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The Netherlands: More Than Amsterdam

Updated: Apr 3, 2021

The Netherlands - Zaanse Schans

As much as I love Amsterdam, I was really glad that we spent a couple of days seeing other areas of The Netherlands. After we left Bruges on our early af train back to Amsterdam, we dropped out bags at the hotel we would be staying in for the remainder of our time and hopped back on the train to go see some of the smaller areas outside Amsterdam.

Easy Netherlands Day Trips From Amsterdam


Our first stop was in Alkmaar. When researching little town to see during our time in The Netherlands, I was having a hard time deciding where I wanted to go because they all look so quaint. We were visiting in September so I knew it was too late to go see where the tulips in bloom. But then I found that Alkmaar does a cheese market every week up until, as luck would have it, the second to last Friday in September, the day I was planning our day trip.

The Netherlands - Alkmaar

Alkmaar is a cute little town. The train station is about a mile away from where the cheese market takes place, in the city center, but the walk through the town was lovely. There are even markers on the sidewalk pointing you towards the cheese market.

The Netherlands - Alkmaar cheese market

The cheese market, of course, was a tourist trap. But I enjoyed watching men running back and forth carrying carts of these huge wheels of cheese to be weighed and judged. There are also stands that sell cheese by the slice for you to sample, and other street foods. And like much of the rest of the Netherlands, the city center has a canal running through it and there were men pushing gondolas of cheese wheels down it. Basically, if you want to experience cheese heaven, Alkmaar is it, or at least comes pretty close.

The Netherlands - Alkmaar Cheese Gondola

Zaanse Schans

From Alkmaar we hopped back on a train to Zaanse Schans. This is another tourist area, but I freaking loved it. They built this to represent how the Netherlands would have looked years ago, complete with wind mills lining the main river that runs through the town.

Again, from the train station it’s about a 20 minute walk to “Zaanse Schans” itself. But you walk passed a chocolate shop. And on that particularly windy day, by afternoon the whole area smelled like chocolate. It was amazing.

The Netherlands - Zaanse Schans and Anthony

Zaanse Schans has a few shops, a clog making tutorial, and also a windmill museum. The windmill museum scared the shit out of me. So you climb up these super steep tiny wooden stairs to the second level where you can see the mechanics of the windmill and then walk outside along the terrace for stunning views. But then you have to get back down those steep as stairs on the other side, and it seriously looks like you’re just going to fall to your death (ok, I’m being a little dramatic, but it was super steep and I psyched myself out big time… like to the point of not even being able to fully enjoy the museum).

The Netherlands - Zaanse Schans

I enjoyed walking around and taking everything in the most. It’s definitely worth the experience in my opinion, even if it’s just for a few hours on your way to another little town.


Finally, Bruges is a day trip that gets an honorable mention, as we stayed overnight, so it’s not technically a “day trip.” I wrote a whole post about Bruges, which you can read here. It’s one of my favorite towns.


There are tons of towns that are worth visiting around the Netherlands, each with their own quirks that make them unique. I’d love to help you plan your route, should you find yourself wanting to go. Click here to schedule your complimentary vacation planning call.

And if you’re looking for other day trips to take, you can read my guide to 24 hours in Bruges below.

So tell me, have you been to The Netherlands? What are your favorite towns? Let me know in the comments!

And feel free to follow my adventures on Instagram.




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