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Need help with trip itinerary--Holland & Belgium

Virginia
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Need help with trip itinerary--Holland & Belgium

We will be arriving in Amsterdam on April 25 and staying at Tupil of Amsterdam for 3 nights. Then we plan to rent a car and see parts of Holland and Belgium. We love art, architecture, good food, crafts, local markets and lovely scenery. The towns I am most interested in are:Leiden, Delft, perhaps Utrecht and/or Arnhem. In Belgium we'll skip Brussels and visit Bruges and possibly Gent. We'll be back in Amsterdam May 2 and depart on May 4. My questions are: Where is the best place to rent a car in Amsterdam--at the airport to avoid city traffic? We would like to make one other town a base for travels in Holland and Belgium--is that reasonable? I'm not sure what's centrally located for day trips. What's the best way to visit Keukenhof--by car, day trip by bus from A'dam? We have 4 days outside of A'dam--which places are best to visit? I was a college student in Amsterdam many years ago and can't wait to return. I feel like I could stay for weeks, but with our 9 day vacation have I allocated too much time to Amsterdam?

Beirut - Lebanon
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1. Re: Need help with trip itinerary--Holland & Belgium

Hi,

I am traveling almost on the same dates as you are. After some researches on the net (and based on my interests” which are also similar to you:-). I have set up the below itinerary. Hope it can be helpful for you:

April 25 till April 28--> Amsterdam (3nights)

April 28 till May 1st -->Delft (3nights) (will serve as a base to explore the surroundings)

May 1 till May 3--> Bruges (2 nights)

May 3 till May 6 --> West Germany (St Goar and surroundings). (3 nights)

As I read from the posts, it’s not advisable to rent car in the Netherlands, you could always rely on trains. (Very effective although a bit expensive).

Hope you enjoy your vacation,

Cheers

Amsterdam, The...
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2. Re: Need help with trip itinerary--Holland & Belgium

I'm not sure for which days you'd want to rent a car and where you'd be based while you have it.

In the Netherlands you don't really need a car, especially for the places you mentioned. Leiden, Delft, Utrecht, Arnhem are all easy train rides. Most cities have expensive parking, especially Amsterdam itself (5 euros per hour in the center, 3-4 euros per hour in the neighbourhoods around it).

Time schedules can be found on www.ns.nl or www.9292.nl.

I'm sure there are organised bus trips to Keukenhof, this will probably be a lot less hassle, and cheaper, than renting a car.

You may also want to consider combining Arnhem with Nijmegen, my favourite city in the Netherlands after Amsterdam. Arnhem is also nice. Nijmegen is the oldest city of the country (over 2000 years old) and has beautiful surroundings for bike rides along rivers, farms and meadows. You could rent bikes and go explore the country a bit, there are signposted bike routes (and a map helps).

Nijmegen itself is laid-back and has a few arthouse movie theatres, many nice restaurants, beautiful old architecture, nice cobblestone streets...

Near Arnhem you will also find Hoge Veluwe national park with a museum in it and some statues outside in a garden.

As for basing yourself in Amsterdam for a longer or shorter period of time: I love this city so I'm biased, but I think hotels here are much more expensive than in the lesser-known cities.

My recommendations for off-the-beaten-path things to see and do are on my website, see signature.

You may be a bit shocked by many new buildings in the city and how it has changed, although the canals and such probably didn't change much. You might enjoy a visit to EYE Film Institute: it's a cinema, museum and cafe/restaurant just behind central station, take the free ferry across the water to get there in 5 minutes. It has great views over the water and the city and the modern building itself is quite a sight.

Are you aware that 30th of April is Queens Day? Or is that why you are avoiding being in Amsterdam at that time? ;-) It's one big crazy orange party. Look it up on the internet.

Bruges and Ghent are very nice places to visit indeed, and I don't like Brussels much.

Bruges is small and very touristy but still well worth seeing. Have cocktails at De Republiek in the evening. :-)

Ghent is bigger and not that touristy at all. Very picturesque. It has many lovely Bed & Breakfasts. I enjoyed dinner at "Rood" (Red), they have delicious Asian food. Lunch at the funky Opera bar "In de pauze" is nice.

These are my favourite streets in Ghent, full of cute shops, nice cafes and restaurants:

- Onderbergen

- Oudburg, Ingelandgat

- Jan Breydelstraat

- Steendam

You can travel from Amsterdam or Rotterdam (or many other places) to Ghent via Antwerp by train.

I believe it's possible to travel from Ghent to Bruges quite easily by train but www.seat61.com might have more info.

Hope this helps.

Veel plezier!

Cecilia

Amsterdam

http://cile.home.xs4all.nl/travel/asd.htm

Edited: 04 January 2013, 12:32
Amsterdam, The...
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3. Re: Need help with trip itinerary--Holland & Belgium

Is there a reason you are coming back to Amsterdam for 2 days? It would make more sense to stay here or and do day trips to Delft and Leiden (easily done in the same day by train) and then take the train to Ghent. Stay there for 3 days with a trip to Brugge or vice versa. There really is no need to rent a car for this itinerary.

If you do desperately feel the need to rent a car then do so from the airport. www.autoeurope.com and holidayautos.com are both good sites to compare prices and all the major companies are there

Amsterdam
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4. Re: Need help with trip itinerary--Holland & Belgium

Leaving Amsterdam BEFORE Queensday an returning after?

Are you sure?

Queensday on april 30th is great, whether you like small or big street parties.

For transport between cities: train is great. And for the surrounding: rent a bike...

Enjoy!

Fort Worth, Texas
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5. Re: Need help with trip itinerary--Holland & Belgium

i didnt see that !! dont miss queens day!!...you need to experience it at least once...think mardi gras x 10, but way less rowdy..

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6. Re: Need help with trip itinerary--Holland & Belgium

Based on your plans, you gain nothing but headaches and expenses by renting a car.

Virginia
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7. Re: Need help with trip itinerary--Holland & Belgium

Thanks for the good advice! On previous trips(Italy, Ireland, France) it has worked well to land in a city, stay for a few days and then travel by car to the countryside. I know that Holland is a small country, so perhaps travel by train is best. What do you think of LGeorges advice about staying in Delft and Bruges? I was trying to minimize the number of times we would have to check into a hotel, unpack, etc. Yes, I am aware of Queensday and I debated about being in the middle of the festivities. I'm sure it's exciting, but with only 9 days vacation I wasn't sure if I wanted to devote one day to the excitement of Queensday. I understand that there is not a lot open, restaurants are packed and hotel prices are high (am I sounding like an cranky old person?) But I could change my mind! Do other towns celebrate the day as well? Regarding train tickets, should they be purchased in advance?

Virginia
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8. Re: Need help with trip itinerary--Holland & Belgium

PS--Ronaldo asked why we're coming back to Amsterdam for 2 days--we're flying out of Amsterdam on that Saturday

Port Townsend...
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9. Re: Need help with trip itinerary--Holland & Belgium

You can day trip to Delft from Amsterdam so there's no need to uproot yourselves.

Amsterdam, The...
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10. Re: Need help with trip itinerary--Holland & Belgium

Small as they may be, Delft, Leiden, Arnhem are cities and not countryside. They have paid parking in their city centers. And good train connections.

You don't need to buy train tickets in advance. Just get them at the station.

Restaurants will be open on Queensday. Street stalls sell food too.

Follow the ballooned coloured walking routes for comfy walking, instead of smaller streets that get congested during Queensday. Read up on the internet what it's like and where to go.

Try not to use trains to or from Amsterdam that day. They will be very full, and sometimes riotting causes the station to close down.

Other cities celebrate Queensday too but in a smaller way, with locals selling stuff in the street and small performances and parties. But other cities do not attract a million outsiders like Amsterdam does.

So I guess if you want to experience it in a small way without the crowds and price increases and '1 euro to use the disgusting toilet in a cafe'... Then towns like Utrecht might be a nicer location to see what Queensday is like. But you may also miss out on cute children playing the violin, or doing games with cakes flying high in the air, and adults in crazy outfits, thumping street parties or rocking live performances, good peanut soup from a huge pan, etc etc.

http://www.pbase.com/cile/qday_amsterdam