Amsterdam is a destination site with so much to explore there is no need to venture beyond its canals. But if you have time or special interests, here are some day trips that might well top your list of favorites.
Imagine a warehouse that sells 20 million plants and flowers each day (more than 12 billion a year). Chances are you can’t. The fourth largest building in the world, the flower market spans 10.6 million square feet (243 acres). That in itself is worth a stop.
You can reach the market by car. Parking is free. If you take the bus you will be dropped at the front door. Do arrive by 7am or soon after to get the full impact of this international flower trading center.
Most visitors opt for a self-guided tour via a balcony overlooking the noisy flower floor. In addition to marveling at intense beehive activity (that seems to be understood only by the bees), you can watch the buying process in the auction halls. A second option is a guided tour that must be arranged by appointment.
Observing a flower market that sends 20 million plants to customers around the world every 24-hours gives you much to think, wonder, and talk about. Did I mention the aroma? After our morning at Aalsmeer, I marvel at the idea that the flowers I’m buying were growing in Europe just yesterday. Today they grace my dining room table. As we were leaving Logan said, “That was awesome!”. We gave the Aalsmeer Flower Market 5 stars.
Address: George Maduroplein 1 2584 The Hague, The Netherlands
Phone: 31 70 416 24 00
Hours: Daily 10am – 7pm
Admission: Adults/children €16.50
Children under three free
Madurodam is a miniature park featuring 1:25-scale replicas of important Dutch landmarks. Buildings are landscaped with tiny trees, flowers, and bushes in such realistic arrangements you feel like Gulliver in Lilliput. If you had only one day to visit The Netherlands, you’d see most of the country’s icons here.
There are three theme areas, City Centre, Water World, and Innovation Island, that are supported by various cafés, shops, and a romp and stomp playground.
Madurodam is easily accessible by car or public transport.
The overall rating for this visit is impossible to post because we didn’t have enough stars. Truth be told, if we hadn’t had return airline tickets there’s a good chance we’d still be at Madurodam. Need I say more?
Address: Schansend 1, 1509 AW Zaandam,The Netherlands
Phone: 31 75 681 0000
Hours: Daily 10am – 5pm
Admission: Adults €11.50
Children (4-17) €7
Different packages available
Zaanse Schans is an open air museum. The authentic collection of houses, windmills, warehouses and workshops offers a glimpse of life in the 18th and 19th centuries. This area, known as Western Europe’s oldest industrial site, once claimed more than 600 windmills that produced a wide range of industrial products.
The museum was established in 1961 as buildings were relocated piece by piece, and has grown ever since. Our day of discovery provided a variety of activities including craft demonstrations, museum visits, duck feeding, and yet another order of pannenkoeken (Dutch pancakes). Highlights included watching the making of wooden shoes and observing the placement and sawing of a log at Het Jonge Schaap. Prior to our trip we had watched a DVD detailing the rebuilding of this windmill using blueprints, tools, and techniques from the original construction.
Some people might schedule several hours here. We had no problem spending the entire day. We’re getting low on stars. Had to give this trip five.