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    Our Picks: The 5 Best Day Trips from Amsterdam

    By itself, Amsterdam can take up an entire vacation with all the historical sites, lively neighborhoods, and fun activities that are available to see and do there. A visitor wouldn't even have to think of looking outside the city limits for a memorable experience. But does that mean they shouldn't? The Netherlands is so much more than Amsterdam, and our Best Day Trips from Amsterdam itinerary proves it. Here you will find a short overview of a few of our favorite destinations that are nearby this cultural capital. Country gardens, historical landmarks, dumbfounding sights, and vibrant festivities and celebrations wait for you just a short drive from the city. You can pick where and when you want to go when you choose to rent a car in the Netherlands for your trip to Europe, so get in and just drive. It's up to you where your adventure will take you. Start with a rental car at the Schiphol Airport and don't stop until you've seen all that the Netherlands has to offer!

    Amsterdam to: Distance Estimated Time
    Day Trip 1: Leiden 27 miles 46 Minutes
    Day Trip 2: Keukenhof Gardens, Lisse 22 miles 40 Minutes
    Day Trip 3: Bruges, Belgium 166 miles 2 Hours, 54 Minutes
    Day Trip 4: Madurodam, The Hague 37 miles 54 Minutes
    Day Trip 5: Alkmaar Cheese Market 26 miles 41 Minutes
    Totals: 278 miles 5h 55m

    Read on to Drive to Discover the adventures that await you in the Netherlands

    Preparing for your Drive through the Netherlands

    The roads along our itinerary route do not charge tolls, but it's always a good idea to have cash available when you travel. One of the destinations on our list lies outside the Netherlands, so be sure to pack your passport when taking your day trip from Amsterdam. Make sure to have all travel information and supplies that you need before setting out for the day. Warm clothes, water, and extra food are essential items to bring no matter where you travel.

    Our itinerary follows major highways. Should you feel the desire, explore any detours that you would like to take. GPS is a great companion to have when traveling, so if you have a device or an application on your phone, make sure it is in proper working order before getting on the road. Many of our destinations require only one hour of driving each way, though a few are shorter and longer. Bruges, Belgium, our most distant day trip, takes 2 hours each way, so allow a good amount of time for traveling if you choose that trip.

    Day Trip 1: Leiden

    Leiden Day Trip from AmsterdamLeiden offers visitors a great place to stop any time of year. Springtime, however, is the best time to visit if you are interested in seeing the beautiful flower gardens that are characteristic of the area. The city itself is a picturesque example of a canal city. The canals run along many of the main streets and give the city a unique look. Tours are available along the canals for those interested in seeing the city from a different vantage point. The city's architecture mingles modern with medieval, giving it a vibrant yet wizened feel. The country's oldest university, the Universiteit Leiden, is located in Leiden, so the social scene is pretty active for travelers in the mood for some social time at the pub. There are also many windmills that pop up as you walk around the city. These windmills are an important part of the history of the Netherlands, so be sure to check one out while you're in town. Many museums are also located in Leiden, allowing visitors to learn about local and international historical artifacts. Leiden is also one of the stops on the Bloemen Route, a driving route that takes travelers to see the blooming flowers of the country. The Botanical Gardens of Leiden are truly a sight to see when spring is in full swing, so if you are in the area during that time, you should be sure to stop by.

    Day Trip 2: Keukenhof Gardens, Lisse

    Keukenhof Gardens Day TripA 40-minute drive from Amsterdam on the A4 will take you to see the quaint town of Lisse, where you can see more of the beautiful flowers that the country is known for.

    The Keukenhof  Gardens attracts over three quarters of a million visitor every year, making it one of the most visited gardens in the world. It was founded in 1594 when it was just a private garden, though today the grounds span more than 70 acres of forested land and beautiful pastures. You can see another windmill on the garden grounds, as well as sculptures and pavilions that house rare and beautiful flowers. Over 7 million flower bulbs that are planted every year sprout in late February and early March, peaking during April and May. The colors are truly astounding during this time of year.

    Another attraction to check out while you're at the Keukenhof Garden is the Keukenhof Castle, a 17th-century building that still holds festivals and concerts for the pleasure of the community and visitors. Dining establishments can be found in the downtown area of Lisse, if you get hungry.

    Day Trip 3: Bruges, Belgium

    Amsterdam to Bruges Day TripTo reach Bruges from Amsterdam, follow the A2 south and connect to the E311, the E19, the E17, and finally, the E40. Make sure that you bring your passport along.

    The medieval architecture of Bruges, Belgium is still very intact, so history aficionados will want to visit. Though Bruges is the longest day trip on our list, you will be glad you made the trip.

    The famous sculpture Madonna by Michelangelo is housed in the Church of Our Lady. Likewise, some of Anthony van Dyck's work can be viewed there. The Belfry of Bruges is also an imposing landmark that you should visit while you're in town. Listen for the bells; the city still employs a full-time carrilloneur.

    Theaters and museums are open year-round in Bruges, so history buffs and arts lovers will have plenty to do. Bruges is also home to dozens of music festivals, ranging from jazz to reggae and country. Tickets and schedules can be found online, so be sure to book in advance if you plan to attend.

    Day Trip 4: Madurodam, The Hague

    Amsterdam to Madurodam DriveThe Hague's Scheveningen district is where you will find one of the Netherlands' most unique visitor attractions. Madurodam is a 1:25 scale model of the city where it's found. Conceived and constructed in the 1950s, the model was originally a way to help pay for underprivileged and sick children in the area. The project's influence speaks to its success: it was so popular that Disneyland modeled their Storybook Land on the concept in 1956 and again in Disneyland Paris in 1994. Millions have visited the site to view the detail and craftsmanship that went into creating this fun theme park.

    For a different take on The Hague, travel to the city itself and get a life-size view of the real attractions. The Binnenhof, a conglomeration of buildings that date as early as the 13th century, is where the government resides. Nearby, the Mauritshuis art museum gives travelers the chance to see some of Rembrandt's most beautiful paintings. Should you decide that an overnight trip is in order, visit the Grote Markt (Great Market) and order a pint and listen to the live music and entertainment that is often on display.

    Day Trip 5: Alkmaar Cheese Market

    Alkmaar Day Trip from AmsterdamTo reach Alkmaar from Amsterdam, take the A8 and A9 highways for a 40-minute drive through the countryside to the north. The historic city of Alkmaar, which dates back to medieval times, is a typical - though not ordinary - Dutch city located in the province of North Holland. For a relaxing break from the bustle of Amsterdam, this is a fantastic destination for families and friends to take together. With a rich history and plenty to do, you won't want to miss out on this beautiful little gem.

    The Alkmaar Cheese Market is held every Friday from April to September. Travelers who visit get a front row seat to an old tradition, and because the Alkmaar Cheese Market is one of the few remaining traditional cheese markets in existence, travelers will be participating in a rare activity, as well. Viewing the market, visitors will watch as the traditionally dressed vendors unload, weigh, and load two thousand different kinds of cheeses, all of which are made locally. The entire spectacle takes place in front of the Waag, an old Dutch weighing house designed specifically for accounting for the price of cheese. The Waag houses a museum dedicated to the artisan cheese industry, so if you are waiting for the market to begin, go in and check out what the museum has to offer. Though none of the cheeses that will be weighed can be purchased, vendors have stalls that line the streets, offering many different products for sale. Over the course of the summer, the cheese market attracts nearly one hundred thousand spectators, so be prepared for a bit of a crowd. After dark, the neighborhood becomes a hot spot for socializing as the pubs and restaurants open for business.

    Alkmaar is also home to many different museums, including a Beatles museum and a beer museum. The Grote (tower) of Sint-Laurenskerk is a 16th-century Protestant church. It houses the oldest playable organ in the Netherlands. Stop by to see if you can hear the beautiful music that this old instrument produces. Be sure to tour the church as well, because its architecture is truly amazing.

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