There's no question about it. Dynamic, edgy Amsterdam is enthralling. But even compelling Amsterdam can feel stifling, especially in the middle of the summer, at the height of the tourist season. See our top three picks for nifty Amsterdam day trip ideas.
Amsterdam Day Trips
Historical City: Darling, Delightful Delft
Highlights: richly historical sights; picturesque charm; good souvenir spot
Duration: four to eight hours
Exertion level: low
Accessible by: train, private car
Few towns say cute like Delft. The town is famous both for its distinctive delftware, the porcelain blue-and-white tiles and pottery produced in factories in and around the city, as well as for being the birthplace of Dutch Old Master Johannes Vermeer.
Delft's scale is diminutive and darling, but don't be misled. It is actually chock-full of sights worth a gander. Delftware fans can visit several factories currently producing the signature china and tiles. Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles is the oldest delftware factory in the city.
Delft is a treasure-trove for history buffs. The city features hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of monuments and several museums. The Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) guards over the traditional marketplace. All able-bodied athletes should climb its tower; from the top of the church, views over the marketplace below and the surrounding area are unbeatable.
The only downside of Delft's cuteness is that it can be overwhelmed with tourists during high season. If you visit during the summer, you'll soon discover that Delft hasn't exactly been kept a secret.
Fun Beach Spot: Trendy Bloemendaal aan Zee
Highlights: supertrendy scene; beach lollygagging; dune hiking
Duration: three to eight hours
Exertion level: low to moderate
Accessible by: train, taxi, bus, private car
Despite its often frigid location on the North Sea, the Netherlands has its share of appealing beach retreats. Bloemendaal aan Zee provides an escape from Amsterdam in any season, though it really comes alive during the summer months.
Bloemendaal has a hip reputation these days, and summertime brings pavilion after pavilion of Amsterdam stylistas enjoying the beach and each other's company. It's all a bit funny for long-term Bloemendaal aan Zee visitors. The beach spot was once known as an area frequented by retirees.
If you get tired of Bloemendaal aan Zee's trendy edge, there are beguiling dunes and footpaths around. The dunes allow visitors to forget for a few moments that there's anyone around at all.
The best way to get to Bloemendaal aan Zee is to take the train from Amsterdam Centraal Station to Zandvoort aan Zee. The journey takes under a half hour, even with a train change in Haarlem. A round-trip ticket costs around €10. From the Zandvoort aan Zee train station, you'll need to take a taxi or a bus to Bloemendaal aan Zee. Nederlandse Spoorwegen, the Dutch train system, coordinates "train taxis" with train arrivals. These train taxis can be reserved when you purchase your train ticket.
Note that during rare heat waves, the population of Bloemendaal aan Zee (along with most of the coast) swells.
For just a hint of the Dutch version of supercool that will greet you in Bloemendaal aan Zee, check out the website of Tropen aan Zee, one of the beach territory's trendiest spots.
Bike Trip: To the Countryside in just 20 Minutes
Highlights: countryside contentment; exercise opportunity; birdwatching bliss
Duration: three to six hours
Exertion level: moderate to high
Accessible by: bike, ferry
MacBike and Frederic offer itinerary suggestions. We especially like the most commonly recommended bike route out of Amsterdam, a long northeastern loop out of the city.
The cycling adventure begins with a signature Amsterdam experience: taking your bike on the Buiksloterweg city ferry, tucked behind Amsterdam's Centraal Station. The route, which is easy to follow, continues through farmland to the largely preserved tourist-magnet villages of Monnickendam, Marken and Volendam. Each of these cities may be a bit overly touristy, but they're nonetheless fun spots for refueling stops.
What's so amazing about this route is that it transports those on it from the urban chaos of Amsterdam to sleepy vistas of cows, flat fields and dykes within the space of a half hour. Anyone who's spent a week criss-crossing Amsterdam for its museums, parks, shopping areas and funky 'hoods will likely find the speed of the escape from the city surprisingly swift.
For those concerned about getting lost, Yellow Bike Guided Tours offers a guided version of this very tour.
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