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Itinerary Suggestions Requested

We will be spending about 20 days on our vacation. We are flying into Amsterdam, then will take the train to Brussels and Bruges (not sure which one first), and then finishing up a few days in Paris. We figure three nights in Paris as we've been there several times, but this is the first trip to the other locations. We would like to see those three cities and day trips to nearby towns. Any suggestions for an itinerary?

Thanks....

Posted by
258 posts

I am interested in the responses you receive since I would like to do the same trip in 2015.

Posted by
24888 posts

What time of year, and how many is "we"?

Posted by
252 posts

Some people love Brugges...for me it was a nice day trip or 2.
I much prefer Antwerp and Gent. You should do some research about there. They are more vibrant at night than Brugges so it does depend on what you want.

Posted by
1976 posts

I'd recommend at least 4 full days in Amsterdam, depending on how much you want to see there. I also second the suggestion to visit Ghent - I went there for a day trip and enjoyed it, and wished I'd stayed overnight. I also took a day trip to Bruges; for me, one day there was enough.

What are your interests? Do you like museums? Spending time outdoors? This will help us suggest additional things.

Posted by
17 posts

went to Zaanse Schan to see the windmills - just take the train (20 mins) from Amsterdam Centraal (Central Station). It is a nice village and is a straight road. You can also bike, very easy. You will see the clog (wood shoes) factory there. Remember to get some cheese there too.

Posted by
11232 posts

Be sure to get Rick Steves Amsterdam, Bruges, and Brussels. Despite the title, the book now also covers Ghent and Antwerp, as well as many daytrips in Holland from Amsterdam, complete with all the logistical details. Read about the various options and decide for yourself what interests you the most.

Personally, I loved Antwerp, like Bruges a lot (I was there in April 2002, and it was not that crowded), was slow to warm up to Ghent but in the end liked it, and did not care for Brussels. The undisputed highlight of Brussels for me (really the only highlight) was the Art Nouveau tour with ARAU: http://www.arau.org/en/tours

However, be aware that opinions of these four Belgian cities are all over the place. You can stay in any one of them and see the others as daytrips, so you aren't restricted if you don't like the one(s) you picked.

Three places in Holland that I liked, and that Rick covers sparingly or not at all, were Utrecht, Leiden, and Rotterdam.

Utrecht has some interesting museums. My favorites were the Centraal Museum, with its mix of everything from ancient ships to graffitti art, and the Museum from Music Box to Fairground Organ (a very rough translation of the Dutch name), where you take a one hour tour and see the various mechanical music-makers demonstrated. Utrecht also has unusual bi-level canals.

Leiden (which you will pass through on the way to Keukenhof if you're going to the flower exhibits there) has a great college town feel (Delft and Utrecht also have universities, but do not look or feel like college towns). It has an interesting science museum (did you know that EKG's and renal dialysis were from the Netherlands?). I also enjoyed just walking around, and wish I had allotted more time there. To avoid offending others, I'll just say that I wasn't as taken with Keukenhof as most are.

Rotterdam feels very different from other Dutch cities. It was destroyed in WWII, and has lots of fascinating modern architecture (get the architecture walking tour brochure from the tourist office, which also doubles as a free map; they charge for a map otherwise). Don't miss the Cube House Museum - fascinating.

If you're seeing more than a few museums in the Netherlands, the Museumkaart is a great deal, as it's good all over the country.

Because it's tulip season, spring is peak time in Amsterdam - get your hotel reservations EARLY.