We are looking for suggestions on a day trip from Amsterdam that would enable us to see the countryside, the windmills and to experience the local culture. A visit to the Keukenhof Gardens has already been planned. We have no interest in visiting the Delft Porcelain factory and we don't want to spend any of our time in art museums. We will not have a rental car, so we need something that is easy to reach via public transportation. Thanks for the suggestions!
Through Viator my daughter and I took a Dutch Windmills tour. We left Amsterdam around 9am. We rode on a nice bus to Zaanse Schans, which is a little village around 7 different windmills. It's a lovely area for pictures. You can sample cheese and chocolate, see farm animals and crafts, or just wonder around and enjoy the views. Later you'll go by boat to Volendam, a charming fishing village. There you can visit the little shops, get a picture in traditional Dutch costume or eat at one of the seaside restaurants. Finally you go to Marken where you can see wooden shoes get made, buy souvenirs (or your own set of wooden shoes), etc. It was a really fun tour!
Have fun on your trip!
We are doing the day trip mentioned by Rankster above (On April 18th).....I know that Viator has a combo tour which combines the aforementioned day trip with a visit to Keukenof. Are you looking for more than one day trip? I would have loved to do the Bruges tour, also from Viator.
Thanks so much for your suggestions! Actually, we are looking for something that we can do on our own, rather than with a tour, because we like the flexibility of setting our own schedule. After our stay in Amsterdam we will be taking the train to Bruges to do some exploring while spending one night at a B&B.
Do you have Rick Steves Amsterdam, Bruges, and Brussels? In it he outlines a wide variety of daytrips from Amsterdam, with thorough descriptions and detailed directions for getting there without a car. Since you're also going to Belgium, it will be a very useful book; despite the title, he now covers Ghent and Antwerp as well. http://travelstore.ricksteves.com/catalog/index.cfm?fuseaction=product&theParentId=158&id=136
If you are looking for windmills and countryside, go to Kinderdijk which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. If you visit their website, there are details on how to get there via public transit using a train/bus combo or via water bus. You might want to rent bikes and follow some of the bike paths while you are there.
A visit to the town one of the [previous posters mentioned - Zaanse Schans - is very, very doable on your own. Simply go to Amsterdam Centraal Station and purchase tickets for Zaanse Schans. I cannot remember exactly now but I think it is a 15 to 20 minute train ride each way and about 15 Euros roundtrip each for the train tickets.
You can visit the various windmills, see wooden clogs made, sample a variety of cheeses, and pet whatever farm animals you might find there. You can very easily do this all on your own, without the need for a tour.
We had a great day out of Amsterdam with the Waterland bus pass. A year or so ago it was 10 euro per person. You ride at your leisure. Connections and schedules made an easy and rewarding day. See as many or as few places as you choose. We visted Marken, Volendam, Edam and places in between. A great value and easy to do. We bought the ticket at Centraal station. The young woman whose line I was in had no knowledge of this ticket, but my repeated queries (after all, RICK said so) were overheard by her colleague who was aware of the pass and instructed us as to its purchase. A great day, covering countryside and town...you select your own itinerary. Have a wonderful trip.
We did the Waterlands bus trip too, last fall. To find the buses, walk through the train station, all the way to the back, then up some stairs, and you'll see a ticket kiosk with posters. There are a couple of options for bus trips, all using what appear to be city buses. You buy a ticket (ours was 10 euros) and get on the bus (they leave frequently, about every 20 minutes). Our first stop was Edam, where we stayed as long as we wanted, then returned to the drop-off point and took a bus for Volendam, where we had a great, fresh fish lunch. From there, we purchased ferry tickets to Marken. And from there, we caught the bus home. It was easy, inexpensive and enjoyable.
At the Wooden Shoe Factory in Marken, the "klompenmaker" gave us a personal demonstration of how wooden shoes are made, then helped us pick out the right size shoes for our granddaughters -- we had brought along tracings of their feet, and the clogs fit perfectly when we got home. He even gave us the "demonstration" shoe along with its mate, for a nice souvenir.
We did the Waterland route (Amsterdam to Edam to Volendam to Marken and back to Amsterdam) as a day long bike ride. It was awesome! Highly recommend it.
Connie, I am going in May and have been researching biking around up North. Is there a map of the route you took posted online? What were the highlights for you?
Richard: I got a private message asking me about the trip as well. I hope it is ok that I cut and paste my full answer to them in hopes it would answer your questions as well. We loved the trip. Here was my reply:
Here are out stats: We were 57 when we did the whole day trip. We do bike fairly regularly, and we did bike a 32 mile trip to prepare.
The ride was "easy" in that it was flat. (It was much easier than the route we did at home, and that was as flat as I could make it) I mapped it out on both google maps and via michelin. Be sure you hit the bike symbol and it will show you the best bike route. I read about the ride on this web site:
My own information said that it was about 30-35 miles for the whole trip. (depending on how you go out and come back. There is no official "route", ) However, if it was that far, it was the easiest 35 miles I have ever done. The only "difficult" part was the wind we encountered riding back from Marken. You cross a very open causeway, and I imagine it is usually windy. We mapped out a route that went like this: We rode the free ferry behind the train station over to the other side. From there, we followed signs to Broeke in Waterland and then onto Edam. From Edam we followed signs to Volendam where we paid to ride a ferry to Marken. (You can bike around as well, but we thought the ferry would be fun) Then we rode back to Amsterdam following the signs to Zunderdorp and then back to Amsterdam. The whole trip is well signed, but I did print a map out before we left, and the bike place gave us another map. We rented our bikes right when the place opened, and were back by late afternoon. It is a full day trip if you do everything we did.
This web site provided information as well:
The nice part about the ride is that you don't have to go far to get out of Amsterdam. My sister and her husband went last September, and I helped them map out a 1/2 day route of that included Broeke in Waterland and Zunderdorp towns. (they did not have enough time to do a full day). Overall, it was one of my favorite things we did because it got us out into the country side and let us view rural Netherlands at our pace. Edam was very picturesque, Volendam was way to crowded with day trippers, and Marken is designed for tourists, but was nice. The little villages between were some of my favorites.
There are many ways to go and we actually got a little off course right after the ferry. But there are always signs that point which direction you want to go. Just watch for the little bike symbol on them and try to take that route. (I think we took a road route at the beginning and it was not as nice as the bike routes.)
The ride is to experience the countryside. While we saw many windmills, they were the newer variety like you see here in the US. Marken has some windmills and we also saw one in Edam,
Let me know if you have any other questions.
Thanks Connie, I'm thinking we may want to ride out and have the option to take the train back. We are both very active and a practice ride here is probably a good idea.