Vibrant, fun and less than 5 hours away from London, it's not surprising that taking the train to Amsterdam is a popular choice. But despite its undeniable charm, it can be a pleasure to get away from the bustle of Amsterdam and experience the Netherlands at a more relaxed pace. We've picked 6 great day trips from Amsterdam by train, all possible in an hour or less.
Skip the organised tours and spend a day in Delft at your own pace. An hour away by direct train, Delft offers pretty canals, historic buildings and cobblestone streets to rival Amsterdam's, but on a smaller scale. All the main attractions are within walking distance, or rent a bike for just €6.50 per day to appreciate the city and surrounding countryside like a local.
Explore Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) on the Main Square, where you'll find the tomb of The Netherlands' founding father, Willem of Orange, or peruse the artworks at Museum Het Prinsenhof. The city is also famous for its distinctive Delftware so head to De Porceleyne Fles (Royal Delft), the original and last-remaining producer of this elegant blue and white pottery, to admire the 17th century earthenware.
Trains from Amsterdam to Delft leave every half hour from Amsterdam Central Station and take an hour.
If you're planning a trip to Holland in springtime then a day trip to Keukenhof gardens is a must. Seven million flower bulbs planted over 80 acres make the world's largest flower garden explode into colour from March to May every year. It culminates with an incredible Flower Parade - a carnival of giant floats made from the garden's finest blossoms. Enjoy a sedate boat ride among the flower nurseries or head to Keukenhof Castle, which plays host to music festivals and medieval fairs throughout the year.
The nearest train station to Keukenhof is Schipol airport, where a direct bus departs for the gardens. Buy a Connexxion All-In Combi-Ticket, which includes bus transport from the city centre or Schiphol airport and entrance to the park from the Tourist Information Offices.
The city of Gouda is a great place to visit for a glimpse of time-honoured Dutch traditions, and lots of cheese. Every Thursday, in the shadow of the impressive 15th century City Hall, the cheese market comes to town. Here you can haggle for the delicious cheeses for which the city is famed with vendors in traditional dairy overalls and clogs. What more could you ask for?
Several trains run between Amsterdam and Gouda every hour, either direct or with a change in Utrecht. Direct or otherwise, the journey typically takes less an hour.
Any trip to The Hague should begin with a visit to the Binnenhof - the historical buildings that have been the centre of Dutch politics for centuries, or the impressive Peace Palace - home of the International Court of Justice. The Hague is also home to the Palace Noordeinde, one of three official palaces for the Dutch royal family. If politics isn't your thing then head to Mauritshuis gallery to see some Dutch masterpieces including the works of Rembrandt, Steen and Vermeer's 'Girl with the Pearl Earring'.
The Hague is a 50 minute train ride from Amsterdam Central station. Trains from Amsterdam to Den Haag depart roughly every 15 minutes, with flexible open tickets valid on any train throughout the day.
On the banks of the River Zaan, the little village of Zaanse Schans is a glimpse of traditional Dutch life as it was. Windmills, wooden houses and barns make you feel like you're stepping back in time. There's cheese-making, coffee-grinding, clog-carving and jenever (Dutch gin) tasting just for starters - all linked by a towpath that is suitable for walking or cycling. Or see it from the water on board one of many ferry scenic ferry rides.
The nearest train station to Zaanse Schans is Koog-Zaandijk, which takes around half an hour from Amsterdam Centraal station. Zaanse Schans village is a 10-15min walk from the station. Regional trains depart every 15 minutes and are best purchased at the station.
If you haven't had your fill of windmills, head to Kinderdijk to see the largest collection of working 18th century windmills in the Netherlands. There are usually a handful open so you can view the mechanisms that make them turn. In peak season (April to October), there's a free 30 minute boat ride around the area and from July - August the mills are put to work on Saturdays, a grand sight to behold.
It's not possible to get a train all the way from Amsterdam to Kinderdijk, but a combination of train and bus will get you there in around an hour. From Amsterdam Central Station take a train Utrecht Centraal where the #154 bus directly to Kinderdijk. Alternatively, take the train to Rotterdam Centraal and a metro to Rotterdam-Zuid, where you can catch the same #154 bus a little later on its journey.