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2 days Brussels & 3 days Amsterdam...or vice versa?

Hi all, We will be traveling on our honeymoon to Amsterdam, Belgium, and Paris (into AMS and out of Paris) over 10 days in May. We are planning to spend 5 in Paris, and are trying to decide how to distribute the other 5 days between Amsterdam and Brussels. Our time in Brussels will definitely include a trip to Bruges, and possibly a day trip out of Amsterdam, but we don't have an itinerary yet & are just at the phase of trying to plan out the hotel nights. We definitely don't want to pack up and change hotels more than a few times, so we are trying to finish which of the two places would be a better base for an additional night. So we would love any suggestions as to whether we should do: A) 2 nights in amsterdam and 3 in brussels B) 3 nights in amsterdam and 2 in brussels
C) 2 nights in amsterdam, 2 in brussels and just add another night to our Paris stay. Thanks so much for any advice!

Posted by
4737 posts

I would spend 3 nights in Amsterdam; you can easily fill 3 days and given that you will be jet lagged on arrival, the extra day will really be helpful. I would actually suggest that you spend 2 nights in Bruges rather than in Brussels. I think that Bruges is the most pleasant in the evening. It is filled with day trippers during the day, but the evenings calm down quite a bit. Travel from Amsterdam to Bruges. Consider taking an early train from Bruges to Brussels on the day of your departure to Paris. Leave your luggage at the train station and then head to the Grand Place for some sightseeing and lunch before taking an evening train on to Paris. However, whether you choose Brussels or Bruges for your two nights really depends on what you are interested in. Brussels is a big, modern city. I've spent about 30 nights or so there on business and it is a place that on the surface can seem a bit sterile. You have to work a little harder to really explore it. Bruges is extremely picturesque and 2 days is about right. I was in Bruges in April 2009 and had a very nice stay at Hotel ter Duinen (check reviews on tripadvisor). In Brussels, try to stay within walking distance of the Grand Place.

Posted by
21848 posts

I support Laura's recommendations. Brussels is OK but would rather spend my time elsewhere.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks for the great response! I was beginning to see that Bruges is more beautiful at night, and was thinking of staying there instead. My only concern was that there was not a convenient train straight from Amsterdam or from Bruges to Paris, and thought it may be kind of a hassle dragging our luggage through the station and changing trains. In any event, whether we stay in Bruges or Brussels it seems like I am hearing that Belgium is still the better location to stay for only 2 nights. I also agree with the comment about being jetlagged, so it may be good to stay the extra night in our first location. I really appreciate the responses!

Posted by
21848 posts

Changing trains is common in Europe and personally don't think it is a problem UNLESS you are dragging more luggage than you should. You can get to Bruges with one change in Antwerp. And the same going to Paris with the change in Brussels. The train station is Antwerp is worth the stop.

Posted by
951 posts

When I went 3 years ago, I did Ams (3), Bruges (2), and Paris (4). IMO 3 days in AMs is perfect. With the 2 days in Bruges, we did give Brussels a few hours of our time to see the fine arts museum but other than that, I was happy that I stayed in Bruges instead of Brussels. I think 5 days in Paris is perfect and I had wished I had another day to finish seeing what I needed to see. I am planning on going back to Belgium later this year and am considering 6 night stay with a few day trips around Belgium. The Bruges has so much charm. Since I go in the winter, I really do not see the tourist crush that can ruin the cute charm. So really come in from Ams, hang out and tour Brussels, then head over to Bruges and get ready for an amazing town.

Posted by
6 posts

@ James -Very interesting take on the role of Chocolate in Belgian society! (I take it that's from the movie....definitely plan on watching that!) I'm glad there seems to be a consensus re: time in AMS v. Belgium--as well as whether to stay in Brussels v. Bruges. I already told the hubs about the responses I was getting & he is definitely up for staying in Bruges instead, so sounds like a plan!

Posted by
358 posts

I would spend 6 nights in Paris,3 nights in Amsterdam and 1 night in Bruges. On a tour several years ago we spent 2 nights in Brussels and did not enjoy the city at all. Bruges is good for 1-2 nights. Depending on the time of the month in may you are in Amsterdam the Kerkenhof gardens are open till may 20.

Posted by
1 posts

Melanie, I hope you don't mind me tagging onto your post with a question regarding the same region. My son is studying abroad in Rotterdam (Netherlands) and my husband and I are planning on visiting him end of April/beginning of May. We are going for 8 nights, 3 in Paris and 5 in Amsterdam. Definitely sounds like we should have booked 5 nights in Paris and 3 in Amsterdam, but since he is staying close to Amsterdam thought we should have the better part of our trip there. After I made the plane reservations, I regretted not booking Bruge the last day and flying home out of Brussels. But since I cannot change the plane reservation, was wondering if it is doable to go from Amsterdam to Bruge for a day? Also, what is the recommended mode of transportation to get from Paris to Amsterdam? Thank you for any advice.

Posted by
249 posts

We just did the Amsterdam to Bruges train trip in July-it wasn't difficult; good connections. We also enjoyed Brussels more than most on this site but definitely Amsterdam and Bruges.

Posted by
1986 posts

yes Brugge can be visited on a day trip from Amsterdam, the central area is fairly compact and you can get a good feel for it. in addition to train, i believe there are probably still coach day trips from Amsterdam. Not really enough time to do it justice, but a good trip nevertheless

Posted by
2162 posts

Melanie- On our last trip to Europe, we stayed in Amsterdam, Bruges and Brussels. I found Brussels to be a very hard city to like. We spent 3 nights there and I did enjoy some of the architecture, but when Rick says that Brussels is a more "gritty" city than many European cities, he means it. I simply felt unsafe in many areas and the train station was particularly bad. Amsterdam and Brussels are wonderful, and complement each other well. We spent 6 nights in Amsterdam and never ran out of things to do. Bruges was quieter and charming. The train from Bruges to Amsterdam was no problem at all. Second class tickets got us seats plenty big enough and there were luggage racks right above our heads.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks for the continued comments! We were fortunate and able to add some extra days to Paris (by renting an apartment for a week for less than 5 days in the hotel!) , so we are now going 3 in Amsterdam, 2 in Bruges, and 7 in Paris. I definitely want to at least SEE Brussels, so it will probably end up being at least a 1/2 day trip. (Hubs refuses to leave our bags at the train station in order to just visit it on our way from Ams > Bruges.) Any suggestions as to a good location to split the day with our trip to Brussels would be appreciated! I have Steves' Amsterdam, Brussels and Bruges book (perfect, right?!?), and have just started reading, so that should have some good ideas as well, but any other insights are always appreciated!

Posted by
1 posts

I know this was an old question, but thought I would give my opinion for any others considering this. Bruges is nice, but I found it best for a day trip or 1 night at most. The town is extremely touristy. That aside, it was beautiful at night and great for pictures during the day. Out of the cities I visited in Europe, I did not find the people of Bruges to be very warm. Crowds do die down at night, which is why it may be worth spending a night. I was not unsatisfied with my visit there, but do not see myself going back.