Rick Steves' Amsterdam, Bruges & Brussels
- Purchase the eighth edition of Rick Steves' Amsterdam, Bruges & Brussels guidebook.
Updates to the eighth edition
The VAT rate in the Netherlands is now 21 percent (the minimum purchase requirement is still €50).
The main tourist information office, located across the street from Central Station, now has slightly shorter hours: July–Aug Mon–Sat 9:00–19:00, Sun 10:00–17:00; Sept–June Mon–Sat 9:00–18:00, Sun 10:00–17:00.
Frederic Rent-a-Bike has raised their prices for 2012: €15/24 hours, €25/48 hours, €60/week; still with a 10 percent discount off multiday rentals for Rick Steves readers. They now offer three-hour rental for €8, and one-day rental for €10 if the bike is returned by 17:30.
The Rijksmuseum has reopened following an extensive renovation, which has restored the great building to its original 1885 glory. The museum is open daily 9:00–17:00; admission is €15 (covered by the Museumkaart; discounted admission with an I amsterdam Card). Rijksmuseum tickets are again available online. The tourist information office no longer sells Rijksmuseum tickets (but does still sell tickets for the Van Gogh and Stedelijk museums).
At the Anne Frank House, you cannot skip the entry line with a Museumkaart (but the card does cover entry to the museum). The only way to avoid the lines is to make an online reservation (book as soon as possible), or arrive right when it opens, or late in the day. Museumkaart holders can purchase an online reservation without buying a separate Anne Frank House ticket.
The Maritime Museum has reopened after four years of renovations, and is well worth a visit (€15, includes visit to VOC ship Amsterdam — now moored out back, daily 9:00–17:00).
The Old Church (Oude Kerk) is now closed Sunday–Wednesday (still open Thu–Sat 13:00–17:00 in summer and closed Oct–March).
The Willet-Holthuysen Museum now has an audioguide (€3).
The Tropical Museum is now closed on Mondays.
De Hortus Botanical Garden is now open daily 10:00–17:00 year-round.
Dutch Day Trips
Arriva bus #112 from Amsterdam to Edam and Volendam has been replaced by EBS buses #314 or #317 (still 2/hour).
The bus between Amsterdam Central Station and Marken is now the #311 (now leaves Marken at :15 and :45 after the hour).
Bus #89, which runs from The Hague's Centraal Station to the Keukenhof flower show is no longer running. The bus numbers for other connections to Keukenhof have changed: The Leiden–Keukenhof bus is now #854 (formerly #54), and the Schiphol Airport–Keukenhof bus is now #858 (formerly #58).
The FloraHolland Aalsmeer Flower Auction now closes at 9:00 on Thursdays (otherwise open till 11:00 on weekdays, closed Sat–Sun).
The tourist information office has moved to Kerkstraat 3, near the New Church and the Markt.
The Het Konings Huys Hotel has closed, although its restaurant remains open.
The Hague's top art museum — the Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery — is under renovation until mid-2014. Much of the collection of Dutch Golden Age artists — including works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Hals — is currently on view at The Hague's Gemeentemuseum instead (from the TI, take tram #17 to the Gemeentemuseum stop; from Central Station, take bus #24).
A new visitors center has opened for the Peace Palace in The Hague, but it's harder to get inside the actual building, which houses the International Court of Justice. If you want to see the interior, you must reserve a tour online at www.vredespaleis.nl. Tours are held only on Saturdays and Sundays, and because of court schedules, you can only book about six weeks in advance.
The buses serving the center from the train station have changed numbers: Buses from the station to the Markt are now #1, #3, #4, #6, #11, #13, #14, and #16. On-board fares are now €2.
The city's Museumpas now costs €20 (still valid for any 5 museums in 3 days).
The Begijnhof now closes in the evening (open daily 6:30–18:30).
The correct email for the lovely folks at Gastenhuis Sint-Andriescruyse is firstname.lastname@example.org (without the second U). Also, the map on page 392 incorrectly shows the B&B's location; the dot for it (#13) should be farther south, near the K in "Verversdijk."
B&B Gheeraert, where Inne enthusiastically greets her guests, has lower room prices for 2012: Sb-€75, Db-€85, Tb-€95 (breakfast still included).
Hotel 't Keizershof has new prices for 2012: S-€30–45, D-€45, T-€66, Q-€84. They now offer free Wi-Fi.
Hotel Cavilier's triple rooms are now €90 if you book direct.
Hotel Nicolas is currently closed for extensive renovations, with plans to reopen in the spring of 2013. When it does, it'll be known as Hotel B (to be run by Sophie; same phone and fax numbers, new email: email@example.com). Expect significantly higher prices (doubles roughly €90–130).
't Geerwijn B&B has new prices for 2012: Ds/Db-€75–80 depending on season, Tb-€85–90.
The TIs in Brussels no longer book rooms at a discount for individual tourists. They are happy to recommend hotels, but visitors need to book direct for their accommodations.
Bus #95, which connects the city center to the Royal Museums of Fine Arts and the European Parliament, no longer stops at the Bourse. The most convenient downtown stop is called "Plattesteen" and is located on Rue du Lombard a few blocks southwest of Grand Place.
USE-IT has moved to Quai à la Houille/Steenkoolkaai 9B (Metro: Ste. Catherine).
The Museum of Modern Art in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts has closed. Much of its collection will be found in the new Fin de Siècle Museum at the same site, which opens in May 2013.
The Royal Museum of Art and History has been renamed the Cinquantenaire Museum (same collection, hours, contact info, etc.).
Hotel Ibis Centre Ste. Catherine no longer offers its €50 summer rate.
The numbering system for the Antwerp trams has changed. When arriving at Antwerp's Central Station, follow the Metro signs and take underground lines #3, #9, or #15 in the direction of Linkeroever; get off at the Groenplaats stop for the historic city center. Purchase a ticket from the machines on the tram platform.
The Diamond Museum (Diamantmuseum) near the train station has closed.
The Veldstraat tram stop, mentioned at the beginning of our Ghent City Walk, has changed to "Korenmarkt."