Amsterdam is famous for many things, but tourists tend to get so caught up in the city centre that they miss out on all the hidden gems not too far from it (bonus: these gems don’t set you back too much).
All about that beach
Only a short cycle away, Bloemendaal aan Zee is the beach to be. By day, this beach is the perfect spot to dip your toes in the North Sea and is characterised by cool beach bars and clubs, along with regular live bands and DJs. As soon as the sun sets, the beach is transformed into a dance floor and offers one of the most vibrant party atmospheres in Amsterdam. If you’re particularly adventurous, there’s the option of nude sunbathing a little further up the shore.
Whether you’re a history buff or not, few things are as mind-blowing as exploring an actual castle, and Amsterdam is in no short supply of these picturesque fairytale fortresses. Muiderslot Castle is one of the most extravagant medieval castles and even features a drawbridge, battlements and a moat, all of which have been restored to their former glory. The castle is transformed into a stunning concert venue in the summertime, and features the musical talents of young international musicians all on their way to filling Europe’s major concert halls.
Embrace your inner Bond
Maybe castles aren’t really your scene? That’s where Fort Pampus comes in. Hop on a ferry and head to this James Bond-esque fortress which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island has a mysterious air about it and can be discovered on a historical day trip. Depending on when you’re there, the island is transformed for many different events and festivals throughout the year.
Think of Haarlem as the Brooklyn, NY of Amsterdam. Filled with dozens of artisanal cafés, restaurants, markets and boutique stores, you’ll definitely find you have some of your best shopping experiences in Haarlem, and will be left dreaming of the delightful pastries and bistro-style food you encounter. There is also a Jazz and Music Festival every year, which sees the main square packed with other excited youngsters. It’s a great place to experience the music scene and meet new people. If that’s not enough, it also boasts title of one of the most photogenic destinations in the Netherlands, which means you’ll leave with an Instagram account chock-full of new memories. For an especially unique experience, go beer tasting in the former church where you can sample beers made using local, medieval recipes.
The flower strip
Who needs the sunset strip when you've got the flower strip to enjoy? Springtime sees the Amsterdam area in full bloom with fields of tulips, all begging to be the backdrop of your latest selfie. You can walk through the fields or rent a bike (for the ultimate Amsterdam experience), and take in the incredible colours and smells that surround you. One of the most visited attractions in all of Europe, the fields are a must when it comes to ticking the simpler things off of your bucket list.
There you have it! Amsterdam has so much to do in and around the city, that a “day” tour hardly seems like enough time to see it all. Many of the attractions are affordable (and sometimes even free), and all promise to be memorable.
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