The Netherlands and Belgium have produced some of the most famous names in art history: Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Peter Paul Rubens, and Jan van Eyck, to name a few. On this two-week tour you'll learn all about their lives and work. Ride an e-bike through landscapes that inspired the Dutch Masters, tour Rembrandt's studio, view priceless masterpieces in world-class museums, and view the famed Ghent Altarpiece in St Bavo's Cathedral. This lively itinerary isn't only about art, you'll also enjoy a food tour of Antwerp, explore a national park, and relax on river beaches with locals.

Highlights

  • See the landscapes that inspired generations of Dutch and Flemish masters
  • View masterpieces like Vermeer's Girl With a Pearl Earring
  • Explore Hoge Veluwe National Park on an e-bike
  • Tour the house where Rembrandt lived and worked
  • Enjoy Belgian waffles on a food tour of Antwerp

Brief Itinerary

Day     Highlights Overnight
Day 1     Arrive in Amsterdam and Visit the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Day 2     Tour the Rijksmuseum & Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam
Day 3     Visit the Rembrandt Huis and Frans Hals Museum Haarlem
Day 4     Experience the Museums of Leiden Leiden
Day 5     View Girl with a Pearl Earring and Tour Rotterdam Rotterdam
Day 6     Enjoy Nature and Art at Hoge Veluwe National Park Otterlo
Day 7     Cycle and Hike in the National Park Otterlo
Day 8     Sightsee and Relax on a River Beach in Antwerp Antwerp
Day 9     Taste Local Specialties on a Food Tour of Antwerp Antwerp
Day 10     See the Famous Ghent Altarpiece  Bruges
Day 11     Taste Chocolate and See Fine Art at Groeninge Museum Bruges
Day 12     Enjoy a Free Day in Brussels Brussels
Day 13     Go Sightseeing Around Brussels Brussels
Day 14     Depart from Brussels   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Amsterdam and Visit the Stedelijk Museum

A young artist painting on the street in Amsterdam

Welcome to the Dutch Lowlands! After arrival at Amsterdam's airport, transfer to your hotel in the city center. You'll kick off your art-focused tour of Holland by visiting the Stedelijk Museum. This museum houses one of the most important collections of modern and contemporary art and design, displaying visual art from about 1860 to the present day. Highlights include key works by Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, and Piet Mondriaan, among others. After your visit, go for dinner in one of the many excellent restaurants in the city center. 

Day 2: Tour the Rijksmuseum & Van Gogh Museum

Admiring "Almond Blossom" by Vincent van Gogh

This morning, you'll enjoy a two-hour cruise on a private boat through the canals of Amsterdam. The boat will drop you off right in front of The Rijksmuseum, the most famous museum in the Netherlands, which houses the country's most important painting: The Night Watch by Rembrandt van Rijn. Besides this masterpiece, you'll also see The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer and many other 17th-century works by Dutch Master painters. 

Right next to the Rijksmuseum, you will find another Dutch highlight: the Van Gogh Museum. Stop into the museum's café for lunch before exploring the collections. The Dutch post-Impressionist painter created more than 2,000 paintings in just over a decade. The museum houses some of his most famous works, like The Potato Eaters, Sunflowers, Almond Blossom, and one of his very last works, Wheatfield with Crows.

Day 3: Visit the Rembrandt Huis and Frans Hals Museum

A windmill towering over houses and buildings

This morning, dive deeper into the life and work of Rembrandt van Rijn by visiting the Rembrandt Huis. This museum is located in the house where Rembrandt lived and worked for almost two decades. The house was later turned into a museum, the interior restored to look the way it looked during Rembrandt’s residence. In addition to learning about his painting practice, you'll find out what he was like as a teacher, collector, tradesman, and citizen of Amsterdam.

Next, continue on to the city of Haarlem. Here, you'll spend some time at the Frans Hals Museum. Hals, together with Rembrandt and Vermeer, is one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age. Known for his free and painterly brushstrokes, he lived and worked in Haarlem for more than sixty years until his death in 1666. 

If time allows, stop at the Teylers Museum, the oldest museum in the Netherlands, home to an impressive art collection. The rest of the day, you're free to enjoy the charming streets and cafés of the laid-back city center.

Day 4: Experience the Museums of Leiden

A quiet courtyard in Leiden

The next stop on the journey is Leiden, just a short train ride away. A lively and youthful city with pretty canals and inner courtyards, it's always busy with cyclists traveling to and from Leiden University. Founded in 1575, it's the oldest university in the nation. Pay a visit to Lakenhal Museum, featuring a collection of paintings from the past four centuries, including several works by Rembrandt. Other museums worth a visit nearby include the Museum of Archeology and the Museum of Ethnology. In the evening, walk around the city center and enjoy dinner with a local crowd.

Day 5: Leiden to Rotterdam via The Hague

Modern architecture in Rotterdam

If you're up early and feeling ambitious, make a short stop in Den Haag (The Hague, the seat of the Dutch government). It's home to one of the most magnificent paintings in the country: Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. View it inside the Mauritshuis, a museum that also displays works by Rembrandt and Hals. 

Then it's onto Rotterdam. It's a city of many faces, known for its rough-and-tumble port history, trendy nightlife, upscale shopping options, and lively art scene. Above all, perhaps, Rotterdam is an architectural highlight of Holland. Its skyline is always changing, and there's so much to do amid the towering skyscrapers. 

Begin your explorations with a private walking tour of Rotterdam led by a local architect. From the newly built Central Station, you'll walk through the city, stopping to admire monuments like the Lijnbaan, a post-war Modernist shopping area, Theater Square, and the Timmerhuis, one of the most unique and sophisticated indoor markets in all of Europe. Walk along the river and see Manhattan on the Maas, a new architectural development on the South Bank. The tour ends near the iconic Erasmus Bridge.

Day 6: Enjoy Nature and Art at Hoge Veluwe National Park

A forested path in De Hoge Veluwe National Park

The adventure continues with a trip to De Hoge Veluwe National Park, one of the largest forested areas in the Netherlands. It once served as the private hunting grounds for Dutch royalty. Check into your hotel in Otterlo, right next to the park gate, and travel by e-bike to the Kröller-Müller Museum. The museum has the second-largest Van Gogh collection in the world, with almost 90 paintings and over 180 drawings. Among these are Cafe Terrace at Night (1888), Sorrowing Old Man (1890), and Country Road in Provence by Night (1890). You'll also find masterpieces by Georges Seurat and Pablo Picasso.

In the sculpture garden, one of the largest in Europe, stroll around hundreds of works sculptures by artists including Aristide Maillol, Jean Dubuffet, Marta Pan, and Pierre Huyghe. Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the surrounding park on your e-bike.

Day 7: Cycle and Hike in the National Park

Quiet landscapes near Otterlo

Today you'll have time to explore the park further. Hiking or riding around on your e-bike, you might be able to spot some deer or wild boar — your chances are best in the early morning or late afternoon. Later, consider pedaling over to the small village of Hoenderloo to sample the famous ice cream at local favorite IJs van Co

Day 8: Sightsee and Relax on a River Beach in Antwerp

Antwerp's elegant train station

In the morning, head over the border to Antwerp, Belgium! The train ride takes just one hour, and upon arrival, you'll find yourself in the middle of a major landmark. The train station, built in 1905, has magnificent interiors and a grand facade.

The afternoon is free for you to explore the heart of this historic city. The city center occupies a relatively small area, so it’s easy to see on foot. Follow narrow medieval streets past countless Renaissance buildings. You can easily wander from one square to the next, ending at the Grote Markt, the biggest and most important square in the city. Close to the Grote Markt is the enormous Cathedral of Our Lady. The construction of this Roman Catholic cathedral started in 1352. Inside, you will find a significant number of paintings by the Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens. 

Afterward, do as the Belgians do and stop to enjoy a cold Belgian beer on one of the many open-air terraces in the city center. If the weather is good, stroll over to one of the city’s river beaches at Sint Anneke or Sint Annastrand on the other side of the Scheldt River. You’ll find food and drinks at the cafés along the riverbanks, or bring your own picnic. 

Day 9: Taste Local Specialties on a Food Tour of Antwerp

Belgian waffles in their place of origin 

After breakfast and a leisurely morning, indulge in Antwerp’s cuisine with a walking food tour through the city. No food tour of this area would be complete without a stop at a classic Belgian bakery, where you’ll try the famous Belgian frieten (chips), chocolate, and waffles. Since Antwerp is a port city, the local cuisine is made up of a mix of Belgian and international influences. 

After the tour, walk over to the Rubens House, once the home of the 17th-century painter Peter Paul Rubens. The house is open to the public, offering a great opportunity to see some of the artist’s works and to learn more about the way Rubens lived.

Day 10: See the Famous Ghent Altarpiece

A scenic waterway in Ghent

After breakfast, catch a train to the fairytale-like city of Ghent. The city is home to many wonderful monuments and museums, including S.M.A.K. (focused on modern art), STAM (a history museum), and the Design Museum. Pay a visit to the medieval castle Gravensteen, located right in the city center, and the massive St. Bavo’s Cathedral. The Gothic cathedral is well-known as the home of part of the famous Ghent Altarpiece, a famous set of paintings created in 1432 by a pair of artist brothers, the Van Eycks. Parts of the paintings were stolen in the past, and one was never found again. Conspiracy theories persist about the theft and the whereabouts of the missing panel.

In the late afternoon, head to the Leie River near the Grasbrug Bridge. Here, you will board a boat that will take you through the canals of medieval Ghent. Sit back and enjoy the views of this picturesque city. Then you'll move on to beautiful Bruges, where the evening is free to explore, relax, and dine on local cuisine.

Day 11: Taste Chocolate and See Fine Art at Groeninge Museum

Historic buildings by the water in Bruges

Stroll around Bruges' city center, gazing up at colorful facades and taking time to stop at one of the many chocolate shops that the place is famous for. Admire the traditional lacework for sale in various shops and boutiques, then sit at a café on one of Bruges' historic squares and try out a locally brewed beer like Brugse Zot. Later, visit Groeninge Museum, displaying six centuries of works from Belgian master painters including Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling, plus the 20-century art of René Magritte and Roger Raveel. 

If you're up for a stroll away from the city center, there are four old windmills worth a detour before enjoying dinner at one of the city's many excellent restaurants.

Day 12: Enjoy a Free Day in Brussels

Sweet treats in Belgium's capital city

You'll finish your trip in the Belgian capital of Brussels, which is also the seat of the European Union. Interesting sights include the Royal Palace, the Cathedral of Sint-Michel and Sint-Goedele, and the Atomium. Curiously enough, a tiny statue of a peeing boy (Manneken Pis) is massively popular with tourists, too. You can explore on your own today or join a guided tour.

Day 13: Go Sightseeing Around Brussels

A stately staircase in Brussels

Enjoy your final full day in Belgium. Take your time to explore! Art enthusiasts may opt to visit the Fine Arts Museum, Design Museum, Old Masters Museum, or the Magritte Museum, while history buffs will like the City Museum, Military Museum, or Jewish Museum. Don't forget to stop for some delicious Belgian waffles on the way.

Brussels boasts many excellent restaurants where you can savor your final dinner of the trip. Many eateries serve a local classic — Brussels sprouts — prepared in innovative ways.

Day 14: Depart from Brussels

Magnificent architecture in Belgium's capital

Load up on chocolate and bid farewell to beautiful Belgium. Today you'll travel onward to your next destination. Safe journey!

More Great Netherlands & Belgium Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Netherlands and Belgium? Check out these other Netherlands itineraries, including a 5-day Dutch Art Tour, a 10-day Family Tour of the Netherlands, and a two-week Grand Tour of the Netherlands and Belgium.

Or, describe your ideal trip and we will connect you with a local specialist to make it happen.