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Netherlands and Belgium Trip Advice

Hello helpful people,

I am planning a trip to the Netherlands and Belgium for April 2020 and I wanted to see if anyone would recommend any changes to the itinerary below.

Total nights: 13

  1. Amsterdam, 3 nights
  2. Rotterdam, 3 nights (with day trip to Delft)
  3. Bruges, 2 nights
  4. Antwerp, 2 nights
  5. Brussels, 3 nights (with day trip to Ghent)

Too many days in any of those cities? Too few? I debated between having Antwerp or Ghent be a day trip city, so any thoughts there would be appreciated. From what I have seen, flying into Brussels from LAX is cheaper than flying into Amsterdam, so I figured I would fly into Brussels and take the train to Amsterdam on the first day and then fly out of Brussels at the end of the trip.

For a little more context, I am a 29 year old man and I will be travelling solo, but some friends will be joining for certain legs of the trip. I have been to London and France (Paris + several northern towns), but that's it when it comes to Europe.

Posted by
6386 posts

Assuming that you did research it is not too many days in any of those cities when you know what you need to see and do.

Posted by
203 posts

Do you like checking in and out of hotels or apartments every couple of days? If not, I would park it in your favorite city in Netherlands for 5 or 6 days then stay in Ghent (or Bruges or Antwerp) for 5 or 6 nights and you can easily day trip to any of your listed cities. Depending on the time you fly back home from Brussels, it may be wise to spend your last night in Brussels.

Posted by
1155 posts

I think you are spending to few days in each city. Have you read up on what there is to see and do in each city. Plus as someone pointed out, you will be taking the train, going to the hotel and then hitting each city. Take into account travel time and getting around each place. I would eliminate Rotterdam and spend more time in Amsterdam and Bruges. There is so much to see and do including just walking around, taking a boat ride, going to the museums, seeing the churches, having a coffee in the cafes.

I also would not waste my time flying into Brussels and taking the train to Amsterdam. Fly into Brussels and work your way up to Amsterdam and fly home. Why make it harder and spend the funds on a train you don't need to take and waste your time when there is so much to see.

Have you read the guide books, looked at the free YouTube videos from Rick Steves and others. You need to book quickly , your hotels and airfare, as this is prime time to go to Amsterdam and see the tulips even if your not. Plus Easter is April 12 this year so that is also a busy week.

Have a great time.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks, everyone! Based on the responses, I am thinking of making Ghent the Belgium home base for 6 days and then possibly having the last night in Brussels to be closer to the airport. I have a couple friends in Rotterdam so I will likely keep that on the list, but perhaps shift a day towards Amsterdam.

Posted by
1155 posts

Dear CG: I think that is a great idea and streamlining your days and spending more time in one city is the way to go. Have a safe and fun time!

Posted by
1376 posts

The braintrust here is of unanimous agreement that Brussels is quite skippable. Now you have a few free days and with half of one you should see Gent. In Holland Gouda merits a stop for the Thursday cheese market, Haarlem for the Franz Hals museum and Marken is a must. The tulip fields as well and the Kinderdijk windmills.

Posted by
4668 posts

A few notes: Pay attention to museum days off, especially Monday. (Mystic Lamb in Gent is 7 days.) Saturday is market day in Mechelen, but you might look up the Vrijdag Markt in Antwerp and some others.

It wasn't stated in this way, but the point about this part of Belgium is that daytrips by cheap, frequent, unreserved trains make it totally unimportant where you sleep vs. what you see on any given day. Ghent probably is cheaper, and others have noted a university-student vibe, but I like the ... Amsterdam ... vibe of Antwerp. But it's up to you. Think about how you get from the train to the attractions. (All Belgian cities mentioned except Brussels use the same bus-tram travelcard.) The walk from the train station to the old towns in Bruges and Gent aren't that interesting. It's more interesting in Antwerp. Antwerp is smaller than Brussels, but much bigger than Gent or Bruges.

Because of your priority for Delft, you might consider sleeping in Den Haag instead of Rotterdam. Rotterdam is a more "urban modern" visit, with great architecture and water control features, but Den Haag has two superb art museums, and other attractions. I can't make that decision for you. But then your Delft trip is a local tram ride from Den Haag. Are you going to the Kinderdijk windmills? (That's an example of how a sleeping decision becomes a strategic decision.)

There is an hourly bus to BRU (one stop at a ring-road hotel) from the side of the Antwerp train station, and there are trains to the airport, but from one of the 3 Brussels stations, mostly. I think they have a few trains from BRU direct to Bruges, but I've never taken one or researched it.

I wouldn't prioritize it, but Leuven is an attractive, historic town that's very close to the airport. It also has an inexpensive "student" vibe, from the Catholic University of Leuven.

Posted by
20 posts

Brussels always gets kicked pretty hard on this blog. We just got back from two nights in Brussels and due to this blog were not expecting much. Let me say it was incredible. Now it was the Christmas season and all the Christmas Markets were still open. It was magical and a highlight of our two weeks in Europe.

Hi, May I ask if you really like to stay overnight in Bruges or Antwerp? You do not prefer to stay in 1 place and do day trips?
I would do Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp- Ghent (with day trip Bruges)-Brussels. I presume you are travelling by train.
I think you need to look at the sights in each city you like to visit. So you can figure out what is the best amount of days in each place. I prefer Ghent over Bruges, Antwerp over Brussels, but that is my opinion. You have to research what interest you.

Posted by
20 posts

Agreed - skip Brussels. Absolutely LOVED Haarlem. And book your Anne Frank visit months ahead on-line.