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. 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.
Scout out Haarlem's cultural scene
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, dedicated to all things vinyl, from spinning to collecting records.
Discover great nature walks at Nationaal Park Nieuw Land
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 also visit the nearby Nature Park Lelystad, home to otters, moose, bison and wild boar.
Explore hidden bunkers in the dunes
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 defence is part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam, a unique UNESCO World Heritage Site and is open every first Sunday of the month from March to November.
Take part in the autumn harvest
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.
Get your gift shopping done early at Bataviastad
Whether grabbing some festive gifts for friends and family or taking advantage of the sales, it’s hard to resist the urge to take some time out to shop during the winter season. Luckily, Lelystad’s ‘Batavia Stad’ shopping centre is the perfect place to seek out big brands and discounted goods. With over 250 fashion brands, cafés and restaurants, look out for discount deals on everything from Ralph Lauren to Nike. Visitors from outside the EU can benefit from even more savings by shopping tax-free.
Experience stunning classical concerts
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.
Cycle or sail the waterways of Broek in Waterland
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 Tea House Overleek rents out silent, electrically propelled, ‘whisper boats’ to navigate the area.
See Sinterklaas arrive in Haarlem
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 itself.