If you are planning a trip to The Netherlands, Amsterdam would be a major part of your itinerary. But if you have more days to spare, here are a few recommendations of gorgeous offbeat cities that would take your breath away, all of which are easy day-trips from Amsterdam.
1) Zaanse Schans:
Zaanse Schans is one of the highlights of The Netherlands, just outside of Amsterdam. It is packed with wooden windmills, barns, museums and houses built in the typical Dutch architectural style and relocated here piece by piece since 1961. You can spend half a day learning about the Dutch heritage – from watching a wooden clog being made, taking a chocolate making class, enjoying a cheese tasting tour, to seeing a working windmill from the inside – it’s all possible here. Admission to Zaanse Schans is free though there are a couple of museums where you have to pay a small fee to enter.
Getting There: There are direct buses from Amsterdam Central Station that will drop you at the entrance of Zaanse Schans. If you are up for some adventure, you can bike from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans. The route is scenic passing through green fields and pastures.
Volendam is a fishing village in North Holland, about 20kms from Amsterdam. It is a fisherman’s village and the bustling harbor area with the many boats are a major attraction. Walking around the city centre will take you through the narrow lanes with its old charming houses. Volendam is also famous for its souvenir stores – especially if you would like to have your picture taking wearing an original volendam costume which is one of the best known examples of traditional clothing in the country.
Getting There: There are direct buses from Amsterdam Centraal Station to Volendam. You can also take a ferry from Marken (which is another picturesque village). Biking to Volendam is also an option, passing by beautiful landscapes along the route.
Delft is a sleepy town, popularly known for the pottery ceramic products which were styled on the imported Chinese porcelain of the 17th century. Take a stroll through the streets starting at Oude Delft crossing through Wijnhaven, Kerkstraat, Markt and ending at the Beestenmarkt. You will cross by the old church (oud kerk) and the new church (nieuw kerk) – the two major monuments of the town.There are also numerous stores selling the Delft pottery and some of them even allow you to take a workshop.
Do make sure to stop for a coffee by this lovely boat café to enjoy the tranquility of this picturesque town.
Getting There: From Amsterdam airport or Central Station, there are direct intercity trains every 15-30 minutes to Delft. It takes 35 minutes from the airport. From the train station in Delft, all the attractions are easily accessible on foot.
Leiden is a student town, hosting the oldest university in the Netherlands. This gives this town a young, carefree vibe which is evident when you walk down the streets anytime of the day. During day time, this is a lazy city with people leisurely pacing around and in the night it transforms itself into a vibrant party town.
Getting There: From Amsterdam airport or Central Station, there are direct intercity trains every 15-30 minutes to Leiden. It takes 15 minutes from the airport. From the train station in Leiden, the attractions are easily accessible by foot.
Maastricht, where the Maastricht Treaty was signed, is known as the brithplace of European Union, European citizenship and the birthplace of the Euro currency. This city is located on both sides of the river Maas and is known for its rich culture (including folklore).
Getting There: From Amsterdam airport or Central Station, there are direct intercity trains to Maastricht and the ride takes about 2.5 hours.
All these cities can be easily explored on foot but If you want to explore like a local, you can rent bikes at the stations and ride them around. Clearly marked bike paths make this easy even for first time visitors.
Which is your favorite city in The Netherlands?