When one thinks about visiting the Netherlands, Amsterdam is the first place that comes to mind. But did you know that there are many other beautiful places worth a visit, all within less than 2 hours from Amsterdam?
Amsterdam is a beautiful city and always full of live, but it may not be the best place if you are looking to kick back and get away from the bustle of the city.
So for those who woke up in Amsterdam and have sworn to “never doing this again”, here is a list of alternative day trips from Amsterdam:
The neighborhood of Zaanse Schans has some of the most well preserved windmills and historic houses in the region, and is one of the most visited outdoor attractions in the Netherlands.
Entering the neighborhood is like stepping through time all the way back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Take a stroll while looking at the vivid green houses by the river, or visit one of the area’s many museums.
There is also a wooden clog factory (entrance is free of charge) which also presents a free demonstration on how these (apparently) comfortable clogs are done today. As well, there is a cheese factory preparing and selling many of the local produce (at a much cheaper price than what it’s sold in Amsterdam).
But the region’s main attraction are its windmills, many of which are still operational, and some allowing entrance to visitors.
From Amsterdam Centraal take a train to Zaandijk Zaanse Schans station (30 minutes), or take bus 391 (50 minutes, all buses leave from behind the station on the 2nd floor). Maps are spread throughout the city, and it is quite easy to get to the wind mills.
This vibrant city is only 30 minutes away from Amsterdam Centraal by train. Utrecht student population of almost 50,000 students makes it the biggest in the Netherlands.
Strolling around the streets of Utrecht by bicycle or walking will give you the feeling of a less-crowded Amsterdam. With its many canals and medieval buildings around the small center, it is not surprising to get this feeling. The center is also a superb place to sit down and people-watch for a couple of hours.
Some of the attractions in Utrecht include the Dom Tower (which can be climbed to the top for a bird’s eye view of the city) and the Haar Castle (about 30 minutes from Utrecht’s center.
From Amsterdam Centraal take a train to Utrecht Central Station. The best way to get around the city is to rent a bike, there is a bike rental place underneath the main stairs on the Jaarbeurs exit of the station.
The city of Haarlem is a charming city situated in the northwest which has maintained its medieval feel and cobblestone streets and pavements.
The city is best known for its many hofjes (courtyards) situated throughout the city, many of which are accessible to the public and free of charge.
Grote Markt, the center of the city, gives way to about 10 different streets sprawning in all directions. Many of these with different shops and caffés to stroll through.
Go inside the Grote Kerk, Harleem’s cathedral, for some architecture dating back to the 14th century.
And for the culture buff in you, you will be happy to know that Haarlem is the city with the highest concentration of museums in the Netherlands.
From Amsterdam Centraal, take a 20 minute train ride through 4 stations until arriving at Haarlem station.
Keukenhof (Tulip Gardens)
If you happen to be in the Netherlands between mid-to-end of March and mid-to-end of May, then a trip to the tulip gardens is something you must do. And what better place than to visit what is known as The Garden of Europe: KEUKENHOF.
The Keukenhof tulip garden in Lisee is one of the largest gardens in the world, with its approximately 7 million flower bulbs and 800 varieties of tulips planted every year. Each year the park decorates with a new theme, making every year’s visit different.
From Amsterdam Centraal you must make your way to Schiphol Airport station (15 minutes) and take the bus 858 (33 minutes) towards Keukenhof. There is also bus 854 (24 minutes) departing from Leiden Cenraal (36 minutes from Amsterdam Centraal).
Alternative To Keukenhof
If you want to see some colorful tulips but wish to avoid the crowds and the stiff entrance fee of 16€, another option is to get to Haarlem and ride a bicycle towards direction of Keukenhof.
Along the way there are many colorful farms where you can stop and “smell the tulips”. Some even allowing you to pick and buy some. Best of all, all of them are free of charge.
Once at the Haarlem station, rent a bicycle from outside the station (besides the Starbucks) for 10€ for the day and head straight down towards Keukenhof. The ride takes approximately about 1 to 1.5 hours one way, but you will know once you’re getting there as the road gives way to some tulip gardens.
Day trips from Amsterdam are the best way to get away from the hectic city if you are looking to relax and get away. Did we miss any on your list? Let us know in the comments.