the Netherlands, it’s one of the best day trips from Amsterdam.
Around every corner there is modern, cutting edge architecture, exciting restaurants and cafes, bustling markets, and colorful street art. All this and more, have led to Rotterdam being named Europe’s new ‘capital of cool’. Fun fact: it is home to Europe’s first-ever skyscraper: Witte Huis (White House)!
Getting to Rotterdam
By direct train from Amsterdam in just 25 (fast train) or 45 minutes. Rotterdam also has an airport serving many other European destinations. For this reason, it can be an affordable alternative to stay in over Amsterdam and a great base for the rest of your Netherlands travels.
Close to Rotterdam is Kinderdijk: 19 functioning windmills from the 18th century. Explore this stunning UNESCO world heritage site, where some people still live in the windmills, working them in the old way to help prevent flooding along the river.
Visit the mill’s inside and climb up wooden ladders to the top! Additionally, join a boat tour and cruise along the river sandwiched between the traditional windmills that sit on both sides.
Haarlem is a charming medieval city that borders Amsterdam. It’s home to charming cobbled streets, beautiful brick houses, and colorful doors. Hop on the 15-minute train for a great day trip from Amsterdam.
Grote Markt, the main center square, is always buzzing with activity; whether it be locals enjoying coffee in the sun, a food festival, or the weekly Saturday market. After exploring the city center, visit the iconic windmill ‘Molen de Adriaan’ on the waterside.
Direct train from Amsterdam to Haarlem in 15 minutes. The city is much cheaper and quieter than staying in Amsterdam, so it’s worth checking out hotels here and using Haarlem as a base to explore the capital city.
4. Volendam & Marken
The iconic Dutch fishing villages Volendam and Marken are one of the most popular day trips from Amsterdam. It’s famous for its beautiful setting on the lake Markermeer and the strong preservation of local traditions and buildings.
Volendam is famous for its local people, who honor their heritage by wearing traditional costumes. Secondly, it is famous for fish, particularly smoked eel and herring.
Don’t forget to also explore the maze-like area of the Doolhof. This is the oldest and most unique part of Volendam, where buildings are built totally at random!
The quaint village of Marken lies just across the lake from Volendam. This beautiful village has a totally untouched feel, with its colorful wooden houses, and fairytale style drawbridges. An unique thing to see are the houses built on small wooden hills. Interestingly, this was originally designed to protect the houses from the rising tides.
Getting to Volendam and Marken in a day trip from Amsterdam
Reach Volendam in 30 minutes by bus number 316 from Amsterdam. Getting to Marken can be done by Ferry from Volendam or hiring an electric bike and cycling all the way along the lake towards Marken (16KM).
5. Broek in Waterland
Broek in Waterland is one of the best, and easiest, day trips from Amsterdam, as you can also cycle there from Amsterdam central in under an hour!
Do not miss out on Teagarden Overleek for delicious coffee, tea, and cakes in a beautiful countryside setting! Even better, rent a whisper boat with them and cruise through the canals of Broek in Waterland! This stunning historical village is home to postcard scenery, with pastel-colored wooden houses that sit on the banks of the water.
Getting to Broek in Waterland in a day trip from Amsterdam
By bike (take the ferry from Amsterdam Centraal across to Amsterdam Noord, where you can then follow bike paths to Broek in Waterland). Alternatively, combine with a trip to one of the other nine historical villages in the Waterland region, including Volendam and Marken.
Giethoorn is one of the must-see villages in the Netherlands. This charming town has no roads and cars. Instead, it has canals and boats and is thought of as the small Venice of the Netherlands. Rent a traditional whisper boat (with an electric motor), or row along the tranquil canals by canoe.
Best time to visit: Due to its beauty, the village is popular among tourists. Because of this, get there as early as possible in the morning to see the village at its calmest.
Getting to Giethoorn on a day trip from Amsterdam
The easiest way to make a day trip from Amsterdam to Giethoorn is via car, in just 1.5 hours driving. Other than that, the best option is to join an organized tour, although this means you will be visiting within the tourist hours.
Amsterdams cute southern neighbor, and one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, is the beautiful city of Utrecht! Make a day trip from Amsterdam to explore its medieval streets, and climb the Dom Tower, which is the tallest church tower in the country!
Not only is Utrecht an exciting student city, but it is nowhere near as touristy as Amsterdam. There’s plenty to do in Utrecht, what with its endless calm canals, cute boutique shops and flower stalls, and stunning architecture from corner to corner.
Visitors can reach Utrecht in under 30 minutes from Amsterdam, by train, making it a super easy day trip.
Wander the romantic avenues, try the croissants, baguettes, and cheese, and visit the Eiffel Tower and Louvre museum.
Take the high-speed Thalys train from either Amsterdam (in 3.5 hours) or Rotterdam (in 2.5 hours). It’s a little further than your average Amsterdam day trip but well worth it!