Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > Crowded in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands?
Notices

Crowded in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands?

Reply

Apr 27th, 2010, 09:39 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,072
Crowded in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands?

We're planning, at the last minute, a trip to the Benelux countries (due to resolution of job insecurity issues). Because of various factors like kids, until now, being in year-round school, we haven't traveled to Europe in the summer for years; we've had the luxury of travelling in mid-Sept to Oct. and in late May.

So now we'd be travelling at the end of July and the beginning of August.

Because we're interested in history and art, we'll probably focus on the cities, but with some time in the countryside (visiting castles and the like). We're not beach people.

Can anyone give me a practical feel for what the crowds are like in those cities and countries at that time of year, and planning advice? I would assume that Amsterdam would be better during the week than on the weekend. Is the same true of Bruges or Brussels? Are all the restaurants all full up, or only some? Do we need to reserve museums tickets all in advance, or only the "biggies?" Any other crowd issues to consider (hotels, I know; I'll start tracking those down as soon as we figure out the itinerary)?

And lastly, do those countries shut down in August like France and Italy do?
Lexma90 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 27th, 2010, 09:43 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,649
No country shuts down in August. In France and Italy a few family owned businesses shut down (as well as large employers) - but not the tourist infrastructure anywhere.

Can't comment on those areas in particular in summer -but would assume a lot of locals are away on vacation - either at country houses, sailing or at other vacation destinations - but their place will be taken by tourists from US and other countries.
nytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 27th, 2010, 09:54 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,056
Outside of Amsterdam and Bruges, I wouldn't say that any of these countries are high on most tourists' itineraries. A lot of locals will be away in Italy, Spain and southern France but businesses do not generally close except for some public holidays - I would check each country's dates.
tarquin is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 27th, 2010, 10:04 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 17,549
Do not COUNT on the "big" museums such as the Van Gogh, the Rijks, etc., being uncrowded during the week..yes, I know you think they might be better those days than on weekends and I would generally say the same BUT here are a couple of things to remember...

they are popular all the time and last April when I finally decided to go to the Van Gogh (it was during the week) i made the error of going later in the AM after it had opened for the day...and so did that cruise ship or whatever it was that had pulled in..they were ALL there!!!

The Anne Frank house I had fortunately reserved on line in advance and a good thing too because later in the week when I showed up there the line was around the corner but I got right in.

So, my advice is always to go early and I do it regardless of the time of year or day of the week whenever possible.
Dukey is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 27th, 2010, 10:09 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 8,351
Amsterdam is at it's busiest right now. Spring with the bulb fields is the main time for visiting.
Will Amsterdam be busy in July/August - yes, but then it is always fairly busy. It is school holiday time throughout the Netherlands, so things which attract kids may be busier than normal, but not much. The coast could be very very busy if the weather is good, and should be avoided if at all possible in that case.
Places like Zaanse Schans may be busy, but I doubt they will be very crowded, unless a coach or tow of Chinese turn up at the same time you do.
There are still plenty of places in the Netherlands to visit and enjoy without feeling too crowded though.

Brugge is far more likely to be crowded as it is on teh standard tourist route for many Europeans as well as Asians and Americans.
hetismij is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 27th, 2010, 11:04 AM
  #6
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,072
Thanks for the information (hetismij, I'll be re-reading a lot of your posts!), especially the comment about Brugge being more crowded than Amsterdam.

And, after taking a quick look through notes I gathered a while ago, Den Hague (Haague?) is on my list over Brussels, due to the Mauritshuis and its 3 Vermeers.
Lexma90 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 27th, 2010, 11:08 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 8,351
Den Haag (Dutch) or the Hague (English) will possibly be quieter than normal as the parliament won't be sitting so a lot of people won't be around then.
It is not very high on most tourists lists. If you go there then do go to the Panorama Mesdag too, and if you can put up with the odd crowding then you may also enjoy Madurodam. It'll bring out the child in you .
hetismij is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 27th, 2010, 01:20 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 9,422
Were it me, I would only day trip into Brugge if it's on your must-see list. I would expect it to be jammed. I would base in Antwerp.

For a lunch in Brugge, you might want to read this:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/201...d-tour-belgium

I also wouldn't base in Brussels, just day trip in to see the Grand Place and the Horta House, both of which are without peer. Unfortunately, I've yet to see the Magritte museum.

Another vote for the Panorama Mesdag as well as the incomprable Mauritshaus, and if you are interested in modern painting and De Stijl, the Gemeentemuseum. All 3 can be seen in a day, plus a leisurely lunch.
zeppole is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 28th, 2010, 01:33 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,831
Brugge isn't extremely busy in July/August. May, June and September are the busiest months.
MyriamC is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 28th, 2010, 01:47 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 11,900
Last August we went to Brussels, Bruges, Delft, and Amsterdam. There was a lot going on, but we didn't find anyplace particularly crowded. We were in Brussels over a weekend, which was nice because hotels are cheaper then than on weekdays. Bruges during the week - we planned it that way since Bruges seems to be a popular weekend get away. Amsterdam was busy, but not overrun. Delft was probably the most crowded, but that was because it was orientation for the university, so there were gobs of students everywhere and a big event in the main square.
november_moon is online now  
Reply With Quote
Apr 28th, 2010, 08:38 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 4,816
MyriamC, we are planning to spend a couple of days in Bruges in September. Is it more likely to be crowded in early or late September? We will go there during the week rather than the weekend.
Saraho is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 29th, 2010, 11:46 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,831
Hello Saraho, I don't think early or late September makes a big difference. It mostly depends on the weather.
MyriamC is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 29th, 2010, 03:52 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 9,422
I think "busy" and "crowded" are subjective judgments when It comes to tourism. I went to Brugge in December and it was too crowded with tourists for my taste. In general, I was sorry I had picked it as a base, when a day there or less would have given me time to see everything I wanted to see, and experience everything I wanted to experience there. As it was, I went on long walks just outside the main tourist area -- pleasant, and my favorite part of being in Brugge, but I enjoyed Antwerp far more.
zeppole is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 29th, 2010, 03:53 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 9,422
PS: I also found Gent more charming than Brugge when it came to ambience.
zeppole is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 29th, 2010, 05:04 PM
  #15
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 11,900
I heard that there is a lot of construction going on in Ghent these days - maybe someone else can add more information about that, if it is still going on or if it has been completed.
november_moon is online now  
Reply With Quote
May 8th, 2010, 02:59 PM
  #16
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 1
My husband and I went to Amsterdam, Brugge, Brussels, and Luxembourg last July(and then on to Luzern). Amsterdam was by far the most crowded, but even then not intolerable. Neither one of us had visited any of these locations before, and it was fantastic trip. Our goal was relaxation, some sightseeing, and people-watching, so we didn't hit as many museums as we normally do on vacation. Several years ago I went to Paris in July, and the crowds and lines at the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre were much more than anything we experienced in Benelux.

3 nights in Amsterdam at a hotel near Vondelpark - quiet, convenient to the tram, and we could cut through the park on our rented bikes. I was still decompressing from work, and without realizing it, we spent a lot of time just riding around Amsterdam and out of the city on paths along the canals, which was absolutely wonderful.

We did not reserve any museum or train tickets, and had made the decision early on in our trip planning to skip the Anne Frank house. There were lines around the block though, so if you think you might be interested, reserve tickets. The Rijksmuseum was not empty, but not too crowded either (we went in the afternoon on a Tuesday).

We spent 2 nights in Brugge, and that was plenty. It was cold and rainy (see your breath cold) one day, which seemed to keep a lot of people indoors, and 60 degrees and sunny the next. Again, there were crowds but nothing overwhelming. We hit the Belfry first thing in the morning, and there a short line of maybe 8 people to buy tickets when we left. It's a beautiful town, and worth the visit.

Then it was 2 nights in Brussels, and I wish we could have added one more-there was no way to see all of the museums and attractions that we wanted to see. The Atomium, and travel to and from, was an entire morning. Plan for at least two hours at the Musical Instrument Museum, and definitely dine in the restaurant on the top floor--the view is fabulous and the food is delicious and worth the wait. We stumbled onto Autoworld and again, spent three unexpectedly delightful hours.

We both fell in love with Luxembourg, and we had initially planned it just because it was on the way to Switzerland. Boy, were we surprised! Luxembourg City was not crowded, but wonderful people and sites - you can't miss the casements. A day trip to Vianden to see the castle, dine the town, and hike was a welcome break from a week of urban adventures.

Good luck in planning your trip and narrowing down your trip plans - no matter what you will be left wishing you had more time to explore these wonderful cities.
ALee_WNC is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 9th, 2010, 02:34 PM
  #17
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,831
The massive road works in the centre of Gent will last about four more weeks.
MyriamC is offline  
Reply With Quote
May 15th, 2010, 06:10 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,962
Because it was the only time we could get together for a family vacation with our adult sons, we vacationed mid-July through First week of August, ending with Amsterdam and Bruges.

Besides having trouble finding a hotel in Bruges, even though we were planning several months in advance, we had a great time and did not find the crowds so large as to be oppressive...a pleasant surprise.

As a matter of fact, Bruges early Sunday morning, we practically had the place to ourselves. Walking the cobble-stoned streets and along canals in the morning mist without another soul around is still one of my favorite memories...of course two hours later the tour buses were dropping off the masses! But it was still enjoyable.
klondike is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:56 AM.