There is plenty to see in laid-back Amsterdam, from world-class museums to vintage markets and more canals than Venice. And if that is not enough, any of the suggestions below make a diverting day trip from the city of cool.Keukenhof Gardens
If you’re visiting Amsterdam in spring, a day trip to Keukenhof Gardens near Lisse is an absolute must. They only open for a couple of months a year and always produce a miraculous psychedelic carpet of color from the seven million bulbs planted here, with some 100 varieties of tulip as well as daffodils and hyacinths. The gardens are under an hour from Amsterdam and there is a direct bus from Schiphol Airport Plaza.Kinderdijk
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kinderdijk consists of 19 wooden windmills—once there were 150—and pumping stations dating from the 18th century, built to drain water from the polders as land was reclaimed from the North Sea. Well below sea level, the mills march towards the horizon on either side of the dyke. One mill is open to the public, comprising a small museum revealing the cramped living quarters, primitive kitchen, pumping equipment. Boat trips and walks around Kinderdijk produce a mass of photo opportunities on a great day trip from Amsterdam.
Holland in One Day
The opportunity to explore Delft, Rotterdam, and The Hague in a packed day includes a visit to the world-famous blue-and-white pottery Delftse Pauw factory in Delft and a trip up the 700-f00t (185-meter) Euromast for panoramas over the striking contemporary architecture of Rotterdam city center. The whistle-stop trip from Amsterdam takes in a drive past The Hague’s major sights, including the Peace Palace and Houses of Parliament and a final stop visiting the Madurodam to admire the major attractions of the Netherlands in miniature.
Brussels and Antwerp
Antwerp is the hub of funky designers and diamond traders, cobbled squares, gabled medieval buildings, and Europe’s largest harbor as well as Baroque churches designed by Peter Paul Rubens and the innovative Museum Aan de Stroom (MAS). For a day trip it’s easy to combine Antwerp and Brussels from Amsterdam, with it medieval center, Art Nouveau mansions, and flamboyant Royal Quarter, which contrast with the glittering skyscrapers of the EU headquarters.
Time has stood still in miniature Bruges, over the border in Belgium and crammed with ancient churches, a smattering of museums, and palaces looming over canals. The two great central squares of Markt—dominated by the 260-foot (80-meter) belfry of the 13th-century Belfort—and Burg offer some of the best medieval architecture in Belgium. Boat trips explore the canals, and there are plenty of restaurants in which to enjoy moules-frites washed down with Belgian beer.