Fields of tulips, antique windmills, paintings by Vincent van Gogh, boat rides on the canals of Amsterdam: on this magnificent two-week trip, you'll visit many of Holland's top highlights. Stops along the itinerary include the port city of Rotterdam, forested Hoge Veluwe National Park, and the windswept island of Texel, where you'll spend a few relaxing days at the end of the trip. No adventure in the Netherlands, of course, would be complete without a bicycle ride. So this action-packed itinerary also features several chances to explore historic cities and idyllic landscapes on two wheels!

Highlights

  • Cruise the canals of Amsterdam on a private boat
  • Experience fine art and pristine forests at Hoge Veluwe National Park
  • Learn how windmills work at Zaanse Schans
  • View modern architecture in the port city of Rotterdam
  • Cycle along the beach on the islands of Texel and Vlieland

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Amsterdam and Visit the Anne Frank House Amsterdam
Day 2 Take a Day Trip to Marken and See the Windmills at Zaanse Schans Amsterdam
Day 3 Wander Around the University City of Leiden Leiden
Day 4 Explore the Seat of Government and Cycle to the Beach The Hague
Day 5 Learn About Old Artisan Traditions in Delft Delft
Day 6 Visit the Museums of Rotterdam Rotterdam
Day 7 Tour the Architectural Highlights of Rotterdam Rotterdam
Day 8 Enjoy Nature and Art at Hoge Veluwe National Park Otterlo
Day 9 Sightsee in the Historic Center of Deventer Deventer
Day 10 Explore the Hidden Gem of Leeuwarden Leeuwarden
Day 11 Cycle Around the Car-Free Island of Vlieland Vlieland
Day 12 Boat from Vlieland to the Island of Texel Texel
Day 13 Hike on Sand Dunes and Visit Fishing Villages on Texel Texel
Day 14 Return to Amsterdam & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Amsterdam and Visit the Anne Frank House

Amsterdam beautifully lit up 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: Take a Day-trip to Marken and 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: Wander Around the University City of Leiden

Reflections on the canals of Leiden

After breakfast, you'll take a short train ride to the charming city of Leiden. A university city, it's full of wonderful museums, scenic canals, and inner courtyards lovingly called hofjes. The town center itself is gorgeous and busy with bicycles; Leiden University, founded in 1575, is the oldest university in the country. Visit the Lakenhal Museum, offering a collection of paintings from the past four centuries, including several works by Rembrandt. Or choose to visit the nearby Museum of Archeology or Museum of Ethnology, the Museum Boerhaave (focused on science and medicine), Naturalis (a museum dedicated to flora and fauna), Corpus (with exhibits on the human body), Hortus Botanicus Leiden (a botanical garden), or the unique Museummolen de Valk (a windmill museum). Stop for lunch in a local café; you'll spend the night near the heart of the historic center.

Day 4: Explore the Seat of Government and Cycle to the Beach

Dutch tulips in bloom

After breakfast, take a quick train ride to your next destination, The Hague. Known to the Dutch as Den Haag, it's the seat of the Dutch government and home to one of the most magnificent paintings in the country, Johannes Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring. You'll have a chance to view it in person while visiting the Mauritshuis. The museum features a few of the 37 paintings Vermeer created during his life, as well as works by Rembrandt, Jan Steen, and Frans Hals.

After your museum visit, you'll hop on an e-bike and pedal around the neighborhood. Ride over to The Binnenhof, headquarters of the Dutch government, taking advantage of the city's excellent infrastructure of safe and flat cycling lanes. Once you're warmed up, it's time for a cycling trip to nearby Scheveningen Beach

Day 5: Learn About Old Artisan Traditions in Delft

A souvenir shop in Delft

Today, the itinerary takes you to Delft, a charming city full of quaint canals and monumental buildings. The great painter Johannes Vermeer lived here in the 17th century. Visit the Vermeer Center, where you can see reproductions of his work and tour his studio, then stop into nearby workshops where the world-famous blue and white Delft Blue pottery is made. First introduced as a cheap alternative to Chinese porcelain, it's still produced according to age-old techniques.

Day 6: Visit the Museums of Rotterdam

Striking modern architecture in Rotterdam

On day six, you'll go 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. 

Day 7: Tour the Architectural Highlights of Rotterdam

Rotterdam's contemporary waterfront

Continue your explorations of Rotterdam on a walking tour that takes you to 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. The tour ends near the iconic Erasmus Bridge.

Day 8: 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 9: Sightsee in the Historic Center of Deventer

Lights on the water in Deventer

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

Day 10: Explore the Hidden Gem of Leeuwarden

Whimsical architecture in Leeuwarden

Leeuwarden is one of Holland's best-kept secrets. It has a picturesque canal system like Amsterdam's and the city is home to a vibrant student population. It’s also the birthplace of graphic artist M.C. Escher and the dancer Mata Hari. You'll explore Leeuwarden with a local guide, checking out street art, independent shops, and interesting sights along the way. In the evening, dine at Proefverlof, located in a former prison, or take a Venetian-style gondola tour through the canals. 

Day 11: Cycle Around the Car-Free Island of Vlieland

A peaceful beach on the island of Vlieland

Catch a ferry across the Wadden Sea to a chain of small islands where you'll spend the rest of the trip. On arrival at Vlieland, you'll pick up an e-bike to explore the island at your own pace. Pedal along the beach, sit down for a seafood lunch in an oceanfront restaurant, then walk along the sandy shore. The island is car-free (except for a few cars owned by the islanders themselves) and flat, so it’s an excellent destination for families.

Day 12: Boat from Vlieland to the Island of Texel

A bright red lighthouse on Texel

After breakfast, travel by boat to the next island, Texel. Along the way, you'll spot Texel’s magnificent bright red lighthouse. When you arrive in the harbor, a taxi will be waiting to take you to the small town of De Cocksdorp. Walk to the lighthouse, wander around the beach at low tide, cycle around the area, and enjoy views of large flocks of sheep grazing the pastures. In the evening, sample local specialties like lamb, cheese, and seafood in one of the island's family-run restaurants.

Day 13: Hike the Sand Dunes and Visit Fishing Villages on Texel

A solitary church on the island of Texel

Today, you'll continue your exploration of Texel on a bicycle. The scenery is quiet and stunning, with vast marshes, dazzling sand dunes, and seemingly endless beaches. Birds love these islands and the Wadden Sea, so be sure to bring your binoculars!

Stop at the natural area of De Slufter, climbing the dunes for mesmerizing views from the top. Bring a picnic lunch and you could easily spend a day hiking here between the sand dunes and the muddy salt marsh. Swimming gear is a good idea as these shallow waters are tempting for travelers of all ages! Later, explore one or two of the island's villages, stopping at local farms to pick your own fruits or sample homemade ice cream. At some farms open to visitors, you can see sheep barns and cows being milked.  

Another interesting stop along the way is the Juttersmuseum Flora near De Koog. This quirky beachcomber museum displays items found on the island's beaches over many years, including a collection of messages-in-bottles. Then cycle along the western side of the island, following the shore of the North Sea. Finish the day with snacks and drinks in one of many beach cafés.

Day 14: Return to Amsterdam & Depart

Cheerful tulips in bloom on Texel

This morning, it’s time to bid farewell to the island of Texel. On the way to the harbor to catch the ferry back to the mainland, you might spot some Dutch tulip fields in full bloom. It's a cheerful end to your family's journey! Head to the Amsterdam airport or train station to make your way to your next destination. Safe travels!

More Great Netherlands Itineraries

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

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