The city of Amsterdam can be completely captivating and keep you busy during your whole stay. However, there is just as much to see only a train ride away. Whether you are looking to visit another city capital like Brussels, or looking for something a bit more laid back like Zaanse Schans, the best day trips from Amsterdam are just a trains ride away.
As two native Dutchies we have explored quite a lot from the Netherlands and used the train on a daily basis to and from school and work. We can tell you it is one of the easiest and most comfortable ways to get around the Netherlands. Another big advantage is that you won’t be bothered by traffic jams!
So, in this post we are going to reveal the best day trips from Amsterdam by train. Among them we will discuss cities like Rotterdam and Delft but also places of interest like Zaanse Schans and the Muiden Castle. For the real travelers among us, take a day trip to another country and explore Brussels or Bruges in Belgium! Keep on reading to get to know what to do in these places, the travel time, and the estimated costs.
Of course we have to start with Rotterdam. This enchanting city is where we first met and then lived together for 3 years, giving us plenty of local tips and tricks. Although if you are just stopping by for a day there are a few must-see spots that are ideal for a quick itinerary.
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and quickly growing. This provides visitors with a little something for everyone. Whether you are interested in medieval architecture, art, modern breweries, or want to learn more about windmills, Rotterdam has it all.
After arriving at Rotterdam Central Station, head over to the old town center where you can see Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk, a medieval church with stunning architecture that was first constructed in 1449. If you like architecture, take the free architecture tour! After the church, take in the view of the Erasmus Bridge or the Maritime Museum, both popular landmarks of the city.
For lunch you have a couple of options, you could visit the Fenix Food Factory. A fun open market that features workshops, tastings, bakeries, breweries, coffee shops, and so much more – or if you are a foodie and love picking up unique souvenirs, then Markthal Rotterdam is another fun spot! Or do the Rotterdam Tasty Tour and try different local snacks in the foodwalhallas of Rotterdam!
After, take a boat tour of the city, a popular option in the Netherlands due to our many canals and streams that wind through many towns. Or combine a tour on land and river with an amphibious bus that drives through the city and cruises on the Maas River! Another popular option is taking a tour through a windmill. Windmills are a staple in Dutch culture and contributed immensely to economic growth. While they are not as efficient today, you will find many still in operation.
If you are wondering how to travel by train in the Netherlands, have a look at our post “how to get around in the Netherlands“.
If you are in Amsterdam for only a short time, then Zaanse Schans is the perfect stop to get some Dutch culture quickly. The town sits just outside Amsterdam, making the 35-minute train ride from Amsterdam Central Station a flexible option – or you can take a bike with the rest of the locals!
A stress-free option is a half-day tour that will bus you from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans with a guide for only €34.40 per person! They will be sure to show you some of the most popular shops listed below. As you bounce from one to another, your guide even provides you with a bit of history of the town.
The fairytale-like town of Zaanse Schans will have you feeling like you stepped into a Disney movie. The charming homes, delicate streams, fresh air, and welcoming shops are truly unique. As you walk throughout the town you will find stores dedicated to sharing Dutch culture.
Aside from the picturesque scenery, activities and shops include:
- Kooijman Souvenirs & Clogs: Watch clogs get made and buy your own from their massive selection.
- Catharina Hoeve Cheese Farm: Enjoy a cheese tasting and buy a few savory and sweet flavors.
- Het Jonge Schaap: Ever wonder what goes on inside a windmill? This is your chance! Watch the inner workings and discover how useful they have been to the Dutch.
- Zaans Gedaan CacaoLab: Learn how the popular Dutch chocolate is made and buy a few bars for yourself.
Zaanse Schans is a beautiful town to visit, where you feel like you’ve stepped back in time to explore another era.
If you are looking to see castles on your travels, the Muiden castle will surely satisfy that itch. Its structure is everything one would hope for when picturing a castle. The large rounded corners of the structure are complemented by a moat, a hint that this place has seen some legendary battles.
To visit the Muiden castle you will need more than just a train. The train ride will take you most of the way but you will need to transfer to a bus for the rest of the journey. Some travelers may feel anxious about needing to catch another bus or train to make it to their location. Luckily, this short trip has multiple buses circulating, making it easy to catch a follow-up bus if your train arrives late. You can always decide to take a tour from Amsterdam to Muiden Castle, so you are sure everything is arranged for you.
Once you arrive there will be plenty of opportunities for great photos. The large castle towers over its visitors sitting alongside a welcoming garden holding a plumb orchard. The historical landmark offers multiple tour options of the well-preserved castle, making for an eventful day trip.
Just like the cheese, the town of Gouda is just an hour away and should be on top of the list for all cheese lovers. There are places to see like Sint-Janskerk, a beautiful cathedral, and Stadhuis Gouda, the city hall, but your focus of this day trip should be all about the cheese!
Check out the Gouda Cheese Market where you will see giant wheels of cheese everywhere you turn. There are plenty of chances to taste and buy this town favorite, but I would avoid buying a wheel unless you are sure you can finish it before your flight home!
How else can the town of Gouda celebrate their favorite cheese? Well, with the Museum Gouda of course! Ok – so the museum is not entirely dedicated to Gouda cheese, but it can be a nice break from the savory scents!
The town of Delft has plenty to offer, but the most popular is the pottery.
The town of Delft is famous for its delicate blue and white pottery, in Dutch called “Delftsblauw”. You can find everything from simple tea plates to elaborate vases that weigh just a bit more than your dog. Since the pottery is so popular in the town, you will also be able to take advantage of some excursions they have like pottery painting. Take a class to learn about their intricate designs and the true artistry that goes into the pottery.
While the travel to Delft is a bit longer, it can be a nice day trip that rewards you with an authentic souvenir to take back.
If you travel to Keukenhof, you are likely to visit the fabulous garden. The Keukenhof garden is a theme park for all those that love flowers and gardening. Stroll the tulip fields and watch as their bright green stems spud the brightest flowers. Walk, take a boat, bike, or even take a tour through the fields to fully experience all the park has to offer.
Keukenhof is best enjoyed outdoors! But due to the seasonal bloom of the flowers, it is only open for a short time. From the end of March until half of May (including weekends and holidays) you can stop by. Don’t be too disappointed if you are visiting during the closed season, it is a beautiful spot all year long, but the flowers aren’t around most of the year.
When it is time for lunch, you shouldn’t have issues finding the perfect spot to eat. There is plenty of outside seating so you can eat in the sunshine. This certainly is not a place you would want to spend too much time indoors.
Try some poffertjes or Dutch pancakes. If you are looking for a bit of variety there is also an Italian and Asian restaurant serving some classic dishes. For those on the go, you can quickly grab some strawberries or a hotdog.
Also have a look at our post “best time to visit the Netherlands” for more information about the perfect time to visit the Netherlands to see all the flowers in full bloom.
If you hop on a 1-hour train ride for about €15, you will arrive in the Hague with plenty to keep you entertained. The Hague boasts itself as the only big city with a beach directly on the North Sea coast. Here you can get an incredible Skyview from the pier. But that certainly is not all it has to offer.
Visit the Hague Market, the largest market in Europe containing 500 stalls selling everything from flowers and snacks, to souvenirs and more. Be sure to visit on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday from 09:00 – 17:00 – unfortunately, shops close their doors on the other days.
That is not the only record this town breaks. The town of Hague is also unique for its Omniversum, a theatre with the only IMAX dome theatre in Europe. An ideal stop if your feet are sore from walking all those stalls.
If you love touring by boat, the Ooievaart is the perfect opportunity to float the canals and see a different side to the city. But maybe you prefer a bird’s eye view of the city, a unique opportunity would be to visit Madurodam, a miniature replica of The Netherlands. This spot allows visitors the chance to quickly get a bird’s eye view of this diverse country.
One of the best things about traveling in Europe is how easy it is to visit another city, or even country! From Amsterdam Central Station you can take a 2-hour train ride and find yourself in Brussels, Belgium. Brussels is the capital of Belgium and the European Union, making it not only a popular spot for Belgium culture, but European as well.
Throughout Brussels you will come across plenty of stunning architecture. For example, Grand Place, a 15th Century city hall or the Old England Building, a department store from the 19th century. If architecture is not your thing, a beer tour or a stop at a chocolatier may be more your pace. Amongst all the stops is the most famous, the Manneken Pis, a fountain of a little boy peeing.
No doubt Brussels is a popular spot! However, taking a break from city life may be in the cards for you if a day trip is on your mind. Bruges can be a fun visit for something just outside the Netherlands. The town of Bruges is known for its architecture and rivers that run through the city. This makes for a relaxing tour for all of its visitors.
Canal tours are very popular in the city but only run from March to November. Such a tour will give you the best sense of the city. Throughout the tour you will pass by buildings with enchanting vines that climb the walls, followed by beautifully designed bridges to pass under. The tour is very popular for tourists, so we suggest trying to save a spot early!
Of course, a stop in Belgium would not be complete without trying some fries, waffles, and chocolate. Luckily, Bruges has plenty of spots for you to try just that. While you can easily spot these places on nearly every corner, we suggest trying some chocolate at Chocoladehuisje and waffles at Chez Albert. Gorge at the Market can also be sure to squash any other cravings you may have.
More day trips from Amsterdam
So, there are a lot of fun and nice day trips to do from Amsterdam by train. But, if you don’t like using the train or public transport at all, there are also a lot of guided tours you can take. These tours will lead you through the whole country and make you visit incredible highlights! Below are just a few of our favorites. But you can check out the whole selection here.
- Dutch Countryside Tour – €35 per person
- Guided day trip to Bruges – €49 per person
- Visit the amazing village of Giethoorn, where canals take the place of streets – €85 per person
- Private day trip to Haarlem and climb a traditional windmill – €93 per person
- Best of Holland tour – €99 per person
More information about what things cost in the Netherlands, you’ll find in our post: The Netherlands: How much does it cost to travel around?
We love to hear from you
Hopefully, you’re inspired by reading this article about the best day trips from Amsterdam by train. Let us know which one (or more) you opt for by leaving a comment below. Had an incredible experience or do you have a question? You can also leave a reply!
For more travel inspiration about the Netherlands, have a look at our country page where you’ll find all kind of articles about preparing your trip and awesome things to do! Or have a look at our general travel tips!