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Best town to stay in for day trips?

Next May, we will be arriving early in the morning in Amsterdam and will have three full days before flying home out of Schiphol. We plan to explore Amsterdam on the day of arrival, but then would like to head out and spend the next two days traveling to some of the towns we have read so much about here: Delft, Leiden, Haarlem, Utrecht, etc. We know we can't do them all! But could you recommend which town to stay in that would be centrally located? They all look wonderful! I should add that we don't want to be more than about a 45 minute train ride back to Schiphol on our departure day. Thanks for any advice.

Posted by
904 posts

Leiden would be my vote btw. Outside of Amsterdam, that's where I've spent the most time in The Netherlands. All of the Randstad towns and cities are within easy reach of the airport by train. You can't go wrong really. All have things to recommend about them. Den Haag is another you didn't mention. Rotterdam has its charms, but not necessarily where I'd want to vacation.

Posted by
394 posts

I chose and was happy with Leiden as a base for day trips to Delft and Den Haag plus a quick train ride to Schipol (18 minutes). Leiden would also be good for day trips to other cities and to tulip fields. The train station is not far from the historic center. I know that there are a number of Haarlem fans on this forum but I haven't been there so I can't compare.

Posted by
7013 posts

I’ve been to both Leiden and Haarlem, and enjoyed Leiden much more. It was a wonderful city for walking around and spending time in. It had very relaxed and residential feel, with a lot of beauty, and of course, many wonderful sights to visit.

Haarlem, on the other hand, was crowded, noisy, and filled with tourists when I was there (mid-May). My opinion, of course, and I’m sure there are others that will disagree, but that’s how I felt. My vote would be for Leiden.

Posted by
3993 posts

Another enthusiastic vote for relaxing, beautiful Leiden. The ease of town center to efficient train station is great. The quick, direct rides tom AMS are reliable. However if you change trains at the Haarlem station, Leiden to Amsterdam, during your visit take a look at the beautiful tile, iron and wood work in at the Haarlem platforms.

Posted by
1422 posts

If you only want to visit places in the densely populated western part of our country like Delft, Leiden, Haarlem etc, then Leiden is an ideal base. If you want to venture a bit more into our country then Utrecht could be a very good base given its central location.
It all depends on what you want to see and do.

Posted by
7567 posts

I don't remember any problem visiting your list with the train from a base in Amsterdam.

Posted by
7013 posts

I don't remember any problem visiting your list with the train from a base in Amsterdam.

It was my impression from the OP's post that she wanted to sleep in a town outside of Amsterdam after the first day, which I totally understand. Sometimes it's nice to get out of a big city and stay in a smaller more residential town. And the Netherlands is a wonderful location for doing that; probably more so than any other place given its great public transportation, flat landscape and short distances between charming towns and cities.

But I certainly agree with Tim that it would be easy to visit all the towns you mentioned as day trips, using Amsterdam as a base.

Posted by
11368 posts

We spent a week in Leiden on our second trip to The Netherlands and it was perfect as a base.