Spring day trips from Amsterdam
As the Amsterdam Area awakens from its wintry spell, trees burst with greenery, tulips blossom, and outdoor spaces fill with people seeking out those precious first rays of sunshine. Whether it's for an Easter weekend or a lovely spring day out with your loved ones: you need to head out beyond the borders of the city centre and explore the wider Amsterdam Area. Think lush green countryside, clean sandy beaches and, of course, the famous tulip fields.
Fall in love with the region's flowers
Every spring, the Keukenhof Gardens come alive with blooming flowers in every rainbow colour. Its range of unique activities for kids, exhibitions, events and performances also means there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Explore the endless bulb fields byhiring a bikeor taking a boat cruise, or join a tour to learn about the park’s history, planting techniques and its inspirational gardens and flower shows. When exploring the tulip gardens, always stick to the paths and follow the farm rules.
Go wildlife viewing
The National Park Zuid-Kennemerland is a vast 38-hectare expanse of undulating dunes between the Zandvoort and Ijmuiden’s beaches. Stretching as far as the eye can see, this extensive network of protected dunes, beaches and lush forests is home to more than 100 different species of bird, as well as red deer, roe deer, rabbits, Highland cattle and European wisent (bison). Explore this memorable landscape on designated walking routes and cycle paths, or enjoy family-friendly experiences such as horse riding and swimming.
Discover Amsterdam's beautiful Dutch countryside
A green oasis right on Amsterdam’s doorstep, the spectacular countryside surrounding the Amstel River is just a short trip from the city centre. To access this region, take a bicycle, boat or public transport south through the city along the river. Before long, the hustle and bustle will be left behind, and you’ll see the early spring sunlight shining down on swaying reeds, green meadows and historic villages. Be sure to visit the 12th-century village of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, which boasts ancient monuments, churches and windmills.
Become part of a fairy tale
Located in the fortified town of Muiden, Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot is arguably the most beautiful medieval castle in the Netherlands. In fact, this pristine castle, with its drawbridge, towers, moat and battlements, looks like it’s been torn from the pages of a fairytale. But as part of the UNESCO-listed Defence Line of Amsterdam, the 700-year-old castle actually played an essential role in protecting the Netherlands against foreign invaders. Featuring beautiful gardens, walking and guided tours, falconry and kids’ treasure hunts, this magical fortress has something to offer visitors of all ages.
Set sail and explore new places
The picturesque River Spaarne winds its way through the historic city of Haarlem, and on a sunny day in spring, it brims with sailing and boating enthusiasts bobbing along its waters. If you fancy setting sail, join an organised cruise or hire a boat. Or, for the more adventurous, why not navigate yourself through the network of channels that link the Westeinderplassen? These lakes are home to dozens of tiny islands, and though many are privately owned, everyone can moor their boat at the Starteiland - a popular spot for picnics and barbecues. If you haven’t brought your own food, why not stop at one of the restaurants, cafés or sun-drenched terraces in the marinas that line the lake’s banks? Find out more about restaurants and bars in the region here.
Cycle to the beach
There are not many better ways to spend a bright spring day than pedalling past spectacular dunes and wildlife to arrive at the beach. So it’s lucky that the Amsterdam Area’s beguiling beaches are all easily reachable by bike. A great place to start your journey coastwards is in Haarlem, where you can rent a bike and set off for the coastal town of Zandvoort. The vast seaside resort offers sandy beaches, trendy bars, water sports and family activities. A little bit further along the coast is its noisier neighbour Bloemendaal, where cool hangouts and clubs feature live bands and DJs, making it the perfect hotspot for party lovers to hit the dance floor in the warmer months.
Spend some time windmill spotting
A trip to the Netherlands wouldn’t be complete without some windmill spotting, and there’s no better time to admire the blades of a windmill gliding through the air than on a breezy spring day. Just a short trip north of Amsterdam, Zaanse Schans open-air museum is the perfect place to do so, offering visitors a perfectly preserved glimpse into the country's industrial past with a plethora of authentic windmills and traditional houses, warehouses and workshops. Grab some traditional Dutch gifts for the family, see some clogs being made and visit the nearby cheese farm while you’re there.
Get green fingers
Springtime is by far the best time to visit Aalsmeer Historical Gardens, where you will embark on a colourful journey back to 1650. Just a short trip from Schiphol airport, the historical garden offers visitors a glimpse into the history of flower cultivation and the flower trade in the Netherlands, explore the greenhouses of yesteryear, and gardens bursting with colourful displays representing the 400-year horticultural history of the area. While you’re there, why not participate in the flower and plant auction held every last Saturday from April to September?
Hike or cycle around the Bulb District
One of the Netherlands' most popular and unique attractions, the Bollenstreek (or Bulb District) stretches for 30 kilometres between Haarlem and Leiden. Home to the world-famous Dutch tulip fields, it’s filled with millions of crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths, asters and tulips every spring. A great way to explore the area is by renting a bike and pedalling along one of its four cycle routes (ranging from 5km to 25km). Or, for a truly unique way to see the blooms, set off on the Wandelnetwerk Bollenstreek, a network of marked hiking routes that run throughout the region. Pick up a free map at the local Visitor Information Centres and follow the signposts past green pastures and colourful bulb fields for breathtaking views.
Explore Haarlem’s museums and shops
Shop ‘til you drop at Haarlem’s Gouden Straatjes (streets of gold) shopping district. Frequently voted the Netherlands’ best shopping destination, Haarlem’s boutique-lined streets include everything from cool concept stores to traditional markets and big brands to independent labels, as well as charming antique and specialist shops. Wander along Grote Houtstraat, Barteljorisstraat and Zijlstraat, or explore smaller streets to find an abundance of traditional and unique stores. Finish off your day at the Frans Hals Museum, a must-see for lovers of 17th-century art, which houses the world’s most extensive collection of famous portraits of Dutch painter Frans Hals.