Welcome to the Netherlands! On this weeklong adventure around Holland, you'll see the famous canals and art museums of Amsterdam, the vibrant harbor city of Rotterdam, historic monuments in The Hague, and the windmills and cheese markets of Leiden and Haarlem. Train travel is quick and convenient between destinations, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy the Dutch lifestyle. Finish the trip with a relaxing bike ride to the coast of the North Sea.

Highlights

  • Explore charming 17th-century cities
  • Tour the Anne Frank House
  • View artistic masterpieces in world-class museums
  • Ride to the seaside on an e-bike

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Amsterdam and Visit the Anne Frank House Amsterdam
Day 2 Take a Daytrip to Marken, Volendam, Edam & Zaanse Schans Amsterdam
Day 3 Explore the Architectural and Cultural Marvels of Rotterdam Rotterdam
Day 4 View Masterpieces at The Mauritshuis and Cycle to the Coast The Hague
Day 5 Experience the Charm of a Dutch University City, Leiden Leiden
Day 6 Ride an E-Bike to the Beach Through National Park Zuid-Kennemerduinen Haarlem
Day 7 Train to Amsterdam & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

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

A café on the canals of Amsterdam
A café on the canals of Amsterdam

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. The Van Gogh Museum houses some of his most famous works, like The Potato Eaters, Sunflowers, Almond Blossom, and one of his very last works, Wheatfield with Crows

Later, take a stroll through the picturesque neighborhood of the Jordaan. Situated on the west side of the city center, the Jordaan is full of beautiful arched bridges, cobblestoned streets lined with trees, and numerous Dutch cafés where you can spend a cozy evening enjoying local food and beer.

Day 2: Take a Day-trip to Marken, Volendam, Edam, and 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 square 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, saw wood, and produce oil. A number of these windmills still exist and can be visited today, inside and out. After a busy day of sightseeing, you'll head back to your hotel in Amsterdam.

Day 3: Explore the Architectural and Cultural Marvels of Rotterdam

Striking modern architecture on Rotterdam's waterfront

Today, you'll discover 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 4: View Masterpieces at The Mauritshuis and Cycle to the Coast

Cycling around The Hague

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. The coastline and the long pier are wonderful for walking, and in the evening it’s easy to find a good restaurant to enjoy fresh seafood. Afterward, cycle back to the center of The Hague with your guide.

Day 5: Experience the Charm of a Dutch University City, Leiden

One of the famous courtyards of Leiden

Today you will move on to Leiden, another charming city that's easily accessible by train. Leiden is an atmospheric university city with excellent museums, quiet canals, and inner courtyards called hofjes. Leiden University, founded in 1575, is the oldest university in the Netherlands.

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 6: Ride an E-Bike to the Beach Through National Park Zuid-Kennemerduinen

The Dunes at Bloemendaal

Nearing the end of the trip, you'll travel to the city of Haarlem. The historic center is home to many interesting attractions, including Frans Hals Museum, exhibiting the works of one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age. The nearby Teylers Museum, also worth a visit, is the oldest museum in the Netherlands. Its collections focus mainly on science and art.

Later, enjoy an e-bike adventure to the beach at Bloemendaal, stopping at National Park Zuid-Kennemerduinen on the way. The landscape is dramatic, featuring the largest dune area in Holland. Look out for cows and deer that roam free in the area. Return to Haarlem for dinner and drinks at one of the many bars and restaurants of the historic center.

Day 7:Train to Amsterdam & Depart

Map of the Netherlands

Your weeklong adventure has come to a close. Catch the train back to Amsterdam for your flight home or to continue onward. Safe travels!

More Great Netherlands Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Netherlands? Check out these other Netherlands itineraries, including a 5-day Flower Tour of Holland, a 7-day Best of Holland & Flanders trip, and a longer 10-day Highlights of Holland adventure.

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