We are traveling for the first time to (flying in and out of) Amsterdam for a week this summer. Having never been to the area, we want to make the most of the region. How would you spend your time? We are intending to go to Brussels as well, but we're having trouble thinking through how many days in each spot, so we can start working on accommodations. We love to walk/be active, so happy to hear your "must see" spots! How would you spend a week? :)
If you only have a week, I would focus all the time on the Netherlands, unless there is a specific thing you want to see or do in Brussels. This is for several reasons:
1) It saves time - see places that are closer to Amsterdam.
2) It saves money - local Dutch trains will be cheaper than the train to Brussels.
3) Brussels is often considered a less than stellar place. Of course, opinions vary, but few find it a highlight of Europe (to put it gently). However, my sister-in-law did indeed go to Brussels from Amsterdam, specifically to see some of the artworks there, and was glad she did this. So, if you have a specific reason, that's fine.
Start by looking at Rick Steves Amsterdam & the Netherlands. He has lots of places that make good day trips or overnights from Amsterdam, complete with goof-proof directions, from cities to villages to more rural areas. You can decide which places interest you.
It's hard to give specific recommendations of what to see without knowing your interests.
I'm more of a city person, so I went to Delft, the Hague, Leiden, Utrecht, and Rotterdam. and liked all except for Delft (to me, disappointing and overrated). However, those places won't suit someone looking for nature.
Favorites of mine are mostly outdoors:
A bike ride through the Schoorl dunes (you can rent bikes)
The ferry to Texel and biking around the island (you can rent bikes)
The Zuiderzee museum in Enkhuizen if you like living history museums
Find out when market day is in a village - perhaps Alkmaar
Driving over the Afsluitdijk and wandering through a charming village like Hindelopen
Engineering fan? Take a tour of the Delta Works.
All the stuff in Amsterdam would be based on preference and Ricks recommendations
Brugge way better than Brussels IMO.
Hard to know what to recommend because we don't know your specifics. But in any case there is more than enough to do in the Netherlands for a week. We based in Haarlem for a week , a short train ride from Amsterdam and also trained all around and had a great time. We spent a lot of time walking around many towns and cities up and down the train line. Trains are frequent and don't require reservations. We just hopped on and off as we pleased. No cash though. Single use OV chip card or a personal OV chip card loaded with credit.(only worth it for multi trips. )
Hopefully you will be able/ comfortable going this summer. For me no way I am going to be traveling , riding trains etc. for quite some time , likely until there is a vaccine or health experts indicate it is advisable. So if you are to postpone you can use the info in the various relies for a later trip. Have fun whatever you decide.
I liked the art museum in Brussels as much or more than the one in Amsterdam. But others are right that the Netherlands has more than enough to occupy yourself for a week. I suggest you look through two or more guidebooks, make a list of the sites that look appealing to you, and post a supposed day-by-day itinerary. You can change your mind multiple times before your trip and possibly at the last minute in the Netherlands. Such an itinerary will give us good idea of what you have time for. One thing I suggest is buy whatever tickets you can in advance - the Anne Frank house and the Van Gogh museum may be the only sight that definitely require advance tickets but for example, after entering the art museum in Amsterdam, I was able to just get my ticket scanned right away rather than waiting in line to buy the ticket, because I bought the ticket before my trip.