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Plan Your Trip to Amsterdam: Best of Amsterdam Tourism

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Explore Amsterdam

From its picturesque canals and bridges to its historic homes, Amsterdam could be considered straight out of a fairytale (and the brightly-coloured bicycles and tulip stands around town don’t hurt either). Must-see sights include the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, and the world's only floating flower market. Rent a bike and join thousands of locals peddling around. Other visitors might want to linger in the local coffee shops, which is just a normal part of the city's landscape. Check out more recs below to make the most of your trip.
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Essential Amsterdam

How to do Amsterdam in 3 days

From canal walks and flower markets to museums of brown-café beers
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8 best day trips from Amsterdam

From grand castles and picturesque windmills to charming canals (without the crowds!) and eclectic markets, the towns just beyond Amsterdam deserve a special visit. Although Amsterdam is worthy of its accolades, after exploring the Netherlands, I’ve found that I’m equally impressed by the slice of Dutch life that exists in these underrated destinations. Ready to explore? Here are my favourite detours from Amsterdam.
  • Utrecht
    In quaint Utrecht, 30 minutes south of Amsterdam, children kayak on Oudegracht canal, bikes lean on flower-covered bridges, and cafes line the waterways. The walkable city centre (a 10-minute radius) is also a foodie favourite; it’s perfect for a food crawl of treats like De Ontdekking’s Dutch baby pancakes and Kaasbar’s conveyor-belt charcuterie. Rent a bicycle for the 20-minute ride to Rhijnauwen estate’s teahouse and De Veldkeuken restaurant serving vegan dishes straight from the garden.
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  • World Heritage Kinderdijk
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    To get to Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s an hour’s train to Rotterdam, then a half-hour ferry (a pretty journey in its own right). The scene is straight out of a Dutch landscape painting—green fields, grazing sheep, and a bucolic waterway studded by 19 authentic windmills. Grab an apple turnover at the visitor centre before biking or strolling around the 18th-century windmills. Tip: Visit in the late afternoon to avoid big tour groups.
  • Rotterdam
    Rebuilt after WWII, Rotterdam draws travellers with its cutting-edge architecture (particularly Markthal’s Cube Houses) and trendy neighbourhoods. In Oude Noorden (Old North), Zwaanshals street is lined with galleries, shops, and restaurants. I swooned over Bistro LOEVetDIE’s French fare (the ratatouille is sublime) and Mecca’s Middle Eastern meals (order egg labneh or white babka). The old harbour, Delfshaven, is a mix of historic architecture and modern amusements, including 4,000-foot rooftop Dakpark and Keilecafe open-air club.
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  • Delft
    Delft is the source of my favourite souvenir: pottery. This storybook village—and Vermeer’s hometown—is known for its blue-and-white Delftware. You can buy custom pieces at Heinen Delfts Blauw, antiques at Léon-Paul, and unique crafts at Droom. To watch the artists in action, head to Blue Tulip, located across from the medieval church in the market square. For lunch, TAZZ is a convivial café that encompasses the Dutch term gezellig (cosy and friendly).
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  • Kasteel de Haar
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    At Castle De Haar, you’ll feel like you stepped back in time. This fairytale fortress, originally constructed in 1391, was rebuilt in the 16th century after a fire, and fully restored from 1892 to 1912. Today, the 200-room castle is the largest in the Netherlands, and its 135 acres of manicured grounds and romantic gardens are perfect for a picnic. Tip: It’s best to drive (30 minutes) or book a tour as public transit is time-consuming.
  • The Hague
    If you’re a history buff, like me, you’ll love The Hague. As the country’s political centre, it’s home to Noordeinde Palace—a royal residence—and Binnenhof, the 13th century castle that’s the home of parliament. Next door, the Mauritshuis museum displays works by Dutch Masters like Rembrant and Vermeer in a 17th-century mansion. (Tip: Visit late in the day; on a recent visit 30 minutes before closing, I had “Girl with a Pearl Earring” all to myself.)
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  • Haarlem
    Haarlem, just a 20 minute train ride from Amsterdam, is my go-to spot for unique shopping. Some favourites include The James for homegoods, Callysta for jewellery, Vind for vintage clothes, and 't Kaaswinkeltje for local cheese—all within a five-minute walk of the train. While you’re here, get lunch at By Lima, which specialises in healthy bowls, or, for something sweet, the decadent French toast with clotted cream at Toast.
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  • Edam
    Bus 316 takes you 30 minutes north to the lakeside “Waterlands' of tourist-favourite Volendam (think: clog shops, costume photos) or my favourite, Edam, a sleepy hamlet of tranquil canals, leafy walking paths, and a striking bell tower, just a 7-minute bus ride. Sample the town’s namesake cheese at Kaasspeciaalzaak, but save room for dinner at De Fortuna, particularly the sourdough bread board and pecan pie with crispy hops from the Hague.
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