Day trips just two hours from AmsterdamDate: 29 Oct 2017
Amsterdammers prefer to stay in Amsterdam. And given that you can now consider yourself a local, the same probably applies to you too. Regardless of how long you decide to stay in Wittenberg, there will always be another restaurant worth trying out, a new exhibition you’ll want to visit, a concert you’d love to attend and a park you’d like to walk in. You certainly don't have to leave Amsterdam to have a good time, but it is certainly worth your while and easier than you might think to take a trip beyond thecity limits. A 30-minute trip will have you dipping your toes in the sea and a mere two-hour journey could see you sampling beers in Belgium. Below we will highlight five unique destinations for a memorable day out, all easily accessible from your home in Amsterdam. So don't be afraid to spread your wings, because after a busy day exploring away from this beautiful city, the prospect of returning to the peace and quiet of Wittenberg will seem even more enticing.
Coast of North Holland
The waters of the North Sea are not exactly azure blue and you won't find any palm trees along the coast either. However, the Netherlands is definitely a top destination for beach lovers. The North Sea coast boasts mile after mile of sandy beaches bordered by grassy dunes. A trip to the coast is a must for sun lovers, sandcastle builders, avid hikers and aquaholic surfers alike. From Amsterdam Central Station it is only half an hour by train to Zandvoort aan Zee. When the weather gets very hot, the beaches can be quite busy, but if you are a fan of people watching you will have no problem amusing yourself on the veranda of one of the many bars and restaurants. A good long walk up the beach or a short bus ride will take you to Bloemendaal aan Zee, where the beach clubs are popular dancing spots at the weekend. Need to get away from the bustling crowd? Right next to the beaches you will find the Zuid Kennemerland National Park, a terrific place to take a walk, far removed from the beach bodies and surrounded by deer, wild horses, foxes, birds, a startling variety of plants and 17th century estates. If you’ve experienced both Zandvoort and Bloemendaal and are looking for something even quieter, you can always try the coastal resorts of Bergen, Egmond, Castricum, Noordwijk or Wijk aan Zee, all of which are within one hour's drive of Amsterdam.
The Intercity Direct takes only 42 minutes to cover the distance between Amsterdam and Rotterdam. One look at the respective train stations is all you need to see just how much the largest cities in the Netherlands contrast each other. Amsterdam, whose station dates back to 1889, owes much of its charm to its historic city centre. However the new Rotterdam Central Station was opened in 2014 and is a reflection of the rest of the city: modern, spacious and transparent. Rotterdam and its port were heavily bombed during the Second World War, so the city lost some of its historical buildings and heritage. But ‘roll up your sleeves and get stuck in!’ is the motto in Rotterdam and after the war the city went through a phase of rebuilding - in which innovation and space were the crucial ingredients. Today the pre-war buildings contrast starkly with the modern high-rise developments. Go Dutch and hire a bike at the station and pedal your way around the city's art and architecture, making the necessary culinary stops along the way, of course. Admire the city's architectural masterpieces, like the Markthal and the Cube Houses. Cycle across the iconic bridge, the Erasmusbrug, and enjoy the view from the top of the 185-metre-high Euromast. It never gets too crowded anywhere in Rotterdam and the city always allows ample room for those who like to wander, explore and take it all in. No wonder the city has such a thriving art scene. You will find many excellent galleries and museums, including the Kunsthal and the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum.
The Wadden Islands seem to have a magical effect on the modern, busy mind. You begin to notice it on the ferry and before you know what's hit you, you find yourself submitting to its irresistible invitation: relax. Once on board you have no choice but to wind down and the crossing from Den Helder to Vlieland takes 90 minutes. Just enough time to read the newspaper, catch up with an old friend or stare out over the waters of the Wad in blissful silence. You might even spot a seal or two enjoying some sunbathing. If, however, you are in a hurry to get to the island, there is always the fast ferry, which will take you across in only 45 minutes. Vlieland is the smallest of the five Dutch Wadden Islands that are still inhabited. It is the furthest one from the coast and, at a height of 45 metres, it also boasts the highest sand dune. Vlieland is small enough to explore in one day and large enough to get lost in the peace and quiet. It is a popular holiday destination for Dutch celebrities, but the island has retained its authenticity nonetheless. Dedicate a day to this stunning place - take the first boat out and the last boat back. That will give you a total of eight hours to fill with walking or cycling, birdwatching, a swim in the sea, a lunch of fresh mussels and a stroll around the village.
Art in the grasslands
One of the largest private art collections of the 20th century and the second largest collection of Van Goghs in the world, you can experience masterpieces by modern greats like Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondriaan. This is also one of the largest sculpture gardens in Europe, including sculptures by Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepwort. Genuine art lovers will probably be making their way as we speak to the Kröller-Müller Museum, the awe-inspiring lifework of Helene Kröller-Müller. Together with her husband, Anton Kröller, she acquired almost 11,500 works of art between 1907 and 1922. In 1938 they opened the museum in the beautiful natural surroundings of the Hoge Veluwe Park, wishing to share their private collection with the rest of the world. It is more than worth your while to take the time before or after your visit to the museum to explore the Hoge Veluwe on a free-to-rent bicycle. This natural park boasts landscapes ranging from forest and heather to grasslands and sand drifts, as well as a bewildering variety of wildlife, including fritillary butterflies and red deer. The journey from Wittenberg to the museum takes just one hour and forty minutes by car.
Our southern neighbours
The Dutch like to tell jokes about the Belgians (and vice versa) but the truth is that we are very fond of our southern neighbours. Antwerp, for example, is a city that the Dutch love to visit. Antwerp, for example, is a city that the Dutch love to visit – and not without reason. This lovely Flemish town is only two hours away by train, its citizens have a more carefree approach to life than we do in the north, it is home to a number of fabulous fashion houses (including Dries van Nooten and Ann Demeulemeester, to name but two), there are countless unique boutiques alongside all the major names in fashion, there is the MAS Museum and lastly, a magnificent view from its 10th floor.
To be honest, we would gladly set out for Antwerp if for no other reason than to enjoy a fabulous shrimp croquette washed down by a glass of Belgian beer. And also because, even though it's right next door, it really does feel like you are in a foreign country.
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