Please sign in to post.

Amsterdam & Day Trips Opinions Needed

Hello Everyone,

I will be in AMS with my husband for 7 days in August. We have never been to AMS or the Netherlands. I am struggling to choose a couple of day trips that will be fun, worthwhile, unique and picturesque. We are thinking of buying the anonymous OV Chipkaart to make paying for travel easier (if this is the case) and will also purchase the Museumkaart. We are both fit, independent travelling middle-lifers (or a little beyond) and do not mind walking or biking.

I have done some research and the following areas/attractions/towns seem to be feasible and may meet the criteria above. Am I off base here? Which would you choose and why? Which can be combined to form a full-day day trip? Are there others you would recommend I have not included? Thanks very much for your help.

  • Alkmaar - on cheese market day
  • Harlem/Zanse Schaans
  • Volendam/Edam/Marken
  • Hoorn/Enkhuizen
  • Zuiderzee Museum
  • Leiden/Den Hague/Delft/Gouda
  • Kinderdijk/Dordrecht
  • De Hoge Veluwe Park/Kroller Muller
Posted by
703 posts

we were in Amsterdam last week and really enjoyed the Aalsmeer flower auction, even if you are not into flowers, just the size and action of the building and what goes on was great to see. we drove there by car and did our own tour, but I guess there would be organised tours. we stayed in Haarlem and caught the train in to Amsterdam. we enjoyed Haarlem as a base, we found it to be really just a smaller version of Amsterdam, generally just the usual range of shops etc. Zanse Schaans was very touristy but parts of it were interesting.
We visited the Kroller Muller on the way to Amsterdam ( as we have a car) and it was a very nice place to visit. ( lots of biking to do in the park there) we saw the Van Gough exhibition there, which was good as the museum in Amsterdam had huge crowds waiting outside, in the rain. (didn't visit)

one word of advice, when in the Netherlands watch out when crossing the streets, we found it the most busy place we have ever visited, crossing the street in Amsterdam can take some time and getting use to, with bikes, trams, cars, buses. they often have their own lanes and can get a bit hectic at intersections.

Posted by
1758 posts

We spent about 10 days in the Netherlands, close to a week in Amsterdam. I'd suggest the Waterland bus ticket for a really nice day trip. We visited Marken, Volendam, and Edam. Stopped briefly in Monnickendam as well. Fun to get out of the city, see some countryside, easy to connect on the bus routes. You decide your route and destinations and travel at your own pace. We took a train to Utrecht for a day, interesting Railway Museum there. Also spent a day in Delft and a day in Leiden. All easy to manage on short train rides from Amsterdam. We visited the KM museum and the national park, but not as a day trip; too much for my liking. Trained to Otterlo when leaving Amsterdam and stayed two nights. One day spent at the KM and bike riding in the park, the next day spent at the Arnhem Openair Museum. All with train and bus, all easy and rewarding. From Arnhem we continued by train to Berlin. Good luck. Lots of choices, trains from Amsterdam depart to many cities a few times an hour as I recall...easy to schedule any trips and short rides make it worthwhile for day trips.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you so much for your help.

glennlorrainer, did you find Zanse Schaans too touristy? I'd be up for a different suggestion, e.g. another place with windmills to visit along and a different recreated "way of life museum". We will proabbly get up early one morning and take the ride to Aalsmeer...thanks for the nod.

Denny, tell me a little about Monnickendam. I didn't know if was another option to add in on that route. I know this will sound ridiculous, but will the Waterland bus ticket travel to this area be all buses, or will there be train or ferry involved? I note you didn't hit Gouda or the Hague on your Leiden daytrip. Would that be too long a day? How was Arnhem?

We love European train transportation (and public transport in general). It is a fun part of our journeys when abroad. Did anyone purchase the Chipkaart, or did you just pay as you went?

Posted by
1758 posts

We threw in Monnickendam at the last moment, and spent just a short while there. It was a rich city in its day. Had I known more beforehand, perhaps I would have planned more time. But this trip was nice because we just moved along as the spirit willed, as it were. It is by bus. A boat was involved in the Marken to Volendam leg, but that was our choice. You can do it all by bus if you choose. We had a nice lunch along the water, ambled around, rode the bus, wandered about. As for day trips, we do one town a day and so can't comment on combining two places in a day. If The Girl With The Pearl Earring could have been seen, I would have tried to combine The Hague with Delft, as I think that's fairly easy, but I was shut out so stopped that line of inquiry. We really enjoyed the Openair Museum in Arnhem, but saw nothing of the city except that museum and the train station. But we did not do it as a daytrip from Amsterdam. We bought our tickets daily from Central Station from the helpful staffed ticket counter. If I recall we paid cash for all tickets. FWIW we will return to Amsterdam in 2017 with friends and will do that bus trip with them one day. It's fun and easy. We enjoyed everywhere we went. And I second the above: pedestrians are not top dog in Amsterdam. I love Amsterdam and I like the Dutch. They have their heads on right.

Posted by
527 posts

You can rent bikes at the Haarlem train station and ride to and through Nationaal Park Zuid-Kennemerland. Sand dunes, wide nice beach, beautiful North Sea, ponies, little lake (s), waterfowl, shaggy cattle, hiking trails, and lots of biking trails. Awesome way to spend a day when the weather is nice.

Posted by
1 posts

We visited Kinderdijk. Great place to see actual functioning windmills. Lots of history at the site. A UNESCO World Heritage site with 19 working windmills, one of which you can enter, climb the stairs, and witness how the owners lived.

Posted by
7 posts

"You can rent bikes at the Haarlem train station and ride to and through Nationaal Park Zuid-Kennemerland. Sand dunes, wide nice beach, beautiful North Sea, ponies, little lake (s), waterfowl, shaggy cattle, hiking trails, and lots of biking trails. Awesome way to spend a day when the weather is nice."

I love this idea Hillie. We had thought about riding to Haarlem from AMS. While we're active, we thought we may have to "train" for it in advance, lol. This is what we really wanted to do in De Hoge Veluwe Park. We are also seriously thinking of renting bikes in Amsterdam instead of walking. Some of these comments confirm that biking may be safer than walking, although I'm sure a confused American tourist on a bike could be dangerous as well.

Has anyone been to both Zaanse Schaans and Kinderdijk to give a comparison? While ZS is "recreated", I understand there a few windmills open to visit that depict the different uses back in the day.

Posted by
527 posts

I've rented a bike in Haarlem and ridden through the park and relaxed on the beach two out of the three times I've been to Haarlem. I love it! Bloemendal aan Zee, which is at the southwest entrance kind of, has a snack bar with ice cream bars, etc. (There are probably other food places, but I didn't notice. ) Parnassia, in the park, gets terrible reviews for food and service, but the outside seating is nice, with the view down to the beach and water. The bicycle parking lot is a hoot!
You can take a look at Google Maps, and see that the ride out there from Haarlem is easy. You can also Google it and read about the park...sorry, don't yet know how to do links. :)

Posted by
227 posts

Biking in Amsterdam is just as dangerous , if not more , as walking is. Just watch out when you cross the streets. Last week we were in Amsterdam and found that cars stopped at zebra crossings while we were still at the curb ! Hubby concluded that he was more afraid of the bikes than the cars , as bicyclist ignore all traffic signs. Green , red , orange lights : to them they all mean 'GO '. Watch out for trams ! One tram leaves , you think you can now walk and Surprise ! another tram was hidden behind the leaving tram , ready to run you over. We are in our 70 ' s and are back safe and sound because we looked 2 or 3 times before crossing. Also , we kept our valuables -money and passport - in a money belt underneath clothing . Just keep some money handy for a cup of coffee etc. and you should be safe from the pick-pockets who just Love tourists . And don't be the kind of tourist who leaves Schiphol , gets on the train to Central Station , and still has all the baggage stickers from the airline on their suitcase handle . That's advertising that you have jetlag and are not quite alert yet. Again , we are back in St.Louis , safe and sound , so heed the warnings and enjoy this wonderful bustling city . Have a great trip !

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks, grrttgr. Appreciate those heads-ups. We'll give biking a try in the city and if we feel we can't handle it, we'll walk or tram. It's a shame, but pick pockets are everywhere. I've had my wallet picked out of a back pack in London many years ago. The ease of which they (a woman, btw) did it was amazing. I travel differently today as a result.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks everyone for the posts. Anyone else have advice on which of the following day trips are the most enjoyable or have any to add?

•Alkmaar - on cheese market day
•Harlem/Zanse Schaans
•Volendam/Edam/Marken
•Hoorn/Enkhuizen
•Zuiderzee Museum
•Leiden/Den Hague/Delft/Gouda
•Kinderdijk/Dordrecht
•De Hoge Veluwe Park/Kroller Muller

Posted by
149 posts

My wife and I spent 7 days in Holland in May. After three nights in Amsterdam, we drove to Utrecht for two nights and along the way went to the Kröller-Müller Museum. It was Sunday and a holiday (Pentecost) and there were lots of visitors. We waited in line (in the car) to get into the park for about 20-30 minutes and all the free bikes were taken. Even with the crowds, it was still worth it. If you go, it might be better during the week and if you plan to bike the park it would probably take most of the day if you're coming from Amsterdam.

After Utrecht, we drove to Kinderdijk. We skipped the museum/mill tour since we'd been to Zanse Schaans on a previous trip, and just payed to park (5 euros) which allowed us to stroll among the mills. Between the two, I prefer Kinderdijk. I'm not a big fan of open air museums and it felt like we were nickle-and-dimed at Zanse Schaans after paying separately for each attraction. There are also more windmills and they're in their original locations at Kinderdijk. From Kinderdijk, we drove to Rotterdam, dropped off the rental, and took the train to Den Haag for the afternoon. We focused most of our time on the Maurithuis and finished up between 4 and 5pm, so it's possible to do both as a day trip from Amsterdam.

From Den Haag and took the train to Delft where we spent two nights. Opinions here of Delft are mixed but I especially enjoyed it. We had a great apartment with a terrace and and it was quiet. We mostly relaxed (not much into Delftware) but toured the Oude Kerk to see the tombs of Vermeer and Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (my wife and I are biologists). If you or your husband are trappist beer fans, and don't mind paying for it, they serve Westvleteren 12 at Locus Publicus (over 10 euros for a bottle).

Have a great trip!

Posted by
1938 posts

If you're fit and adventurous I suggest doing the day trip to Monnickendam and Marken via bicycle. We rented a couple for the day from an outfit at the main train station, then caught a free pedestrian/bicycle ferry across the river (takes about 60 seconds). Once across you'll find a dedicated bike path thru the countryside, zig-zagging thru the poulders and along the dikes all the way up to Marken and beyond. Made for a most enjoyable day trip for my wife and I. You'll get a truly Dutch experience plus avoid all the city traffic. It's really a mellow ride - well worth the sore fanny at the end of the day.
I'd also recommend a day trip by train to Leiden. It's a pretty university town with much to see and do, and the little Pilgrim's Museum down one of the side streets was one of the most enjoyable unplanned discoveries on our "day out".

Posted by
7 posts

Jim,

You opinions are very helpful. Thanks much!

Mullinsrobe,

How many hours/km/miles is the bike trip?

Posted by
1938 posts

It's about 12 miles to Marken, and maybe another couple if you include Monnickendam. The real attraction (as with most travel adventures) isn't the destination but the journey. We set out both times with no particular destination in mind - just wanted to explore the beautiful countryside north of the city, and eventually meandered all the way to Marken, which is a pretty little fishing village and a great stop for lunch. The entire circuit (for us) was about 4 hours of dedicated riding...with lots of stops along the way which made for a full day out and about. The place where we rented the bikes had a Cycling Map showing all of the dedicated cycling routes in and near the city. Cost a couple of Euros and was well worth it. One suggestion: we were pretty sore the first time we did the circuit and so the second time (a few years later) we invested in padded biker shorts to wear under our clothing...made all the difference.

Posted by
1938 posts

Might add that the route is over flat ground with very few hills along the way. My wife and I are in our 60's and had no trouble with the physical demands, even though we hadn't been on bicycles for years. On the contrary - it ranked as one of our best memories of our stay in Amsterdam.

Posted by
227 posts

Hi , I don't know which dates in August you will be in Amsterdam but from august 19 - 23 Amsterdam hosts " SAIL". Tall ships from many countries come to Amsterdam once in 5 years. so the next SAIL will be in 2020. You can google SAIL 2015 for more info.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks so much to all. Yes! We will be there during SAIL and will spend time on the harbor, yet I don't want to forgo any of my daytrips for the event.

I love the bike ride idea. Just to clarify, when you say it's a twelve mile ride, you don't mean from Amsterdam do you? Seems you do, but I thought that trip was further than that. Love the padded bike shorts!

Posted by
1938 posts

Yes, the distance is measured from Amsterdam...one way to Marken from the ferry landing on the other side of the river, so the total out and back distance would be double that. The countryside is so pretty that it invites meandering, so your ride will probably not be a direct route, and therefore will likely be a little longer once all of the detours are factored in.

Posted by
227 posts

If you wish to check out what Zaanse Schans is like : this is the correct spelling .