The unstinting charm of Europe lies in the juxtaposed urban culture and ancient history. The Netherlands-Belgium-France is a popular circuit to get a flavour of the 3 countries in one single trip.
AMSTERDAM – 3 Days
Contrary to Amsterdam’s party-only reputation, the city is a refreshing mix of ancient quarters, laid back flea markets, a thriving art scene and canal side attractions.
- Albert Cuyup and other flea markets – Sample food, art, clothes and fresh produce, to get a sense of the local thrum at the atmospheric sprawl of the Albert Cuyup flea market.
- Van Gogh, Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank and other museums – Amsterdam has a tireless obsession with art. Plan prudently to see the museum of Anne Frank, Vase with fifteen sunflowers and The Potatoe Eaters by Van Gogh, and paintings of Vermeer and Rembrandt in the Rijksmuseum.
- Night walks- Want to explore the underbelly of the intimidating red light district of the city? Do it with a touch of humour and lesser-known anecdotes with Kimberly, in her walks titled ‘Randy Roy’.
- Churches – Time travel to 17th century at the Oude Kirk in the heart of old city. Your church route should include stopovers at Nieuwe Kerk, Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder and Wester Kerk.
At home in Amsterdam
Choose the centrally located Mercure Hotel, a walking distance from the labyrinth of canals, museums and nightlife. The hotel is a perfect blend between new and old with a creative narrative in old paintings on the walls, and plush modern amenities.
- An ‘I amsterdam city card’ offers free access to some museums and public transportation.
- Book museums online much ahead as the slots open for limited people only.
Travel from Amsterdam to Bruges
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BRUGES – 2 Days
The old quarter is contained in a small area and can be trawled on foot. Medieval history apart, the town is any beer lover’s dream-come-true.
•Pub hopping for beer tasting– Get your beer bearings on a pub crawl and pay special attention to the Trappist beers made by monks. La Trappiste, Café Red Rose, Comptoir Des Arts, ‘t Poatersgat and Café Vlissinghe offer a great ambience.
•History Circuit– The old square lies in the shadow of the Belfry of Bruges. Architectural grandeur rises from the cobblestone paths around, often making tourists crane their necks to see high steeples. The bustling Markt (market), Belfry, Basilica of the Holy Blood (famous for housing a cloth with the blood of Jesus), Church of Our Lady, Groeningemuseum, Burg and the City Hall stand as commemorations to European architecture.
•Canal Tours– An ode to romantic vacations, the slim canals with old bridges hanging over them feel like a painting. Canal tours help you cover the span of the town from the river.
•Brewery Tour at De Halve Maan- De Halve Maan, a home grown brewery established in 1856, has broken all traditional bottling norms and is now celebrating its success of building a 3.2 km underground pipeline that wends below the cobble stone streets to its bottling factory, that can churn 12,000 bottles an hour.
At home in Bruges
Access and proximity are the biggest hooks for the 3-Star Martin’s Bruges in the heart of the medieval city. The courtyard of the hotel is a green oasis with a grassy patch that overlooks the main dining area.
Steer away from beverages to fries and homemade chocolates.
Travel from Bruges to Nice– Take a train to Brussels Airport and then fly out to Nice.
NICE – 3 Days
The epicentre of French Riviera (Cote d’Azur), Nice lies in the embrace of the Baie des Anges shore and the hills rising behind the town. You can squeeze ample even in 3 days.
•Vieux Nice–The slim lanes of the old quarters are lined with homes, souvenir shops and cafes, whose seating charmingly spills onto the streets. Choose one that sells the local socca crepes, Nice’s favourite dish. Visit the Cours Saleya, a daily flowers market.
•Eze and Monaco– A day trip to the hilltop village of Eze and the hub of casinos and F1 races, Monaco awards a treasure of sights, although diametrically opposite in flavour. Eze offers a stunning view of azure sea and pint-sized cafes. Monaco is a splash of wealth and high-flying life.
•Antibes and Cannes– An essential day trip from Nice is a short drive to the seaside Antibes and the glitzy Cannes. Antibes is a walled port town, with sunny cafes, ice-cream shops, and beautiful panoramas of the Ligurian Sea. Visit the Absinthe themed bar for the Monday Jazz nights.
At home in Nice
Only a short walk to the beach, Villa Saint Exupéry Beach is a great option to stay in Nice. The award-winning hostel has a characterful ambience and plenty of freebies like sauna, gym, much-needed Wi-Fi and comfortable dormitories and rooms.
•Get the 3-day The Cote d’Azur Card to access museums, bus tours and other attractions at discounted prices.
•Visit the Parc du Chateau (Castle Hill) from where you can see the sandy crescent of the Nice shore.
Travel from Nice to Paris
The only plausible way to get from Nice to Paris is by a flight.
PARIS – 2 Days
•Moulin Rouge- The can-can dance movement of the mid 19th century made Paris the epicentre of cabarets all across Europe. Headlining the acts was Moulin Rouge that left jaws dropped. Even today, tasteful nudity, furs, grand headgears, cameos by animals, wild, silly and simply incredible acts leave the audience in awe.
•Montemart- The 430 feet high hill district is home to a dozen cafes and pubs, a lively street-entertainment scene in the backdrop of stunning Basilica of the Sacré Cœur.
•Museums, monuments and important relics- The 800 plus years old Notre Dam de Paris, Saint Chappelle, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Palaise Garnier, Père Lachaise Cemetery (resting place of Jim Morrison) and the Pantheon are only a handful of the grand buildings.
At home in Paris
If getting around on foot is priority, then stay close to Notre Dame. Hôtel Albe Saint Michel is ideal.