My first trip to the Netherlands was a quick two night stop in Amsterdam. This was absolutely not enought time and I plan to come back very soon for an extended stay. I loved exploring Amsterdam but really wanted to squeeze in a day trip to see a side of the Netherlands that wasn't quite as touristy or hectic. Thankfully there are plenty of awesome day trips from Amsterdam to choose from.
The Netherlands is quite small and the trains make for very affordable and quick trips. I debated between Zaanse Shans, Rotterdam, Gouda, Haarlem, The Hague, Delft, Utrecht, and Leiden. Before I take you to my final decision, let’s take a look at each option so you can see how I decided which were the best day trips from Amsterdam.
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day trips from AMsterdam - 8 popular options
Zaanse Shans: a 15 minute train ride plus a 20 minute walk to the village. The main attraction is the windmills. The village is small and gives a look at what 18th-19th century Holland looked like.
Rotterdam: the modern and vibrant sister city of Amsterdam 35 minutes by train.
The Hague (Den Haag): 50 minutes away, The Hague offers museums, is home to the Dutch royalty and government, has plenty of shopping, and feels more like a working, living city that just happens to be beautiful and chic.
Gouda: a 55 minute train ride from Amsterdam famous for…you guessed it…Gouda cheese! The famous cheese market is every Thursday morning in spring and summer.
Utrecht: the largest University town in the Netherlands 40 minutes by train. Known as a “mini Amsterdam” that is less touristy with plenty of shopping and outdoor cafés.
Haarlem: 15 minutes by train and one of the quickest and easiest Amsterdam day trips. A smaller and low-key version of Amsterdam.
Leiden: another University town 30 minutes away by train that has the character of Amsterdam without all the tourists.
Delft: picturesque and postcard worthy town filled with canals and cobblestone streets. 1 hour from Amsterdam and 10 minutes from the Hague.
You will notice that most of the options above boast of being a smaller and less touristy version of Amsterdam with more charm. Doing my research, it seemed that many of these towns were fairly similar and each would get you that escape from big and busy Amsterdam and the chance to experience a smaller Dutch town.
Because I only had time for one day trip I spring to make sure I got the most out of that day. I decided that The Hague and Delft made for the best day trips from Amsterdam. Why see only one town when you could easily see two? Delft and The Hague are only 10 minutes apart by train and you actually stop at The Hague on your way to Delft.
After experiencing how touristy, crowded, and busy Amsterdam was I really wanted to experience a Dutch town without all the above. Delft was quiet, quaint as can be, and picture perfect. The Hague felt like a city where people worked and lived that offered beautiful architecture, great shopping, and chic sidewalk cafés.
best day trips from Amsterdam - Delft and The Hague
I took the 9:00am train from Amsterdam to Delft. This was the perfect change of pace from hectic Amsterdam and why it easily makes one of the best day trips from Amsterdam. Delft was peaceful, charming, and provided more than enough picture opportunities where I didn’t have to constantly deal with photo bombers. Many shops sell the famous white and blue pottery that Delft is known for. Stop at the Royal Delft Porcelain Factory if you would like to purchase some. The city also has boutique shops and a number of incredible cafés. I discovered one of my favorite cafés ever in this unassuming town, Kek. Delft is the perfect place to slow down and get the feel of a traditional Dutch town, so wander the streets, stop at a café or two, grab a gelato at Chocolaterie De Lelie and enjoy the scenery.
The Hague (Den Haage)
From Delft, hop back on the train and ride 10 minutes to The Hague. Where Delft is quaint, The Hague is glamorous and full of history and politics. The palace and government buildings are grandiose and the high-end shopping streets are chic. Shop the popular Prinsestraat Street, complete a private walking tour, and visit the famous Mauritshuis museum (home to Girl with the Pearl Earring).
If you're interested in the political history of the Netherlands, Den Haage (or The Hague) should definitely be at the top of your list for day trips from Amsterdam. Visit the Inner Court (Binnenhof) where the Netherlands most important events in history took place. This has been the location for meetings of the Dutch parliament since 1446. Consider taking a tour to see the House of Representatives, Hall of Knights, and royal throne.
Don't miss a visit to the Peace Palace, a stunning Neo-Renaissance style building that houses the International Court of Justice. The Hague was named the City of Peace and Justice because of the Peace Palace and the organizations within.
Trains run about every 20 minutes all the way to 11:00pm or 11:30pm so there is no rush to head back to Amsterdam. The ticket machines are extremely easy to use and in english if you buy your tickets at the stations.
Want to have someone do all the work for you when choosing the best day trips from Amsterdam? Try a tour that combines several spots!
Do you have any favorite day trips from Amsterdam? Let me know in the comments below!
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