8 Cheap Day Trips from Amsterdam
Amsterdam, also known as the Venice of the North, is a bustling city that draws plenty of visitors every year. From the cultural to the quirky, Amsterdam really does have something for everyone, and is the biggest city in the Netherlands.
But what else does the Netherlands have to offer? Have you ever wanted to see a 13th century castle? Traditional windmills? The fields of the tulips that Holland is so famous for? There is certainly quite a bit to see outside of the major city, and thanks to the Netherlands’ size, most attractions can be day trips that are great for travelers on a budget.
1 – Muiderslot Castle: A 13th-Century castle on the edge of town
The Muiderslot Castle was built around 1285 by Count Floris V, and later occupied by Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft, who was known as the “Dutch Shakespeare.” As visitors ravel through this well-kept medieval castle, you can explore the Knight’s Hall, the towers and the dungeon, and the Armory with its extensive armor collection. Walking along the ramparts is the best place to get a great view. The history or falconry is still alive at the castle, with daily live demonstrations during the summer.
At the time of this post, entry free were €7,50 for children 4-11 and €12,50 for adults, which includes a guided tour. There is also a free downloadable guide to the castle.
The castle is about 15 minutes away from Amsterdam by bus.
Take bus 320, 322, 327 and 328 from Amsterdam Amstel Station to Muiden/Muiderslot. Included in the Connexxion 1 day or 3 days ticket.
Take the train to Weesp and a bus to Muiden or cycle along the river Vecht in 15 minutes to Muiden. Visit the Dutch Railways website for more information.
Take the ferry from Amsterdam IJburg, tram 26 from the Central Station, to the castle.
2 – Keukenhof Gardens – 79 Acres of world famous tulip fields
CLOSED UNTIL 2015.
Many people associate the Netherlands with tulips, so no spring trip is complete without visiting the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse. Open from March-May, 7 million flower bulbs burst into bloom – truly a gorgeous sight to see, and no wonder it is one of the Netherlands’ most popular attractions.
It’s about a 30 minute bus ride to the gardens from Amsterdam.
Take bus 858 from Schiphol Airport or bus 854 from Leiden Central Station. Tickets are €6 each way, and buses leave every 15 minutes. You can also buy a combi-pass, which includes both the bus fare and entrance fee to the gardens for €28 (from Amsterdam center) or €23 (from Schiphol / Leiden / Haarlem) for adults or €12.50 for Children 4-11 years old.
3 – Delft – Historic canal town known for Delft Blue pottery
Ever heard of the Delftware? These ceramics have been exported from Delft for over 400 years, and Royal Delft is the last remaining Delftware factory from the 1600s. Besides ceramics, Delft is known for its association with the House of Orange, and the last royal Dutch family is buried at the New Church on the Markdt.
Delft is also known as the home of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, the artist that created works such as The Kitchen Maid and Girl with a Pearl Earring. The Vermeer Center Delft is dedicated to his life and work.
Delft is about an hour train ride from Amsterdam.
Hop on the train at either Amsterdam Centraal Station or at Schipol Airport. A one-way train ticket costs €11.50 and return ticket €23.00, and trains leave every 30 minutes. Visit the Dutch Railways website for more information.
4 – Zaanse Schans – Windmills and Dutch traditions
Zaanse Schans is a town rich in Dutch tradition, with giant wooden windmills, a wooden shoe workshop, and a cheese farm. Many Dutch traditions have been preserved here, making it a true glimpse into the Netherlands’ past. There are museums, demonstrations, and local monuments such at Peter the Great’s house.
You will have no time filling your day at Zaanse Schans. The Zaanse Schans Card, available at the Zaans Museum Information Center and at the Museum of the Dutch Clock, is great for budget travelers, and includes admission to the Zaans Museum & Verkade Pavilion, one windmill of choice, and discounts or special offers for local crafts and restaurants. It currently costs €10.
Zaanse Schans is about 40 minutes from Amsterdam by bus.
Take bus 391 from Centraal station to Zaanse Schans. Departs every half hour, and in the summer it departs every 15 minutes.
Take the train from Amsterdam Centraal Stateion to Koog-Zaandijk. Zaanse Schans is a 15-minute walk from the station. The train is only a 17-minute ride. Visit the Dutch Railways website for more information.
5 – Alkmaar Cheese Market – Perfect for cheese lovers
The cheese market is open on Fridays from April until September, and has a complete program starting at 9:50 a.m. and ending at 12:30 p.m., so make sure you get there to see the whole thing!
The cheese market originated around 1600, and the program includes the weighing, inspection, and bargaining of the cheeses. There are several cheese farms that are open to the public around Alkmaar, which can be found on the Alkmaar cheese market website. There is a cheese museum worth visiting as well, and a beer museum.
You can also visit Edam, Gouda, or Hoorn and take a full cheese tour of the Netherlands!
It is about a 40-minute train ride to Alkmaar from Amsterdam. Trains depart every 15 minutes from Amsterdam Central Station. Visit the Dutch Railways website for more information.
Photo Credit: author
6 – Leiden – The birthplace of Rembrandt
You may be seeing a trend here by now, that several famous artists have resided in the Netherlands. If Rembrandt is your style, then a day trip to Leiden is a must! The biggest museum is the Museum De Lakenhal, but save some time for a visit to a couple of the other 20 museums, most of which located in the city center of Leiden.
Don’t miss the view of the Rhine River from atop De Burcht, a hilltop fortress. There are two windmills in town, as well as churches with magnificent architecture.
It’s about a 30-minute train ride from Amsterdam to Leiden.
Take the train from Amsterdam Central Station to Leiden Central Station. Trains depart every 15 minutes. Visit the Dutch Railways website for more information.
7 – Rotterdam – World famous port city
Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands and is one of the largest ports in the world. It’s not going to look like a traditional Dutch city, but you will find some of the best museums and restaurants in Europe here.
Considering that there is so much to do and see, visitors may want to get a Rotterdam Card (price varies depending on 1, 2, or 3 day card) to save money on admissions, attractions, and even restaurants.
If you are on limited time, be sure to visit the Havenmuseum (Harbor Museum) and the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, which contains both Dutch and European pieces from the Middle Ages to the 21st century.
Rotterdam is about an hour train ride from Amsterdam.
Take the train from Amsterdam Central Station. Trains leave every 15 minutes. Visit the Dutch Railways website for more information.
8 – Bruges/Brugge, Belgium – Waffles, Beer, and Chocolate
Cheaper and less busy than the nearby Brussels, Bruges is a great small city for a day trip. The most expensive part of this trip is the train ticket, but once you get to Bruges, settle in for a Belgian waffle and a Belgian beer or two (don’t forget to pick up some chocolate afterwards!).
It’s easy to walk around or rent a bike and check out the sights, such as the Heilig-Bloedbasiliek (Basilica of the Holy Blood), which displays a vial containing what is said to be the blood of Christ. Another great attraction is the clock tower, which is the best place to get a birds eye view of the entire city.
The train ride from Amsterdam to Bruges will take about 3 hours. Take the Thalys train from Amsterdam Central Station to Bruges with one transfer in Bruxelles-Midi. Visit the Hispeed train website for more information. The train will likely cost at least €35.
The bus is another, cheaper option, starting at €14 for a ticket, but will take 5 hours from Amsterdam. Take the Eurolines bus from the Amsterdam Amstel Station to the Bruges station at Busstation De Lijn on Stationsplein.
By Abbie Mood
Abbie lives just outside Denver, CO and can usually be found hanging out with her dogs, Daisy and Sadie. In addition to freelance writing and editing, Abbie is a dog trainer and an early interventionist for children birth – 3 years with special needs. You can find more of her writing on her blog, Miles of Abbie.