There's no need to choose between Holland and Flanders (the Dutch-speaking half of Belgium). This weeklong itinerary takes you to the highlights of both, including sightseeing in Amsterdam, an architecture tour in Rotterdam, a gourmet food tour in Antwerp, and a boat tour past medieval castles in Ghent. You'll sample cheeses where they're produced, spot windmills in the Dutch countryside, and relax with a Belgian crowd on a river beach. This whirlwind itinerary has something for everyone!

Highlights

  • Discover the medieval magic of Ghent on a boat tour
  • Sample gourmet Belgian specialties on a food tour of Antwerp
  • View masterpieces by famous painters from the Dutch Golden Age
  • Visit the famed Anne Frank House in Amsterdam
  • Photograph blooming tulips in the picturesque Dutch countryside

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Amsterdam and Visit Anne Frank House Amsterdam
Day 2 Day-trip to Marken and See the Windmills at Zaanse Schans Amsterdam
Day 3 Go on an Architectural Walking Tour in Rotterdam Rotterdam
Day 4 Sightsee and Relax on a River Beach in Antwerp Antwerp
Day 5 Taste Local Specialties on a Food Tour of Antwerp Antwerp
Day 6 See a Castle and a Cathedral in Ghent, Then Enjoy a Boat Tour Ghent
Day 7 Finish at Vrijdagmarkt - End of Trip  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Amsterdam and Visit Anne Frank House

Amsterdam's canals at night

Welcome to the Dutch Lowlands! After arrival at Amsterdam's airport, transfer to your hotel in the city center. You'll start exploring Amsterdam with a visit to the Anne Frank House. Learn about the famous story of a young Jewish girl who lived here during the Second World War; the museum is built around the secret annex where she and her family hid for over two years.

Several other museums are nearby. The Rijksmuseum is the most famous museum in the Netherlands, housing the country’s most important painting, The Night Watch by Rembrandt van Rijn. Besides this masterpiece, you can see The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer, plus many other 17th-century works by Dutch Master painters. Right next to the Rijksmuseum, you will find another Dutch highlight: the Van Gogh Museum. The Dutch post-Impressionist painter created more than 2,000 paintings in just over a decade. Later, take a stroll through the picturesque neighborhood of the Jordaan and stop to have dinner there.

Day 2: Day-trip to Marken and See the Windmills at Zaanse Schans

Iconic scenery in the Dutch countryside

After exploring the rich culture of the capital city, it is time to check out some other Dutch icons: wooden shoes, fishing villages, cheese, and windmills! Today, you will experience the beauty of the countryside north of Amsterdam. 

Begin in the picturesque village of Marken, located on an island in the Markermeer lake. Explore the small town and visit a wooden shoe factory before catching the ferry to Volendam, Holland’s best-known fishing village. The quaint harbor is lined with cafés and fish vendors. It's a good place to sample local treats like kibbeling (traditional battered and fried fish nuggets). Next, your guide will take you to visit the centuries-old cheese market area in Edam. The market happens on Wednesdays in July and August, but the market square and waag (weigh house) itself are very much worth a visit even outside those times. 

The last stop on your tour today is Zaanse Schans. During the 17th century, over 600 windmills were constructed in the area as part of an early industrial zone. The windmills were used to grind spices, produce paint and oil, and cut wood. A number of these windmills still exist and can be visited today, inside and out. 

Day 3: Go on an Architectural Walking Tour in Rotterdam

Rotterdam's skyline reflected in water

Today, you'll head south to 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. Enjoy lunch at a café before heading off on a private excursion to the Museumpark, a creatively landscaped outdoor space that connects Rotterdam’s major museums, including the Kunsthal Rotterdam art museum. 

In the afternoon, a local architect will pick you up at your hotel and take you on a private walking tour of Rotterdam. The tour begins with a stop at the newly built Central Station. As you walk through the city, stop 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. Then, you will walk along the river and view Manhattan on the Maas, a new high-end architectural development on the South Bank. The tour ends at the biggest landmark of Rotterdam, Erasmus Bridge.

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Day 4: Sightsee and Relax on a River Beach in Antwerp

The grandeur of Antwerp's Central 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 5: Taste Local Specialties on a Food Tour of Antwerp

Irresistible Belgian delicacies

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 6: See a Castle and a Cathedral in Ghent, Then Enjoy a Boat Tour

A striking view of Gravensteen Castle

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. After the boat tour, dine at Pakhuis, a good restaurant housed in a former warehouse, followed by a nightcap at ‘t Dreupelkot, specializing in locally made gin. 

Day 7: Finish at Vrijdagmarkt - End of Trip

Vrijdagmarkt Square in the old historic center of Ghent
Vrijdagmarkt Square in the old historic center of Ghent

Today is the last day of the trip. Before your departure, check out the Vrijdagmarkt (literally meaning Friday Market). The market is open on Fridays and Saturdays — a great spot if you like seafood — but even if your schedule doesn't match up, the square is still worth a visit. Take a stroll and gaze up at the magnificent old buildings and enjoy a drink at one of the cafés on the plaza. It's a final toast before you head to the train station or the airport to continue onward to your next destination. Safe travels!

More Great Netherlands & Belgium Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Netherlands and/or Belgium? Check out these other Netherlands itineraries, including a 10-day Dutch Art Tour of Holland, a weeklong 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.

Map

Map of Highlights of Holland & Flanders - 7 Days
Map of Highlights of Holland & Flanders - 7 Days