Greetings! Living in Amsterdam was AMAZING, but there were times that I needed to get out of the city…so! Here are my top 13 day trips from Amsterdam – with Insta Spots!
These delightful places have glittery, Insta-perfect views, delicious food and smiley locals. This list should help you narrow down the towns that you want to visit during your time in the Netherlands.
Delft has a little of something for everyone: canals, tulips, blue & white ceramics, and two amazing churches in the market square. There is a lavish tulip field right next to the train station, making for a vivid entrance into the city. The canals are breathtaking, and there was even a castle bouncy house in the middle of the market!
The market square has everything you can think of made out of blue and white porcelain. The crowning glory though, is the glittery blue tile model of The Girl with the Pearl Earring. It’s on one of the walls next to the Old Church and it’s STUNNING!
Insta Spots: Delft
Make sure to check out the market square, where you will find the tall Old Church, and the sparkling New Church, the tiles of The Girl with the Pearl Earring, and then the stately Eastern Gate, Royal Delft and ornate City Hall, which is surprisingly nice for not being in the main square.
The home of the famous cheese, Gouda (pronounced “how-da”) has a beautiful market square, picturesque waterways and a magical cathedral. There are candy shops (with samples!), and you can catch the smell of stroopwaffles wafting through the narrow streets from blocks away.
Insta Spots: Gouda
Visit in April for the Gouda Cheese Market! You’ll find dozens of stalls selling cheeses and stroopwaffles, a runway-type display of giant Gouda cheese, and even an adorable band made up of little old men, singing songs which I can only assume are devoted to their love of Gouda cheese.
Also, check out Sint-Janskirk, Museum Gouda and Waag, a famous cheese museum and weighing station – don’t miss the samples! (Be careful walking up the windy stairwell, it’s soooo narrow!)
Zaandam is just a hop, skip and a jump from Amsterdam, and the town is small enough to explore in one afternoon. The townspeople will tell you that the incredibly bright, geometric hotel pictured above wasn’t built until around a decade ago, but it’s fame has shot their tourism industry through the roof. Before this, people came to admire the windmills and wooden shoes at the Zaansche Wooden Shoe Workshop.
Insta Spots: Zaandam
The Zaansche Wooden Shoe Workshop is a bit out of town, but it’s still considered to be a part of Zaandam. There are rows of massive windmills, and you can even watch a demonstration of how wooden shoes are made!
The Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Zaandam hotel is worth its weight in Insta-gold, but the entire street is practically perfect for photographers. There are shops that look like rose buds and tulips, all surrounded by ice cream parlors and delicious smelling lunch spots. Don’t forget to wander past the main street, though, as there is a stately canal gate, complete with a stoplight for passing boats.
Rotterdam is a beautiful and overwhelming and modern and fascinating place. You can climb into the Cube houses, sample cheeses at the markets, take a picture with the Santa and his “Christmas tree” (which looks oddly like a butt plug), and rent a bike to ride around the city and over Erasmusbrug, the city’s famous bridge.
Be careful! Bike riders are always in a hurry in Rotterdam, so make sure to take the side streets if you’d like a more leisurely pace, and always observe the bike lanes! (If you don’t, you’ll quickly get run over, haha)
Insta Spots: Rotterdam
Rotterdam has a multitude of structures that look like they belong in a modern art museum. The Market Hall is a great place to start, with its gorgeous roof painting, life-size checker board and stalls with hundreds of delicious restaurant options. The beautiful cathedral, Grote Sint-Laurenskerk, stands right next door to the Market Hall, has a 3 Euro admission fee and looks lovely on the inside and out.
Also check out the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam’s European art museum.
The Euromast is a massively high TV tower with a restaurant with views to die for.
Also, the Erasmusbrug is the massive bridge that is overrun with bikers. My advice? Rent a bike and join ‘em! Happy peddling!
Don’t miss the Cube Houses! These geometrical yellow houses are all occupied by locals or small businesses, except for one – the museum. You can visit the museum for a small fee in order to explore the inside of one of the world’s cutest architectural masterpieces. The Cube Houses are located by the Market Hall, and next to the “sunglasses building,” how one local referred to the oddly shaped, pointy structure next door.
From the windmill to the big square to the street performers, Haarlem is one of the best day trip options if you’re looking for a bigger, small town experience. It has the canals and the picturesque views of y’all and slender houses – like Amsterdam – but without all of the hustle bustle of a capital city.
Insta Spots: Haarlem
St. Bavo’s church is a good place to start, being right next to the Grote Markt and also a zillion restaurants if you get hungry.
If you’re looking for museums, check out the Teyler’s Museum, a cultural history museum opened in 1784. Don’t forget to head to De Adriaan, the museum within the windmill, overlooking the dock and the old town.
6. Keukenhof Tulip Garden
The best time to go to Keukenhof is in late March to mid May, as this is when the tulips bloom! Keukenhof, pronounced “ coy – ken – hoff ,” is pricy, but completely worth it if you’re there when the tulips are blooming – AND you get to the garden super early. After 10am, the tour buses pour in, and it’s a mad dash to climb up the windmill.
Because not all flowers can manage Holland’s sometimes unpredictable weather, Keukenhof created an inside garden that has lovely displays and shops that keep delicate flowers safe from the wind, and allow shop owners to display their products without fear of being rained on. Bring your camera (and your wallet!), as there’s plenty to capture for the ‘Gram.
I was a little disappointed by the amount of tulip fields that I actually saw while in the garden. Make sure to walk around outside of the official garden areas, because this is where the rows and rows of beautiful tulips are actually planted.
Dordrecht was one of my favorite places, because – similar to Delft – there were canals, churches, a big market square and even a functioning windmill to entertain the masses. I don’t think Dordrecht has a large tourist industry, as people often seemed confused to see me – a tourist! This baffled me, because there is plenty to see in this lovely city.
Insta Spots: Dordrecht
The windmill is a great place to start, and see if you can talk to the guys running the mill (they spoke German and Dutch with our group)! They’re so chatty and seem to really like their jobs. After, wander over to the Dordrecht Minster.
Also, the Nationaal Park de Biesbosch is a great place for nature pics and relaxation.
8. The Hague
Den Haag is a great place to explore! I wished I had had more time here, as it’s a major city in the Netherlands. It has a lot of offer. I’d recommend staying a night or two. The skyline is quite striking, and there are multiple in-depth museums and ancient buildings. There is a street car to help you fit everything in, and it goes right to the train station, so I’d definitely recommend taking advantage of this great transportation system.
Insta Spots: The Hague
Madurodum has tiny models of a Dutch City, Mauritshuis, which holds Vermeer’s painting “The Girl with the Pearl Earring,” and Escher in Het Palais are also great museums to explore (Make sure to check the entrance prices, because when I went, they were a bit pricy.)
The contemporary art museum, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, has a large collection, and the building itself is set on a big waterway.
Also, be on the lookout for local activities, such as festive farmers markets and antique book fairs in the main square.
The Old Church (pictured above) is stunning in the late afternoon, so plan your visit accordingly.
Leiden is similar to Delft, in that there is a lot to do, even if you like a variety of different activities. Museums, a windmill, great shopping streets, every type of cuisine in restaurants along the canals, and lovely stone bridges, similar to the ones seen along the Amsterdam canals.
Insta Spots: Leiden
The canals in Leiden are STUNNING. If the water is still, you can get some amazing shots with the lovely houses reflected in the water. Be on the lookout for the narrowest house in Leiden, placed right along the water for a great chuckle.
The Naturalis Biodiversity Center is the natural history museum – great for kids and adults, alike!
The National Museum of Antiques is also a fascinating place where the true meaning of the word “antique” can be understood. There are pieces that date all the way back to Egyptian times!
The windmill is also a museum, called the Museum De Valk (The Museum of the Falcon). Make sure to check it out!
Oudewater is a very small town, a short distance from Gouda by bus. It’s so beautiful there! I was there in the off season, so I saw very few tourists. It is a perfect place to enjoy a quiet afternoon – if you don’t mind being surrounded by a few witches 😉
Insta Spots: Oudewater
The the Waag, Oudewater’s museum, you are able to stand on the 15th Century scale that was used to determine as to whether or not people were witches. They add weights to the opposite end and, if you’re too light, look out! You’ll be drowned in the river! Luckily, *most* people pass the weight test, and you even receive a certificate that proves that you are not a witch. It’s all very official.
‘S-Hertogenbosch, also known as Den Bosch, is a small town with a quaint market square, loud church bells, a fancy art museum and a gothic cathedral. There was a farmers market in the main square when I arrived, as well as a parade of little children, so I found some delicious Middle Eastern food and local cheese samples. The Cathedral was gorgeous, and there were multiple art galleries, filled with colorful works by local artists.
Insta Spots: ‘S-Hertogenbosch
If arriving by train, make sure to wander past the theatrical statue on the greenery in front of the train station (past the fountain with golden dragons). There are plenty of picturesque entranceways along this street for the perfect #doorpic, and then head to the market square. You’ll find a well in the middle section that seems to reach down into the depths of the earth – but I didn’t want to go too far in to find out, haha.
The church is a bit hidden, but completely worth a visit. After the church, this is the perfect area do explore the small shops and tiny cafes, and be on the lookout for a hidden waterway.
These Bossche bols (Boschenballs) are delightful little chocolate pastries. The pastry chefs make the dough fresh every morning, and fill them with whipped cream.
If you haven’t tried these yet, don’t try them, because nothing will ever compare, and you will want to relocate to The Netherlands solely for these deliciously creamy puff pastries.
Amersfoort is a lovely little town with very little tourism. There are beautiful canals, strange trees that are all connected to sort of look like a living fence, and some great old buildings. (NOTE: This was one of the few cities I visited where people didn’t speak English, but there were few people out that day, so it might have just been happenstance.)
The tourism office doesn’t take credit card, so make sure to bring cash with you from the city if you choose to make a purchase!
Insta Spots: Amersfoort
Start at Koppelpoort, the medieval gate from 1425, and then head over to the Museum Flehite for some great architecture. Next, check out the Onze Lieve Vrowetoren, the 322’ tower in the center of town.
Utrecht is a great city in which to spend the day – or the weekend! It felt bustling and energetic, with a market right next to the train station. This led right to the beautiful, riverside shops. Below, you could also see families and couples strolling next to the water. Be on the lookout for cheese samples, delicious cafes – and SPEEDY bikes!! Bring sunglasses, because there’s very little shade along the river walk, and most benches belong to individual restaurants.
Insta Spots: Utrecht
The Dom Tower of Utrecht is MASSIVE and has 465 steps for you to climb at your leisure. Right behind it is St. Martin’s, Utrecht’s main cathedral.
Miffy’s traffic light is a quick and adorable stop.
There is also a plethora of great museums to check out: The Centraal Museum, The Railway Museum, and the Museum Speelklok, where you can find all kinds of machines that make music (great for kids!)
Castle De Haar (built in 1892) is also a great destination! The spectacular stained-glass windows and ornate facade make this castle a splendid site for photography, picnics and nature.
The blue whale made out of recyclables is a sight to behold, making a statement about the environment AND attracting cameras from every direction. You can’t miss it!
Which one would you like to visit? Let me know in the comments below! 💋❤️
Thanks for reading, and happy travels!
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