Discover Dutch life beyond the capital with one of our quick, easy day trips from Amsterdam by train.
Vibrant, fun and less than four hours from London, with the fantastic Eurostar train to Amsterdam service, it's not surprising that travelling there by rail is becoming a popular choice. However, despite its undeniable charm, it can be a pleasure to get away from the bustle of the city and experience the Netherlands at a more relaxed pace.
Amsterdam is the perfect base for exploring the Netherlands by train, with few places out of reach. We've picked six great day trips from Amsterdam by train, all reachable in an hour or less.
Visit Delft by train
Skip the organised tours and spend a day in Delft at your own pace. An hour by direct train from Amsterdam, Delft offers pretty canals, historic buildings and cobblestone streets to rival Amsterdam's, but on a smaller scale. Also with a lot fewer tourists. All the main attractions are within walking distance, or rent a bike 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, William of Orange, or peruse the artworks at Museum Het Prinsenhof. The city is also famous for 17th century Royal Blue Delftware, and the Royal Delft mothership is a must for exhibitions, hands-on experiences and a shop of course.
Getting there: Trains from Amsterdam to Delft leave every half hour from Amsterdam Central Station and take an hour.
Day trip to Keukenhof
If you're planning a trip to the Netherlands in springtime then a day trip to Keukenhof gardens is a perfect seasonal awakening. You do need to pay an entry fee, but with seven million flower bulbs planted over 80 acres, this is the world's largest flower garden. So really worth the visit to see an explosion of colour from March to May every year. With workshops and events during this period, it culminates in 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.
Getting there: The best train stations to Keukenhof are Schiphol Airport, or Leiden, from where a direct bus departs for the gardens. Buy a Combi-Ticket, which includes bus transport from the city centre or Schiphol airport and entrance to the park from the Tourist Information Offices. This also means you don't have to queue for entrance during busy times.
Gouda by rail
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 over delicious cheeses for which the city is famed with vendors in traditional dairy overalls and clogs. What more could you ask for?
Visit The Hague (Den Haag) by train
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. The next must-see is the impressive Peace Palace - home of the International Court of Justice and a stunning building in itself, funded by US philanthropist Andrew Carnegie as the ultimate place of peace. 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'. You can also take the tram the beach from the Hague, just 15 mins away by tram to Scheveningen and Kijkduin.
Getting there: The Hague is a 50 mins train ride from Amsterdam Central station. Trains from Amsterdam to The Hague depart roughly every 15 mins, with flexible open tickets valid on any train throughout the day.
Day trip to Zaanse Schans
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 perfect for walking or cycling. Or see it from the water on board one of many ferry scenic ferry rides.
Getting there: 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 mins.
Kinderdijk by train
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 mins boat ride around the area and, between July and August the mills are put to work on Saturdays, a grand sight to behold.
Getting there: 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 takes you 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 further along its journey.
Main image: One of the windmills of Zaanse Schans (cropped) by Tambako The Jaguar.
Other photo credits top to bottom: Delft (cropped) by Francisco Antunes, Keukenhof (cropped) by Dvidal.Lorente, Gouda Cheese Market (cropped) by Steve Bosman, The Hague (cropped) by Josef Stuefer, One of the windmills of Zaanse Schans (cropped) by Tambako The Jaguar, Kinderdijk Netherlands (cropped) by Daniele Landi - all reproduced with thanks under a Creative Commons 2.0 licence