What's there besides Amsterdam?
April 8, 2010 3:47 PM   Subscribe

I want to see more than just Amsterdam. How can I go off the beaten path in The Netherlands?

I have six days in The Netherlands this summer, and want to experience more of the country than just Amsterdam. I also have a general desire to get out of the urban and into more of the outdoors. Do you have any suggestions of fun bike routes, hikes, or canoe trips that can be completed in two or three days? Or other suggestions along that line?

For some context, I am a 25-year old male, and will be traveling with my girlfriend (also 25) and my younger sister (20). All of us live in New York City. The Netherlands is the last stop in our little circle of the North Sea: we'll be circumnavigating through southern England, Scotland, and Norway where we'll be doing a mix of historic cities & highland/fjord hiking. We'll be arriving into Amsterdam early July.

How interesting would the Pieterpad be? Or biking around the West Frisian islands? I've seen this previous AskMe, and am considering a few other towns like Groningen or Delft, as well. Is there a quintessential Dutch countryside I can see in two or three days, possibly with cozy B&Bs in between?

Trademark Netherlands type stuff would be great too-- like windmills in my photos, for example.

posted by gushn to Travel & Transportation around Amsterdam, The Netherlands (13 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
When I was doing my trip around Europe a couple of years back, the Eurail pass was my best friend. They have one specifically for the Netherlands and a couple of other countries and if you do plan on traveling to different parts of the country its likely worth it.

Given you only have six days, this might not be your best option but it is good for station hopping, checking out different cities, etc.

*This pass in particular looks like it may suit you.
posted by deacon_blues at 3:59 PM on April 8, 2010

You could just head up from Amsterdam into Noord-Holland with its old Dutch East India Company ports like Enkhuizen. If you want to combine biking with the train, you could head further east to Groningen and loop back, but you won't lack for of windmills.
posted by holgate at 4:06 PM on April 8, 2010

Best answer: You can pretty much bike the entire country, and it's an awesome idea to make it a biking vacation.

Just remember that it is flat, flat and flat...which doesn't necessarily mean easy if there's a 30 km/h headwind on your return leg.

Great routes to bike are between Rotterdam, Den Haag, Amsterdam and Utrecht (the "Golden Triangle"), with plenty to see in all of these cities. You could do a loop of them in 3 days, with lots of time to spare for sightseeing.

Further out (the "far" north or south), it gets kinda boring unless you're really into long-distance biking or the smell of fertilizer.

And if you're near Rotterdam, you absolutely cannot miss Kinderdijk, which is about an hour by bike from Rotterdam centre. Gorgeous spot for a picnic.

Other great spots to visit by bike: Brielle, the Europoort, Leiden, Keukenhof.
posted by randomstriker at 4:14 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I took a 3 day (but very leisurely) trip directly north and west of A'dam. Go to Marken, then ferry (?) to Volendam. Then sweep west and around to the coast, Zaandvoort, Haarlem, and back to the city! I don't really see how you can go wrong, we didn't have a set agenda but just tootled around and it was lovely. Have fun.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:43 PM on April 8, 2010

Following the Wikipedia Kinderdijk link, I think you had better try to go there. "The Cat and the Cradle" is from a local legend, never understood what it meant until just now - very cool!
posted by Meatbomb at 4:52 PM on April 8, 2010

I was in The Netherlands for two weeks; stayed in Scheveningen, which was great. I really enjoyed Den Haag and I loved Delft. I only spent half a day in Amsterdam.
posted by elsietheeel at 4:59 PM on April 8, 2010

I'm partial to Texel, the first and largest of the string of islands in the north. You get there by taking a ferry from Den Helder, which is at the tip of North Holland. Texel is sort of the Dutch Martha's Vineyard, with traditional farming and fishing along with great beaches, camping areas in the dunes, interesting bird habitat.
posted by beagle at 5:14 PM on April 8, 2010

Texel, definitely.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:22 PM on April 8, 2010

It's not really outdoorsy, but I took a trip to the Aalsmeer flower markets - they're the biggest flower wholesalers in the world. In some ways it wasn't set up for tourists that well, but it was also really cool to see so many flowers in one place. I caught two buses from Schipol airport, but I'm sure you could get there equally easily from Amsterdam itself. It was fairly easy - the bus drivers were really helpful and spoke perfect English. You'd have to get up early though!

If you spend any time in Amsterdam, I particularly enjoyed the New Europe walking tour there.
posted by Emilyisnow at 6:06 PM on April 8, 2010

Either rent a car or take trains. This is truly one of Europe's coolest vacation destinations. Delft and Den Haag should be on your agenda, and definitely hit the beach somewhere. I don't know details about the north but I hear it is interesting (although it is hard core conservative and religious for the most part in strong contrast to the liberalism of the rest of the country).
posted by caddis at 6:49 PM on April 8, 2010

I spent a week in the little town of Egmond an Zee (in the province of North Holland that holgate mentions) for a work conference...it was so nice :) I would definitely take a trip back there and explore the little towns up and down the coast there. People were very comfortable with English and very friendly to tourists, too, for what it's worth, but it was not overly touristy. It was easy to reach by train right from Schipol, but I don't think it would be difficult to drive in the area.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:25 PM on April 8, 2010

Terschelling is a fairly dramatic island facing into the North Sea and as off the beaten track as anywhere I have encountered in a crowded country like the Netherlands.

I have spent a pleasant week in Friesland, in the area of Leeuwarden and Sneek. Friesland is also home to something like a fifth of all the windmills in the country.

Den Haag is pleasant enough, but outside of a very nice core, it gets dull to look at... in my admittedly limited experience, I found Utrecht more interesting to look at.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:58 PM on April 8, 2010

Assuming you're not going to bypass Amsterdam altogether, you can break up a day in the city with a bike trip to Zaanse Schans (about 10mi out). The city falls away very quickly. I'm jealous.
posted by eddydamascene at 12:47 AM on April 9, 2010

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