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Itineray for Belgium & Netherlands

Hi, am working on itinerary for a two-week trip to Belgium & Netherlands in April 2019, appreciate any guidance on how much time to spend where! Yes, I will and do, consult Rick Steve guidebooks for sure, but appreciate your personal recommendations as well. Have a husband who loves beer, so any recommendations there are appreciated. Great places to stay?? Are the two countries too much for a two week trip, should we just focus on one country or the other? Thank you for your help! Karen

Posted by
5649 posts

Karen, do go through the guidebooks (and maybe watch the Rick Steves travel shows that cover both countries) and note what interests you in both countries. Then see if you could realistically fit in the highlights into two weeks. If not, stick to one country.

But I'm guessing you could get by with a 3-5 nights in Amsterdam, maybe another night or two in another town like Delft, and the rest in Belgium. Two weeks probably means 13 nights in Europe plus one on the overnight flight over.

I loved Delft and would recommend a night stop if you can squeeze it in. It's roughly on the way between Amsterdam and Belgium by train I think.

In Belgium, I also loved Bruges and Ghent especially. Both are charming, beautiful cities, but Bruges gets mobbed with tourists.
Staying over a night in Bruges helps enjoy it without so many of the day time tourists. But some people base in Ghent to avoid some of the tourist crowds.

Brussels has a beautiful huge square (the Grand Place) and a few potentially interesting museums, but I wouldn't see the need to spend more than a night or two there. Some people really love Antwerp. i didn't (spent two nights there and felt it wasn't nearly as charming or interesting as Bruges and Ghent), but there are some interesting museums there at very least, so it's worth at least a stop. I also enjoyed a day trip to the town of Leuven. FYI, there is direct train service between Antwerp and Brussels airport - also between Leuven and Brussels airport (at least there was when I visited a few years ago). In other words. there is no need to stay in Brussels proper, if you wish not to, before flying out at the end of a trip; it's a small country, and everything is well connected by train.

Try to book an open jaw (multi-city) flight into Amsterdam out of Brussels if you can get decent flights and fares. If you can get good direct flights say to Amsterdam but not Brussels, it may still make sense to fly into/out of AMS, I suppose.

Posted by
7608 posts

This is the best directory for beer establishments in the world you just click the country
If you can find an agreeable air fare I would start the trip by flying into Brussels ideally and and end it by flying out of Amsterdam. That way you give the Tulips another week to grow,

You could do something like this in either order
Brussels Airport to Bruges by train
Bruges 3 nights
Train to Ghent
Ghent 3 nights
Train to Antwerp
Antwerp 1 night
Antwerp to Rotterdam
Rotterdam 2 nights include a day trip to Kinderdijk
Train Rotterdam to Amsterdam
Amsterdam 4 nights include a daytrip to Keukenhoff

Posted by
15450 posts

Great choice. I've based in A'dam and daytripped to Delft, Rotterdam and The Hague. I've based in The Hague and daytripped to Delft (by tram) and to A'dam, once A'dam had become too crowded and "touristy" and expensive for me. I wish I'd had time on one of the trips to visit Utrecht and Haarlem.

I haven't been to Brussles or Antwerp (never enough time to see everything). I enjoyed Bruges but it is touristy. Ghent is much less so, cheaper for rooms and food (and good choices), and beautiful after dark when the Gothic buildings and bridges are illuminated.

2 weeks is a good amount of time, with more than half in the Netherlands.

Posted by
2487 posts

For the logistics please realise that Ghent and Bruges are only 30 mins apart with very frequent trains. There is no need to change accommodation. There are strong opinions on which city is best. Some prefer Ghent as a more real university city, others fall for the charms of Bruges.
Consider staying in Dordrecht instead of Rotterdam. Nice historical city on a crossroads of waterways, a good base for Kinderdijk and excellent train connections.
Amsterdam is very crowded and expensive. You can have alternative accommodation in one of the smaller historical cities in this part of the country: Haarlem (15 mins from Amsterdam with at least 4 trains per hour), Utrecht (30 mins dito) or Leiden (35 mins dito).
Although there is enough to do in the Holland part of the Netherlands, you can also venture east to the string of charming Hanseatic cities along the river IJssel: Kampen, Zwolle, Deventer and Zutphen. All have good train connections.

Posted by
132 posts

Thank you ALL for the replies and suggestions! I need to get to work now..... A lot of decisions to make! Thank you for your help. Karen

Posted by
103 posts

If you plan to go to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam be sure to buy tickets online. The line to get in usually goes around the building! We stood in it for 30 min before realizing we could buy tickets for later that day. Enjoy!

Posted by
929 posts

It looks like we are both planning about the same trips. Try writing a day by day itinerary, listing maybe one-three major activities or sights you plan to see, followed by which town you want to sleep in each night. You can revise your itinerary after posting it and before you make hotel reservations. It looks like we have to buy tickets in advance for certain sights like the Van Gogh museum, the Anne Frankhuis, and possibly other sights. If you don’t want every day to be planned a lot, at least it seems like hotel reservations and certain advance timed tickets force us to have some rough structure to our trips and then you can randomly fit in other activities around your timed advance tickets and hotel reservations. I haven’t figured out whether certain train tickets should be bought in advance. See my itinerary I posted, although I expect to revise it soon.