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PortiaLucy Mar 9th, 2017 04:19 PM

10 days in the Netherlands--help please
My husband and I are going to the Netherlands Apr. 30-May 10. We're spending the first night in Leiden and the next day at Keukenhof (purposely early in case the tulips are past their prime later in May). Then we settle in to an apartment in the Jordaan recommended by someone on this forum. Fodorites are always so helpful!

We want to see as much quintessential Dutch wonderfulness as we can and have already booked times for the Anne Frank House and VG Museum, planning to get the most out of a Museumkaart. Plus we'll do the Rijksmuseum, Resistance Museum, boat tour, etc. But we also want to get beyond museums, beyond Amsterdam, and beyond the usual touristy things to do. As it happens, the apartment was booked for two nights in the middle of our stay, so we're planning to rent a car for a three-day side trip.

For that, here's our preliminary plan: Day 1 (Friday) is for the north: Alkmaar cheese market, Zaanse Schans, and what else? Driving to Texel? Enkhuizen? Somewhere else? Would Marken be good on this day or would it be better as a day trip from A'dam? Day 2 is for the south. We're intrigued to see the Deltawerken, partly because it sounds like such an interesting story and an engineering marvel and partly because it's the antithesis of an art museum. But what else? (More about that in a sec.) Day 3 is for the east--specifically the Kroller-Muller (sorry, no umlauts at present) and the Hoge Veluwe NP, after which we'll return to our apartment and our pedestrian lifestyle.

If we do that, where do we stay during our little triangular excursion? Do we opt for two different places or try to find a two-night base--Den Hague, perhaps? (Then we could explore that on Day 2 along with the Deltawerken.) Or would we be better off outside of a city, getting a non-urban perspective? I would love to explore countryside along with all the art and culture.

Ten days sounded like a long time when we booked the plane tickets, but it's never long enough. Any suggestions--really anything, including food (interesting rather than fancy)--would be appreciated.

isabel Mar 9th, 2017 05:42 PM

Delft Haarlem Gouda

All can be done by train as day trips from Amsterdam, or I guess you could drive, but they are very easy by train. I stayed in Haarlem on one trip, and did day trips to the other towns. Everything is close. And each of those towns (plus Leiden) I thought were all wonderful.

I have photos of them here:

basingstoke2 Mar 9th, 2017 06:06 PM

Nice photos isabel!!

I agree that Haarlem and Delft are fine choices to visit. We did not go to Gouda so have no opinion. Utrecht is also of interest and all are easily accessible by train from A'dam. Haarlem is only 15 minutes and where we chose to stay rather than A'dam. It is a fine place to spend time. Its Frans Hals museum is very well worth a visit.

menachem Mar 10th, 2017 01:22 AM

I think you might want to make a choice here. Either do "the north", or indeed, go to Zeeland. For Zeeland, you might want to think about basing yourself in Rotterdam. Are you renting a car? Because that's pretty essential if you want to visit the Delta works. Rotterdam would be a better base than The Hague for Deltawerken. (and it's the more exciting city)

The other option (also best by car) could be to go around the old Zuiderzee, taking three days. That will get you to Hoorn and Enkhuizen, but also across the Afsluitdijk and to the Frisian cities (Harlingen, Stavoren) and south again by the Noordoostpolder: if it's tulip season, you'll see larger fields there than in the west of the country. Also you'd be well placed then to visit Kroller Muller and cities on the old Southern coast of the Zuiderzee like Elburg, Harderwijk and towns like Spakenburg. A detour via the "new" city of Almere would get you back to Amsterdam.

One other option that you have touched on already is to take the train north to Den Helder and visit Texel for three days. Lots of chalets for rent, and a couple of charming hotels. It's a beautiful nature reserve and a working island. You could rent bikes and explore. Like all wadden islands, it has every Dutch landscape, but in concentrated form. If you travel light, it's also possible to take a ferry across to Vlieland and take the ferry from there to Harlingen. You can then track back by bus to Alkmaar and from there take the train back to Amsterdam.

menachem Mar 10th, 2017 01:24 AM

Texel - Vlieland and back again. The Wadden sea is our last true wilderness

spaarne Mar 10th, 2017 09:49 AM

<i> 10 days in the Netherlands--help please
Posted by: PortiaLucy on Mar 9, 17 at 7:19pm
We want to see as much quintessential Dutch wonderfulness as we can
we also want to get beyond museums, beyond Amsterdam, and beyond the usual touristy things to do.</i>

Here you go,, my photolog of a bike trip from Haarlem to Keukenhof. It doesn't get any better than this. I suggest that you visit Keukenhof in the afternoon because the tulips close up at night and gradually open as the day warms. Here's wishing you a dry day.

If you would arrive a few days earlier you could experience something beyond quintessential, King's Day in Amsterdam. Here are some views of this crazy event,

spaarne Mar 10th, 2017 09:52 AM

<i>isabel on Mar 9, 17 at 8:42pm
Delft Haarlem Gouda
I have photos of them here:</i>

Great photos, especially of my favorite Haarlem. Can you say what lens you used? Many of the photos seem to have been taken with a wide angle lens.

menachem Mar 10th, 2017 09:59 AM

You want them in Amsterdam during King's day, spaarne. How adventurous!

isabel Mar 10th, 2017 11:11 AM

spaame - the widest lens I have is 24mm

hetismij2 Mar 10th, 2017 12:09 PM

One thing to bear in mind is that May 4th is Remembrance Day in the Netherlands. Every city town and village has a ceremony and observes two minutes silence at 8pm. You will be most welcome to join in wherever you are then.

I like menachem's tour of the Ijsselmeer as a lovely drive.
If you want to visit an island for a day trip you could always get the fast boat from Harlingen to either Terschelling or Vlieland. Vlieland is my favourite, but I enjoy Terschelling too. Rent bikes on Vlieland to get around - no visitors cars are allowed. You can rent bikes on Terschelling too of course.

The Brandaris on Terschelling is the oldest lighthouse in the netherlands, dating from 1594. You can't go in it as it is still operational and also has the shipping traffic control in it, but it is worth looking at from outside.
My son, who sails a traditional sailing barge on the Wadden Sea, was married in it.

PortiaLucy Mar 10th, 2017 12:29 PM

Wonderful advice and terrific photos. My mouth is already watering, and not just for the cheese and pastry.

We considered arriving for King's Day, but a number of things, including fear of crowds and an airfare we could not refuse, ruled in favor of afterwards. I was pleased to see that there were still plenty of tulips in the fields in May the year you took those pictures, spaarne. I hope we are so lucky (and dry).

We will definitely visit Haarlem but as a day trip from Amsterdam. And I will move Enkhuizen and the Zuiderzeemuseum up the northern list. I, too, like menachem's tour of the Ijsselmeer, hetismij2, but I just don't think we have the time. I still want to try to see a bit of both north and south so I don't know that we will be able to fit in an island day trip--much as I'd like.

Our neighbor put the Hague above Delft on his must-see list (probably because of the Mauritshuis), but do you think we should opt for Delft as our mini-base instead? We do want to see small Dutch cities, not just the biggest ones (which argues against Rotterdam also). And since we will have a car, perhaps smaller is better/easier.

I will be pleased to join in the silence on Remembrance Day. Other than the solemnity at 8, will the day be different? Will places be closed? I reserved for May 4 at the Anne Frank House, and there was no mention of it.

And at some point we'll have to fit in the Aalsmeer flower auction. So many flowers, masterpieces, and other gems. So little time.

Michael Mar 10th, 2017 12:37 PM

I would recommend Enkhuizen which has an interesting outdoor/indoor museum. and subsequent pictures.

hetismij2 Mar 10th, 2017 01:11 PM

If you go to the Aalsmeer flower auction and have the time add the Historic Garden in the town. You can get a combi ticket for both. My DH spoke the English for the audio guide!

In all honesty I would skip the cheese market in Alkmaar and use that time to visit somewhere else - Enkhuizen maybe, and visit the museum there.

The places you want to visit don't really make a logical three day car excursion, which is why Menachem made his suggestions. You will see more of the true less touristy places if you follow his trip. You can even do it in one long day, two would be better.
Unless you are desperate to see the Delta works go over the Afsluitdijk - which turned the Zuider Zee into the fresh water Ijsselmeer, maybe visit Harlingen, and stay a night there. Then head down around the Ijsselmeer, visiting Hindelopen, Urk and other villages. Perhaps divert into the Noord-oost polder for tulips, then continue around on the old land and stay a night around Apeldoorn, then go to Hoge Veluwe before heading back to Amsterdam. Long days, yes, but the days a long enough in May to be able to do it.

Elisabeth54 Mar 10th, 2017 02:03 PM

Totally agree with Michael. Enkhuizen has a lot to offer but so has Monnickendam, an old IJsselmeer hidden gem town which is only a 20 minute bus ride away from Amsterdam Central Station.
Then there is Naarden, one of the best preserved 16th century fortification town in the Netherlands. Only a 20 minute train ride from Amsterdam.

By the way, April 30th used to be the Netherlands national holiday. It's now April 27th, the birthday of king Willem Alexander who incidentally will turn 50 this year.

PortiaLucy Mar 10th, 2017 06:17 PM

You all are very persuasive, which is what's so wonderful about this forum. DH and I are leaning toward following your advice and passing up the southern destinations in favor of the loop you suggest. If we do go that route, do any of you have ideas of where we should stay those two nights? (Hetismij2 mentioned Harlingen and Apeldoorn.) Does anyone have a particular lodging to recommend, in those towns or elsewhere--perhaps a B&B or other spot with local color?

Also, I notice no one mentioned Giethoorn, though it's in the vicinity. I know it is mentioned in a lot of top-places-to-see-in-the-NL lists but also gets dinged for being too touristy. Is it worth seeing or should we steer clear?

Thank you so much for your honest input.

menachem Mar 11th, 2017 12:01 AM

Harlingen, or indeed Stavoren, Hindeloopen, Workum or Makkum.

Near Stavoren we stayed in an old vicarage in the village of Warns (as rural as you can get), near Workum I've camped at Hoeve Welgelegen, but they have a very good B&B there too.

Stavoren has the hotel "Vrouwe Van Stavoren" (One of my earliest memories is having a hot chocolate in their restaurant at the age of six after crossing the IJsselmeer with my parents, coming from Enkhuizen)

Workum has a number of good places too (and has a beautiful market square)

If you're sensitive to such matters, you'll notice that in Friesland you're in an area that has a very marked culture, that - in some way - is more Scandinavian than is the rest of the Netherlands. Its language is Frisian, second official language of the Netherlands, which is more like early medieval English than like Dutch, in many respects.

ZoFier in Workum;ucfs=1&

Gulden Leeuw in Workum ( a classic);ucfs=1&


De Pastory (in Warns)

Boschlust (in Rijs, in beautiful Gaasterland, a forested micro landscape)

Hotel Lemmer (in Lemmer)

(Do try to visit Kampen and Zwolle on your drive south, and drive along IJssel, so you can visit towns like Deventer and Zutphen, old Hanseatic cities (as is Stavoren)

Kruller, in Otterlo, is very convenient if you want to visit the K-M Museum early on your third day. Stayed there last year: excellent place.

menachem Mar 11th, 2017 12:10 AM

Giethoorn is lovely, but overrun with people on some days.

The Weerribben area is beautiful too, but you'd really need to rent a boat (there are "whisper boats" for rent) to explore it. hetismij has done that and has a trip report about it. (Whispering through the Weerribben") It would take a substantial part of your day though.

The problem is, there is so much to see! In many ways, the old Zuiderzee coast is the Dutch heartland, also culturally. And in a much deeper way than Amsterdam. Amsterdam owes its dominance to the transatlantic slave trade and to the exploitation of the East and West Indies. But the trade to the Baltics always was the bigger engine of profit. The Hansa has deep roots in the Netherlands, especially in the cities along the eastern coast of the Zuiderzee.

And the landscape along the IJssel river is just breathtaking (in a Dutch way), the cities beautifully preserved and each with their own identity very much intact. Especially Zutphen is a surprise to many people.

PatrickLondon Mar 11th, 2017 04:14 AM

Another vote for Utrecht, mainly because of the Speelklok Museum, if that interests you:

menachem Mar 11th, 2017 09:32 AM

Utrecht is so doable from Amsterdam: 25 minutes by train.

PortiaLucy Mar 14th, 2017 07:32 AM

Thank you, all, for setting us on a good path. We have reserved at the ZoFier in Workum (great suggestion, menachem) and found a nice B&B just across the river from Deventer. (The Kruller hotel in Otterlo was full.)

I think it will be a fantastic trip, with a nice mix of city and countryside, culture and local culture. We may not get to Delft, Den Hague, Rotterdam, or Utrecht on this trip, so we'll just have to save them for the next one.

Now I can relax and start dreaming of cheese.

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