After three days of exploring Amsterdam, we decided to rent a car and take a day trip to some nearby towns. It’s incredible how easy it is to get around by foot in Amsterdam and across the Netherlands by car. It’s a surprisingly small country.
TIP: Just beware of driving in Amsterdam. I’d recommend finding a rental car business close to the highway, outside of the actual city, as maneuvering around all the bikes and through small alleyways can be quite challenging. I may have left a permanent handprint on the car door handle.
What is there to see on a day trip through The Netherlands?
Our first stop was about 20 minutes north of Amsterdam, Zaanse Schans, a small residential village straight out of the 18th century. It’s as if time has stood still here, yet comes alive through the well-preserved windmills, antique wooden homes, and bustling brick roads filled with visitors and bikes.
Walking through the village is free, but admission is required to enter the windmills. We decided to take the boat tour in order to see the town from the water. The 30-minute tour provided us with the history of each windmill–there are eight including oil, corn, paint and spice mill.
After the tour, take a stroll through the village and admire the green, wooden houses and detailed bridges. You may also make some friends along the way. The ducks were extra friendly, especially near the bakery museum which will make your stomach rumble thanks to the smell of fresh cookies and baked bread.
Definitely time for lunch following a visit to Zaanse Schans. About 15-minutes away is the scenic waterfront town of Volendam. The town is lined with restaurants and shops all facing the Markermeer Lake. The weather was beautiful, so everyone was dining outside overlooking the water. I can see why artists spent a lot of time here back in the day–it’s absolutely picturesque.
Old fishing boats sit at the docks behind colorful wooden and brick houses. There are also a few museums, even one displaying traditional Dutch costumes. You can have your photo taken in some of these traditional get-ups; now wouldn’t that make a fun souvenir.
Zaandam“Zaandam has enough to paint for a lifetime” – Claude Monet
Yes, Claude Monet lived in Zaandam for about half a year and the area was the subject of several of his paintings. The most striking of the Zaandam structures is a hotel made up of 70 stacked Dutch houses. The whole area is out of a storybook.
It’s also a great place to do a little shopping or stop for a cup of coffee or tea. You can also get to Zaandam by train from Amsterdam.Each of these stops was unique in its own way as you can see. Beautiful architecture, interesting history, and scenic views, it only made me want to explore more of The Netherlands. A Day Trip from Amsterdam is so worth it.
Are there any other places you recommend visiting in The Netherlands?