Belgium and Netherlands

Dec 23rd, 2017, 05:08 PM
  #1  
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Belgium and Netherlands

This our first time to these countries. We will be flying from Los Angeles. Not sure if we will fly to Belgium or Amsterdam. I’m thinking one week each in Bruges and Amsterdam as a base, OR not? Any itinerary and Airbnb suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you!
lilyr2000 is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2017, 06:03 PM
  #2  
 
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I love Bruges ( not everybody does ) and even for me, a week there is a LOT. Also, airbnb is a problem in Amsterdam.
janisj is online now  
Dec 23rd, 2017, 08:35 PM
  #3  
 
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A day or maybe even two in Bruges is fine. A week would be overkill for me, WAY overkill. It's Belgium on Disney steroids. There are SO many other lovely, non-touristy places to visit in Belgium - the Meuse valley, Antwerp, go north to the seaside......

Be careful of Airbnb rentals in Amsterdam. Many are illegal now.
StCirq is online now  
Dec 23rd, 2017, 10:48 PM
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Do Gent instead of Brugge, and go to Brugge as a daytrip.

And yes, there's a crack down on AirBnB's in Amsterdam, so better avoid them if you want to have peace of mind.

Note also that Amsterdam is very expensive, hotel-wise. There are other options. Cool Rotterdam, or Utrecht, Haarlem...
menachem is offline  
Dec 24th, 2017, 12:15 AM
  #5  
 
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Second Ghent as the place to stay. It is interesting in itself and an easy train ride to Bruges and Brussels.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...960079007/show
Michael is offline  
Dec 24th, 2017, 12:41 AM
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I would select Brugge over Ghent as a base in "Flanders" every time (and that is 3 times, if we are counting), but I do think that a week in Brugge is probably too long. 3-4 nights there would give you a nice taste and allow you to visit Ghent, Brussels, and perhaps some WWI sites, like Ypres (Menin Gate) etc. if that interests you.

I would second the Meuse Valley as another great place for 3-4 days; Namur, Dinant, etc.
Aramis is online now  
Dec 24th, 2017, 04:42 AM
  #7  
 
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Fly to both countries. That is, fly into Brussels and back to LA from Amsterdam. Or the other way round. Using a multi-city search function you can find tickets that will be within $100 of flying to and from the same city. You save the time and cost of returning to your arrival gateway.
Southam is offline  
Dec 24th, 2017, 06:13 AM
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Gent is nice but it's a bigger more modern looking city than Bruges and a reason for staying overnight IME is because then you have the lovely old town at night when those old Flemish facades and white wooden humpbacked bridges are sublimely lit up. Just go in day and you'll see a swam of tourists in town center.

Bruges is a short train ride from Gent and Antwerp for neat day trips.

I would not neglect Brussels and would stay there for a few days to start your trip -many here are down on Brussels and it is a large modern busy city in many ways but one with neat old town with Grand' Place, one of Europe's sweetest town squares and it has nice formal gardens and great museums.

Amsterdam makes a great base for practically anywhere in NL - lots of neat easy day trips like to Leiden, Haarlem, Utrecht, Delft, The Hague, etc. And Amsterdam at night is so cool with lots to do so a nice city to come back to after day trips.

Trains are great - no need to pre-book as reservations are not possible except on Thalys trains which you do not have to take- for lots on trains check www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com. check Belgian Railways web site for any specials they may have like day passes-
http://www.belgianrail.be/en/
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 24th, 2017, 06:36 AM
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I just topped my TR about our Thanksgiving week in Belgium and Germany because I found a typo I wanted to correct.

Here's the link

https://www.fodors.com/community/eur...nd-belgium.cfm

We based ourselves in Ghent and LOVED it. But we did have a car, which both complicated things and also added to our options of sites to see. You don't say if you might have a car.

We could have spent longer in Belgium, but I don't think I'd necessarily want to spend a whole week in one base.
texasbookworm is offline  
Dec 24th, 2017, 06:41 AM
  #10  
 
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I love the city Antwerp and feel it has so much to offer the first time visitor. I used Ghent as a base for Brussels and Bruges and found it ideal. It is also beautiful at night, and of course, the home of the great Van Eyck altarpiece at the Cathedral, not to be missed, even if you are not museum lovers. For anyone who DOES love Flemish painting this quartet of cities (Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels and Gent) is the mother lode.
CharlotteK is offline  
Dec 24th, 2017, 06:41 AM
  #11  
 
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The nearby North Sea Coast makes another excellent day trip from Bruges (or Gent).
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 24th, 2017, 09:15 AM
  #12  
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Thank you All very much for your feedback!!! This helps tremendously!!
lilyr2000 is offline  
Dec 24th, 2017, 03:07 PM
  #13  
 
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Disclaimer
We only did this trip once.

The advice above is solid. While did like Brugge we too found Gent for interesting. Here is a place to stay we highly recommend.

http://www.snoozinn.be/

Additionally as noted above, the trains are highly reliable and relatively comfortable.

We stayed at an AIRBNB in Amsterdam and really had no complaints. We were about a 15 bus ride from the main train station, a minor inconvenience, and we were in the middle of totally residential area.
IMDonehere is online now  
Dec 24th, 2017, 03:24 PM
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>>We stayed at an AIRBNB in Amsterdam and really had no complaints.<<

But wasn't that a few years ago? The rental landscape has changed.
janisj is online now  
Dec 24th, 2017, 04:55 PM
  #15  
 
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But wasn't that a few years ago? The rental landscape has changed.

Is there a difference between room rentals and apartment rental?
Michael is offline  
Dec 24th, 2017, 05:00 PM
  #16  
 
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We spent a week in Amsterdam and Belgium (including a day trip to Bruges) and went in that order.

Here's a trip report I wrote with our itinerary, photos, recs, and cost breakdown:
https://fanofblank.blogspot.com/2014...th-africa.html

Hope it helps with trip planning.
lindygirl is offline  
Dec 25th, 2017, 09:33 PM
  #17  
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IMdonehere and Janis - do you have info of your airbnb in Amsterdam?
lilyr2000 is offline  
Dec 25th, 2017, 09:34 PM
  #18  
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Lindygirl, thank you for sharing your log. Helps tremendously
lilyr2000 is offline  
Dec 25th, 2017, 11:12 PM
  #19  
 
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>> do you have info of your airbnb in Amsterdam?<<

short term rentals are VERY regulated in Amsterdam. None are legally booked for fewer than 7 nights. Very few properties meet the requirements to get a permit. Plus permits in the central neighborhoods have been suspended and none have been issued in several years. The upshot is . . . there are almost no legal holiday rentals in Amsterdam.

Much better to look for a hotel/B&B/guest house.
janisj is online now  
Dec 25th, 2017, 11:53 PM
  #20  
 
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Here is the e-mail address of the fellow whose apartment we stayed at Amsterdam. As noted above, it is about 15 minutes from the central train station and we almost had to transfer to another tram or bus to see a sight.
[email protected]
IMDonehere is online now  
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