Holland and Belgium

Tour Highlights

A 2-Centre Holiday in Amsterdam and Antwerp, plus a night in Luxembourg

Holland and Belgium are two of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, and spring is a wonderful time for strolling through the ancient cities and for seeing the tulip fields and flowers that bloom early. 

Holland evokes images of windmills, clogs, canals, diamonds and cheese markets. The capital, Amsterdam, is known as the "Venice of the North" with its miles of canals spanned by hundreds of bridges. It is picturesque, easy to get around and most of the inhabitants speak excellent English. Amsterdam is also an excellent base from which to explore the rest of this compact country. In April, the tulips burst into a blaze of colour that carpets the countryside, so we will visit the spectacular flower displays at the famous Kuekenhof Bulb Gardens. Our other included excursions will show you many other facets of this charming country.

Moving from Holland to Belgium we enjoy the vistas of pastoral landscapes that inspired the great artists of these two countries: Reubens, Van Gogh, Jan Van Eyck and Rembrandt. We overnight and tour in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg before proceeding to Antwerp, Belgium for a 5-night stay. Antwerp is an ancient city that has stood on the River Schelde for 1,500 years. The old quarter is a wonderful place in which to stroll with its great shopping, a magnificent cathedral and many wonderful cafes and restaurants, once the haunts of famous artists. The city generously displays its heritage in 15 art museums. In addition to our excursions to the historic cities of Brussels and Brugge we will also have time to try the country's famous beer, waffles and chocolate.

We will stay in excellent First Class hotels that are centrally located, so that the exploration of Amsterdam and Antwerp on your free time will be easy and delightful. 

*** Those joining any of our tours to Europe must be able to walk fairly long distances and climb stairs easily.

Tentative Itinerary

We depart for Amsterdam.
Upon arrival we transfer to our centrally located hotel. After some leisure time we enjoy an orientation walk, followed by our Welcome Dinner.
Our sightseeing begins in Dam Square where the Amstel River was dammed in the 13th century giving the city its name. In the shadow of Westerkerk church stands a statue of Anne Frank, the young Jewish diarist. Then in the old city centre we see 17th century townhouses and the Jewish quarter. We then leave the city for the Dutch countryside, and a visit to “Archaic Holland” - the towns of Volendam, Zaanse and Marken. We will see windmills, a fishing village, a traditional cheese farm and a wooden shoe shop.
Our first stop will be Delft – the picturesque home of the famous blue and white Delftware pottery. After visiting the Royal Delft Factory we proceed to The Hague – home of the Royal family and seat of government. The UN’s International Court of Justice sits in the neo-gothic Peace Palace. Our tour takes us to the city’s historic centre with many homes preserved in their 17th century styles. A highlight here will be our guided visit of the masterpieces of the Mauritshuis collection. This world-famous collection includes paintings by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Jan Steen, Rubens, Van Dyck and many other masters.
This morning we drive to Aalsmeer to see the spectacular Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer flower auction, where more than 20 million flower and plants are sold every day! Our visit will include the auction and the historical gardens. We then proceed to the gardens of Keukenhof, the world's largest gardens. They are unique in the way nature combines with artificial cultivation to create a garden where millions of bulbs bloom exactly on time each year. During our visit we will enjoy a “whisper” boat tour through portions of the 32 hectares displaying the beautiful bulb fields that surround the park. After a day of awesome blooms we return to Amsterdam.
A day at leisure. It is delightful strolling through the interesting streets, squares and street markets of this compact city. You may wish to visit the Van Gogh Museum which houses a wonderful collection of his work. Optional excursions will be offered. This evening, as a farewell to Amsterdam, we will enjoy the views of the bridges and historic buildings on our Canal Dinner Cruise.
We travel through pastoral scenery to Luxembourg, the world’s last remaining Grand Duchys and one of the world’s most economically prosperous countries.
We enjoy a walking tour of Luxembourg - a picturesque city set on several levels with straddling hills and gorges. We will walk through the historic quarters and see the Bock Pomontory, the red sandstone Castle Bridge, the Grand Ducal Palace and more. After some free time we enter Belgium and proceed to Antwerp.
Our tour begins in the old quarter with its gabled Flemish architecture and impressive castle. We visit the house in which Rubens was born. The historic heart of the city is Groenplaats Square, dominated by Our Lady's Cathedral and ringed with cafes and restaurants. The afternoon is free to visit one of the many museums or Middleheim Park with its statuary.
Brugge is a favourite for European tourists - one of the best-preserved medieval cities with a richly ornate medieval town centre that has changed little in the last 5 centuries. On our morning walking tour we see the belfry with its 47-bell carillon, the lace shops in narrow alleys, Belgium's oldest town hall and the Basilica. We will also enjoy a canal cruise so that we may appreciate the city views from a different perspective. With some free time after lunch you can visit the lace parlours, chocolate makers or antique shops.
We visit Belgium's capital - headquarters to both the European Common Market and NATO. There are graceful avenues, cobbled streets and at the centre is the stunning Grand Place, perhaps the most beautiful square in Europe, with its 15th century Town Hall. The rich guildhouses that line the square are topped with gold figures. The Manikin Pis is a famous statue and the Galleries St. Hubert is Europe's oldest glass-covered shopping arcade. We stroll in Hot Sacre, a picturesque area of narrow streets, and see the Petite Sablon, a square ringed with Gothic columns that support 48 bronze statues commemorating the medieval guilds (trades) of Belgium. We see the Royal Palace, maybe a waffle-making demonstration and perhaps a sample or two.
A day at leisure. Getting around is easy so you may want to visit the cultural centre of Ghent, or take an optional tour to visit the monument at Waterloo - site of Napoleon’s defeat, and Flanders Field where many battles were immortalized. Your Tour Manager will offer advice. Tonight is our Farewell Dinner.
We return to Amsterdam for our flight home.

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