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The Netherlands and Belgium - December 2013

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Durban, South Africa
posts: 35
reviews: 11
The Netherlands and Belgium - December 2013

Hi - myself and my son (grown up) are going to be coming on holiday in December. Ideally we would like to spend 5 days in Amsterdam, 5 days in other parts of the Netherlands (suggestions please) and maybe 5 days in Belgium (suggestions please). Is this doable - we will be using public transport to get around. We will be flying in and out of Amsterdam.

Is it also possible to do a day or two in Germany (or day trips into Germany)? Thank you for any help you can give. we are flying in from South Africa and Europe seems very far away.

Amsterdam, The...
Destination Expert
for Amsterdam
posts: 23,726
reviews: 72
1. Re: The Netherlands and Belgium - December 2013

I would do a few days in Germany rather than a few more in NL. You could visit the Christmas markets in one of the German cities if you like a Christmas vibe as you won't really get it in most of NL.

Really you should post on the relevant country threads also but doing a little bit of research about places to see might help your questioning.

Brugge or Ghent are the obvious places and have you though of Paris too?

Just remember it can be very cold at this time of year especialy coming from Durban Summer sunshine. Daylight hours are also more limited.

Essen, Germany
posts: 12,100
reviews: 87
2. Re: The Netherlands and Belgium - December 2013

I will leave the Amsterdam and Belgium question for better informed locals but as to Germany I could give you some advice.

As you are travelling in December it´s the time of the Christmas Markets in Germany and from Amsterdam/The Netherlands you have pretty easy access to Cologne, famous for it´s Christmas markets but not exclusively, it´s a very nice city and worth a visit at every time

www.cologne.de/events/christmas-markets

Düsseldorf is another interesting city, famous for fashion, and you can reach both by ICE from Amsterdam within about 2 - 2 1/ h.

germany-christmas-market.org.uk/duesseldorf_…

Or you can go to Aachen, close to the border to Belgium, it´s a very historical city

aachen-emotion.com/en-students/places/a-chri…

Even closer to the border to The Netherlands is Oberhausen Centro (a shopping mall), a Mecca for many Dutchs who are coming for shopping and the Christmas Market.

germany-christmas-market.org.uk/oberhausen_c…

If you are planning to stay overnight you can combine it or you can do a trip to Bonn or Essen.

bonn.de/tourismus_kultur_sport_freizeit/…

…essen.de/de/startseite_1/startseite_21.jsp

Of course each city offers much more than Christmas markets but it would be a nice chance to kill two birds with one stone and to get a feeling for the special atmosphere at this time.

Edited: 9:51 am, August 17, 2013
Amsterdam, The...
posts: 7,064
reviews: 54
3. Re: The Netherlands and Belgium - December 2013

A total of 15 days gives you plenty of room to play with. What else to visit depends on your interests. If you're into big cities you could consider London (cheap flights, 40 minutes, obviously more time to actually get from door to door), Paris (get Thalys train ticket on time for affordable prices, cheap seats sell out quickly, about 4 hours by train I believe), maybe even Berlin (6 hours by train or one hour flight).

If you want to see countryside villages or smaller cities or museums in the Netherlands then the suggestions will be different. And I am not going to recommend any zoos to you because you have those at home without cages around the animals!

Nature won't have as much to offer as in autumn or spring. And it may be cold, rainy, windy. But you might be lucky and have dry weather.

So what are your likes and dislikes?

Cecilia

Amsterdam

cile.home.xs4all.nl/travel/amsterdam_tips.htm

Edited: 10:12 am, August 17, 2013
Essen, Germany
posts: 12,100
reviews: 87
4. Re: The Netherlands and Belgium - December 2013

If you would save some more days for Germany you could go to Berlin, our capital city, as Cecile has suggested, or to Munich, whith the snowy Alpes in the background, gorgeous!

Hamburg is a very interesting harbour city and Heidelberg is a fave city of many foreigners because of it´s wonderful and scenic architecture and historic buildings.

As Cecile and Ronaldo have mentioned, I don´t think that it´s a good idea to recommend any nice and scenic landscapes, it might be rainy, cold or snowy. And scenic Rhine cruises don´t run during this time of the year, unfortunately.

Perhaps you could have a look at the shore and beaches of the North Sea, many people like walking along the shore even at wintertime.

London is great (for me:-) and Paris too, but you should spend there at least three days.

Durban, South Africa
posts: 35
reviews: 11
5. Re: The Netherlands and Belgium - December 2013

Yes we have the big animals in South Africa but fortunately they are all in game reserves :). I do like markets and fairs. My son enjoys music - particularly heavy metal. I enjoy more retro music. We enjoy food - Big meat eaters in South Africa. I would like the idea of going to both Belgium and Germany. We can't go to London as that is a totally different visa. Us South African's are very limited in where we can go.

We spent last December visiting Ireland - we really like cold weather. have to confess have never seen snow for real and certainly have never thrown a snow - would like to see snow.

We not big shoppers - except for bargains and electronics. My son would like however to buy some really out there t-shirts. So to summarize we like to sit and embrace the culture,eat and drink, enjoy music, travel - at a gentle pace. No rushing around with a must do list. We rather like to breathe and take it all in.

Winter Haven...
posts: 3,040
reviews: 1
6. Re: The Netherlands and Belgium - December 2013

When I lived in Germany, Nuremberg was the biggest Christmas market but would be out of the way unless you head for Munich. My favorite market (as Patara points out) would definitely be Heidelberg. For some reason I always liked Bremen better than Hamburg. Not quite so overwhelming and with a cozier (gemütlich) feel. Also a harbor city with beautiful neighborhoods:

tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g187325-…

If at all possible, make it to Berlin. Different vibe than any other place.

Even with 15 days time will fly by. In light of that give serious consideration for the cities Patara recommended which will only be a couple hours from Amsterdam.

And I second Aachen which offers a very nice blend of cultures.

There are wonderful towns in Belgium (as outlined be Cecile) but don't forget Brussels. It gets a bad rap on this site but has plenty to offer especially if you are a foodie. Stay downtown near the Grand Place and take a walk past all the restaurants on the Street of the Butchers (Rue des Bouchers).

Edited: 3:01 pm, August 17, 2013
liverpool, england
posts: 1,993
reviews: 150
7. Re: The Netherlands and Belgium - December 2013

DD, I totally agree with you, and I prefer Breman to Hamburg too; maybe it is just the setting in the town square, and down along the harbour, and it being a smaller town, but whatever I think it is idyllic.

I also too like Brussels, but have yet to go in December (my kids have been then though and assure me it is nice, although the cobbles in the main square are not good for my chair - nor me too, lol).

I am sure you will have too much to do in your 15 days and will need to come back again.

Have fun.

Essen, Germany
posts: 12,100
reviews: 87
8. Re: The Netherlands and Belgium - December 2013

If you would like to see some snow perhaps a trip to Munich will be the best. there will mostly be snow at this time of the year, or at least on the mountains.

In our area, eg Sauerland, Eifel, ASO the chance of snow will be very little - but you never know:-))

Amsterdam, The...
posts: 7,064
reviews: 54
9. Re: The Netherlands and Belgium - December 2013

Yea, for crispy cold weather and snow you're probably better off in Germany. We do get snow occasionaly in December / January (February) but mostly it's wet snow that doesn't really stay. But who knows. Our climate is variable and different every year.

I don't know anything about the heavy metal scene. But some more about music in Amsterdam can be found here: iamsterdam.com/en-GB/…whats-on

And about markets here: iamsterdam.com/en-GB/…amsterdam-markets

Other places to visit in the Netherlands... not sure... you could easily spend 5 days in Amsterdam without getting bored. But Rotterdam could be a good stopover on your way to Belgium. It's very different from Amsterdam, Rotterdam was bombed during WWII and then quickly rebuilt in quite an ugly way, but funky modern buildings were added later. It also has a few very good museums, international vibe (great food from all over the world), work ethic, one of the world's largest harbors. If you go there I suggest the cubic houses, Blaak market, a watertaxi from Leuvehaven to Hotel New York, lunch or coffee and cake there, the Fotomuseum, walk back across Erasmus bridge, visit Witte de Withstraat, find dinner there. Maybe add a Spido boat tour through the harbor if you have time.

In Belgium I like Ghent (Gent) and Bruges (Brugge), and Leuven. Antwerp is nice too and has a huge market (not sure if it's every day). Brussels... hmm don't like it so much (too grey, big and smelly or my taste), but they do have good restaurants. But so does Ghent.

Cecilia

Amsterdam

cile.home.xs4all.nl/travel/amsterdam_tips.htm

10. Re: The Netherlands and Belgium - December 2013

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