Benelux in 10 Days: Possible?

May 11th, 2010, 05:33 PM
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Benelux in 10 Days: Possible?

I originally posted thinking about Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris. I am starting to rethink that plan and eliminate Paris. I think it deserves a solid 5-7 days and I should do it properly, not just stay for 3 days and leave (I regretted that when I did that in London).

I also want to really explore the Netherlands and spend more time in Belgium. Then I noticed this little country of Luxembourg and thought there might be a way to combine in.

So, I'm thinking that I want to see the following cities on my trip:

The Hague
Gouda (because I love this cheese)
Gent (maybe?)
Luxembourg City

I have 10 days total (arriving early in the morning on day 1 and leaving early afternoon on day 10). I might be able to stretch to 11 days, but not likely.

I should say that we're not big outdoorsy people (not really into nature or anything like that) or athletic. I like museums, but I tend to zoom straight to the art that I love and skip all the stuff I'm not interested in. I LOVE architecture and churches. Hubby states that it is mandatory for him to visit coffee shops in Amsterdam. We don't drink alcohol, but love food (but we're not high end foodies either).
I can go nonstop all day, but hubby needs to kick back and relax. So I'll be planning our days with a good balance of kicking back and relaxing as well as museums/touristy things.

So, how would you plan a 10 day itinerary with those cities in mind? What would you skip, and why?
Imagine though that you could NEVER visit these areas ever again. What would you make sure that you visited?
Am I crazy for dropping Paris from the trip?
twiggers is offline  
May 11th, 2010, 05:44 PM
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Both Amsterdam and Belgium -- and Paris -- have quite a range of unusual art, architecture and museum offerings, so if it is your habit to "skip all the stuff you're not interested", you might want to post just what kind of art and architecture you find interesting in order to get better answers about where to go.

For instance, if you are interested in Magritte or Art Deco and stained glass windows, you might want to spend a lot of time in Belgium and not miss Paris, but bypass Amsterdam. However, if Van Gogh, Mondiran, ceramics and canal houses grab you more, you might want to spend more time in the Netherlands.

If Hubby states it is mandatory for him to go to coffee shops in Amsterdam, then plainly Amsterdam is on the list -- but for how long? Knowing how long you want in Amsterdam is probably key to figuring out the rest of your trip.

You can kick back and relax in any of the places you've mentioned. All of them have plenty of cafes and public parks.
zeppole is offline  
May 12th, 2010, 12:40 AM
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Hi twiggers,
I don't think you're crazy for dropping Paris - devote a separate trip to Paris (another reason to return to Europe, no?) and maybe shave off a couple of destinations from your itinerary so you don't make yourself rush through everything. I quite like Luxembourg City to round off your experiences, but I'd hardly do more than a day there. Brussels maybe 2 days, Amsterdam maybe 3. Then you can decide what of the other destinations you'd want to keep. I haven't been to Utrecht and Gouda so can't comment. And Antwerp is a destination in itself, like the other main cities. Leaving also Brugge and Gent; lots has been posted about them on this forum and how to choose between the 2 of them if you had to choose. I will let you trawl through some of the posts yourself. You might cover more ground if you drive, allowing you to do more in a day (maybe 2 small towns to a day). I would forget about driving in Amsterdam though as a car is just a liability and parking places are at a premium.

lavandula is offline  
May 12th, 2010, 01:04 AM
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Hi Twiggers, for 10 days I would drop Luxembourg. I find it very boring. And it's out of the way. The other cities are easily reached by train; roads between them are usually very congested. Major roadworks near Antwerp at the moment, you'll be spending your time in traffic jams.
If you love modern architecture, visit Rotterdam, otherwise not. Visit The Hague as a side trip from Amsterdam.
In Belgium I would do Antwerp and Brugge, skip Brussels and Ghent (but I live near Antwerp, so I would say that!).
Tulips is offline  
May 12th, 2010, 03:12 AM
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To clarify about my interests:

I love really old stuff, which pretty much covers all of Europe ;-) I love castles, medieval buildings, elaborate churches, and old homes. I know "old" isn't a very scientific term, but I just love to be surrounded by places that have a "history." I'm a geek and love to just touch the walls and imagine all the great individuals in the past who may have walked those same steps.

In terms of art, I am a huge fan of Van Gogh! In general, impressionism and expressionism are my favorite. Van Gogh, Munch, Monet, Picasso, etc. Not really a huge modern art fan and I tend to skip through sculptures. I do like some of the romantic pieces. I also like to see the very big, popular pieces (i.e., the ones you learn about in art history class).

I had contemplating basing in Amsterdam for maybe 4-5 days? Spending a couple days devoted to exploring the city itself (museums/attractions) and then branching out for a couple day trips.

Then I had thought about heading to Belgium and making somewhere my base for a couple of days and taking day trips. I'm not sure if that will even work.

I wanted to add Luxembourg because it seemed like this would be a logical trip to add it. Looking at the map, I'm not sure what other future trips would be reasonable to add it in.

I am a "go until you drop" traveler who is determined to visit every single country in the world (I'm 32, so I have a lot of time). DH on the other hand, could care less. This is his very first trip to Europe and I don't want to scare him with an insane itinerary. It will be important that we take lots of time to sit back and just relax...whether it be at a cafe or in a park or in the hotel room. He'll probably insist on trying to take afternoon naps every now and then.
twiggers is offline  
May 12th, 2010, 06:23 AM
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We enjoyed Luxembourg very much, though Luxembourg City itself didn't keep our interest for more than a morning. We enjoyed spending some time in Vianden with its massive castle, and some day trips from there.
Paul1950 is offline  
May 12th, 2010, 03:41 PM
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Thank you for the input Paul!

I think it makes sense to fly into Amsterdam and use that as our Netherlands base.

Where I get lost though is what to do with Belgium. Should we use a city as a base and take day trips? Or just go from city to city. And if we want to hit Antwerp, Brugge and Brussels what order would be the best knowing that we are coming from Amsterdam and want to eventually end up in Luxembourg.

Or would it make better sense to go from Amsterdam to Luxembourg and then end up in Belgium and have the return flight from Brussels?

I am poring through Amsterdam/Netherlands guide books that I borrowed from the library and am going to attempt a tentative itinerary...that way I can get a better idea for how many days to stay in the Netherlands (3 or 4).
twiggers is offline  
May 13th, 2010, 03:24 AM
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Are you thinking of "hitting" Antwerp, Brussels and Brugge all in one day? That's really not advisable.

I would stay in Antwerp and do day trips to the other two places.
zeppole is offline  
May 13th, 2010, 03:24 AM
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You are hardly going to want another destination, but since you are such a van Gogh fan you might consider travelling via the Kröller-Müller Museum in the Hoge Veluwe, which is a national park in the Netherlands. I think it's sort of near Arnhem. They have a very good collection of van Gogh there, and it would be a shame for you to miss it.

lavandula is offline  
May 13th, 2010, 01:21 PM
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Zeppole: Oh no, I was thinking more of a day in a each city. Wasn't sure if it was easy to base myself somewhere central and do day trips to each place. And keeping in mind that I want to be in Luxembourg for a day or two.

Lavan: Ohhhh....I'll definitely check into that!
twiggers is offline  
May 14th, 2010, 08:49 AM
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I"m crossing things off as I read a little more. What about this plan:

Day 1 (Thursday): Arrive jet lagged in Amsterdam in AM (possibly mid morning/noon). Check in, and just laze around. Coffee shops and possibly a canal tour. Maybe even Anne Frank House since it is a shorter tour and open later?

Day 2 (Friday): Full day in Amsterdam. Coffee shops for hubby, and I will visit Van Gogh and Rijks.

Day 3 (Saturday): Day trip to The Hague, Delft, and Rotterdam

Day 4 (Sunday): Recover from the day before by vegging in Amsterdam. Maybe a short trip to Utrecht?

Day 5 (MOnday): Travel to Brugge (early departure) with a stop in Antwerp. Relax in Brugge.

Day 6 (Tuesday): Explore Brugge. Possibly late afternoon departure to Brussels.

Day 7 (Wednesday): Brussels.

Day 8 (Thursday): Depart to Luxembourg.

Day 9 (Friday): Day trip to Trier.

Day 10 (Saturday): Back to Brussels/Amsterdam for plane home.

It is possible that I can snag one more day off of work and make it 11 days possibly adding the extra time to Brussels, that would also bump all of the day up by one (i.e., arriving on a Wednesday in Amsterdam).

twiggers is offline  
May 14th, 2010, 09:02 AM
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Are you driving? If so then the drive from Antwerp across Belgium to Luxembourg can take in some delightful towns.

Bouillon has the most spectacular castle, Spa Francorchamps is very pretty, and the forested area of the Ardennes is very scenic.

Apparently Belgium has more castles per square mile than anywhere else, according to this website...
julia_t is offline  
May 14th, 2010, 09:19 AM
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You may enjoy a trip to Kroller Mueller Museum. They have the second largest Van Gogh collection. It's an outstanding building and surrounding area. Their collection is impressive and is in line with what you enjoy. Check it out on line. Much more fun than Utrecht imo.
LSky is offline  
May 15th, 2010, 03:12 AM
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Thank you for the tips.

We probably won't be driving....likely using trains.

Need to figure out where to fit in the Kroller Mueller Museum...
twiggers is offline  
May 15th, 2010, 06:03 AM
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Go there instead of Utrecht, there is some interesting modern architecture there but imo, it doesn't outweigh the collection at the K-M. Plus, if you wanted to see the Schroder House in Utrecht, arranging it is a headache. Only for the really determined.

I wouldn't recommend it for everyone but you know what type of art you like. Go early, and if you like you can grab a bicycle and cycle up to the museum. It's a pretty park. Or the bus will take you right to the museum. Even though you're not into sculpture, they have a great sculpture garden.
LSky is offline  
May 16th, 2010, 02:13 PM
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Thank you so much Lsky. Perhaps I can do that on Day 4....hubby won't be interested so I can just go alone. I'll look more into it (i.e., train service, etc.).

What do you all think of the revised itinerary?

Right now I am planning on focusing on the Netherlands days and see how much will really be doable. Try and search for accomodations. We are thinking about trying to stay in a houseboat in Amsterdam. Does anyone have any suggestions for websites to check those out?
twiggers is offline  
May 16th, 2010, 03:46 PM
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Have you done a search here for houseboats in Amsterdam. Seems to me I've read about it. Possibly tripadvisor.
I thought about staying on a houseboat but in the end was happy I bid on a Priceline hotel and got a hotel near the museums.

It's an easy train to get out to the Kroller Mueller and there were places to stay in the town. I wish we would have stayed out there the night before we went. The park was lovely and I would bet there would be a coffeeshop in one of the towns nearby. It's easy to get around the Netherlands.

BTW, I can't think of an art museum on our entire visit that I was disappointed in and we went to most of them. Modern art being our main focus. Do you plan on going to the Ecsher in Rotterdam and the new Magritte in Brussels?
LSky is offline  
May 17th, 2010, 03:24 AM
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LSky: Thank you for the information! Hubby loves water, so it seems fitting to stay on a houseboat. I'm not sure that hubby will go to the Kroller museum with me, so we'll probably stick with Amsterdam as our base and then just take a train out.

I haven't actually researched other museums in the other towns. I have to be careful to balance the museums with things hubby wants to do....he's not much of a museum guy. He'll just grab a seat somewhere and wait for me!
twiggers is offline  
May 17th, 2010, 06:18 AM
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twiggers, Oops. I was wrong. The Escher is in the Hauge and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is in Rotterdam.
Rotterdam is interesting if you like modern architecture. It would be difficult to do all three in one day. I would choose the Hauge over Rotterdam.
LSky is offline  
May 17th, 2010, 07:02 AM
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Twiggers--We went to Amsterdam/Brussels in 2009 for about the same time period and I'll give you our itinerary as an idea.

Our travel style this trip:
We did not rent a car and traveled from place to place by train/tram.
Our goal was to see as much Dutch/Flemish art as we could, but like you, we know what we like. In fact, the recent Rijksmuseum renovation suited us well--it was sort of an automatic "highlights" tour. We crammed three museums in Amsterdam into one day only because one family member was with us for less than 72 hours and she wanted to see all three.
We like good food, but my husband's main interest in life is beer, and my one daughter could do a tour around the world on unique street food, so I'd say we didn't need to eat haute cuisine every night.

The trip:

Amsterdam: Four nights; bought a tram pass (not iAmsterdam card)

First Day: Jet Lag Day—Walk around town (including Red Light District)

Second Day: Van Gogh Museum (had to reserve because the museum's special exhibit required reservations). Rijksmusuem Evening: Anne Frank Museum

Third Day: Tulips in Keukenhof (we were there in prime bloom)

Fourth Day: Walking tours of various Amsterdam neighborhoods.

Fifth Day: Train to Brussels for three nights in hotel near Grand Place. Spent afternoon walking around Grand Place environs.

Sixth Day: Early train to,late train back from Brugges (everyone LOVES Brugges)

Seventh Day: Train to Antwerp, mainly to visit Rubenshuis ("Rubens House").

Eighth Day: Brussels art museums

Ninth Day: Train to Den Hague; Mauritshuis museum (the BEST museum of our trip); tram to Delft. Stayed overnight in den Hague.

Tenth Day: Early train to Amsterdam Airport. Flight Home
AlessandraZoe is online now  

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