14-day road trips from Amsterdam

Old Jan 10th, 2017, 02:06 PM
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14-day road trips from Amsterdam

I'd appreciate suggestions of arranging my trip
from 4/29 - 5/13/2017, start from Amsterdam, mainly sightseeing,
First few days to catch the tulip season. then may be drive down south to Belgium ?
or East to Cologne, Germany?
Is driving easy in those regions?
I am from Southern California. USA.
Per Google map from Amsterdam - Rotterdam - Antwerp- Brussels
The highway does not seem complicated.
Or may be too much to drive all the way down to Brussels?
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Old Jan 10th, 2017, 02:26 PM
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Travel in the Netherlands and Belgium is best done by train. The system is efficient, you do not have to worry about parking the car, or leaving your luggage in the car. Just use several cities as your base. Amsterdam is a logical one, Ghent might be better than Brussels or Bruges. There are a few places that could be on your list that might be inconveniently located for public transportation: one would be the Kröller-Müller Museum near Otterlo.
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Old Jan 10th, 2017, 02:47 PM
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I agree -- all of the places you mention are easier by train than by car (being from SoCal - taking trains probably wasn't your first inclination)
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Old Jan 10th, 2017, 02:54 PM
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Above advice is sound, but don't give up on the idea of driving - just be sure you do it in an area where it makes sense.

For example driving around on secondary roads in Belgium, through small towns and cute villages, stopping at will whenever a building or a shop or something attracted us, was a great way to travel. We would never have visited the snail farm (yes, snails for eating), or the underground pottery workshop in a former cellar of some kind - we fondly remember it whenever we drink our espresso from the cups we took home - if we hadn't been gallivanting, almost without a firm plan, by rental car.

But city-to-city, take trains, or buses if the budget gets tight - google the words "long-distance buses in Europe", there are several companies. A car in a city is a hassle, out in the country it's a joy.
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Old Jan 10th, 2017, 03:48 PM
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Driving this part of the world is indeed a total waste of time and money if you stick to the motorways, but is a pleasure if you take the small roads.
The region north of Amsterdam is nice to explore, especially the area between Alkmaar and Hoorn. Endless green with small villages and windmills.
In the direction of Belgium take the country roads to Gouda, famous for its cheese, and continue to Schoonhoven, where you pick up the river ferry. On the other side of the river you've got the wonderful windmill complex of Kinderdijk. Dordrecht is a good historical city. From there it's a short drive to the Belgian border.
I love Gent, but I have my doubts about a car. Mechelen, a quiet often forgotten city halfway between Antwerpen and Brussel, might be a more practical base.
You'll probably also appreciate the south-eastern part of Belgium, after you have passed the post-industrial landscape of Charleroi and Liège.
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Old Jan 10th, 2017, 03:51 PM
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Thank you so much to Michael, Janisj & michelhuebeli
very useful info., good to know the headache about parking situation
in those area.
This is my preliminary plan, I have more works to do.
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Old Jan 10th, 2017, 04:31 PM
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<i>14-day road trips from Amsterdam
Posted by: lvnatlpk on Jan 10, 17 at 6:06pm
Posted in: Europe
Tagged: Belgium , Germany , Netherlands
I'd appreciate suggestions of arranging my trip
from 4/29 - 5/13/2017, start from Amsterdam, mainly sightseeing,First few days to catch the tulip season. then may be drive down south to Belgium ? or East to Cologne, Germany? Is driving easy in those regions? </i>

Ditto <i>tonfromleiden on Jan 10, 17 at 7:48pm</i>. If you are only interested in the cities use the trains. Public transportation is excellent in BeNeLux, as opposed to virtually nonexistent in SoCal.

However, to amble about is fun if you are prepared for the rules of the road in Europe. You can get up to speed at http://www.enjoy-europe.com/hte/chap18/auto-1.htm.

I suggest that you equip yourself with a GPS, plus detailed Michelin Maps. You can do route planning at https://www.viamichelin.com/.

Brussels is not a big deal. The smaller cities are more interesting, and friendlier. Don't even think of driving in Amsterdam if you value your life and sanity.
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Old Jan 11th, 2017, 10:05 AM
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Again, thank you to Tonfromleiden & Spearrne
great info to learn.

Best Regards.
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Old Jan 11th, 2017, 10:18 AM
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Don't rule out driving. You could head north from Amsterdam, over the Afsluitdijk, explore Friesland and Groningen province before heading into northern Germany, circle around and re-enter the Netherlands from the south east maybe, to visit Overijssel and Gelderland (maybe Utrecht too - my home province). All low tourist areas but still interesting imho.

Or head south through Brabant and Limburg into Belgium, then around through the Ardennes and Eiffel back into the Netherlands via Arnhem.

I am assuming you are planning to return the car to the Netherlands. If not you will pay a big drop off fee

You don't have to take motorways everywhere. The drive to Brussels from Amsterdam is only about 2 hours on a normal day on the motorway, but boy is it a boring drive!

The problem with a Dutch car in Germany is it almost certainly won't have an umweltplakette which means you can't take it into many German cities.
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Old Jan 12th, 2017, 11:25 AM
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I also appreicate suggestions from hetismij2 on Jan 11, 17
all great points! Thank you so much!

I looked tonfromleiden on Jan 10, 17 at 4:48pm of the city
' Hoorn ', I should not miss the northern region.
very pretty.
Thank you again!
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Old Jan 12th, 2017, 12:01 PM
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Do you have to return to Amsterdam to drop the car?

If so I would consider a circular tour - shooting first over thru western NL to Cologne and then following the Rhine River down to Koblenz and just south of it the best part of the Rhine - the Rhine Gorge with delightful riverside towns to stay in.

Then from Koblenz go up the Mosel River valley - slowly - vineyards everywhere and the river runs in a twisting deep gorge- cute wine towns dot the roads- one of the very most scenic motoring routes in Europe:

https://www.google.com/search?q=mose...w=1536&bih=760

Go via Trier - worth a day for its Roman relics - the best IMO north of the Alps and onto Luxembourg.

Ah the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg - a beautiful rustic rural country for the most part -

then drive the Belgium's Ardennes - thru the Battle of the Bulge country around Bastogne-drop by the Spa town of SpaCruise thru the Namur-Leige-Dinant area with some great natural sceneruy- stop in Brussels for a day

Head over to Bruges - lovely lovely Bruges-incredibly lovely Bruges and up via Gent and Dordrecht and Delft and the Flower Belt back to Amsterdam.

14 days would be sweet and you see some lovely country and neat cities too.
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 02:44 PM
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Wow, Thank you so much to PalenQ!
Wonderful suggestions and info, the link, I really want to explorer those areas, so beautiful!
In my group, 3 sisters are joining me they are at good health, seniors age at 70ish, first stop is AMS, they love to see Tulips, how many days are not too much, which area we shouldn't miss?
I enjoy driving, but if in the city is tough, I only rent car for out of towns.
we may have only 12-day for real travel, other two days would be flying.
which area may be skipped?
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 03:38 PM
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Driving in Belgium is easy - I have driven about half a million Kms in that gorgeous country.

This being said : cities are a nightmare. The peripheric roads (we call them 'rings') are always congested and forget about rush hour. Bruxelles intra muros is crazy. Just try to avoid or drive at 2 am.

Rush hour in Antwerpen starts at 6 to ? in Bruxelles from 7 to 9 30.

The Ardennes are spectacular by road. Beautiful - try to follow some valleys (Molignée has my preference, or ourthe or Lesse).

Bruxelles is a beautiful city if you know where to go - get a book and don't bypass it whatever people tell you. La Grand Place is superb, le Sablon is fantastic, les Galeries (reine et roi) very nice, Place SainteCatherine is cool etc etc.

Charleroi was mentioned : Don't ever go there. I am the biggest specialist on this town and can tell you all in one word : avoid. Nothing there.

Cities and towns are gorgeous : Mechelen was mentioned, Leuven is fantastic, Ieper, Oudenaarde, Lier (Lier !) Dinant, Huy (less...) are great small cities.

Koeln is a beautiful city - quite big. Aachen is smaller and friendlier and splendid. I love Germany quite a lot. They don't really have good beer but the Koelsch is ok. For women that is. Highways are always under construction. Been doing Liège - Koeln for years now and never seen it without roadworks. First word of German I learnt was 'Stau' - congestion.

There is nothing in the Netherlands. Not even beer (Belgian beer is far better) nor cheese (french cheese is far superior). Yeah maybe some tulips but who eats tulips ?
(Maastricht is splendid and so are a few small towns but the food is always mediocre). Even by non Belgian standards. In case you doubt me, just read history books : we were ruled by these guys for some decades and kicked them out with 4 people in rags in 1830. They tried to come back but the French gave them a beating - sometimes these guys are useful. Since then the Low countries are made of 2 parts : Belgium and Netherlands. Like black and white : everything great in Belgium and - yes, you got it.

Some tips about driving :
- lots of speed cameras in NL, Flanders and we start to see a lot of those in Wallonia too.
- don't turn on red, that is a rule for non civilized people (like those in SoCal ;-) )
- stick ALWAYS to the lane the most at the right and NEVER, EVER take over from the right - that is criminal.
- Belgians are probably by far the worst drivers in all Europe. And albeit we are raised with beer we drive even worse when drunk.
- some cities ask for a sticker to prove they are not polluting too much (esp in Germany).
No tolls on roads for private cars neither in NL, B or D.

Whatever you do you can't do wrong - the whole area is great (even some parts of NL ... small ones) .
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 04:06 PM
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For the tulip fields I prefer the traditional area between Haarlem and Leiden: just west from the towns of Hillegom and Lisse. At the time you're around - end of April, beginning of May - they should be in flower.
Oh yes, you might have noticed some animosity between the Dutch and the Belgians. After having been under Spanish and Austrian rule for centuries, the Dutch thought the Belgians would welcome they idea of being part of a normal, well-organised country. It turned out they didn't. But they do make a drinkable beer, that's true. And their French, sorry: Belgian fries are not too bad.
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 06:22 PM
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Thanks a lot to WoinParis! plenty of information to study.
& Tonfromleiden again for the additional info from you!
Have a wonderful weekend!
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Old Jan 14th, 2017, 07:03 AM
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Great advice from everyone in this thread (and lots of delicious detail!). I've really enjoyed driving through southern Holland and Belgium - - but always overnighting in small towns, and including only smaller cities on the route.

Last year stayed at a B&B in the middle of nowhere (well, technically, the tiny town of 'Made'. Got a huge, gorgeous, two-level townhouse for about 50 Euro rated over 9.0 on Booking.com. Drove into Den Bosch and Breda and parked in city lots; parked at the ferry stop in Ridderkerk and took the boat to Kinderdijk and Dordrecht. Picked up a boatload of Belgian beer at the fantastic beer shop in Grobbendonk east of Antwerp.

Another trip picked up a car in Brussels and drove the awful ring road to Ghent, then went cross-country through delightful little towns to Poperinge where there was a fun little beer fest, and stopped at the Westvleteren abbey for some world class Westy 12.

The trip by car can be delightful, if (as others point out) you visit places that WORK by car. The Bruges / Ghent / Antwerp axis is MUCH more enjoyable by train.
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Old Jan 14th, 2017, 07:11 AM
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One very important thing to know about driving in Belgium is that the speed limit on nearly all non motorway roads, outside of built-up areas is now only 70 km/h. The speed limit is not signed - you are expected to know it.
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Old Jan 14th, 2017, 07:14 AM
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Old Jan 14th, 2017, 08:30 AM
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After having been under Spanish and Austrian rule for centuries, the Dutch thought the Belgians would welcome they idea of being part of a normal, well-organised country. It turned out they didn't>

And they can hardly keep their country together -should be extinguished and Wallooney part given to France (if they would take it- doubtful) and the Flems to Netherlands (they would take em)!
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