The most beautiful destinations in Holland – from Amsterdam

The very best of the Netherlands? Most everything is just a stone's throw away and also wonderfully accessible by public transport. Amsterdam makes a perfect base for exploring the surrounding area and beyond. In true Dutch fashion, my recommendations for the best places to visit in Holland are therefore ordered by travel time by public transport from Amsterdam. Let's go!

Haarlem (15 minutes by train from Amsterdam)

Haarlem, for me, reflects the real Holland – in contrast to the very international and touristy Amsterdam. As is typical of Dutch cities, Haarlem has a small city center, most of whose life takes place in and around the Grote Markt, the market square. The 160.000 inhabitants city trumps with cozy cafes, interesting museums, hidden historical courtyards as well as the largest church (Sint Bavo church) and the most varied shopping offer in the Netherlands. Here you can stroll even on weekends comfortably through the quaint little streets without being overrun by tourist avalanches.

My tips for Haarlem:

  • View the train station with its historic waiting rooms
  • Discover the hidden courtyards called hofjes (map available at the tourist info "VVV" at the marketplace)
  • Admiring the huge Sint Bavo church
  • Visit De Adriaan Mill
  • Brewery Jopenkerk: drinking beer in a church
  • Eating pizza with beach feeling on the city beach de Oerkap
  • Shopping in the Gouden Straatjes (Koningstraat, Zijlstraat, Warmoesstraat, Schagchelstraat, Kleine Houtstraat, Gierstraat)
  • Where to stay: Hotels in Haarlem

The most beautiful destinations in Holland - Haarlem

Zandvoort (25 minutes by train from Amsterdam)

Admittedly: Zandvoort is not necessarily the prettiest but undoubtedly the easiest seaside resort to reach from Amsterdam. On nice days, young and old can be found on the beach and in the numerous beach bars that line the beach. A great addition to a city trip!

Tips for Zandvoort:

The most beautiful destinations in Holland - Zandvoort

Zaanse Schans (11 minutes by train + 15 minutes by foot from Amsterdam)

Once cliche Holland please! If you want to take a typical postcard photo you should visit the Zaanse Schans. From the museum village with cheese dairy and clog workshop to idyllic waterfront windmills, each doing a different job (paint mill, spice mill, oil mill, wood saw mill,…), there's never a dull moment here.

Tips for the Zaanse Schans:

  • All info about visiting the windmills on the website of Zaanse Schans.
  • Overnight stay: At the totally crazy Inntel Amsterdam

The most beautiful destinations in Holland - Zaanse Schans

Kennemerduinen (z.B. Overveen, 30 minutes by train from Amsterdam)

Enough of the hustle and bustle of the city and a desire for peace and nature? Then off to the Kennemerduinen! These can be explored quite wonderfully on foot or by bicycle. Don't be surprised if you run into some Highland cattle, horses or other animals on the way, they live wild here.

Tips for the Kennemerduinen:

  • A great hike through the Kennemerduinen can be found on this website (tip: download the app and follow the route via GPS).
  • A recommended bike tour can be found on this website (Tip: Note the junctions under "Directions" and follow them, you will ride from one junction to the next one. These are very well signposted.).
  • Places to stop: Halfway through the hike is the beach bar Parnassia aan Zee
  • Where to stay: Accommodations nearby

Special destinations in Holland: Kennemer Duinen

Utrecht (30 minutes by train from Amsterdam)

Canals only exist in Amsterdam? Missing! In Utrecht, Amsterdam's little sister half an hour away by train, there are not only canals, but also an enchanting old town, a 112 m high cathedral tower, lots of stores, cafes and restaurants and, above all, conviviality.

Tips for Utrecht:

Excursion destinations in Holland Utrecht

Alkmaar cheese market (35 minutes by train from Amsterdam)

Every Friday between the end of March and the end of September, the Waagplein in Alkmaar is abuzz: for a few hours, the tradition of cheese trading is revived with long rows of cheese wheels, traditional costumes, noisy haggling and cheese carriers. If you've had enough of the cheese spectacle, stroll the alleys of the beautiful old town.