Netherlands and Belgium in Novemeber

Hi All!

I have the opportunity to travel to Paris in late November with my family and am planning on heading over early to travel in the Netherlands and Belgium before I join them in Paris. I was very excited until I heard from several people that is will be very cold and wet at that time. Has anyone traveled to the Low Countries in November? If so, what was your experience? I'm flexible on the number of days I can go. I'm thinking of 3-4 days in each country: Amsterdam for 2 days with day trips to Harleem and The Hague; Brugge for a couple of days with day trips to Brussels and Ghent (or Brussels for 2 days with day trips to Brugge and Ghent). Is that stretching myself to thin? Will there be enough to do in the smaller towns in November or should I just stick to the bigger cities?

Thanks in advance!!
Tracie

Posted by Lo
Tucson
1210 posts

I think you can expect rough weather in the Netherlands and Belgium as well as in Paris. But as they say, there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.

I'm a little confused by your day trips for the cities you mention. There is more than enough to see and do in the cities themselves. We were in Brugge and Amsterdam in April 2013. We spent a week in each. Too long for some people, I know, but we're slow and we still didn't see all we wanted to see. It was not as rainy as we expected, but it was bitter cold early in the month - at least for this Tucson wuss.

We had a car and we did go to Haarlem for a day trip (from Zandvoort, not Amsterdam). We went to the Frans Hals Museum and Corrie Ten Boom's house and that was enough for us. We did not go to the Hague. We also did not go to Ghent or Brussels. Other things took priority for us. As always, your research on these places will help you decide where to stay and what to see, but I do think you might be stretching yourself too thin.

If I read your schedule properly, you are going to spend a total of 6-8 days total for both countries, meaning 7-9 nights, going on the typical formula of 3 days = 4 nights or 4 days = 5 nights. However, all these places are so close to each other that if you are an early riser or don't mind traveling at night, you could spend fewer nights and still get in your days.

Speaking of night, there will be shorter daylight hours in November, so you will have more darkness than you might expect. It won't matter in many indoor locations, but could make a difference for outdoor ones. See this link -- http://weatherspark.com/averages/28802/11/Amsterdam-Noord-Holland-The-Netherlands -- for weather and daylight hours for Amsterdam, and this one for Brussels -- http://weatherspark.com/averages/28603/11/Brussels-Zaventem-Flemish-Region-Belgium. Be sure to scan the whole page to see cloud cover, rain and other data that may be useful for you. I loved the graphs showing the changes in the weather as the month progresses.

Posted by Jacquie
Vancouver BC
3 posts

If you are worried about spreading yourself too thin, I guess it depends what activities you have planned! There is an infinite amount of things to do and see in all of those places. Do some googling to see what the top activities/museums/shopping/walking are for each location you will be spending time in, and then prioritize and pick your top handful of things to do plus alternates.

Definitely bring an umbrella or two. I've been to the Netherlands 3 times (all in summer) and was absolutely rained out for two out of the 3!! But I'm sort of used to that, living in Vancouver. Depending where you are from and your tolerance level for cold and rain. Holland is a very exposed country, is really a part of the ocean (just reclaimed). Have a warm, waterproof coat/boots and you will be fine.

Have a lovely trip!

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10262 posts

Belgium and the Netherlands usually aren't particularly cold, even in the winter. But yes, the weather in November is quite damp. Don't expect bright, technicolor vistas of the countryside. It's usually gray and overcast. The weather will have less of an impact of city touring, however. Carry and umbrella, wear reasonable clothing and you'll be fine.

Posted by April
Rancho Bellago, CA, USA
26 posts

Hello
Everyone is right about the wet weather. We were in Brugge for 5 days in November 2012 and we needed umbrellas. I almost didn't bring them so I was glad I did. However, you can always buy an inexpensive umbrella if you need it and not have to worry about schlepping one around. We dressed in layers and were warm enough. We had been on a Rhine river cruise and I did have to buy warm shoes in Germany because it actually snowed and I was not ready for it! The area is not bright and flowery like it would be in the spring but we had a great time. Hope you do too.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10262 posts

BTW, many hotels provide umbrellas, particularly in parts of Europe prone to more rain (like the Low Countries). I wouldn't bother packing one.

Posted by Tim
Wyckoff, NJ, USA
1045 posts

At your pace, I would stay in a hotel within walking distance of the train station. You might find Antwerp or Brussels more lively than Brugge. Spending multiple nights in tiny Brugge can mean overlooking many other lovely medieval remnants of Belgium.

Posted by Sara
104 posts

Wow, looks like you got some really great advice for your trip from all these other experienced travelers on our Forum. Any advice I would have given has already been addressed above. Don't forget a warm coat (with hood and you don't need an umbrella) and some comfortable winter shoes. Have a great trip!

Posted by eden7_71
2 posts

Thank you all so much for your thoughts and advice!!! I've decided this will just be my winter for the year. I live in Southern California so we don't get much of one here.

With much appreciation!
Tracie

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10262 posts

November won't even be close to winter conditions.

Posted by Tim
Wyckoff, NJ, USA
1045 posts

Amsterdam for 2 days with day trips to Harleem and The Hague
What? Have you already seen Amsterdam, worth 3-5 nights alone by itself?

Will there be enough to do in the smaller towns in November or should I just stick to the bigger cities?
Brugge and Ghent have small medieval centers, but they are substantial cities, not towns. But you are correct, maybe, in hinting that there is more than you can do in two nights in Antwerp or two nights in Brussels, and little to do in Brugge after you have been to the religious art museums. Although local trains are cheap and frequent in Belgium, you are spreading yourself too thin. Decide whether you want to go to art museums or simply stroll medieval streets. Do you have a decent food budget, in case the weather is cold and you want to treat yourself to a fine dinner in a warm restaurant?