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One day in the Netherlands before flying home

One day in the Netherlands before flying home

Old Nov 1st, 2023, 06:15 AM
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One day in the Netherlands before flying home

I have a business trip to various locations in Belgium & the Netherlands in mid November, and have an afternoon/evening to spare before I fly home from AMS/Schipol. The most convenient options for train travel are Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Rotterdam. - all 3 have direct trains from both my business location southern NL, and fast, direct connect to AMS airport.

I'm basically looking for a destination where I can enjoy a few hours strolling/browsing, a dinner, and a comfortable hotel that's convenient to the train station.

Utrecht is attractive, as it's a smaller town, and cheaper than Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is attractive as it's a larger town, with more to browse and see.
Rotterdam has the best hotel prices, but not sure if it's a worthwhile afternoon/evening place to visit.

If you had to pick one, which would you choose and why?
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Old Nov 1st, 2023, 06:22 AM
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For strolling, dining and some cultural opportunities, consider Leiden — a university town— and Den Haag. Both have direct connections to Schiphol.
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Old Nov 1st, 2023, 06:49 AM
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Harlaam, Leiden or Den Haag
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Old Nov 1st, 2023, 06:51 AM
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Utrecht is a relatively inexpensive city, so you should be able to find a comfortable hotel at a reasonable price. I'd visit the Dome Cathedral, which is one of the oldest cathedrals in the Netherlands. It is also a beautiful and historic city that offers many opportunities for walking.

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Old Nov 1st, 2023, 07:19 AM
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On previous trips to BENELUX region when I've had an extra day I've rented a bike and taken advantage of the great bike trail network. If weather is dry (temp doesn't matter to me), that may be something I do for fun. I do like the idea of being near the coast and pedaling out to and along the strand. Trade off would be the extra time to get to Den Haag, Haarlem, or Leiden (2hrs with connection vs 1hr direct) to start with...

A canal / river bike ride near Utrecht is also an option I'll dig into further. A meandering 20-30km ride at slow 15kph pace on a city/hybrid bike could be ideal, weather permitting of course. Will be sure to pack my bike gear just in case....


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Old Nov 1st, 2023, 09:19 AM
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Utrecht is a lovely city.

I have to put in a word for Rotterdam, though, where I lived over 30 years ago. My husband and I spent a few days there a few years ago. It's now quite a different place. It's a vibrant, lively city. It has great restaurants and a fascinating harbour.

I hope Menachem, who lives there, and who gave us much helpful advice for our visit, will see and respond to this.

I'm sure you realise that in November it gets dark very early. The sun sets a bit before 5 PM.

Last edited by bvlenci; Nov 1st, 2023 at 09:23 AM.
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Old Nov 1st, 2023, 10:30 AM
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Hello there! Yes, Rotterdam would be a fine option, also because it's 20 minutes from Schiphol by Intercity Direct. Tip: Witte de Withstraat and surroundings for drinks in the afternoon and more than enough options for dinner. Another good place is the little square off Binnenrotte (Nieuwe Markt/Botersloot/Pannekoekstraat), also for convivial drinks and great dinner options. Oude and Nieuwe Binnenweg are another good spot, although more "traditional Rotterdam". If you want a taste of that I can recommend the venerable restaurant "Old Dutch" for dinner. Everything within walking distance from any hotel that's roughly in the center of Rotterdam.

But for stress free travel to Schiphol the next morning, I would recommend Leiden. It's on the trainline from your southern business destination, and it's 10 minutes from Schiphol by very frequent train and you can get to Schiphol by bus from Leiden if trains don't run.
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Old Nov 1st, 2023, 12:33 PM
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I've had this choice many times, as I would use the 24-hour layover option when flying through Schiphol from Germany to the states 4 times a year. Leiden is nice, yes. And a hotel right by the station makes it a breeze, though I do find Leiden a bit uninspiring in what it offers, and I just haven't gone back there. Amsterdam, for one night, I'm sorry, I find kind of miserable. The center is overrun. Things feel washed out, and the 'people' experience is overwhelmingly tourists. One super easy option is Haarlem - - you take the #300 bus from right outside the terminal, and it has it's own thruway/tunnel system direct to Haarlem, interesting on its own, and Haarlem is pretty with a concentrated center and none of the riff-raff of Amsterdam. Haarlem is definitely not a bad choice - - no real negatives. I've never been to Rotterdam (sorry), and my one visit to Den Haag was, well, kind of boring (Delft is right nearby too if you want something ueber-quaint but maybe a bit small and prissy). Another option is the train up to Hoorn, a pretty little harbor town.

But where I DID finally constantly end up going back is Utrecht. That long walk down the grand canal, till the shops get small and interesting is a great stroll - - it's what many people hoped Amsterdam would be like. And the convivial cafe' / restaurant scene along the canal is Holland buzzing at its finest. From the station you do have to walk through the Hoog Catherine shopping mall till you get to the (fairly) busy commercial center with tons of stores and cafes and bars and eateries, but that is lively too. Then heading out further from that center along the canal, you have just a perfectly pretty and mild but still somehow stimulating Dutch treat.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2023, 05:54 AM
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Thanks for all the inputs. Lots of good options. Anything within 30-40min of Schipol with direct trains will be fine, which is basically everything on the lists above. I can get to Utrecht in about an hour with direct IC trains from southeast NL that run every 10-15min, so that's a good option for transportation. Hotels on a Saturday night are a different nut to crack, but I have options already scoped out in different towns.

Stashing my luggage at a locker in Utrecht station, spending the day there, then moving on to Rotterdam for the night is also an option. I'll play it by ear for now and see how the weather is shaping up for my travel dates.
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Old Nov 19th, 2023, 12:27 AM
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Here's what I ended up doing.

Saturday am, left Eindhoven in a light rain, direct train to Utrecht.

Arrived Utrecht about an hour later - easy, comfortable ride. Stowed my luggage in a locker at the train station and headed out. Light rain had turned to a medium rain with light wind. Picked up a new umbrella as my last one was blown to bits earlier in the week. Spent a wonderful several hours browsing Utrecht, enjoying the sights and sounds and tastes. Best of all was the Saturday market (maybe it's every day...). Wind picked up and it was time to head out.

Quick train to Rotterdam. Steady rain now blowing sideways. Umbrella of no use. Knee high wellies would have come in handy. Checked in my hotel, changed into dry clothes & headed back out. Got a cheap new umbrella. Cheap being the operative word in all senses. Must have walked close to 10km, thankfully most of it under at least some cover. Got a beer on Witte de Withstraat. By the time I got to the Markthal the cheap umbrella was an inverted pile of twisted metal and fabric. Thouroughly enjoyed browsing, sampling, smelling and eating at the Markthal.

After a week of business breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, lighter fare for dinner suited me just fine. Seems as though the dutch have a taste for a vast range of authentic international foods, fish & chips, and all things sugary & chocolatey. A small plate of satay, and a bowl of fish soup with a side of fresh bread hit the spot. A warm, gooey, caramelly, gooey, warm stroopwafel was the perfect palate cleanser and nightcap before heading back to my hotel. Hordes of shoppers out taking advantage of black friday week specials, and otherwise just enjoying a Saturday night out.

Early Sunday it was an easy and thankfully dry walk to the train station - pre dawn quiet interrupted only by the last of the young, late night revelers still reveling on the streets. An easy train to Schiphol airport. Q.E.D.






Last edited by J62; Nov 19th, 2023 at 01:13 AM.
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Old Nov 19th, 2023, 04:48 AM
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Old Nov 19th, 2023, 05:23 AM
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When I lived in the Netherlands, I quickly gave up on umbrellas. A good waterproof jacket, with a hood, is much more useful.
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Old Nov 19th, 2023, 06:56 AM
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You made the best of it! Thanks for circling back.
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