Last Updated on December 15, 2018 at 2:39 pm by
When I first went to Amsterdam back in 1995, there were the infamous cafés and the Red Light District of course, and throngs of tourists. Even then they were overflowing, but nothing like it has become today.
Now people are stepping over each other in the well-trodden streets and splashing through its cluttered canals to check off the Venice of the North from their bucket lists. And rightfully so — Amsterdam is an amazing city. There are also some pretty amazing attractions just outside the canalled city’s limits though, and if you’re looking for Day Trips from Amsterdam, well the Netherlands has them in spades.
Amsterdam’s Tourism Problem
But before we dive into some of the easy trips from Amsterdam, let’s just pause a moment with this question — just how did it get so busy in Amsterdam anyway? A victim of its own success, iAmsterdam now has to do the unthinkable — stem the tide of tourists to Amsterdam. It’s a predicament that many tourism boards would love to find themselves in, but there’s a certain sweet spot between tourism and over-tourism, and it’s something iAmsterdam will
It’s something I allow you’ll see more of with other municipalities as they aim to divert some of those tourist numbers to secondary sites outside the main attraction. It’s not that Amsterdam is turning tourists away at the door, it’s just that the tourist numbers have got to get under control, and part of that control involves funnelling them out to greener pastures (literally and figuratively) — and that’s just what this city needs.
Amsterdam’s city council has now officially removed the iAmsterdam letters outside the Museumplein, but it also wants to take it a step further — cease all marketing activities under the iAmsterdam moniker. The idea is to curb the swelling numbers of tourists clamouring around those letters, peeing in its streets, and smoking up in cafés and otherwise up to no good in the city’s eyes.
Instead of abolishing the iAmsterdam brand altogether, may I suggest a much less drastic move: change the name to yAmsterdam. Yep. Replace one little letter. Then instead of getting rid of those infamous letters entirely, strategically place them in various districts and towns just outside Amsterdam.
Because you see, dear reader, there is so much more to see in the Netherlands than just Amsterdam. Here are a few contenders
I’ve written about Oostvaardersplassen previously on BreatheDreamGo, and while there were some hiccups with the wildlife park last year, it appears things are back on track, and I do highly recommend a visit to see for yourself.
It’s a short 30-minute train ride from Amsterdam’s Central Station and makes a great day trip from Amsterdam with kids.
Muiden is the sort of sleepy, storybook village that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. It’s many cafés and scenic canals make a perfect spot to just mosey around and discover.
It’s also home to one of the Netherlands most perfect attractions — Muiderslot Castle.
Touted as The Most Beautiful and Best Kept Medieval Castle in the Netherlands, Muiderlsot Castle is a feast for the eyes. The grounds are immaculate, the castle itself looks like something out of Game of Thrones, and there’s heaps to see and do for both adults and kids here. You can dress up in medieval clothes, take part in a Harry Potter themed game, or just stroll through the grounds and feed the ducks.
Muiden is also the jumping off point for those catching a ferry to Pampus Island. Home to Forteiland Pampus — a 19th-century fort, the island itself is manmade and looks like a great way to round out your day-trip to Muizen after taking in the Muiderslot Castle. Note that ferries to Pampus Island only operate from the beginning of April until the end of October each year.
Naarden is as picturesque as it is accessible, and there’s no shortage of perfect traditional Dutch scenes. It’s unique shape and history though are the big draw here.
One of the best things to do in Naarden is to head up to the top of Grote Kerk to see the panoramic view of the city.
Its unique shape like a snowflake is hard to catch in photos but easily appreciated in person.
Architecturally, Almere holds the most surprises. It’s the most modern of the cities that I visited in the Netherlands, and if you’re looking for interesting angles, views, and landscapes for Instagram, then look no further.
Being a planned city, and the newest in the country, Almere has a lot to offer even if it doesn’t have the castles, canals, or crowds that nearby Amsterdam does. The modern influence is everywhere, but none more obvious than the stunning library.
Head to the top floor to get the best view — the sailboat as I like to call it.
Most tourists don’t consider Zwolle as a day trip from Amsterdam, but those who do are rewarded with beautiful monuments, churches, and museums. There’s even a dinosaur park named Dinoland Zwolle which makes another great day trip from Amsterdam with kids. Zwolle is also home to the annual Scania Zwolse Half Marathon if running is your thing, but kids and dinosaurs aren’t.
Touted as “The Beverly Hills of Amsterdam,” the postcard-perfect town of Laren is THE place to see and be seen, even if you don’t know who it is you’re seeing.
Spend a few hours taking in all the Singer Laren Museum has to offer. Named after William and Anna Singer and created to exhibit their extensive art collection, the museum is also home to a phenomenal art garden by Piet Oudolf.
Then have lunch at Mauve before embarking on an afternoon stroll through this lovely town.
Laren is the sort of place where the upper-crust gather to hobnob and to go antiquing. It’s also home to the artist and sculptor Pépé Grégoire.
For small groups who would like to tour his studio, send a message well in advance to arrange a time. Pépé and his lovely wife Marlin are a delight and live up to the hype.
And to the whole process from the artist himself is amazing.
yAmsterdam. Think about it.
Make iAmsterdam uncool. Draw attention to the many wonderful activities to be found outside the canalled city’s borders.
Why would you want to be sitting around smoking pot or chowing down on edibles when there is so much more to see. iAmsterdam is so 1995. yAmsterdam is where it’s at now kids. Pass it on.
Have you made any day trips from Amsterdam? What are some of our favourite things to do in the Netherlands?
NOTE: I was a guest of the Amsterdam Tourism Office during my time in the Netherlands, but all views are all my own. They also gave me a pretty swell I AMSTERDAM CITY CARD.