Allen John Lira
Top 6 Daytrips Outside Amsterdam
Feels like you have seen more than enough of Amsterdam on your trip to The Netherlands? Fortunately, a handful of quaint cities are within easy access from the capital. Take a lovely day out of the city and experience laidback Dutch culture.
1. ZAANSE SCHANS
The best location if you want to visit a series of well-preserved 18th and 19th century windmills. This idyllic village is an open air museum but getting inside a windmill doesn’t come free. Enter one of the fully-operational windmills to learn how each structure was specifically used during the Industrial Age to produce oil, dye, spice, paper, chalk, flour, etc. Windmills are symbols of Dutch tradition and used to be seen everywhere. Once upon a time, there’s was more than 10,000 of them dotting the Dutch landscape, but the discoveries of steam and electricity ended their reign. Although, a little over a thousand windmills still remain in place today.
Admission is free for the wooden clog workshop. Inside is an avalanche of coloured wooden shoes in various designs and sizes. Don’t forget the mandatory pic in those massive shoes to know how it feels like to be in someone else’s (pun intended).
How long to get here? 15 minutes by train and a 20-minute walk to the village
Utrecht has the youthful vibrance of a university town and an age of a longstanding medieval city. The medieval canals are well-loved with the presence of an ancient moat reflecting Utrecht’s rich history. The iconic Dom Toren is the tallest belfry in The Netherlands. The best view of the city comes after climbing 465 steps to the top. St. Martin Cathedral sits across Dom Tower in the centre of the town.
The Museum Catharijneconvent – museum of religious art
Museum Speelklok – Antique music boxes, clocks and organs are on display. ‘Speelklok’ is a music-playing grandfather clock.
Spoorweg Museum – a train museum located in an old train station
De Haar Castle – largest and most luxuriously beautiful castle of Holland
Dapp Frietwinkel – The best french fries in the Netherlands is found here!
Oudegracht – city’s most photogenic canal with tons of stores to eat and shop
How long to get here? 40 minutes by train to Utrecht Centraal
3. GOUDA (How-da)
A dynamic cheese town known for producing Netherland’s most delicious food exports - the world-famous Gouda cheese and stroopwafels. On Thursday mornings from April until end of August, witness cheese trading in De Waag market where giant orange cheese wheels are weighed and sold publicly.
Sint Janskerk Church – longest church in Netherlands with stunning 16th century stained-glass windows. St. Jan Church is Gouda’s claim to fame apart from its cheese. A lovely garden is kept behind the Lazarus gate.
De Goudse Waag – a small cheese museum with average visitor reviews
How long to get here? 55 minutes by train from Amsterdam
Dubbed as a “shopping town”, Haarlem is the best place for shopaholics in the whole country. The medieval city of Haarlem is sometimes called “the little Amsterdam” due to River Spaarne that wanders through the city creating life through veins of canals. Mozart once played in St. Bavo Church here.
Windmill de Adriaan – a fully operational windmill but a replica of the original structure that was burnt down. Take the guided tour and see the city from the windmill balcony.
Jugendstil train station – Many fine examples of Art Nouveau metro stations can be found in Paris whilst the Haarlem station is the only one in Netherlands. Art Nouveau is an ornament style of art inspired strongly by nature.
Frans Hals Museum – Frans Hals is a famous painter from the Golden Age. His realistic paintings are loved by many.
Grote Markt – heart of Haarlem, the main square
Grote Kerk – Gothic cathedral
Teylers Museum – a science, art, and natural history museum
River Spaarne – take a boat cruise down the river and see the city
How long to get here? Just a 20-minute train ride from Amsterdam Centraal station
The largest port in Europe is found in Rotterdam. In huge contrast to other typical Dutch cities adorned with canals and windmills, the city is the home of Netherland’s modern architecture filled with contemporary skyscrapers, avantgarde houses, and an extremely busy harbour.
Spido Harbour Tour – Get the best views of Rotterdam’s modern shipyards and striking skyline from this cruise in the Maas River that lasts 75 minutes, with SS Rotterdam serving as grand finale of the tour.
SS Rotterdam – As the biggest passenger ship ever built in the Netherlands under Holland America shipping line, it has seen the employment of the finest Dutch craftsmen. Rotterdamers has converted this flagship ocean liner, also known as “The Grand Dame”, into a hotel and museum offering unique nostalgic feels to visitors since 2010.
Maritiem Museum (merged with Havenmuseum) – a nautical museum, in Leuvenhaven waterfront area, reflecting the significant role that Rotterdam plays to the world
Erasmus Bridge or “The Swan” – so iconic that this tallest bridge in Netherlands (800-metre long by 139-metre high suspension bridge connecting north and south Rotterdam) has started becoming the abstract symbol of the modern city.
Markthal – best location to grab some food to fuel your day!
White House or Witte Huis – designed the Art Nouveau-style. The National Heritage house with 10 floors was the first hoogbouw (skyscraper) in Europe.
Don’t miss seeing the famous cube houses! Close to the Witte Huis is a series of 38 cube-shaped houses, an ingenious architectural design by Piet Blom. In 1984, he envisioned a residential forest with each cube being one of the trees. The concept was so captivating to onlookers that one of the houses was eventually turned into a museum (Kijk-Kubus museum).
While on the streets, look out and get instragram-ready for those art walls.
How long to get here? 35-minute train ride from Amsterdam
6. THE HAGUE / DEN HAAG
“Amsterdam is the capital, but the government is in The Hague”, as the Dutch would say. Also, found here is the Shell headquarters. Did you know that the energy company’s registered name is Royal Dutch Shell?
Mauritshuis Museum – an art museum of Dutch Golden Age paintings, located next to the government centre
Binnenhof – the seat of parliament
International Court of Justice and the Peace Palace – where the gavels of international law are pound
Royal Palace or Paleis Noordeinde – working palace of the King and Queen
Pickled herring – a must try favourite
Madurodam – miniature park version of Holland
Scheveningen – About 10 minutes from Madurodam, you can continue your day in the beach. Visiting in The Hague, you can enjoy sand between your toes, something you can’t when in other cities. Scheveningen beach terraces are crammed during summer. People tend to come for all night beach parties.
How long to get here? Around 40 minutes to get to The Hague
Contrary to common tourist belief, #Netherlands isn’t just all about #Amsterdam.