What is the better side trip from Amsterdam?
The same train line accesses Haarlem, The Hague, Delft, Leiden and Rotterdam. Haarlem and Delt would be a good one day trip. Or combine any of the others listed. After a daytrip to Leiden we returned there for a week another year.
Delft is the more picturesque of the two, Haarlem has its wonderful Frans Hals and Teylers museums. Haarlem has a beautiful river front, Delft a more impressive market place.
When in doubt, you can go halfway to Leiden, which is better in canals.
I haven't been to Haarlem in a while. I spent a night in Delft just a few years back - LOVED it. I didn't even care about the market - I thought it was charming, picturesque town. It seems the Netherlands has a number of lovely little towns like this.
How about both? Each has its charms.
We loved both of these towns. The squares are impressive. I wouldn't miss either!
Since they are on the same train line and they are both great - I vote both as well one for lunch and one for dinner
My pick= to Haarlem, visit Frans Hals museum, lunch in city center and take train to zandvoort beach for a walk /drink and take train back to amsterdam
Just returned from The Netherlands. Went to Haarlem, Leiden and Delft during our trip. Spent 3 hours in Haarlem (including lunch), 4 hours in Leiden (including drinks @ a pub) on the same day via train. Visited Delft on a separate day with a private guide.
Getting to all 3 towns via train from Amsterdam is very easy. Train system very efficient, easy to use. Book tickets online or at kiosk; no need to choose specific trains/times.
Haarlem has the best shopping. Leiden is most picturesque and is quite underrated IMO. Delft is charming once you get past the Markt and New Church, and explore the quieter canals near the Old Church. Delft is also the most touristy, with lots of tour buses/groups.
Would recommend Haarlem and Leiden more than Delft.
I don't think the towns listed so far are comparable. Delft, besides its' own history of painting, is a compact, intact medieval town center. It has easy access to Den Haag. Leiden is a medium-sized, modernized but attractive city with multiple major museums and other attractions. Haarlem is an attractive small older city with one famous museum, and a place that our host, Rick, prefers for sleeping in over Amsterdam. The drawback, of course, is that you wakeup in Haarlem, not in Amsterdam. (Yes, I know, to a small minority, that's a Feature, not a Bug.) I don't think Gouda, Alkmaar, Aalsmeer [Flower Auction warehouse], Keukenhof (short season in Lisse], Utrecht, and Amsersfoort have been mentioned yet. Rick is a big fan of Het Loo palace in Apeldoorn.
If you can only make one side trip, it doesn't really matter. What I would not do is to tick the boxes at three towns in a single day. That is a side effect of the way Rick's books are composed, but I don't think he actually urges it. But people with short attention spans (?) or who want to achieve a lot in a day undertake such missions.
Would it make sense to add a side-trip from Amsterdam to one of these towns on the same day that we've booked the Anne Frank House with an early entry (8:45 - 9:00), or is that too much? (We will be in Amsterdam from 4/18 - 4/22). We've booked Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum (sp?) on the 19th, Anne Frank, on the 20th (early morning entry as stated above), and am planning to go to Keukenhof on Sunday, the 21st. Would you recommend just exploring Amsterdam more instead of fitting in a side trip?
bryant, you're piling on an old thread, but your desire to book every moment of a day happens to match the OP's interests. Having been to Amsterdam four times, it seems to me that being out and about (i.e. leaving the Anne Frank House at 11AM or so means your best use of time would be to stroll around Amsterdam - or, more likely, you have list of places you want to see, based on personal interests.
You do have enough days in Amsterdam to justify a daytrip. But you could also do several things a day in Amsterdam and not run out of attractions. The Flower Auction is a special-interest trip, but because it is early morning, if you can afford a cab (or can find a bus??) to Keukenhof, you could do that the same day. It is a tricky transfer by public transportation, I've read. (We had a rental car because we weren't yet in Amsterdam.) I personally believe that Leiden is too rich a destination to combine with something else. You could do Delft in half a day, but I'd hate to go that far and miss the Mauritshuis and Gemeentemusuem in Den Haag.
I should note that Haarlem is so close to Amsterdam that it's not as much of a project to get to.