From outstanding museums and narrow canals to lively pubs and those famous coffee shops, it’s impossible to get bored in Amsterdam. However, to truly immerse yourself in the essence of the Netherlands, you should explore outside of the city. Here’s a look at seven of the best day trips from Amsterdam.
If colorful boats cruising along peaceful canals with vibrant foliage and one-hundred-year-old thatch-roofed cottages appeal to you, Giethoorn will feel like a dream. A town without cars, Giethoorn has become known as the ‘Dutch Venice’. It’s easy to spend a whole day exploring the magical seventeenth-century waterways and crossing the tall wooden bridges throughout this peaceful village. A canal system originally built for ferrying farmers and their goods, the bridges are particularly high and narrow. Wander the footpaths that lead you through the beautiful village and visit the Museum Giethoorn’t Olde Maat Uus where you can learn about the early settlers of this quaint rural village.
Located in the heart of Waterland, Volendam is a traditional fishing village with working-class roots. Explore the harbor with its sweeping views of the largest lake in Holland, the IJsselmeer, formerly the Zuiderzee (South Sea). Although a bit touristy, Volendam makes for a lovely day trip where you will find bars, cafes, cheese chops and fish stalls selling herring and smoked eel.
3. Zaanse Schans
Discover a typical picturesque Holland landscape with windmills, colorful building facades, canals and wooden boats. Visit the Catharina Hoeve Cheese Farm and learn about typical Dutch delicacies in a replica of a traditional farm from Oostzaan. The cheese makers dressed in traditional garb will teach you all about different Dutch cheeses and how they are made. With a multitude of handicraft shops and museums to explore throughout the town, you can also learn about clog making and chocolate production as well as visit a liqueur distillery.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Kinderdijk is a village famed for its ingenious sustainable engineering system that has kept the region dry for thousands of years. The construction of the hydraulic works for land drainage began in the Middle Ages and has continued uninterrupted to the present day. Explore the impressive innovation of the dykes, reservoirs, pumping stations and preserved windmills that characterize this region. The stunning views of the Dutch countryside aren’t bad either.
5. The Hague
Located along the western coast of the Netherlands on the North Sea, The Hague is one of the country’s grandest cities and the center of legal affairs. The ‘Royal City by the Sea’ has thousands of years of history and is characterized by a combination of gothic and modern architectural styles. It is home to the seat of the Dutch parliament complex, Binnenhof and the Noordeinde Palace, an impressive workplace built for the king. The headquarters of the UN’s International Court of Justice can also be found here inside the Peace Palace.
A lively university town with centuries of history, Delft is world-famous for its blue pottery. Visit the Royal Delft/De Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles, the only remaining seventeenth-century factory that still paints Delft blue pottery according to centuries-old traditions. Explore the antique and flower markets or enjoy a Burgundian experience at Stadsherberg de Mol where you can dress up in Medieval style clothes and eat with your fingers. Don’t forget to go for a stroll along the canals and drink some good ol’ Dutch beer at one of the many cozy traditional pubs.
The second largest city in the Netherlands, Rotterdam boasts a vibrant urban experience. Markthal, the new indoor market with more than ninety-six stalls, sells everything from Dutch cheeses to fresh fish. Look up to see the 36,000 square foot mural that adorns the rounded ceiling. The city’s avant-garde vibe is complete with outdoor art galleries, museums, cocktail bars and the self-proclaimed ‘Cool District’ known for its high-end shopping and restaurants.