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Justin
Miami Beach

Netherlands, Amsterdam, Belgium, The Hague, Delft, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Ghent, Utrecht, Gouda, Aalsmeer

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!


16 Answers

top answer by
Babak from Brazil

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.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (attraction)
  2. Paris (city)
  3. Delft (city)
  4. Ghent (city)
11 thankscomments (4)


answered by
Alex from London


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
  • 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!


Mentioned in this answer:

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


answered by
Gillian

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!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Amsterdam (city)
  2. Brouwerij 't IJ (attraction)
  3. Breskens (city)
  4. Brussels (city)
  5. Bruges (city)
  6. Ghent (city)
  7. Red Star Line Museum (attraction)
7 thanks


answered by
Patricia from Spain

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!!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Delft (city)
  2. Antwerp (city)
  3. Brussels (city)
  4. Ghent (city)
  5. Bruges (city)
7 thanks


answered by
Charlotte from Amsterdam

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. . 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Kinderdijk (attraction)
  2. Binnenhof (attraction)
  3. Hotel New York (hotel)
  4. Ghent (city)
  5. Antwerp (city)
  6. Brussels (city)
  7. Utrecht (city)
  8. Bloemendaal (city)
  9. Urban Dreams (hotel)
  10. 's-Hertogenbosch (city)
7 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Ruth from Puurs

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


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ghent (city)
  2. Brugge (attraction)
  3. Antwerp (city)
  4. Brussels (city)
  5. Utrecht (city)
  6. Rotterdam (city)
  7. Cogels Osylei (attraction)
6 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Tina from Roeselare

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!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Bruges (city)
  2. Ghent (city)
  3. Antwerp (city)
  4. Brussels (city)
  5. De Reitjes (attraction)
6 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Thomas from Oslo

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: RotterdamAntwerp, and Belgium, Brugges


 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Utrecht (city)
  2. Domtoren (attraction)
  3. Rotterdam (city)
  4. Antwerp (city)
  5. Belgium, Brugges (attraction)
6 thanks


answered by
Rita from Belgium

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.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Bruges (city)
  2. Antwerp (city)
  3. MAS (attraction)
  4. Brussels (city)
6 thankscomments (3)


answered by
Judi

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. 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Antwerp (city)
  2. Red Star Line Museum (attraction)
  3. Kinderdijk (attraction)
  4. Delft (city)
  5. Rubenshuis (attraction)
3 thanks


answered by
Sebnem from Istanbul

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 =)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Rotterdam (city)
  2. Utrecht (city)
3 thanks


answered by
Michael from Chicago

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.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Brussels (city)
2 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Jonny from Nowhere

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.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Belgium (country)
  2. Netherlands (country)
  3. Bruges (city)
  4. Ghent (city)
1 thanks


answered by
Shirley from Hoofddorp

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


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Zaanse Schans (neighborhood)
  2. Het Loo (attraction)
1 thanks


answered by
Michelle

I would advise you to rent a Pocket Wifi so you get all the information you need right in your pocket, I always rent a pocket wifi wherever I go. In Amsterdam is a good one called, www.pocketwifi-amsterdam.com and that covers also France and other cities in EU. 




answered by
Lan

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


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Gravensteen (attraction)
  2. Hot Club du Gand - Jazzcafé (attraction)




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