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Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Antwerp and Brussels

We plan to go into Amsterdam and other locations the first 2 weeks of September. Have read some of the posts about museums in Amsterdam. Would appreciate suggestions for reasonable lodging too. Looks like there are plenty of cafes and restaurants to try.

Wondering if our plans to travel south to the other cities I have in the title is too ambitious? Could we visit these places traveling via train? Would only spend 1 day in the Hague. Haven't explored enough yet for Rotterdam, Antwerp and Brussels.

As always, any suggestions, tips, observations, etc are greatly appreciated! Thanks

Posted by
8065 posts

If your plane tickets are roundtrip to and from Amsterdam then the day you arrive you should take the train directly to Antwerp. From there you can base yourself and take easy daytrips to Brussels and other parts of Belgium.
Then take the train to Amsterdam and do easy daytrips to Rotterdam and the Hague.

Otherwise fly into Amsterdam and return home from Brussels.

Posted by
7569 posts

Although it is nicer to sleep there, The Hague and Rotterdam (and Delft, tram ride from The Hague) are technically able to be daytrips by unreserved local train from sleeping in Amsterdam. I have been to Delft twice from Amsterdam, with different guests.

I don't consider Belgium to be a daytrip from the Netherlands, but there are many ambitious travelers on this board. Have you got or seen Rick's books about these places? They're very useful.

Some posters here, myself included, find Brussels a bit overrated, except for the three or four top art museums there. So I have always visited Brussels from Antwerp. Local unreserved (Belgian) trains make the entire area, from Mechelen to Bruges, easily accessible for daytrips. Many of these cities have business day trains five per hour. However, they are commuter cars, with high passenger loads, no real luggage racks for big bags, and sometimes lines for both ticket booths and ticket machines.

There is a lot of love for Ghent on this newsboard, but Antwerp is my favorite place to stay in that part of Belgium. Can you fly home from BRU? It would save retracing your steps.

I don't know what "reasonable" prices are. Antwerp has more lodging choices than Ghent, but some longer distances from the train station. We stay at the Hilton in Antwerp, but it's one of the higher priced options. Although both the Netherlands and Belgium have excellent city public transportation, it can be convenient to be able to walk to the train station for a daytrip.

The Search box top center will probably yield some more Antwerp suggestions.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/belgium/day-trips-from-brussels-768c7c85-75b9-4374-ad13-ae36967bc521

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/belgium/day-trips-from-brussels-besides-bruges-and-ghent

Warning; There is some obsolete information in the next thread, but it may give you some ideas to research:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/netherlands/amsterdam-to-brussels-to-brugge-back-to-amsterdam-by-train

Edit: I think this is an advanced topic, for those on a second visit to one of these countries, but I believe that Open Monuments Day 2024 will be Sept 14-16. But sometimes most of the publicity is in Dutch-only. This is like Open Day NY or Open Day Chicago, with normally private businesses or civic buildings allowing timed visitor tickets.

Posted by
3 posts

We were in Amsterdam the week before last for 5 days before flying to Munich to meet up with others. We stayed at the Ibis Airport hotel that was "adequate" as a base with an all day free airport shuttle that can connect you for airport based buses and trains into the city. Get tickets ahead for Van Gogh, Riijkmuseum, Ann Frank and check out the canal short tours. We also very much enjoyed a day trip bus tour to Bruges for 2 that was worth the $119 for 12 hrs round trip incl 1.5 hr guided tour and 3.5hrs free time in the town. Beautiful, historic good food etc.

Posted by
1422 posts

Before you book your flights, make sure to check hotel prices and availability in Amsterdam first. From September 13 till 16 a huge convention is held in Amsterdam which causes hotel prices to skyrocket. The days right before and after the convention are usually quite busy too.

Whether or not you have time to visit The Hague, Rotterdam, Antwerp and Brussels depends on how long you actually have for this trip. How many days will you be here?

Posted by
638 posts

We've chosen Ghent and Utrecht as our Belgian and Dutch headquarters for the BeNeLux segment of what I'm calling our Grand European Tour of 2024. We'll spend a total of two weeks in these locations. We're using AirBnBs in both cities, an approach that gets little appreciation here but works great for us. (We like breakfast cereal and lots of coffee each morning, and we're gone four months using only rollaboards, so in-unit laundry capabilities and coffeemaker are very important to us.)

We'll use an unlimited Eurail pass to travel freely on the Belgian and Dutch railways to see Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Amsterdam, Haarlem, Leiden, Den Bosch, Maastricht, The Hague and perhaps Luxembourg. We may not get to all of them, but we're allowing ourselves plenty of time to see a lot, as are you. The rail system makes it easy to do. Rotterdam we've seen recently and don't need to return to quite yet, but you certainly should.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
208 posts

Roughly a week for Amsterdam (and add ons) and a week for Belgium seems perfectly doable, and is like a tasting menu where you can hit multiple main attractions, but also get the feeling of which places can be added to your "return and explore further" list.

Suggesting hotels is usually a "what is your price range" sort of thing, but I'll toss out the Klimpton DeWitt and the Marriott as two hotels in Amsterdam we stayed at and would return to again.

There are tons of threads on things to do in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. We're bike people, so I recommend riding as much as you can. Distances are way shorter than you might think they are, so when folks talk about day trips, they're usually actually very doable in a day.

Start paying attention to tickets and make sure your plans don't go sideways because you missed a window of opportunity.

Posted by
88 posts

Appreciate all the suggestions and information that has been posted!

Our travel dates are less than I thought (spouse made the flight reservations- we arrive in Amsterdam Sept 5 and leave the 14). So I went onto Rick Steves website to read his suggestions for touring the area, and am paring down our travels to not include Antwerp and Brussels.

I'm trying to determine whether to purchase a pass allowing us to use public transportation in Amsterdam and taking trains into Haarlem, The Hague, Delft, Rotterdam and Utrecht before returning to Amsterdam to fly out.

Any input about the transportation would be greatly appreciated, and lodging suggestions in Haarlem, Delft and Utrecht.

And I now about getting tickets early for Anne Frank House and Van Gogh museum but is buying a city pass or an i amsterdam pass a good deal? Do these museums offer senior pricing?

Thanks

Posted by
8065 posts

You don't need a pass in Amsterdam. if you have a credit card you can just tap in when boarding and tap out when getting off. Moreover Amsterdam is one of the great walking cities; if you don't have trouble walking you can see pretty much everything on foot in the old town. As far as a rail pass, you need to add up the cost of all your trips to see if it is cheaper to buy one. Eurail offers one for the Benelux i.e. Belgium Netherlands and Luxembourg. There is a one day rail pass for all of the Netherlands that covers all public transportation: https://www.ns.nl/en/tickets/day-ticket

As for museums, they all have websites where you can buy tickets in advance, any senior option will be listed.

Posted by
100 posts

I also recommend that you check hotels and hotel prices in Amsterdam before planning around staying there. I'm going in late September and hotel prices were very high when I researched. It may not be an issue for you, but I chose to book a hotel in The Hague instead and plan on taking day trips to Amsterdam. I'll save A LOT of money by doing so.

Posted by
5149 posts

We just stayed in the Boutique Hotel Staats in Haarlem, which gave us a 15 minute train into Amsterdam Central. The hotel is in a very quiet residential neighborhood, yet still just a two minute walk to the train station. Book directly and get a deal on breakfast. We also just loved Haarlem for itself. Safe travels!

Posted by
23 posts

In Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum is fine but the Stedelijk Museum (contemporary art) is fantastic. What's really special is Collectie Six, an incredible art collection in a private home owned by the Six family. More details on the family here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/27/magazine/rembrandt-jan-six.html Anne Frank House in unmissable.

As far as Dutch food? Well, there's a saying: "The Dutch stole the world's spices and use none of them." I was pretty unimpressed by what I ate, but a few stand-outs are: Bakkerij Wolf (sourdough bakery, breakfast), Fabel Friet (fries), Zero Zero (Italian sandwiches), Zoldering (Michelin starred French-Dutch fusion), and Drupa Coffee Roasters. Brootje Bert is a great value for gigantic canalside sandwiches. The Amsterdam Cheese Museum and Tony's Chocolonely flagship are great fun and good for a snack.

Posted by
88 posts

So we are probably going to stay in Haarlem and travel into Amsterdam each day by public bus to tour the sites. We don't plan to rent a car. Will likely take a train/bus down to Delft for a few nights and again use that as a base to travel to Rotterdam and the Hague. Then do the same going to Utrecht for a few nights before traveling back to Amsterdam to fly home.

Opinions, suggestions, advice, information is always appreciated!

Posted by
5149 posts

In Haarlem , just use the train to Amsterdam. The #300 bus goes to the airport. It's all very easy. Enjoy!

Posted by
4000 posts

Just an FYI, we were in The Hague last Monday and most of the city was undergoing massive construction. The Mauritshuis Museum was open though. We visited for about 2 hours, had coffee at a small cafe beforehand and returned to Rotterdam by late afternoon. The museum opens Mondays at 1:00 pm.

Posted by
61 posts

Barbara -- this is good to know. I plan a trip to the Hague ... probably on July 11 or 12. Did you buy tickets to the museum in advance? I don't know exactly which day yet, but I would hate to have it sold out.