Explore the best of central Holland on this weeklong itinerary featuring a mix of classic sights and off-the-beaten-path experiences. Visit the vibrant capital of Amsterdam and its top museums before day-tripping to the countryside to see iconic Dutch highlights, including windmills and a cheese market. Adventure waits in Utrecht, where you will have the chance to canoe around the city's canals. Then continue on to the forested heart of the country and Hoge Veluwe National Park, which you'll explore on an e-bike. View Van Gogh originals at the excellent Kröller-Müller Museum before finishing up the trip in the charming city of Deventer, known for its countless bookshops, picturesque squares, and laid-back atmosphere.

Highlights

  • Go canoeing along the canals of Utrecht
  • Explore Hoge Veluwe National Park on an e-bike
  • Visit Amsterdam's best museums
  • Browse the secondhand bookshops of charming Deventer
  • See the historic windmills of Zaanse Schans

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Visit the Anne Frank House & Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam
Day 2 Take a Trip to Marken & See the Windmills at Zaanse Schans Amsterdam
Day 3 Explore the Canals of Utrecht Utrecht
Day 4 Enjoy Nature and Art at Hoge Veluwe National Park Otterlo
Day 5 Discover the Region on an E-bike Otterlo
Day 6 Sightsee in the Historic Center of Deventer Deventer
Day 7 Depart Amsterdam - End of Trip  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Visit the Anne Frank House & Van Gogh Museum

Museum crowds in Amsterdam

Welcome to the Dutch Lowlands! After arriving in Amsterdam, you'll transfer to your hotel in the city center, a picturesque labyrinth of canals and small streets dotted with old houses and buildings. 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.

After lunch, you'll go on a private boat cruise through the city's canals. After about two hours on the water, the boat will drop you off in front of the Rijksmuseum, the most famous museum in the country. It's home to The Night Watch by Rembrandt van Rijn, considered one of the most important paintings ever created in the Netherlands. Near this massive artwork, you'll also see The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer and many other 17th-century works by Dutch Masters. 

Next, you'll stop by the Van Gogh Museum. Take a break for lunch in the museum's café, then explore the collections at your own pace. Van Gogh famously created over 2,000 paintings in a little over a decade. The museum houses some of his most famous works, including The Potato Eaters, Sunflowers, Almond Blossom, and one of his very last works, Wheatfield with Crows.

In the evening, have a leisurely dinner at one of the many restaurants near your hotel. 

Day 2: Take a Trip to Marken & See the Windmills at Zaanse Schans

Dutch windmills at sunrise

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: Explore the Canals of Utrecht

A canal in Utrecht

This morning you will catch a train to the city of Utrecht. Utrecht is centered around the Dom Tower, which is visible from anywhere in the lively (and car-free) city center. At the entrance to one of the city's central canals, canoes will be ready for you. After some brief instructions, you'll head out on your own and paddle through the city’s many canals for two hours. It's also easy to leave the city behind and follow the Minstroom or Amelisweerd routes to quiet landscapes outside town. Take a break for coffee or a beer at a canalside café.

In the afternoon, choose from a range of activities. You could head to the peaceful park known as Oude Hortus. From 1723 until 1920, this was the botanical garden of Utrecht's university. Architecture lovers should visit the Rietveld-Schröder House, designed by the famous architect Gerrit Rietveld. Built in 1923-1924, the strikingly modernist house is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Families traveling with small children may visit the interactive Miffy Museum or Spoorwegmuseum, a train-themed museum showcasing two centuries of railway history.

Have dinner in a restaurant in the city center before getting some rest at your hotel.

Day 4: 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 5: Discover the Region on an E-bike

Dutch landscapes near the park

Today you'll spend more time exploring the park on your e-bike. On a self-guided tour, you'll pedal along quiet roads, keeping your eyes open for deer or wild boar — your best chances for wildlife spotting is in the early morning or in the late afternoon. Take a picnic lunch to enjoy along the way. 

On the other side of the national park, outside Otterlo, you'll find the small village of Hoenderloo. Locals all around the province of Gelderland know this town because of the famous ice cream parlor IJs van Co. It's a hole in the wall selling only one type of ice cream, but you'll see dozens of people queueing up to place their orders. It's worth a little detour to taste this famous treat for yourself! Then ride back to Otterlo for dinner and a relaxing evening. 

Day 6: Sightsee in the Historic Center of Deventer

Lights on the water in Deventer

Your last destination on the itinerary is Deventer, located on the banks of the IJssel River. The best way to explore the small city is on foot. Stroll along the narrow streets to see monuments, squares, churches, museums, and antique shops. Stop into Deventer Koekwinkel, a popular institution that's been producing the world-famous kruidkoek (spiced cake) for over four centuries.

Brink Square is the beating heart of the city, lined with cafés, restaurants, and shops. On weekends, a colorful market takes over the square. Nearby, the impressive Lebuïnus Church is a highlight. The interior's gothic arches are a delight, and you can climb the tower for an excellent view of the city. If you're traveling with children, check out the Speelgoedmuseum, a popular toy museum. Deventer is also known as "the city of books." The oldest library in the country is located here, and there are many excellent shops selling new and secondhand titles. 

In the evening, join the locals for an outdoor dinner beside one of the city's picturesque squares.

Day 7: Depart Amsterdam - End of Trip 

Colorful rows of tulips

This morning, it’s time to bid farewell to the Netherlands. Head to the Amsterdam airport or train station to make your way to your next destination. Safe travels!

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