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Help please with two week rail itinerary in the Netherlands!

My husband and I are planning to be in the Netherlands for two weeks, April 28-May 12. We are interested in using public transportation only to travel between places. This is our second time in the Netherlands, but on our first trip we were only in Amsterdam, Haarlem, and at the open air history museum. While I have some ideas, I am interested in how travelers more experienced in the Netherlands would plan a two week itinerary. Thanks much for any input! Elle

Posted by
14917 posts

I spent several days in Den Haag, some fine museums there and a 20-minute tram ride to Delft. Madurodam is fun for adults as well as kids - especially if you've already been to many of the places in the country. I always find more places to visit in Amsterdam. Utrecht is on my list for next time. I liked Den Haag as a base for day trips, cheaper, smaller and cleaner than Amsterdam with good train connections. There are very nice hotels that are a short walk from the train station and very central to the sights.

If you haven't been to Belgium, you might want to consider 3-4 days to see Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent.

Posted by
2487 posts

Just some suggestions, avoiding Amsterdam:
Make Utrecht (half an hour from Schiphol airport) a base for a few days. Nice, lively university city. Have a day trip to Naarden with wonderful fortifications (get off at the railway station Naarden-Bussum). When the weather is fine, take the train to Woerden and have a walk along a meandering river to Oudewater via Linschoten, and continue with the bus to small, but nice Gouda, from where you can have a train back to Utrecht.
Have a few days in Zwolle, in the eastern part of the country, and have a look at the historical riverside cities of Kampen and Deventer, or visit the Nijenhuis museum, which is a short walk from the Heino railway station.
Base yourself a few days in Dordrecht, the oldest city of the Holland part of the Netherlands. Take the water ferry to Kinderdijk and amaze yourself at this huge mid-eighteenth-century windmill complex.
End with a stay in my dear adopted city of Leiden, from where Den Haag (The Hague) and, a few kilometres further on, a tiny little bit touristy Delft are a short train ride away. Den Haag not only offers the wonderful Mauritshuis museum, but also the Panorama Mesdag, giving a view of the seaside resort of Scheveningen as it was a century ago. Present day Scheveningen is 15 minutes away with the tram. Schiphol airport is 20 minutes from Leiden.
The public transport planner www.9292.nl/en# gives you reliable and real-time information on all the trains, buses, trams and ferries to take you to virtually everywhere you're likely to be interested in.

Posted by
43 posts

Thank you so much for the helpful suggestions. We are retired and have some flexibility. I note that the tulip parade is on April 23 and the king's birthday celebration is on April 26. These events are earlier than we had planned to come; but now I'm having second thoughts. We haven't purchased airline tickets and of course would like to catch the tulip fields in bloom. Are the parade and king's birthday celebration not to be missed or really just overrun with people and ok to forgo? Thanks again for any insight!

Posted by
2487 posts

King's Day can be fun, with children selling their surplus toys on the pavement as possibly the nicest part. But make sure you're not in Amsterdam at that time. Half the Netherlands seems to be there and it's pickpockets' paradise. King's Day is celebrated all over the country.
Being weather-sensitive creatures, it can't be predicted when the tulip fields are in their full glory. The best way to see them is on the train from Leiden to Haarlem. And there are always the Keukenhof gardens. I've never been there, but they are very popular. In season there is a direct Keukenhof Express bus from outside Leiden Centraal station. More information on www.keukenhof.nl/en/#plan-your-visit
Now I'm thinking about it, close to Leiden there is the beautiful country residence of Duivenvoorde (somewhat misleadingly called a »kasteel«, castle). It's a 20 minute bus trip from Leiden Centraal station (# 45, every 15 mins; see the 9292.nl planner). More on www.kasteelduivenvoorde.nl/326/english-information/

If you have to weeks to travel:

  • Go North: Groningen, Leeuwarden and a consider taking a ferry to a Wadden island. Schiermonnikoog makes a wonderful day trip.

  • Go Hanze: Zwolle, Deventer, Kampen with their medieval city centres.

  • Go East: the vibrant student town Nijmegen that lies near the German border where the Rhein enters the Netherlands. Beautiful river landscapes.

  • Go South: the Burgundic Netherlands are preserved in the medieval towns Den Bosch and Maastricht. This is the Catholic South with its basilicas, kathedrals, good food and drink.

Enjoy!

Posted by
1666 posts

Go south-west to the Delta Region to visit the Delta Works for the Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier. It´s a bit out of the way destiny and not the best area to explore with public transport. But you can combine it with a visit to lovely places like Middelburg, Veere and Zierikzee. Near the latter is the Watersnoodmuseum about the 1953 flood disaster worth a visit. Domburg is a nice coastal village, there is a Stayokay in a medieval castle, book well in advance if you are interested.

If you think this will need too much time, the Maeslant Storm Surge Barrier west of Rotterdam is worth a visit anyway, easier to reach and gives a very good idea how we get along with our biggest neighbour........the North Sea.

http://www.watersnoodmuseum.nl/UK/
http://www.keringhuis.nl/index.php?id=37