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6 days in the Netherlands (As part of a 2 week Belgium/Netherlands Trip)

Hi all, I know there are both the Belgium and the Netherlands forum. For the sake of this forum, please focus on my time in the Netherlands (although if you have an opinion and/or insights on my time in Belgium, I would love to hear it!)
My wife and I will be heading to Belgium and the Netherlands for 2 weeks (12 nights on the ground) from June 18 to July 1st. We were able to get a great deal flying in and out of Amsterdam. Our tentative itinerary is to immediately train to Ghent, Belgium upon landing and spend a few days in and around Ghent (3 nights). From there the plan is to train to Bruges for a few days (3 nights). After Bruges, we plan to train to Amsterdam, where we plan to base ourselves for 6 nights and doing day trips from there. Here is a more detailed outline of our itinerary

  1. Mon, June 19th - Arrive in Amsterdam at 8 AM. Train to Ghent (Sleep in Ghent)
  2. Tues. June 20th - Day in Ghent (Sleep in Ghent)
  3. Weds. June 21st - Train to Brussels, Day in Brussels, Train to Ghent (Sleep in Ghent)
  4. Thurs. June 22nd - Train to Bruges, Day in Bruges (Sleep in Bruges)
  5. Fri. June 23rd - Day in Bruges (Sleep in Bruges)
  6. Sat. June 24th - Day Trip, TBD (Sleep in Bruges)
  7. Sun. June 25th: - Train to Amsterdam (Sleep in Amsterdam)
  8. Mon. June 26th – Day in Amsterdam (Sleep in Amsterdam)
  9. Tues. June 27th – Train to Delft, Day in Delft, Train to Amsterdam (Sleep in Amsterdam)
  10. Weds. June 28th – Train to Leiden, Day in Leiden, Train to Amsterdam (Sleep in Amsterdam)
  11. Thurs. June 29th – Train to Haarlem, Day in Haarlem, Train to Amsterdam (Sleep in Amsterdam)
  12. Fri. June 30th – Day in Amsterdam (Sleep in Amsterdam) Fly home at Noon on Saturday July 1

This is our tentative outline. Nothing has been booked except for our flights, so the itinerary can be adapted. We are fairly sure we want to go to all of these places, but number of nights in each place it up in the air. Also, we don’t want to change hotels every night. My biggest concern is in which town to stay and for how many days. We are active, in our early 30s, like to visit sites (museums, etc.), but we also really like to relax, drink beer/wine, and eat. We really enjoy sitting in cafes/squares/parks and just relaxing.

Questions about time in Netherlands:

1) Should we base ourselves in Amsterdam for 6 nights and do daytrips? Or should we split up our time in the Netherlands between two places? One thought was to spend 2 nights in Delft on our way up from Belgium and the other 4 nights in Amsterdam.

2) We would like to spend 3 full days exploring Amsterdam. Is this enough (too much) time? Is there some sort of museum pass (like the Paris pass) that we should purchase to see museums and skip lines?

3) Aside from Amsterdam, what other cities/towns/places should we see with our day trips. I like what we have read about Delft and Haarlem, but we are open to suggestions. Leiden? Utrecht? Other places?

4) Is there a Netherlands train pass we should get, or is it easy/cheap enough to buy train tickets daily (I prefer this route if it isn’t too expensive because it maximizes our flexibility)

5) We would like to see some of the countryside and windmills. Is it possible to do that close to one of the city/towns that I have listed? perhaps via bike rentals?

As always, any help/comments on the itinerary as whole would be great. We are getting ready to start booking accommodations, but want to make sure that we have a good itins outlined before we do.

Posted by
1898 posts

At the north-east side of Bruges there are 4 wooden windmills and along the canal close to Damme a brickwork windmill. Popular is biking along the tree lined canal to Damme, lovely countryside. Further to nice Oostkerke at the other side of the place along the Eienbroekstraat there is also a brickwork windmill. Certainly worth to bike to if you have the time and energy.

Posted by
312 posts

I'm torn about your questions re: staying in Amsterdam for six days vs. dividing your time between Amsterdam and Delft. I spent five nights in Amsterdam and never ran out of things to do. I only got around to half the day trips I had planned because I loved wandering around the city so much.

On the other hand, Delft was my favorite town during my two weeks in the Netherlands and Belgium, and I was very glad I spent two nights there in the middle of my trip so I could slow down and soak in the place. Delft has relatively few Sights-with-a-capital-S compared to your other overnight destinations; it's more about the atmosphere.

So it depends on how you like to travel. It might be nice to unwind for a couple of days ... or you might prefer to maximize what you get to see during your stay. Either way I'm sure you'll enjoy yourself. The nice part about the day trips from Amsterdam is that there are so many choices (including some you can reach by bus in the surrounding area) that you can decide day by day what you feel like doing.

Posted by
7634 posts

You can go to Kinderdijk (a town of about 20 Windmills the largest concentration of old windmills in the Netherlands) on a day trip from Amsterdam or Delft; here are the details:

So 3 hotel changes is ok. you might find time in Belgium to daytrip to Brussels and Antwerp. They are worth a look if you get sick of the crowds of tourist in Brugges

Posted by
228 posts will take you to the countryside outside of Amsterdam . 10- euro p/p on a bus that's like a hop-on-hop-off way . You buy the ticket at the back side of the Centraal Station in Amsterdam .

Posted by
1987 posts

Well, a couple of years ago we spent 8 or 9 nights in Amsterdam and loved every minute. The efficient train system and short distances (by our standards) make day tripping so easy it can be hard to narrow down choices. We visted Leiden, Delft, Utrecht by train for the day. Haarlem too with the wonderful F Hals museum. We felt a day in each was ample. We visted other towns by the equally accessible bus system. The Waterland bus pass for 10 € pp was great, and a chance to see smaller towns and some countryside. When we left Amsterdam, we spent a couple of nights in Otterlo to see the KM museum and ride free bikes through the national park....terrific!...and another day at the Open Air Museum near Arnhem. Next month, we will do a day to Kinderdijk from Amsterdam via Rotterdam, boat, then Dordrecht back to Amsterdam ( thank you, Tonfromleiden). Zaanse Schans and its windmills are accessible from Amsterdam, but we last went there 40+ years ago, so things may have changed 🙂. Back then we rented mopeds in Amsterdam and rode them to ZS for the day. There are many possibilities, all great in my book, and all easy and fun. The Museumkaart is a great deal (though not as great as it used to be) for multiple museum visits and convenience. We have spent time in Bruges (Hotel Fevery was nice) though personally, I would drop a night from Bruges and add it to Amsterdam, but I love Amsterdam and hope to visit it and the NE for as long as I can. has info on different public trans options. Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
6812 posts

Because you have chosen to spend multiple nights in Bruges, I don't see the need to spend multiple nights in Delft. It's not that they are exactly the same, that's not true. But you are short-changing the rich destination of Amsterdam already. And as you clearly know, if you feel (incorrectly ... ) that you have exhausted Amsterdam, you have many excursions within an hour's train ride.

Your itinerary leaves out Antwerp. You might check the attractions there and see if you want to make time for it. There are also a few direct trains between Amsterdam and Antwerp, I think. (Haven't done that route.) If I had to choose between Brussels and Antwerp, I'd be tempted to select Antwerp. And it's very close to Gent and Brugge.

You could investigate the Annual Museumkaart for the Netherlands. If you really like museums, it can pay for itself in a few days. I had to pay cash for my last one, because I didn't have a Chip and Pin card that year.