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Utrecht, Netherlands

5 picturesque Dutch towns under an hour from Amsterdam

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Here’s a challenge. Think of something you associate with the Netherlands that starts with the letter T.

Town houses?


Tall people?

Those are all great – but if you’re flying from London Southend Airport to Amsterdam in under an hour, you’re missing the best one. 

Trains! Once you land, you’ve got the whole country right on your doorstep. 

The Netherlands has a world-class rail system that, frankly, puts Britain’s to shame. That might be bad news for your delayed daily commute back home, but it’s fantastic news for tourists hoping to see more of what the Netherlands has to offer.

We’ve put together a list of some of the best locations to visit from Amsterdam – all of which are an hour or less from the Dutch capital by train! 


25 minutes from Amsterdam Central Station

Utrecht is the quintessential blueprint for picturesque Dutch cities. A mediaeval old town? Check. Gorgeous tree-lined canals? Check. Botanical gardens? Cosy cafes? Tall, wonky town houses? Absoluut.

Some people think of Utrecht as Amsterdam-lite. In reality, it takes some of the capital’s most charming features and cuts back on the hustle and bustle, making it perfect if you’re looking for the Dutch city experience without the crowds. Don’t miss the iconic Dom Tower, the tallest church tower in the Netherlands, offering breathtaking views of the city and surrounding countryside.


30 minutes from Amsterdam Sloterdijk

Home to the Netherlands oldest university and the works of some of the great Dutch Masters, Leiden is a thriving intellectual and artistic hub – and a perfect relaxing getaway.

The city prides itself as the home to the young Rembrandt, many of whose world-famous paintings The Museum de Lakenhal. Leiden is overlooked by the Burcht, an 11th century fort sitting on an artificial hill in what is now a public park, and boasts several museums including the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (the museum of antiquities) and the Boerhaave Museum (a science museum with some of the oldest microscopes and telescopes ever made). If you’re feeling a more leisurely pace, take a stroll along the picturesque canals and admire the historic windmills dotting the landscape.


1 hour from Amsterdam Sloterdijk

Delft is a small city that was once the home of the House of Orange, the Dutch family which would one day take over the British crown during the Glorious Revolution. The city’s royal roots show, with historic buildings galore dating back to the 17th century.

Delft is also famous for its ceramic blue pottery – known as Delft Blue Pottery – its almost unbeatable ambience, and as the home of Johannes Vermeer, painter of “Girl with a Pearl Earring”. Explore the charming Markt square, visit the Nieuwe Kerk where members of the royal family are buried, and wander through the tranquil Prinsenhof garden.

The Hague

50 minutes from Amsterdam Sloterdijk

The political heart of the Netherlands, The Hague is home to the Dutch parliament, the royal palace, and the International Court of Justice.

Look behind that governmental grandeur, however, and the Hague offers plenty of tranquil parks, elegant boulevards and a vibrant cultural scene. Explore world-class museums, stroll along the scenic Scheveningen beach, or wander through the charming cobblestone streets of the historic city centre.


1 hour from Amsterdam Sloterdijk

If it’s a sunny day out, you can’t go wrong visiting Katwijk aan Zee (Katwijk-upon-Sea). Great beaches, great shopping, and – if you’re looking for a bit of exercise – a wide range of watersports.

Rent a raft or banana boat or opt for something a little more adventurous with surfing and wind-sailing. Explore the Katwijks Museum to learn about the town’s rich maritime history and enjoy fresh seafood at one of the local restaurants overlooking the North Sea.

You’ll have to keep an eye on the weather to make your visit to Katwijk worthwhile, but that’s the beauty of the trains in the Netherlands – with all these places under an hour away, you can afford to improvise. 

When you fly from London Southend Airport to Amsterdam, you’ve got so much more within reach than the city itself. Get more from your next holiday when you fly with Southend.


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