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Splitting a week between Belgium and the Netherlands

We have 7 days + 7 nights to spend in Belgium and the Netherlands. We're a middle-aged couple, traveling sans the kids.
We're thinking of either two nights in Brussels and five in Amsterdam, or three nights in Brussels and four in Amsterdam. Any advice?
We have family to see, briefly, in Brussels but plan a day trip to Bruges. We also want to spend at least one of our Amsterdam days taking a trip to a nearby town, perhaps Delft?

We are wide open to suggestions.
Alan, Arlington VA

Posted by
84 posts

We did a combined trip to Amsterdam and Belgium 3 years ago. We actually had 1 more day for our trip than you .The trip that we took involved 4 days in Amsterdam and 4 in Belgium. In Belgium , we stayed in Brussels and took day trips by train to Ghent, Antwerp and Bruges. We stayed 4 days in Amsterdam and did not travel to Delft at all


Posted by
7592 posts

The area from Brussels to Amsterdam is relatively compact, so you can see lots of stuff with little travel.

Many are somewhat less than enthused with Brussels, I think it is worth some time, more so if you have a specific interest, but I consider myself not too enthused as well, except to see Grand Place and to seek out some good beer.

You might consider Ghent as a base. It is well located, a nice old town, much cleaner and pleasant than Brussels. From Ghent, both Brussels and Bruges are 30 to 45 min, and Antwerp less than an hour.

Amsterdam is perfectly fine as a base, if you are put off by room availability and pricing, staying someplace like Leiden or Haarlem works as well. Delft is worth a trip, depending on interests, but honestly, there are maybe a dozen towns all worth a day trip, depending what you are interested in.

Posted by
12 posts

See the Grand Place in Brussels, eat chocolate and waffles. Then scram to the smaller cities! Consider Gent, Belgium, a beautiful medieval city! Rent bikes and ride around Bruge for fun.

Leiden and Haarlem in the NL are lovely day trips from Amsterdam. Consider visiting Zaanse Schans, Unesco Heritage site with windmills.

For a lovely view of the locals and nature, visit the Vondelpark in Amsterdam

Climb up the church tower in the Westerkerk next to the Anne Frank House. great views over the city...and something not many tourists get to do. Make a reservation for the climb and for Anne Frank.

Take a canal trip in Bruges and Amsterdam. Lovely and quick way to see the sites! Enjoy your trip.

Posted by
235 posts

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Belgium, it’s that people have different preferences. Eat plenty of fries, waffles and chocolate. And beer if you do that sort of thing. I rank the Belgium cities this way:

Ghent > Bruges > Antwerp > Brussels

The altarpiece in Ghent is as fine a piece of art as I’ve seen and I’ve been to the big museums all over Europe. Also has fine chocolate (Van Hoorebeke) and a fun, albeit, sparsely decorated Castle.

Bruges is pretty but too crowded for me.

Brussels does have Ton Ton Garby maker of the finest sandwich I’ve ever eaten. He interviews his guests and makes a custom sandwich for you based on your answers. Go for a sweet one. Sounds weird but you will love it.

In Netherlands, plan to go to the Anne Frank House, Van Gogh, Rijksmuseum. Make sure to wander, especially the Jordaan. If you have time, Vondelpark is lovely. Don’t forget to eat apple pie at Winkel 43, Papeneiland, Holtkamp (near Rijksmuseum) or all 3.

Posted by
11288 posts

I agree with your spending more of your time in the The Netherlands. Our favourites are Amsterdam, Leiden, The Hague, Delft and a day trip to Kinderdijk to see the nineteen historic windmills in their original locations. We did everything easily by train. On our first trip there we stayed in Amsterdam and on the second trip we stayed in Leiden; both cities worked well as bases. We visited Belgium on a separate trip.