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  • "Cities/sights to see driving from Amsterdam to Belgium and back in 2 days?"

Justin McClintock

Miami Beach, Florida

Cities/sights to see driving from Amsterdam to Belgium and back in 2 days?

*Updated: Originally we wanted to drive to Paris but the general feedback was that it was not a good idea given the time constraints*

My girlfriend and I are traveling to Amsterdam in a couple of weeks. We arrive early Thursday morning and plan on renting a car at the airport to drive into Belgium for the night and then plan on being back in Amsterdam sometime Friday night to spend the rest of the weekend there (we leave Monday afternoon).

We want to explore some of the cities in the Netherlands and Belgium along the way. Any recommendations on what places to stop in/sites to see and how much time to spend there versus just driving through would be greatly appreciated.  

Below is a potential itinerary that I've put together based on things that I've read. Please feel free to speak to any of these places or other ones not listed.

  • Thursday: Arrive Amsterdam 7:30 am - rent car
  • Aalsmeer - to see the flower auction (runs from 7 - 9 am)
  • Gouda - to see the cheese market (runs from 10 am -12:30 pm)
  • The Hague - suggestions?
  • Delft - to see the blue pottery
  • Rotterdam - suggestions?
  • Kinderdijk - to see the windmills
  • Antwerp - suggestions?
  • Ghent - architecture/castles
  • Brussels - Grote Markt
  • Utrecht - Kasteel De Haar/castles


Thank you in advance for any feedback!

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17 Answers

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  • Antwerp (city)

    Antwerp

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  • Jasper van der Meer

    top answer by

    If you go from Kinderdijk to Rotterdam, you might as well stop in the oldest city in The Netherlands: Dordrecht. The old town is super cool with all classic houses, built in typical Dutch style. Walk through the street called Voorstraat it's just a few miles and runs from the river to down town straight through the old town. It's not a big center, but defo worth a visit if you want to see some old Dutch culture. It also happens to be my hometown until the end of the month.

    DordrechtThe attached image is a view on the totally off-centered church right in down town. From a distance you can see how crooked it is :)

    I don't know much about The Hague, but what I do know is that Scheveningen is right around the corner of The Hague and you can't miss our coastline with the, albeit a bit tourist-trappy, boulevard and shopping street. Also Kijkduin has a nice beach but doesn't offer much apart from that.

    Rotterdam is an amazing city. I always feel laidback and safe when I'm there. Do mind your belonings of course as in any big city and don't fall for the "do you got a few cents for me" bums that'll rip your wallet from your hand like, again, in any big city. Rotterdam is the city of water so you'll have to check out the Spido boat that offers a ride over the water through Rotterdam.

    Be sure to check out Stadhuisplein and Binnenrotte and surrounding streets like Meent for some nice establishments for food and drinks. You can eat for dirt cheap on Binnerotte in restaurants like Umami, Sumo Sushi & Grill and a lot more. Just check Yelp, a few dedicated citizens are writing reviews on Yelp for you :)

    Take a walk over Lijnbaan Winkelstraat to see a ton more shops and food courts, etc and if you walk in the right direction, you'll end up very close to the Rotterdam Centraal train station, where you can take a train back to wherever you want to go.

    Do watch out: parking is next to impossible for foreigners in Rotterdam. You'll need a chip on your bank card and it just doesn't work "out-the-box". You'll need to activate the parking system on your card and it's a friggin' hassle. You're best off parking your rental car at Kralingse Zoom P+R just over the bridge and take the metro (subway) from there that will take you right into Centraal Station.

    Bring warm clothes. Our weather sucks, generally :)Rotterdam centraalCentraal Station Rotterdam


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    • Debbie L.

      Debbie L.

      Wow, this would be an amazing road trip! · (1 likelikes)

    • Valerie A.

      Valerie A.

      Thanks for the heads up on parking. Not being able to find a parking spot is one of the most frustrating things. · (1 likelikes)

    • Jasper v.

      Jasper v.

      on the map "Rotterdam Centraal" is positioned wrong, that should be positioned on Rotterdam Central Station. Binnerotte is a street, but I wrote that wrong, it should be Binnenrotte, with an added 'n'. · (0 likelikes)

    • Justin M.

      Justin M.

      Thanks for the information, Jasper! · (1 likelikes)

    • Debbie L.

      Debbie L.

      Hi Jasper, thanks for mentioning this -- both Rotterdam Centraal and Binnenrotte have been updated. If you notice anything else that's off in the future, please do hit the "feedback" link at the top of any page to let us know and we'll look into it :) · (0 likelikes)

    Mentioned in this answer:

    1. Kinderdijk (attraction)
    2. Rotterdam (city)
    3. The Netherlands (attraction)
    4. Dordrecht (city)
    5. Voorstraat (attraction)
    6. The Hague (city)
    7. Scheveningen (city)
    8. Kijkduin (attraction)
    9. Rotterdam (city)
    10. Stadhuisplein (attraction)
    11. Binnenrotte (attraction)
    12. Meent (attraction)
    13. Umami (restaurant)
    14. Sumo Sushi & Grill (attraction)
    15. Lijnbaan Winkelstraat (attraction)
    16. Rotterdam Centraal (attraction)
    17. Kralingse Zoom P+R (attraction)

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  • Babak Fakhamzadeh

    answered first by

    You want to drive from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Paris on Thursday morning, be back in Amsterdam by Friday night *and* see a bunch of sites in between?

    That's nuts.

    Expect on driving six hours each way, without stopping. That will leave, at best, about 24 hours to see any sight along the way.

    It takes time to get into and out of the city centres of all the towns you mention. Expect this to cost at least an hour for each site you want to visit, while some will be worse. You will end up with virtually no time to actually see anything, anywhere.

    If you *must*, pick one stop on the way in each direction. Delft, for example, going south, Ghent going north. But skipping the journey to Paris altogether would probably be the most sensible option.

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    • Jasper v.

      Jasper v.

      I haven't considered time pressure with my reply, but indeed that's undoable. Good point! · (0 likelikes)

    • Justin M.

      Justin M.

      Thanks for the feedback, Babak. The intent was never to spend much time in all of the places listed but rather identify the ones that we'd want to spend "most" of our little time in. After thinking about it a bit more, I agree that it wouldn't be sensible and would compromise the ability to see much of any of the places along the way, including Paris. Having said that, I think the new plan is not to include Paris, which would make our farthest (potential) stop either Ghent or Brussels. Wish we had more time to see everything though! Based on nixing Paris from the road trip, suggestions on what to see at any of the places that I listed/or didn't list would be appreciated as well as what city you would recommend staying in for the night. Thanks again! · (0 likelikes)

    • Babak F.

      Babak F.

      An excellent decision, Justin. You've got four nights total, If I'm not mistaken. Staying for two in Amsterdam makes sense. For your stay in Amsterdam, don't rent a car. It is pointless. For your other two nights, consider renting a car and go somewhat south. There's a slew of things to see within easy striking distance. This includes Aalsmeer, Gouda, Leiden, Scheveningen, the Port of Rotterdam, Delft, Rotterdam, Kinderdijk, Dordrecht and Utrecht. The furthest, Dordrecht, is perhaps only 70k from Amsterdam. If I would have to choose, I would probably go for the cheese in Gouda, de old town of Delft, the Kinderdijk and the beach in Scheveningen or maybe Hoek van Holland. For Hoek van Holland and Kinderdijk it helps to have a car. Because everything is so close, it doesn't really matter where you stay. But, if you have a car, perhaps somewhere that's not in a city would be an interesting experience. · (2 likelikes)

    • Shirley F.

      Shirley F.

      It is a very crowded country and densed community. We have traffic jams in the western part of the Netherlands. Lack of parking spaces, you need to add 30-60 minutes extra travel time to see places. · (0 likelikes)

    Mentioned in this answer:

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    2. Paris (city)
    3. Delft (city)
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  • Alex Jorge

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    answered by


    Justin, you seem to have a pretty good plan already, I would only say that you run the risk of seeing very similar cities if you don't verge away from a straight line between Brussels and Amsterdam.

    I completely agree with the suggestion for Dordrecht and it would be an absolute shame for you to miss Bruges (if you are skimping on cities in Belgium, I would actually cut out Brussels instead).

    Here is a suggestion based on your itinerary:

    • Thu 7:30am: Amsterdam Schiphol Airportarrival and rent a car --> estimate 20min to Aalsmer Flower Auction, must arrive before 9:00am)
    • Thu 8:30am: Aalsmeer Flower Auction. Have a coffee! --> 45mins to Gouda
    • Thu 10:00am: Gouda cheese market (10am to 12:30am). --> 30mins to Dordrecht
    • Thu 11:30am: Dordrecht to visit city centre and church (climb bell tower). --> 60mins to Antwerp
    • Thu 01:00pm: Antwerpen lunch stop at Medieval city centre. Perhaps visit MAS to see the contrast of modern vs historical. -->1hr to Ghent
    • Thu 05:00pm: Ghent for afternoon walk through city centre and along canals. Dinner in Ghent. If possible, may want to catch a concert, Ghent is famous for music.-->45mins to Bruges
    • Thu 10:00pm: Bruges overnight. Suggest a B&B or AirB&B outside historical centre to make parking easier.
    • Fri 9:00am: Explore Bruges city centre inc. canals. Have some fresh pastries snacks-->2hrs to Kinderdikj
    • Fri 01:30pm: Drive through Kinderdijk with quick stops at landmarks-->30mins to Rotterdam.
    • Fri 02:00pm: Late lunch in Rotterdam. Explore city. --> 30min to The Hague
    • Fri 04:00pm: Drive through The Hague, quick stops at landmarks. --> 15mins to Delft
    • Fri 05:00pm: Delft explore city and have dinner.--> 60mins to Amsterdam
    • Fri 11:00pm: Arrive Amsterdam

    As you can see, while this plan includes most of your destinations, it sets out a pretty grueling schedule with about 2 hours stop in each major city... but it can be done :) One thing to take note of when driving is to avoid major commuter traffic time so driving in/out of cities in early morning or late afternoon is not recommended.

    Good luck planning, it looks like you are going to have an amazing itinerary!

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    • Babak F.

      Babak F.

      Awesome but back breaking! :) · (1 likelikes)

    • Alex J.

      Alex J.

      Very much so. Especially starting off from a long haul flight. But then the benefits of driving is that one can easily decide to skip a destination or two along the way. · (1 likelikes)

    • Justin M.

      Justin M.

      Thanks, Alex. We'll definitely take you ideas into account for our plans. · (1 likelikes)

    • Renate F.

      Renate F.

      What a beautiful, thoughtful answer! And, I must agree, it would be a shame to miss Bruges and it should be prioritized over Brussels. · (1 likelikes)

    Mentioned in this answer:

    1. Dordrecht (city)
    2. Bruges (city)
    3. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (attraction)
    4. Aalsmeer Flower Auction (attraction)
    5. Gouda (city)
    6. Dordrecht (city)
    7. Antwerpen (attraction)
    8. MAS (attraction)
    9. Ghent (city)
    10. Bruges (city)
    11. Kinderdijk (attraction)
    12. Rotterdam (city)
    13. The Hague (city)
    14. Delft (city)
    15. Amsterdam (city)

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  • Gillian Duffy

    answered by

    We just left the Netherlands a few weeks ago. I love, love, loved Amsterdam; just wandering around and taking in the city is lovely. EatingAmsterdam does an amazing food tour that I recommend and we really enjoyed the Brouwerij 't IJ beerhouse for an afternoon/evening.

    The piece of NL that stunned me the most was the coast. It is white sand beach, sand dunes, and seagrass as far as the eye can see. There are many small towns along the coast to visit - pick one and spend a night - I loved Breskensthe most.

    We visited Antwerp for one reason only; to visit the Red Star Line Museum. It chronicles the migration of Europeans to North America and beyond throughout history. A multi-media museum, it is the BEST museum I have ever been to. Fascinating stories told in such a compelling way - could be that I'm from Canada, a land of immigrants, but I loved seeing European history through this lens.

    I agree with what others have said. We visited Brussels instead of Bruges and I wish we had not, although we did enjoy Ghent.

    It's a great area of the world - you really can't go wrong whatever you choose. Have a fabulous holiday!

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  • Charlotte Kranendonk

    answered by

    Well, to start, Kinderdijk is close to Amsterdam so I would go there on the way back. In The Hague you can visit the parliament at Binnenhof and in Rotterdam you can have a great lunch at Hotel New York, then head to Ghent to have beer and fine dining in Antwerp, you could stay in a b&b called Urban Dreams. Then Brussels, okay, drive back by 's-Hertogenbosch and Utrecht to sit down at the gracht (canal), Kinderdijk and back to Amsterdam. In the weekend you could go to a festival or to the beach at Bloemendaal. .

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    • Justin M.

      Justin M.

      Thank you for the information, Charlotte. · (0 likelikes)

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    2. Binnenhof (attraction)
    3. Hotel New York (hotel)
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    5. Antwerp (city)
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    7. Brussels (city)
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    10. Bloemendaal (city)

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  • Patricia Abalo

    answered by

    Hi Justin,

    Since you have limited time to travel around, I would skip Rotterdam and The Hague and go to Delft (is a must when in Holland), then Antwerp which is in the way to Brussels. Ghent is also really nice together with Bruges, but it is located more to the west.

    Some times it is better to choose just a few places and enjoy them well than running to and fro.

    Enjoy!!

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  • Ruth Schelfhout

    answered by

    For the Belgian part, I suggest you spend most of your time in Ghent. It has some carachteristics of Brugge, without many touritst, it's more a real living-city. And then you can choose between Antwerp and Brussels, Brussels is lovely when you know a little bit where you should go, Antwerp is more easier traveling to see nice spots. I like for example the Cogels Osylei in Antwerp-Berchem, a street with a lot of nice old houses;

    For your time in Holland, I like the idea of Utrecht, and Rotterdam.

    It depends on what you want, do you wanna see less city's but spend a longer time there. Or do you wanna see a lot of differents things for just an hour and spend a lot of time driving around...

    Have a nice time and don't forget to drink a good Belgian beer (Trippel Karmeliet, Ommeganck, Orval, ...) and eat Belgian fries

    ruth

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    • Justin M.

      Justin M.

      Thanks for the ideas, Ruth. · (0 likelikes)

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  • Tina Fabry

    answered by

    Hello,

    I will only answer on the belgian cities. I see Bruges is not included in your trip. You should definatly do that!

    It is a small but very old and nice town, with a lot of culture, museums, old churches but very nice and romantic to just wander around.

    Or take a boat on the "De Reitjes" and see the town from the water.

    I took my husband there to ask him to get married :-)

    I know a lot of my american friends really liked it.

    It is about 35 minutes drive from Ghent.

    Depending on traffic and on when you would drive:

    Antwerp > Ghent= 30 minutes

    Ghent > Brugges = 35 minutes

    Ghent > Brussels = 35 minutes

    That is if you would not do it in the morning when we all have to go to work :-)

    Have fun!

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    • Justin M.

      Justin M.

      Thanks, Tina. A lot of people have recommended that we check out Bruges so I think we'll be adding that to the list (even in place of somewhere else). · (0 likelikes)

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  • Thomas Haverkamp

    answered by

    I agree with the previous post that your scheme is too ambitious to be enjoyable. Consider if you really want to drive to Paris or not. The Netherlands and Belgium have a couple of really nice, old, romantic cities that are well in reach of Amsterdam and are worth a day trip.

    Among those I would recommend Utrecht, where I would head to to inner city and explore the little streets and channels around the Domtoren. Especially, when you go south from the Domtoren along the Oude Gracht you can find lots of quite side streets.

    The other cities I recommend are: Rotterdam, Antwerp, and Belgium, Brugges



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  • Rita T

    answered by

    Dear Justin,

    Welcome to Belgium!

    As already warned, your schedule is way too tight. On the map the distances seem short, but during summer the traffic is busy, and it can take a long time to move from one city to another. Especially the rings around big cities can be stuck. And in the cities it takes a long time to find parking, to find your planned visiting places etc.

    In Belgium I suggest that you stop in Bruges or in Antwerp. Bruges old centre is worth seeing, although it can be packed with tourists. If you are interested in art, you should visit MAS museum in Antwerp. If in Brussels you only want to see Grand Place, don't bother. It will take you at least two hours to get in and out of the city, or find a parking in the city centre. For one square it is not worth it.

    And one evening and morning in Paris is definately not enough. I suggest that you leave the car, take a high-speed train (Thalys) from Amsterdam to Paris, and stay there for at least two nights.

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    • Justin M.

      Justin M.

      Thank you, Rita! After getting some feedback from people I think our new plan is to skip Paris. What city in The Netherlands or Belgium would you recommend us staying in for the night instead? · (0 likelikes)

    • Rita T.

      Rita T.

      Are you still planning to rent a car? Because from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport you could take a train to Brussels. It would be very easy and fast, and take you directly to the centre of Brussels without traffic or parking problems. · (0 likelikes)

    • Justin M.

      Justin M.

      I think the plan is still to rent a car. We want to see as much as the country as we can and have flexibility in how we do it. Thanks again for the information, Rita. · (0 likelikes)

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  • Judi Garner Farkas

    answered by

    Re Antwerp: The printing museum (I forget the name, but you can find it easily), Rubenshuis, The Red Star Line Museum (museum of the largest shipping line for turn of the century immigrants/emigrants).

    Re Kinderdijk: This is as crowded and touristy as one can get. Unless you are in the mood for a windmill and cheese theme park, it's not worth the trip.

    Delft is beautiful and well worth a day.

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  • Sebnem Sayil

    Trippy Ambassadors are elite members of the community, hand picked to help you travel better! Interested? E-mail us at ambassadors@trippy.com.

    answered by

    I returned from Rotterdam on Friday. I would not say that it is worth the visit, however it was still nice. Try Utrecht instead, which a lovely town =)

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  • Elsy Webo

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    In Antwerp you have a lot of nice architecture also! You can visit the old city center, which is very cosy and nice ( or you can visit "the little island", where you can visit the MAS on top of which you can see all over Antwerp. Also visit the Red Star Line Museum.

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  • Michael Kay

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    Personally I would take the train system! On time and great cities along the way..Spend a day in Brussels. Wonderful food, sites....home of the EU.

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    • Renate F.

      Renate F.

      I was actually thinking the same about the train system. So efficient. · (0 likelikes)

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  • Jonny Duncan

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    If you are short on time and only have a day and one night to drive into Belgium then skip everything in the Netherlandsand head straight to Bruges for a half a day walk around before taking the short drive to Ghent to sleep for the night and enjoy some good food and Belgium beer. Next morning explore Ghent and see the old castle before driving back to Amsterdam. I spent a long time living in the Netherlands and visited Belgium numerous times. There are interesting places to see between Amsterdam and Belgium, but with just one day head straight for Ghent and Bruges, they are more interesting to see than anywhere between the two.

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  • Shirley Felix

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    Zaanse Schans should definitely be added to your list and Het Loo in Apeldoorn (Royal Palace with beautiful garden).

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  • Lan Der

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    go to Gravensteen, the korenmarkt and it's big churches, if you want to eat something, check out Oudburg (street). Or just little pubs to get a drink? Try Hot Club du Gand - Jazzcafé

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