Netherlands itinerary advice wanted

Old Feb 21st, 2022, 12:31 PM
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Netherlands itinerary advice wanted

I am planning a trip to Netherlands for my husband and myself at the end of April - early May for 8-9 days. We will fly in and out of Schipol and want to spend either the first or last weekend in Amsterdam but will spend the remainder of our time staying in perhaps 2 other locations and touring around from those spots. This is our first Covid-times trip and so will likely choose to rent a car to travel to give us freedom of movement. I have always wanted to see the tulips in bloom and hope to do so during the visit. I have been looking at including Haarlem, Delft and Leiden, although I don't think they are so far away from each other, we could home base in one and visit those locations. What other locations would be good as a base for a few days to see something different. I wanted to plan to be in a good location during konigsdag - fun, festive, but not wild. Can someone knowledgeable with the various regions advise me on a good itinerary for a 4/22 - 5/1 visit, with Amsterdam at one end or the other. I also want to start somewhere fairly near our arrival, due to jet lag, etc. We like walking, hiking, city visiting, museums, good eating, staying somewhere comfortable and pretty, etc. thanks!!
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Old Feb 21st, 2022, 05:38 PM
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Hi, I will say upfront that I have never been to Leiden or indeed Keukenhof (I never get time off in April-May nowadays as I teach then), but it looks to me as though Leiden and Haarlem have best access to there, and Delft is not really useful for that goal (although it's just minutes on the train into Den Haag). But I am keen on Delft for other reasons. There is now only one porcelain painting workshop, De Porcelyne Fles, but it is very interesting and you can buy nice examples of Delft porcelain from there. Plus it is a very beautiful little city, not to be missed.

You could also take Utrecht into consideration, it's in the middle of everywhere which makes it quite a good hub, and it's also quite picturesque. When we stayed there we found accommodation to be expensive and so we stayed in nearby Maarssen (tiny, not really a tourist town but pretty enough near the canal; our Dutch relatives thought us odd). We were in Utrecht for New Year's Day, and cafes were open, thank goodness, but it was about -7C. If we went back I would have my eye on some of the B&Bs or small hotels on the Oudegracht canal there because the canal is lined with a kind of two tier structure inside the canal itself and there are hotels close in to the water. I don't know if I explained that very well!

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Old Feb 21st, 2022, 05:41 PM
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Oh, and I am also a big fan of Maastricht - possibly a little out of your way but quite different in style to Amsterdam and the Randstad. For me, also worth a visit.

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Old Feb 23rd, 2022, 06:06 AM
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many [email protected] for your suggestions. I'm also wondering about whether it will be fun to take a few days and head to a different region? Which of the coastal towns prettiest to see? It sounds like we can't go wrong in the area and on the peninsula north of Amsterdam
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Old Feb 23rd, 2022, 10:45 AM
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We spent a week in Leiden and highly recommend it as a base location. Although we always rent cars in Europe, I do not recommend it for this area which is all connected by frequent train service. Add The Hague to your list and Kinderdijk down the river by boat from Rotterdam, home to 19 windmills in their original locations.
We hope to return to Leiden, home to the Pilgrims when they fled England snd before heading to the New World.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2022, 12:20 PM
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You can easily visit Haarlem from Amsterdam or vice versa.
Will you be relying on public transport or renting a car? If you are renting a car there are plenty of places to visit away from the built-up Randstad area. Do you want country or town? What are you interested in?
May the 4th is Remembrance day in the Netherlands, two minutes silence, widely respected at 8 pm. The main ceremony is on the Dam with the King in attendance but everywhere has small ceremonies. Depending on Covid the Dam ceremony is open to all. May 5th is Liberation day, but only a holiday for government workers, most people have to work, and shops will be open as normal.
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Old Feb 24th, 2022, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by imgwiz View Post
many [email protected] for your suggestions. I'm also wondering about whether it will be fun to take a few days and head to a different region? Which of the coastal towns prettiest to see? It sounds like we can't go wrong in the area and on the peninsula north of Amsterdam
You could tour the beautiful Hanseatic cities along the IJssel river. Many gorgeous B&Bs and country hotels, and beautiful landscapes.
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Old Feb 24th, 2022, 06:57 PM
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I appreciate your thinking about this for us. We will be gone by May 4, but the remembrance holiday sounds like an interesting holiday. We may rent a car for the time we are not staying in Amsterdam, and figure if we have a car, we can wander a bit more independently than if we're following bus/train schedules. I would like to go a little north, as well as south of Amsterdam ( definitely want to get to Leiden and Delft). We like the shore and sea, as well as country - and always appreciate a pretty town. I'm thinking now about staying in Amsterdam for 3 or 4 nights after arrival, then heading to North Holland for 2 nights and then perhaps Leiden for 2 nights. Is access to Schipol easy from Leiden?
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Old Feb 24th, 2022, 07:08 PM
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The two big beach resorts in the Netherlands are Zandvoort (for Amsterdam) and Scheveningen (for Den Haag). Zandvoort is an easy trip out of Amsterdam or Haarlem although I don't think it would keep you for a day, and Scheveningen is really a part of Den Haag.

In WWII the Dutch resistance used to see if people were really Dutch by getting them to pronounce 'Scheveningen', or whether they were Germans trying to pass themselves off as Dutch.

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Old Feb 24th, 2022, 10:42 PM
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Amsterdam is in North Holland, you can get anywhere in that area quickly by train. There is no need to change hotels 3 times.
Just north of Zandvoort is Bloemendaal beach, and the national park Kennemerland. Go cycling there.
Maybe add a day in Den Haag. It has a very different vibe compared to Amsterdam.
Leiden is 20 minutes or so by direct train to Schiphol.
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Old Feb 25th, 2022, 12:37 AM
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For a coastal town, try Enkhuizen which has a museum village, a maritime museum and a nice harbor:

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Old Feb 25th, 2022, 02:21 AM
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Originally Posted by imgwiz View Post
I appreciate your thinking about this for us. We will be gone by May 4, but the remembrance holiday sounds like an interesting holiday. We may rent a car for the time we are not staying in Amsterdam, and figure if we have a car, we can wander a bit more independently than if we're following bus/train schedules. I would like to go a little north, as well as south of Amsterdam ( definitely want to get to Leiden and Delft). We like the shore and sea, as well as country - and always appreciate a pretty town. I'm thinking now about staying in Amsterdam for 3 or 4 nights after arrival, then heading to North Holland for 2 nights and then perhaps Leiden for 2 nights. Is access to Schipol easy from Leiden?
It is: 10 minutes by train. Amsterdam is 30 minutes, The Hague 10, Delft 30 minutes, Gouda 40. It's very central in the Randstad in fact. Katwijk, Noordwijk are in cycling distance or a short bus ride away for access to the coast and the beach. If it were me, I might skip Noord Holland, and add those 2 nights to an extra daytrip to The Hague from Leiden: Scheveningen is its seaside resort. Please DO visit Panorama Mesdag in The Hague.
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Old Feb 25th, 2022, 02:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Tulips View Post
Amsterdam is in North Holland, you can get anywhere in that area quickly by train. There is no need to change hotels 3 times.
Just north of Zandvoort is Bloemendaal beach, and the national park Kennemerland. Go cycling there.
Maybe add a day in Den Haag. It has a very different vibe compared to Amsterdam.
Leiden is 20 minutes or so by direct train to Schiphol.
There is a beautiful remembrance ceremony on May 4th at the Bloemendaal War Cemetery in the Kennemer Duinen. The cemetery contains the remains of many wartime resistance members who were executed there or buried there, amongst them Hannie Schaft. Usually these take place in the evening, at 8PM

https://www.eerebegraafplaatsbloemendaal.eu/ and https://www.nationaleherdenkingteblo...nl/4-mei-2022/
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Old Feb 25th, 2022, 03:01 AM
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Much of the advice above is from Dutch people so please take it in priority over mine. Before Covid I used to travel there every couple of years and found that trains, buses and bikes were all better than cars for getting to most places except parts of Zeeland (the island bits down in the south west). Here bikes were pretty good but, for once a car is useful.

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Old Feb 25th, 2022, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler View Post
Much of the advice above is from Dutch people so please take it in priority over mine. Before Covid I used to travel there every couple of years and found that trains, buses and bikes were all better than cars for getting to most places except parts of Zeeland (the island bits down in the south west). Here bikes were pretty good but, for once a car is useful.

​​​​​​
Cars are pretty useful in a good many areas of the Netherlands, including up in my neck of the woods. It takes about an our and a half by car to get to Amsterdam, but nearer 3 hours by train, and once you get up here a car is very useful for seeing the scenery. Bike tracks are not so numerous, and the near constant wind makes cycling a challenge. A car is good for Limburg in the south, Drenthe in the east, and good chunks of Overijssel and Gelderland too, though cycling is an option once you get there if the weather behaves.

For quieter coast, with a car head up to Egmond, Bergen or Schoorl up towards Alkmaar. Bonus would be extra tulip fields. Alkmaar, Enkuizen and Hoorn are all interesting places too. You could take the dijk from Enkhuizen to Lelystad to drive across between the Ijsselmeeer and the Markermeer. Lelystad is not wildly interesting though it has a couple of points of interest in around the Bataviawerf, including the batavia a faithful reconstruction of an East Indies ship. Lelystad and Almere are to new towns on new land. When we first lived in the Netherlands in 1978 Almere didn't exist and Lelystad was just the size of a small village. Between the two are the Oostvaardersplassen, a wildlife area. The motorway from Lelystad takes you back to Amsterdam.

If you want to get further away from the touristy stuff, then as Menachem suggests a few days along the River Ijssel with it's historic cities and broad skies would be a good choice.
Bonus there is maybe to visit the Noordoostpolder, see Urk a former island, maybe Schokland (a Unesco site)and the bulbfields there - more bulbs grown there than in the "traditional" and very touristed fields and yes even Giethoorn before heading for the river.
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Old Feb 26th, 2022, 11:01 AM
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Rotterdam is easy to get to by public transport. After heavy WW2 bomb damage, the city centre has been rebuilt with future-fantasy architecture. A boat tour of the huge harbour -- one of the world's busiest -- is both breezy and instructive and there is a small maritimes museum at the inner harbour.
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Old Feb 26th, 2022, 06:37 PM
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thank you @ menachem, @tulip, @Michael, and so many others for your thoughtful suggestions. You have given me some wonderful ideas and help in building an itinerary. You've also gotten me very excited for all the interesting places for us to discover in the Netherlands. I'm so happy that we are going to get to know such a diverse, interesting and beautiful part of Europe!
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Old Feb 27th, 2022, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Southam View Post
Rotterdam is easy to get to by public transport. After heavy WW2 bomb damage, the city centre has been rebuilt with future-fantasy architecture. A boat tour of the huge harbour -- one of the world's busiest -- is both breezy and instructive and there is a small maritimes museum at the inner harbour.
Ah, Rotterdam. Yes, do come. So much to see and do here, such a good vibe in the city.
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