Can you suggest a day trip from Amsterdam that isn’t Rotterdam or The Hague? Sarah Riches, via email

I would recommend Haarlem. Just a 30-minute drive from Amsterdam and packed with culture, this is the perfect day trip. A compact city of cobblestone streets, churches and cafes, it will provide plenty to see for your break away from Amsterdam.
At the heart of Haarlem is the Grote Markt.

This quaint square is home to lots of cafes and restaurants and is a good place to start getting to know the city. Just off the square is the Frans Hals museum (admission £8), which displays a number of the Dutch artist Frans Hals’ finest work (Haarlem is the subject of many of the pieces). His art is a beautiful insight into 17th-century Dutch life.

For your next bit of history, head to Corrie Ten Boom Museum. This is the home of heroine Corrie, who hid hundreds of Jews and Dutch resistors in a secret compartment during WW2.

Another must-see is Grote Kerk St Bavo. The towering Gothic cathedral is home to the Müller organ, which Mozart and Handel both once played at.

If this is all a bit too cultured for you, Haarlem is 10 minutes by train from the seaside at Zandvoort.

One of the Netherlands’ premier beach resorts, the sand here does get very crowded during summer. There are all walks of life – from the trendy to the not-so – and a nudist beach to the south, if that tickles your fancy.

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My fiancée and I would love to travel around Lake Garda and want to know the best way to see it. What are the must-visit towns and is it easier to travel by ferry or by train? Mike, via email

Lake Garda is the largest of the Italian lakes and there is plenty to see. You can explore using the incredibly comprehensive ferry service that links the majority of towns on the lake (

‘Free circulation tickets’ allow passengers to hop on and off the entire network of routes. These tickets are unfortunately not free as the name might suggest, but £27 for a day ticket for the entire lake (cheaper for just the northern or southern half of the lake).

Single fares range from £2.50 to £12 depending on the distance of your journey.

Due to the popularity of the area, it is advisable to book accommodation ahead, so you will need to plan your route to some degree.

Desenzano del Garda is a perfect place to start, as it has great transport links, a pretty old town, good cafes and restaurants and an incredibly well-preserved Roman Villa, which is worth a look.

Sirmione is arguably one of the prettiest villages and the waterfront of Salò has a great promenade for a stroll. Riva del Garda sitting between cliff face and beach has some of the most dramatic scenery.

You have lots of choices of airport, as the Lake’s stations (Desenzano and Peschiera) sit on the Venice-Milan train line, meaning you can choose to fly into Venice, Verona, Bergamo, Milan or Brescia.

Lonely Planet’s Laura Lindsaywill give you the benefit of her infinite wisdom if you email a question to If your question is answered, you’ll win a Lonely Planet guide of your choice.

Image: Getty, iStock

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