There is plenty to see and do in Amsterdam, but this beautiful city does not represent what the whole country is about. To get a better feel of Holland, discover the surrounding areas by taking amazing day trips. You will be charmed with fields of tulips, traditional wind mills, and fairly tale-like neighborhoods. See famous Keukenhof Gardens, historic village of Zaanse Schans, and finally one of the charming residential neighborhoods of Loenen aan de Vecht. Read on to learn about 3 best day trips from Amsterdam.
What Are the Best Day Trips from Amsterdam?
1. Keukenhof Gardens
2. Zaanse Schans historic village
3. Town of Loenen aan de Vecht
Visiting Holland in the spring for tulip blooming went through my head for some time, so when the opportunity presented to visit my niece, who recently moved there from Poland, I could not resist. I bought my ticket with American Airlines miles and jumped over the ocean to see my family and take a second look at Amsterdam, which I visited one time before, over 20 years ago. But I am not going to lie, I went to the Netherlands mainly for its tulips.
1. Best day trips from Amsterdam: Keukenhof Gardens and the Dutch tulip
Every year, the tulips transform Dutch landscape into a kaleidoscopic carpet of vibrant colors. There is no better place to see this extraordinary phenomenon than at the famous Keukenhof Gardens, near the town of Lisse in the west of the Netherlands. Keukenhof is the most prominent flower park in Europe, with over 7 million flowers! It is open from mid-March till mid-May.
Keukenhof, what can I say? Crazy beautiful, perhaps? An unimaginable variety of tulips predominates the park, but there are different flowers there too. When I entered the park, I felt like a little girl wanting to see it all at once and run from one area of the gardens to another. Overwhelming beauty everywhere!
You can easily spend an entire day in Keukenhof. To be honest, one visit is not enough to see it all, but whatever time you have there, do not rush. Just enjoy this live picture book unfolding in front of your eyes. There’s also a boat that takes you out to the fields for an extra fee.
The gardens are spectacular, but do not miss the areas around them: fields of tulips, not manicured, not flowerbeds, just growing freely into the sky. Rows and rows of them. What a sight!
From a distance, it may look like you can access the fields from the Keukenhof Gardens, but that is not the case. This is Holland – cut by canals, there is water between the fields and gardens. Enter the fields for free from the road leading into the gardens, but be there early. Parking is on the side of the road and very limited.
How to get to Keukenhof Gardens from Amsterdam
The is no direct transport from Amsterdam to Keukenhof Gardens. The easiest way is to take a tour from the city is to travel by car. Other options are described here.
2. Best day trips from Amsterdam: Village of Zaanse Schans
The Zaanse Schans is a unique part of the Netherlands, full of wooden houses, mills, barns, and workshops. Historic windmills and distinctive green wooden houses were relocated here to recreate the look of an 18th/19th-century village.
The Zaans Schans Museum displays regional costumes, model windmills and interactive exhibits on chocolate making. Artisan workshops demonstrate rare handicrafts such as wooden clog carving, barrel making, and pewter casting. Do not miss the cheese factory where you can taste Dutch cheeses.
How to get to Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam
Zaanse Schans is located just about 10 miles away from Amsterdam. You can get there by car, bicycle or public transport. Find more details here.
3. Best day trips from Amsterdam: Loenen aan de Vecht
If you never heard that name, there is a reason for it. You will not find it in any tourist guidebooks. Most visitors to Amsterdam choose famous Waterland area, a short trip northeast, as their day trip destinations, but the most popular is not what I was looking for. I wanted to see places where tourists don’t go.
I wanted to see a real Dutch neighborhood untouched by visitors. My niece suggested nearby charming town of Loenen aan de Vecht, a short drive from her house in Hilversum. What a great choice it was!
When I think about Loenen aan de Vecht, I can still remember how it made me feel. No noise, no rush, just an incredible calmness. I remember walking along the canal, views of the gardens, smell of bushes and flowers, and friendly dogs just looking at me and wagging their tales. It all feels like a slow-motion movie now, almost unreal, strikingly beautiful scenery and nothing but peace.
This residential area has a few places to eat, with good food and famous Dutch beer, a drawbridge, and its own historic mill. This is a place where you find the locals going about their business, with no tourist in sight. Some may say, there is nothing there to see or do. I say it is quintessential serene Holland, charming and irresistible. Just another page from a Dutch fairytale book.
How to get to Loenen aan de Vecht from Amsterdam
The best way to get to Loenen aan de Vecht is by car, but there are other ways to do it, including public transportation. Learn more here.