I once met a woman who'd come to visit a relative in a city 40 minutes south of Amsterdam, and didn't realize until the final day of her two-week trip how effortless it is to travel between cities and towns in the Netherlands. The most populous cities in the Netherlands are concentrated in the central west, the so-called "Randstad", and train travel to these cities -- Haarlem, Delft, Leiden and others -- is a cinch. Most cities in the Randstad are less than an hour from Amsterdam by train, while hardly any city in the Netherlands is further than three hours; this makes the capital a convenient hub for day trippers to anywhere in the country.
But where to start? One day trip I like to recommend to first-time visitors is Zaanse Schans, a town that's chock full of traditional Dutch crafts and architecture, with six windmills, a wooden shoe workshop, a cheese farm and more. Travelers who are here for tulip season will want to take the bus to Lisse, site of the Keukenhof tulip and bulb flower park (see slide 4). Ceramics lovers shouldn't miss the historic center of Delft, where the beloved "Delft blue" porcelain is produced. The list of wonderful cities and towns to see in the Randstad alone is endless, so read up in advance to find your ideal day trip from Amsterdam.
Day Trip Resources