7 Travel Gems for day-trips around Amsterdam
Today we want to show you that Holland has more to offer than just Amsterdam. We show you 7 places to see around Amsterdam that are perfect for a day-trip getaway.
Join us and discover places like Alkmaar, Kaag or Volendam and enjoy our background info!
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Holland has more to offer than just Amsterdam – let us take you there
You might have already visited Amsterdam, but did think about places to see around Amsterdam?
As you may know, Amsterdam has a long history in diamond trading. The city has been a center for the sale of diamonds since the 16th century. However, today I am not writing about gems in Amsterdam. Today, I want to share with you some highlights about beautiful gems in the surrounding area of Amsterdam. All worth extending your visit to the Amsterdam area. Some of them you might have heard off before, some maybe not.
I live in The Netherlands for 7 years now and just like you, I mainly knew Amsterdam when I came here. Maybe Den Haag, Utrecht or Rotterdam, but not much more.
Sure, it is a beautiful city, but the region around Amsterdam, suitable for day-trips, also has a lot to offer. Over the past years, I explored much more of the country and like to share with you some of these places close to Amsterdam.
So let’s jump into the list to fish for some great day-trip pearls!
7 fabulous Day-Trips around Amsterdam
Where: ~25km north-west of Amsterdam
How to reach: ~25min by train from Amsterdam Central Station
Volendam is located north-west of Amsterdam at the IJsselmeer lake. The village is well-known for its atmospheric fishing harbor, its authentic houses, and its traditional Dutch clothes. For example, you can explore the village nicely by strolling through the small streets. Photographers offer to take pictures of you wearing the traditional Volendam clothes.
Being in Volendam, you should bring enough time for a boat trip to the fishers’ island of Marken. Marken is another little village where you still find the traditional wooden houses built on poles. Marken used to be flooded in the past. It was actually separated from the mainland by a storm in the 13th century. But o
Activity Tip: You might have heard about it; Volendam is also the center of Palingsound in Holland. Palingsound is a type of pop music. Paling is the Dutch word for eel. So, Palingsound is about catchy music that is ‘smooth like an eel’. Want to know more about it? Then you should visit the Palingsound museum in Volendam (in Paviljoen Smit-Bokkum). It has a great interactive exposition about the musical families, the music bands and the typical Palingsound of Volendam.
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Where: ~45km north-east from Amsterdam
How to reach: ~40min by train from Amsterdam Central Station
Our second place to see around Amsterdam is Alkmaar. Alkmaar is a village in the north-east of Amsterdam with some interesting history. In 1254, Alkmaar granted city rights, and it became quite wealthy through trading in the next centuries. In 1573, Alkmaar refused to surrender under the siege by the Spanish. Moreover, it was the first city to be freed from the Spanish. As you can imagine, this victory against the Spanish was an important one in the fight against the rule of Spain.
Alkmaar has always been important for trading. Trading of the products of the surrounding areas. Today, it is well known for its cheese market. Between April and September, the market square houses the famous cheese marketon Friday mornings.
Depending on the season, there is also an evening cheese market (https://www.kaasmarkt.nl/en/). This folkloric attraction is a touristic show demonstrating how merchants worked in former times. It is taking place in front of the medieval weighing house. You can watch cheese porters, loaders, tossers and weighers playing their roles in this spectacle. They nicely show you how weighing and trading was traditionally done. If it is your first time in Alkmaar and you love cheese, make sure you are there!
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Egmond aan Zee
Where: ~50km north-east from Amsterdam
How to reach: ~ 1h by train from Amsterdam Central Station
Egmond actually consists of three villages: Egmond
Museum Tip: The exposition in the Museum van Egmond impressively shows you how living as a traditional fisherman in Egmond was.
If you are in Amsterdam, you can easily pay a visit to Aachen, a history rich German city close to the Dutch border. Read our extensive travel guide about the city here.
Aachen Travel Guide – on the Trails of Charlemagne (and beyond)
After some museum time, you might want to enjoy the beautiful beach and dune area. During winter month, the Egmond Binnen strand (beach) is a perfect place to experience the power of storms yourself. Be careful not to take off! During summer time, the beach is perfect for some relaxing hours – with the beach pavilions, restaurants and bars being open.
Where: ~20km west of Amsterdam
How to reach: ~15min by train from Amsterdam Central Station
Haarlem, the capital of the province of North Holland is rich in history and culture. It is often referred to as being the smaller version of Amsterdam. In former times, it was called ‘Harulahem‘, which means ‘wooden place on a thin beach ridge’ – since it is located on a strip of land that connects Alkmaar to Leiden. Haarlem has to be on your list of places to see around Amsterdam.
Haarlem obtained city rights in 1245. It became rich by collecting tolls from ships passing the Spaarne river. The city was a historic center of tulip bulb-growing and a large textile industry at the end of the Middle Ages. It was also a center of Dutch painting in the 17th century.
Today, Haarlem is said to be the nicest Dutch destination for shopping. The ‘Grote Markt’, the lovely city square where town life happens, is a perfect starting point for a city walk. There you find some great historical buildings: the city guards headquarters, the town hall, the old meat market, the old fish market, and the ’Grote Kerk’ (St. Bavokerk). The latter is the gothic cathedral of Haarlem (14th century), and the resting place of the famous painter Frans Hals and the poet Willem Bilderdijk.
Also on the ‘Grote Markt’, you find the statue of Laurens Janszoon Coster, who is believed to invent printing at the same time as Johannes Gutenberg.
Museum Tips: The Frank Hals Museum (http://www.franshalsmuseum.nl/en/) is a great place if you like paintings by Dutch masters from Haarlem. It houses a great collection of Frans Hals portraits. In Haarlem, you can also visit the oldest museum of the Netherlands, the Teylers Museum (https://www.teylersmuseum.nl/en). A Cabinet of Curiosities, founded by a cloth and fabric merchant, who donated his whole fortune. The Teylers Museum opened in 1784. It houses treasures from art and science, a broad collection of natural and artificial exhibits, like minerals, fossils, and physical instruments.
Fun Fact: The famous neighborhood of Harlem in New York was founded by Dutch settlers and it was originally named New Haarlem.
Zandvoort aan Zee
Where: ~35km west of Amsterdam
How to reach: ~30min by train from Amsterdam Central Station
Zandvoort aan Zee is one of the most popular beach destinations in the Netherlands.
However, originally it was a fishing village. A visit to Zandvoort aan Zee is especially nice during summer months – because of its 15km long beach and cozy beach bars. Also, if you love doing water sports, this is the place to be.
Are you more into motor racing? Car and motorcycle racings are regularly done on the racing circuit Park Zandvoort just close to the city center. Even famous Formula 1 racers have been there already.
In summer, a train goes directly from Amsterdam Central Station to Zandvoort. Just check the connections before (see the links at the end of the post about the Region Travel Ticket).
Fun Fact: In 1884 and 1885, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Sissi, visited Zandvoort. She came to consult a medical doctor in Amsterdam and stayed in Zandvoort for a couple of days. To honor her visits a bust illustrating her is placed on the Boulevard Barnaart in Zandvoort. And she has a tile on the Walk of Fame in the town center. How cool is that?
Where: ~35km south-west of Amsterdam
How to reach: ~45min by bus from the center of Amsterdam (via Schiphol)
Ok, if you ever happen to be in the Amsterdam area during springtime, the Keukenhof (https://keukenhof.nl/en/) is another must-do. If you start from the center of Amsterdam, the best is to take a bus to Amsterdam Schiphol, e.g. the Amsterdam Airport Express (bus 397) and then the Keukenhof Express from Amsterdam Airport, Schiphol Plaza (Bus line 858) to the Keukenhof.
The Keukenhof is located in Lisse, in the region that is known as the ‘Duin- en Bollenstreek‘, which means Dune and Bulb Region. It is popular for its coastal dunes and the cultivation of flower bulbs.
The Keukenhof is known for its incredible flower exhibit, which is known far beyond the European borders. Visitors from all over the world come here during the months of March-May to experience this unique colorful and creative exhibit.
The ground on which the Keukenhof is located was originally used to plant herbs. The herbs were for Jacqueline, Countess of Hainaut who lived in the Keukenhof Castle that is located just next to today’s Keukenhof park. That explains also the name Keukenhof which means kitchen garden. The flower exhibit, like we know it today, was established in 1949. The idea behind was to allow flower growers to present their hybrids. Seven million flower bulbs are planted each year in the park – including crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips. During the season there are flowering reports every Wednesday on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/visitkeukenhof/), posted by the Keukenhof.
The Keukenhof is open from about mid-March to mid-May. April is usually the best month for a visit.
Outside the park, you can enjoy the beautiful tulip fields. You don’t have to pay for seeing them. You are not allowed to walk on the fields but you can get close to them – for example by bike (you can rent a bike in front of the Keukenhof park). It is an awesome experience with all these colors and the sweet smell of flowers in the air.
Activity Tip: In April also the annual Flower Parade takes place (‘Bloemencorso‘ in Dutch). Dozens of trucks and cars are beautifully decorated with flowers. They follow a 42km long route from Noordwijk to Haarlem. About 1 million visitors from Holland and abroad secure their spot every year on the roadside to enjoy this colorful parade. You can find the latest information about the flower parade here: https://www.bloemencorso-bollenstreek.nl/en/ (you can also download a map with the exact routing of the parade).
Where: ~40 km south-west of Amsterdam
How to reach: ~45 min by bike from Keukenhof, or 30min by car from Amsterdam
Kaag is a kind of hidden gem. It is not that easy to reach by bus or train. My tip: If you plan to visit the Keukenhof, you might want to stay overnight, and plan a nice bike trip to Kaag for the next day.
By bike, you can enjoy a wonderful tour through the ‘Duin- en Bollenstreek’ alongside nice canals. The little village lies on an island in the Kaag Lakes (The Kagerplassen). It has only a little more than 300 inhabitants. You will need to take a small ferry with the bike from Buitenkaag to reach the small island.
Kaag is perfect for water sports fans. You can go sailing, canoeing, waterskiing, fishing, … or just rent a boat and have some relaxing hours on the water. Kaag and its surroundings offer peace and quiet.
Info about the Amsterdam & Region Travel Ticket
If you plan to visit some of the places described above, you might want to buy an Amsterdam & Region Travel Ticket. It is a multi-purpose ticket for transport by bus, tram, train, and metro in Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Area. You can choose between one (€19.50), two (€28.00) or three (€36.50) consecutive days [price update Jan 2019]. You can get it at the ‘I
Between March and May, you can use the ticket to travel from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to Keukenhof Gardens (Arriva bus 858). You find further information about traveling by train in and around Amsterdam here.
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Over to You
So, what about all the places you are planning to see around Amsterdam? I hope I was able to inspire you to find also some pearls in the close surroundings of Amsterdam!
Which places made it to your bucket list? Leave us a comment below!
Did you visit Amsterdam already?
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