If you love the city of  Amsterdam, you’ll almost certainly fall for some of the other historic towns in the Netherlands. Criss-crossed with canals and crammed with historic buildings, they make easy and rewarding day trips from the capital. Just hop on a train at Amsterdam’s Centraal station. Once you've had your fill of Amsterdam's famous coffee houses, Rembrandts and risque red light area, these are the places for a great out-of-town daytrip:

The Hague
The Hague (Den Haag) remains the centre of Holland’s political life. Home to the Peace Palace and the International Court of Justice, it’s also where the Dutch parliament meets.

The 18th century Lange Voorhout Palace showcases the works of world-famous Dutch graphic artist Escher, while Mauritshuis displays works of the old Dutch and Flemish masters, including Rembrandt, Rubens and  Vermeer. For Mondriaan and Monet, head to the city’s Municipal Museum.

Hop on a tram, and you’ll arrive at the seaside resort of Scheveningen – a mecca for sailing and kite surfing in summer. There’s a Sealife Centre if you’d sooner get to know life in the North Sea while staying dry, and a great collection of sculptures dramatically set by the sea.

Home town to the Dutch painter Vermeer (of Girl with the Pearl Earring fame), Delft is within easy reach of The Hague. You can follow the Vermeer trail around the city to see the scenes depicted in some of his great works. Round it off with a peep inside the Vermeer centre, where you’ll find a multimedia presentation about the artist’s work, life and the 17th-century Delft he lived in.

Delft is also a university town laden with restaurants, cafes and pubs. Wander round its pretty canals and centuries-old houses before stopping off in the old market square at one of the Dutch cafés. It’s also a place to shop for the city’s famous blue and white Delftware china.

Historic Utrecht is another great Dutch city to roam around in. Pedestrian quaysides and cafes line its network of 14th century sunken canals, and a candlelit dinner beside the water will give you the full flavour. 

You can climb the 465 steps up the Dom Tower for a bird’s eye view, before stopping off at the Musical Clock to Street Organ museum. Its collection ranges from music boxes and pianolas to street and fairground organs – many still churning out classical waltzes and medleys. 
Alkmaar is the Netherlands’ big cheese town, and between April and September you can visit the city’s famous 400-year-old cheese market every Friday. Giant cheeses are carted off on barrows after being weighed, and a cheese museum tells the full story. Alkmaar’s historic centre is a feast of canals and old facades, with pavement cafes, coffee houses and – at regular intervals – Cheese Town Jazz.


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