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Orchestra of Santa's at Chrismas Market Haarlem 2016
Image from Koen Smilde

Winter day trips from Amsterdam

Winter is the perfect time to take a day trip from Amsterdam and immerse yourself in the Netherlands’ rich cultural offerings, including its traditional villages and towns, beautiful nature parks and festive events. Get lost spotting wildlife while walking through misty woods, explore snow-capped windmills or see one of the many magical festive markets – there’s almost too much to see and do.

Old Holland

Go winter windmill spotting

A couple is walking on a sunny day in the winter at the Zaanse Schans.
Image from Pauline Arkesteijn

The perfect place to go windmill spotting in the winter, Zaanse Schans offers a perfectly preserved glimpse into the Netherlands' industrial past. Among the vast fields and traditional houses, windmills, warehouses and workshops, the historic village of Zaanse Schans looks prettier than ever on a winter’s day, proving exactly why it’s one of the Netherlands' best-loved attractions (it lures more than a million visitors each year).  Of course, you can warm up afterwards by popping over to the traditional towns of Volendam or Marken for a bowl of snert – or Dutch pea soup.

See how chocolate is made

Image from Mike Bink

The Zaan region is a magnificent piece of perfectly preserved industrial heritage, and visiting here is like travelling back in time. For those who wish to soak up this legacy, visit the characteristic towns of Old-Zaandijk, Westzaan and Wormer, known for their iconic windmills and well-preserved wooden houses, which offer a glimpse into the area's vibrant trading past. The Zaans Museum tells the story of daily life in the Zaan region over the centuries. At the heart of museum, you will find the Verkade Experience. A treat for young and old alike, the Verkade Experience transports you back to the chocolate-and-biscuit factory of the early 20th century, where the original machines are still churning away.

Warm up at a wellness resort

Image from Mirte Vreemann

One of the most luxurious wellness resorts in the country, the saunas and wellness facilities at Fort Resort Beemster are the perfect place to warm up or indulge in some winter opulence. Located deep in the countryside behind the historic walls of the beautiful Beemster Polder, the centre is part of UNESCO’s Defence Line of Amsterdam. Explore the stunning array of salt baths, indoor facilities, hot tubs and saunas in stunning surroundings. The only problem is, you might not want to get out.

New Land

Get your gift shopping done early

People holding hands and  walking in the Bataviastad Outlet - Shop street
Image from Creative bros

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.

Flowers of Amsterdam

Tour a fascinating industrial monument

Pumping station De Cruquius from 1849 is one of the three pumping stations with which the Haarlemmermeer was pumped dry between 1849 and 1852. It is the largest steam engine in the world. The pumping station was never modernized after that and was put out of operation in 1933. It belongs to the Top 100 of Dutch national monuments.
Image from Pema Prima Photography (@pema.prima)

Cruquius Museum is a fascinating industrial monument housing the 19th-century pumping station used to drain the municipality of Haarlemmermeer centuries ago. Learn about the Dutch struggle against water, marvel at an eye-opening model of how the Netherlands would look without dykes, and experience a live steam engine demonstration. There's a lot to absorb, making this eye-opening museum the perfect place to shelter from the cold of a Winter's day.

Castles & Gardens

Dine on a mysterious fortress island

Winterlicht Winter Lights dining experience on Pampus
Image from Tony Perez

For a fabulous adventure, take the ferry to the Forteiland Pampus - a man-made stronghold rich in history. This mysterious fortress island is only accessible by boats from IJburg or Muiden. It is open during the cooler months for its spectacular Winter Lights dining experience, from November to mid-December. Embark on a culinary expedition as you soak up the wintry vistas and cosy atmosphere of the historic surroundings.

Explore a frosty medieval castle

Muiderslot Castle in the snow in Winter
Image from Melanie Lemahieu Photography

Venture back in time to the Middle Ages at Castle Muiderslot, which is known for its impressive drawbridge, turrets, preserved battlements, and fantastic views from the ramparts. Audio tours reveal the fascinating stories of winters passed, while you'll find the interiors decked out in atmospheric candles and festive decor. Keep an eye on the agenda for seasonal choir concerts, dining experiences, storytelling nights and festive children's workshops - particularly around Sinterklaas.

Amsterdam Beach

Watch the waves in IJmuiden

Kite surfers at Amsterdam Beach IJmuiden
Image from Koen Smilde

The beach might not seem like the perfect place to spend a winter’s day, but IJmuiden, which has vast sand dunes and a three-kilometre-long pier stretching out into the North Sea, makes braving a bit of cold weather absolutely worth the effort. That’s because it’s one of the best places in the Netherlands to watch the waves and kitesurfers and spot seabirds. After that, take shelter in one of the area’s cosy cafes and grab some fresh stroopwafels and a warm chocolademelk (hot chocolate) to dunk them in.


Catch a concert in the Grote Kerk

Plafond details van de Grote Kerk in Haarlem.
Image from John Maschak

The 16th-century Gothic Grote Kerk dominates the Grote Markt in the centre of Haarlem, a city that, despite its manageable size, is a treasure trove of historical and cultural gems. And there’s no better way to get into the festive spirit than by sitting underneath the church’s magnificent interior to take in a concert during the winter months. Some events even feature the church’s gigantic organ, constructed in 1738 and once played by a young Mozart.

Experience a festive wonderland

Christmas market in Haarlem. With a close-up of a pine branch covered in Christmas lights with a market and church tower in the background.
Image from Koen Smilde

For a real winter adventure, Haarlem’s historic canals and old-world charm bring something extra special to the festive season. Take the short journey from Amsterdam and explore its beguiling grandeur during the winter season, and if you can, visit the city’s vast Christmas Market. Offering a traditional take on festive fun, it boasts more than 300 stalls in and around Haarlem’s main square - Grote Markt – and its various shopping streets. Make sure you indulge in festive sweets, stock up on handmade goodies and shop to the soundtrack of a live choir. Also taking place during the Christmas Market is Kerstkorenlint, where several choir performances are performed at various locations around the city, including the Gravenzaal (Counts’ Hall) at the town hall in Grote Markt.

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.