Driving through Benelux. Which capital city to visit?

In the heart of Western Europe, where Old Continent meets the North Sea, exists three powerful, well-developed and extremely interesting countries, which proves that being small isn’t a disadvantage. While crossing, visiting or exploring these countries, one is constantly surprised of how much beauty, unique sights and interesting places can be concentrated in such a small territory. Well, at least that’s how I feel after more than three months here.  Yes, Dear Reader, I am talking about the Benelux, an union between picturesque BElgium, wonderful NEtherlands and multi-faced LUXembourg.

Not everyone is as lucky as we are to have so much time to explore these three countries. So this time I thought that I need to put the priority list in case you, Dear Reader, would ever have to choose among the three most significant cities in the Benelux countries. Of course I’m talking about Brussels, Amsterdam and Luxembourg.

Why could this ever happen? Well, personally we, two people who love road trips, often face this choosing problem. No matter which direction are we driving, there are always some interesting destinations to choose from. And so, since you can’t say that you visited a country, if you haven’t seen its capital city, today I decided to emphasise some of the criteria that could be useful for you, Dear Reader. Well, useful to choose the capital of Benelux which you want to visit the most.

Tamdadadaaam! On the top of my priority list would be…

Amsterdam, capital of Netherlands

Benelux

Attractions: canals; unusual city transport system1; all types of museums2; illegal things that are legal3.
Shopping specialities: flea markets.
Food specialities: street food.
Minimum time in the city: 12 hours.
Side effect: tiring.
Mind-blowing rate4: 80%.

One and only! I think it’s impossible to find anything similar to Amsterdam. This city has such a liberal beliefs that every other place in the world could just dream about it. And in my opinion, all this free-spirit thing leads to creativity in every sphere. Creative style, awesome lifestyle, unusual transport system, extraordinary museums (and not boring at all!), high respect towards old and retro things, so on, and so on.

In addition to this, several hours is not enough in this city. My advice would be to go here at least for a day, perfect – for 24 hours and more. Otherwise you will only feel irritated that you can’t see and experience more.

Finally, the only side effect we felt from Amsterdam was the tiredness of all the fuzz in the streets. But hey, which big city won’t cause that?

Brussels, capital of Belgium

Attractions: European Union institutions; peeing boy and a girl5; main city square; parks.
Shopping specialities: flea markets; antique stores.
Food specialities: sweets and treats6.
Minimum time in the city: 4 hours.
Side effect: expectation gap.
Mind-blowing rate: 35%.

Brussels is retro and classy. Antique stores on every corner, flea markets that are open every day since 19th century, classy architectural style, chocolate and other fancy treats everywhere. What is more, with European Union institutions being located here, city has this other – modern and all-suited-up side.

Though, in my opinion, Brussels doesn’t have something extraordinary, like spectacular sites that attracts the tourist, but city has an interesting lifestyle which makes it very charming. In other words, there isn’t anything special in Brussels, so my offer would be not to have high expectations. But on the other hand, city has this nice atmosphere that somehow buys you over. It’s really nice to get lost in those flea markets and antique shops, or in those sweet sweet chocolate stores.

Benelux

Finally, when speaking about time, I think that you can make your opinion about this city in half a day. However, the more time you will spend here, the more interesting it will be.

Luxembourg City, capital of Luxembourg

Attractions: district of European Union institutions; old fortress walls and their history; multi-faced quarters of the city.
Shopping specialities: awesome prices!
Food specialities:
Minimum time in the city: 2-3 hours.
Side effect: not so much money in the bank account.
Mind-blowing rate: 35%.
Multi-faced. This is what I think about Luxembourg. Each quarter7 has a different face to show. From beautiful and fancy modern quarter with European Union institutions in it to the medieval quarters of the old town surrounded by the ruins of strong fortress walls.

One thing that exist everywhere in the city is precision. City is clean and tidy, all the old buildings are taking care of with high precision, modern office buildings renovated constantly8. What is more, by being a modern business center, Luxembourg knows how to keep the balance between modern trends and old beliefs. In other words, here you can find both – history and futuristic trends.

Benelux

What is more, with very low prices, especially comparing with the prices in neighbouring countries, Luxembourg is very attractive for shopaholics. So keep that in mind, because side effect of the low prices and variety of awesome shops can be way too less money in your bank account. 

And one more thing. Luxembourg isn’t big, so if you’re just driving through Benelux countries, it could be a good stop for a day. Even an afternoon in Luxembourg would be enough to get to know the city.

Conclusion

In my opinion, Amsterdam beats the other two capitals of Benelux without any discussion. However, thing is that if you will stop in Amsterdam just for an afternoon you will be more pissed than happy. You have to give that city more than a day! However, Luxembourg is a perfect destination for a day trip. Personally we felt very happy after an afternoon in this city. And finally, Brussels! It’s good both – for a day and for a year. Nothing special there, but this classy lifestyle in which this city believes, makes it an awesome holiday, studies, or work destination.


Nevertheless is just my personal thoughts. What do you think about these cities? Which one of them you, Dear Reader, find the most intriguing? As always, waiting for you in the comments!

Yours, L. 

  1. Based on bicycles and boats.
  2. More than 90 of these!
  3. For example, Red Light district – and not only for the services it provides, but, for example, for the interesting history, or unusual district concept.
  4. Ha! I have just invented this one. 
  5. Yes, there is also a girl!!
  6. Waffles and chocolate
  7. And there are more than 20 of them.
  8. Despite the fact, that they are modern.