Day trips from Amsterdam are a great way to further immerse yourself in Dutch culture. Each excursion is unique – whether you’re taking your time wandering lovely Haarlem, exploring the double-decker canals of Utrecht, or taking in the windmills at Zaanse Schans.
Even better, accessing most of the Netherlands is a breeze with the ultra well-connected Dutch rail system, called ‘NS’ (Nederlandse Spoorwegen). From Amsterdam Centraal, you can easily hop on a blue and yellow train and reach your chosen destination in no time, making day trips by train hassle-free.
As Dutch residents these last few years, we’ve spent many a weekend exploring our adopted home. We are thrilled to share some of our favorites with you in this guide – from the absolute must-sees to a few that may not be on your radar (yet!)
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Day Trips from Amsterdam by Train
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- Travel Time: 15 minutes
- Highlights: Grote Markt, Frans Hals Museum, Corrie Ten Boom Huis
Haarlem, a mere 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam, is our favorite day trip from Amsterdam and one we always recommend. The Grote Markt, surrounded by medieval buildings, serves as the heart of the city, hosting local shopping, Christmas markets, and other festivities.
The nearby Frans Hals Museum houses an impressive collection of the famous Dutch Golden Age painter’s work, while the Teylers Museum (the oldest museum in the Netherlands!) is perfect for fans of natural history and science.
Be sure to book a guided tour (available Tuesday through Saturday) at the Corrie Ten Boom Huis, where the Ten Boom family helped save over 800 Jewish people and other refugees during the Nazi occupation. Don’t miss a stroll through the adorable Vijfhoek (5 Corners) historic center either.
With its picturesque canals, Golden Age architecture, and cobblestone streets, Haarlem provides a more intimate cultural experience away from the bustling crowds of bigger cities and is an absolute must-see.
How to Get There: Take a direct train from Amsterdam Central Station to Haarlem Centraal. Tickets cost €5-10 one-way.
2. Zaanse Schans
- Travel Time: 17 minutes
- Highlights: Windmills, Wooden clog workshop, Zaans Museum
Zaanse Schans is also only a short train ride from Amsterdam, but you’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time to the most picturesque of Dutch landscapes, complete with a pathway of iconic windmills and historic buildings painted in an eye-catching dark green. Keep an eye out for the original Albert Heijn, the most popular grocery store in the Netherlands.
In addition to the beautiful windmills, Zaanse Schans is also an open-air museum that is free to walk around. Be sure to check out the traditional Dutch craft demonstrations, such as a wooden clog workshop and a historic mill, as well as sample homemade cheeses, fresh pastries, and other goodies. On the way back, consider stopping in Zaandam to check out the really neat Inntel Hotel (an Instagram favorite).
How to Get There: Take a train from Amsterdam Central Station towards Uitgeest, get off at Zaanse Schans, Zaandam, and walk to the historic area. Tickets cost around €3-7 one-way.
- Travel Time: ½ hour
- Highlights: Dom Tower, double-decker canals
Utrecht is another of our favorite day trips from Amsterdam by train. Its ultra-modern central station (the busiest in the Netherlands) has a huge mall called the Hoog Catharijne where you can do all your bigger brand-name shopping, and it’s a quick 15-minute walk to the historic center from there.
A vibrant student city, the imposing Dom Tower dominates the skyline, offering panoramic views of the city from its observation deck and clustered restaurants around its base. Further into the city center, Utrecht’s intricate double-decker canal system is really fun to explore and is particularly lively along the Oudegracht, which is lined with cafés and boutiques.
“This is one of our favorite parts of the Netherlands, and it’s well worth spending some time relaxing and exploring here.”
How to Get There: Take a direct train from Amsterdam Central Station to Utrecht Centraal. Tickets cost around €7-9 one-way.
- Travel Time: ½ hour
- Highlights: Hortus Botanicus, Leiden University, Pieterskerk
Leiden is a city steeped in history and academic tradition, and you’ll feel it right when you step into town. Explore the lush Hortus Botanicus, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, and take your time meandering through the campus of revered Leiden University, taking a peek into its impressive library.
The Pieterskerk, a Gothic-style church, is a testament to Leiden’s role in the Pilgrim Fathers’ history, and the Naturalis Biodiversity Center is an amazing way to spend a rainy afternoon – it’s one of our favorite museums in the Netherlands, and fun for kids and adults alike.
Like other Dutch cities, Leiden is packed with picturesque canals, but much less crowded than cities like Utrecht or Delft.
How to Get There: Take a direct train from Amsterdam Central Station to Leiden Centraal. Tickets cost around €9-11 one-way.
- Travel Time: ½ hour
- Highlights: Naarden Fortress, Comenius Museum, Canals
Naarden, famous for its well-preserved fortress, is a more off-the-beaten-path location that you’re sure to enjoy. After checking out the star-shaped fortress that it’s most famous for, you can explore the Comenius Museum, which is dedicated to the life of philosopher Jan Amos Comenius.
As there isn’t too much to do here, it’s a good half-day trip paired with something else. Just go back to the Naarden-Bussum train station when you’re done and see what other destinations on this list take your fancy – Amersfoort and Utrecht are two good choices.
How to Get There: Take a train from Amsterdam Central Station to Naarden-Bussum. Tickets cost around €5 one-way.
- Travel Time: 40 minutes
- Highlights: Erasmus Bridge, Cube Houses, Markthal
Rotterdam is about as different from Amsterdam as you can get – a dynamic city that seamlessly blends modern architecture with a long history. The iconic Erasmus Bridge offers stunning views of the skyline and waterfront, while the innovative Cube Houses (designed by architect Piet Blom) showcase Rotterdam’s commitment to avant-garde architecture.
The Markthal, a sprawling indoor market nearby, is packed with various culinary delights – but don’t miss the colorful ceiling mural above you!
Rotterdam’s history is truly defined by resilience. Heavily bombed during World War II, the city was all but destroyed. Subsequently, it was rebuilt with a focus on modernity, with sleek skyscrapers and cutting-edge designs definitely not seen elsewhere in the country. If you’re a little tired of the Golden Age, Rotterdam is a great choice.
The Kunsthal and the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum showcase a diverse range of art if you’re looking for a rainy day activity, and Rotterdam’s accessibility by public transport, including trains and trams, makes it an easy and affordable destination to explore from Amsterdam.
How to Get There: Take a train from Amsterdam Central Station to Rotterdam. Tickets cost around €15-20 one-way.
- Travel Time: 30 minutes
- Highlights: Zandvoort Beach, Circuit Zandvoort, Zandvoort aan Zee Promenade
Zandvoort is a cute coastal town known for its sandy beaches, Formula 1 status, and fun atmosphere. Zandvoort Beach, with its expansive shoreline and beachfront cafés, provides a perfect escape for sun-seekers (if you get one of the rare sunny days!).
For adrenaline enthusiasts, Circuit Zandvoort is a must-see, home to the Dutch Grand Prix. You can also take your time walking along the Zandvoort aan Zee Promenade, which is lined with shops, restaurants, and panoramic views of the North Sea. The beach and dunes also offer meandering hiking trails, perfect for an afternoon post-swim activity.
How to Get There: Take a train from Amsterdam Central Station to Zandvoort aan Zee. Tickets cost around €10 one-way. If you’re staying in the Elandsgracht area or further west, the 80 bus also goes directly to Zandvoort via Haarlem.
- Travel Time: 30 minutes
- Highlights: Hoorn Harbor, Westfries Museum, Hoofdtoren
Another of our favorite day trips from Amsterdam, Hoorn is a picturesque maritime town on the shores of the Markermeer. Hoorn Harbor is its focal point, lined with historic ships and charming waterfront cafés that are absolutely swoon-worthy (your camera will get a workout here!), while the Westfries Museum offers a journey through the region’s past via artifacts and artworks.
The iconic Hoofdtoren, a 16th-century tower, provides panoramic views of the town and surrounding landscapes, with lots of shopping and dining nearby.
Hoorn’s history is deeply rooted in its maritime heritage, as it once served as a vital trading port during the Dutch Golden Age. The town’s historic architecture and cobbled streets, paired with the harbor area, will likely upgrade it to be one of your favorites as well.
How to Get There: Take a train from Amsterdam Central Station to Hoorn. Tickets cost around €8 one-way.
- Travel Time: 45 minutes
- Highlights: Royal Delft Factory, Markt Square, Vermeer Centrum Delft
Delft is an ultra-charming city renowned for its historic significance and artistic heritage. The Royal Delft Factory is a great way to learn about the city’s famed blue and white pottery, offering an immersive experience with a peek into the factory at the end of the tour.
Markt Square is the heart of Delft. As its name suggests, it hosts a lively market and is surrounded by picturesque architecture, including the towering Nieuwe Kerk. The Vermeer Centrum pays homage to the renowned Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, providing insights into his life and works (perfect prior to a trip to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam).
Delft is also one of our favorite day trips, definitely one we’d consider a must if you have the time. The canals are beautiful, and the city is tranquil and cozy. If you like pottery, it’s also a fun opportunity to purchase straight from the source.
How to Get There: Take a train from Amsterdam Central Station to Delft. Tickets cost around €15-20 one-way.
- Travel Time: 55 minutes
- Highlights: Gouda Cheese Market, St. John’s Church
Gouda, just a 55-minute train journey from Amsterdam, may be synonymous with its world-famous cheese, but it’s so much more than that. Start your visit at the Gouda Cheese Market, held every Thursday in the summer months (April through August), to witness the centuries-old tradition of weighing and trading cheese.
St. John’s Church, known for its stunning stained-glass windows, is a must-see, and the area surrounding it is perfect for photos. The historic city center, with its charming canals and medieval architecture, offers a nice mix of cultural heritage, culinary delights, and a relaxed alternative to Amsterdam’s more hectic atmosphere. While it’s certainly a popular destination, it’s not nearly as busy as places like Zaanse Schans but offers similar perks.
How to Get There: Take a train from Amsterdam Central Station to Gouda. Tickets cost around €10-20 one-way.
- Travel Time: 2 hours
- Highlights: Beaches, Ecomare Nature Center, Texel Brewery
Texel is the largest of the Wadden Islands, a chain of windswept and beautiful islands on the North Sea. Texel’s pristine beaches are known for their natural beauty and tranquility, and while we’ve been lucky to spend a few weekends there, we’d go back every summer if we could.
Definitely visit the Ecomare Nature Center to discover the island’s diverse flora and fauna and spend an afternoon sipping craft beers at Texel Brewery, and if you’re keen, we really recommend renting an e-bike to see more of the island.
Also, note that while this is possible as a day trip, we urge you to make a weekend out of it if you can – you’ll love getting to spend time in such a unique setting, truly so different from the rest of the country and region.
How to Get There: Take a train from Amsterdam Centraal to Den Helder. Walk about 15 minutes and board the ferry to Texel. Depending on timing, the journey takes about two hours. The train costs about €20 one-way, and the ferry only €2.50.
12. The Hague (Den Haag)
- Travel Time: 45 minutes
- Highlights: Mauritshuis, Peace Palace, Scheveningen Beach
Den Haag (commonly called The Hague) is a city packed with cultural and political significance. First off, you can’t miss the renowned Mauritshuis museum, home to masterpieces including Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring – one of the most gorgeous paintings we’ve seen in real life.
Visit the Peace Palace, an imposing symbol of international law (book tours in advance if you’re interested), where the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court are headquartered.
If you’re a royalty fan, the Gothic-style Binnenhof (or Inner Court) complex is the seat of the Dutch parliament, and 16th-century Noordeinde Palace is the king’s workplace – the royal family lives right outside the city as well. For a change of scenery, head to Scheveningen Beach, one of the Netherlands’ most popular beaches.
How to Get There: Take a direct train from Amsterdam Centraal to Den Haag Centraal. Tickets cost €8-10 one-way.
- Travel Time: 35 minutes
- Highlights: Koppelpoort, Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren, Mondriaanhuis
Amersfoort is a great idea for history fans, who will love its well-preserved medieval architecture. Voted the European City of the Year for 2023, start your visit at the Koppelpoort, a double city gate that serves as a symbol of the city.
Climb the Onze Lieve Vrouwetoren for panoramic views, and visit the Mondriaanhuis, dedicated to the iconic Dutch artist Piet Mondrian. Amersfoort still has the dreamy canals so typical of the Netherlands, but we think the medieval twist makes it an extra great day trip.
How to Get There: Take a direct train from Amsterdam Central Station to Amersfoort Centraal. Tickets cost €8-10 one-way.
- Travel Time: ½ hour
- Highlights: Friday cheese market, Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar, historic center
Alkmaar is a cheese lover’s paradise best known for its famous Cheese Market, held 10:00-13:00 on Fridays from April to September at the Waagplein. This market is a must-see for its display of the country’s cheese-making traditions, complete with auctions, stalls, and more.
Note that while Gouda also has cheese markets that are worth a visit, the ones at Alkmaar are truly the gold standard. You can also explore the Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar, home to a vast collection of Dutch Golden Age paintings, and we’d be remiss not to recommend a stroll through the historic city center, which is definitely a highlight.
How to Get There: Take a train from Amsterdam Central Station to Alkmaar Centraal. Tickets cost around €5-9 one-way.
15. ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch)
- Travel Time: 1 hour
- Highlights: St. John’s Cathedral, Hieronymus Bosch Art Center
‘s-Hertogenbosch (called Den Bosch by visitors and locals alike) is another off-the-beaten-path location worth a visit. The capital of the province of North Brabant, one of the most unique Dutch provinces, Den Bosch is home to St. Janskathedraal, an imposing Gothic masterpiece, the Hieronymus Bosch Art Center, and the Noordbrabants Museum.
If you have a day to spare, we’d really recommend going to Efteling, one of Europe’s best amusement parks. Located really close to Den Bosch in a town called Kaatsheuvel, the fairytale-themed park is one of our favorite day trips from Amsterdam.
How to Get There: Take a direct train from Amsterdam Central Station to ‘s-Hertogenbosch Centraal. Tickets cost €15 or so one-way.
- Travel Time: 1 hour
- Highlights: Breda Castle, Grote Kerk, Begijnhof
Breda, another North Brabant gem, is also a quick and easy day trip that gets you out of Holland and into a different region.
You can explore the imposing Breda Castle and accompanying park, check out the Grote Kerk, a stunning Gothic church, and wander through the charming Begijnhof, a cute courtyard surrounded by historic houses and gardens. Fans of exotic animals will enjoy the Reptielenhuis De Aarde, with snakes, turtles, and crocodiles.
How to Get There: Take a direct train from Amsterdam Central Station to Breda. Tickets cost €15-20 one-way.
- Travel Time: 1.5 hours
- Highlights: Valkhof Park, Waalbrug Bridge, Het Valkhof Museum
Nijmegen is considered the oldest city in the Netherlands (it was the first recognized by the Romans), as well as one of its most beautiful. While 1.5 hours pushes the limits of a day trip, the central location of its train station still makes this easily doable for those interested in exploring the Gelderland province, located almost on the border with Germany.
A top sight is the Valkhof Park and Museum, offering a blend of historical ruins, sculptures, and panoramic views of the city. Don’t miss the Waalbrug Bridge, arguably the city’s most iconic landmark, which spans the River Waal, as well as a stroll through the quaint city center.
How to Get There: Take a train from Amsterdam Centraal to Nijmegen Centraal. Tickets cost about €20 one-way.
BONUS! Amsterdam Day Trips by Bus
Broek en Waterland
- Travel Time: 15 minutes
- Highlights: Traditional Dutch villages, Havenrak windmill
Just a 15-minute bus ride from Amsterdam, Broek en Waterland offers you an opportunity to escape into the Dutch countryside of yore while barely leaving city limits. Best known for its well-preserved traditional villages, you’ll love wandering through the streets, lined with wooden houses and cute flower boxes in the windows. Don’t miss the Havenrak Windmill, a great photo op of the postcard-perfect surrounding landscape.
Once a prosperous trading post, the village has retained its timeless charm, making it feel like a living museum of Dutch heritage (similar to Volendam below). There’s also the opportunity to go hiking or biking along trails weaving through the green landscape if you visit on a nice day.
How to Get There: Take Bus 312 from Amsterdam Central Station to Broek en Waterland. Tickets cost around €3 one-way.
- Travel Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
- Highlights: Canals and boat rides
Giethoorn is a fairytale-like village famous on Instagram and in real life for its beautiful canals. Sometimes called the ‘Venice of the North’, Giethoorn is ultra-picturesque and best explored by boat. Indeed, you’ll surely notice the absence of cars upon arriving in town – this is because transportation within the village relies completely on boats and footpaths!
The town’s history dates back to the 13th century when settlers discovered the marshy area and began building homes on artificial islands. Today, the village has carefully preserved its historic architecture and is a big hit with tourists and photography enthusiasts.
The Giethoorn Museum also provides insights into the area’s history and lifestyle. It’s easy to rent a boat to navigate the waterways independently, or you can join a guided tour (either when you arrive or from Amsterdam).
How to Get There: Giethoorn can be a bit challenging to reach without a car, but not impossible! First, take a train from Amsterdam Central Station to Steenwijk. From Steenwijk, board Bus 70 to Giethoorn. The entire journey takes approximately an hour and a half, with total costs ranging from €20 to €40. Alternatively, many group tours depart from Amsterdam, but this costs upwards of €50 for the day.
- Travel Time: 30 minutes
- Highlights: Harbor, Traditional Dutch Costume Museum, Edam Cheese Factory
A day trip to Volendam may only be a short 30-minute bus ride from Amsterdam, but it’s another opportunity to travel back in time, this time to a quaint fishing village.
Check out the picturesque harbor area, lined with colorful wooden houses, explore the Traditional Dutch Costume Museum to learn about the region’s maritime heritage (and take a goofy period photo!), and check out the nearby Edam Cheese Factory for a taste of the famous Edam cheese if you have time. Volendam is a great example of a more traditional Dutch vibe and a taste of the culture of the towns on the shores of the IJsselmeer.
How to Get There: Take the #316 bus from Amsterdam Central Station to Volendam. Tickets cost around €8 one-way.
Whether you’re sampling cheese in Gouda, savoring stroopwafels in Delft, or wandering through timeless villages like Haarlem or Volendam, the variety of Amsterdam day trips easily accessible by public transport present one of the best ways to explore the Netherlands and are a big perk of visiting this compact country.
Each destination on this list boasts its own unique history, traditions, and local charm, providing a more intimate understanding of Dutch life beyond ‘big city’ Amsterdam. Indeed, we would argue that no trip to the Netherlands is complete without at least one foray out of the Randstad region, and we hope that this guide helps inspire you and adds some fun ideas to your list.
What is your favorite day trip from Amsterdam?