A day trip from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans including blooming tulips and windmills

7 Day Trips from Amsterdam: Best Cities in the Netherlands

As wonderful as Amsterdam is, there is so much more to see of the Netherlands! Join me as we look at my favorite cities to visit in the Netherlands on a day trip from Amsterdam—from Utrecht to Rotterdam, and Zaanse Schans to Haarlem!
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One of my favorite ways to see more of a country while traveling is taking a day trip (or two)! Because no matter how great a capital city is, no country can be completely defined, or understood, by its capital alone.

But let’s be honest: not every trip has the luxury of being longer than a week, so a day trip is usually the perfect option if you don’t have a ton of time, or if you just want to explore more of a country without dealing with the logistics of hauling your bags from place to place.

If you’re trying to plan a day trip from Amsterdam right now, you’re in luck! In this post I’m going to go through the top 7 day trips from Amsterdam. From charming medieval towns to picturesque countryside landscapes adorned with windmills, I’ve curated the best selection of Amsterdam day trips that will be the perfect addition to your Dutch adventure. 

But the Amsterdam day trip destinations on this list aren’t just extremely interesting. In general, the Netherlands might just be the world’s best day trip country, period. All but one of the options on this list are 60 minutes or less by train from Amsterdam Centraal, and Dutch trains are some of the easiest in Europe to navigate.

So, get ready to take some notes and start planning! Let’s explore the best cities in the Netherlands to visit for day trips from Amsterdam together!

Delve into the Netherlands

7 Best Cities in the Netherlands to Visit as a Day Trip From Amsterdam

1. Delft (60 minutes by train)

View of the Nieuwe Kerk on a delft from amsterdam day trip

If you’ve already taken a look through the Dutch archives on this blog, you may know that I absolutely adore Delft.

Very small, very quaint, and very unassuming, Delft is nestled in the heart of South Holland. A Delft day trip from Amsterdam is an absolute must for anyone who wants to really soak up charming, quaint, small town vibes. Famous for its centuries-old Delft blue ceramics, this day trip from Amsterdam will have you feeling like you walked into a storybook.

Wander along the winding canals lined with picturesque brick buildings, and lose yourself in the beauty of Delft’s well-preserved architecture. Because Delft is so small, you’ll most definitely have time to get a good lay of the land in just one day. While you’re there, I recommend a Delft walking tour to get your bearings and learn about important Dutch history.

Then, delve deeper into Delft’s legacy with one of two options.

I would lean towards an afternoon at the Royal Delft factory tour, where you’ll get a chance to see ceramics artisans at work and even purchase some pottery for yourself!

Alternatively, you can explore the city’s pride for Vermeer (who painted The Girl with the Pearl Earring, which don’t be mistaken, is actually located in The Hague) at the Vermeer Centrum or on a Vermeer-focused boat tour.

With its lively cafes, inviting shops, and a tranquil atmosphere, Delft promises an idyllic escape from the bustling energy of Amsterdam. Getting to Delft from Amsterdam takes only about an hour by train, meaning all your fairy tale dreams are most definitely within reach. Check out my full guide to Delft here!

🚆 Book your Delft train tickets in advance and save time at the station! >>

P.S. When you book using my links, you help support Rachel IRL at no extra cost to you. It’s a win-win!

2. Rotterdam (40-60 minutes by train)

rotterdam cube houses

As one of the Netherlands’ most modern cities, Rotterdam is not typically at the top of visitors’ itineraries. The majority of the city was completely destroyed after WWII, so while there is a small area where you can still see historic Dutch buildings, the rest of the city is completely modern and a very different vibe from most other cities in the Netherlands! So is Rotterdam worth visiting?

Yes! If you want a day trip from Amsterdam that will show you a totally different side to the Netherlands, then Rotterdam is the choice for you. And, with multiple Rotterdam-Amsterdam trains per hour, it’s one of the most convenient Dutch cities to access!

Rotterdam is famous for its breathtaking display of post-war, urban architectural creativity—including the famous Rotterdam Cube Houses, the Market Hall, the Erasmus Bridge, and the Depot Museum. It’s also an important industrial city and home to one of Europe’s busiest and most important ports.

The real charm of Rotterdam though, is that despite its modern design, there are still loads of pockets that feel charming, quaint, and very local, even if they aren’t old. A few personal favorites of mine are Witte de Withstraat (a “hipster” street with endless bars, restaurants and shops) and the Fenix Food Factory (small-business and craft beer heaven!).

I love Rotterdam so much that I’ve even written a full 1-day itinerary to make the most of your visit! Although, there are so many things to do in Rotterdam that I actually think adding one night to your Rotterdam from Amsterdam day trip is well worth it…

🚆 Book your Rotterdam train tickets in advance and save time at the station! >>

3. The Hague (45-60 minutes by train)

the most iconic building at the hague beach: grad hotel amarth kurhaus

We stayed in The Hague for a longer time than any of these other Amsterdam day trip options, and I’ll be honest, it was a slow burn rather than a love at first sight situation. But I actually grew to love a lot about this city and there are a ton of things to do in The Hague—if you know where to look. I actually think The Hague is the perfectly sized city to explore in one day!

The Hague is where the Dutch government convenes, as well as the royal family and many international institutions, but none of that is what makes it so appealing.

Not only are there endless museums in The Hague to choose from—including the Mauritshuis Museum, home to The Girl with the Pearl Earring—there are also tons of cafes and restaurants, and you can even visit The Hague’s beach at Scheveningen!

This is the perfect day trip for someone who wants to soak up some seriously impressive culture while still being able to vintage shop, cafe hop, and soak up the local vibes of their day trip from Amsterdam. If you want to read more about what to do in The Hague, click here!

🚆 Book your train tickets to The Hague in advance and save time at the station! >>

4. Utrecht (30-40 minutes by train)

bustling oudegract on an utrecht day trip

I first visited Utrecht a few years ago, on my first ever trip to Amsterdam, so actually, it was my first ever Amsterdam day trip! 

Only a quick 30-40 minute train from Amsterdam, Utrecht is a bit of a hidden gem waiting for you to discover. Known for the enchanting canal that cuts through the city center, its medieval charm, and a vibrant atmosphere, Utrecht is a student town that doesn’t disappoint. 

In terms of things to do in Utrecht, I suggest wandering through the historic city center, where you’ll be surrounded by charming cobblestone streets, picturesque bridges and stunning cathedrals, including the Dom Tower, the tallest church tower in the Netherlands! As a university city, Utrecht has a ton of culture to offer as well, with loads of galleries, music venues, and museums (two of my favorites are the Centraal Museum and National Railway Museum).

Be sure to check out the “wharf cellars,” transformed into cozy cafes and restaurants along the canals, chill out in the serene Griftpark, or to get out of town to tour De Haar Castle, the largest castle in the Netherlands. No matter which option you choose, an Utrecht day trip promises an unforgettable time filled with history, culture, and quintessential Dutch charm. 

🚆 Book your Utrecht train tickets in advance and save time at the station! >>

5. Gouda (1 hour by train)

gouda the netherlands city center

Gouda (pronunced HOW-duh) is only about an hour outside of Amsterdam, but it feels like it’s way out in the countryside. Like, it’s giving “provincial” in a charming, desirable kind of way. And yes, Gouda, the Netherlands is the home of Gouda cheese!

Gouda is the perfect choice for anyone looking to visit a picturesque and medieval Dutch town, who’d like to get up close and personal with the unique natural wonders of the Netherlands, or who’d like a chance to appreciate the work of the 16th century Dutch masters outside of a museum.

In Gouda, you can explore the busy market square, stroll the historic canals, and admire the striking Gothic government buildings. One of Gouda’s most impressive sights is the Church of St. John, which is home to Europe’s largest collection of stained glass—designed by the 16th century masters of the Dutch Renaissance.

As you explore the cobblestone streets and charming alleyways, you’ll encounter cozy cafes and boutique shops that add to Gouda’s cute vibes. For an education; (and delicious!) afternoon activity, I recommend either enjoying the Gouda Cheese Experience or touring a working stroopwafel factory!

With its warm-hearted locals and captivating heritage, Gouda promises an enriching day trip filled with culture, culinary delights, and the timeless allure of a quintessential Dutch town.

For those seeking a chance to get up close and personal with a bit of nature and the extensive Dutch water management systems know as dijks (dikes), you can also walk or cycle out to Sluipwijk. This village located just next to Gouda is completely surrounded by a series of lakes called the Reeuwijkse Plassen created by a criss-cross of dijks you can easily walk or cycle on. The area is extremely peaceful and actually a huge domestic vacation destination for the Dutch themselves!

🚆 Book your Gouda train tickets in advance and save time at the station! >>

6. Zaanse Schans (35 minutes by train)

zaanse schans windmill

If you’re seeking a quintessential Dutch experience when visiting the Netherlands, Zaanse Schans is probably the day trip for you! The village of Zaanse Schans has windmills galore and, in the spring, you’ll even be able to spot tulips in bloom. Not only that, but you can also explore historic houses, barns and wooden clog workshops that showcase the country’s rich cultural history. 

Something that sets Zaanse Shans apart from other Amsterdam day trip destinations is that you can watch different craftspeople at work on traditional goods, like clogs, cheese and other trades!

It’s worth noting that this village is now somewhere between “living history museum” and “theme park”—so you won’t necessarily be living it up amongst locals, and seeing what the town has to offer is probably more of a half-day activity. Nonetheless, Zaanse Schans is definitely the best option for those wanting an easy, educational and enjoyable day trip that doesn’t require much logistical planning!

If you’re wondering how to get to Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam, there are actually a variety of options:

Zaanse Schans is just over 30 minutes away from Amsterdam by train. It’s a short hop to Zaandijk station and then about a 10 minute walk to the village’s entrance from there.

🚆 Book your Zaanse Schans train tickets in advance and save time at the station! >>

For the perfectly Dutch day trip experience, you can also easily cycle from Amsterdam in just about an hour. The paths are well marked, nicely paved, and offer a relaxing and unique alternative to the train option.

🚲 Book your full-day Amsterdam bike rental here! >>

Finally, if you want to fit a bit more into your day trip, the region just north of Amsterdam actually has a whole lot more to see than just Zaanse Schans. The easiest way to go a bit further afield is taking a guided tour to Zaanse Schans and the vicinity. Here are a few of the best options (which are super popular and sell out quickly, so keep that in mind!):

7. Haarlem (15 minutes by train)

haarlem in the netherlands

Haarlem is by far the easiest option for a day trip from Amsterdam because it’s only a 15 minute train ride outside of the city! Haarlem is a charming and historic city that offers quaint cobbled streets, well-preserved architecture and iconic windmills in a less bustling setting than Amsterdam. 

Haarlem is small enough to explore pretty much the enter city center in one afternoon, which you can easily do with a guided walking tour or, more befitting of the Netherlands, a relaxing sightseeing canal cruise with snacks and drinks. On the other hand, art enthusiasts will love the Frans Hals Museum, which has a large collection of pieces from the Dutch Golden Age, while the centuries’ old Teylers Museum is a fascinating destination for natural and scientific history. 

This day trip is also a must for anyone who can’t resist some high-end shopping! Haarlem’s Gouden Straatjes (Golden Streets) are well-known destinations for lovers of premium and designer brands, and a visit to this area promises you’ll make your way back to Amsterdam weighed down by shopping bags.

🚆 Book your Haarlem train tickets in advance and save time at the station! >>

🚲 Alternatively, book your full-day Amsterdam bike rental to day trip like a local! >>

BONUS #1: Bruges, Belgium (we suggest taking a tour!)

amsterdam day trips

Bruges is without a doubt the most adventurous Amsterdam day trip option on this list, because it’s in a completely different country! 

Bruges is a stunning fairy tale-like destination full of medieval architecture and stunning beauty located in Belgium. This is the perfect day trip from Amsterdam if you’re interested in managing to see more than one country on your European trip.

Bruges is sometimes referred to as the “Venice of the North” due to its network of canals and romantic bridges, and it really is easy to see why it gets that label as you wander through the insanely beautiful city. You can head up to the Belfry Tower and see panoramic views over the city, or enjoy the serenity of Minnewater Park after you’ve explored everything the bustling Markt Square has to offer.

Not to mention that if you make your way to Belgium you can indulge in some of the area’s famous Belgian chocolate, waffles, as well as some pretty iconic beers such as Delirium. 

Bruges is definitely the farthest Amsterdam day trip destination on this list, as it takes just about 3 hours in each direction by train or car. However, if you have your heart set on eating Belgian waffles in Bruges, you’re in luck! 

You can easily visit Bruges on a full-day guided tour from Amsterdam, which includes transportation, a walking tour of the city center, a visit to a chocolate shop, and three hours free to explore on your own! This tour is extremely highly rated and so popular that it usually sells out several days in advance, so be sure to book ahead of time if it’s something you want the chance to do!

🚆 Book your Bruges tour before it sells out! >>

BONUS #2: Day Trip from Amsterdam by Boat

dutch windmill on the vecht river

This day trip from Amsterdam isn’t technically to any city or destination, which is why I’ve included it as a bonus on this list.

However, I couldn’t not share this AMAZING day trip idea I came across on our most recent Amsterdam trip, because we are always complete suckers for a boat-based activity while traveling. We didn’t have time in our schedule unfortunately, but it is at the very top of my list for my next visit.

On this tour, you’ll be picked up directly from your hotel in Amsterdam, and will sail along the Vecht River out of the city towards Utrecht. You’ll have the chance stop off at your choice of a few different local museums, windmills, or castles—as it’s a private tour, the choice will be completely up to you! The best part is an accompanying 3-course meal in a quaint village next to the river, before you return to Amsterdam.

🛥️ Book the Vecht River cruise including three-course lunch, or if you’re after stunning golden hour vibes, the three-course dinner option! >>

FAQs about day trips from Amsterdam

What city is easiest to get to from Amsterdam?

Haarlem is by far the easiest city to get to from Amsterdam. In order to visit this quaint city you’ll only need to spend about 15 minutes on the train, making it easily doable in a day, or honestly, even half a day!

The next easiest options would be either Utrecht or Zaanse Schans, which are both 30-40 minutes out of the city.



Is Haarlem worth a visit?

Yes, Haarlem is definitely worth a visit. Because it’s the easiest city to get to outside of Amsterdam, it’s the perfect low effort, high reward option for those looking to take a day trip from Amsterdam.

Haarlem is a perfect choice for anyone looking for a more quaint afternoon than Amsterdam’s busy atmosphere can offer, and anyone who wants to do some high end shopping in the famous Gouden Straatjes (Golden Streets).



Is it worth going to Utrecht?

Yes! Utrecht is a quaint student town that has stunningly well preserved architecture and lots of cute cafes and shops. It’s home to some of the Netherlands most interesting museums (especially the Centraal Museum) as well as De Haar Castle, the largest in the Netherlands!

If you’re looking to get out of the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam for a day you’ll definitely enjoy Utrecht!

P.S. When you book using my links, you help support Rachel IRL at no extra cost to you. It’s a win-win!

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