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Netherlands visit - 2 days

Hi All,
I've been planning a trip with my parents (both above 60) to Europe. I posted in the General Europe thread and got many great suggestions on this thread (https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/general-europe/traveling-through-europe). Now, I am planning the things I want to see per city-in each country. So, here are the places that I'd like to see in the Netherlands.

I'm aware that it might be almost impossible to cover all of these, but this is just a master list that we have gathered. I would love suggestions on what places are really similar and droppable from my list. For example: If I have 3 museums on my list, but they are all similar - I'd love to know which one to pick. Here's my list of places:

I'll be there (if visa goes through) on the 23rd and 24th of August (Sat and Sun).

List of Places
Cheese making market Alkmaar (Not Friday)
Singel Flower market Amsterdam
Van gogh museum Amsterdam
Anne Frank house Amsterdam
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Canal bus tour(Night) Amsterdam
Neuwmarket Amsterdam
Free ferry (Buiksloterdijk) Amsterdam
Vondelpark Amsterdam
Hoge Veluwe park Gelderland
Madurodam Hague
Amsterdam tulip museum Jordaan
Euromast tower Rotterdam
Rotterdam harbor tour Rotterdam
Erasmas bridge Rotterdam
Zaanse Schans Windmills Zaandijk
Keukenhoff Garden Near Amsterdam (Is this open?)
Delft pottery factory Delft
Arboretum Trompenberg Rotterdam

There you go :). Is that a nice list of places to go to? Anything obvious that I have overlooked?

There are a couple of other key questions:-

  • Is it possible to do all this using public transport? I will definitely NOT drive. Anything that needs a car, do let me know - I'll drop that off my list straight away. :)
  • Considering my list of places, where would you suggest I stay? Amsterdam seems the logical choice, but are there any cheaper and cuter places ..within say an hour of the places I would like to see - that'll be cool too.

Lastly, I'm trying to learn German :) ... do I need to know Dutch too? :). How easy is it to get by with just English for a couple of days? 2 languages in 2 months might be too much haha.

Thank You
Arvind

Posted by
8940 posts

With two full days you should just stick to the sights in Amsterdam. Consider adding the Hermitage, Maritime Museum, and the WWII Resistance Museum. Skip the day trips for another visit.
A combination of walking and the trams will get you to all the sights

Everyone in Amsterdam speaks fluent english.

Posted by
137 posts

Thank You Michael. I will consider your advice and decide.

A few questions though:

a) The Keukenhof gardens appear to be closed during August. Or are they open...but we just can't see tulips? If it's closed, where is the best place to see a lot of flowers in full bloom in 1 place. Just multi-colored fields etc.

b) Apart from museums and parks, is there anything else that I have missed out in my list above? That's maybe..unique to Amsterdam? Apart from the red-light area - no interest in that :)

c) Are there places to stay that embody the Netherlands way of life? I don't want to just be put up at a big hotel with all its conveneinces...which abstract everything. Some quaint B&B's maybe? Or any other options?

Thanks
Arvind

Posted by
137 posts

Great. Thanks Michael. Do you mean it'll be open in August though? The site says it closes in May.

Also any recommendations on point c)?

Arvind

Posted by
8940 posts

The Keukenhoff Gardens are only open to the public April & May; the rest of the year it is closed.

Can't help you with point C, I typically stay in the big chain style hotels.

Posted by
137 posts

Thanks Michael, that helps. I'll wait for someone else to hopefully chip in on Point c).

Posted by
354 posts

Hi Arvind, how about a houseboat for a quaint stay? Try Air B&B or Housetrip for listings. You wrote in another post that your mother liked greenery and landscapes, but your current itinerary is city-heavy. It might be an idea to spend a full day in Amsterdam and the next day, take a half day trip to Zaanse Schans to see the windmills and the water, and then return for the night canal bus tour. The 'must do' museums are the Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum (though I must say I'm not a fan and didn't spend that much time there), and if you don't have time, don't try to do all three! It all depends on how much you and parents like art and European history. I suggest prebooking tickets for the museums to avoid waiting in line. Walking along the canals (you could have a rest stop in a cafe/ restaurant by a canal) or in the Jordaan district is nice - the Anne Frank museum is in the Jordaan. One thing that my mum and I sometimes did, in the days when we traveled together, was to book a day tour, so we didn't need to figure how to get to some place(s) by public transport, and the tour usually covered more places than we could do on our own. That way, we could both sit back, relax and enjoy the day. Plus, sometimes public buses, trains and trams get crowded and i didn't like my mum standing for long periods of time. Sometimes we'd get tickets for the Hop On Hop Off tour buses. I've seen first-time visitors to Europe underestimate the amount of walking that's often required, and looking at exhibits in museums can also be tiring on the eyes and mind. So remember to factor in rest time.
PS. I agree with some of the other posters about your Italian itinerary- don't try to do too much! As I said, it can be tiring getting to, and seeing the sights!

Posted by
149 posts

With 3 nights and no car in Amsterdam, my wife and I did the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and a day trip to Zaanse Schans by train. We also did a lot of exploring on foot and to a lesser degree by bike. There might also have been a coffeeshop.

We're going to do 3 nights in Delft next and would love input from anyone who's been there.

Posted by
137 posts

Thank You so much Audrey. That is a super super super idea. I will see if I can spend 2 nights on a houseboat - I am fairly sure Mom will love it and Dad, while not as big a romantic ;) will enjoy it too. Also thanks for the ideas on what to see - those kind of tie in with what I thought of and it's comforting to know that its doable. HaHa the amount of grief I've been given for my Italy plans are huge :) - but hey that's what this forum is for..rt? :)

Thank You Jim. Good to know that you did a shortish trip and enjoyed it all the same. Good luck with your next leg.

Posted by
161 posts

I agree with Audrey-- the Van Gogh, Rjiksmuseum, and Anne Frank Huis are must sees. Do the first two one morning and the latter in one evening after the crowds die down. I would be hard pressed to skip the Resistance Museum however-- Amsterdam has been such a hotbed or resistance for such a long time, and during WWII, that all came into play, along with bicycles-- I can't recommend it enough. I know you probably don't have time for this, but I found a unique and small museum on my recent visit which also has a lovely tea shop overlooking a garden: The Bag & Purse Museum. Quirky, small.
l

Posted by
137 posts

Thank You Laurel. That's good to know and I will try and visit as many as I can :). The bag and purses museum sounds nice, Mom might like it - maybe I'll spend an hour or so there if I can. See this is the thing.. each time I decide .. "Ok no more" .. someone tells me something nice and I start thinking again :).

Posted by
354 posts

Ah yes, the Bags and Purses museum! Thanks Laurel - I haven't been there before, but I think I might check it out when I'm back in Amsterdam in a couple of weeks' time ...