12 Day Trips from Utrecht
Utrecht is one of the best cities from which to explore the Netherlands, which was one of the reasons why I decided to go there on exchange. Although it’s smaller than Amsterdam, its train station is the largest and busiest in the Netherlands. This makes it the perfect base from which to travel throughout the country!
Note: I haven’t given too many specifics about each location, as everyone has different interests. I would recommend using this website to research what there is to do in each place. Also, most cities have a weekly market, so if you’d like to visit them be sure to check what day it’s on before going.
My first day trip from Utrecht was to Dordrecht, the oldest city in the Netherlands. It isn’t very big, and its streets and buildings are picturesque. It also has a rich maritime history and its harbour is filled with beautiful modern and historic boats.
The Hague (and Scheveningen)
The Hague (Den Haag in Dutch) is the political capital of the Netherlands. Here, you can visit the International Court of Justice and the Peace Palace, as well as see the Dutch parliament buildings. From the city centre it’s less than an hour by public transit to get to Scheveningen, a popular white sandy beach.
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Amsterdam. Although I love its museums, it’s incredibly crowded all throughout the year. I liked being able to visit for a few hours and then return home to quieter Utrecht.
Netherlands Open Air Museum in Arnhem
My friend Emma and I spent a day at the Netherlands Open Air Museum and it was so fun! It gives a great overview of key moments in Dutch history and has lots of interactive exhibits. Although we didn’t get to see much of the city of Arnhem itself, I’ve heard it’s also worth a visit.
Delft is one of my favourite cities in the Netherlands. It has a fascinating history, and its streets and buildings are beautiful!
Haarlem (and Zandvoort aan Zee)
Haarlem is a great city to do a day trip to. It’s a quick train ride away from Amsterdam, and there is so much to do! I would highly recommend the Teylers Museum a beautiful art, natural history, and science museum. Zandvoort aan Zee is another beautiful white sandy beach only 10 minutes by train from Haarlem.
Keukenhof is probably the most touristy place you can go to in the Netherlands. Cheryl and I cycled there from Leiden, but were pretty disappointed with the gardens themselves. It was so crowded! We preferred cycling through the forest and stopping at the tulip fields in the surrounding area – I’d recommend spending an entire day doing just that if you’re in the Netherlands during spring time.
Amersfoort is another typical Dutch city, with beautiful canals, buildings, and great shops. It also has a rich history, with city gates dating from around the 15th Century.
Rotterdam is unique among the other cities on this list because it was bombed in World War II. As a result, there are very few historic buildings and pretty streets like in most other Dutch cities. It’s an incredibly interesting place to visit, and I’d recommend doing a boat tour of the Port of Rotterdam – it’s the largest in the world!
Gouda is a small and popular town. It has a weekly cheese market and show in the summer months which draws tons of tourists. But in my opinion, it’s better to buy cheese at the regular markets – it’s cheaper and you have more to choose from!
Leiden reminded me of Utrecht in terms of its size and student vibe, but it has a much bigger Saturday market!
I hope this list is helpful for anyone planning to go an exchange or even just travel to the Netherlands. If you think there are other places that need to be added to the list, leave a comment below!