History buffs won't want to miss this five-day tour of World War II sites and monuments in the Netherlands. From the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam to the Camp Westerbork detention camp, and from refugee hideaways in the woods to military cemeteries and memorials, there's so much to see and learn. Spend the night at the site where the Netherlands was liberated from the Nazis, walk with a veteran across a landmark bridge at sunset in Nijmegen, and wrap up the itinerary with a visit to the National Monument in Amsterdam.

Highlights

  • Visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam
  • Tour concentration camps turned into memorials 
  • Learn about the Secret Village, a hiding place for refugees
  • Walk the sunset march across the Oversteek Brug
  • Visit the National Monument in Dam Square

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Amsterdam and Visit the Anne Frank House Amsterdam
Day 2 Tour Camp Westerbork and the Secret Village Arnhem
Day 3 Visit the Airborne Museum and Participate in a Sunset March  Nijmegen
Day 4 Explore Nijmegen and Stay in the Famous Hotel de Wereld Wageningen
Day 5 See the National Monument in Amsterdam & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

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

Reflections in 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.

From the Anne Frank House, go on a self-guided walking tour through the city to the Dutch Resistance Museum, housed in the Plancius Building. Inside, an audioguide will inform you about the resistance movement in Amsterdam during the war, focusing particularly on the last years of the war, when resistance was at its fiercest. 

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: Tour Camp Westerbork and the Secret Village

A lookout tower at Camp Westerbork

Today you'll dive deeper into the darkest years of World War II with a visit to the remains of Camp Westerbork, once a detention and transit camp, it's a two-hour drive to the province of Drenthe. Over 100,000 Dutch, Jews, and Roma were assembled here for transport to other concentration camps. Today, there is a museum and monuments of remembrance to those killed during World War II. The sites are connected by a trail. As you walk along it, you’ll learn more about exactly what happened here.

Stop for lunch in the lovely city of Zwolle before continuing on to Het Verscholen Dorp (the Secret Village). This cluster of huts, once hidden deep in the forest near Vierhouten, was built to provide shelter to more than 80 refugees — including Jews, Brits, and Germans — who lived there for more than a year.

Your next destination is also located in the woods. The Apeldoornse Bosch was a Jewish psychiatric institution operating during the war. Many occupants were later evicted and transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau. It's now a memorial center and museum.

Next, follow a scenic route along forested roads to the city of Arnhem. You'll stop at a small hamlet called Woeste Hoeve, which was at the sight of a massacre by the Nazis on March 8, 1945.

Take a break from history with a small detour to the village of Hoenderloo on the edge of Hoge Veluwe National Park. Locals all around the province of Gelderland know this town because of the famous ice cream parlor IJs van Co. You'll have to wait in a long line, but it's worth it!

Day 3: Visit the Airborne Museum and Participate in a Sunset March 

Some of the thousands of graves at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery

On day three, you'll learn about the liberation of the Netherlands. Some of the effort's fiercest battles were fought in the area, like Operation Market Garden on September 17, 1944. Despite being one of the biggest airborne operations in history, it was only partly successful. Nijmegen and large parts of North Brabant were liberated after intense fighting, but Allied Forces were driven back after initially capturing Arnhem. The northern parts of Holland had to wait until the spring of 1945 to finally be liberated.

Today you will learn all about this operation at the Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek. The museum is housed in Villa Hartenstein, which served as the headquarters of the British in 1944. Then you’ll drive further south, crossing the Rhine River to visit Airborne at the Bridge, a monument paying homage to British, German, and Dutch officers who fought and died here during the Battle of Arnhem in September 1944. Continue on to the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, it's the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the Netherlands. Later, stop into the interactive Vrijheidsmuseum (Freedom Museum) to see film clips, photographs, and other artifacts that bring local history to life. 

Finish the day in Nijmegen, a university city beside the Waal River. Before the sun sets, your guide will take you to Oversteek Brug. Since this bridge was opened in 2014, one veteran crosses the bridge at sunset every day. The purpose is to honor the 48 American soldiers who died here during war years. Walk with the veteran (and possibly other participants), noticing how the 48 lights on the bridge are lit up one by one.

Return to the city for dinner and some much-needed rest.

Day 4: Explore Nijmegen and Stay in the Famous Hotel de Wereld

Cafés on the square in Nijmegen

Take things a bit easier today. After enjoying a relaxed breakfast, explore Nijmegen with a local guide. Like every city, town, or hamlet in the Netherlands, it has its own wartime story. Nijmegen is close to the German border, and it was exactly at this location wherein an American aircraft mistook Nazi-occupied Nijmegen for the German city of Gotha and dropped their bombs, ruining large parts of the historic city. Today it's still easy to see where the bombs fell: one part of the city still has lovely historic buildings, while the other part seems to have been rebuilt in a hurry in the aftermath of the war.

Next, move onto the final destination of the trip, Wageningen, where you will stay in the Hotel de Wereld (Hotel The World) where the Nazi German Army famously capitulated. Every year, freedom is celebrated in Wageningen on May 5 with one of the largest festivals in the country. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure. Stroll around Wageningen, stopping in cafés, the botanical gardens, and nearby art galleries. 

Day 5: See the National Monument in Amsterdam & Depart

Celebrating freedom during an annual festival in Amsterdam

Head back to Amsterdam, making a quick stop at Dam Square, a large and peaceful urban plaza bordered by the New Church and the Royal Palace. In its center, you'll see the National Monument, which was erected in remembrance of those who died during World War II. Each year on May 4, dignitaries and representatives of the royal family commemorate the victims of the Second World War. While many people come here to pay their respects, it’s also a popular spot to just sit back and watch the many pigeons and street artists.

Your short history tour is over. From Amsterdam, continue on your journey, wherever it takes you. 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 Family Tour of the Netherlands, a 9-day Highlights of Coastal Netherlands trip, and a weeklong Highlights of Holland adventure.

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