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Your favorite day trips from Amsterdam?

Hello everyone,

I am fresh from dithering over a Morocco itinerary in the Beyond Europe forum, realizing we need at least 1-2 more nights to have the trip we want, and deciding to do that next year when we can plan it over some kind of US holiday (that won't work this year). Amsterdam was next on our agenda, since my husband and I take turns choosing destinations, we've decided to go there instead this October.

We have 9 nights (I thought it was only 8, but double checked and can do 9). My impulse is to stay in Amsterdam the whole time and do maybe 3-4 day trips (hoping to rent a room on a houseboat). It all sounds wonderful, but I'm wondering what your favorites are, especially given that it's going to be mid-October.

We're a couple in our 30's, fairly active and well traveled. Our interests are art, history (the older the better), photography, and food/drink (especially cheese). Nature, too. I think our number one side trip would be Rotterdam, since we'd love to photograph the architecture. As for the rest, I'm very open to suggestions!

PS-we'll likely arrive in Amsterdam on my birthday, so I'd appreciate any dinner recommendations for something special but not outrageously pricey in the city.

Posted by
2487 posts

For »old stuff« The Hague (Den Haag) with the superb Mauritshuis museum is a must. Easily combined with much smaller Delft (10 mins away on frequent trains) of pottery and Vermeer fame.
Around the corner (15 mins by train) Haarlem is a wonderful city in which you'll love the Frans Hals museum, but you should also not forget the Teylers museum, a late 18th-century science museum.
Utrecht, 30 mins from Amsterdam, is also an attractive city, especially the area around the Oudegracht and the Dom tower.
When the weather is fine, Naarden is a perfect late-17th fortified town (have a look with Google Earth). It's a 20 min walk from the railway station Naarden-Bussum, which is well-connected both to Amsterdam and Utrecht.

Take care with AirBnB and houseboats in particular. A couple of days ago the Amsterdam city council announced they will enforce the regulations, with special attention for houseboats. You might consider staying in Haarlem, still without all the tourist crowds which make Amsterdam more and more into an amusement park.

Posted by
18 posts

I agree with Ton, Haarlem makes such a cozy home base and easy train connections to everywhere in the Netherlands. I would also add that you can do a long day trip to Arnhem to visit the Kroller-Muller museum set in the middle of forested park and with some great Van Goghs and no crowds. Also an open air folk museum for your history fix.

Hope this helps,


Posted by
392 posts

Thanks! I should add that I've seen the warnings about AirBNB on this forum and will be avoiding going that route for renting a houseboat or other type of place.

I think we're very much big city people and probably will want to stay overnight the whole time in Amsterdam, but I'll consider Haarlem if we decide to break it all up a bit. We live very close to the "other Harlem" in NYC, so it will be interesting to see the differences.

Posted by
2487 posts

I forgot Kinderdijk, the ultimate in windmills. Easily reached from Rotterdam by taking the Waterbus ferry, leaving from the Erasmusbrug, which will be on your photography tour (schedule: After Kinderdijk you can continue to Dordrecht for more »old stuff«.
For planning day trips this journey planner covers all types of transport:

Posted by
2930 posts

We took a lovely bike and barge tour around Holland (started and ended in Amsterdam, and traveled north). The Netherlands is a lovely country. There were so many towns that were historic and adorable, and also, so much farmlands and animals. I'm too lazy to get my journal, but it seems Hoorn and Volendam were included on opposite ends of the tour. We went through Cycletours, which is based in Amsterdam. There was a group of about 7 people on our tour who had gone on a southern route prior to this particular tour and they much preferred the one north as apparently the south was more congested, etc. I see they have an Amsterdam to Bruge tour, however, which might be interesting. I've only taken two tours since 1976 as we usually travel independently, but this was a good tour. (My third organized tour will be next spring on RS Greece). Wray

Posted by
961 posts

Christina - October is a fabulous time to be in the Netherlands! As much as I love Amsterdam itself it would be tempting to spend two night in Leiden, two in Haarlem, and five in Amsterdam with a day trip to Rotterdam. Since your interest is art and history these towns should more than satisfy your wants. Last fall we spent a week in Amsterdam and then two days in Haarlem before our tour started. It was really nice to be able to duck back to our apartment or hotel when we needed to drop stuff off or needed a recharge before continuing our wandering. For dinner in Amsterdam you might try Cote Ouest (whose website is not showing the menu right now but is good) or Ambassade. A quick visit to Trip Advisor could supply you with many choices. Safe and enjoyable travels!

Oh, and La Place on Rokin is a great inexpensive stop for sandwiches, salads, or soup while you are out and about.

Posted by
489 posts

Was just in Amsterdam in May and I want to go back so much!! Food was awesome! Please go to Winkel in Jordann for the incredible Apple pie (not like USA pie)... You'll think you've died and went to heaven ( It is now my focus to replicate this recipe thru trial and error).. You must also try bitterballen and croquettes (we loved the shrimp) A great restaurant for these and good food is right between central station and a canal. It looks somewhat touristy, but is packed and you will need reservations for dinner. We met Dutch folk from another town eating there before taking their train back home. While in the Netherlands you will think you died and went to Gouda heaven, too... I have never seen so much gouda! For some crazy fun go to the Heineken experience, which is a big hit with the under 30. I will not give it away, but it just may be the best beer factory tour in the world.

Posted by
703 posts

last year we stayed in Haarlem , which we found was a good base for us as we had a car, so parking and getting around was taken care of. we had a very interesting few hours at the aalsmeer flower auction. it was unbelievable to see something like 33milliion flowers being moved/auctioned ( each day) even if flowers aren't your interest it was interesting to see the size and process. go early in the day.

we visited the kroller muller museum on our drive from Germany to Haarlem. it was very interesting. in nice surroundings.

Posted by
5561 posts

I enjoyed the Corrie Ten Boom House Museum in Haarlem. The tours are an intimate size of 20 and really quite inspiring to see how ordinary people saved many jews at the cost of their own lives.

Posted by
23 posts

Let me suggest a completely different day trip for a change. There is a beautifully themed amusement park in the south of the country. It has quite some elements of this country's culture and history embedded in it, such as popular fairy tales and a ride that is themed "The Flying Dutchman" - the 17th-century myth of a legendary ghost ship that can never make port and is doomed to sail the oceans forever.
More information about the park can be found on Wikipedia ( ) and its website ( ).

From Amsterdam you can get there with a direct train to 's Hertogenbosch, connecting to a direct bus to the theme park. (one change in total, total journey time 1h 47min, € 19.86, see )

Posted by
1874 posts

Frequent trains make day tripping from Amsterdam easy. We enjoyed a day in Utrecht and a day in Delft. And Leiden. The Waterland Bus Pass was great, allowing us total flexibility. We saw a little of Monnickendam, and went on to Marken, Volendam and Edam ...all on the same 10 euro ticket. Allows for opportunity to get away from the urban intensity of the larger towns. Amsterdam is one of my favorites cities. Our last visit was 8 days and flew by. Safe travels.

Posted by
5 posts

We enjoyed a full and varied day trip to the Historic Triangle of Hoorn, Medemblik and Enkhizen. With our Museumkaarts, we were able to take a steam train trip and voyage on the Ijesselmeer with the Museumstoomtram. Beginning at the narrow gauge historic railway's station in Hoorn, we traveled through lovely countryside and small Dutch towns to Medemblik on the shores of the Ijesselmeer (the former Zuriderzee). After a 90 minute ramble and lunch through the quaint town, we boarded a steam ship for a 90 minute voyage which put in at the Zuiderzee Museium in Enkhuizen. There we visited the restored historic buildings and exhibits and learned about Dutch water culture and 400 years of Dutch history. We wandered the lovely streets and canals of Enkhuizen and dinner there before boarding an NS train back to Amsterdam. It was a great day where we covered a lot of ground (and water) at a relaxed pace. All just an hour or less by NS train from Amsterdam. A plus was that were there in April at peak tulip time. Here's a link to some pics of our trip.

Posted by
513 posts

I agree with Lisa about taking a daytrip out to the eastern areas of the Netherlands. A trip to Arnhem is easy by train and there are many, many sites to visit. In addition to the Park she mentions, I enjoyed visiting the Operation Market garden/WW II Airborne museum outside Nijmegen in the town of Groesbeek. There is also a Canadian Army cemetary nearby if you have interest in the war's history. This is the area shown in the motion picture A Bridge Too Far. These cities are less than 90 minutes by train from Amsterdam,

Posted by
392 posts

Thanks for the great ideas, particularly about going to Efteling! We love theme parks but hadn't considered one for this trip, and now we will.

Posted by
32 posts

Thank you for creating this thread! We're the same age with similar interest and planning a trip next June to Amsterdam.

Posted by
72 posts

I second (and third) all the recommendations for Haarlem. The only direct flight to Europe from my hometown lands in Amsterdam so I always stay in Haarlem to recover and get my feet on the ground for my European trips. Its laid back but big enough to offer many great places to eat. Try to be there on market day - same for Delft - if you like cheese - the cheese mongers are so nice and very willing to give you a taste of anything that looks good. My mom and I on our last trip - also got a nice lesson on the differences in aged gouda's from fresh to very aged. We went to the market very early so the cheese guy had time to chat with us.

Weirdly some of the best tapa's I have had were in Haarlem. But that may be because I was nostalgic for Spain. :-)

Would love to hear where you end up going.


Posted by
1821 posts

We are going back for four nights in April. Weather permitting we hope to rent bikes and ride North of the city, which is my idea of a nice day trip.