Amsterdam/Netherlands ideas
July 20, 2015 5:08 AM   Subscribe

Can you suggest offbeat things to do around Amsterdam?

I've been in Europe most of the summer and it's been a great trip so far. This week in meeting a friend (also from the U.S.) in Amsterdam for a week. We are just planning to hang out and have a low key week.

Unfortunately Amsterdam right now is a disappointing mess of obnoxious tourists and I find being around them very unappealing. We have an airbnb for the week in the middle of town.

Can you suggest things to do either in the city or a train ride away that would be refreshing and fun? We like the outdoors, hiking (note we are not prepared for backpacking or camping this time) old things. Mostly want to get away from crowds
posted by special-k to Travel & Transportation around Amsterdam, Netherlands (23 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
We have an airbnb for the week in the middle of town.

Haarlem is charming, not crowded with tourists, and a very short train ride into Amsterdam Centraal. If the weather is nice rent a bicycle and cycle out to Zandvoort through the Zuid-Kennemerland.
posted by three blind mice at 5:34 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Last time I was in Amsterdam, I took the train (just 20 minutes or so) out to the Vrolik Museum, which is basically an anatomical museum with other bits and bobs, like the skeleton of Napolean's pet lion. It's on a medical school campus, completely fascinating, and requires a strong stomach. We had a nice lunch afterwards at a student cafe/bar/roadhouse right near the train station--it's on your left as you head in towards the campus.
posted by whitewall at 5:43 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Muiderslot castle in Muiden. Bus 320 or 322 from Amstel Station and then about a 15 minute walk into town.
Or maybe the fortress town of Naarden- that same bus 320 but a little further. for transport times.
posted by Tunierikson at 5:48 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

My favorite places for day trips from Amsterdam are Utrecht, Haarlem, Gouda, and Leiden. They're all lovely, have a nice selection of museums and old architecture, and have a much calmer vibe than Amsterdam. Utrecht probably offers the most things to do, though Haarlem and Leiden both have a lot of interesting museums. I like to take visitors to Haarlem's city center one day and then to Gouda's the next, to see the contrast between their architecture.

National Park De Hoge Veluwe is a great hiking/biking option. It's a bit under two hours Amsterdam by train+bus, there are free bikes in the park, and you can visit the excellent Kröller-Müller Museum. If you're up for more of a cycling challenge, you can rent bikes in the nearby town of Ede and cycle 11.5 km to the park.

Another hiking spot the Oostvaardersplassen, a nature reserve that's just under an hour from Amsterdam. Look for "wandelroute" on that page. There definitely won't be crowds or tourists there.
posted by neushoorn at 5:52 AM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It's going to be gorgeous tomorrow - rent a couple of bikes and head to the Amsterdamse Bos. There are tons of things to do there - you could pet baby pigs in the Geitenboederij, rent a couple of canoes and go exploring, or just bike around until you see the Scottish highlander cows.

Where in the centre are you? If you just want a break tonight you could head to the West to grab dinner in the Foodhallen, then maybe head for a drink afterwards at my favourite homey brown cafe, Cafe Bax. Ooh, I just remembered it's a Monday, which means it's movie time at De Nieuwe Anita. The title really doesn't matter - you go to movie night to experience local personality Jeffrey.

I also vastly prefer De Pijp for wandering around - Albert Cuypmarkt is good value, and there are loads of tiny shops and cafes to pop in and out of. Sarphatipark is also really pretty. Vondelpark is nice, too, but tourist-soaked.
posted by nerdfish at 6:00 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding National Park De Hoge Veluwe, especially the Saint Hubertus Lodge.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:27 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Amsterdam central library (Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam) is a great example, I think, of what a modern library should be: read books, listen to music, attend events, eat. Not far from Central Station but pretty free of tourists and open till 10pm. Video
posted by rongorongo at 6:48 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Het Parool recently published a list of Amsterdam's best kept secrets. The article's in Dutch, and Google Translate's having trouble getting past the cookie popup... you'll have to bash through the text manually if you see anything intriguing.

From their list, I really like the Siegerpark, but it's a little bit in the middle of nowhere and only about an hour's entertainment, tops.
posted by ZipRibbons at 7:00 AM on July 20, 2015

Get up early and visit the flower auction in Aalsmeer. Better descriptions and reviews.
posted by beagle at 7:08 AM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Quick and easy is to take the free Ferry 905 from behind the Centraal Station to the NDSM area. It takes 15 minutes (every half hour) and drops you off in a much less traveled spot. Grab a drink at the Ij-Kantine or walk a few moments over to the Noorderlicht for a more rustic spot. Be amazed at the submarine!
posted by Tunierikson at 7:23 AM on July 20, 2015

3 Day's in Amsterdam is sufficient to see all the most important tourist attractions. I you want to see a very beautiful and cleaned up version of Amsterdam take a 20 minute train ride to Haarlem.

Or go all the way south to Maastricht. Its like a small version of Paris :-)
posted by Mac-Expert at 7:35 AM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Quick and easy is to take the free Ferry 905 from behind the Centraal Station to the NDSM area. It takes 15 minutes (every half hour) and drops you off in a much less traveled spot.

I did this last July on a half-day Sunday layover where I wanted to avoid the usual haunts. To be fair, it is still fairly busy in high summer, but not crazy-crowded. After that, I took the Houthaven ferry and had a wander to the Westergasfabriek, where there was a local food market in progress -- as there is next Sunday. Not un-crowded, but probably the closest bits of Amsterdam to the centre where locals are more visible than tourists.
posted by holgate at 7:39 AM on July 20, 2015

Glow in the dark mini golf.
posted by terretu at 8:33 AM on July 20, 2015

A lot of good ideas already.
Another: Delft is an old city that expats often enjoy visiting.
I personally liked visiting the Peace Palace in The Hague. The Escher Museum is in the same town.
If you decide to go to Utrecht let me know; I live there and can give you some specific pointers where you may want to go.
posted by jouke at 9:09 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Kroller Muller Museum and its surrounding National Park. (not the size of an American National Park, but pretty good)

You can also rent a bike and cycle to Marken, or through Waterland in general (north of the city), it's the Dutchest landscape you can get.

You can also bike (or hike, I guess) south, along the Amstel river.
posted by Thisandthat at 10:15 AM on July 20, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks all! These tips are amazing!

jouke: I spent 10 days in Utrecht in early June and loved it. I'll memail you if I decide to go back.
posted by special-k at 10:33 AM on July 20, 2015

Free range monkeys?
posted by humboldt32 at 12:30 PM on July 20, 2015

See an outdoor scale model of the Netherlands in once view at Madurodam :-)

This might be a bit far but its amazing: Neeltjejans Deltawerken.
posted by Mac-Expert at 1:02 PM on July 20, 2015

Not a super-short train ride from the Amsterdam Central Station, but Enkhuizen is a nice place to spend a day or so. The railway station is right next to a huge lake (formerly the sea) and very close to the historical city centre, which is great and much different from Amsterdam (with remnants of the Netherlands' colonial past). There's also the outdoors section of the Zuiderzeemuseum, which is worth a visit.
posted by rjs at 1:29 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Another option is Rotterdam (if you're willing to pay a few euros extra, a high-speed train will take you there in a little over 30 minutes). It's very modern (since much of it was destroyed in WWII) with several good museums and a totally different vibe from Amsterdam. The next stop on that same high-speed train will take you to Breda, which is a nice historical city and which will give you a taste of what the southern part of the Netherlands is like.

Also, Maastricht is great, but if you find the train ride a bit much you can get off the train at Den Bosch (or 's-Hertogenbosch, as it's sometimes called). It has the same southern vibe, but it's considerably closer to Amsterdam.
posted by rjs at 1:40 PM on July 20, 2015

Best answer: Come to The Hague! We have no dumbass stoned tourists (just entitled anglophone expats). We also have the Vredespalais and the Gemeentemuseum and maybe hit me up and after work we'll come out and have beers on a boat in the Brouwersgracht or something.
posted by sldownard at 1:57 PM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you go to Rotterdam have lunch at Hotel New York. You can even get water taxis to take you there.
posted by Mac-Expert at 2:29 PM on July 20, 2015

Best answer: Please go to The Hague and visit the breathtakingly wonderful Panorama Mesdag. It's not outdoors, but your eyes will insist otherwise, and it's far less crowded on a sunny day than the beach it depicts.

And you could also go to the Mauritshuis, where you will find three Vermeers, including the Girl with a Pearl Earring and my personal favourite, the View of Delft, whose sky is luminously beautiful.

In Amsterdam itself, I rather liked the Amsterdam Museum (I think!) for its room holding both historical objects and paintings depicting those same objects. And this astonishing townhouse with its surprise attic church.

Gouda and Delft are very pretty, but Delft in particular might be heaving with tourists.

Alternatively, shifting away from history and museums and indeed towns: in two and a half hours, via train and ferry, you could get to the island of Texel. It's a refreshing contrast to the city.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:41 PM on July 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

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