14 enchanting weekend trips from Amsterdam

 In Europe, Go exploring, Netherlands

Amsterdam and the tulip fields in Lisse attract millions of tourists each year to the Netherlands. While these sights are well worth a visit, the country has even more to offer! To help you on your way this list of weekend trips from Amsterdam covers some of the prettiest cities inside the Netherlands. As a bonus you will also find a few suggestions for weekend trips outside of the Netherlands, all with great connection from Amsterdam.


Weekend getaways in Netherlands


things-to-do-in-leiden-duivenvoorde-kasteel
Duivenvoorde Castle

As far back as the Roman empire, the lands of the Netherlands have been populated by a headstrong population with a strong fighting spirit. It was only in the first century BC that the southern part of the Netherlands was conquered, while the northern part of the country remained fiercely independent.

As the Roman empire got weaker, the Germanic tribes grew in strength culminating in a power struggle which ended in the Franks seizing control of the Netherlands in the 5th century. By the 8th century the power hold of the Franks was over and the lands splintered into independent (smaller) states governed by the likes of dukes. Around this time the Netherlands started growing in economic power thanks to agriculture, crafts and international trading commerce.

Following the 80-year war in in the 16th century, the Union of Utrecht proclaimed the Netherlands independent from its then ruler – Spain. By the mid-17th century the Dutch Republic was the largest maritime power on the continent with Amsterdam as its capital. Alas, this glorious position was not to be maintained as larger powers (France, Austria, Prussia, Russia) dethroned. What it lost in maritime power, it regained in other domains. The 17th and 18th century are known as the ‘Golden Age’ for the Netherlands. It is no surprise that the Kingdom of the Netherlands replaced the Republic in the 18th century. To this day the official name of the Netherlands is still Kingdom of the Netherlands.

All this to say that while Amsterdam has played an important role in the history of the Netherlands, there is more to the low countries than its capital. Time to delve into the various different weekend getaways in the Netherlands that are easy to undertake from Amsterdam.

weekend-getaways-from-netherlands - Leiden
The canals of Leiden

Leiden

Explored by Caro from veggiewayfarer

The university city of Leiden is one of the easiest weekend trips from Amsterdam to organise. It is a mere 35 minutes by train or car from the capital. The historical centre is lined with 15th century gabled houses and little canals snaking their way through the streets. Leiden – after Amsterdam – is the city with the most bridges and canals in the country. What it lacks in size, it makes up in brains! The city is the scientific hub of the Netherlands and has produced to no less than 16 Nobel Prize winning discoveries.

Aside from walking around the picturesque streets of old town – with the help of the Leiden discovery trail app – a great way to get a feel for the city is by taking a 1h cruise on the canals. Next up wander around the Hortus Bontanicus, the largest botanical gardens in the Netherlands. If hunger strikes, grab a bite to eat in the 15th century Pieterskerk – a former church which has been transformed into an exhibition space. Just outside of the city of Leiden lies the exquisite Duivenvoorde castle. Rent a bike and ride over for a visit.

How to get to Leiden from Amsterdam

By Train: Direct train from Amsterdam Centraal (35 minutes train ride)
By Car: 44 km from Amsterdam (40 minutes ride)

Weekend getaways Netherlands - Zaans Schans
Geversduin Zaanse Schans (Source: The-orangebackpack.nl)

Zaans Schans

Explored by Maartje & Sebastiaan from The Orange Backpack

A trip to see windmills is non-negotiable when visiting the Netherlands. Each Dutch city has at least one, but if you are looking for a spot that contains a cluster of windmills with a cute historic Dutch village then Zaanse Schans is where you want to head.

As far as tourist attractions go, Zaanse Schans is a little unusual. The small village was built in the sixties with the goal of preserving the typical Zaan architecture. The best preserved monuments of the area were moved to the village, and locals started making the new buildings their home.  Within ten years the village became known to both local and foreign tourists. To this day locals still live here, despite it being one of the most popular weekend getaways in the Netherlands.

Zaanse Schans contains no less than twelve relocated windmills; eight of which are lined up beautifully along the Zaan river and six of which are still working mills (two sawmills, one mustard mill, two oil mills and one dye mill). The mills can be visited costing €3 per person, per mill with the Zaans Schans Card. Aside from marveling at windmills, make sure to wander around the historic houses of the village.

If you’d like to visit more historic villages, this area north of Amsterdam is filled with them. Fisherman’s village Volendam is a popular attraction as well, but lesser-known are stunning towns like Broek in Waterland, Monnickendam or De Rijp. It is worth considering a rental car, so you can visit all of them during your weekend trip from Amsterdam

How to get to Zaans Schans from Amsterdam

By Bus: Direct bus from Amsterdam Centraal to Zaandam (35 minutes bus ride)
By Train: Direct train from Amsterdam Centraal to Zaandam (16 minutes train ride)
By Car: 19 km from Amsterdam (20 minutes ride)

Weekend trips Netherlands - Haarlem
Medieval Haarlem (Source: Unsplash @deniz)

Haarlem

Explored by Renee from Dream Plan Experience

The little Dutch town of Haarlem is considered the smaller sister of Amsterdam. It has all the charm: pretty canals, captivating museums and fascinating landmarks, with a lot less tourists. If you are looking for a weekend trip from Amsterdam that is chilled than definitely check out Haarlem.

You might not expect it at first, but Haarlem was once an important trading port for the Netherlands. The wealth that was accumulated by the merchants is openly visible in the beautiful gabled houses around the town. Walk through the medieval cobblestoned alleys and find the prettiest hofjes – inner courtyards surrounded by almshouses. In total there are 21 of these little hidden gems, tucked away behind unassuming doorways or alleyways. It may require a bit of curiosity and luck to stumble upon all of them. On your search for the hidden hofjes, you are sure to run into the impressive Grote Kerk – the 14th century cathedral located on the main square.

For those interested in shopping: Haarlem has been voted as one of the best places in Netherlands to go shopping. Wander around the Gouden Straatjes (Golden streets) to find many specialty boutique stores.

A weekend trip would not be complete without some delicious food! For a light breakfast try the Yoghurt Barn or for a cozy café head to Native. Restaurant Metzo offers a modern take on Mediterranean classics and lastly, The Jopenkerk is a former church turned brewery where you can sample some of the local beer.

How to get to Haarlem from Amsterdam

By Train: Direct train from Amsterdam Centraal to Haarlem (15 minutes train ride)
By Car: 21 km from Amsterdam (28 minutes ride)

Amsterdam weekend Trips - Maastricht
Vrijthof in Maastricht (Source: Paul Mellaart)

Maastricht

Explored by Zoe from togetherintransit

If you are looking for a weekend trip in the Netherlands that is a little further away from Amsterdam, head to the south of the country to a city called Maastricht.

Even though Maastricht is in the Netherlands, the city has a very different feel to the rest of the country.  The vibe of the city is a distinct mixture of Dutch, French and Belgium. Which translated into pretty cobblestoned streets, little alleyways and two main walkway bridges connecting the city centre together.

The main things to do in Maastricht include: shopping in the big stores and little boutiques in the historical city centre; touring the 13th century city fortified walls and seeing interesting artefacts at the local history museum. If you love nature, try hiking one of the many trails around the city.

South of the city lies the Sint-Pietersberg where you can explore the old mining caves 30 meters underground as well as the fort. Both activities can be explored with a tour (English speaking tour available daily).

For a bite to eat, head to the local bakery around the Bisschopsmolen and try a piece of the famous Limburg vlaai. A Dutch pie made with different kinds of fruit. Usually the pie is eaten for a celebration, but this bakery serves it all year around.

Travel Tip: If you can, try visiting Maastricht in December and partake in the many Christmas activities. Drink Gluhwein, indulge in warm treats and feast your ears upon the live music that is played around the city. The city lights up to become a twinkling wintery location, just remember to bring a sweater.

How to get to Maastricht from Amsterdam

By Train: Direct train from Amsterdam Centraal to Maastricht (2h30 train ride)
By Car: 214 km from Amsterdam (2h20 ride)

Weekend trip from Amsterdam - Giethoorn
The canals of Giethoorn

Giethoorn

Explored by Anukrati from bulbulonthewing

Possibly the most majestic of all the weekend trips from Amsterdam; known as the Venice of the Netherlands, Giethoorn is the kind of place you see in postcards and want to visit on the spot. What makes the village of Giethoorn so special is the fact that one does not get around by car, but by boat! There are a mere 2700 inhabitants living in the village, most of which live in a beautiful 18th century farmhouse – with their iconic thatched roof – on one of the many canals.

The most scenic way of visiting Giethoorn is to travel the waters on a punter, or an electric boat. Most canal cruises take around 2 hours, prices starting at €40. A booking in advance is advised!
Lining the canals are plenty of little cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious meal. Alternatively, you can pop by the supermarket and get supplies to make yourself a wonderful picnic next to the canals.

How to get to Giethoorn from Amsterdam

By Train: There is no direct train from Amsterdam to Giethoorn.
Take the train to Utrecht Centraal, from there hop on the train to Steenwijk. From Steenwijk take the bus to Giethoorn. ( 2h10 travel time)
By Car: 123 km from Amsterdam (1h30 ride)

Weekend getaways Netherlands - Rotterdam
The iconic yellow cubes in Rotterdam (Source: Unsplash @rc_scout)

Rotterdam

Explored by Lara from The Best Travel Gifts

Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands and the design hub of the country. The skyline of the city is filled with skyscrapers is every shape and size, it could not be more different from Amsterdam. Rotterdam is the perfect weekend getaway in the Netherlands for design lovers and foodies!

The reason why Rotterdam is so distinctly different from Amsterdam dates back to the second world war, when Rotterdam was heavily bombed. The city took a modern approach when rebuilding began in the 50s. Before the war Rotterdam actually looked a lot like Amsterdam.

As a design hub, it is not surprising that Rotterdam is filled with interesting and modern architectural sites: The cubic houses, the Central Train Station, the pencil and the sharpener (City Hall), and the world heritage-listed Van Nelle fabriek. Aside from architecture, the city has a lot of captivating museums worthy of a visit. Examples include the Maritime Museum, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Kunsthal Rotterdam, Museum Rotterdam ‘40-’45 NU, Chabot Musuem.

Head over to the Hotel New York for a delicious meal in the the former headquarter of the Holland/America line.

How to get to Rotterdam from Amsterdam

By Train: Direct train between Amsterdam Centraal and Rotterdam Centraal (1h train ride)
By Bus: Take the Flixbus (1h bus ride)
By Car: 79 km from Amsterdam (1h ride)

Amsterdam weekend Trips - Groningen
Colourful Groningen

Groningen

Explored by Lotte from Beste voor Kids

One of the furthest weekend trips from Amsterdam you can take leads you up north, to a city called Groningen. Unequivocally one of the most fun city to visit in the Netherlands. This is thanks to the large student population (25% of the cities inhabitants are students) who ensure there is plenty of cool activities to do in Groningen.

As with many cities in the Netherlands, Groningen was heavily bombed during WWII. Luckily however the majority of the historical buildings were left intact are open for you to visit while walking around town. And walk you will, as the city is very compact you can easily navigate around everywhere on foot! Walk to the Martini Tower and climb the many stairs to get the best views over the city;  visit Reitdiep Harbor with its cute and colourful houses; rent a boat and paddle around the harbour before grabbing a bite to eat at the local restaurant Taste and Flavor.

If you’re visiting Groningen during winter, you can go ice-skating on the Grote Markt. In case your visit coincides with warm summer weather, there is no better place to be than Kaap Hoorn where you go swimming in the Paterswoldse Meer. Incidentally Beachclub Kaap Hoorn is also a really nice spot for lunch or dinner.

 How to get to Groningen from Amsterdam

By Train: There is no direct train to Groningen. From Amsterdam Central Station take a train to Almere and transfer to the intercity direction Groningen. (2h train ride)
By Car: 180 kilometres from Amsterdam  (2h ride)

Weekend trips from Amsterdam - Utrecht
Castle de Haar in Utrecht (Source: Flickr @ryan-beck)

Utrecht

Explored by Nichola from Globalmouse Travels

The city of Utrecht contains a wide array of interesting attractions: musical museums, historical towers, canals and even a castle. It is one of the most family friendly weekend trips from Amsterdam.

In quintessential Dutch style, Utrecht is criss-crossed with winding canals topped with bike-filled bridges. The historical centre is small and easily navigated on foot, or on bicycle. Make sure to stop by De Muntkelder for a delicious pancake while exploring the centre. The best views over Utrecht are to be found at the top of the Dom Tower, a 14th century tower which was originally supposed to be part of a Cathedral (ironically the cathedral itself was never built).

A lesser known fact about the city is that it is the spiritual home of the most famous cartoon rabbit in the world – Miffy. The Miffy Museum or Nijntje museum is a wonderful little museum that teaches you all about this history of this celebrity rabbit. From here go to the Speelklok Museum and marvel at the incredible collection of Dutch Street Organs, which once served as entertainment for the townsfolk. The museum is interactive and allows you to create your own tunes! If you happen to be on a family holiday in the Netherlands, be sure to also allocate some time to visit the interactive exhibition DOMunder which displays the history of Utrecht in a fun and immersive experience.

A little outside of town sits the Castle de Haar, an exquisite example of medieval castles which can be visited during select times of the year.

How to get to Utrecht from Amsterdam

By Train: Direct train from Amsterdam Centraal to Utrecht (30 min train ride)
By Car: 58 kilometres from Amsterdam  (49 minutes ride)


Weekend trips from Amsterdam
to other countries


One of the beauties of Europe is the proximity of the different countries and their accessibility via either car or public transport. There are plenty of possibilities for exciting weekend trips from Amsterdam outside of the Netherlands that will allow you to be back home on time to get to the office on Monday.

Brussels Itinerary - Grand Place Brussel
Grand Place Brussels Credit: walkerssk(wikicommons)

Brussels (Belgium)

Explored by Caro from veggiewayfarer

Brussels holds the dual title of capital to both Belgium and Europe. Spending a weekend in Brussels will mean eating plenty of French fries, visiting art nouveau museums, figuring out what the fuss is about the little peeing man and marvelling at Europe’s most ornate main square – all of this on Saturday. On Sunday it is time to grab brunch and to head over to the cities trendiest flea market: Jeu de Balle Flea Market in the Marolles district.

Aside from French fries, the city has a lot of other culinary delights to indulge in. If you are looking for some authentic Belgian food be sure to try Aux armes de Bruxelles or Choux de Bruxelles. Delirium café offers visitors a taste of 2000 different type of beers, both Belgian and international.

How to get to Brussels from Amsterdam

By Train: Direct Thalys from Amsterdam Central to Brussel Central (2h train ride)
By Flight: Direct flights from Amsterdam Schiphol to Brussels (50 minutes flight time)
By Car: 200 km from Amsterdam (2h15 ride)

Best of Antwerp - Grote Markt Antwerpen
Main Square of Antwerp

Antwerpen (Belgium)

Explored by Caro from veggiewayfarer

Looking for a fashionable getaway from Amsterdam than jet set right over the border to Antwerpen. The city of Antwerpen has a lot of wonderful museums to visit: Red Star Line Museum, Photo Museum, Plantijn Moretus Museum and the iconic MAS museum – which has the best views over the town from its rooftop.

Once you have taken in your fair share of culture, make your way to the Main Square and learn all about the origins of the name Antwerpen while drinking the local beer “een bolleke”.  Walk to the Oudevaartplaats and grab a snack or a cup of coffee at the local market (Vogeltjesmarkt). The best sunset spot can be found on the other side of the Schelde river. Head over to the Sint Anna tunnel, the cities only underpass under de river Schelde to catch a glimpse of the city skyline and watch the sky catch fire.  Pack some snacks and a bottle of beer/wine to make it a romantic picnic.

How to get to Antwerp from Amsterdam

By Train: Direct train from Amsterdam Centraal to the beautiful Art Nouveau Antwerpen centraal station. (2h train ride)
By Car: 160 km from Amsterdam (1h45 drive)

Amsterdam weekend trips - London
Iconic Big Ben in London (Source: unsplash @evantdang)

London (UK)

By Jackie Rezk from Jou Jou Travels

London is a wonderful weekend trip from Amsterdam as you can take the high-speed train and arrive in just under 4 hours. London is a vibrant city full of many things to do which will leave you never bored. The top attractions include Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and plenty more.

But there is so much more to the city than just the typical tourist places. If you want to explore London like a local, be sure to visit the many beautiful neighborhoods like Notting Hill or Hampstead which feels like a village far from London with its beautiful streets and houses.

If you’re a foodie, head over to the amazing food markets the city has to offer like Borough Market and Brick Lane Market. For nightlife, the best place to go with more of an edgy feel would be in East London where there are many bars and restaurants in the area. If you love a good view, then skip the expensive Shard and go to Primrose Hill to sit at the park and overlook the city. Another free option is Sky Garden, but be sure to book in advance. You can also enjoy a great cocktail here.

Although London is a large city, there are many large green spaces throughout including Hyde Park, Regents Park, and Holland Park. It is also nice to walk along the Thames River and even take a boat trip to Richmond for even more exploring.

How to get to London from Amsterdam

By Train: High speed direct train from Amsterdam Centraal to London Saint Pancras. (4h train ride)
By Flight: From Amsterdam Schiphol to London Heathrow (1h20 flight time)

Weekend trips from Amsterdam - Cologne
Cologne at night (Source: unsplash@ lucas_carl)

Cologne (Germany)

Explored by Kenny from Knycx Journeying

Located along the Rhine River, Cologne is a popular traveling hub of the Rhine-Ruhr area in Germany. The city celebrates 2,000 years of rich history, with is clear when visiting some of the many heritage sites and museums. Cologne is a city that loves its food and has the highest number of pubs per head in the country.

Amongst the many Romanesque churches that are scattered in the city’s old town, the majestic Cologne Cathedral dominates the city’s skyline; It is the most visited attraction in Cologne. The cathedral is in fact still the tallest twin-spired church in the world, standing 157 meters in height

For a weekend trip in Cologne from Amsterdam, explore one of the many museums in the city centre: Ludwig Museum for contemporary art, Kolumba Museum for church ruins, Romano-Germanic Museum for ancient artifacts, or the Wallraf-Richartz Museum for classical art and history. Next, check out the city’s main architectural highlights: Saint Maria im Kapitol and Groß Saint Martin. Stroll around the trendiest neighbourhood in the city – The Belgian Quarter – filled with cool galleries, cafes, theatres, boutiques, and more. If you want the perfect souvenir to remind you of this beautiful city, purchase a bottle of Cologne, the perfume that originated from the city and bears it name.

How to get to Cologne from Amsterdam

By Train: Direct train from Amsterdam Central to Köln Haubtbahnhof. (2h33 train ride)
By Car: 260 km from Amsterdam (2h40 ride)

Weekend trips from Amsterdam - Dusseldorf
Dusseldorf skyline (Source: Unsplash @dfuchidzhiev)

Düsseldorf (Germany)

Explored by Roxanna from Gypsy With a Day Job

Düsseldorf may not be the first city that comes to mind when you are looking for weekend trips from Amsterdam, but it is well worth a visit! Founded as a medieval fishing village, Düsseldorf grew in importance over the centuries and was even home to the Roman Emperor Barabossa and Napoleon.  Modern day Düsseldorf it is a vibrant city, renowned for cutting edge architecture, world class art and shopping, lush green spaces and “the longest bar in the world”.  There are plenty of things to do in Düsseldorf, so let’s get going!

Start with a bit of culture at the K20 and K21 art museums. From here walk to the open air market at the Carlsplatz, an excellent spot for people watching! For lunch you can choose to stay on the Carlsplatz or to walk to Japantown and grab a bite to eat or either Naniwa or Nagaya. Spend the afternoon shopping at the Kö or chilling in the Hofgarten. For a romantic evening head over to Altstadt (Old Town) where you can have dinner in one of the many traditional restaurants like Zum Schiffen or Schumakers, wash it down with a local Altbier. The best dessert in town can be found at Eisburg!

The northern suburbs of Düsseldorf, Kaiserwerth, are home to the ruins of the 12th century imperial Kaiserpfalz which was once the ruling palace of the Emperor Barabossa, and excellent spot to visit on a leisurely Sunday. After exploring the ruins head back to Altstadt for a delicious lunch before hopping on one of the cruises on the Rhine (prices start at € 12 a person). An excellent way to see the city from a different perspective. Weather permitting, head to the top of the Rheinturm, where you can pop into the fun Film Museum. Dinner options include QOMO or the Michelin Star restaurant Berens Am Kai in the Medienhafen.

How to get to Düsseldorf from Amsterdam

By Train: Direct ICE train from Amsterdam Centraal to Düsseldorf Central Station (2h train ride)
By Flight: Direct flight between Amsterdam Schiphol and Düsseldorf  Intl (50 minutes flight time)

Famous European Buildings - Eiffel Tower Paris
The Eiffel Tower at Sunrise (Source: Nathalie Roch IG @nathalie_wanders)

Paris (France)

Explored by Dymphe from Dymabroad

Paris is certainly one of the most romantic weekend trips from Amsterdam. The city of love is an easy train ride away and well worth a visit. Stroll around Montmartre and spot the famous Pink House, visit the Musée National Gustave Moreau and sit on the steps of the enchanting Basilique du Sacré-Coeur. If you are a fan of vintage shopping and hip boutiques, head over to the historic district of Le Marais. Incidentally Le Marais is also home to some of Paris’ best falafel!

There is no shortage of museums in Paris: The Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Petit Palais and Museé des Arts et Métiers are a few of the more well-known museums. No visit to Paris is complete without the Eiffel tower. If it your first time to Paris, you might consider going to the top of the monument for a birds eye view over the city. The Eiffel tower lights up from sunset to 1 AM, during which 5’ of each hour it starts to sparkle! There are plenty of Instagrammable places in Paris to explore aside from the above mentioned.

How to get to Paris from Amsterdam

By Train: Thalys from Amsterdam Centraal to Paris Gard Du Nord (3h30 train ride)

This is but a fraction of the various different weekend trips from Amsterdam that are available. Amsterdam Schiphol is connected to all the major hubs in the world making the possibilities for adventure endless! Go out and enjoy.

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14 weekend getaways from Amsterdam
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