All the Best Locations Within a Stone’s Throw of Town
We already covered the gorgeous tulip fields and Keukenhof Gardens, so we’ll leave that one out. They are special in summer but not all of us can afford those peak period prices (They have winter gardens too). We have also devoted some time to the Zaanse Schans recently. This area is special in its own right, with working old-Holland windmills in glorious colours and museums in every building. So we will leave that region out, this time.
Now that we have narrowed the scope of our investigation; what else can be done around, outside of, and adjacent to, the city of Amsterdam? Bring on the forensics team.
Amsterdam: The Best Things to do Outside of the City
Let’s just for a list… Here are the Lilly Likes favourite places to see outside of Amsterdam. All are old, all are culturally rich, and all will offer you a different experience. so choose wisely and factor at least one location into your next Amsterdam itinerary.
1 – Medieval Exploration at Amersfoort
Up there with all the amazing sights to see outside of the city, is to take a day trip to the medieval town of Amersfoort. Railway lovers will also love this place, since it as the largest station in the country. It lies on the junction of three tracks… the double bonus being that it is easy to get to.
What will you love about Amersfoort? It has been a city since around 1000AD, so the buildings are old. They have those lovely looping bridges that reflect on the water so prettily. There is a town wall you can still see, the Koppelpoort is there, as are various churches from the middle ages. The town centre has actually been preserved since medieval times, so the whole thing is a little like travelling back in time for a daytrip. We give any place that makes us feel like time travel is real a 10/10… definitely one to watch.
2 – Go to Gouda
We have all heard of the cheese, but did you know Gouda is actually a place? If you have a spare day in your itinerary, it is always worth visiting this delectable delight. Situated in the south, this is a city full of people that really know their food. You thought Amsterdam had culinary delights? This place invented both Gouda and the Stroopwaffel. Foody? Get to Gouda.
Gouda has been around since the 11th century, and, somewhere along the way, they managed to develop the first ever pipes for smoking. Pretty amazing. Here you can visit an inn founded in 1551, a city hall erected in 1448, a church built in 1530, two museums and a huge theatre. Enjoy exploring the age old streets knowing that some of them were once canals.
3 – Lovely Leiden Awaits
What do you mean you’ve never heard of it? This is a university city that is probably more cultural than Amsterdam – although it is just about the only place in the Netherlands that is. Leiden is the perfectly picturesque place for a daytrip and some excellent Instagram photos while you are there. As well as being a university city, Leiden is a sort of urban conglomerate of lots of little places, so you can find wildly different things in all the individual places. It has been a university city since 1575 and takes an annual 35,000 students!
There have been many famous painters out of this city, and this is where Rembrandt was educated. Leiden is well worth the visit to all you art fans. Other attractions include a botanic garden. the National Museum of Antiquities, several museums (including a branch of the Rijksmuseum) – there’s even a castle. If you want a varied day trip, opt for Leiden.
4 – Have you Been to Rotterdam?
If you have only ever seen Amsterdam, as much as we love it, you haven’t yet had a full and accurate overview of the Netherlands. Visit the second biggest city in Holland and see what secrets you might find there. Who knows? Next time you come back you might book in to stay in Rotterdam, instead. This fantastic city is filled with all the attractions you would expect from a grand Dutch city, but it comes with half the tourists.
Rotterdam was the focus of a Beautiful South song for a reason. They have the Euromast here, which is the sky-scraping TV tower you can have dinner in. They have those weird cube houses nobody is really sure about, with several museums. Don’t worry, you can get smoke here too, and usually for a bit cheaper than you can in Amsterdam. As much as we love it, so do all the other tourists, and Rotterdam lets you get away. If you are planning on taking us up on our offer, you can find more information on their attractions, here.
5 – Giethoorn is Gorgeous
When you do start exploring outside of Amsterdam, you soon learn that the surrounding countryside is older than the hills. Giethoorn is one of many places that harbour that old-world feel with all the convenience of mod cons. Many of the roofs you will see around this particular area is still made from the tough old thatch that has long since been abandoned here in the UK (with a few exceptions). The upkeep in terms of work is horrendous – but they make for wonderful tourist attractions.
There are only about 2k people that live in Giethoorn, which we attribute to all the upkeep of that thatch. It was made famous throughout Holland when Bert Haanstra made a film called ‘Fanfare’ here. What is so special about this place? In some parts of it there are no roads at all. All transport is done by water. Everyone cuts about in their own canoe. Seriously… and we thought the number of bikes was mad. In case that’s not enough for you, there’s also a museum for the area (which thrived on peat) and a whole national park to enjoy.
6 – But There are Beaches at Zandvoort
It’s an especially tough one to both spell and pronounce, but the beaches at Zandvoort are well within reach for a daytrip from the dam. To be fair, it isn’t known so much for its beaches as it is for being home to the racetrack that houses the Dutch Grand Prix every year. You can go visit the circuit, maybe hire a car for a few laps, enjoy the scenery, and spend the rest of your day chilling by the beach. Although we warn you that said beach is usually pretty windy. If you get a good day? Spectacular, just you wait and see. We definitely stan Zandvoort and so do all the other F1 fans out there. Imagine seeing Vettel and Hamilton battle it out in the sun in Holland? We can’t even…
7 – We Love the Hague and Haarlem
Yes, it is the same Hague that you hear about on the news. Those doing social studies will benefit from a trip to the political centre of the Netherlands. The Hague itself might be breath taking in grandeur, but the Haarlem area of the city borders the sea, has a beach, and is the home to the King’s Office Palace… which you can also visit. All round, that’s a pretty splendid way to pass a day or two.
Of all the cities and sights to see outside of Amsterdam itself, the Hague holds the most magical experience. Since it is the centre of governance for the entire land, there has been a lot of effort put in to making the city special… the regent stays here, after all. It is the focus of international speculation at all times. We don’t know about the fans out there, but we assumed the Hague was in Switzerland…
Hague and Haarlem have an old city you can walk through and have a coffee in. If that’s not your bag, visit the old market and spend your life savings. Don’t fancy shopping? Visit the beach, enjoy Teylers Museum, the Frans Hals museum, or the Corrie Ten Boom House. There are churches, cathedrals, and inns galore. Go enjoy yourself and tell them we sent you.
We Still Love Amsterdam Best
Although all these places undoubtedly rock, we can’t get over Amsterdam. It is where our heart and soul lives, here at Lilly Likes. It is where we will haunt when we are dead and buried, that’s how much we love it. Have you got a favourite place outside of Amsterdam? Be sure to let us know on Facebook!