We arrive dec 14 and leave dec 21. We can fly into Amsterdam or into Brussels, not sure which is the best way to go, then we can fly out of Brussels or out of Amsterdam. We think we would like to see Bruge along the way, and I'm hoping to maybe not have to drive a car. I know that's the Christmas week but we're hoping it's not too cold and there be lots of good things to do and some things to eat and shop for. Maybe they'll be Christmas markets and celebrations to say.
Any suggestions for an itinerary would be really helpful
The tour to Brussels is on Tuesdays and Thursdays and to Bruges on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Both tours are around 12 hours long. The guided tour to Brussels makes a short stop at Antwerp where you can visit a diamond showroom and includes a guided city tour. The tour to Bruges also includes a guided city tour.
If you prefer to stay longer in Brussels or Bruges, please refer to Mary's suggestions.
We flew into Amsterdam and arranged transportation on line as we read how some taxis charge a lot to get into Central Amsterdam. Would have taken the train but had too much luggage. Yes book in advance for Anne Frank House, skip the line for Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and Van Gogh Museum. Easy to use the trams to get around Amsterdam. We spent 5 days in Amsterdam prior to a cruise and came back and spent 1 more day there. Booked a tour for every day we were there. Everything memorable.
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Fly into Amsterdam Airport Schiphol airport. Do not try to rent a car in Europe use the trains and taxis. There is a Xmas celebration with ice skating for booths etc in the Damrak square. Go to an Indonesian restaurant and order the rice table. Its a must look it up on the Internets. The Brazilian steakhouses are awesome. Rembrandt Square has a lot if nice place to eat and see. Take a canal boat tour they are very imformative. The museums are great go to the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, and theAutohaus Reich. The weather is going to be cold wet and sometimes windy but if you hit a coffee shop you won't feel a thing.
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You certainly won't need to hire a car...it will be easy to get to the places you want to see on foot or by public transport. No-one can predict the weather in advance though you're very unlikely to encounter heavy snow or weather which will cause issues with your travelling. It will probably be cold (and you'll probably encounter rain too) but that's easily dealt with by taking clothes you can layer, hat/scarf/gloves, sensible foot wear etc.
I do suggest you decide on your itinerary and book your accommodation as soon as possible. The period around Christmas and New Year is very popular with visitors (a sort of mini high season). I always use the reliable and lone-established www.booking.com which has extensive listings (hotels, guesthouses, apartments) in all the places I'll mention, excellent mapping and reviews which can only be posted by people who have booked through the site and completed their stay.
6 days isn't really very long so, if you want to see Brugge as well, I'd do this:
a) fly into Brussels and spend the first 2 nights there then travel to Brugge by train and spend one night there
fly into Brussels and spend 3 nights there, taking one for a full daytrip to Brugge by train (takes about an hour to get there). Brugge railway station is within easy walking distance of the historical heart.
If you can find the time, I do recommend a visit (by train again) to Ghent. It's not as tourist-focused as Brugge and has an equally interesting historical heart (imo). The railway station is a good way from the historical centre though: you need to take a tram (that's easy). Ghent is one the same line as Brugge: you pass though it on the way from/to Brussels.
Train times, details and fares for Belgian trains in English on the official railway website:
You don't need to buy tickets for travel within Belgium online in advance and don't need to worry about trains being so full that you cannot board.
2. Then take the train from Brugge (or Ghent, or Brussels) to Amsterdam. Trains from Brugge or Ghent will of course mean changing in Brussels...but it's the same station concourse so won't be a problem. For times, details and fares look at the website I linked and click 'International travel'.
There are lots of daily departures Brussels > Amsterdam, taking from just under 2 hours.
If you want to travel on a specific departure it's worth buying tickets in advance online because the fast trains can and do get full up (no standing allowed).
You won't find train info for your actual visit dates yet but don't panic...it's just too far in advance. Just check again in a few weeks' time!
3. Spend the rest of your visit in Amsterdam and fly out from there. The city is very walkable indeed (it's flat, of course!), is safe to walk and has excellent public transport.
If you want to visit the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh museum or the Anne Frank House Museum (and you should at least visit that one) then it's a good idea to buy your tickets online in advance. There are almost always queues...and always queues for the Anne Frank House...and queuing in the cold weather is horrible! Official sites for online tickets:
If you want an easy daytrip by train, I can recommend Haarlem. It has an interesting historical centre and lots of interesting little shops. Leiden is a bit further away by train but a fascinating place to explore, with lots of history and interest.
4. You'll be in Amsterdam for the Christmas market and other winter events (such as the skating rink on Leidesplein):
and the same in Brussels:
There are Christmas markets in Brugge and Ghent as well, though I'm not sure of the dates. You'll miss the one in Haarlem: it only lasts for a weekend.
Hope this helps. Enjoy your planning!
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