The Netherlands is a tiny country that’s extraordinarily well-connected by efficient and affordable public transportation. And after you’ve explored Amsterdam’s offerings, it’s worth heading out of the city by train, bus or that favorite Dutch mode of transport — een fiets (a bike).
These four popular Amsterdam day trips are all within about an hour’s reach of the metropolis.
Stroll the Pretty Canals of Utrecht
Like a mini Amsterdam, lively with canal cafés and cool little independent boutiques and restaurants, the university city of Utrecht, less than half an hour south by train, is a delight to explore.
For the best views of your surrounds, climb the 465 steps to the top of the Dom Tower, Holland’s highest church tower (365 feet) that dates to the early 14th century. Unlike in Amsterdam, most of Utrecht’s canals are accessible by steps down from the street.
And you’ll find cafés and restaurants right at the water’s edge, where a steady parade of boat traffic passes at eye level.
Visit the Fishing Village of Volendam
It’s a 30-minute train ride north from Amsterdam’s Centraal Station to the historic fishing village of Volendam, located on the edge of the Markermeer lake. If you’re feeling ambitious you can also make the three-hour bike ride from Amsterdam along a scenic route that skirts the Zuiderzee waterway.
Volendam is straight from a storybook, dotted with gabled houses with steeply pitched orange roofs, cobbled streets lined with shops and cozy cafés, and a pretty harbor where you can walk atop a dike and admire the scenery.
This is one of the best places in Holland to try beloved seafood specialties such as kibbeling (piping-hot battered and fried fish nuggets) and Hollandse Nieuwe, fresh herring served naked or in a sandwich topped with diced onions — both of which are readily available at small food stands that front the harbor.
Be Cheesy in Gouda
An hour’s train ride southwest of Amsterdam brings you to the beautiful city of Gouda, known for both its delicious rounds of the eponymous yellow cheese and a sweeter treat called stroopwaffels — fresh, ultra-thin waffle sandwiches slathered with a sticky-sweet syrup.
Plan to arrive on a Thursday between April and August to see how the cheese is delivered by horse and cart and weighed for sale at the famous weekly Gouda Cheese Market, held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in a large square in front of the old City Hall. The tradition dates back to 1365 and makes for an Instagram-worthy moment.
To sample those stroopwaffels that will surely have you salivating, you’ll find stalls around the market dishing them up fresh for a few euros.
Sample Dutch Beach Culture in Scheveningen
Beach life may not be what first comes to mind when you think of the chilly North Sea. But any time the sun is shining, Dutchies love to journey to their dune-backed beaches. Scheveningen, a stone’s throw from The Hague and about an hour’s train ride southwest of Amsterdam, is one of the best strands.
Both windsurfers and traditional surfboard riders flock here for the reliably good conditions, thanks to a wave-forming artificial reef just offshore. And during the warm summer months you’ll find outfitters renting gear and offering lessons along the wide beach.
But you can have just as much fun on dry land here, too, strolling the wide seafront boulevard, venturing out on the 1,312-foot-long pier, or dining on flopping fresh seafood in the lively port area, where outdoor tables far outnumber those inside.