Please sign in to post.

Tickets Booked! Now, where to go, where to sleep, and how to get there...?

Hello,
My husband and I have flights booked to fly into Amsterdam on July 17th and fly out of Brussels on July 28th. We like big cities for a day or so, but really enjoy smaller places and seeing how the regular folk live and play :).

That said, does anyone have advice on what sites are best for finding places to stay in The Netherlands and Belgium? I'm thinking of just using Air BnB for the two nights we'll be spending in Amsterdam - it seems to be the most affordable thing to do, but after that I'm not quite sure what route will be best to finding places to rest our heads. (not that it should matter, but we're in our 30s, active, and won't be spending a ton of time in our room).

Also, we shouldn't have an issue buying train tickets after landing in Amsterdam, right? Are there any passes that may make more sense than buying individual tickets from city to city? i.e.: are there passes with unlimited on/offs for a certain number of days within both countries or one just belgium?

Other than the first two nights - we have no agenda. We are just going to hop our way down to Brussels in time to fly back home. I have heard we should see the hague and delft, ghent, and brugges, but if there are other places that are even more charming with things to do that are interesting we can always go there instead. Oh, and what city is best to go to on a Monday, when many museums/things to do are closed? I am a walking tour guide and wouldn't mind doing a tour on a Monday...the question is where is best do that?

in short, please help!! I want to give my husband a fabulous first trip to Europe so he'll take me back again :) (i have been to europe several times, am a 1st generation american, and pick up on languages/cultures quickly - I NEED my man to want to travel again after this trip, ha!).

Posted by
16883 posts

Do just buy train tickets as you go, and avoid the more expensive Thalys trains that run direct Amsterdam-Brussels. I recommend Rick's guidebook to the region for most of your practical map/hotel/sightseeing details.

Posted by
12040 posts

"Also, we shouldn't have an issue buying train tickets after landing in Amsterdam, right? Are there any passes that may make more sense than buying individual tickets from city to city? i.e.: are there passes with unlimited on/offs for a certain number of days within both countries or one just belgium?" Belgian rail sells a 10 trip pass valid for anywhere within the country. More than one person can use the pass at a time, so for example, two people on a roundtrip from Brussels to Antwerp would count for 4 of the 10. Depending on how many places you want to visit, it may be worthwhile to buy this pass. You can buy it at any manned station in Belgium.

Posted by
25 posts

Thanks guys!

any tips on what cities/towns we absolutely MUST see? My main places i definitely want to visit are the anne frank house, the van gogh museum, and that's kind of it. my husband would kill me if i dragged him to a ton of museums :) we just like to explore as we go and see how people really live and enjoy their towns.

thanks again! we're getting excited!

Posted by
11613 posts

Chocolate-shopping in Belgium! Neuhaus is my favorite, and you can get it online in the US, although much more variety in store. Brugge and Gent should be on your list. Museums in Belgium are small, your husband will be able to recover quickly with the help of a beer or waffle. I haven't been to The Netherlands yet, but I love Belgium! I hope you can give it a few days.

Posted by
1761 posts

Hi Diana, just a couple of suggestions. In Amsterdam you might want to do a canal boat ride (takes about an hour, narrated, very nice). Bruges is one of my favorite places - you could rent bikes and ride around the canals and windmills. Lots of chocolate shops! I also enjoyed Delft and a tour of the pottery workshop. Get the RS guidebook.

Posted by
14930 posts

In Belgium, I suggest you stay in Ghent. It's a Medieval town with a university. There are interesting sights, thanks to the school, a goodly number of cafes, etc. It's between Brussels and Bruges, making it easy to do both as days trips, and Antwerp too. It's much smaller than Brussels and much less touristy than Bruges. And the Gothic architecture is floodlit after dark, really pretty. Delft is like a tiny Amsterdam. Opinions on the forum are divided about whether there is much more than a day-trip's worth of sights. It's a 20-minute tram ride from there to The Hague, so either would be a good place for a couple of nights and hotels in The Hague are much cheaper than in Amsterdam. The Hague has a big beach with lots of nightlife. A really fun thing in Amsterdam is to rent bikes (by the day). It really gives you a "backdoor" experience, riding around like the locals. I don't think you'll have any problems with Monday closures. Outside of Amsterdam, you aren't headed for "big museum destinations."

A few years ago, I got a very good deal on a room in Amsterdam by bidding on priceline.com. Go to biddingfortravel.com for tips first.

Avoid restaurants and bars in the major squares (these are geared to tourists). I once took a typical day tour from Amsterdam to the "cheese & fish" towns. While everyone else was souvenir shopping in the all-too-touristy fishing village, I spent a couple of hours in a quiet local pub, drinking beer and chatting with the owner and a couple of patrons. It seems like nearly everyone in the Netherlands speaks English. I was surprised when I was in Bruges and Ghent 2 years ago how many people spoke English there too.