Brussels and Amsterdam this week?
July 25, 2010 12:26 AM   Subscribe

What are the amazing, can't-miss things to do and see in Brussels and Amsterdam this week for first-time visitors to the cities? We'll be in Brussels until Wednesday and Amsterdam until Sunday morning. Thanks!
posted by gerryblog to Travel & Transportation around Brussels, Belgium (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: There are quite a few 'previouslies' on Amsterdam (this is one of the more recent) but my first bit of advice to any visitor, especially from the US, is to avoid walking from Centraal Station down Damrak to the Dam as soon as you arrive. Likewise, the red-light district. If you want to see it, save it for later. Same with coffeeshops.

I'm going to ignore the big sites and say that the big can't-miss for Amsterdam is "ride a bike". Spend a day watching the city's cyclists do their thing, then rent a clunky Dutch city bike and follow their lead. There's no better time of year, when the weather's pleasant and it's light until late, and the Centrum is compact enough that you can cover lots of ground fast.
posted by holgate at 12:47 AM on July 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The Rijskmuseum and Van Gogh Museum are certainly on the "must see" list for Amsterdam tourists; since you'll be in Amsterdam on Friday night, you can attend the Van Gogh Museum's weekly late-night opening.

Also, In de Wildeman if you like beer, Burgermeester if you like burgers, and Burgers Patio* if your budget allows a €70-ish meal (for two).

* This kind of burgers, not the Burgermeester kind.
posted by neushoorn at 2:03 AM on July 25, 2010

Best answer: Walk past Singel 7 in Amsterdam - the smallest house in Holland.
posted by Flood at 4:55 AM on July 25, 2010

Best answer: In Brussels, the usual tourist things are good fun: the Grand Place (a medieval square in the center of the city) and the Mannekin-Pis--although don't bother to wait in any lines for that last one.

If you like music, I highly recommend the Musical Instrument Museum, which has an amazing collection and a nice audio system that lets you listen to music played on all the instruments in the building.

If you're into architecture (specifically Art Nouveau) then you ought to look at the Horta House. Actually, the musical instrument museum is also housed in a beautiful Art Deco building, so that's a twofer.

The Palais des Beaux Arts is a top class art museum, with great Flemish masters and a very good surrealist collection (largely Magritte, for obvious reasons).

And I can't personally vouch for it, but I have heard good things about the Comic Strip Center, which largely celebrates Belgian greats like Hergé, of Tintin fame. Also housed in a Horta Art Nouveau house.

Do make sure to sample some good beer, buy a proper Belgian waffle off the street (nice, thick, doughy things made for eating by hand) and go to a restaurant for some moules-frite, if you like seafood.

A daytrip to Bruges, which really is as beautiful as Joseph Fiennes and Brendan Gleeson make it out to be, is also very much possible by train from Brussels.
posted by col_pogo at 6:01 AM on July 25, 2010

Best answer: Delirium Cafe in Brussels, if you are into beer at all.
posted by smackfu at 6:53 AM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In Amsterdam, it is possible to have a beer at the Theater Tuschinski.
Also definitely eat some fries. I recommend with satay sauce.
The Anne Frank house is worth a visit.
posted by Duffington at 9:57 AM on July 25, 2010

Best answer: Central Amsterdam comprises centric rings of canals which radiate outward like onion rings in a structure called the "grachtengordel" which looks like this. Damrak and the red light district (as some of the oldest parts of town) are right in the middle of this. As holgate points out they serve as a lowest-common-denominator destination for the city's many tourists: staying, eating and sightseeing in this area are poor value and you encounter mostly other tourists.

The good news is that you only have to go slightly further out find a much more enjoyable city. I would take my rented bike to Vondelpark, Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam Public Library, the Jordaan region and maybe even out to explore somewhere like Zeeburg.
posted by rongorongo at 10:49 AM on July 25, 2010

Best answer: I stumbled across this list of cycling routes today; if you plan to do a lot of biking in Amsterdam, you should check them out. They're outside the normal tourist track, so they won't be nearly as crowded and they'll give you a better feel for the diversity of the city (it's not all canal houses and brick streets).
posted by neushoorn at 4:42 AM on July 26, 2010

« Older Name that mystery tune!   |   What was the Foundation of Asimov's writing? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.