We will be in Amsterdam for a week in January. We've been to Amsterdam before so have seen many of the major sights. Any ideas for day trips or over night trips? (Weather is not as issue for us.) What are the must sees? Any special vegan restaurants that you can recommend? What about Copenhagen by train? Has anyone done that in the winter? Any info is appreciated. thanks, Ola
Do you have a copy of the current RS guide book for Amsterdam? We used one when we visited there and it had lots of useful information not only about the city but of other suggestions to visit.
To look at train schedules, use the Bahn (German rail) site, follow Rick's advice here: http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/db_tips.htm A quick look shows that trains from Amsterdam to Copenhagen take at least 11 hours and involve at least two changes. Places closer to Amsterdam are probably a better bet for this trip <g>. As for day and overnight trips from Amsterdam, Charlie's advice to look at Rick Steves Amsterdam, Bruges & Brussels is spot-on. The book has lots of ideas, ranging from cities to small towns to rural areas, and also has all the details of getting there from Amsterdam. In addition to the ones in the book, consider Utrecht, Leiden, or Rotterdam. Utrecht is actually in the book (1.5 pages), but I enjoyed the Centraal Museum as well as the railway museum and museum of music boxes. It's also just a nice town, with unusual bi-level canals. Leiden is the Netherlands' main "college town" and has an interesting science museum. And Rotterdam is fascinating because it's so different from other Dutch cities. If you go, get the architecture walking tour brochure from the tourist office (even if you don't take the walk, it has a free map, so you don't have to buy the TI's city map). Don't miss the Cube Houses or the Erasmus Bridge.
We were in Amsterdam and spent a full day in Haarlem, lovely very walkable little town only about 15 minutes by train. One of our favorite places.
If you have not been already...Brugges and Ghent are beautiful belgian cities.
Delft and Leiden make great daytrips.
The Hague, Delft, and Haarlem are close in day trips. Two days would easily cover the three. Farther afield are Ghent and Bruges as well as Brussels. Given only a week and that you are basing in Amsterdam even though you have been there (there must be more you want to see), I would not go any further than the above destinations. I am assuming you did not want Paris or you would base there.
I'll put in a plug for Leiden. We stayed there for several days in April. We most enjoyed self-touring what I understand is the only real windmill you can go inside of in the country: Molen de Valk. It is now a mill museum and is very close to the train station. People often come to see it from Amsterdam. I saw no special info about winter hours and the website does have a picture of it in snow. There is an email link so you could use that to ask them about winter. One heads up, literally, there are lots of narrow stairs to go up the 7 levels and going down is like going down a ladder. They ask (on signs in several languages) you to go down backwards so that you don't bump your head. If you go, there will be lots of places open to eat nearby. We recommend Oudt Leyden if you haven't had your fill of pannenkoeken yet. Check out the menu at their website.
Now for Amsterdam. Not knowing what you have seen there, be reminded that the Rijksmuseum is open again after several years of renovations and the same is true for the Van Gogh Museum. We enjoyed and were enlightened by the Dutch Resistance Museum and the Tropenmuseum. Both had unique ways of presenting the information that were well worth the visits. And we loved taking a Canal Bus (https://www.canal.nl/en/canal-bus), especially going out into the harbor. We managed to get off and on and see almost all of the lines it covered. If it runs in winter, you might have a totally different experience than we did due to the lack of daylight. That link can also get you to other cruises that Canal offers. For some reason, linking didn't want to work with it, so I pasted it in.
Thanks to everyone for the great input. We are using Amsterdam as our gateway to fly on to Kilimanjaro to join up with a safari. We are laying over before to get used to the time change from California, because it always is hard for me, even as much as I travel I have a hard time adjusting. We've seen a lot of the major places, always using RS of course, in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, etc so we are looking for some of the special places other readers may have found on their own. Also any vegan restaurants. We have 2 in Amsterdam that we like. I like your suggestion to visit the windmill, because even tho I have been to Netherlands several times, I have never seen a windmill. But now we are adding to the mix, and thinking of taking a short flight to Riga for a few days, to see if we can locate the area my husband's grandfather lived in. We know it's near the opera house, and even have an old address, and have communicated with the historical society there, and know the house does not exist, but it will l still be a treat to see the area. So, any advice for us in Riga?
Again, thanks to you all. I love this Traveler's Helpline and the RS books.
A good link for the windmill in Leiden, and a very nice one it is too. But rest assured that it is by far not the only real windmill you can go in. There is a whole row of working windmills northeast of Haarlem, the somewhat touristy Zaanse Schans has several working windmills which are real. You might be surprised to see that grinding mustard or oil are both activities easily done by windmill, in addition to pumping water. Kinderdijk near Rotterdam has windmills as far as the eye can see, and at least one is open. Near Arnhem at the open air museum are several more visitable real windmills. Those are just the ones I can think of in a minute - I've visited all of them. I'm sure that there are many more. Even more open on Windmill Day, and on Museum Weekend. And on patrimony Open Day.
If architecture interests you, there is a neighbourhood in Riga with stunning art deco buildings. I can't remember where but the tourist office will know. I liked Riga the best of the three Balkan capitals.
thanks again, every one.... Ola