Amount of time to spend in Edinburgh/Amsterdam

Hi, fellow travelers! I'm planning on coming to Cambridge-area this September (my base) and am looking to take some trips out to Edinburgh and Amsterdam. I can't spend a ton of time in either city, but was hoping maybe two days in each city would give me a good sense of it? Is that enough time to see some of the most important sights, enjoy the scenery and culture a little, etc.? Also, was thinking of going up to Edinburgh by going through the Lake District.. but I won't have a car. There aren't any kind of wonderful train rides that would go through that area up to Edinburgh, are there? Thanks for your help!

Posted by Kevin
near Ringwood, Hampshire, UK
521 posts

Also, was thinking of going up to Edinburgh by going through the Lake District.. but I won't have a car. There aren't any kind of wonderful train rides that would go through that area up to Edinburgh, are there? The west coast main line route skirts past the edge of the Lake District, and while you will see some hills and nice views, you won't see anything of the heart of the Lakes or the places that people go there to experience. The other difficulty is that Cambridge is in the east of England, so the obvious route to Scotland would be via Peterborough to change to the east coast main line. I haven't checked the route you would need to take to go via the west coast, but I think it would add some time to the journey that would be better spent in Edinburgh, given that you have so little time to spare. EasyJet fly from Stansted to Edinburgh several times per day, for not a lot of money. That might be a better way to get there.

Posted by orv
edina, usa
69 posts

I'm planning on coming to Cambridge-area this September (my base) and am looking to take some trips out to Edinburgh and Amsterdam. I can't spend a ton of time in either city, but was hoping maybe two days in each city would give me a good sense of it? Is that enough time to see some of the most important sights, enjoy the scenery and culture a little, etc.? For Amsterdam, I don't think 2 days is near enough to appreciate this incredible sity. I was there last July and spent 5 days. Lots of good stuff to see and do such as: Van Gogh Museum Rijksmuseum Anne Frank House Red Light District
Canals etc etc etc

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1333 posts

i was only in Edinburgh so i will let others comment on the lake districts... 2 days isnt alot of time for AMS. yes you can do it, but it will depend on what you want to do. If you do go, plan your time IE route and what you want to do so you dont cross your path alot. if you can buy tickets online and ahead of time, it could save you some time. good luck and happy trails.

Posted by VS
Palo Alto, CA, United States
556 posts

We did three nights, two full days, in Edinburgh as a side trip on our 2002 Ireland trip. I think Edinburgh is worth three full days, in retrospect. We took half a day to see Stirling Castle; a very worthy stop but would have liked more time in Edinburgh, too. Be sure to account for travel time, if you mean two nights then no way is that enough in either city.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8727 posts

If you can get away after work on Friday afternoon, all day Saturday and most of Sunday would be fun trips to both places - suggest fly to Amsterdam and probably fly to Edinburgh. They will certainly be flying visits, but if you want to test the atmosphere in Amsterdam and Edinburgh I'd say go for it.... It is tough for me to see how you would have time for the Lake District on the way to anywhere, but you could easily take the train from Cambridge to the Lake District. You could either take the train to London, then down the road to Euston and the Virgin train north. Or there is the X5 bus from Cambridge to Oxford and off at Milton Keynes for the northbound train. I haven't worked out which route would be faster. The X5 bus is quite nice with leather seats, wifi, and power plugs.

Posted by Iain
Edmonton, AB, Canada
668 posts

Was in Edinburgh, Lake District and Amsterdam this past April! Each is worth several days. Lake district without a vehicle is a bit difficult on your own. There are tours which tend to whistle-stop the places with little time to browse the towns, which in my opinion is half the pleasure - the other half being the wild and beautiful scenary. Trying to do all three in 4-5 days does none of them any justice. Someone gave the main sights of Amsterdam and I concur, but you coiuld spend all day in the Rijskmuseum and an hour or two on a canal boat is well worthwhile, as well as easing tired feet. Edinburgh Castle is worth a morning or afternoon, but Stirling Castle is a better attraction with more history explained. A walk down teh Royal Mile is a must and Britannia at Leith is worth a visit. Mary Kings Close is another interesting spot....I could go on, but I would suggest you pick one of the places and spend time there. Plan to return!

Posted by LaRae
spokane
472 posts

Two days in Edinburgh would be fine but you could spend a week easily in Amsterdam. I would not recommend the Lakes District without a car.

Posted by J.
New York
11 posts

Thanks for the helpful thoughts, everyone! Thinking I want to do Amsterdam justice on a later trip, but wondering if you think a two-day jaunt to Antwerpen, Belgium would be a nice trip. Looks like a beautiful, peaceful place. Thoughts? Easy to train/plane to? Easy to explore w/o a car?
Thanks!

Posted by Ceidleh
Boston, MA, United States
1173 posts

Amsterdam has loads of things to do, so 2 days would only be sufficient if you just want to scratch the surface a little and then plan to go back another time for longer. Two days in Antwerp is very doable. If you are flying into Brussels, it's very easy to catch a train (they leave frequently) and be in Antwerp in about an hour. You don't need a car and it's compact enough that you can get around to most places on foot or via public transit once you are in Antwerp. I don't know that I would call Antwerp "peaceful" - it's still a city and the neighborhoods will vary from the touristy area around the Cathedral, to commercial strips with big chain department stores and high-end designer stores, to gritty areas, and others that are full of character to grab a drink, a meal or do some shopping in small, locally-owned boutiques. While the Royal Museum is closed for renovations, some of its collection has been moved to smaller museums. Antwerp does have a number of very good museums covering just about everything from Rubens to fashion to photography.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7181 posts

It really depends on your preferences. When I'm mapping out an itinerary, I start by researching the sight options. I give each site my own grade - must see, good to see if I have time, or skippable. I try to allow enough time to see two major sights per day (one in the morning, one in the afternoon) covering all my must sees. I'll adjust that for particular sights that I know will take more or less time. When I'm there, I'll visit my must sees and keep the "good to see if I have time" sights' information in my back pocket - in case I find myself with extra time. For example, the Red Light District and "Coffee" Shops may be must sees for someone. For me both are skippable - so my time in Amsterdam will be different based on that. Two days is plenty for me in A'dam, it's not a favorite of mine (although I think everyone should visit at least once); others consider it one of their favorite places and would happily stay a week. Flying to Edinburgh is the better option unless you plan some stops between there and Cambridge (then consider renting a car). Without a car, there are also day/short visit bus trips to the Lake District that will get you there and back.