I say Holland and you’re probably going to think of windmills, bicycles and cheese. Fair enough, we’ve got all those things in plenty of variations. But you also shouldn’t forget the Netherlands has a coast full of beautiful sandy beaches. You may not associate a trip to Amsterdam with the beach either, but here’s the good news: you can have best of both worlds. If you plan wisely, you can combine all the cultural highlights in the Dutch capital with a day trip from Amsterdam to the Beach in Zandvoort. I’m always surprised by the summer crowds that stay in the city and miss out on all of the seaside magic. Listen to me: don’t be one of those silly tourists! Here’s exactly how to plan your seaside getaway from Amsterdam to the sunniest beaches in Holland.
Planning Your Day Trip to the Beach: Which Beaches are Closest to Amsterdam?
If you’re travelling from Amsterdam, your best seaside options are Zandvoort aan Zee, Bloemendaal aan Zee (popular for beach parties) or Wijk aan Zee (popular among surfers and kitesurfers). Those three beaches in North-Holland are the closest to Amsterdam. There are several beaches in South-Holland that are just as beautiful, like those near Noordwijk aan Zee, but it will take you a bit longer to get there.
Why Choose Zandvoort Beach for Your Day Trip?
Zandvoort is my personal favourite in North-Holland. Mostly because it’s easiest to reach with public transport. It usually takes me forty to fifty minutes to get there from my apartment in the outskirts of Amsterdam. But I also like Zandvoort so much because it has a lively, semi-urban vibe with all the surf schools, seaside restaurants, and delicious ice cream parlors you might be looking for. And there’s a Dirk van der Broek supermarket right next to beach for those on a tighter budget. Picnic on the beach, anyone?
How to get to Zandvoort Beach from Amsterdam
If you’re travelling from the central train station in Amsterdam it will usually only take you about 30 minutes to get to Zandvoort aan Zee. Even if you start your trip from the outskirts in Amsterdam, you should arrive at the beach within an hour. There is a direct train from Amsterdam to Zandvoort aan Zee, but you can also head to Haarlem to switch trains and hop on another train to Zandvoort there. The direct train from Amsterdam to Zandvoort aan Zee also stops at Amsterdam Sloterdijk and Haarlem before it reaches its final stop.
It might be useful to download the NS-app (local train information) or 9292 app (timetables for all public transport in the Netherlands) to plan your trip ahead of time. Essential things to take with you on your day trip to Zandvoort beach are your OV-chip card (if you have one) and a few 50 euro cent coins to pay for potential toilet visits.
Cycling in the Dunes near Zandvoort Beach
Clearly, Zandvoort has all the things you’ll need when you’re planing a day trip from Amsterdam to the beach. You can have a refreshing swim in the North sea, spend an afternoon sunbathing with friends or take your whole family on a day trip. I promise you’ll go home with a smile on your face (and a lot more freckles in my case). However, Zandvoort is also my favourite beach near Amsterdam because the town is smack-bang in the middle of the best coastal landscapes in the Netherlands. You’ll find the beautiful Zuid-Kennemerland National Park to the North of Zandvoort and the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen nature reserve to the South.
Cycling in the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen Nature Reserve
I’ll often take my bicycle with me in the train and cycle back and forth from Zandvoort aan Zee to Noordwijk aan Zee, another lovely seaside destination. That way, you’ll be able to explore the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen nature reserve as well. The natural dunes between these two coastal towns are an absolute joy for nature lovers and photographers to explore on a sunny day.
In summer, you can also rent a bicycle in Zandvoort from the local tourist office or several other rental places. So if you prefer a more natural environment and less crowded beaches, you can go on a 30 minute cycling trip to Langevelderslag, another beach near Zandvoort. Just head in the direction of Noordwijk, keep going straight, and you’ll be there before you know it.
Important Things To Know For Your Day Trip to Zandvoort Beach
Now you pretty much know all the essentials for planning your trip to the beach. But if you’re curious about a few handy-dandy things to know before you go, read on. Here are more tips to make sure your experience will be perfectly beachy:
Typical Foods to Try in Zandvoort
The coastal regions in the Netherlands often have several typical snacks and dishes that you might want to give a try. One of those snacks is Dutch herring, which is usually served raw. You can try it as is or on a sandwich with pickles and onions (‘broodje haring’).
Another option is kibbeling: battered and fried chunks of fish with gralic sauce, which is my personal favourite seaside snack. Mussles are also a go-to meal in Zandvoort, traditionally eaten with leek, onions, and dipping sauce. All of these foods are often served with a side of golden fries (and mayonnaise). And don’t worry: there will be plenty of ice cream options around to finish your meal with a dessert, like IJssalon ci Vediamo.
Water Temperature and Weather in the Netherlands
Unfortunately, you cannot swim in the North Sea all year round. The water temperature is usually only suitable for a dip in the summer months (June-September). There will be flags near the beach that indicate whether you can go in or not. An orange windsock indicates that it is safe to swim. A yellow flag indicates there is some risk and a red flag means you shouldn’t go in.
What About the Jellyfish at Zandvoort Beach?
Although the North Sea is clean and relatively safe, we do have large populations of jellyfish. They are harmless, but their stings can be very itchy. There isn’t really a ‘jellyfish season’, but be mindful of easterly winds. That’s when you have a much higher chance of encountering jellyfish near the shoreline. You’ll often see many of them stranded on the beach already. Take that as a sign to go on a beach walk instead of swimming in the sea.
Ignore the Seagull Shenanigans
There will be plenty of seagulls at the Dutch coast, but make sure not to feed them any human food. Well, don’t feed them anything at all, actually. They will start screaming for more, invite their friends, and poop on your towel. We don’t want them to turn into an even bigger plague.
Curious about other beautiful beaches in the Netherlands that might be worth exploring? Read this article about my five favourite beaches for more Dutch day trip inspiration. In case you’re looking for more travel tips about Amsterdam, you can see all of my articles here.