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5 Day-Trips From Amsterdam

A day trip outside Amsterdam is the antidote needed in a time like this - fresh air, fewer people and a change of scenery. With so many possibilities for day trips from Amsterdam in undiscovered little towns and villages, you're truly spoilt for choice. Here are five easy day trips from Amsterdam.

1. Broek In Waterland

Imagine a peaceful oasis gushing with old Dutch charm, narrow canals and idyllic little wooden houses. That is exactly what Broek in Waterland is. The tiny village of Broeak in Waterland is 12 km north of Amsterdam and historically was a holiday village for the rich sea captains, merchants and bankers of Amsterdam. They would escape the summer heat and smell it brought before the sewage system, and come for vacations in Broek in Waterland. Now it's a rural village, home to 2500 inhabitants. The village is also known to be one of the cleanest in the Netherlands.

Broek in Waterland is popular for small boat tours, canoeing and walking. Having lunch at De Witte Swaen is a must when visiting. De Witte Swaen is a pancake house that has over sixty types of the Dutch specialty.

To get to Broek in Waterland from Amsterdam, you can either bike from the city, otherwise you can take a direct bus (314 or 316) from Amsterdam Centraal Station. Broek in Waterland is a village best explored by foot.

2. Monnickendam

Monnickendam is a historic town lined with old smokehouses, shipyards, merchant's homes and warehouses that lays on the banks of Lake Gouwzee, part of Markermeer. Monnickendam is 15 km north of Amsterdam and is a town that was founded by Monks with its name meaning Monk's Dam. It used to be a port town but now is a small fishing village, popular for water sports. It has a charming harbor brimming with bustling bars and restaurants. Monnickendam is a great town to cycle in, with many marked bike routes to take.

To get to Monnickendam from Amsterdam Centraal, you can take a direct bus (315), otherwise you can bike. When I visited Monnickendam, I biked from Amsterdam, via Broek in Waterland.

3. Durgerdam

Durgerdam is the epitome of a traditional Dutch village, sans windmill. It is part of the municipality of Amsterdam 7 km east from the centre along the dyke of the IJsselmeer. Durgerdam is filled with charming wooden houses, and a harbor. In the summer, children will swim in the waters, and locals will enjoy their dinner roadside, bringing their indoor furniture outside. It's idyllic and quaint, with only 430 residents. The surrounding area is farmland where you can see sheep and cows, and is best explored by bike.

To get to Durgerdam from Amsterdam, take the free ferry to Amsterdam IJplein, then bike 7km east.

4. Weesp

Weesp is a true hidden gem 16 km southeast of Amsterdam with windmills, bridges, luxurious houseboats and beautiful homes. It is a fortified historic town that sits on the River Vecht and dates back to the 14th century. Weesp is home to a number of fortifications and battlements that form part of the historic defense line of Amsterdam. The town is enriched with interesting architecture and waterways where you can take scenic boat tours. I took a unique boat tour on The Vuurlinie, which is a pretend wooden house motor boat, built and run by volunteers out of love for their city that draws a lot of attention on the water!

Weesp can be reached in fifteen minutes from Amsterdam Centraal by train.

5. Loosdrecht

Did you know the Netherlands has a lake district? Neither did I until I discovered Loosdrecht! Loosdrecht is 34 km southeast of Amsterdam, situated between Amsterdam and Utrecht. It's a nature reserve and is the best place to enjoy a multitude of water sports in North Holland. Loosdrecht is the perfect place to escape the chaotic city life as it's so peaceful, quiet and unlike anywhere else I have been in the Netherlands. The Loosdrecht Plassen, also known as Loosdrecht Lakes are a network of intertwined, shallow, peat lakes. Being in the vicinity reminded me of the Kerala backwaters.

Loosdrecht Plassen harbor is lined with many yachts, sailing schools and water sporting companies. Most water sporting activities take place between April and October in the evenings, weekends and holidays. The water sports are played both recreationally and competitively, where you will see active training, competitions and others having fun. During the winter, most boats undergo maintenance work. At this time if the winter is cold enough, the lakes freeze and locals will dust off their ice skates. The local ice skating association, Ankeveen, earnestly competes with other associations in the country to organize the first iceskating race on natural ice - something the Dutch take very seriously!

Renting a boat and exploring the region is the best thing you can do in Loosdrecht. I visited on a Sunday morning and was blown away with how many sail boats were on the waters (pun intended). I cruised the waters in The Antonia Lounge boat that can be rented for groups. With water sports, Loosdrecht is also reputable for showcasing striking early sunsets on the water in spring and autumn, that can be enjoyed from the harbor lined restaurants.

There is also an enchanting castle plopped in the middle of dense greenery in Loosdrecht. Kasteel Museum Sypesteyn (Castle Museum Sypesteyn) is an oasis of serenity with an alluring garden, lush forests, orchard and a tea room. The castle is home to impressive collections of porcelain, portraits and weapons that can be seen in the different rooms. The tea room is a beautiful storybook setting where you can enjoy lunch and delicious desserts.

Getting to Loosdrecht will take around an hour. To get to Loosdrecht from Amsterdam, take the train to Hilversum (twenty minutes), then take a twenty minutes bus ride (bus 121), or a twenty five minute bike ride to Loosdrecht. There are many bike rental outlets in both Hilversum and Loosdrecht.

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