Day trips from Amsterdam
The convenience of being in a small country is the facility of moving around within a couple of hours. Cities are close enough and allow us to explore the surrounds in a blink whilst we bring joy to ourselves facing new landscapes and fresh environments. In the Netherlands this proves to be right. Plus, we can get it all: beaches, hills, forests, urban life, medieval villages, and much more.
Amsterdam, where I live, is usually the starting point to stroll around. Taking day trips from here have always been an exciting way to freshen my mind while I soak up the peculiar Dutch culture that I've always been fascinated about. Also, the great national railway grants us with inexpensive day trips that take us to nearby places which are worth the visit.
Even before moving to Holland, I used to spare a day or two to explore what's out there besides Amsterdam. I usually started by looking at the map to pick up a not too distant point where I would venture myself and luckily, I was never disappointed. After exploring some close at hand cities more than once, I made this friendly guide to the ones that I consider to be the most beautiful, authentic and cultured.
P.S. all of them are not more than one-hour/one-hour and a half's drive or train journey from Amsterdam.
You can take great advantage of what the city has to offer in only one day. But once you leave it, chances are huge that you will be eager to come back to explore more. Den Haag has a strong political heart and is home to the King's Office Palace: no wonder, you can sense a noble aspect naturally floating in the city's air. Monuments, museums, elegant hotels, excellent bars and restaurants also play an important role within the town's urban progress. Den Haag can also be proud of its geographical location as it is the only big city in the Netherlands with direct access to the beach: Scheveningen. It's not only a convenient place for swimming and sunbathing during summertime, but also for surfing, walking and attending many events that pop up around the seaside area. A wonderful and unique entertainment that likely caters to everyone's taste is the visit to Madurodam, where we can admire the country and its beauties in a miniature scale.
Delft may be much more shy than the Dutch capital but shows off a strong personality. It feels like a young town (shops, night life, modern restaurants and university dwellers prove that) although it doesn’t hide a notable heritage. I found it impossible not to notice the tradition upheld by the gothic Nieuwe Kerk: members of the Royal Family are buried there. This church is located in the compact City Centre which also offers a delightful walk by lovely canals and picturesque houses. However, what I most loved about strolling around was to sense the subtle influences left by the painter Johannes Vermeer and the Delft Blue pottery which is all over and captivates everyone’s eyes.
I love everything about medieval cities. They all seem to hide so many secrets that no history book would ever be able to witness. This is what fascinates me the most about them. Zwolle is a small town in northeastern Holland whose historic Centre preserves the intimacy of the past. I immediately marveled at the charming old façades and picturesque narrow streets that led me to wonder how was life in their first centuries. Zwolle is one of the “off piste” areas that the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions (NBTC) have been campaigning to attract visitors, as a response to the new 2020 world tourism reality. I am so glad to see the country addresses more efforts to show that Amsterdam is not the only definition of the Netherlands.
Architecture enthusiasts will fall in love here. As Rotterdam had to redesign its urban planning - mostly because so much was destroyed during World War II - we can see amazing contemporary style buildings throughout the whole city. Also, the place is a hub of some brilliant minds of the world's architectural and design scene so there's always a lot to expect when it comes to dwellings and constructions. Being the second largest city of Holland, Rotterdam boasts an energetic and cosmopolitan vibe due to the great number of students and expats (almost 200 nationalities intertwine here). Accommodating Europe’s largest seaport, it means that it is responsible for a great deal of economic and logistic affairs.
Cheese is the star of the show here! It's a place to see, breathe and eat cheese, no matter what. As one of the biggest dairy producers in the world, the Netherlands preserves a strong reputation when it comes to cheese and Gouda is certainly the country's most recognised sort. But it would be unfair to acknowledge Gouda only by this edible yellow ball's heritage. There's a medieval deep-rooted feel to the historic city Centre where the main square attracts locals and visitors and can be also the starting point to explore the surrounds.
This is the quickest city to drop by from Amsterdam. Both are so close that one can hardly set them apart when looking at a map. It's a small laid-back town that I can almost describe as being Amsterdam's relaxed version. If you like windmills just as much as I do, there's a lovely one to explore there: 'Molen De Adriaan' dates back to the 18th century and offers a tour throughout its interior (the property turned into a museum a few years ago). Markets, squares, cafés, narrow streets and much more to see comes perfectly together in Haarlem.