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Benelux over New Years break, Amsterdam + Brugge, Maastricht, Antwerp

Benelux over New Years break, Amsterdam + Brugge, Maastricht, Antwerp

Oct 14th, 2014, 11:30 AM
  #1  
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Benelux over New Years break, Amsterdam + Brugge, Maastricht, Antwerp

We are arriving in Dusseldorf early 12/29 and need help with an itinerary for smaller towns. I am thinking of a couple of options.

Dec 29, 30, 31, Jan 1 - Amsterdam. We can take a day trip to Delft or Haarlem if we have time.
Jan 2 Brugge
Jan 3 - Antwerp
Jan 4 - Maastricht
our flight is from Dusseldorf on Jan 5 at 1pm.

The sad thing is that I am able to get a 5th night free in Amsterdam if I choose to stay 5 nights…but I am just not sure if its worth it to stay in Amsterdam for 5 days
SShprints is offline  
Oct 14th, 2014, 11:46 AM
  #2  
 
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http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/amsterdam-my-favorite-things.cfm>

My thoughts and others of plenty of things to keep you busy for 5 days in Amsterdam if you decide to stay - Antwerp could be a day trip from Amsterdam that would save you a few hundred bucks on a hotel perhaps by staying free in Amsterdam.

You will not have much time in Bruges as it takes about 4 hours by train so leave really early to have as much of the day as possible.
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 14th, 2014, 11:53 AM
  #3  
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I was planning to rent a car actually. It seems that renting a car for 3 days to the Amsterdam to Antwerp/Brugge/Dusseldorf leg will be cheaper for 2 people than all the trains. The train to Antwerp from Amsterdam is around $100.
I am wondering..if I do 5 days in Amsterdam..does it leave me enough time to do day 6 and 7 in Brugge? I think it would make sense to base myself in Antwerp over Brugge?
Then on Jan 5th, drive early in the AM to the Dusseldorf airport?
Or should I forego the 5th free night in Amsterdam, and just leave days 5-7 for Brugge/Antwerp..and then stop overnight in Maastricht on the way to Dusseldorf?

I imagine that both Antwerp and Brugge are more of a day trip type cities? I do want to visit the ice sculpture festival in Brugge!
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Oct 14th, 2014, 12:00 PM
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Having to drive in potentially icy weathers and on icy roads - not uncommon then could mean a long long drive to Dusseldrof Airport - I would be in the Dusseldorf area the night before.

A few years ago about the same time I took a train from Amsterdam to Dusseldorf and the train had to be aborted because of icy rails and the autobahns were at stand-stills too. Chances are that will not happen in this generally ice- and snow-free areas but it sure can and IME does. Masstricht is a lot closer to Dusseldorf than Bruges.
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 14th, 2014, 12:54 PM
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I thought you had some answers to your previous posting on this subject.
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-new-years.cfm
Have you managed to find a solution to the last posting...my post?
ribeirasacra is offline  
Oct 15th, 2014, 08:50 AM
  #6  
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Unfortunately no…I am still torn on how to spend the last 3 days of the trip.
Dec 29-Jan 1 in Amsterdam are set. After that, I can either use my free hotel night in Amsterdam and day trip somewhere…OR..I can spend the last 3 days in some combination of Delft, Leiden, Hague, Brugge, Antwerp, Ghent or Maastricht. Maastricht is on the list because our flights are from Dusseldorf at 1pm on Jan 5 and its only about an hr away..so easily drivable in the AM on Jan 5.
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Oct 15th, 2014, 10:12 AM
  #7  
 
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If you rent a car in Amsterdam, then drop it off in Maastricht rather than Dusseldorf to avoid high charges for dropping off in another country.

The train from Antwerp to Amsterdam will not be that much if you take the regular train instead of Thalys. Fare is 28,80 euros, but it takes longer than Thalys, and you need to change trains in Rotterdam.

Don't forget to take into account what it costs to park your car. You can find free parking in Antwerp, but not in Brugge as far as I know.
It's a 4 hour drive from Amsterdam to Brugge - schools are still on holiday, so it may be less busy on the roads than usual.
Tulips is offline  
Oct 15th, 2014, 12:34 PM
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Good idea to check on drop-off charges for returning car in Germany and picking it up in Holland or Belgium - could be a steep charge.

Can turn in car in Maastricht and easily take the train right to Dusseldorf airport, changing in Dusseldorf to the S-Bahn (suburban train line) serving the airport - or change in Cologne for direct trains to Dusseldorfer Flughafen.
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Oct 15th, 2014, 01:00 PM
  #9  
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renting a car jan 2 in amsterdam and returning jan 5 in dusseldorf will cost around $150. I believe that because all these locations are so close, there are no extra charges for different locations. Seems like much more reasonable than all the train costs. In terms of parking..I am not sure..but even with the parking costs, seems not as expansive as all the train fairs for 2 adults. AMS-ANTW-BRUG-ANTW-MASTR-DUS..lots of trains
I was thinking of basing ourselves for Jan 2-3 in Ant and day tripping to Bruge..its quick. Then from there on Jan 4 head on over to Maastricht..and then Jan 5, I am hour away from the Duss airport.
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Oct 15th, 2014, 01:01 PM
  #10  
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plus, is there actually a direct train from Antwerp to Maastricht? If not, its a workaround via Brussels? Drive is only an hour or so.
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Oct 15th, 2014, 10:46 PM
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More like 1,5 hours from Antwerp to Maastricht. Maastricht is a lovely town. I think train is via Brussels; car will be faster.

Drop-off charge for rental car is because they cannot rent out a Dutch car in Germany, and will have to return it to The Netherlands. But if its 150 dollars, that is a good deal.

In Antwerp you can park your car for free along the Schelde river, on the parking to the south of Zuiderterras. At least, I believe it's still free to park there.
I parked in a garage for about 4 hours earlier this week at a cost of 10 euros.

The skating ring and market will probably still be there on January 2.
Tulips is offline  
Oct 16th, 2014, 12:18 AM
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You thinks that charges to drop of a car in one country to another is fair. That is ok.
However you have not taken into account the things I posted in the last post of that other (same thread). You need winter tyres and stickers to enter certain cities in Germany.
Add these to your rental price and it makes no sense. Having fines will make it even less economical.
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Oct 16th, 2014, 05:45 AM
  #13  
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Actually..the rental company corrected themselves. Its $300 for 3 days of the car rental which includes $150 drop-off fee in Dusseldorf…but money aside..wont having a car make my life so much easier anyway? I realize its a bit wasteful..but its the quickest way to get around and also significantly more flexible on when we want to come and go. Also without a car, I don't think we can make Maastricht work because getting there from Antwerp is a pain via Brussels..and getting from there to Dusseldorf is very difficult via public transport and would require me to spend the night in Dusseldorf..which I rather not. In terms of driving in Germany cities….I am not planning on going into any cities in Germany. My only driving in Germany will be from the Maastricht to just outside central Dusseldorf for the rental return.

Another question…should I spend one night in each of the 3 smaller towns? Brugge, Antwerp and Maastricht…Or should I spend 2 nights in Antwerp and just day trip to Brugge. I was planning to do the latter but Brugge looks so lovely in the evening and plus we want to attend the ice sculpture festival in the later afternoon hours after it gets dark and I prefer not to drive at night (if we rent a car).
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Oct 16th, 2014, 08:44 AM
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What the previous poster means is that winter tyres are mandatory in Germany in january, but not in the Netherlands. With a Dutch rental car, you could end up getting fined in Germany. What's more, if you have an accident in Germany with your Dutch rental car, you will be liable if you don't have the winter tyres.

Not much chance of that happening, you don't travel very far into Germany, but it's still something to consider. We had a very mild winter without snow last year, but lots of snow and ice the year before that.

If you don't want to drive in the dark, you will be limited as it gets dark very early. Traffic is pretty bad in Belgium on the motorways at rush hour - so you'd have to time it to get to your destination before 4 pm. If you drive from Amsterdam to Antwerp on a weekday, then leave after rush hour (after 9 am) or you'll be stuck in traffic.

Brugge - Maastricht takes 2,42 hours by train. By car it will take as long, probably longer, since you go past Gent and around Brussels, where you could encounter a lot of traffic.
Actually Viamichelin says 2h48 from Brugge to Maastricht.

Of course your choice, but I would do this by train since it is in winter, it gets dark early and you're visiting cities where you will not need the car. And don't forget to add the cost of petrol and parking to your rental costs.
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Oct 16th, 2014, 09:42 AM
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How do you feel about touristy places vs. places that have a life independent of tourism? Brugge is a tourist attraction, and while it has remarkably better food than many other tourist attractions, almost everything going on in town is aimed at enticing foreigners to spend money there. By contrast Antwerp has tourist-worthy attractions and good eats, but it also is a small city with its own trajectory and sense of past and future that has nothing to do with the tourist trade. That does mean that not everywhere is pedestrianized, or set up to make things easy for tourists, plenty of urban attitude === and it is not the step back in time that dreamy Brugge is when the daytrippers depart.

I have been in Brugge and Antwerp in late December and by early nightfall, to was much too cold and drizzly to enjoy strolling around outdoors. I enjoyed Antwerp's nightlife of good restaurants and bars.

I happen to like trains, but even if I liked driving more than I do, still hard to imagine planning a fairly fast driving trip during some of the darkest days of the year in one of the wettest places in Europe. I'd be concerned that bad weather could mean it took me twice as long to get some places or kept me off the road completely even while trains were running.

A free hotel night in Amsterdam would not tempt me to stay if I couldn't figure out what to do there for that long. I could probably spend 5 days in the Rijksmuseum, but if you are a different kind of traveler, the "free" night really isn't "free" if it means you'll regret having spent the time, energy and money to get to that part of the world and were bored in Amsterdam and wishing you'd seen more of other places.
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Oct 16th, 2014, 10:11 AM
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Yes for those cities strongly consider taking the train - The Netherlands is one of the desnest places on Earth population-wise, right up there I think with China and India = congestion often IME of driving many years in The Netherlands and winter culd be dicey.

Trains are fantastic - go everywhere all the time - city center to city center - go foraging for a expensive parking lot (Amsterdam public parking can easily cost $30/day - many hotels do not have room to offer parking, etc.

For lots of great info on trains in Benelux and Germany I always spotlight these IMO superb sites: www.ricksteves.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.seat61.com. There is also a Benelux Railpass that gives 3 or 5 days of unlimited travel - it is a good deal in first class compared to walk up fares - hop on virtually any train anytime and IME first class has lots of benefits on trains - especially around rush hours - 2nd class on say Brussels to Amsterdam IC trains IME has often been SRO - in first class harly anyone riding - for the trip of a lifetime splurge a bit!
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 16th, 2014, 10:35 AM
  #17  
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question for you folks…is there weather totally crappy in Amsterdam and Antwerp & Brugge this time of year? I spent last Xmas/New Years break in Berlin and Paris..weather was great..not overly cold..it rained some days but nothing too bad. I am kind of expecting very similar weather? Also..I read that Amsterdam is quite a fun place to ring in the New Year. Is this true?
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Oct 16th, 2014, 10:44 AM
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New Year's Eve in Amsterdam is bombastic - starting in early afternoon it seems like a war zone with fire works going off everywhere - said to be the most crowded time of the whole year as folks flock here from all over Europe the week between Christmas and New Year's.

My trip report on New Year's Eve in Amsterdam and Haarlem:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-bombastic.cfm
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 16th, 2014, 10:55 AM
  #19  
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ok so it seems ALL OF YOU are against us renting a car lol. That settles it I guess. If we take trains..is there really any reason then to go to Maastricht? I was planning to go there because it seems very close by car (1hr) to Dusseldorf..but by train there are no direct trains..and it will take 3:30hrs..longer than from Antwerp. Is Maastricht better than say Delft, Leiden or Ghent? Should I just base myself for 3 days in Antwerp and visit Ghent and Brugge from there? Or..should I do 1 night in Brugge and 2 nights in Antwerp? I feel like since my flight from Dusseldorf is at 1pm..I should have enough time to get to the airport from Antwerp.
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Oct 16th, 2014, 12:31 PM
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No Maastricht is not much better than Delft, Leiden or Gent - in fact I like those cities better even though Maastricht to me was a pleasant surprise - a unique looking city but IME not nearly so much to see and do and not that dreamy of an old town as are the others.
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