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Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem
Image from koen smilde

Autumn day trips from Amsterdam

The signs that autumn has arrived are always clear: the air is crisper, the leaves have begun their marvellous colour change, and the birds are heading south. To make the most of this beautiful time of year, an autumnal day trip from Amsterdam offers the perfect chance to explore Dutch tradition, nature and remarkable arts and culture.


Scout out the cultural scene

Haarlem Vinyl Festival 2023
Image from Eszter Jambor

Autumn is the perfect season to become acquainted with all of the cultural goings-on in Haarlem, from 17th-century masterpieces at Frans Hals Museum to a perfectly preserved world of the 18th-century Enlightenment at Teylers Museum in Haarlem - the oldest museum in the Netherlands. Wandering amongst the collection of authentic display cases is like leafing through an antique encyclopedia, allowing each object to tell its own story. Check out the gig agenda at Patronaat - the iconic venue in a former school gymnasium. And don't miss the Haarlem Vinyl Festival in October, which is dedicated to all things vinyl, from spinning to collecting records. Keep an eye on the cultural agenda for all exhibitions and events in Haarlem.

See Sinterklaas arrive

Sinterklaas Helper high fiving kids on a boat
Image from Amie Galbraith

Sinterklaas is a beloved holiday in the Netherlands, the official day of the celebration landing in early December. However, Sinterklaas (St Nicholas) himself has a long trek to make – he hails from Spain and must make his annual trip to the Netherlands in November. His arrival is marked by festive parades, which occur throughout the country in November. Travel to Haarlem to watch him arrive on the Spaarne River, where he will disembark from his majestic boat and parade through the city.  

New Land

Discover great nature walks

Oostvaardersplassen Fighting Stags National Park Nieuw Land
Image from Paul Klaver

National Park Nieuw Land offers some of the most satisfying walking routes in the whole of the Netherlands, as well as the chance to spot spectacular wildlife. Located just east of Amsterdam, its expansive fields and wetlands are still thriving in the autumn months, and sighting birds, deer, foxes and hares is common. If you arrive in September-October, you may witness the deer mating season, marked by the clashing antlers of the stags. Make sure to visit the nearby Nature Park Lelystad, which is home to otters, moose, bison, and wild boar. 

Cruise to reclaimed islands

Women walking over one of the Marker Wadden islands.
Image from Schokker Fotografie

Marker Wadden, part of the National Park Nieuw Land, is a unique nature reserve still in development. The small islands between Lelystad and Enkhuizen are constructed with sand, clay and silt from the Markermeer. As new plants blossom both under and above water, it is quickly becoming a natural paradise for fish and birds. Delve deeper into the Marker Wadden by joining the Marker Wadden Experience Tour - boarding from Lelystad, Amsterdam or Almere. Your adventure starts on a VR bus and includes a memorable cruise on which the educational guide will take you through the unique history of Flevoland.

Amsterdam Beach

Discover hidden bunkers

People walking at the Amsterdam Beach Forteiland Ijmuiden -Bunker
Image from created by for amsterdam&partners

For history, adventure and windswept walks along the sandy dunes, head to the coast at Amsterdam Beach. Until the end of October, IJmuiden’s fascinating Bunker Museum is open for visitors every first and third Sunday from 11:00-16:00. This WWII fortress was used to defend the IJmuiden harbour mouth and access to the port of Amsterdam. The museum consists of six underground bunkers filled with enormous military collections varying from a German canteen to a two-person submarine. Forteiland IJmuiden, an impressive fortress dating from 1880, is at the mouth of the North Sea Canal. This former military is open every first Sunday of the month from March to November.

Explore impressive manor houses

The pond of countryhouse Beeckestijn in Velsen-Zuid.
Image from koen smilde

For an autumnal day trip to see how the other half used to live, the Dutch dunes are full of beautifully preserved historical manorial estates, open to the public for fine or brasserie-style dining and overnight stays. Duin & Kruidberg Country Estate, dating from 1682, offers 75 luxury hotel rooms within the Zuid-Kennemerland National Park. Beeckestijn, meanwhile, is an 18th-century estate created from an older property as a summer residence for a wealthy Amsterdam regent, whose gardens are an outdoor museum.

Flowers of Amsterdam

Take part in the autumn harvest

A family sits at the picnic tables next to the playground of Landgoed de Olmenhorst in Lisserbroek
Image from Koen Smilde

Apple pie is a Dutch favourite treat, and you can usually indulge in a slice (or two) at most restaurants in the Netherlands. But to truly get a feel for the flavours of autumn, why not pick your own apples, pears, pumpkins or other autumnal fruits and vegetables? Many pick-your-own farms close after the summer, but a few stay open through October and even during November. Olmenhorst, located in Lisserbroek, offers the chance to pick your apples and pears. Even if you’re not planning on picking and eating them all, children still love the experience of a real harvest.

Wake up and smell the flowers

Image from Cris Toala Olivares

Wake up early to check out Royal FloraHolland - the world’s biggest flower auction (a whopping 400 football fields’ worth). This incredible auction house handles more than 21 million cut flowers and 2 million potted plants daily, mainly for export. Dealers bid by pushing a button to stop a ‘clock’ that counts from 100 down to 1; meaning that the price is lowered – rather than raised – until a buyer is found. The best action is before 9:00, so you’ll have to get up early to see it, but there are flowers stretching as far as the eye can see. The smell is divine, and with an (optional) knowledgeable, multilingual guide, you’ll witness the auction process first-hand.

Castles & Gardens

Experience stunning classical concerts

Image from created by for amsterdam&partners

Naarden is one of the most remarkable examples of a fortified town in Europe, encompassed by two elaborate star-shaped moats and stone walls. The interiors of Naarden’s Grote Kerk are also well worth a visit, with impressive architectural details such as the famous barrel-vaulted ceiling. During the cosier months, the acoustics make for spectacular classical concerts that will get you into the festive spirit, from choirs and recitals to performances from The Dutch Bach Society and The Netherlands Blazers Ensemble. Check the website for the full Autumn agenda.

Old Holland

Cycle or sail the waterways of Broek in Waterland

Image from Theetuin Overleek

Surrounded by fields, Broek in Waterland’s rural setting belies its strong links with the Netherlands’ maritime past. But in the 17th and 18th centuries, the village was the home of many successful ship owners, captains and merchants. Their wealth made it one of the most prosperous villages in the area. The charming wooden houses - carefully restored and painted in authentic ‘Broeker’ grey - now attract artists and other creative types. The village is best explored on foot or by bike. The charming Bootverhuur Overleek rents out silent, electrically propelled ‘whisper boats’ to navigate the area.

Pro tip:
To make life even easier, grab an Amsterdam & Region Travel Ticket, which allows you to explore all the iconic sights and scenery of the city's surrounding area for one, two or three consecutive days.