Springtime in the Netherlands and Belgium means tulips! Perhaps the best way to take in the blooming countryside is on a Dutch and Belgium lowlands cruise. Sail round-trip from Amsterdam or cruise one way from Amsterdam to Brussels, whichever works best for you. Along the way, you’ll see those iconic Kinderdijk windmills, explore the streets and canals of Amsterdam and indulge in Belgian chocolates, waffles and beer. This area of Europe really is like a fairytale come to life.
Pro Tip: Tulip Time river cruises only operate in March and April
Here’s what you will see:
Start your Netherlands voyage in the charming city of Amsterdam, where you can cruise or stroll alongside any of the 165 canals. Take a trip to Utrecht, with its medieval old town and Gothic cathedral. Or, visit the largest castle in Holland – De Haar, complete with turrets, moats and suspension bridges.
First things first. You can’t leave Brussels without beer and mussels. Savor the briny ocean flavor of the mussels, alongside smoked ham, garlic and fresh herbs, then wash it all down with an earthy Belgium beer. While you’re here, take a guided bike ride through the capital’s streets, learning about the historic Battle of the Bulge. Or, visit the romantic Gaasbeek castle.
Follow the winding canals of Ghent to the city’s famous medieval monasteries, bustling Vrijdagmarkt (Friday Market) or the eye-catching Castle of the Counts. From here, it’s easy to visit Bruges as well, one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval cities.
In Antwerp, nab a harborside table at a “brown cafe” (a cafe that serves countless Belgian beers) and order a Seefbier. This 19th-century Antwerp brew was sold until the 1930s, then only resurfaced in 2012 when it was relaunched by the Antwerpse Brouw Compagnie. Then, embark on a tasty food tour to sample some of the country’s best chocolates and waffles.
Get that camera ready for your visit to Kinderdijk, home to those recognizable 18th-century windmills. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the country’s greatest concentration of windmills, best explored by bike (the country’s preferred mode of nonmotorized transportation!).
Marvel at Rotterdam’s architecture on – you guessed it! – a bike tour. Don’t miss the impressive Markthal, a horseshoe-shaped market at which you can spend hours checking out the various food shops and restaurants. Originally a train viaduct, the Hofbogen is another must-see with its coffee bars, brewery, clubs, boutiques and more.
History buffs will enjoy Arnhem for its location along the Liberation Route – a commemorative route throughout the country that contains World War II museums, significant historical sites, monuments and military cemeteries. While here, walk the trails of the allied forces and see remnants from the 1944 Battle of Arnhem.
And finally, you’ve arrived at the vibrant, dazzling tulip fields of Keukenhof, located southwest of Amsterdam. This is the world’s largest flower garden and certainly one of its most impressive public gardens. There are more than 7 million flower bulbs planted each year, resulting in a legendary display of flowering tulips over 70 acres. Your perfectly timed cruise will allow you to visit during the only nine weeks of the year this “Garden of Europe” is open.