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, make sure you grab an Amsterdam & Region Travel Ticket, which allows you to explore all the iconic sights and scenery of the city’s surroundings area for one, two or three consecutive days.
Head to Haarlem for art appreciation
If you haven’t seen enough art, autumn brings plenty of opportunities, especially in Haarlem. Take a 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam to visit the Teylers Museum, which is hosting a major exhibition of drawings from Leonardo da Vinci. If you visit Haarlem from 2–4 November, you’ll be visiting smack dab in the middle of Kunstlijn, the oldest and largest art event in Haarlem. Browse the works of more than 300 artists, who will display their art in museums, galleries and on shopping streets throughout the city.
Teylers Museum, Spaarn 16, Haarlem
Discover nature and great walks at Nationaal Park Nieuw Land
Nationaal Park Nieuw Land nature reserve 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 a common occurrence. Make sure to also visit the nearby Nature Park Lelystad, home to otters, moose, bison and wild boar.
Read more about Nationaal Park Nieuw Land.
Get your Christmas shopping done early at Batavia Stad
Make sure you beat the crowds and can relax safe in the knowledge that your Christmas shopping is already over by paying a visit to New Land’s Batavia Stad. This charming reconstructed 17-century Dutch village offers bargain-hunters more than 250 international fashion and lifestyle brands - including Hugo Boss, Michael Kors and Tommy Hilfiger – all of which are discounted by between 30% and 70% off the normal retail price. Getting to Batavia Stad from Amsterdam couldn’t be easier, as a Shopping Shuttle will take you to and from the city centre in under an hour. If you do fancy a culture fix after all that shopping, it’s only a short walk to see Antony Gormley’s massive ‘Exposure’, a 26-metre steel figure crouching on the Strekdam that gazes out over the Markermeer lake.
Batavia Stad Fashion Outlet, Lelystad
Sip some bock beer in Amersfoort
The Dutch love their beer, and they’ll never miss a chance to celebrate with a cold glass of the good stuff. In autumn, a special type of beer is brewed: bokbier (bock), which is generally dark in colour, and stronger than a regular lager. Celebrate the coming of autumn with a trip to Amersfoort, a quick 35-minute train ride from Amsterdam, for the Bockbier Festival. If you miss the festival, don’t worry! There are plenty of breweries offering tastings or cosy terraces on which to enjoy this autumnal brew, including on the Wadden Island of Texel.
See St Nicholas 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.
Take part in the autumn harvest
One of the Dutch’s favourite treats is apple pie, 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 there are a few that stay open through October and even during November. Olmenhorst, located in Lisserbroek, offers the chance to pick your own apples and pears, while De Oude Boerderij, located in Beverwijk, offers pumpkins and other assorted autumn vegetables. Even if you’re not planning on picking and eating them all, children still love the experience of a real harvest.
Discover Haarlem’s City of Culture celebrations
Haarlem is certainly getting a good few mentions for Autumn, but with good reason, as this year the city is hosting a special programme of cultural celebrations to commemorate the anniversaries of two of its major theatres. That means a fantastic schedule of performances and special exhibitions, all taking place from September 2018 through to February 2019 at theatres, museums, concert halls and galleries throughout the city.
Read more about Haarlem’s City of Culture celebrations.
Autumn trips further around the Netherlands:
You don’t need to go to the Caribbean to step foot on some sandy, secluded islands – the Netherlands has its own set in the Wadden Sea. Comprising the inhabited islands of Texel, Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog (plus a few uninhabited ones), a visit offers a unique experience in the Netherlands, especially in autumn. In November Ameland hosts Art Month Ameland, a month-long exhibition of work by more than 70 international artists in the island’s churches, museums, town halls and farms. Ameland is accessible by ferry from Holwerd, just a three-hour train ride from Amsterdam Central.
Explore Dutch nature in autumn
One of the best parts of autumn is the watching the leaves change from lush green to vibrant orange, red and yellow, and there’s no better place to truly immerse yourself in this colourful exhibition than deep in the Netherlands’ most prized nature parks. The Hoge Veluwe Park, just an hour and a half from Amsterdam, is the perfect place to take a leisurely outdoor hike. While you’re there, visit the Kröller-Müller museum, tucked in the heart of the park, which boasts the second-largest Van Gogh collection in the world, as well as masterpieces by modern masters such as Monet, Picasso and Piet Mondriaan.
Keep the festival spirit alive in autumn
Summer is festival season, but that doesn’t mean that they come to a grinding halt once the weather turns a little chilly. There are fewer festivals held in these colder months, so take the opportunity to combine a festival with a tour of a Dutch city you may not have seen before. Our tip is a visit to Utrecht for the famous Le Guess Who? Festival, an eclectic, four-day event that explores international avant-garde and experimental music.
Celebrate Halloween the Dutch way
Halloween isn’t a typical Dutch holiday, but it’s gaining traction in the Netherlands. Several cities now organise special Halloween events, so if you’re visiting around 31 October, you won’t miss out on this celebration! Visit Rotterdam, just under an hour train ride from Amsterdam, for the Crazy Sexy Cool festival, an event in which the weird becomes wonderful and adults can play pretend. For a more family-friendly event, head an hour down the coast to The Hague’s Reinkenstraat for a fun day of dress-up, sweet treats and spooky music.
Looking for more reasons to visit the Netherlands? Check out our top 10 reasons to visit Amsterdam in autumn.