Amsterdam is a charming city with a fascinating history, attracting millions of visitors each year.
There can be so much focus on the city with its good old coffee shops, canals and the Red Light District, that people can forget there is so much more to see in The Netherlands.
Day trips are the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of vibrant Amsterdam. Within an hour away (mostly accessible by public transport), you can discover the different Netherlands, dive into history and enjoy the beauty of its landscapes, endless tulip fields and historic windmills.
We have listed the best day trip destinations below, all easily accessible by public transport from our hotel. For more recommendations, you can also be advised by Tours and Tickets (their closest shop from our hotel is at Reguliersbreestraat 35, 1017 CM Amsterdam), who organise several tours around the country or a combination of popular destinations.
Schansend 7 1509AW Zaandam
Would you like to see the everyday life of Dutch people of the 17th and 18th century? Then Zaanse Schans is the best option. Located right outside Zaandam, in this region you will see authentic wooden houses, windmills, a tinware factory, a cheese and dairy factory and other crafts typical of the time. The village is constructed as an open-air museum.
During the 17th century in the area around the Zaanse Schans, more than 600 windmills were constructed, creating the first industrial zone. The windmills were used (aside from the obvious flour production) to grind spices, produce paint, saw wood and make oil. Some of these windmills still exist today, and you can visit them and study the mechanism behind the carcass.
After you have explored the wind giants, it is time to check out the museums that Zaanse Schans has to offer its visitors. There is the original Albert Heijn Museumwinkel, dating 1887, where you can see how the grocery shops looked before the era of supermarkets. In the Bakery Museum, you will discover the old craft of baking, and the Honig Breethuis presents the home of a 19th-century merchant family. The Museum Zaanse Tijd shows a collection of unique clocks, most of which still work. The Zaan Museum has a remarkable collection of utensils, clothing and paintings from the area. You can also visit the Verkade Experience, a 20th-century chocolate factory, which is hard to miss because the divine smell of chocolate is in the air. The original machines there are still working to produce the very best chocolate and cookies. You can try their finest hot chocolate and hear a story or two from the friendliest staff members, all dressed up in a time appropriate attire, which makes the experience even more believable.
The Zaanse Schans is situated by the de Zaan river, making the area particularly suitable for exploration by boat. Various companies offer boat tours. Step aboard the Koeienboot (cow boat), which was used to transport cattle across the water in the past. The guide will tell you many interesting stories about the way of life in the Zaanstreek during those years.
How to get there:
Jump on a number 4 tram from Rembrandtplein in the direction to Amsterdam Centraal.
Once at Central Station, go to the bus terminal which is on the Ij River side. You will find bus number 391, which takes you directly to the Zaanse Schans within 40 minutes.
Stationsweg 166A, 2161 AM Lisse
If you are travelling to The Netherlands in spring, be sure to visit Keukenhof Gardens, where you will experience the gorgeous views of blooming Dutch tulips and other flowers which The Netherlands is famous for. Keukenhof is the largest, most renowned flower park in the world, located not far from Amsterdam.
In Keukenhof park, more than 7 million flower bulbs are planted every year. Gardens and four pavilions show a fantastic collection of tulips, roses, hyacinths, daffodils, orchids, carnations, irises, lilies and many more. A burst of colours and perfumes will surround you.
The best time to visit Keukenhof is in mid-April when the majority of flowers are already in bloom as well as the nearby tulip fields. To avoid the crowds, it is best to arrive in the morning.
Keukenhof has a different theme each year and with its uniqueness, attracts over a million visitors every year.
How to get there:
Keukenhof is located only a 40 minute drive away from Amsterdam. The easiest and most comfortable way to travel would be to book a tour, where the tour bus will take you to and from the desired destination. Tour buses usually depart from the opposite side of Amsterdam Centraal. Take a free ferry ride to the other side.
If you wish to travel by public transport, then go to Amsterdam Centraal with tram number 4, from there take the train to Hoofddorp station, from there switch to Keukenhof Express bus number 859.
Volendam, the old fishing village at the Markermeer, is famous for its local traditional costumes, music and fish. The typical Dutch small wooden houses, beautiful canals and the drawbridges form the most picturesque spots. Get lost in an atmosphere of friendliness and romance. You will find a maze of quaint houses and narrow streets behind the harbour (called: “Doolhof”). A visit to Volendam typically begins with a stroll down De Dijk, the main harbour strip, which remains a lively shopping and residential street. On one side you have the working trawlers and fishing boats, which is still the lifeblood for so many in the area. Make the most of your time in the fishing village by sampling the freshly caught seafood. A variety of cosy cafés and restaurants, souvenir shops that are open seven days a week along with outdoor seafood vendors, will tempt your tastebuds with the catch of the day. Make sure you taste fresh fish here or to try on a traditional costume!
A visit to Volendam isn’t complete without a trip to the “Volendam historical museum”. The museum houses a quirky assortment of artefacts, traditional clothing and life-sized dioramas, which give you an idea of life in the 19th century. It also exhibits paintings and drawings by the many artists who visited the town in that era.
For the cheese lovers, you can visit the Cheese Factory, one of the latest attractions in the city with interactive installations, activities and of course, tastings. Also, thousands of people head to Volendam to take part in a variety of water sports during the warmer months of the year.
How to get there:
Take the tram number 4 or 14 to Amsterdam Centraal, and then take the bus 110 or 316 which are leaving Amsterdam Central Station several times an hour. To make the most of your day exploring, take advantage of the Amsterdam & Region Travel Ticket, which offers unlimited travel on buses, trams, trains and metros in the Amsterdam Area for 24 hours for just €19.50.
Efteling (World of Wonders),
Europalaan 1, 5171 KW Kaatsheuvel
Efteling is a fantasy-themed amusement park, located in Kaatsheuvel. The essence of the park represents ancient myths and legends, fairy tales and folklore.
The park was opened on May 31, 1952. It evolved from a nature park with a playground and a Fairytale Forest into a full-sized adventure theme park. Efteling is suitable for both children and adults with its cultural, romantic and nostalgic themes, in addition to its wide range of roller coasters.
It is the largest amusement park in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in the world. Twice as big as the original Disneyland park in California, it preexists it by three years. Annually, the park has more than 5 million visitors.
How to get there:
Take the tram number 4 or 14 to the Amsterdam Centraal, from the station take the train to ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch). From there, you will find bus connections that go to Efteling (bus lines 300, 301, 136 and 800). Get off at the Efteling bus stop. Duration on the trip is around 1h 45min.
Perhaps one of the most typical old-Holland style towns – Delft – is famous for its blue and white “Delft Blue” pottery.
Dive into the atmosphere of the characteristic historic town with its picturesque canals, cosy streets, Old Church, New Church and the Market Square. From the tower of the new Church, you will get a breathtaking view of the city.
If you are an art enthusiast, visit Vermeer Centrum dedicated to Johannes Vermeer, with paintings, audio tours and a light studio.
The town is full of little cafes, souvenir and thrift shops and authentic restaurants like Kek or ‘t Postkantoor offering various traditional Dutch dishes. Delft is an ultimate getaway from the craze of a bigger city, still delivering the best historical and cultural experience to its visitors.
How to get there:
Take tram number 4 or 14 to Amsterdam Centraal and from there change to the train going to Delft. The journey takes around 1 hour.
It is essential not to miss the beauty behind the obvious, so take a day off from Amsterdam and explore what else this vast and history-rich land has to offer. The adventure doesn’t end on the border of Amsterdam, it only begins.
Just 30 minutes away from Amsterdam, you will find the town of the famous cheese – Edam! The locals are very proud of it, but the city has much more to offer. Edam is part of Old Holland and is a beautiful place to relax, stroll along the canals and wander in the streets. Find many classy shops, cafe terraces, all in a cosy and calm atmosphere. Edam is a town with authentic 17th-century architecture, showing off its rich past. When walking through the old streets and quiet canals, one can easily imagine how it must have been in a Dutch town all those centuries ago.
Just outside the city centre, you will find Fort Edam, which is part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam, with spectacular views on both the wetlands and the former Zuiderzee. Here, you are near the Beemster Polder, dating from the 17th century, which is an exceptional example of reclaimed land in the Netherlands. Fort Edam and Beemster Polder are listed as Unesco World Heritage.
If you love cheese, on Wednesdays during July and August, you can visit the world-famous cheese market. Up until 1922, the town used to host a market. The farmers from miles around were selling their wares at the cheese market. Nowadays, this market is entirely recreated with cheese carriers, inspectors, farmers and traders.
How to get there:
Take the tram number 4 or 14 to Amsterdam Centraal. Look out for the buses on the riverside of Amsterdam Central Station and go for the bus lines 110, 314 or 316.