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Netherlands, Germany and Belgium

HI! I'm planning to trip with my hubby to Amsterdam next May 2012. We will only have 7 days. I would like to see some towns in Germany but I've been reading and don't know if should include Belgium or not. We don't want to rush through the places. Can anyone recommend a comfortable itinerary? I've been to Italy but did not make it to Venice so thought Bruges would be good to see. But then I've also heard a lot about the Romantic Road and the Rhine. Help!

Posted by
850 posts

Jennifer, that would be a stretch to try to see those three countries in 7 days especially so if you are not counting flight time. If you are flying into and out of Amsterdam there would be a lot of traveling to the Romatic Road & back. Cologne might be an option for a couple of days. Bruges would be about the same distance from Amsterdam so that is doable but to try to squeeze Bruges in with a journey to Germany and back to Amsterdam would cause you to rush more than you would want. If you could mention what interests you have such as museums, history, WWII etc you will probably get some good suggestions on sites to see that would be of interest to you without pushing yourself too much.

Posted by
76 posts

I am probably in the minority here, but I wasn't that impressed with Bruges. I found it far to crowded and touristy. With your limited time I would think it better spent seeing more in Netherlands (Haarlem?) or I like your idea about seeing some of Germany. And remember an overnight train saves you a whole vacation day and you can get quite a distance overnight. I'd say 3 days in Amsterdam / Haarlem, then an overnight train can get you as far down into Bavaria as Munich for 4 days where you can do comfortable day trips to several interesting places such as Fussen for Neuschwanstein castle, Salzburg, Austria, Mittenwald, or towards the Rhine to Rothenburg and Harburg. It really depends on what you are interested in seeing while you're there.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you! It seems like you both agree that maybe this time I should skip Belgium and just see some places in Germany. It was my original idea so I'm glad to hear that. Now I just have to decide where in Germany. I guess I will do some more reading to help me decide. The Salzsburg idea I love but thought it might also be too much...I do love history and museums it depends. Not so much into art...

Posted by
1840 posts

We went by train from Schiphol to Amsterdam Central Station. From there on to Cologne, Germany for a three day stay. There is an Ibis hotel right at the train station there. After that we proceeded down through Germany and Luxumberg, and back to Amsterdam.

Posted by
6805 posts

OK. You've spent a few days in Amsterdam. You could spend 8-10 hours getting to Munich, but it's only 2.5 hours from A'dam to the Rhine at Cologne. Make a stop there to see the Cathedral and the old town and either spend the night or proceed to a village in the nearby Middle Rhine region south of Koblenz. Boppard, or St. Goar are attractive towns that make a good base for exploration. Buy a 3-day VRM (local transit authority) mini-group pass for 40 Euros and sightsee using the local trains that run north and south along the Rhine on both sides of the river; The Mosel River towns are also accessible with this pass. Destinations include Burg Eltz Castle (on the Mosel near Moselkern), Marksburg Castle in Braubach, Cochem (also on the Mosel), Reichsburg Castle in Cochem (great falconry show there,) Linz, Oberwesel (good spot to start a Rhine cruise headed northj) and Remagen's WW II museum. The Rhine embodies the Romantic movement in German literature and culture - no need to travel across the country for the Romantic Road on such a short visit as yours.

Posted by
408 posts

I would go to Munich area because there is so much to see and do. Buy a Rick Steve's guide of Germany and see what interest you the most. I love Bavaria with the hiking, castles, WWII history, Dachau. Rothenburg is a nice one night visit. Austria, Salzburg is close and you could split your time there and see the Eagles next, salt mine tour, Hallstat, Sound of Music tour. I could go on and on. This area is Beautiful and worth visiting.

Posted by
111 posts

Seven days seems like a long time. Yes one can spend time to visit and enjoy a few sites in each country, you can then say I've been to Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands...why not tag on Italy and Austria? Point is one can say I've been to these counties but spent all my time on trains. I want to viisit Florida..Key West, Miami, Orlando, All of Disney, St Pete, Jackonsonville in 7 days. What would your recommendation be? One will need to limit stops. You'll be exhausted to attempt a meaningful visit. You might settle on sites in the Netherlands and maybe an overnight in Belgium. Amsterdam is a wonderful great city. A meaningful stop in a few cities is much better than an exhausting trip to many cities...and likely much more stressful. Germany is well worth an extended return trip.
Good luck...hope you take this as constructive advice.

Posted by
32269 posts

Jennifer, That's a LONG way to go for only a seven days trip. You'll barely be over jet lag. Could you confirm whether the seven day time frame includes your flight days? Also, is there ANY possibility you could get more time? With such a VERY short time, I'd suggest limiting your trip to Germany on this occasion. If you fly into Frankfurt, you can stop at Rothenburg ob der Tauber for one night on the way to Munich. From there continue to Munich for two or three days. Plan your touring carefully as there's a LOT to see and do in Munich! Some of the "usual" favourites are day trips to Neuschwanstein Castle and Dachau. You could also take a day trip to Berchtesgaden (Eagle's Nest, Salt Mine tours). You could take a side trip from Munich to Salzburg for a day or two. I'd normally suggest a day trip to Hallstatt while there (an incredibly beautiful and historic location!) however with such a short trip I'm not sure you'll have time (unless you reduce your time in Munich). At the end of your visit, return to Munich and fly home from there. If you book an afternoon flight, you should be able to easily get to Munich airport from Salzburg (hopefully Lee or one of our other German rail experts can confirm that). Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
9044 posts

They are planning on going to Amsterdam, so why not suggest some towns in Northern Germany instead of going all the way down South to Munich? Just because Rick doesn't feature any of them in his book, doesn't mean there isn't anything to see up there. Bavaria, Munich, and Rothenburg are nice and all that, but there are other beautiful, historic and yes, even quaint, medieval towns and cities in Germany. Pull out a map and look for towns that aren't so far away that will be fun and interesting to visit. Perhaps Delft, or go up to the North Sea? There are other towns in Belgium that you might like, such as Antwerp or Ghent. For Germany, think Aachen or Muenster. 7 days is not a lot of time, so wasting an entire day traveling in the middle of your vacation just to go to Bavaria isn't the most efficient use of your time in Europe.

Posted by
32269 posts

@ Jo, While Jennifer mentioned "Netherlands and Belgium" in the OP, the third reply seemed to indicate that the focus of the trip has now been changed to only Germany. She also indicated a desire to visit Salzburg. Therefore I based my reply on the newer information in the third reply. Given the fact that the trip may only be five days (if travel days have to be deducted), southern Germany seemed like a logical choice and offered the "best bang for the buck". Some of the criteria I used in my reply: > Frankfurt is a major hub, and will therefore have greater availability of flights (at least that's been my experience). > While it would be easy to travel directly from Frankfurt airport to Munich (or fly to Munich to begin with), many people enjoy Rothenburg so I figured one night may be of interest (she mentioned "Romantic Road"). > Flights home from Munich should also be relatively easy to find. > Salzburg is an easy trip from Munich, so that would allow the OP to visit there also, which she indicated she wanted to do. > Munich itself has lots to see, but there are also some interesting day trips possible from there, which would provide some variety. I don't disagree that there are many other interesting towns in Germany, whether they're shown in Rick's book or not. However, with such a VERY short trip I tried to suggest a region that had lots to see within a small area thereby minimizing travel times and maximizing touring times, and also allowing easy flight access. Another possibility would be to tour Amsterdam, Bruges & Brussels, as they are also relatively close. AMS is also a good choice for flights. There are lots of ways this could be arranged, and this is only one suggestion. The short time frame limits options to some extent. Cheers!

Posted by
4 posts

Wow! I'm overwhelmed.. Well thank you to you all. Actually, yesterday I was working on a preliminary schedule. I've eliminated Belgium. I'm sticking to AMS, Rhine and Romantic Road but not going all the way down to Munich. I would love to but I can't this time. I'm thinking about 2 days in AMS, a cruise through St Goar to Bacharach and the firs two cities along Romantic Road. Can't remember the spelling but the W city and Rothenburg. Is that feasible?

Posted by
6805 posts

"Can't remember the spelling but the W city and Rothenburg. Is that feasible?" You probably mean Würzburg. You wrote, "We don't want to rush through the places." Your new idea is perhaps feasible, but by including the 4+ hour train ride each way from the Rhine to W'burg and R'burg you are still traveling to Bavaria and spending a lot of time on ground travel and your trip will still be pretty rushed. Which is fine if you don't mind rushing, but you said you didn't want to. Are you flying OUT of AMS too? That's 8+ hours by train back from R'burg. If out of FRA, you'll still have a 3-hr train ride back. Only 2 nights in Amsterdam at the beginning? Your first day will probably provide little opportunity for sightseeing, especially if jet-lagged / tired. If you've got 7-8 nights altogether, I would stick with 3 nights in Amsterdam, perhaps with a short outing, 3-4 nights in the Rhine/Mosel region (and maybe a final night near AMS.) If you fly out of FRA, you can get there from the Rhine villages in about 1 hour by train, so you don't have to waste an evening at an airport hotel.
For some reason, the Rhine/Mosel region is so strongly associated with the river cruise experience that its other assets are sometimes ignored. You say, "I do love history and museums." In Cologne, the train station, the huge Cologne Cathedral, the most visited landmark in all of Germany, and the Römisch-Germanisches Museum are steps from each other. In Trier, Germany's oldest city, there are Roman ruins and the Landes Museum, the cathedral and its treasury museum. Remagen's WW II museum is excellent. The area's castle tours are also very good. I like Rothenburg - super-touristy but worthwhile - but I'd leave it and W'burg for a later trip to Munich.

Posted by
4 posts

James were flying to Ams for 2 reasons: because were sure were going and air fare is cheaper...I just wanted to go to nearby places since I was there..we've been trying to make this trip for a long time and I don't know when well be able to do another one.

Posted by
2399 posts

FYI in Amsterdam if plan to see Anne Frank House, suggest you get tickets on line, since you will only be there a few days you don't want to waste time waiting on what could be a long line. We were there a year ago May and had no wait but maybe we were just lucky.

Posted by
76 posts

Jennifer, First off, don't get to overwhelmed and stressed, vacations are supposed to be relaxing! :) I start the planning process months before a trip and enjoy it, but do stress about trying to fit everything I want to do into my limited time. Sit back, take a deep breath, and logically look at what YOU will be comfortable with doing in 7 days. Rick says "Assume you will return" so if you miss out on Munich and Salzburg this time it gives you a reason to come back and do that area next time. Also don't underestimate the value and time savings of an overnight train trip. Its great to fall asleep in one city and wake in a completely different one, 8 hours away, rested (mostly) and ready to start your day. On such a short trip it would save you a whole day of travel. That was one reason I suggested Munich, besides the beauty and the things to see in the area, a night trip works perfectly. Get on at 2300 in Amsterdam and wake by 0800, get off the train and get going in Munich! We are always GO GO GO on our trips (we want to see everything!) but plan your trip with downtime in each stop to capture the feeling of WHY you wanted to be there in the first place.

Posted by
54 posts

Hi Jennifer I just got back from Amsterdam and buying the tickets to Anne Frank's house in advance will help you save time and the museums. We stayed at Boogards and it was great!