Explore the Dutch countryside on these day trips from Amsterdam

Most travelers to the Netherlands focus on Amsterdam, and some of them will spend their entire vacation in the hip, bike-friendly capital, visiting museums, exploring the canals, hanging out in Dam Square and enjoying the cafes. and nightlife. Others will venture further afield to see what the Dutch countryside is like, and it’s very easy to do in this country.

First, the rail system is excellent, and second, the country is small, so day trips can be easily planned, even on short notice. Crowds of tourists head into the Dutch countryside to see the vast and colorful fields of flowers, namely tulips, for which the country is famous, but this is a time-limited excursion since peak flower season is in April.

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For great year-round sightseeing, tourists should consider train trips to Delft, an hour from Amsterdam; The Hague, about 50 minutes; Rotterdam, a 45-minute journey; and Haarlem, just 20 minutes from the city.

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Discover Delft blue porcelain, a 17th century tradition

Delft owes its name to its history as a place of production for Delft blue porcelain, which has been produced in the city since the 1600s. At one time, there were more than 30 factories making the prized earthenware, made in from clay, painted then enamelled. Only one factory remains today, Royal Delft.

Founded in 1653, its official name is Royal Delft/De Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles, and it is open for tours every day. Located on the Rotterdamseweg, the factory’s skilled artisans still paint the pottery by hand.

On the Royal Delft Experience tour, visitors will learn about the history of Delft porcelain and how it is produced. Located on the factory property, the Royal Delft Museum showcases 19th century Delft earthenware from the former King William III. In 1887 he donated his collection to De Porceleyne Fles on the condition that it be exhibited to the public.

Besides its intricate waterways, another major attraction in Delft is the Vermeer Center Delft, which celebrates the life and works of the Dutch master painter. Located on Voldersgracht, the center is open daily. Visitors can see reproductions of all Paintings by Johannes Vermeer during an audio-guided tour. Her most famous work is “Girl With The Pearl Earring”, known in artistic circles as the Mona Lisa of the North.

Explore the canals of The Hague and Haarlem

Along the North Sea coast, The Hague is worth visiting not only for its history and culture, but also for its role in government. It is the seat of the Dutch parliament and the seat of the United Nations International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. Add the 16th-century Noordeinde Palace, still a working royal building, and there’s plenty to see.

A great way to see The Hague is from the water on a canal boat tour. A 90-minute ride aboard the Ooievaart gives visitors a tour of the city’s 14th-century canal system and views of the Government Center, Palace Gardens and many stately waterside homes .

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Back on land, The Hague is full of unique museums, such as the Prison Gate Museum, The Hague Museum of Photography, the Louwman Museum, with its exhibition of private car collections, KM21, a museum of contemporary art, the history museum of The Hague, the Maruitshuis, with a remarkable collection of works by Dutch and Flemish masters, and Kunstmuseum Den Haag, which exhibits an important Mondrian collection. Most of the museums are close to each other, easily accessible on foot.

Situated on the North Sea, Haarlem’s medieval ambience continues today with its cobbled streets, canals and historic squares where visitors can soak up the atmosphere. It is surrounded by a defensive wall on the River Spaarne. A great place to start a day trip is Grote Market Square, located at St. Bavo’s Cathedral in the Old Town. Markets have been held in the square since the Middle Ages and are still held today, on Saturdays and Mondays.

The city is widely known as shopping Mecca, especially along the Grote Houtstraat, a pedestrian zone full of shops of all kinds and the small cobbled streets and alleys that surround it. Canal boat tours are plentiful in Haarlem, giving tourists great views of the city’s medieval architecture.

Rotterdam celebrates its maritime roots

Rotterdam is a port city on the Rotte river in southern Holland. Its Old Port, now a revitalized maritime district, is the focal point of a visit thanks to its restored historic boats and its maritime-inspired museums. The Rotterdam Maritime Museum provides insight into the city’s maritime past, with collections centered on its history of shipping and trade. There’s even a reconstruction of a 2,000-year-old ship. The nearby Maritime Museum Harbor has around 20 ships on display.

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The historic city, however, is also known for its futuristic architecture. A modern market hall and residential area called Markthal is an imposing stone building with horseshoe-shaped arches and glass walls at each end.


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