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-   -   Amsterdam in April (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/amsterdam-in-april-1648755/)

debwhite Feb 17th, 2018 02:06 PM

Amsterdam in April
 
I'm taking my daughter (30) on a graduation trip to Amsterdam in mid-April. We have an apartment for our 5+days, and want to do museums ( Anne Frank, Van Gogh, Rijks, for sure) and biking. Lucky us, tulips should be in season then. Wondering if we should plan a trip to see the tulips at Keukenhof or are there other nice options that might be off the beaten path. Also, I've read that biking in and around the city can be challenging. Are there places that make more sense and have beautiful scenery ( I love nature) Have read on some older posts that the food scene isn't that good which is disappointing. Any new eateries to recommend?

PalenQ Feb 17th, 2018 05:05 PM

Yes to Keukenhof for tulips galore and also to be able to tiptoe thru the tulip fields surrounding the gardens which showcase a potpourri for flowers and planes including several large hothouses with tropical fare - a showcase for the Dutch Horticultural Industry. East to go by train to Leiden C.S. (Centraal Station) then by shuttle bus to the gardens. You'll love it. Kuekenhof.com.

Now biking in central Amsterdam is yes not for the faint at heart. But outside of Amsterdam you have loads of choices. One that would ty in with the Keukenhof would be to rent a bike in Amsterdam and buy a Daag (day) Fiets (bike) Ticktet for taking your bike on trains (all day anywhere on regional trains which have a special Fiets car and take train via Haarlem to Hillegom- out near the famous flower fields and bike from there on small roads that literally go right thru the heart of the flower fields with miles of undulating multi-hued tulips all around. Or maybe walk your bikes thru Haarlem's ancient old town square (one of the finest in The Netherlands and busy pedestrian shooping drag and then catch bike paths out of town.It's probably about a 12 mile or so bike ride to the gardens.

Go to Keukenhof and then pedal a few miles to nearby Lisse - a calm nice smaller old town for a pit stop and then cycle another 5 or so miles to Leiden's train station and lock bikes in station area and poke around this really really nice old canal-laced university town - then put bikes on train and return to Amsterdam.

With 5+ days in Amsteerdam I would definitely recommend doing at least one day trip - trains go everywhere and the list of really nice places is practically endless - neat old cities - brash modern ones like Rotterdam, open-air museums, groupings of windmills, neat seaside areas, and on and on.

Train are great - for lots on where to go by train check www.ricksteves.com and BETS-European Rail Experts and www.ns.nl (Dutch Railways official site) - no need to book tickets ahead of time as most trains do not take reservations and you can always get on trains that seem to go about twice an hourly to nearly any Dutch town.

Dayle Feb 17th, 2018 05:42 PM

I visited last spring. I didn't try to bike, but would have enjoyed it in the countryside.
I stayed in Lisse for my visit to Keukenhof at a little room above an excellent restaurant. I had dinner there that night and really enjoyed it. The gardens of Keukenhof were just fantastic! So beautiful and it's such a large area.

I also stayed in Delft and Haarlem and liked both of these cities much more than Amsterdam.

I would highly recommend taking a warm coat. I was advised I wouldn't need one and went with a raincoat and a heavy cotton sweater. I froze. The damp and icy wind coming off the sea was miserable in Amsterdam. In other places I was fine. The local people in Amsterdam were all wearing puffy down jackets or coats.

Have fun!

hetismij2 Feb 18th, 2018 01:31 AM

You can book a bike at Keukenhof to tour the area. https://keukenhof.nl/en/discover-the-park/activities/
There are plenty of other areas growing bulbs, but they are not all that accessible by public transport.

menachem Feb 18th, 2018 01:47 AM


Originally Posted by debwhite (Post 16677726)
I'm taking my daughter (30) on a graduation trip to Amsterdam in mid-April. We have an apartment for our 5+days, and want to do museums ( Anne Frank, Van Gogh, Rijks, for sure) and biking. Lucky us, tulips should be in season then. Wondering if we should plan a trip to see the tulips at Keukenhof or are there other nice options that might be off the beaten path. Also, I've read that biking in and around the city can be challenging. Are there places that make more sense and have beautiful scenery ( I love nature) Have read on some older posts that the food scene isn't that good which is disappointing. Any new eateries to recommend?


Whether tulips will be in season mid april, ie, on the fields, is a bit of a gamble. If we get a cold spell it will be later, if it's warm start of april it will be earlier. But, Keukenhof will be open and everything there will be at peak, even if the fields are still without flowers.

I would advise against biking within Amsterdam, because the streets are busy and normal commuter speed is high. Also, visitors get no slack, so be prepared for some scolding if you show hesitation or block the bike path. There are a number of crossroads where things get particularly intense. However, rent a bike at central station, take the ferry across to Noord and do a circuit of "Waterland", the area just to the north of Amsterdam. You'll be able to cycle beautiful parts of old roads, the IJsselmeer coast, and back via Holysloot, Ransdorp, to the ferry to CS. A nice afternoon's biking along segregated bike paths and quiet country lanes. Plenty of rest stops you can use.

Comments about the disappointing food are from people who only scratched the surface food-wise and never explored. People who go looking for "Dutch cuisine" usually draw a touristy blank. Amsterdam was and is a city of trade, so there are loads of culinary influences, one predominant one is Indonesian (our colonial past)

Check out www.iens.nl for reasonably accurate reviews: often you can make bookings directly through the website.

Here's a list of current "best restaurants" according to iens reviewers.

https://www.iens.nl/search/?idCity=1...9-78c26758556c

debwhite Feb 18th, 2018 06:09 AM

Incredibly helpful PalenQ. I love the idea of biking outside of the city and combining that with seeing the flowers. I know you love Haarlem, from your earlier posts, so it intrigued me. I've only started my research on Amsterdam and surrounds, so this may be the information I needed. And I am assuming all the biking is on flat roads, so very doable for us. Are the roads well marked and is there a bike lane? The only deterrent is whether we might get lost!
I will check Rick Steeves and try to decide, with my daughter where else to visit.
And I assume we do not need to do any tours? Or would you recommend one in Amsterdam or for going outside of the city ( I am not big on tour groups unless it would be very informational and much better than doing it ourselves with guidebooks.) That said, we have enjoyed taking a general tour of the city with a guide in other European cities.
Thanks again for such helpful info.

debwhite Feb 18th, 2018 06:10 AM

Great idea to bring a light down coat! Thanks for the suggestion. Trying to figure out which places to visit outside Amsterdam. We have a great apartment to use while we're there, so that propelled out trip!

debwhite Feb 18th, 2018 06:11 AM

Plan to look into this option. Thanks.

debwhite Feb 18th, 2018 06:24 AM

Menachem, Thanks for the biking idea...that's what I had been thinking we'd do, and now have to consider the idea of biking to Keukenhof. Not sure if we'll do one or both.
As for restaurants, I am delighted to hear that the culinary scene has improved ( figured it had). I am excited to make some reservations, but when I just tried, I found they wouldn't accept my phone number. I am stymied. Anyone who can help with that? It looks like you need to choose two letters then numbers, but I have no idea what those are.
Thanks again, M. Great help.

menachem Feb 18th, 2018 08:37 AM


Originally Posted by debwhite (Post 16678017)
Incredibly helpful PalenQ. I love the idea of biking outside of the city and combining that with seeing the flowers. I know you love Haarlem, from your earlier posts, so it intrigued me. I've only started my research on Amsterdam and surrounds, so this may be the information I needed. And I am assuming all the biking is on flat roads, so very doable for us. Are the roads well marked and is there a bike lane? The only deterrent is whether we might get lost!
I will check Rick Steeves and try to decide, with my daughter where else to visit.
And I assume we do not need to do any tours? Or would you recommend one in Amsterdam or for going outside of the city ( I am not big on tour groups unless it would be very informational and much better than doing it ourselves with guidebooks.) That said, we have enjoyed taking a general tour of the city with a guide in other European cities.
Thanks again for such helpful info.

I wouldn't do a tour. But do consider that from the bus platform at Amsterdam CS you can easily travel anywhere around Amsterdam. For instance, that could be the island of Marken, also often on the itinerary of tour groups, but so much nicer if you leave the harbour area where the tourgroups are. For instance, if the weather is nice, you can walk out to its lighthouse (the famous "Marken Horse") and discover that there are actually 3 micro hamlets on the island.

As for biking: rural routes are well signposted. Here's a route along Nieuwendammerdijk, to Durgerdam, back via Ransdorp and again Nieuwendammerdijk (so you can have a drink at Het Sluisje)

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/26888775

menachem Feb 18th, 2018 08:42 AM


Originally Posted by debwhite (Post 16678030)
Menachem, Thanks for the biking idea...that's what I had been thinking we'd do, and now have to consider the idea of biking to Keukenhof. Not sure if we'll do one or both.
As for restaurants, I am delighted to hear that the culinary scene has improved ( figured it had). I am excited to make some reservations, but when I just tried, I found they wouldn't accept my phone number. I am stymied. Anyone who can help with that? It looks like you need to choose two letters then numbers, but I have no idea what those are.
Thanks again, M. Great help.

The letter number thing is the country code. So, that would be your country code and then your ordinary cellphone number, including the zero (0)

Wouldn't bike to Keukenhof, unless you do it from Haarlem or Leiden. Point is, with the prevailing direction of wind being south west, from Amsterdam you'd be biking against the wind all the time and on bikes that aren't optimal for long distances. The ride south to Keukenhof from Haarlem via Haarlemmerhout and Heemstede is very scenic though, and so is the ride north from Leiden.

(disclaimer: I do an awful lot of long distance biking, and the western part of NL, basically from Rotterdam up to Den Helder, is my main training ground)

PalenQ Feb 18th, 2018 08:52 AM

Yes all flat but winds always possible.

PalenQ Feb 18th, 2018 08:57 AM

There is a bus that also goes Haarlem-Keukenhof thru the flower fields. Maybe doing that and renting bike at Keukenhof could be best - can spend more time in yes lovely Haarlem.

Amsterdam restaurants no good? Nothing could be farther from the truth - though Dutch cuisine is not raved about the city has a myriad of ethnic restaurants - especially the many Indonesian-Chinese restaurants extent from days when Indonesia was a Dutch colony I guess. And many 'petit restaurants' - intimate little places with great food - lots of French cuisine. Amsterdam has an exciting restaurant scene.

menachem Feb 18th, 2018 11:23 AM


Originally Posted by PalenQ (Post 16678100)
Yes all flat but winds always possible.


Possible, as "you can count on a headwind"

PalenQ Feb 18th, 2018 12:10 PM

Yes conducted bike trips in Netherlands for 10 years long ago and winds mainly go from southwest to northeast in that area. But then start biking from Leiden and head north. Actually walking from Hillegom like I did is not that far.

menachem Feb 19th, 2018 12:13 AM

Just mentioning you have to get back as well, at the end of the day. People always think "oh it's flat, should be easy". But cycling against the wind is no laughing matter and it isn't easy. Also, there's no let up, no reward, like a descent. It's just a constant plod. There's a reason e-bikes are so popular over here: those help with that.

Dayle Feb 19th, 2018 08:00 AM

I would like to add that during my trip last year, I had no problem finding excellent food. Great seafood, Italian, French, etc.
Can't say the same for the Germany portion of my trip. Not a fan.

PalenQ Feb 19th, 2018 02:02 PM

E-bikes I assume can be rented. And you should only go one way Leiden-Keukenhof-Hillegom (train) or Haarlem - taking trains to Leiden and back from Haarlem. And in ten years of doing bike trips that went right thru this area going that direction you would rarely have a headwind but tailwind and though menachem seems to say the such winds are strong and omnipresent we did not find that true every or even most days. Rain however, especially in April, can always be a problem.

There are probably better places to bike like menachem's suggestion north of Ij (harbor) thru Waterland where you mainly have side roads and quiet bike paths.

debwhite Feb 20th, 2018 07:06 AM

Helpful as always. Thinking we will separate the biking from Keukenhof. Like the idea of leaving the city and just biking in more country area (thanks Menachem). We thehn go as far and as long as we want, weather/wind dependent!
Does it make sense to see Haarlem on the way to or from Keukenhof, or do it separately on it's own day? Not sure how easy transportation from Haarlem to and from Keukenhof is. But I saw that trains to Haarlem from Amsterdam are frequent and inexpensive.
Already booked one French restaurant thanks to your suggestion. Wondering how important it is to make restaurant reservations in advance? Only for the "best" ones?
Also seemed to be closed out from the Anne Frank Museum...so so sad. Any ideas or suggestions if it says there are no tickets?

Dayle Feb 20th, 2018 07:26 AM

I cant help on the Anne Frank tickets. I skipped it myself.

I could recommend a really fun and unique museum. The Purse Museum! This is a great small museum, but take a little time for it. Really educational and amusing too. There were. even guys in there with their wives and they were exclamining. Look at this one! They were having a good time.

hetismij2 Feb 20th, 2018 07:29 AM

You could join the queue in the afternoon, but what a waste of precious time! You could visit the Corry Ten Boom House in Haarlem instead - https://www.corrietenboom.com/.

hpeabody Feb 20th, 2018 08:15 AM

This year Keukenhof closes on May 13th so be sure to factor that in. I really love it! This year I will miss it by 4 days as I arrive on the 17th. :(

Here is something I enjoyed outside of Amsterdam. Alkmaar. https://www.kaasmarkt.nl/en/

PalenQ Feb 20th, 2018 09:11 AM

Buses go regularly between Haarlem-Keukenhof and Leiden - public buses. I'd do Keukehof first and end up in Haarlem.

menachem Feb 20th, 2018 09:24 AM

If you walk out of Haarlem Station (an Art Deco monument in its own right) the bus station is right in front of it and slightly to the right. Use 9292.nl (also phone app) to plan your journey. There's a Starbucks right next to the station should you have to wait.

PalenQ Feb 20th, 2018 10:26 AM

If looking around Haarlem be sure to see the Grote Markt or huge market square with ubiquitous bell tower towering over all. Can walk thru town center and catch bus on other side too I believe.

PalenQ Feb 20th, 2018 02:00 PM

It's nice to twin Haarlem with Zaanse Schanse - large windmill grouping not far from Amsterdam. Easy to go by train from Haarlem to there with one change.

https://www.google.com/search?q=zaan...hrome&ie=UTF-8

Haarlem has the Corrie t'Boom House - Haarlem's version of Anne Frank House and Frans Hal Museum in old convent (I think) - anyway a major museum.

It'as also known as Cannabis City for its coffeeshops - was one of the first to have them - if that interests you. I think there is a museum of some kind.

menachem Feb 20th, 2018 02:26 PM

There's no direct connection Haarlem - Zaandijk by train: you need to track back to Amsterdam, then change on a train direction Zaandam. If you want to see something pretty special, take a bus from Amsterdam CS to the village of De Rijp.


PalenQ Feb 20th, 2018 02:46 PM

No direct train but backracking to Amsterdam-Sloterdijk is going about ten minutes then changing there for Zaanse Schanse. Not nearly like having to go back to Amsterdam C.S.

Saraho Feb 20th, 2018 05:57 PM

bookmarking

menachem Feb 20th, 2018 11:19 PM


Originally Posted by PalenQ (Post 16679443)
No direct train but backracking to Amsterdam-Sloterdijk is going about ten minutes then changing there for Zaanse Schanse. Not nearly like having to go back to Amsterdam C.S.

Yeah, but for Zaanse Schans. Really. Not worth it, imo. Haarlem is very nice, as you well know, with, for instance, the amazing Teylers Museum in it. Ever been there Pal?

PalenQ Feb 21st, 2018 07:45 AM

Nope but looks interesting. For windmills Zaanse Schanse is great - a least for Americans - at least I enjoyed it the two times I went. Yes there is that tourist souvenir shop with all the hackneyed Dutch souvenirs like wooden shoes, tiny wind mills, tulip bulbs, etc. Where all the bus tours end up.

debwhite Feb 22nd, 2018 05:12 PM

Sounds like a full day to do Kuekenhof then Haarlem, with a few interesting museums. Would it be worth it to stay in Haarlem for dinner? If so, what are your favorites? And is it safe and easy for two women to return to Amsterdam by train at night?
Will do the bike trip Menachem suggested, the Waterland Loop. Are there places worth stopping along the route, for either sightseeing or eating? And also are the roads well marked, so we won't get lost.

menachem Feb 23rd, 2018 03:32 AM


Originally Posted by debwhite (Post 16681074)
Sounds like a full day to do Kuekenhof then Haarlem, with a few interesting museums. Would it be worth it to stay in Haarlem for dinner? If so, what are your favorites? And is it safe and easy for two women to return to Amsterdam by train at night?
Will do the bike trip Menachem suggested, the Waterland Loop. Are there places worth stopping along the route, for either sightseeing or eating? And also are the roads well marked, so we won't get lost.

I have a couple of favorite stops on that loop:

Het Sluisje on Nieuwendammerdijk (that entire stretch is beautiful imo) Cafe 't Sluisje
Thee Tante, or De Oude Taveerne in Durgerdam
Hotel Café De Zwaan in Ransdorp

Btw, there's a great cheeseshop, Dikhoeve, just outside Ransdorp on Nieuwe Gouw
There's a large shopping mall, Boven 't Y on your way back, or you could track back along Nieuwendammerdijk and end at Het Sluisje.
Directions are all marked: look out for the red on white direction signs at crossroads.

Perfectly safe for women getting back by train to Amsterdam from Haarlem at night.
Haarlem dinner: check out www.iens.nl

menachem Feb 23rd, 2018 03:42 AM

BTW, here's the official ANWB route:

https://www.anwb.nl/fietsen/routes/waterland

You can cycle "by numbers". That route includes Monnickendam, but as you see from the map, you can easily cycle from 39 - 44, then cycle to 40 to shorten your loop. Or, indeed take in more and cycle back from 75 to 40 and so to the ferry to CS again. These numbers are very clearly signposted, and at every number station you get a map, showing where you are and where the other numbers are.

menachem Feb 23rd, 2018 07:22 AM

Always a joy to realize that scenes like these are with 5 minutes' cycling off the ferry


HappyTrvlr Feb 23rd, 2018 07:59 AM

We were disappointed in Zannse Schanz too but loved our day at UNESCO site Kinderdijk, easy acces by waterbus from Rotterdam.

PalenQ Feb 23rd, 2018 08:17 AM

You cannot get lost on a bike as there are bike paths with signs pointing to next towns all over. Have a good map or GPS however - lots at Tourist Info VVV in Centraal Station and across the street (assume still there).

menachem Feb 23rd, 2018 09:15 AM


Originally Posted by PalenQ (Post 16681439)
You cannot get lost on a bike as there are bike paths with signs pointing to next towns all over. Have a good map or GPS however - lots at Tourist Info VVV in Centraal Station and across the street (assume still there).

I wonder if those maps extend to Durgerdam and Ransdorp.

Here's a description of the rather brilliant Knooppunt Netwerk, a facility that is aimed at recreational cyclists, of which there are a lot, in NL

https://richardtullochwriter.com/201...rdam-to-laren/

menachem Feb 23rd, 2018 09:22 AM


Originally Posted by HappyTrvlr (Post 16681421)
We were disappointed in Zannse Schanz too but loved our day at UNESCO site Kinderdijk, easy acces by waterbus from Rotterdam.

Zaanse Schans was put together as a tourist attraction by Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn. (the ubiquitous supermarket over here).

Kinderdijk in its entirety is still functional and if the water rises to sufficient height, the mills there are still used to pump water from the polder into the river Lek, although now there is a modern diesel pumping station too.
Another great site to experience a world gone by is the Zuiderzeemuseum in Enkhuizen.

PalenQ Feb 24th, 2018 05:20 AM

If you do get lost be sure the Dutch bikers will surely speak some English and help send you on the right way.


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