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What to do on a free day in Amsterdam?

I found this tour on viator and wondered if anyone had done this tour before?

A little background.....we are booked on the RS 21 day tour and will arrive in Amsterdam 2 nights prior. We'll relax and do a walking tour of Amsterdam on our arrival day (we arrive at 11:10 am, friday). Our tour doesn't start until Sunday afternoon. That morning we'll head to Haarlem to get aquainted with the city and will meet our "group" at 2pm. This leaves saturday totally free. I had originally wanted to go to Keukenof Gardens but now I understand it is very likely our RS tour will take us there, leaving out the Open Air Museum. I really want to see windmills....and the rest of the viator tour mentioned below looks pretty interesting. I have a few pieces of Delft so I wouldn't mind adding to the collection my great aunt started many decades ago.

I quote from the viator site:
"Immerse yourself in the charm of the Netherlands with this combination of two best-selling tours at a discounted price. Take a morning tour from Amsterdam to see the famous Zaanse Schans windmills and the quaint fishing villages of Marken and Volendam. Then, continue your day trip from Amsterdam with visits to two don't-miss Dutch cities: Delft and The Hague. If time is tight and you'd like to travel beyond Amsterdam, this action-packed, full-day tour shows you the best of the Netherlands. Even better, you'll enjoy about a 10% discount when you buy these tours in this way.

Highlights:
•Full-day trip from Amsterdam to the Zaanse Schans windmills, Delft and The Hague

•Take pictures of the famous Zaanse Schans windmills and visit a local clog-maker

•Soak up the local color of the fishing villages of Marken and Volendam

•Admire the Netherlands' exquisite Delft pottery at the Royal Delft factory and museum

•Tour The Hague's historic landmarks and Parliament buildings

•Visit the Peace Palace, walk around the Binnenhof, and see where the Dutch royal family is headquartered
" end quote.

Posted by
698 posts

If not the above tour, then this one:

"Discover Bruges – one of the most captivating cities in Belgium – on this day trip from Amsterdam. After traveling to Bruges by coach, you will receive a brief overview of city sights from your knowledgeable guide. Then, enjoy 5 full hours exploring the churches, canals and lace shops of Bruges on your own. See the Begijnhof, the city gates and the eye-catching windmills. And indulge in some delicious Belgian chocolates on your ride back to Amsterdam!

Highlights:
•Full day tour to Bruges from Amsterdam
•Admire the picturesque Dutch and Belgian countryside during your coach trip to Bruges
•Learn about the rich history and culture of Bruges from your expert guide
•Enjoy 5 hours of free time to explore the churches, canals and shops of Bruges on your own"

If we visited Brugges instead of the other tour I would miss out on my Delft tour but I would have chocolate in Belgium......hm.....decisions! Of course, this tour to Brugges requires a 3.5 hour bus ride......Oh snap.....apparently this tour will only be offered on friday and I'm fairly sure we won't be arriving in Amsterdam early enough to take this one. :(

Posted by
2716 posts

I'd want the "Delft pottery at the Royal Delft factory and museum" tour.

Posted by
11271 posts

If you don't mind doing this on your own, you can get Rick Steves Amsterdam, Bruges, and Brussels. In it he has very thorough descriptions of all the destinations you listed in the tours above, complete with idiot-proof directions for getting there from Amsterdam and Haarlem.

Of course, taking a tour package removes the work - but at two costs. The first is financial, as this will cost much more than doing it yourself. The second is relaxation - these are whirlwind trips, and you won't have time to breathe ("action packed" indeed!). Particularly having just arrived the day before and probably still being somewhat jet lagged, you may not appreciate being whipped through all these destinations in one day. I'd pick one or two that interest you, and stick to those. And don't overlook the option of spending more time in Amsterdam - there's more to see than you can cover in your one arrival day (again, jet lagged) plus the one day on your RS tour.

Posted by
333 posts

I took the very tour you're talking about thru Viator (Amsterdam} with my 20 year old daughter 2 1/2 years ago. We had a great time! The tour bus leaves from Damrak Station. Ours was a nice double decker bus. It was a lovely drive, even though it was a rainy day. Our first stop was the windmills. It's an open air type of museum. At first it looks very touristy- they take your picture and rush you in and turn you loose. It's beautiful there, great for pictures. You can visit the windmills, there are seven of them, or tour the cheese factory (Iots of samples!) or walk around. You go to Marken and get a break for lunch. Then you get on a boat to go to Volendam. There you go to a wooden shoe factory. You get a decent amount of time at each place (about an hour to hour and a half). Then you are taken back to Damrak where you get on another bus for the 2nd tour. I loved going to Delft and seeing the Delft pottery shop. I wasn't so thrilled wiht the Hague, you only get a panoramic tour of that. You end that tour at Madurodam, which is a to scale miniature set up of Amsterdam. It's very interesting, geared more for kids in my opinion, lots of interactive displays (how many cheese wheels do you weigh, how many cheese wheels can you lift, guess this smell...". It does make for a long day, there is plenty of walking and although I could have done without the Hague and Madurodam, my daughter really enjoyed Madurodam, so it's a matter of preference and endurance! I felt it was worth the cost. I've been very happy with all of my Viator tours and plan to use them again for Amsterdam and Scotland when I'm back in Europe in May. I'll be taking the day tour to Bruges, Belgium then, and I'm very excited about it!

Lisa

P.S. What tour are you on? I'm on the May 2nd 21 Day BOE.

Posted by
698 posts

Lisa, we are on the April 19th 21 day tour....it was the first one offered and we just couldn't wait another minute :)

I can handle whirlwind. I have looked at the RS Amsterdam book, I do just like the idea of someone else taking care of the logistics for me. That's a lot of bus riding.....problem is I really want Belgium in there. In order of importance: Windmills, Delft, Chocolate, maybe some beer, Chocolate. I cannot underestimate the importance of chocolate.

This will all be for naught if our RS tour chooses to stick with the original tour schedule as we head to Germany. We must see Keukenof and I understand it will likely be substituted for the Open air museum while we are on the RS tour. If we are not going to Keukenhof with the group then that is what we will do pre-tour.

Posted by
16869 posts

Hi, Kathy. I spoke to the tour manager and can confirm that your April 19 tour will visit Keukenhof for a brief, 2-3 hour visit, en route to Germany. April groups do not have Arnhem museum reservations, so a last-minute switch is not easy to accomplish. The plan is the same, rain or shine (and both sites are outdoors). If you wanted to make Keukenhof the focus of a whole day, then a separate visit might be worthwhile for you. You should also receive confirmation in a letter that you receive 30 days before tour departure, mentioning itinerary changes. Gute Reise!

Posted by
500 posts

Personally I'd stay in Amsterdam as your tour time there is filled with the sightseeing tour and 2 musuems.
Friday, I'd unwind from jet lag by exploring the Joordan area. It's pleasant and great area for eats, drinks, and shops and getting oriented to Dutch culture. Saturday you can walk the around the Nine Little Street shops and little canals and the Fleurs Markts along the Amstel. Worth visits are the Jewish Memorial, the Dutch Resistance Musuem, and the Amsterdam History Musuem. Their cafe has great pancakes> it was recommended by our tour guide, they were tasty and it's convenient place to eat lunch on busy day.
It's a lovely city to get lost in and just walk around in and easy to use public transportation.

If you really want Belgium then just go to Bruges on Saturday: Chocolate shops, Beer, De Halve Maan Brewery, Bell Tower, Groeninge Museum, lovely canals!

Posted by
333 posts

Kathy, I hope you do take the Viator Tour. The 1st tour especially was fun. For the lunch break in Maarken we ate at a pub along the water. Thankfully they had a picture menu, so ordering wasn't too difficult- as our waitress didn't speak English. Some people skipped a meal and got their picture taken at one of the shops that lets you wear Dutch traditional costumes. I wanted to do that too, but there just wasnt enough time. Delft is a lovely, picturesque town. If I had time to go back, Id just take a train to Delft, tour the pottery shop and explore the town- forget about the Hague and Madurodam. But that's me. I'm sending you a PM and including the link to my website if you want to look at pictures I took on that Viator tour (or Amsterdam in general). Its under solo adventures/Holland.

I'm with you on Belguim. It's on my must see list, so I'm taking the Brugges day trip, even if it is hours on a bus (extra nap time). I spoke to a classmate of mine who is from Belguim and asked her which was better, Brugges or Brussels. For a day trip, she said Brugges, hands down. So that's where I'm going. I'm hoping to see some lace making, and, like you, I'm all about the chocolate.

I think we're both in for a great time on our tours!
Lisa

Posted by
1483 posts

If you're up for something different, you could spend Saturday on a day trip to the Hoge Veluwe National Park - it's accessible by train and bus, and provides free bicycles to visitors. It contains a world-class art museum also.

Posted by
2102 posts

Kathy and Lisa, would love to hear about the Bruges tour. we are going to Amsterdam in July for 10 days and was looking into this tour. thanks, Barbara

Posted by
111 posts

My wife and I did a "Mikes Bikes" bicycle tour. They offer a city bike tour and a country tour. We chose the country tour since we have been to Amsterdam numerous times. The bike tour is a great way to get to see the country side, canals, windmills, and working farms. It caters to all ages and bike skills. We also did one of their tours in Munich.
If biking is not your thing do a canal ride or a tram ride. Exploring Amsterdam by foot is not difficult either. Pleanty of spots to rest and have a canal side drink. Your lucky to have an extra day to do on your own. Enjoy Amsterdam and then RS tour.

Posted by
5 posts

Kathy Hi. The long bus trips are a hellish zoos because 3 to 5 different languages the guide must speak and bad ride. Heads up all these bus tours are available across the street from Centrral station on canal front. Suggestion look at setting up a private car to take you where you want to go. Also the car may be more affordable , one language, answers to your questions, and nice ride. Check the internet for tours and private car book ahead of time. Visit the purse museum Amsterdam and stay for lunch. My wife and sister in law still talk about my suggestion for a rain filled morning. We all enjoyed the exhibits and elegant venue. Check out the old video of school classes in side room. Don't miss those awesome green & red high heels with of course matching purse. The large Chinese restaurant near Amsterdam Centrral station and harbor is nice. Make sure you take a canal boat trip at night. Lunch and dinners in the Amsterdam beer gardens are enjoyable. We took train from Brussels to Bruges and stayed two nights in Burges. We saw lace making, churches, wind mills, old square, chocolate, beer, mussels and Salvador Dali exhibit. Bruges is wonderful for walking and seeing a lot in a relaxed atmosphere. We then took train to Amsterdam. I was not impressed with Hague & Delft factory trip on bus via Rotterdam, skip it, ug gave me a panic attack. Keukenof Gardens are great (a half hour bus ride or cab) .We could have visited the gardens two days, only open a few weeks in the spring April &May, check when open. Try the small train in Amsterdam to get around the city . Also very easy to walk, watch out for the bikes. Idea enjoy Amsterdam vibe & sights and don't get kidnapped on another bus tour outside Amsterdam. The wonderful man in London who said "I took my honeymoon in Bruges great place " was right. The highlight of our trip April to May 2013.. Keep smiling Letro