Spend two weeks savoring the authentic delicacies of the Netherlands and Belgium. This part-guided food and drink tour is split over six cities, starting with Amsterdam, The Hague, Leiden, and Rotterdam, then continuing through Antwerp and Ghent—with day trips to other culinary hotspots in between. From an ancient cheese market in Gouda to a chocolate workshop in Bruges, fresh food markets to colonial-era cuisine, this varied tour is packed with local flavor.


  • Take a "Grand Dutch Food Tour" of Amsterdam
  • Go on a bicycle tour of Rotterdam, ending at a waterside brewery
  • Order "high cheese," rather than high tea, in the city of Gouda
  • Sample the beers of Antwerp's microbrewery, Antwerpse Brouw Compagnie
  • Learn to make Belgian chocolate at a private workshop in Bruges

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Amsterdam, Canal Cruise, Amsterdam's Neighborhoods Amsterdam
Day 2 Amsterdam Grand Dutch Food Tour Amsterdam
Day 3 Day Trip to Volendam, Cheese Farm & Zaanse Schans Amsterdam
Day 4 Transfer to The Hague, Visit Mauritshuis Museum, Rijsttafel Dinner The Hague
Day 5 Transfer to Leiden, Fresh Market, Culinary Dinner Boat Tour Leiden
Day 6 Transfer to Rotterdam, Markthal Museum, Surinamese Cuisine  Rotterdam
Day 7 Bicycle Food Tour, Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen (Art Collection) Rotterdam
Day 8 Day Trip to Gouda, Museumcafé Gouda & Stroopwafel Workshop Rotterdam
Day 9 Transfer to Antwerp, Brewery Tour & Chocolate Nation Antwerp Antwerp
Day 10 Antwerp Food Tour & Museum Mayer van den Bergh Antwerp
Day 11 Transfer to Ghent, Self-Guided Culinary Walking Tour of Ghent Ghent
Day 12 Beer Walk in Ghent Ghent
Day 13 Day Trip to Bruges, Choco-Story Bruges Private Chocolate Workshop  Ghent
Day 14 Last Morning in Ghent, Transfer to Brussels & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Amsterdam, Canal Cruise, Amsterdam's Neighborhoods

from Amsterdam airport to Amsterdam by train
The Amstel River in central Amsterdam

Welcome to Amsterdam! The airport (Schipol) is only 15 minutes from the city center by train, so you'll be settling into your hotel in no time. The Netherlands' enchanting capital is a labyrinth of canals and lanes of narrow brick houses.

Along one of the canals, you'll board a glass-roof boat will other travelers to cruise around the waterways. Amsterdam has more than 62 miles (100 km) of canals crossed by 1,500 bridges, with the three main channels (Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht) dug during the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age. Over the course of an hour, you'll get a feel for the city and its history before the boat drops you off at your starting point.

After, you're free to stroll through Amsterdam's characterful neighborhoods. Jordaan is one of the trendiest spots to the west of the center. After wandering around the arched bridges and tree-lined 17th-century streets, dive into a bruin café. A Dutch version of pubs, these atmospheric watering holes get their name (meaning brown) from their dark wood-paneled interiors. Try a typical Dutch pub snack, bitterballen (fried meat-type snack), while you sample the local beers.

Day 2: Amsterdam Grand Dutch Food Tour

Amsterdam Grand Dutch Food Tour
Wheels of cheese on the Amsterdam Grand Dutch Food Tour

Today's Amsterdam Grand Dutch Food Tour will give you chance to graze on Dutch delicacies as an expert guide explains the country's food heritage and culture. Over four hours, you'll make around seven stops in the historical Jordaan and canal belt districts as part of a small group. Taste the quality specialties in shops, cafés, and restaurants, from sweet appeltaart to Dutch sausages, and enjoy an accompanying drink at some stops, too.

This tour is also a great way to get to know the capital since you'll get a sense of the city and be able to swap tips between your guide and fellow tour guests. The architecture in this part of town is something to behold, with centuries-old warehouses and Golden Age merchants' houses along the Prinsengracht and Brouwersgracht canals. 

Day 3: Day Trip to Volendam, Cheese Farm & Zaanse Schans

Daytrip to Volendam, cheese farm and Zaanse Schans
The traditional setting of Zaanse Schans

Today it's time to check out some Dutch icons: a fishing village, windmills, and cheese, all in a beautiful rural setting to the north of Amsterdam. Your private guide/driver will take you first to Volendam, the Netherlands' best-known fishing village. The quaint harbor is lined with cafés and fish stands and is an excellent place to enjoy local treats such as kibbeling (traditional battered and fried fish nuggets), herring, and eel.

Continue to a cheese farm near Alkmaar, an area where the golden era of cheese trading is evident in its old warehouses and market squares. After an introduction to the cheese-making process and a stroll with the farmer to see their stables and 140 cows, you can taste some of the produce that's made on-site.

The last stop is in the neighborhood of Zaanse Schans. During the 17th century, over 600 windmills were built in the region, creating the Netherlands' first industrial zone. Many windmills and painted-green houses were relocated to Zaanse Schans in the 1960s and 70s, and two windmills remain in their original spot. Many of these can be visited today, allowing you to see how these wind-powered machines work, inside and out. After a busy day of sightseeing, your driver will bring you back to your hotel.

Day 4: Transfer to The Hague, Visit Mauritshuis Museum, Rijsttafel Dinner

The Hague
The Hague city center

From Amsterdam, a train to The Hague takes less than an hour. Gravenhage in Dutch, or often shortened to Den Haag, this coastal city is the seat of the Dutch government and home to one of the most magnificent paintings in the country: Johannes Vermeers' "Girl with a Pearl Earring."

You will be able to see the masterpiece in the Mauritshuis art museum. Johannes Vermeer (1632—1675) only made 37 paintings, three of which are displayed at the Mauritshuis. The other two are "Diana and her Nymphs" and "View of Delft," the Dutch city where he lived his whole life. Besides Vermeers, this beautiful building houses incredible works by Rembrandt, Jan Steen, and Frans Hals, as well as Frabitius' "Goldfinch" and "The Bull" by Paulus Potter

Tonight, you will enjoy a special dinner: a rijsttafel at an authentic Indonesian restaurant. Due to the Netherlands' colonial history with Indonesia, the southeast Asian country's cuisine has been popular here for centuries. Rijsttafel translates as "rice table" and is an elaborate meal consisting of various rice dishes and side dishes. The dishes derive from different parts of Indonesia, albeit adjusted to European tastes. Tuck into satay ayam (chicken skewer), rendang (slow-cooked meat), and sides of kroepoek (crunchy prawn crackers) with atjar/acar (pickles).

Day 5: Transfer to Leiden, Fresh Market, Culinary Dinner Boat Tour

The laid-back university city of Leiden

Catch the train from The Hague to the atmospheric university city of Leiden, which takes just over half an hour. Leiden is only second to Amsterdam for having the most water flowing within the city gates, with 17 miles (28km) of canals and moats. The charming center is also known for its idyllic courtyards, called hofjes—there are 35 of these small oases where you can relax among trees, lawns, and flowers. Typical for a Dutch university town, the preferred mode of transport here is bicycle—Leiden University, founded in 1575, is the oldest university in the Netherlands.

If you're here on a Saturday, you'll experience one of Holland's best fresh markets. Dozens of stalls line the canals and are a chance to try traditional Dutch snacks, such as herring, sausages, and cheese. Fresh markets in the Netherlands are always a delight for food lovers. When your trip dates are set, consult your local expert to find out where a fresh market coincides with your schedule.

In a group of four or more? There's an option to dine in style tonight on a river cruise boat along Leiden's canals. The boat leaves from the restaurant In den Doofpot, which offers some of the Netherlands' best modern European cuisine. While gently cruising the canals, you'll be served a five-course dinner (with bread, beer, wine, and soft drinks included). The boat comes with heating and a roof to protect you from the elements, but in good weather, you'll ride open-air. Others will join the cruise, but no more than 20.

Day 6: Transfer to Rotterdam, Markthal Museum, Surinamese Cuisine 

The soaring interiors of Rotterdam's Markthal

A direct train from Leiden will bring you to Rotterdam in an hour. Rotterdam is the Netherlands' second city and a hub of innovation, with its ever-changing skyline and cutting-edge design. You'll have the whole day here to explore at your own pace.

Your first stop will be Markthal, the Netherlands' biggest indoor market hall and the largest glass-window cable structure in Europe. With a football pitch-sized floor area full of fresh produce, with everything from cheese and bread to flowers and plants, you can browse the 100 stalls and 15 food shops and choose between eight restaurants. The hall is visually stunning, too, with huge glass panes sealing either end and a psychedelic mural of fruits and grains across the wall and ceiling, arching 131 feet (40 m) above the market bustle.

Plan your trip to Belgium
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
In the evening, seek out another part of colonial Holland's culinary heritage: Surinamese cuisine. Dishes of the Republic of Suriname, in South America (especially those of Suriname's Asian population), are every-popular in this multicultural port city. Try Roopram Roti in the Mathenesserplein district: line up and order a roti from the counter and choose between fragrant sides, from masala potatoes to spicy chicken and egg. The ambiance is simple, but the food is delicious. It's no wonder it's the go-to joint for Rotterdam's Surinamese!

Day 7: Bicycle Food Tour, Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen (Art Collection)

Rotterdam food tour by bicycle
Explore Rotterdam by bicycle or water taxi

Rotterdam's food scene is exploding—and what better way to discover it than by bicycle? Today you'll join forces with a small group of fellow travelers to follow a guide around six stops on this four-hour tour. Nibble on delicacies such as bitterballen as you go, listening to stories from your guide and ending at a waterside brewery. If you don't feel like cycling, you can always choose a similar guided tour that involves walking and water taxis. 

After, browse the incredible selection of art at Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, the world's first publicly accessible fine-art storage facility. In a mirrored bowl-shaped building, you'll find paintings by Rembrandt, Monet, Van Gogh, Kandinsky, and Rothko, among many others, plus thousands of made objects. The idea came about as the main museum is undergoing seven years of renovation: the depot makes its entire 151,000-piece collection public while providing a behind-the-scenes look at how large museums operate.

Day 8: Day Trip to Gouda, Museumcafé Gouda & Stroopwafel Workshop

Gouda Cheese Market in the ancient Market Square

Today you'll take a day trip to the city of Gouda (pronounced "how-da"), an hour's train ride to the west of Rotterdam. Home of sweet and creamy yellow Gouda cheese, the name today is a general term for cheese produced in the traditional Dutch style. Check out the Market Square, which dates back to 1198 and hosts a cheese market every Thursday, then dip into the De Waag (weighing house), a museum dedicated to the cheese. Don't miss Sint Janskerk (Saint John's Church)—famous for its 72 stained glass windows, this Gothic icon is the longest church in the Netherlands.

If you're interested in seeing another Dutch icon, head south, across one of the canals, to see the De Roode Leeuw (The Red Lion). This working windmill dates back to 1727 and still supplies local bakeries with fresh flour. After, swing by the Museumcafé Gouda, where "high cheese" is served as a twist on high tea, featuring a cheese platter, cheese soup, and sandwiches.

Gouda's not all about the cheese, though—this afternoon, you'll experience another of its culinary delights at Berg's Bakery. Here, you'll have a hands-on lesson in making stroopwafel, the famous Dutch cookie made of caramel sandwiched between layers of baked dough. Of course, you'll get to eat it too. Find out more about this sweet treat at the Kamphuisen, a siroopwafelfabriek (syrup waffle factory). They still make stroopwafels according to a recipe from 1810, and the scent alone is enough to make anyone drool!

Day 9: Transfer to Antwerp, Brewery Tour & Chocolate Nation Antwerp

from Rotterdam to Antwerp by train
Antwerp Central railway station

It's time to cross the international border to the Belgian city of Antwerp! The train from Rotterdam takes just an hour. Upon arrival, you'll find yourself at the heart of one of the city's major landmarks: Antwerp Central railway station. Built between 1895 and 1905, this grand structure draws combines opulent architectural styles, from Belle Époque to Art Nouveau. Your Antwerp hotel will be within walking distance of the station.

If you're a group of more than eight, consider adding a tour of Antwerpse Brouw Compagnie to your itinerary. It's Antwerp's only independent brewery and home of the famous Seef beer. This blonde, cloudy brew originated in the 19th century but disappeared in the 1930s... until 2012, thanks to a Crowdfunding campaign. Your host will take you through the brewery's story and talk about all things beer, from malting to fermentation. Not part of a big group? It's still well worth heading to the brewery to try the beers and Belgian cuisine amid brewing kettles in the bar-restaurant. 

Then, it's on to Belgium's largest chocolate museum—and the biggest Belgian chocolate museum in the world—Chocolate Nation Antwerp. Through multimedia displays and a lively audio tour, you'll learn about how chocolate is produced and sample some delicious sweet creations at the end of the tour. The museum is right in front of the central railway station, and the activity lasts around 90 minutes.

Day 10: Antwerp Food Tour & Museum Mayer van den Bergh

Antwerp Food Tour + visit Rubens House
Indulge in sweet delights on an Antwerp Food Tour 

After breakfast and a leisurely morning, it's time to indulge in Antwerp's moreish delicacies on a walking gastronomy tour through the city. No food tour here would be complete without a stop at a classic Belgian bakery, where you'll try the famous Belgian frieten (french fries), chocolate, and waffles. As Antwerp is a harbor city, the local cuisine is not only Belgian but also has international influences. The tour ends near one of the city's foodie hotspots, so you can continue to taste on your own if you're not too full already!

Later, visit one of Antwerp's major highlights, the Mayer van den Bergh Museum. Fritz Mayer van den Bergh single-handedly accumulated an incredible array of art in the late 19th century, becoming Antwerp's leading art collector of the era. This intimate and informal museum shows off the best of it. The star is the painting Dulle Griet, also known as "Mad Meg," a character in Flemish folklore depicted by Brueghel the Elder in 1563. Mayer van den Bergh died before he realized his dream of a museum for his collection, so his mother opened this one in his honor.

Day 11: Transfer to Ghent, Self-Guided Culinary Walking Tour of Ghent

Historic Ghent with Ghent Belfry
Saint Michael's Bridge in the center of Ghent

Once you've had breakfast and checked out of your hotel, head back to Antwerp Central to take the hour-long train journey to Ghent. Several trains a day make the one-hour journey to this historic port city at the confluence of the rivers Leie and Scheldt. After you've settled into your Ghent hotel, make your way to the historical center, dominated by the 300-foot (91 m) Ghent Belfry clock tower. 

Armed with a list of recommendations (plus a map, so you know where to find them), set off to discover the best of Ghent's gastronomic delights. Stop for a bite or settle in for a drink whenever and wherever you please, and experience this laidback city at your own pace. If you opted to buy a museum pass for your trip to Ghent, you'll have free access to the city's bus and tram network.

Inhale the aroma of mustard and spices that fills the 1860s interior at Tierenteyn-Verlent, browse the jars of old-fashioned sweets at Confiserie Temmerman, and choose from more than 200 flavors of jenever (a Dutch version of gin) at the canalside bar 't Dreupelkot. For a lunch that's all about celebrating local produce, try Ooost, a marketplace, and restaurant that only works with East Flemish regional suppliers.

Day 12: Beer Walk in Ghent

Historic Beer Walk in Ghent
Take a canalside seat in Ghent and enjoy a beer
For your second day in Ghent, you'll head off on a unique city walking tour, which explores Ghent's history in the context of the relationship between its beer brewing, churches, abbeys, and monasteries. With your professional beer guide, you'll spend three hours exploring the city center, stopping at five remarkable beer-tasting locations to sample a variety of brews and learn about the history of each setting. Not a beer drinker? No worries. You can learn about Ghent's fascinating brewing history while sipping soft drinks. The walk starts and ends at Sint-Jorishof, opposite Ghent Town Hall.

Day 13: Day Trip to Bruges, Choco-Story Bruges Private Chocolate Workshop 

The colorful Grote Markt in Bruge
The colorful Grote Markt in Bruges

This morning, head to Gent-Sint-Pieters railway station for the 20-minute train ride to Bruges. Bruges is a city best explored on foot. Cobbled streets link up countless charming squares, and as the inner city is compact, you'll come face-to-face with monuments at nearly every turn. The best views to take it all in are from the 272-foot (83 m) medieval bell tower and city emblem, the Belfry of Bruges, which overlooks the Grote Markt, or Market Square. The 13th-century Church of Our Lady Bruges houses a priceless Michelangelo sculpture of the Virgin Mary.

If you didn't take a canal boat tour in Ghent, you should definitely consider it here. Alternatively, stroll among the Gothic 19th-century buildings, and stop at one of the chocolatiers that have become an icon of the city. See if you can snag a table on one of the historic squares to try one of many local Belgian beers, such as the coveted Brugse Zot. After a pleasant day of sightseeing, catch a train back to Ghent for your final night in Belgium. 

The last activity of the day is a real sweet treat: a private workshop at the chocolate museum, Choco-Story Bruges. After a self-guided audio tour to discover the history and process of chocolate-making, a chocolatier will show you how pralines are created and give you a taste. You'll then have a go at making your own, dipping and molding your chocolates before and bagging them up to take home as a souvenir.

Day 14: Last Morning in Ghent, Transfer to Brussels & Depart

Last morning in Ghent
Stock up on Belgian treats before you depart

Today's departure day—but there's time for one last activity in Ghent before you go. The Vrijdagmarkt translates as "Friday Market," but this open-air fresh produce market is open on Saturdays as well. The square is a hub of activity even on non-market days; stroll around the magnificent old buildings and enjoy a drink at one of the many café terraces. If you depart on a Sunday, be sure to head to the Kouter in the morning. The weekly flower market is a profusion of color and fragrance. Aside from beautiful blooms, a stall that sells oysters and cava, so you can refuel in style. Many locals head here for a drink and snack.

Then, it's time to take the 45-minute train journey from Gent-Sint-Pieters station to Brussels for your departing flight. Hope you've still got plenty of chocolate to share for your arrival home! 

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Map of Culinary Tour of the Netherlands & Belgium - 14 Days
Map of Culinary Tour of the Netherlands & Belgium - 14 Days