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One of the big advantages of traveling within the Netherlands, outside massive amounts of cheese and overall awesomeness, is the proximity to, well, everything.

Because if you’ve looked at a European map, chances are you’ve either:

  • Noticed how small the Netherlands are, or…
  • That you just haven’t seen them at all (true story).

It’s always a weirdly fun feeling for me, a Canadian, to visit a country that’s precisely 240 times smaller than my own. The sheer idea of crossing an entire country in just a few hours is normally something I would snort at – but not in the Netherlands. If you plan on spending a fair amount of time in Rotterdam, it might be worth planning a few extra day trips. Not only because there are is a surprisingly large amount of things to see and do in such a tiny weeny country, but also because they are ALL easily accessible by rail, by car or even by bicycle if your calves can take it.

But as it turns out, mine can’t. I’m lazy like that.

So I opted to travel by rail. Again, thanks to the size of the country, traveling by train in the Netherlands is relatively cheap when compared to other, larger countries like France or Germany, and also, incredibly easy and hassle-free. Most trains are of the fast Inter-City type, don’t require reservations and have FREE WIFI. I’m not sure what more a traveler can ask for.


View Day Trips From Rotterdam in a larger map

7 Easy Day trips from Rotterdam

day trips from rotterdam

Delft: 1 train ride – 15 minutes

I’ve talked quite extensively about Delft before, and I stand by what I said. If you only had one day trip to do, I strongly advise you pick Delft. The cobblestone alleys, the colorful facades and the quaint, narrow canals are pretty much all the iconic sights of the Netherlands in a nutshell.

The Hague: 1 train ride – 20 minutes

The Netherland’s very own seaside resort! But far from being labeled a party town, The Hague is actually dubbed the “judicial capital of the world” due to the many international courts located in the city. As opposed to Amsterdam where foreigners are most likely tourists, The Hague has a thriving expatriate community and a slight international feel, as it is the seat of many international organizations and institutions. It’s Β also the seat of the Dutch government, despite not being the capital of the Netherlands. Between the business-y downtown area and the resort party-goers, it definitely makes for an original atmosphere!

day trips from Rotterdam

Kinderdijk: 2 waterbus rides – 1 hour

Can you say corny Holland? Corny, touristy, call it what you want, but few places in the world are as charming and picturesque as Kinderdijk. Β The journey itself isn’t fantastic but the reward is oh so worth it. Β The 19 historic windmills date back to 1740 and have been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997 – and consequently, are one of the most visited landmarks in all of the Netherlands.

day trips from Rotterdam

Amsterdam: 1 train ride – 1h15

Why the hell not? If you chose to spend more time in artsy and modern Rotterdam rather than in the capital, that doesn’t mean you should skip it altogether. Amsterdam is very busy, and sometimes quite disturbing, but also undeniably beautiful in its own chaotic, maze-like way. Whether you opt to sin in the Red Light District or visit one of the world-class museums, there options are pretty much endless here.

day trips from Rotterdam

Gouda: 1 train ride – 20 minutes

Despite living in France, my absolute favorite cheese in the world in gouda (and I’m pretty sure I can be convicted of treason for writing that on the Interwebs). It was unthinkable for me to be so close to the town and not visit – and I’m very happy I did. Vaguely similar to Delft in terms of size and charm, it offers a wide array of shops where you can buy locally-made cheeses, available in a variety of flavors. Also, make sure to attend the hourly chimes concert at the Stadhuis in the main square.

Utrecht: 1 train ride – 1 hour

One of the Netherland’s busiest student city, Utrecht has an incredibly cool nightlife with many inexpensive dining or drinking options. Β It also happens to be the country’s center of catholic religion, there are many exceptionally beautiful and ancient churches to visit. And lastly,with an exceptionally small yet fascinating city center, it’s one of the most walkable cities in the Netherlands and definitely make for a nice, laid-back day trip out of Rotterdam.

Have you visited the Netherlands outside the main cities? What is your favorite day trip?

Disclaimer: my train pass was provided by Eurail.com, but as always, all opinions are my own. But you know how easy it is to win me over with free wifi…

13 comments

  1. Comment by Angela

    Angela Reply June 19, 2013 at 9:02 am

    What about Dordrecht? Only a 15 minute trainride! It is Holland’s oldest town and it has a pretty awesome city center (i’m not just saying this because I have lived there my whole life, it really is a nice city!)

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply June 27, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      Ohhh I didn’t hear about Dordrecht! Sounds fabulous!

  2. Comment by Julika

    Julika Reply June 19, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Great recommendations! I visited Utrecht last month and just loved it — it was everything I imagined Holland to be like!

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply June 27, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      Glad you liked Utrecht! Such a beautiful city :)

  3. Comment by Anita

    Anita Reply June 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Rotterdam is on the top of my travel wish-list. Thanks for the helpful tips :)

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply June 27, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      You’re welcome! Such a big amount of things to do around there.

  4. Comment by Abby

    Abby Reply June 24, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    Not sure if I should admit this, but I didn’t know Gouda was a town!

    • Comment by Marie-Eve Vallieres

      Marie-Eve Vallieres Reply June 27, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      To be honest I didn’t know either until I googled it!

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  6. Comment by Maxine

    Maxine Reply September 11, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Delft is OK for a day trip But I definitely wouldn’t rate it over Amsterdam and Utrecht!

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  8. Comment by Stacey

    Stacey Reply March 28, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    Oh now you’ve just made my decisions harder! :-) I’ll be in Rotterdam on business this summer and was initially thinking of heading out of the city for the whole weekend but with our crazy travel schedule I’m thinking some day trips from Rotterdam with our home base hotel to come home to will be a little less tiring. I’ve been to Amsterdam a couple of times so that one is easy to take a pass on this trip but the others area all contenders now. The waterbuses sound interesting, especially as we’ll have likely had our fill of trains by this point in the trip. hmm…

    • Comment by Marie-Eve

      Marie-Eve Reply March 31, 2015 at 8:07 am

      Yes, Rotterdam is the perfect base for daytrips around Holland. Delft was my favorite, and the windmills a close second.

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