Bring the whole family along on this kid-friendly journey around the Netherlands and Belgium! Start with a cruise along the canals of Amsterdam and a visit to a futuristic science museum. Then ride an old steam train to Medemblik, where you'll board an antique ship to Enkhuizen, known for its cheese markets. Cycle through the sand dunes to the North Sea, spot colorful tulip fields, and feast on traditional stroopwafels before spending three days at a popular Dutch theme park. Then cross the border to Belgium, where you'll go on a food tour of Antwerp, stay at a real Belgian farm, and relax at the beach resort of De Panne. Offering a great mix of outdoor adventure and cultural education, this itinerary is a hit with travelers of all ages.

Highlights

  • See the best of Holland and Belgium on a family-oriented tour
  • Cruise through city canals and sail on an antique boat
  • Ride on an old steam-powered train through the Dutch countryside
  • Spend three days exploring Holland's most enchanting theme park
  • Experience life on a Belgian farm and help with the animals
  • End with a relaxing stay on the coast of the North Sea

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Amsterdam and Visit NEMO Science Museum Amsterdam
Day 2 Check Out a Maritime Museum & the Zoo Amsterdam
Day 3 Catch the Train to Hoorn & Visit Westfries Museum Hoorn
Day 4 Take a Steam-Powered Train Ride to Medemblik Enkhuizen
Day 5 Explore the Dunes of Bergen Bergen
Day 6 Cycle to Resorts & Enjoy a Beach Day  Bergen
Day 7 Have Fun at the Biggest Theme Park in the Netherlands Kaatsheuvel
Day 8 Enjoy a Full Day of Rides and Games at Efteling  Kaatsheuvel
Day 9 Final Morning at Efteling & Transfer to Antwerp Antwerp
Day 10 Tour a Castle & Arrive in Oostkamp Oostkamp
Day 11 Spend the Day Experiencing Farm Life Oostkamp
Day 12 Relax by the Sea in De Panne De Panne
Day 13 Enjoy the Beach & Visit Plopsaland De Panne
Day 14 Depart Belgium - End of Trip  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Amsterdam and Visit NEMO Science Museum 

Picturesque architecture in Amsterdam

Welcome to the Dutch Lowlands! After arrival at Amsterdam's airport, you'll continue on to your hotel in the city center, an amazing labyrinth of canals and small streets. From the canal closest to your hotel, you'll be picked up by a small private open boat for a tour of the canals. After about two hours, the boat will drop you off in front of the NEMO Science Museum, an interactive space for curious kids to learn more about the world around them.

Later, do as the Amsterdammers do and head to the Vondelpark to sit in the grass, have a drink, watch the laid-back locals, and soak up some sun. Nearby Westerpark also has a small children’s pool during the summer months.

For an adrenaline rush, check out the sky-high A’DAM Tower with a panoramic observation deck, rotating restaurant, and Over the Edge, Europe’s highest swing.

Day 2: Check Out a Maritime Museum & the Zoo

A replica of an old sailing vessel at Scheepvaartmuseum

Today's agenda features two family-oriented activities. First, you will visit the Scheepvaartmuseum, a maritime museum.  Kids will especially love the real-size replica of the Dutch East India Company ship De Amsterdam. Wander around on the deck and inside the ship, then explore the adjoining museum with artifacts and hands-on exhibits. After lunch, spend the afternoon at ARTIS, Holland's oldest zoo. If you'd like to fall asleep to the sound of howling wolves, it's possible to spend the night nearby in a charming 18th-century mansion. Otherwise, you'll head back to Amsterdam for the evening.

Day 3: Catch the Train to Hoorn & Visit Westfries Museum

Dutch cheeses for sale

After breakfast, catch a northbound train for the 30-minute ride to tranquil Hoorn (note that Dutch trains contain a few silent cars, which you're better off avoiding when traveling with children).

Back in the 17th century, the harbor town of Hoorn was of great importance to the Dutch East India Company. Reminders of this rich past can still be seen in the town's impressive monuments. Stop into the railway museum which houses old steam locks and train cars.

After checking into your hotel, walk down to the harbor, where a boat will pick you up for a private cruise. From the deck, view a range of 16th-century merchant houses. Later in the afternoon, you'll have the option to visit the Westfries Museum to learn more about the region's rich history during the Golden Age. In the evening, enjoy dinner out in one of the many good restaurants in the center.

Day 4: Take a Steam-Powered Train Ride to Medemblik

Medemblik's train station

Today your family will experience how people traveled around the area a hundred years ago. Board a steam engine in Hoorn and make your way through the charmingly restored railway stations of Wognum, Twisk, and Opperdoes. In spring, you’ll be treated to the sight of colorful fields of tulips in full bloom. You'll end up in Medemblik, another historic town bordering the IJsselmeer (known as Lake IJssel in English).

You'll have some time to stroll around the town center before catching a ride on the Friesland, a naval destroyer ship. Cruise across Lake IJssel, the largest lake in Holland. Disembark in the harbor of Enkhuizen with its 16th-century fortress walls, historic buildings, and attractive harbor. Walking around, you'll see reminders of past prosperity, when Enkhuizen was a thriving harbor town for the Dutch East India Company. 

Stop into the Zuiderzeemuseum, an open-air museum distributed across 130 original houses. Or spend some time sailing, waterskiing, or canoeing on the lake. Another option is to visit Sprookjeswonderland, a theme park based on fairytales. A historic carousel, a miniature train, and a magical forest make the park a popular destination for families with young children.

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Day 5: Explore the Dunes of Bergen

Coastal dunes by the North Sea

Catch a train back to Hoorn, then change trains to get to Alkmaar. Perhaps best known for its cheese market, Alkmaar is also home to a compact historic center and an interesting selection of museums. The cheese market, which has been in action since 1365, is held every Friday from April through September (plus Tuesday nights in July and August). Porters, loaders, tossers, and weighers all have their specific roles. Even when the cheese market isn't going on, you can visit The Waag, the historic building where cheeses used to be weighed. The building now houses a cheese museum on the second and third floors.

Alkmaar is famous for its cheeses, but it’s also a great place to discover another Dutch delight — the caramel-based cookie known as stroopwafel

Continue on to the peaceful town of Bergen. The rest of the afternoon is free at leisure for you to explore the small town and surrounding dune landscape on foot.

Day 6: Cycle to Resorts & Enjoy a Beach Day

A walk on the Dutch coast

On the sixth day of the trip, you'll pick up bicycles and get ready for your next adventure. Pedal a few miles through a landscape of sand dunes to the beach resort town of Bergen aan Zee, a relatively quiet area that's excellent for walks and building sandcastles. Needless to say, the seafood is superb here, and there are plenty of restaurants where you can try it.

Then cycle south through the unique landscape of sand dunes along the North Sea until you reach Egmond aan Zee, another beach resort that makes a great stop. Grab a cold beer on summer days or a hot chocolate in cooler months. Then you'll retreat from the coast and cycle to Alkmaar for some more sightseeing and sampling of local treats, depending on what you did yesterday. Then return to Bergen.

Another option is to visit the Sea Aquarium, where you can walk under the skeleton of a sperm whale and view over 300 different marine species, including piranhas, seahorses, starfish, and anemones. 

If you’re traveling from mid-March to mid-May, you may also opt to try the cycling route along the coast and sand dunes between Egmond aan Zee and Castricum aan Zee to see flower fields in full bloom. 

Day 7: Have Fun at the Biggest Theme Park in the Netherlands

A wooden roller coaster at Efteling

Kids will be thrilled to learn that your next few days will be spent at Efteling, the best-known and biggest theme park in Holland — and one of the best in Europe. Open since 1952, it draws millions of visitors from the Netherlands and abroad each year. The park started with a simple fairytale-inspired forest, but now it's also home to thrilling roller coasters, a theater, and facilities for a range of activities from ice-skating in winter to golf in summer. You'll have a three-day pass offering access to the park, but there's a lot to see, so it's best to start right away!

During your visit, you will overnight in style in a family suite at the Efteling Hotel, located on the edge of the park. All of the hotel's suites have special themes inspired by fairy tales.

Day 8: Enjoy a Full Day of Rides and Games at Efteling 

The excitement of arriving at Efteling

Spend a full day exploring the amusements of Efteling. Smaller children will love the fairy forest and walk-through castles, teenagers will head for the roller coasters, and the whole family will enjoy boat rides, horse shows, and delicious snacks and drinks available throughout the park. You're allowed to bring your own sandwiches if you'd rather — that's the Dutch way!

Day 9: Final Morning at Efteling & Transfer to Antwerp

Whimsical architecture at Efteling

In the morning, you'll have a few more hours to enjoy Efteling. Now is your chance to be the early bird if there are any attractions you missed the day before! Then catch a bus to Tilburg, where you'll board a train to Antwerp. 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.

In the afternoon, you will 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. 

Day 10: Tour a Castle & Arrive in Oostkamp

Gravensteen Castle

This morning a driver will pick you up for a private transfer to your next destination. On the way, you will make a stop in the fairytale-like city of Ghent. Right in the middle of the city, you'll visit Gravensteen Castle with its impressive fortified walls. The interior houses a museum where you can learn more about its history. 

After this break, continue with your driver until you reach a traditional Belgian farm in Oostkamp, located outside the city of Bruges. Enjoy fresh air and farm life at this wonderful retreat in the rural countryside. Kids can play in the fresh air and help out on the farm. You can also use one of the communal kitchens of the farmhouse to prepare dinner for your family this evening.

Day 11: Spend the Day Experiencing Farm Life

A Belgian farm

Continue experiencing Belgian farm life today — after a breakfast made with freshly laid eggs, you can cuddle with the animals, learn how to milk the cows, help with the feeding, take a walk with newborn cows, and more. Children can run and play, or take the whole family on an outing to see the region's many hiking and cycling routes. You'll sleep in the country once more before moving on tomorrow.

Day 12: Relax by the Sea in De Panne

Low tide in De Panne

After you bid farewell to the farmer's family this morning, a driver will take you to the coast of the North Sea. Check into your hotel in the coastal town of De Panne, where you will spend the last days of the trip. The afternoon and evening are free to relax, go for walks on the beach, and dine on seafood.

Day 13: Enjoy the Beach & Visit Plopsaland

Playing in the sand in De Panne

Today you'll have a full day to enjoy life at the beach. Swim, walk, build a sandcastle, and sample locally caught seafood — mussels are famous along this coast!

De Panne is also nearby the theme park Plopsaland, full of fun activities for smaller kids. Also close by is Plopsaqua, an enormous indoor water park with many different pools and slides. Then return to De Panne for one last leisurely meal on the last night of the trip.

Day 14: Depart Belgium - End of Trip

A seagull flying high over the North Sea

Today the trip comes to an end. Head to the airport or train station to make your way to your next destination. Safe travels!

More Netherlands Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Netherlands? Check out these other Netherlands itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 

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