Dutch Windmills, Cheese & Tulips: 5 Day Trips from Amsterdam You Can’t Miss

Best Day Trip from Amsterdam Dutch Windmill Kinderdijk



5 Iconic Day Trips from Amsterdam


The last stop on our Viking River Cruise was Amsterdam. From past trips, I’ve also seen the International Court of Justice at the Hague and learned what goes into making dutch cheeses. Since I’ve been to the city a couple times before, I was looking for some other great day trip options to explore in the Netherlands.

I saw so many picturesque photos of dutch windmills turning in the foggy marshes that I knew my top priority was seeing the windmills at Kinderdijk!

Today I’m sharing what our Kinderdijk day trip was like as well as other popular day trip ideas that are a short trip from Amsterdam.




5 Best Amsterdam Day Trips

There are quite a few popular day trip options within easy access of Amsterdam’s central station and all of the below can be visited in a convenient day trip!


No Top Things to Do Day Trip from Amsterdam Distance
1 see dutch windmills Kinderdijk ~75 minutes driving
2 explore World War II history and modern dutch food Rotterdam ~1 hour driving
3 eat dutch cheese Gouda ~1 hour driving
4 see dutch tulips in Keukenhof Gardens Lisse ~45 minutes driving
5 learn about Dutch politics and government The Hague ~1 hour driving





1. Dutch Windmills at Kinderdijk


Windmills in Amsterdam don’t exist so you’ll have to head out into the suburbs! The most famous Dutch town to spot the windmills is Kinderdijk.

Much of the Netherlands is under sea level so without windmills to pump out water, the country would be flooded. The windmills of Kinderdijk were built in the 18th century and today, are a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Kinderdijk is a must see if you want that classic postcard image of dutch windmills!


Book transportation from Amsterdam to Kinderdijk here.


Best Day Trip from Amsterdam Dutch Windmill Kinderdijk



How Do Dutch Windmills Work

There are about 19 remaining today along the canal, viewable either on foot or by boat. Viking provided us with an excellent a guided tour and we had an in-depth look into the history of dutch windmills and also learned how the windmills work. Did you know that dutch windmills are made from 19 different types of wood? The main mast is made from one solid, tall piece of oak!

Another interesting fact: when the windmill is not in use, the position of the sails are used to signal different messages. For example, tilting them in a certain way means joy or celebration (perhaps for a birthday) while a different tilt signals mourning.

Afterwards, we visited the interior of the dutch windmill, which was quite interesting. There are lots of stairs and winding bunk bed rooms that are worth a look. Our guide mentioned that some windmill keepers had up to 17 children in those tiny homes!


Here’s how to do a Kinderdijk Day Trip from Amsterdam:

From Amsterdam Central Station, board a train to either Rotterdam Central or Utrecht Central. From Rotterdam, take the metro to Rotterdam-Zuid and catch the 154 bus to Kinderdijk. From Utrecht, you can take the 154 bus directly. Or, save yourself the headache with this affordable transportation package.

Alternatively, some of the most famous windmills in Holland, like the Zaanse Schans Windmills can be visited on this excellent guided tour from Amsterdam.




2. World War II History at Rotterdam


On your way back from Kinderdijk, explore Rotterdam. During World War II, the city was completely flattened from bomb raids and so the city is modern and entirely rebuilt.

Rotterdam today is a vibrant urban city – make sure to check out the harbor and grab a bite at the Markthal. It’s a large indoor market where the ceiling is painted with various foods. You can feast with your eyes and your taste buds!


Book transportation from Amsterdam to Rotterdam here.




3. Dutch Cheese at Gouda


Every Thursday morning, Gouda’s City Hall holds a cheese market. After all, don’t you want to try authentic Gouda cheese in its namesake city?

Also – I realized that I’ve actually been saying ‘gouda’ wrong the entire time… it’s not pronounced goo-da in Dutch but more like gow-da. They say dutch is one of the most difficult languages to learn and I can see why!


Book transportation from Amsterdam to Gouda here, which includes a visit to a wooden shoe factory and windmill!




4. Dutch Tulip Fields at Lisse


From mid-March through May, the Lisse fields bloom with tulips! We visited the city’s most famous botanical garden, the Keukenhof gardens, a couple years ago and the rows and rows of color are a uniquely Dutch experience.

There are over 7 million tulips, daffodils and hyacinth flowers within the park so a great way to see all the various fields is by bike. You can download a bulb field cycling map and lose yourself in the rainbow colored countryside. The Keukenhof tulip gardens are quite popular so I do recommend booking a tour to skip the lines or booking a bike in advance.


Here’s how to see the Dutch tulips from Amsterdam:

From Amsterdam Central Station, board a train to Hoofddorp then transfer to another train in the direction of Den Haag Centraal. Get off at Sassenheim.

Or save yourself the headache and book this affordable guided tour.




5. Politics & History at The Hague


The Hague is the center of the Dutch royalty and government, where many famous museums and international political centers are located. Don’t miss a visit to the International Court of Justice and Peace Palace.

It’s far from boring – there are priceless artifacts dedicated from various international world leaders and hallmark judicial rulings which were officiated here. A great way to see all the sights is on foot.

Top things to do in the Hague:

  • Art lovers will want to check out the Mauritshuis which houses Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring
  • Explore the dutch pottery tour and try a painting workshop
  • Foodies can taste dutch beers, cheeses and famous eats on a food walking tour
  • Nature and outdoor enthusiasts can visit Scheveningen Beach to touch the North Sea.


Book transportation from Amsterdam to Hague here.



More Fun Day Trips from Amsterdam


Which is your favorite day trip idea?


Amsterdam Vacation Checklist


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  1. Celena
    June 19, 2017 / 12:37 pm

    Thanks for your amazing guides! My only trouble with them is that you make every place sound so amazing that I have trouble choosing where to go! I’m planning on spending 2.5 weeks in Europe next month and was either going to do something to your Spain/Portugal itinerary, or a river cruise. I haven’t been to Europe as an adult, so every place is new to me. Between the cruise experience or the S/P itinerary, what would you recommend? I’m a solo, female traveler in my mid/late 20s if that is helpful. Thanks in advance!

    • Sher
      June 19, 2017 / 2:24 pm

      Hi Celena, thanks for the kind words :) Hmm Viking and the Spain/Portugal trip I did are pretty different so I’ll do my best to provide some more context and hopefully make your decision easier!

      The spain/portugal trip I did on my own, which was wonderful in that I was able to plan my own itinerary, and linger where I wanted to. On the flip side, it can get a bit exhausting to be on the go and traveling every ~3 days or so from city to city.

      You mentioned you’ll be going solo – are you interested in meeting up with other solo travelers and experiencing the cities at night? You might prefer booking a hostel dorm room, LOTS of people visit Spain in the summer and it’s easy to make friends that way.

      The other thing to mention about Spain is that it really helps to plan it in advance. Pretty much all their top sights require timed tickets (buy these online beforehand) and they sell out if you wait too long. For example, all of the Gaudi works in Barcelona you have to pick an exact hour that you plan to see the attraction (if you miss it you buy another ticket). Also in Spain, you can save a significant amount on train tickets by buying as early as possible, same with hotels. July/August is peak high season for Spain and Lisbon.

      I really loved my Viking trip, but a couple things to note: the average demographic is a bit older, about 40+. Most people travel with someone because cruises will charge a single supplement fee for only 1 person. Viking hits a lot of places in 1-2 weeks, so you have the benefit of seeing a lot while having everything taken care of. I’ve taken tons of tours and traveled on my own and I was really impressed with how seamless Viking manages everything. Only unpack once, guided tours, free time, all meals/transfers included.

      They do offer a Portugal douro river cruise, where the itinerary looks amazing, so check that out! I believe that portugal itinerary is new for 2017. Also they do have 2 for 1 sales from time to time so perhaps a friend or family member might want to go with you? If you like to mingle, they have shared tables at dinner so you can get to know other travelers. There isnt really entertainment on board in the evening the way there is with a massive ocean liner cruise, but they stop overnight in a couple cities so you can stay out late on those days.

      I hope that was helpful! I loved Spain but would stress that a trip there in high season is probably best done if well planned in advance, whereas a viking cruise is great for “show up and have a great time”. If you want to meet other solo travelers, the spain/portugal itinerary i wrote hits all the top spots other travelers will be at, whereas viking is more leisurely and tends to attract an older crowd. Maybe you might be interested in the viking douro river cruise for 1 week and then fly in to barcelona/madrid for 1 week?

      If you have any other questions, let me know!

  2. Celena
    June 19, 2017 / 3:31 pm

    Thanks so much! This was so helpful.
    I think I will go the Spain/Portugal route, I have 16/17 days, so I was thinking Porto (2d) -> Lisbon (3d) -> Seville/Grenada (3d) -> Bilbao/San Sebastian (3d) (Have you been? I’ve heard great things about Northern Spain) -> Barcelona (5d) (Leaving Madrid for another time). Thanks for the tip on booking everything in advance! I will be sure to do that.

    I am interested in meeting others– but am a bit of a sensitive sleeper, so I’m not sure whether to go the hostel, hotel, or AirBnB route. Perhaps a private room in a hostel would be a good medium? Do those exist? It’s actually going to be my first solo trip.

    I also wanted to add that I used your itinerary for my trip to Thailand last November and it really helped me decide where I wanted to go. My friend and I had a blast of a trip largely thanks to you, so thank you again!!

    • Sher
      June 19, 2017 / 4:06 pm

      Ah that’s great! Im so glad you found it helpful and im so happy to hear it :)

      The times that I’ve stayed in a hostel (to be honest, not many times) Ive always chosen a private room with a private bathroom just bc i travel with my photo gear and like the privacy. They definitely offer those, you just select the type of room you want and then usually lots of people will hang out in the common areas to mingle. There was actually a really cute barcelona hostel i looked at… ill see if i can find it and let you know the name.

      I did a mix of hotels and airbnb in spain/portugal. They were all good! It is kind of hard to meet people that way, but when I do travel solo i don’t usually meet up with people unless I know them.

      I loved barcelona, way more than madrid! Madrid was quieter than I expected and the sights in Barcelona were so unique! I really like good food/ pretty architecture so barcelona hit all that for me. that reminds me, i’ve been meaning to write some posts about Barcelona still… one year later.. ha. Do a day trip to Girona and Montserrat if you have time. The gelato at rocemblanc is really good.

      I wanted to do bilbao/san sebastian for the food and museum but had to save it for a different trip (sadly) let me know how you liked it after your trip!

  3. Celena
    June 20, 2017 / 9:04 am

    I think private hostel might be the way to go then– unless I really feel I need some space and quiet, or just a nicer accommodation break in which case I’ll book a hotel/AirBnB.

    I’ll definitely let you know how Bilbao/SB is and report back :) Thank you again for all the help!!

    PS. – I think a cool topic to write about in the future could be solo traveling/female traveling. I didn’t know you made the trip alone and it really gives me some confidence doing so knowing you did it yourself!

    • Sher
      June 20, 2017 / 7:33 pm

      No problem! I didn’t travel alone for my spain trip – I do occasionally but for the most part I travel with friends or family :)

  4. cherri
    June 20, 2017 / 3:49 pm

    these suggestions all sound amazing! I would love to visit some day!

  5. Okizia
    June 25, 2017 / 1:47 pm

    All interesting places to visit, enjoy and learn of. My favorite from this article was learning about how they use the wind mills to mean different things like joy etc. I think that is very creative. Thanks! :)

    • Sher
      June 25, 2017 / 2:07 pm

      Right? I thought the secret signals were fun to learn about :) thanks for stopping by Okizia!

  6. Esther
    July 15, 2017 / 7:28 am

    These are indeed lovely daytrips. I have never been to Kinderdijk (but then… I’m Dutch…). Utrecht and Delft also make great daytrips from Amsterdam, though I personally feel (like with Rotterdam and The Hague) they deserve at least 2 days!

  7. Pei
    June 26, 2018 / 2:36 am


    I LOVE your blog, your way of organizing information and the breakdowns. It really became my go-to when I look up information for future travel plans! You mentioned that you’ve been to Amsterdam a few times already. Do you happen to have a list of recommendations of what to do and eat and see in the city? Additionally, would you rather spend 3-4 days in Copenhagen or in Amsterdam with 3 other girls, after a week in Iceland? I’m thinking that Amsterdam seems to be more chill and cheaper and will balance out the Iceland cost, but slightly worried that even with daytrips, it might be too chill and not exciting enough? Any opinions or advice would be appreciated!

    Thank you!

    • Sher
      June 26, 2018 / 10:43 am

      Hi Pei – thanks so much! that’s so nice to hear.

      I’ve been a couple times but when I was younger, so it’s been a while! Off the top of my head, the city has some really great brunch + coffee spots and the top sights are like a canal cruise, red light district tour, the Anne Frank museum, van gogh museum, etc.

      I LOVED Copenhagen. I thought the city was so cool, the fashion/design shopping is amazing, the museums, castles etc are just so good. It is insanely expensive though. Food prices were unreal and I live in New York so I thought I was ok with sticker shock ha! I’m not sure how old you guys are? But I found that (surprisingly) trying the Michelin / top rated restaurants was a better “deal” because they usually offer 3-5 course set menus for like $40-75 pp, which I know isn’t cheap but going to a tiny ramen joint was $25pp for just 1 bowl of ramen or a hot dog off the street was $20, so value wise…

      I did Amsterdam when I was younger (high school and college) and had a fun time doing the whole brownies/red light district/partying so I think it depends what you want to do on your trip. Now that I’m older, I like more low key trips focused on sights / food.

      hope that helps!

  8. Ana
    February 7, 2019 / 2:05 am

    Wonderful Ideas. We especially enjoyed the Windmills. The picture with windmills and baskets is just breathtaking!

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