Amsterdam is easily one of the most popular locations in Europe to enjoy a city break. Not only is it endlessly charming, with its network of canals and toy-town architecture, it also has excellent shopping and an enviable café culture. It is also one of the best places to get immersed in football.
Home to AFC Ajax, one of Europe’s most successful football clubs, the Amsterdam Arena will see thousands of fans embark on the city to watch them play in the UEFA Europa League, while enjoying Dutch hospitality.
There is plenty in the city to occupy first time visitors, but with the arena being situated south of the city, just far enough from the tourist throng that fans attending the games are perfectly placed to enjoy a Dutch road trip.
If you want to find a bar to watch a live match, why not visit The Satellite Sports Café at Leidesplein. Open from 9am until late, serving everything from an English breakfast to Dutch pancakes, beers and ribs!
Even for those who have already experienced the laid-back vibes of ‘The Dam’, there is a whole lot more to explore just a short distance from the city. Why not hire a car and discover some of these lesser-known gems at your own pace? "
Take the road north from Amsterdam into the beautiful Dutch countryside, crisscrossed with rivers and canals and peppered with colourful wooden houses. A quick half an hour journey will bring you to the iconic Zaanse Schans windmills, which stand tall amongst the flat green land. This traditional village has retained its original charm since the 18th and 19th centuries, and many of its windmills have been meticulously restored to become museums that showcase the region’s history.
If you happen to be travelling on a Friday during spring and summer, don’t miss the weekly Friday morning cheese market in the town of Alkmaar, around half an hour north of Zaanse Schans. Thousands of visitors from all over the world gather to buy arts, crafts and of course that irresistible Dutch cheese. Fun fact: cheese and football are a traditional combination for Dutch football fans. They watch the games in traditional pubs, called ‘brown pubs’ for their dark interior, and enjoy cubes of cheese with their beer as they cheer for the large TV-screens.
For those not travelling on a Friday, there is still plenty to explore north of Amsterdam, including the charismatic fishing village of Volendam, with row upon row of peaked red roofs giving the feeling of having landed in a toy town. Stop for lunch at Paviljoen Smit Bokkum for fresh seafood and a friendly atmosphere.
When the sun shines, take a walk along the boulevard of Scheveningen. It’s just a short ride from Amsterdam, but the town has a hugely popular beach among football fans. Take a walk to the pier, enjoy a dip in the sea, or join one of the many football games along the shore. There are also dozens of places to rest and sip a drink or two with a view of the sea. If the weather forecast is less favourable, shelter indoors in one of its many museums such as Museum Beelden Aan Zee, with its large collection of sculptures, or the miniature-scale village of Madurodam.
From Scheveningen, take the short drive to the nearby city of Delft. You won’t be able to miss the intricately painted white and blue pottery on display in almost every shop in the city, finished with characteristically Dutch scenes including windmills, flowers and ships.
Rotterdam is a truly unique city, as its brilliant innovative architecture and artsy vibe give it a fantastically unique and thrilling raison d'être.
A walk along the River Meuse quickly uncovers why Rotterdam is considered to be The Netherlands’ second city. The 149-metre skyscraper ‘De Rotterdam’, the curved Markthal (market hall) and the mind-bending Cube Houses all offer a different architectural experience.
If a good walk around the mighty architecture builds your appetite, sit down at one of Rotterdam’s hippest eateries dotted throughout the aptly-named ‘Cool District’. For a quick, cheap and filling lunch try the pizzas at Sugo Aert van Nesstraat, or for a dinner with punch head to Bazar, a Middle Eastern restaurant with a menu as eye-catching as its décor. If you like to finish the evening in one of Rotterdam’s many football-loving pubs, beware that you don’t name Ajax as they are the biggest rivals of the town’s favourite PSV.
Tulips are just about as Dutch as canals and clogs, so if the season is right then a visit to one of its colourfully carpeted tulip fields is a must-do.
Keukenhof, known as the ‘Garden of Europe’ is just a 45-minute drive from Amsterdam in the city of Lisse, and this enormous garden is filled to the brim with over 7 million bulbs.
Between March and May, the tulips bloom into a kaleidoscope of colour, drawing hundreds of thousands of admirers from across the globe. Inside each of the three main pavilions, 30 flower and plant shows take place every year. They are among the finest flower shows in the world and will leave you with even better profile pictures.
So if you are just looking for travel inspiration while visiting Amsterdam this year to enjoy sporting glory, then we hope these beautiful day trips from Amsterdam have you ready to hit the road.