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Traveling to other provinces in the Netherlands

We will be taking our first trip to Belgium and the Netherlands in early September and have 14-16 days (we're flexible on the return date). We were planning on being in Belgium for about 6 days, and spending the balance of the time in the Netherlands. I am wondering if it would be worthwhile to explore any of the other provinces. We're open to renting a car or traveling by train. The Rick Steves' guidebook mainly concentrates on North and South Holland. Is this because they are representative of all of the provinces or to maximize traveling time? Whatever the reason, does anyone have recommendations or should we limit our trip to North and South Holland? I don't doubt that there's plenty to see...
Thanks in advance for your advice!

Posted by
102 posts

We loved Haarlem and used it as a base for Den Haag and Amsterdam. We travelled by train. In Belgium we stayed in Antwerp with day trips to Brussels, Bruges and Ghent. Again all by train.

Posted by
2480 posts

I think it will be the combination of its proximity to Amsterdam, and the iconic Netherlands of windmills and tulips.
Get another guide book, such as the Rough Guide, and you'll see there is a lot more on offer. Personally I am always charmed by the historical cities along the river IJssel, such as Kampen, Deventer and Zutphen, and their hinterland. Only 1,5 hours from Amsterdam and totally different.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks, tonfromleiden! I picked up the Rough Guide book you suggested and will do some more research. Do you have any recommendations on what would be a good base for exploring the cities you suggested, and approximately how much time we should allow? Thanks again!

Posted by
2480 posts

Zutphen would make a good base: small, beautifully preserved, all facilities you need (among which a pleasant hotel right in front of the majestic 13th century church), and good public transport.
Make it a 3 night stay:
Vorden and Ruurlo both have a castle which is a less than 10-min walk from their railway stations. When the weather is fine and you feel up to it, you can have a 2-hour walk between the two on quiet country roads.
Deventer, less than 15 mins away on the train, is the most pleasant of the larger historical cities around. Good for a half day exploring.
If you are into palaces and gardens, the royal palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn is well worth a visit, although getting there involves a train plus bus ride.
Get yourself acquainted with the public transport planner 9292 and invest in an OV Chipkaart.

Posted by
4 posts

The Netherlands is a fantastic place to visit. I lived there for 2 1/2 years and traveled all over the country. Wherever you choose to go, you will find plenty to see and do.

However, if you want to get away from North and South Holland, Utrecht is good. The Dutch call it "The Little Amsterdam". Utrecht is a little like New York and London in as much as it's both a city and a region (Utrecht in Utrecht). Utrecht Centraal is the most important train station in the country so it's easy to get there by rail. If you do a little research you will find lots of things to do there, such as visit the Dom Tower. There's also a free city tour. Again, you should be able to pull up information online.

Many of the cities in Noord-Brabant are interesting too. Eindhoven is a good destination. Most of the city was destroyed in the War. Philips rebuilt it so its known as the City that Philips built. Not surprisingly, it has a Philips Museum. It's in the center of the city and easy to find.

Eindhoven also has the street with the most bars in the Netherlands. It's called Stratumseind. It's 225 meters long and has bars and clubs one either size. If you want a night out in the Netherlands, it's the place to go.

This escapes most of the tourist guides, but Eindhoven also has a "Silly Walk" tunnel. It has a mural that runs the length of one of the walls. It shows John Cleese in various stages of his famous funny walk. Cleese visited Eindhoven, in April 2016, for the official opening. He signed the wall while he was there.

If you are in Noord-Brabant, Breda and Den Bosch are also worth exploring. Both are older cities. However, if you want to say you've been to the oldest city in the Netherlands, you've got to go to Nijmegen. It's a fantastic city and there are some nice walks down by the river.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you everyone for taking the time to give me your input. It is much appreciated! We have decided that we will explore other areas of the Netherlands as suggested.