Once you have discovered Amsterdam and made yourself at home, you should visit the rest of the Netherlands too! Michael has 4 day trips for you, all easily reachable by train in less than an hour from Amsterdam. Bon voyage!
Amsterdam is a gorgeous city with plenty of nooks and crannies to delight in, but it’s far from the only beautiful place in the Netherlands! Whether you’re brand-new to the Netherlands or have been here for a while, here are some of the best day trips I’ve made while studying at the VU – getting to each of these cities takes less than an hour by train from Amsterdam.
Utrecht. Okay, I’m very biased here since I live in Utrecht this year, but Utrecht is by far the best city I’ve visited in the Netherlands outside of Amsterdam. (In fact, I like it more than Amsterdam.) Beautiful and labyrinthine canals, some excellent museums (like the Speelklok Museum), and fantastic food options make for a lovely place for a day trip. If you want some cheap(er) eats, I highly recommend Lucy Lou Tacos and Tequila near the Hoog Catherijne mall.
Den Haag. Also known to us English-speakers as The Hague, Den Haag is a cornerstone of Dutch history and diplomacy. I went in the height of the Netherlands’s lockdown over the 2020-2021 winter, and the city proved marvelous, even just for a simple stroll. My walk took me through the Binnenhof, past the Maurithuis, and across Het Plein. I enjoyed it during the lockdown, and I’d like to go back so I can visit inside the Maurithuis, too – that’s the museum where Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” painting is.
Delft. I’ve made a few American friends in the Netherlands, and I’ve found that if they don’t also study in Amsterdam, they’re studying in Delft. When visiting, I’ve always been impressed by the city’s historic architecture, especially in De Markt, and the excellent dinner and borrel options around town. It’s nestled between Den Haag and Rotterdam, but I recommend making time to visit Delft with a proper trip by itself.
Leiden. Windmills! Quaint architecture! Draaiorgelen in the streets! American history! (Yes, really!) When I visited Leiden, I picked up a snack at the market near the Maredijkmolen and, again, walked up and down the city. There were still many COVID restrictions in place when I visited, but that didn’t stop me from seeing the sights. Why did I mention American history? Well, the Pilgrims stopped in Leiden and lived there for 12 years before traversing the Atlantic in the Mayflower. Funny how my native country’s history aligns with Dutch history in some places.
These are just the cities I’ve had the pleasure of exploring myself — my friends also highly recommend Maastricht, Giethoorn, and Haarlem, but I haven’t been to those places myself (yet!). The train system in the Netherlands is a highly impressive and efficient feat of public transport, at least in my humble American opinion, so take full advantage while you’re here and enjoy sightseeing across the country.
Enjoy exploring the Netherlands,