With some of the Netherlands‘ most beautiful spots less than an hour’s train ride away from Amsterdam, it’s the perfect base from which to discover some of the country’s most famous historical sights and national delicacies. Start your journey at the capital’s Centraal Station and set off to enjoy a slice of Dutch culture. We’ve put together a few of our favourite day trips outside Amsterdam.
Cycling in Leiden
Possessing a charm often likened to Amsterdam, this university town is ideal for exploring on two wheels. Just over half an hour from the capital by train, hop on one of the bikes available to rent at the station and weave through the streets, lined with fascinating feats of 17th-century architecture. Leiden’s impressive collection of museums are a must-see, while the canal-side Saturday market is the perfect place for foodies to pick up a mouth-watering Stroopwaffel (syrup waffle) from one of the local vendors. Discover the rich history of the Netherlands’ oldest university and its celebrity professors – Albert Einstein taught there for a few weeks each year in the 1920s – before catching the sunset across the canal and feel inspired like Rembrandt was before you.
Renowned for the delectable red-waxed rounds of cheese of the same name, this handsome city is well worth a visit. Just under an hour train ride from Amsterdam, Gouda’s majestic gothic architecture, cobbled streets and picturesque courtyard attract tourists all year round. If visiting between June and September, be sure to catch the Gouda Cheese Market on Thursday mornings where local farmers gather in front of the Waag (weighing house) and Stadhuis (town hall) to sell their produce. Another highlight is the UNESCO-listed church of Sint Janskerk, the longest in the Netherlands at 123 metres and famed for its expanse of stained glass windows.
Windmills of Kinderdijk
As one of the Netherlands’ most famous attractions, the windmills of Kinderdijk make for a brilliant day trip. After a 40-minute train from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, transfer to a waterbus along the canal, which will take you to a network of 19 mills dating back to 1740. Set within the astonishing natural beauty of the Groene Hart, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a true photography hotspot. Explore the museum at Nederwaard to learn all about the area’s past or simply walk along the water, admire the scenery and stop for a picnic in the surrounding grass.
Canals of Utrecht
Another vibrant and bustling university city, Utrecht is just 30 minutes by train from Amsterdam Centraal station. Whether you fancy trying out a pedal boat, canoe or a relaxing cruise, the maze of winding canals are a great way to explore the sights from a whole new perspective. The façades of the houses lining the wharfs are stunning to behold, broken up by blooming trees dating back centuries, and the quaint cafés dotted throughout make the perfect place to stop off and enjoy a coffee. Named one of the happiest places in the world by the UN in 2013, Utrecht is a hub of brilliant culture and historic sights, and with one of the largest indoor shopping malls in the Netherlands at Hoog Catharijne, you’ll be able to get your retail therapy fix too.
If this has inspired you, check out our adventure page for more ideas.