Netherlands in April - which would be the best place for base?
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Dec 16, 2012 5:41 PM Last Post By: coupleandtoddler
Dec 5, 2012 7:55 AM
Netherlands in April - which would be the best place for base?Hello! just booked our flight tickets and car rental to Schipol for 6 April 2013. Our flight back to UK is on 12 April evening. We are a couple and a 3 yr old. We love countryside, old architecture, flowers, windmills, water, etc. we love driving around the country that we visit so that we take in as much ambience as possible and make stops at pretty towns and quaint villages.
We went through most posts on the thorn tree forum and learnt a lot about interesting places to visit in the beautiful country. Though we have not made up our itinerary, we think we would love visiting the following places. There are a lot of places on it, in case we dont get to cover everything, we can always leave the rest for next time. As this will not be our last trip to NL, we do not want to visit the museums this time, our little one will either be bored or will not learn or remember much. So when he is older, we will visit just for the museums again. He is crazy over windmills and that is one of the reasons for this destination.
Amsterdam (canal rides, vondelpark)
Hoge veluwe national park
Arnhem open air museum
Enkhuizen (zuiderzee open air museum)
Apeldoorn (palace het loo)
-Zaanse Schans in Zaandam (lots of windmills) / Kinderdijk (lots of windmills, somewhere near Rotterdam)
We were looking at the holiday parks (by a group called Landal) around Hoge Veluwe NP and thought might stay there and then do day trips to the places mentioned above, 2-3 places per day in a circular route so that we can see as much of NL as possible on our car drives. Is that a good idea or should we think of staying closer to Amsterdam? As there are many activities and play/swim areas in the holiday parks, we thought that might interest our little one if the weather is bad on any day. Does anyone know if the holiday park is good? We did look at reviews on trip advisor and they were mostly good.
For car drives, we wondered if we can drive on N302 (that goes between markermeer and IJsselmeer) and A7 (IJsselmeer)? Or is that a bike or walk route? Google earth showed something like cars on them, so we thought driving on them with water on both sides would be wonderful?
Lastly, though we want to stay in self catering place, we like to sample local cuisine for lunches or a dinner. What are the vegetarian dishes and desserts we should try? And what would be the best things to take back as souvenirs of a memorable trip?
Sorry for such a lot of questions, but as there were not many posts for car travel in NL, we created this thread and look forward to getting interesting and useful information. Thank you for reading our post,
Dec 5, 2012 8:29 AM
1You won't be able to see all those places, as you already seem to be expecting.
If I were you, I'd pick two bases, one in the Amsterdam area (note that the Keukenhof flower gardens at Lisse are also open at that time of the year) and one near Hoge Veluwe NP.
From near Amsterdam, spend one day in Amsterdam and one day in Leiden or Haarlem and the surrounding countryside (if it warms up early in the year, you may just be there at the right time to see some of the flower fields in bloom, but don't count on it). Alternatively, your little one may be interested in seeing Madurodam (http://www.madurodam.nl in the Hague, which you could combine with an afternoon in Delft or, if it's not raining, the beach at Scheveningen.
Note that driving a car in central Amsterdam is not much fun - it takes quite a while to cross the center, there are bikes everywhere (and most Dutch cyclists tend to behave as if they're the only ones on the road) and parking space, if you can find any in the first place, is prohibitively expensive; better leave the car near a train station and take a train into the city.
I would pick either Zaanse Schans, Zuiderzeemuseum or Kinderdijk; the latter has interesting scenery with rows of windmills including one that you can visit, but Zaanse Schans and the Zuiderzeemuseum probably offers more variety and is more interesting for kids.
Then move on to your base near Hoge Veluwe, from where you could visit Apeldoorn, the national park itself or Giethoorn.
Does anyone know if the holiday park is good?
I've stayed in a Landal park once, though it wasn't at Hoge Veluwe. The bungalow was clean, comfortable and there were plenty of activities for kids in the park. I presume the same standards and services apply to other affiliated parks.
What are the vegetarian dishes and desserts we should try?
Dutch cuisine traditionally tends to be quite heavy on meat and fish, but most restaurants serve at least one vegetarian dish - though from what I've seen these are, more often than not, inspired by foreign dishes.
One major exception: don't miss pannekoeken (pancakes; note to Dutch speakers: old spelling intentional) or poffertjes (tiny pancakes covered in butter and powdery sugar). You'll find pancake restaurants everywhere, especially near places popular with families, and they always have a range of vegetarian options.
what would be the best things to take back as souvenirs of a memorable trip?
Cheese would be an obvious souvenir. Wooden shoes, Miffy key holders and marihuana-leaf caps are apparently quite popular too.
Dec 5, 2012 9:46 AM
2Nice program! Personally I would prefer Kinderdijk over Zaanse Schans. Nothing wrong with the last, but it has not the grandeur of Kinderdijk. And you can easily combine it with Dordrecht, very underrated, and with a slow tour through the very Dutch landscape to the north (along the small Vlist, between Gouda and Schoonhoven is popular) and the east (along the Linge, to Leerdam). And then just hope for good weather...
Dec 5, 2012 10:22 AM
Agree with the pannekoeken restaurants. Pancake houses are very popular with families and kids - veg non-veg options, sweet or savoury. If I remember correctly you can get poffertjes at the Open Air Museum, if you want to save the treat for there. They're considered 'traditional', fitting the theme of the museum. It might be possible to get some craftware at the museum as well, if you want a souvenir.
I also agree it might be a lot of driving to try to squeeze in Arnhem/Apeldoorn as a day-trip out of an Amsterdam base. It's possible, but overall more relaxing to use a base in Arnhem area -- possibly research a few more interests to fill out a 2-3 day period? Right now, most of your trip is centered around North & South Holland provinces.
Just in case you don't know about the place here's another popular spot with kids, near Apeldoorn
The Hoge Veluwe -- the Kroller-Mueller museum (with van Gogh) is the biggest attrction. I suppose it's an interesting place to cycle around or drive through. Personally, I'd hold it as a reserve destination, or be prepared with a backup activity/destination.
Dec 5, 2012 12:05 PM
4Thank you very much for such valuable inputs. Will store all your suggestions to use during the trip! Yes, Keukenhof is indeed in our list, in fact that is the reason for the trip at that time of year. After 15 April our son starts school, so it will not be possible later in the season or next year to visit for the flowers, so fingers crossed they will be in bloom in the fields at that time!
Dec 8, 2012 6:07 AM
5Seeing that you are interested in quaint old towns and the countryside, I'd skip Amsterdam and Den Haag altogether.
But if you're in Amsterdam anyway, why not visit the "Brouwerij 't IJ" beer brewery in a windmill.
Haarlem, Utrecht, Leiden and Delft are also quite big by Dutch standards and probably have paid parking.
When I think of quaint old towns I think of picturesque small places like Marken, Durgerdam, Ransdorp, Zuiderwoude, Edam, and villages like that near Amsterdam. (Many of them are along the water.)
Or Naarden, Oudewater, Doorn, Wijk bij Duurstede, all very pretty and reasonably small.
Or bigger quaint towns such as Dordrecht, Den Bosch, Maastricht (probably more difficult to navigate by car).
Or the 'Hanze cities' such as Deventer, Kampen, Zwolle (bigger), Hattem, Hasselt, Zutphen... all by a river. http://www.hanzesteden.info. Hattem and Hasselt are nice and small and very pretty.
Or the Wadden islands and the small towns on them. www.wadden.nl
I think the open air museum in Enkhuizen would be fun for a 3 year old but it's quite far away.
When driving, always check over your right shoulder for bikes when turning right. They have right of way if they go straight.
I have never been to Keukenhof. You can already see lots of flower fields driving around in the Lisse region. See photos.
Veel plezier, have fun!
Dec 12, 2012 4:25 AM
Dec 12, 2012 8:47 AM
Dec 16, 2012 5:41 PM
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