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Boats in the sand and blowcarters at IJmuiderslag beach.
Image from koen smilde

Summer day trips from Amsterdam

There is plenty of fun in the sun to be had in Amsterdam, but summertime calls for vacation - even if it's just for a day trip. Amsterdam's location and network of transportation make a perfect launchpad for summer day trips outside the city, and with all of these destinations lying within an hour of Amsterdam, you can even be back before the sun sets! Here's our round-up of historical sights, nature parks and tons of culture just outside the city limits.

Become a beach bum

Mother and daughter bathing at Zandvoort beach.
Image from koen smilde

Within just half an hour by rail from Amsterdam Central Station, you can dig your toes into the sand at Zandvoort or IJmuiden, two of the Netherlands’ favourite coastal towns. Bring the kids to build sandcastles while you lounge in the sun, or, for an adults-only experience, head to the nude beaches to get that all-over tan. Numerous beach clubs dot the shores, offering cosy terraces and laidback lounge areas for refreshing drinks and a bite to eat.

Find out more about visiting Amsterdam Beach.

Get an adrenaline rush at IJmuiden

Ijmuiden aan zee
Image from Beeldbank Gemeente Velsen / Ko van Leeuwen

Those who want to do more than splash around should head to IJmuiden, another nearby beach destination. An hour’s journey from Amsterdam, IJmuiden is a hotspot for adrenaline junkies looking to catch the big waves—and some air! The beach is divided into zones for each type of sport—surfing, sailing, kitesurfing, stand-up paddling and more—to let you mingle with like-minded enthusiasts and give you room to show off. Out of the water, get your fill with blokarting or kite-buggying.

Cycle along the coast to Marken

People on the dike of Marken.
Image from koen smilde

Instead of lounging around, get out and get active on your day trip out of Amsterdam. Hop on a bicycle and head to Durgerdam, a village just outside the city, to begin a breathtaking 15km route on Uitdammerdijk along the coast. Cross the Zeedijk, surrounded by water on both sides, to end the journey at Marken, one of the Netherlands’ most fascinating villages whose charming green wooden houses and old-timey atmosphere will transport you back to a simpler time.

Read all about the things to do in Old Holland.

Sail away on the open seas (or rivers)

Fishing nets in the city of Monnickendam
Image from koen smilde

There are perhaps just as many waterways as bike lanes in the Netherlands, so boats may rival bikes as the Dutchies' favourite mode of transport. Breathe the fresh sea air as you spend a whole day out on the water—and there’s not a lot of travel involved, as you can set sail straight from the centre of Amsterdam. Start out in the IJmeer and continue north towards Markermeer, stopping off at the picturesque fishing village Monnickendam for a bit of sightseeing, or sail the Amstel River as far as south as your boat can take you.

Here's out roundup of the best boating adventures in and around Amsterdam.

Head to historic Haarlem

Grote Markt, Haarlem, Haarlem Culinair. Performers and art installations with visitors enjoying food at drinks at Haarlem Culinair food festival at the Grote Markt
Image from Franklin van der Erf

Though it’s just 15 minutes away by rail, Haarlem is so packed with things to do and see that it can be more than just a day trip from Amsterdam. The small city is a treasure trove of historical and cultural gems, ranging from the impressive Grote Kerk to the Molen de Adriaan, a reconstructed windmill that looms large over the river. Do a bit of antique shopping on the famed Gouden Straatjes (Golden Streets), and finish off the day with a cruise around Haarlem’s canals before heading back to Amsterdam.

Read our complete guide to Haarlem.

Get a history lesson at Muiden

Image from Mike Bink fotografie

Once part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam, Muiden has all the elements for an epic historical sightseeing adventure. Just east of Amsterdam, Muiden boasts the Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot, a medieval castle that looks as though it jumped off the pages of a fairy tale—complete with a drawbridge and towers—as well as the 19th-century military defences at Muizenfort and West Battery. After a day of historical exploration, enjoy the sights of the bustling harbour at one of the quaint cafés on the water.

Take the plunge (and swim outdoors)

Two windsurfers on the Westeinderplassen near Aalsmeer.
Image from Koen Smilde

There’s nothing like floating in the water under the open sky, so pack up your bags, put on your bathing suit and take a trip to some of the Netherlands’ best lakes. Head south of Amsterdam to the Westeinderplassen in Aalsmeer, which features dozens of tiny islands to admire, or stop by the Loosdrechtse Plassen, a network of five lakes that’s a popular spot for picnicking and swimming. If they’re too crowded, you’re in luck—there are hundreds of lakes all throughout the Netherlands that promise secluded swimming and fabulous views.

Check out this guide to things to do in the Flower Strip

Hop over to Pampus Island

Proef Pampus 2018<br>maandag
Image from Rien de Jager

In the middle of IJmeer lies Pampus Island, a man-made island built in the 19th century as part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Now that Amsterdam is no longer under threat of capture, Pampus Island—and the massive fort built on top of it—is open to visitors from April to November. Hop on the ferry from Muiden or Amsterdam IJburg (or sail your own boat!) to enjoy a 45-minute guided tour through the fort and lunch at the Pavilion.

Bike the Amstel

The 'Kerkbrug'(churce bridge) over the river Amstel in the village of Oudekerk aan de Amstel.
Image from Koen Smilde

Cycling is one of the best ways to enjoy the city and the countryside in the summertime. From the centre of Amsterdam, follow the winding Amstel River straight to Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, a village just 10km south of Amsterdam. All along the way, you’ll see some of the most well-known sights—the Skinny Bridge, for one—and little-known wonders, such as the 17th-century windmill Rierkermolen. While in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, spend some time at Ouderkerkplas, a recreational park in which you can swim, sail or just soak in the sun.

Connect with nature in Flevoland

The eagle archway of nature reserve Oostvaardersplassen in Flevoland.
Image from koen smilde

Relax your body and calm your mind with a day trip to unique green oases outside Amsterdam. At the Nationaal Park Nieuw Land, located east of Amsterdam, animal lovers will have the time of their lives observing the wildlife such as birds, deer, foxes and hares; the nearby Nature Park Lelystad is home to many animals as well, including otters, moose, bison and wild boars. Though both nature parks can be enjoyed independently, the visitor’s centres organise activities such as photo safaris and guided walks to make the most of your time.

Here's our complete guide for things to do in New Land.