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Help with Itinerary - Amsterdam, Belgium in January

Hello,

Seeking help (please!) on itinerary for seven day trip to Amsterdam and Belgium in early, mid January.

Traveling with my 18 year old daughter - interests include art and history.

We fly in and out of Amsterdam. Nothing seems to be open on Monday in Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp, so I figured we would arrange the trip to be back in Amsterdam for Sunday.

I would love to get out into the countryside at some point (Ypres from Bruges, although sadly, the In Flanders Field Museum will not be open during our stay). I chose Antwerp over Brussels because I figured we would already be staying 4 days in a large city (Amsterdam) and one passes through on the way to Bruges, and Bruges over Ghent for no good reason.

I realize that I'm bypassing many other wonderful small towns and major cities in the Netherlands (Delft, Hague?). I figured we could visit on a return trip when weather is better (Spring!). Lastly, does it make sense to do a canal tour in the winter?

I'd very much appreciate any suggestions and thoughts! Many thanks!

Day 1 (Wednesday) - Arrive Amsterdam (overnight flight from US in coach so jet lagged), 9:30 am, travel to Antwerp. Afternoon and overnight Antwerp. Afternoon – Self guided walking tour, 1 museum

Day 2 (Thursday) – Antwerp/Bruges - Morning, afternoon in Antwerp (museum, wondering, shopping), late afternoon train to Bruges, arrive @ 4 – 5 pm. Walking tour in evening, time, weather permitting. Overnight Bruges.

Day 3 (Friday) - Bruges, overnight Bruges

Day 4 (Saturday) - Bruges (or Ghent/Flanders) in morning, early afternoon, train to Amsterdam in afternoon, evening (3 hours, change in Antwerp). Overnight Amsterdam

Day 5 (Sunday) – Amsterdam – City walking tour or canal tour (what is this like during the winter?), Amsterdam museum, Ann Frank House, Jordaan neighborhood, etc.

Day 6 (Monday) - Amsterdam – Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum, Stedelijk modern art museum

Day 7 (Tuesday) – Amsterdam - Reimbrandt House or Willet – Holthuysen House, or Resistance Museum or Maritime Museum or Tropic Museum.

Day 8 (Wednesday) – Amsterdam, flight 11am to home

Posted by
14792 posts

Since you indicate that your hotels are set, I won't comment on that. Also, I haven't been to Antwerp.

Ghent is an easy day trip from Bruges (I did the opposite). Ghent is well worth staying for an evening stroll (luckily for you evening starts early in January), when all the medieval buildings and bridges are floodlit.

Delft is an easy day or even 1/2 day trip from Amsterdam, if you can tear yourselves away from all the sights there. I personally would not plan 2 major museums in one day, certainly not 3. The Rijksmuseum is extensive. On the other hand, it's easy to visit the Maritime Museum (opens earliest) and then the Dutch Resistance Museum. They are close together and you can do each in a couple of hours. I thought both were very interesting. You could fit a visit to the Portuguese Synagogue in between. I think you could add the Van Gogh after that, since it is fairly compact. That would leave you time to linger at the Rijksmuseum and still have stamina for the Stedelijk.

I think outdoor plans need to be flexible to take into account the weather. If it's a dry, pleasant day, spend it doing those things, if it's rainy, head for the museums. Amsterdam is pretty far north, so even on a clear day, the sun stays pretty low on the horizon, and daylight hours are short - just over 8 hours (New York is almost 9.5 then).

Posted by
1804 posts

On Day 2, I would suggest cutting the overnight in Bruges and spending it in Antwerp, particularly since on Day 1 you fly into Amsterdam and then have to catch a train to Antwerp and will be jet lagged. Also, you say you are interested in art and history and Antwerp has some pretty good museums (yes, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts is closed for renovations, but much of the collection has been relocated to other museums in Antwerp). Antwerp has the MAS, Rubenshuis, Fotomuseum, ModeMuseum, and an amazing Cathedral with some great art/history behind it - there are plenty of other museums you could also visit there depending on what your primary interests are. By spending that night in Antwerp, you could explore more of its offerings when you aren't jet-lagged. The distance between Antwerp and Bruges is short - you could easily catch a train in the early morning and still have plenty of time to check into your Bruges lodging and see the main sights. Also, Bruges, with its canals and some of its architecture, looks a little similar to Amsterdam where you will be spending most of your time.

I would not bother with a canal tour during the winter. I went during a particularly rainy/dreery Spring and since the tour boats are sitting so low on the canals and the glass roofs often were being pelted by rain or fogged up because it was cold, the people on board those boats did not look like they were having such a great time. Amsterdam is very compact and you'd have better views simply walking around.

Day 6 is just way too many large museums. I get you are trying to group your sights and all of them are right near each other, but the Rijks is enormous. I'd pair it with something much smaller (like the Willet-Holthuysen). FYI: Anne Frank House is open on Saturday evenings in January until 9PM, so you could possibly squeeze it in then and free up some time for other activities.

With so many museums on your itinerary for Amsterdam, I hope you are thinking about getting the Museumkaart as the cost covers admission at many of the places you list in addition to many others that you don't have listed. By going to the Rijks, Van Gogh & Stedelijk, you've basically paid for the price of the Museumkaart which is good for a year (in case you do go back in the Spring) and is actually also good for museums in others parts of the Netherlands (Hague, Rotterdam, etc.).