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Adding time after Heart of Holland/Belgium trip question

Hello,
If you have gone on the heart of Holland/Belgium trip, did you add more time at the end in Amsterdam? Was there anything you felt the tour didn’t have time for, and you wanted to see? I’m wondering about adding time for The Hague, or Rotterdam. Also I am going in the Spring and we don’t go to the flower auction, but the tulip gardens. Should I add a day to see the auction as well?
Thanks!

Posted by
14293 posts

I have done this tour and did it in an April right before Covid. I spent a week or so in Paris ahead of time, lol but I ALWAYS look for an excuse for Paris. I spent 2 extra nights in Ghent but having been to Amsterdam a number of times before I did not stay extra days there. There is certainly plenty to see in Amsterdam that warrant a few more days.I thought Keukenhof was just stunning. I've not been to the flower auction.

Most of the group took the tram from Delft to Den Haag on our free afternoon. I went to the Mauritshuis which was awesome.

I've been to Rotterdam on a Road Scholar tour and while many seem to like it, it's not a place I need to return to. Most of the old city north of the river had the cr*p bombed out of it in WWII so the buildings are 50's. I did like finding my way to the Old Harbor area (near the Cube houses) because I think that is where immigrating relatives may have left from hundreds of years ago. Other than that, it was not interesting to me. Your tastes may be different.

Here is my TR:

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tours/trip-report-rs-belgium-holland-4-6-4-16-2019-plus-time-in-paris

Posted by
301 posts

You might want to plan on adding a few days at the end of the tour, and then deciding at some point what you'd like to do. The Netherlands (and Belgium) are so compact that you have several options of side trips or day trips and still plan on flying out of Amsterdam.

Caroline

Posted by
7728 posts

Not been on the tour, or any of the RS tours, but based on what most do, and hearing what tours cover, I think that adding some days is only prudent. There is plenty to see, if nothing else just relax, and given the cost and time to get there, why not stretch it to a two week trip at least.

I can just say, I have been to Amsterdam maybe a half dozen times, we are going back in May, and I will be digging in more to Leiden, Delft, Den Haag, and Rotterdam, with Utrecht on a separate swing, never really running out of things to see. If you feel the flower market in addition to the tulip fields is too many flowers, then maybe look at the cheese market in Alkmaar, a town worth most of the day anyway, or one of the other markets. Any number of towns would also make a nice daytrip, each with some unique museums and sights.

Posted by
769 posts

Do you have a passion for art, specifically Van Gogh and Post-Impressionists? You may want to make a day trip to the Kröller-Müller Museum located in the Hoge Veluwe National Park in Otterlo. They've got an interesting outdoor sculpture garden.

My partner and I didn't want to spend hours of transfers making our way from Amsterdam to the museum. We discovered that there's one small group tour that is recommended by the museum on their website. In April 2023 we set up a day tour from Amsterdam to the museum using that link. There were 8 passengers in a large Mercedes van with a talkative driver who took us directly to the museum via the shortest route possible.

We took a short walk to the ferry which took us to the meeting place. The total time involved in traveling and visiting the museum was from 8:30 AM to about 5:45 PM. It took a little over an hour drive in each direction. It was a very fine day trip. I think it was the least stressful way to visit the museum but of course it would cost a bit more than the trains and buses.

I'm an art historian/artist and my partner is an interior designer. We loved the second largest collection of Van Gogh work housed at the museum as we could actually interact more with the works without the throngs always found at the Van Gogh Museum. There's one key piece ("Cafe Terrace at Night") that most art students will instantly recognize but many others worthy of your time. There's a surprising number of works by Vincent's contemporaries that will engage you. I fell in love with a Cezanne painting that I had not seen before.

The sculpture garden has more modern works than the museum. It's rather large and a pleasant outdoors break. There's a cafe sufficient for a coffee/tea break or lunch indoors and outdoors at times as well.

I'd enjoy a return visit any time.

Posted by
20 posts

My husband and I and 2 friends took this tour last April. We added on an extra day and a half in Brussels but honestly didn't find Brussels very exciting. We took a full day Battle of the Bulge tour from Brussels but wished that we had actually added on enough days to take the tour out of Bastogne because our guide was not as knowledgeable as we had hoped for. We opted to use our free afternoon in Delft to make our way to Kinderdijk to see the UNESCO site there. It was an adventure getting there but so worth it, in our opinion. It is not even mentioned in the Rick Steves guide. Most of the tour spent this time going to the Hague to see The Girl with the Pearl Earring but since we were lucky enough to secure tickets for the Vermeer exhibit that was in Amsterdam last year, we decided to forego that experience. We did add on an extra day in Amsterdam and took a small group tour that took us up to Giethoorn and Zaanse Schans and allowed us to see more of the tulip fields on the way. Be sure that you have time to see the Resistance Museum and the Van Gogh museum. We found both to be worth our time. Happy travels!!

Posted by
769 posts

"The Girl with the Pearl Earring" was only part of the retrospective at the Rijksmuseum through March 30, 2023. We attended the Vermeer show after March 30 but we were fortunately able to see "Girl with the Pearl Earring" at the Mauritshaus when it was returned to their museum's exhibit before April 15.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks to everyone who replied. We ended up flying in to Paris for a few days prior then taking the train to Brussels with a second short one to Ghent. We did go to The Hague and saw Girl with the Pearl Earring and the M.C. Escher Museum. Took the advice given and stayed an extra day to go to the Krőller Műller Museum. Amazing collection in a quiet forest, you can’t beat that! Couldn’t book the van mentioned (sold out early) and it’s about 90 minutes from Amsterdam so we rented a car for the day. Price was good. Most definitely worth it, and a break from the chaos and crowds of Amsterdam.