This is a list of day trips that you can take from Amsterdam. We might have different ideas of what constitutes the duration of the day. Once I get to a city I “travel quickly”: I walk fast, bike fast, and don’t linger too often at a point of interest, so I can see lots of places. This advice assumes you’ll arrive into the city center (where the train stations are) between 10 and 11 AM.
Naarden and Hilversum
Visit “vesting” Naarden (Naarden fort) to see a star-shaped fortress from the 1600s. You can take a bus or bike there from the train station.
Hilversum is a richer city and has a lot of typically Dutch architecture, especially of buildings designed by Richard Dudok. Go here if you’re in the TV and radio industries. You’ll need a bike if you want to see even half of them. A lot of them are schools and apartment buildings.
These two cities are a <15 minute train ride away from each other, with trains every 15 minutes.
Haarlem is a short ride from Amsterdam and has a working windmill museum, near a panopticon-style prison. Perhaps stop here on your way to Zandvoort an Zee (beach resort).
Get here early and leave late. Take the Intercity Direct to the city by 10 AM. That’s the high-speed train, and don’t forget to pay for or buy the “toeslag” (supplement) and you’ll get there about 30 minutes faster for a minor extra cost. Or, take the slower, scenic route there in the morning and the fast route back to your lodging in Amsterdam at night.
Rotterdam is a very large city and has a lot to do. Rent a bike from Zwaan Bikes in Groothandelsgebouw on the next block west of the train station (my favorite in the world).
Go on the 75-minute long harbor tour operated by Spido that starts on the northwest side of the Erasmusbrug (Erasmus bridge).
In the evening, grab a bite to eat at Fenix Foods Factory and get a beer from Kaapse Brouwers in the same converted warehouse building.
Delft is a very pretty city to walk around. It’s very touristic so you will see a lot of shops selling the local blue porcelain. I bought lavender goat cheese here, and it was delicious. Climb the steps to the top of the cathedral in the Grote Markt (main square). If you like architecture, head over to the university, TU Delft. You can walk there from city center in less than 20 minutes.
Eat at Huszár which is a couple “blocks” south of the train station.
The Hague – beach alert!
If you don’t go to the beach, you could do Delft and The Hague in the same day, providing you aren’t spending time at museums and you have a bicycle to move a little quicker. Walk through the royal palace, Binnenhof.
Take a tram or a bike to the beach at Scheveningen.
Zandvoort an Zee – beach alert!
This is a small beach resort town on the North Sea. Walk from the train station to the beach and keep walking until you find a beach lounge you like. Then grab a seat and order a drink (it’ll take a while for someone to come over, so find a menu yourself because it’s typical for a Dutch server to not bother bringing you one unless you ask for it).
This one’s only for people who want to see a New Town in the Netherlands, or are really curious to know and see how polder works, and how the Dutch reclaimed an entire province from a sea (which is now a lake). Research the history: IJsselmeer, Zuiderzee, Flevoland (the province)