Amsterdam off the beaten track
Day 1: Amsterdam North and Old Holland
On your first day, head north into one of Amsterdam’s most up and coming areas which will lead you through green meadows into Old Holland.
Explore Amsterdam North
Start your day by renting a bike from Macbike Central Station (discount with your I amsterdam City Card) and taking a short ferry ride across the IJ river (GVB ferry 901/902, behind Amsterdam Central Station, free) to Noordelijke IJ oever, a unique and hip area full of art galleries, interesting architecture, and great waterside terraces.
Check out the unmissable EYE film institution (free with your I amsterdam City Card), to catch a movie or exhibition. The EYE’s waterside terrace also has an amazing view across the IJ, where you can watch the boats and ships go by.
The other unmissable building right beside the EYE is the new and already iconic ADAM Tower. Not afraid of heights? Then head up the 22 floors to the Lookout of the new ADAM tower which gives you 360 degree views of Amsterdam’s historic centre, the harbour, and even the polders. True thrill-seekers can take a ride on Europe’s highest swing (hold on tight!).
Relax and refuel at one of the many waterside cafés such as Café De Pont, Café-restaurant THT, or the EYE, or head over to NDSM Wharf for some more exploring. This former shipyard is a cultural hotspot and often hosts festivals.
The Eye film museum is one of Amsterdam North's most striking landmarks
After exploring the banks of Amsterdam North, hop on your bike and head up towards the green countryside and traditional villages of Old Holland. Follow cycling junctions 40 and 41 to the undiscovered Broek in Waterland and enjoy the scenery of this quiet and picturesque village. Stop for a drink on a terrace or just take a walk around to get a true local experience. Stop by the tourism office i-point (Kerkplein 13) to pick up a free map that includes cycling routes, activities, and rest points, indicating farms where you can stop for a refreshing drink along the way.
Keep heading north to Monnickendam, a town on the banks of the Ijsselmeer, known for its fishing and architecture. Visit the 15th-century Sint-Nicolaas church and make sure to taste some smoked eel from one of the original smokehouses before moving on.
Cycle along the Sea dike to the former island Marken, a historic fishing village that is still rich with cultural history. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and traditional green wooden houses, and stop in to the Marken Museum to learn more about the island’s history and people.
If you’re up for it, take the Volendam-Marken express, which ferries between the two villages (free with your I amsterdam city card) to Volendam, where you can visit the Volendams Museum to learn more about Dutch life in the 1800s (free with your I amsterdam City Card). Make sure to stop at one of the harbourside restaurants that offer discounts with the City Card such as Havenrestaurant de Lunch or Restaurant van den Hogen in Volendam, and Café-Restaurant Land en Zeezicht or Taverne de Visscher in Marken.
The historic harbour at Marken
Day 2: Amsterdam West and Haarlem
Go west! Experience local life in Amsterdam west and Haarlem: a perfect day for shopping, sightseeing, and relaxed dining.
From Amsterdam Central Station, take tram 13 heading towards Geuzenveld and get off at Mercatorplein. Welcome to De Baarsjes! This multicultural and diverse neighbourhood is great to explore by foot. Walk down the Jan Evertsenstraat which has a wide variety of shops, and don’t miss the local open air market on the Vespuccistraat.
Check out cultural venue Podium Mozaiek, which embraces the cultural diversity of the area with world music, theatre, cabaret, dance, and food. Stop for a bite to eat at one of the local hangouts such as Wilde Westen Amsterdam, Café restaurant Edel, or Bar Baarsch.
Distinctive Amsterdamse School architecture of het Sieraad in De Baarsjes
From Mercatorplein, take tram 12 or bus 15 heading towards Sloterdijk train station, where you can take a 10 minute train journey to Haarlem from platform 7 (trains run every 10 minutes daily). Haarlem, a historic town filled with hidden gems, has plenty to see and do!
Sightseeing: Marvel at the St. Bavo Church, Haarlem’s biggest church and a historical monument. Visit Molen de Adriaan, a picturesque windmill that houses a small museum, and also offers great views from the top deck.
Shopping: Haarlem has been voted the Netherlands’ best shopping destination several times - and it’s easy to see why. Wander around the small streets filled with unique boutiques, concept stores and delis, and stroll around the open air market on De Botermarkt (Monday- vintage market, Wednesday- various themes, Friday & Saturday- farmers market). Check out Haarlem’s top 8 shopping hotspots.
Eating & Drinking: Stop for a homemade and organic lunch at Hofje Zonder Zorgen (discount with your I amsterdam City Card). And make sure to visit the Jopenkerk, a renovated church which now has a café with its own brewery, to taste the local beers and the traditional Dutch snacks bitterballen (discount with your I amsterdam City Card).
Haarlem has so much to offer. If you would like more information on seasonal events, walking routes, or activities, don’t hesitate to stop into the Tourism office (Grote Markt 2) who can give more you information in all languages.
Haarlem's famous Grote Market
Have time left at the end of your day? The beach town of Zandvoort is only another 10 minute journey away. Take the train from Haarlem heading to Zandvoort aan Zee and get off at the last stop. Take a walk along the boulevard or unwind at one of the beach clubs and watch the sunset as you sip cocktails, (or a hot chocolate in winter). Check out the top 5 beach hotspots.
Day 3: Amsterdam South, Amstelland and the Fortress Stretch
The elegant neighbourhood Oud Zuid, situated south of Museumplein (home to the iconic I amsterdam letters), has more to offer than just the famous museums such as the Van Gogh and the Rijksmuseum. Walk around the wide streets with impressive manor houses and luxury boutiques, or take a stroll through Vondelpark, which has a selection of cafés, a rose garden, and an open-air theatre in the summer months. If you’re into modern art visit the Cobra Museum of Modern Art (free with your I amsterdam city card) by taking tram 5 at Museumplein heading towards Amstelveen, and getting off at Binnenhof.
If you feel like more cycling, rent bikes at Macbike Leidseplein or Vondelpark and follow the famous Amstel river southwards all the way down to Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, a picturesque village established in the 12th century. The river banks are full of lovely restaurants and cafés with terraces on the water. The cycling route will bring you past beautiful green scenery and country houses where in the golden age famous artists would retreat to capture the nature.
Get a glimpse into medieval times by visiting this UNESCO world heritage site. Take tram 12 to Amsterdam Amstel Station, and from there catch bus 320 or 322 to the P+R terrain stop in Muiden. Take a walk through the historic centre of this fortified town that dates back to the 10th century, which is known for its peaceful streets and picturesque harbour.
Continue by following the green signposts to Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot, a medieval castle dating back to 1280 (free with your I amsterdam citycard). Take a tour through the knight’s hall, towers, dungeons and armoury and walk around the impressive gardens.
To continue your adventure, follow the canal towards Muiden and you will see the ferry to Pampus Island, a mysterious abandoned fort on an artificial island (discount with City Card).
Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot
Amsterdam and the surrounding Metropolitan area offer so much to see and do, so if you feel like some more exploring check out the neighbourhood guides or the 10 hidden gems in Amsterdam for more inspiration!
Discover more day trips from Amsterdam