Whether you are spending a whole semester studying or you’re just in town for a few days, the Netherlands has so much to see and do. When I wasn’t jetting off to other parts of Europe, I tried to make the most of exploring as much of the country as I could.
The Netherlands is small, so seeing several cities in a short amount of time is super easy. Whether you want tulip fields, modern architecture, or blue-and-white pottery, most of it is just a short train ride away.
Day Trips from Amsterdam
- Delft. This is probably one of the most famous Dutch cities. Known for it’s ‘delftware’ or blue and white pottery, as well as being the home of Vermeer, Delft is a popular spot for visitors to Amsterdam. It’s a full hour on the train, but you’re passing through the Dutch countryside the whole time and the views are great.
- The Hague or Den Haag. The Hague (as it is known in English) is the political capital of the Netherlands (Amsterdam is the actual capital). It is home to the International Criminal Court and the UN Peace Palace. It is also home to several incredible museums, including the M.C. Escher museum. It is a beautiful, small city easily done in a day (and only half an hour away).
- Rotterdam. Rotterdam doesn’t look like any other Dutch city, or really most European cities. Almost everything was destroyed during World War II, so the city has been built from the ground up since the 1940s/1950s. Because of this, everything is very modern. It was weird to see Rotterdam compared to the rest of the country, and a lot of Dutch people don’t love the architecture because it isn’t ‘Dutch.’ It definitely isn’t my favorite, but it is fun in its own way, and the giant Markthal (market hall) is worth seeing.
- Keukenhof. Technically the town is called Lisse, but most people are more familiar with Keukenhof, the massive tulip garden that has made the Netherlands famous. Only open from March to May, the garden draws millions of people every year. And trust me, it is worth every bit of the hype.
- Utrecht. Utrecht is barely a half hour from Amsterdam, and makes a perfect spot if you only have half a day or so to spare.
- Marken. If you are feeling adventurous, you can bike to Marken in about an hour (unless you stop to take pictures, which you will). If you aren’t into a cycling trip, you can hop on a bus and take the easy route. Marken is cute, tiny, and easily doable in an afternoon. The view isn’t bad, either.
- Volendam/Zaanse Schans. SO touristy yet so worth it. If, when you think of the Netherlands, you picture a lot of windmills, then you’re picturing Zaanse Schans. Many travel companies offer bus trips to both cities. We took a bus trip with school, but my roommate biked there in a little over an hour, if you’re feeling up for a challenge!
There are countless other adorable towns and cities in the Netherlands, but these were my favorites!