Castles, cathedrals, windmills, canals: this two-week itinerary takes you through highlights of the Netherlands and Belgium. Starting in the vibrant Dutch capital of Amsterdam and ending in the cosmopolitan Belgian capital of Brussels, the adventure offers a mix of cultural sightseeing and outdoor excursions. Learn about architecture in Rotterdam, see medieval Ghent from a boat, sample Belgian waffles in their place of origin, view original paintings by Vincent van Gogh, and experience natural landscapes with a ride through a national park on an e-bike. This grand tour has something for everyone!


  • Visit the famous Anne Frank House
  • Taste Belgian waffles on a food tour of Antwerp 
  • Explore Hoge Veluwe National Park on an e-bike
  • See historic Dutch windmills on a boat tour
  • Tour Rotterdam with an architect as your guide

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 Tour the Architectural Highlights of Rotterdam Rotterdam
Day 5 See the Windmills at Kinderdijk Dordrecht
Day 6 Enjoy Nature and Art at Hoge Veluwe National Park Otterlo
Day 7 Cycle and Hike in the National Park Otterlo
Day 8 Sightsee and Relax on a River Beach in Antwerp Antwerp
Day 9 Taste Local Specialties on a Food Tour of Antwerp Antwerp
Day 10 Enjoy a Boat Tour Around Medieval Ghent Ghent
Day 11 See Ghent's Top Markets and Cultural Highlights Ghent
Day 12 Discover Brussels' Top Sights Brussels
Day 13 Visit the Museums of Brussels Brussels
Day 14 Depart from Brussels   

Detailed Itinerary

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

Amsterdam 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 famous 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

Windmills and natural 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: 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 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, 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: Tour the Architectural Highlights of Rotterdam

Modern buildings in Rotterdam

A few days into the trip, 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. Its skyline is always changing, and there's so much to do amid the towering skyscrapers. 

Begin your explorations with a private walking tour of Rotterdam led by a local architect. From the newly built Central Station, you'll walk through the city, stopping 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. Walk along the river and see Manhattan on the Maas, a new architectural development on the South Bank. The tour ends near the iconic Erasmus Bridge.

Day 5: See the Windmills at Kinderdijk

Boating past windmills at Kinderdijk

This morning, a private boat will pick you up from Rotterdam and take you to nearby Dordrecht. On the way, you'll stop at the famous area of Kinderdijk. The region features no fewer than 16 windmills from the 18th century. Until 1868, these mills pumped water away from lower-lying areas. Now electric mills do the same job. But Kinderdijk is special: nowhere else in the Netherlands can you see so many windmills together, all in such good condition. It's a wonderful photo opportunity. 

Continue on to Dordrecht, the oldest city in Holland. Located in a wetland area, it was an important merchant city primarily trading in wood and wine. The historic city center is full of monuments that have been repurposed as restaurants, museums, and theaters. Later in the day, travel by private boat to Biesbosch National Park, the largest freshwater tidal zone in Europe. Here, you'll find a wide variety of bird species, plus a population of around 300 beavers — the beaver is a symbol of the park. See this unique landscape on a boat tour or a guided canoe excursion. 

You'll spend the night at Villa Augustus, a hotel located inside an old water tower. It's surrounded by lovely gardens, and guest rooms offer wonderful views on clear days. 

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Day 6: 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 7: Cycle and Hike in the National Park

Quiet landscapes near Otterlo

Today you'll have time to explore the park further. Hiking or riding around on your e-bike, you might be able to spot some deer or wild boar — your chances are best in the early morning or late afternoon. Later, consider pedaling over to the small village of Hoenderloo to sample the famous ice cream at local favorite IJs van Co

Day 8: Sightsee and Relax on a River Beach in Antwerp

Antwerp's elegant train 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. Back in the city, a good dinner option is Fish a'gogo, a tiny restaurant specializing in fresh seafood.

Day 9: Taste Local Specialties on a Food Tour of Antwerp

Belgian waffles in their place of origin 

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 10: Enjoy a Boat Tour Around Medieval Ghent

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 restaurant housed in a former warehouse.

Day 11: See Ghent's Top Markets and Cultural Highlights

A cheerful waterfront promenade in Ghent

If today happens to be a Sunday, then head to the Kouter to visit the large flower market and indulge in fresh oysters. Another great spot is 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. 

You'll have time in the afternoon to visit any museums or sights you didn't have time for on day eight. On the last evening of the trip, enjoy a leisurely Belgian meal in one of the city's many restaurants. Finish your adventure with a nightcap at ‘t Dreupelkot, specializing in locally made gin. It's located close to Gravensteen Castle. 

Day 12: Discover Brussels' Top Sights

Pedestrians and cyclists in Brussels

You'll finish your trip in the Belgian capital of Brussels, which is also the seat of the European Union. Interesting sights include the Royal Palace, the Cathedral of Sint-Michel and Sint-Goedele, and the Atomium. Curiously enough, a tiny statue of a peeing boy (Manneken Pis) is massively popular with tourists, too. You can explore on your own today or join a guided tour.

Day 13: Visit the Museums of Brussels

A stately staircase in Brussels

Enjoy your final full day in Belgium. Take your time to explore! Art enthusiasts may opt to visit the Fine Arts Museum, Design Museum, Old Masters Museum, or the Magritte Museum, while history buffs will like the City Museum, Military Museum, or Jewish Museum. Don't forget to stop for some delicious Belgian waffles on the way.

Brussels boasts many excellent restaurants where you can savor your final dinner of the trip. Many eateries serve a local classic — Brussels sprouts — prepared in innovative ways.

Day 14: Depart from Brussels 

Magnificent architecture in Belgium's capital

Load up on chocolate and bid farewell to beautiful Belgium. Today you'll travel onward to your next destination. Safe journey!

More Great Netherlands & Belgium Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Netherlands and Belgium? Check out these other Netherlands itineraries, including a 14-day Art Tour of the Netherlands and Belgium, a 10-day Family Tour of the Netherlands, and a two-week Grand Tour of the Netherlands.

Or, describe your ideal trip and we will connect you with a local specialist to make it happen.