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Itinerary advice Amsterdam to Brussels

We are arriving in Amsterdam on December 19 and flying out of Brussels on December 27. We are an adult daughter and mother who like food, art, WWII history, markets, museums and walking. We prefer to avoid nightlife. We will be stopping in Antwerp to visit a few people and would like to see Rotterdam, but need help figuring out how much time to spend in each place and which is the best city to be in on Christmas Day for purposes of finding a place open for a meal and/or something to do. Any ideas? We want to skip Brugges for this trip due to the time of year. Here's a tentative outline - feedback?

Dec 19 - Amsterdam
Dec 20 - Amsterdam
Dec 21 - Amsterdam
Dec 22 - Amsterdam (or better to go ahead to Rotterdam?)
Dec 23 - Rotterdam
Dec 24 - Antwerp
Dec 25 - Antwerp
Dec 26 - Brussels (or better to stay a third night in Antwerp and skip Brussels?)


Posted by
920 posts

I think you have a decent schedule. I have not spent any time in Rotterdam, so I can't provide any input there. I actually think that Bruges at that time of year would be fun, even if only for a day trip. I think a third night in Antwerp would be preferable to Brussels since you know people there. As for the best location to be on Christmas day - posts on the Italy forum suggest finding / reserving restaurants in the Jewish quarter. I'm not sure if that applies to Antwerp, but reservations are a must regardless.

Posted by
191 posts

I just completed a trip in the opposite direction. I had been to both Amsterdam and Brussels before, Here was our trip in case anything strikes your fancy:)

Day 1 - Brussels - Arrive in town, walk around Grand Place, Dinner in Brussels
Day 2 - Bruges - Day trip - Tour De Halve Maan Brewery - good beer and fun tour.
Day 3 - Brussels - Tour the EU Parliament - This was really interesting since I used to live in Europe and the weather sucked so it was good to be inside.
Day 4 - Visit Antwerp on the way to Rotterdam. I really liked the feel of Antwerp, and would enjoy going back. Dinner on the waterfront in Rotterdam.
Day 5 - Rotterdam - visit Kinderdijk via water bus
Day 6 - Day trip to The Hague
Day 7 - Travel to Amsterdam
Day 8 - Amsterdam - Van Gogh museum was excellent. Found a great street market.

In Brussels - Great restaurant was L'arriere-Pays - not sure if they had English menus:

In Rotterdam - had a great meal at Vessel 11 with good atmosphere:

In Netherlands - be sure to order the Bitterballen - a tasty fried treat (be careful not to burn your mouth).

Posted by
6371 posts

A possible alternative to Rotterdam is Den Haag, but it depends on which has more attractions. For example, there is no substitute for the Mauritshuis and other museums, but Rotterdam has better architecture and perhaps modern art. There is a public (road) bus to Kinderdijk also, but this is a lengthy outing, almost half the day.

This is kind of a short vacation, but your schedule looks fine. Getting to BRU early for a flight can be annoying and expensive, so read up on the train to the airport. That would be the problem with a third night in Antwerp. It would be a shame to stay at the airport hotel! But many people forget about that when they buy the cheapest plane tickets they can find. The Ancient/Modern art museum in Brussels is superb, and the Magritte museum unique, if he interests you. I would choose Bozar (museum) if you don't care about Magritte, or the Coudenberg palace-cellars museum, too. Many beautiful churches in both Antwerp and Brussels.

You are right to give two nights to Antwerp, a wonderful destination. Alas, the big art museum, KMSKA is closed for years of renovation, but there are at least eight other world-class museums in Antwerp. Half kidding, if you get bitterballen in the Netherlands, you would go to Desire de Lille in Antwerp for Smoutebollen to compare. There are so many restaurants in Antwerp that there's sure to be someplace open for Christmas. But many of the finer places will be closed, so I suggest you do some research now if you're going to make a reservation.

Although the riverside tiny castle, Het Steen is now closed, you can walk around it to find a touching plaque thanking the Canadian (?) regiment that liberated the port of Antwerp and city. There's a similar plaque in the Brussels Cathedral. You'll find a touching war monument in the main post office and train station of almost any city you go to. Near the KMSKA in Antwerp, there's a street plaque about the bombardment of Antwerp.