What to do with 3 days outside Amsterdam?
May 27, 2006 3:27 PM   Subscribe

In The Netherlands for a few days, what to see outside Amsterdam?

I'm flying out to The Netherlands next week for the Pinkpop festival (subject of a previous AskMe) and have a few free days in my schedule from Tuesday the 6th to Friday the 9th. I've been to Amsterdam a couple times and would like to get outside of the city (plus I don't want the friend I'm visiting to feel like he has to entertain me the whole time I'm there).

If the weather is nice, I'm hoping to rent a bike and tour the country. Any route suggestions?

What's a good backup plan if the weather's going to be terrible?
posted by justkevin to Travel & Transportation around Amsterdam, The Netherlands (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I lived in Groningen for a year. It's a very pleasant college town in the north, about three hours from Amsterdam by train. You could also go to Belgium and explore Brussels or Brouge, both of which are beautiful.
posted by bingo at 4:07 PM on May 27, 2006

Some quite superficial observations from a trip a few years ago: Bruges (or Brugge, as it's spelled by Dutch and Flemish speakers) is a beautiful historic town. Brussels has one nice square, and otherwise is filled with Euro-bureaucrats. Gouda is a nice small Dutch town with a giant cheese in the central square.
posted by teaperson at 4:12 PM on May 27, 2006

If you're on the train: Delft. Den Haag. Maastricht. The Kröller-Müller museum. Biking? I'd stick with shorter trips, given your timetable, but there are a few suggested routes here.

Take a train to another city, hire a bike from the station, bob's yer uncle. Or take the train out to De Hoge Veluwe (the park in which the KMM is situated), use one of the free bikes provided, and have the best of both worlds.
posted by holgate at 4:54 PM on May 27, 2006

Den Haag
posted by caddis at 5:34 PM on May 27, 2006

Harlem is a beautiful little city, only a half hour or so on the train.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:56 PM on May 27, 2006

Absolutely visit Utrecht -- an easy/fast train ride and a really wonderful calm vibe, very unlike Amsterdam (very non-touristy). The National Museum of Mechanical Instruments in Utrecht is really fun and eye-opening if you're into music and/or mechanical stuff.

I second the Brugge recommendation -- it's farther away (a few hours by train), but it's GORGEOUS, like the perfect embodiment of postcardy Medieval Europe. Also there's amazing chocolate there.

Outstanding youth hostel in Utrecht: Strowis. (My favorite of all hostels in 6 countries.) Good hostel in Brugge: Passage.
posted by allterrainbrain at 6:25 PM on May 27, 2006

Do what the Dutch do to get away: Hit the beach at Scheveningen. Although it's a bit early to fry your dermis, next week offers both a regatta and a sand sculpture competition.
posted by rob511 at 6:55 PM on May 27, 2006

Rotterdam is worthy of a day or two.
posted by travosaurus at 9:39 PM on May 27, 2006

Several good suggestions here. There are several cities within an hour's train ride from Amsterdam that are far les touristy, and have a very different vibe.

The Hague: seat of the government. Also: lots of parks and close to the beach (Scheveningen). 45 minutes by train. On the train ride between Amsterdam and The Hague is Leiden, which is also worth a visit, if only for the ancient art museum.

Rotterdam: a lot of interesting modern architecture, as much of the city was destroyed in WW II. Good modern art museums. About an hour by train.

Utrecht: mellow student's city. Apart from the museum of mechanical musical instruments that was mentioned above it also has a museum with a huge collection of religious art, in case you're into that sort of thing. About 30 minutes by train.

A bit farther out are Maastricht, which will make you think you're in another country altogether, and Zaltbommel, that you can reach by train from Utrecht, a nice, smallish town that has several fine examples of Dutch Renaissance architecture.
posted by rjs at 12:11 AM on May 28, 2006

Indeed, the Hoge Veluwe is very nice for cycling to see the typical heidegebied (heather I think) that's the result of too much agriculture in the 19th century and is maintained nowadays because it's so picturesque.

If you want to see old-fashioned duingebied (dunes) you can rent a bike in Scheveningen (near Den Haag) and go a bit north through the dunes. You'll be leaving the commercial touristtrap atmosphere pretty soon and can make some stops at places where the beach is idyllic and peaceful, eat something at a strandtent (beach house) or at a former farm Meijendel.
You might encounter nudists at the beach by the way.

If you'd like to see the old typical dutch country-side; old straw-coverd farms, canals, sheep, fruit trees, lakes and very flat land (a lot of it beneath sealevel) you could go to Oudewater, near Gouda, not too far from Den Haag, and rent a bike there. Here are some fietsroutes (bike trails).
It seems all online info on bike trails is in dutch so you might want to google on 'vvv' (tourist office) and the city of your interest and try to call them.
posted by jouke at 5:02 AM on May 28, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions, if anyone comes up with any more before Thursday, feel free to add.
posted by justkevin at 6:41 AM on May 29, 2006

The storm barrier / Delta works / Neeltje Jans at Schouwen Duiveland. Or the Efteling in Kaatsheuvel ( themeparc)
posted by kudzu at 11:38 AM on May 31, 2006

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