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A Trip for Senior Travelers to the Netherlands and Belgium

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This fascinating itinerary begins in Amsterdam, celebrated for its iconic canals and vibrant culture. From there, you’ll explore the charming towns of Volendam and Alkmaar, each offering a unique glimpse into Dutch heritage. You’ll discover the windmills of Zaanse Schans and the historical richness of Haarlem. Delight in the vibrant and breathtaking floral displays at Keukenhof (in season) before immersing yourself in the charm of The Hague and Delft. Crossing into Belgium, visit the medieval Bruges and experience the picturesque allure of Ghent. Enjoy Brussels’ vibrant culture before making your way to Antwerp, renowned for its artistic treasures. Upon returning to Amsterdam, explore the lovely city of Utrecht and the enchanting Kasteel de Haar castle.

Popular itinerary for senior travelers to the Netherlands and Belgium:

Days 1 and 2: Amsterdam

Amsterdam is renowned not only for its picturesque canals and vibrant atmosphere but also for its rich history and cultural landmarks. Today’s leisurely walking tour begins on Nieuwendijk, a bustling shopping street that leads to Dam Square, the heart of Amsterdam. This historic and lively square has witnessed centuries of events and holds immense cultural and historical significance. Dominating the square is the magnificent Royal Palace, an architectural masterpiece from the Golden Age. Nearby stands the New Church (De Nieuwe Kerk) and the National Monument for World War II, shaped like an obelisk.

A short distance away, you’ll see the Begijnhof, an ancient courtyard steeped in history, originally founded for the Beguines – women devoted to a semi-monastic life of prayer. From there, a brief stroll will take you to the Bloemenmarkt, the floating flower market, presenting a celebration of colors, daffodils, and various blooms.

Amsterdam boasts an impressive array of museums catering to diverse interests, including the Rijksmuseum, showcasing Dutch masterpieces, and the Van Gogh Museum, displaying the exceptional works of the artist. Advance booking is highly recommended. The city is also home to the Anne Frank House and the Stedelijk Museum. The Amsterdam Museum provides insights into the city’s history, and the Rembrandt House Museum offers a glimpse into the life of the artist.

For a unique perspective of the city, we recommend embarking on a guided canal cruise.

Spend 2 nights in Amsterdam.

Day 3: Amsterdam to Volendam, Alkmaar, and Zaanse Schans

Follow Route 247N for approximately 15.5 miles to reach Volendam, a charming fishing village renowned for its well-preserved, classic Dutch buildings and a vibrant harbor teeming with traditional wooden boats. Volendam provides a glimpse into the lives of Dutch fishermen. Wander through the narrow streets lined with souvenir shops, seafood cafes, and restaurants, providing the opportunity to savor fresh herring or smoked eel.

Continuing on route 244N for about 37 miles, you’ll reach Alkmaar, renowned for its traditional cheese market, where cheese carriers don traditional attire, overseeing the weighing and selling of cheeses. You’ll have the opportunity to explore this historic city with well-preserved buildings, picturesque canals, and lively streets.

From Alkmaar, continue on Routes 244 and 246 to the open-air museum of windmills: Zaanse Schans Windmolen. The museum displays a variety of well-preserved windmills dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, allowing visitors to explore Dutch industrial history. In addition to windmills, Zaanse Schans features traditional wooden houses, clog-making demonstrations, and the Zaans Museum, offering a captivating glimpse into authentic Dutch life and heritage.

Landscape with tulips in Zaanse Schans, Netherlands, Europe

At the end of the tour, take Routes 8A and 9A to the city of Haarlem, known for its rich history. Haarlem boasts landmarks such as Grote Kerk, the towering church with its impressive spire, and Stadhuis, the city hall showcasing elaborate Renaissance architecture. Haarlem is a paradise for shopping, dining, and leisurely strolls along Gravenstenen Alley. The lively market square is surrounded by cafes and restaurants, providing an ideal place to savor Dutch cuisine and absorb the local atmosphere.

Spend the night in Haarlem.

Day 4: From Haarlem to Den Haag to Delft, and on to Breda

To start today’s journey, follow Routes 206N and 44A for about 31 miles to reach Den Haag. En route, you’ll pass the Keukenhof Gardens, open only during the colorful flower season in the spring. Spanning 32 hectares, the gardens showcase meticulously designed flowerbeds with a stunning array of tulips and hyacinths – a breathtaking experience with flower fields, winding paths, and boat rides along picturesque waterways. If the gardens are open during your travel, allocate at least two hours for exploring, and it is advisable to book tickets in advance.

The city of Den Haag, steeped in history and culture, invites travelers to explore a tapestry of cultural gems and scenic landscapes. The tour begins in the heart of the city, centered around the artificial lake, Hofvijver. Here, you’ll see Binnenhof, the heart of the Dutch government, housing the elegant Parliament buildings and the Ridderzaal, also known as the Hall of Knights.

Surrounding the area, you’ll discover an array of museums, among which the Mauritshuis stands out prominently. This museum houses masterpieces from the Dutch Golden Age, including iconic works like Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and Rembrandt’s “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp.” A brief stroll from Parliament, on Zeestraat Street, leads to the Panorama Mesdag building, hosting a panoramic painting portraying Scheveningen beach at the end of the 19th century. This immersive experience offers a unique insight into the historical life of the area.

A short 6-mile drive along Route 13A leads to the delightful city of Delft, renowned for its picturesque landscapes, historical architecture, and its association with the renowned painter Vermeer. The tour commences at the market square, bordered by the New Church on one side and the Gothic-style City Hall on the other. Climb the tower for spectacular panoramic views.

Delft, Netherlands

Strolling through Oude Kerk Church, you’ll arrive at Prinsenhof Delft, the official residence of William the Silent, where he was tragically assassinated. This historical site has been converted into a museum, and it’s recommended to explore the small cemetery adjacent to its gardens. Continuing along Phoenixstraat Street, you’ll see Delft Windmill de Roos (please verify opening days and hours). This operational windmill contributes an authentic touch to the urban scenery. Head back through the picturesque canals to the bustling Market Square, where you can join a delightful boat tour.

After concluding your visit to Delft, drive along Route 16A for about 44 miles to reach the city of Breda to spend the night.

Day 5: From Breda to Brugge to Ghent, and on to Brussels

This morning, set out on Roads 19E and 34E for approximately 93 miles to reach the charming city of Brugge. The exploration begins with a captivating walking tour through the medieval city, where each street narrates a tale of its rich history and beauty. Starting at the iconic Belfry Tower in the Market Square, offering panoramic views of the city, you’ll wander leisurely along picturesque canals, admiring charming medieval buildings. You’ll reach Burg Square, where the Basilica of the Holy Blood and the Gothic City Hall are located.

From Brugge, travel approximately 31 miles along Road 40E to Ghent. This medieval city blends history, architecture, and cultural richness, promising an unforgettable experience. The tour starts at the 10th-century Gravensteen Castle, a medieval fortress with a compelling history and an engaging museum. Proceed along the scenic Graslei and Korenlei Streets, admiring well-preserved guild houses that offer a glimpse into the medieval commercial life of the city. Enjoy the city’s historical charm as you head towards St. Bavo’s Cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture housing the stunning Ghent Altarpiece by the Van Eyck brothers.

At the end of the day, take Road 40E for about 37 miles to reach Brussels to spend the night.

Day 6: Brussels

Today’s exploration will be centered in Brussels, the capital of Belgium. Begin your tour at the Grand Place, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the heart of the city. The square is surrounded by elegant guildhalls, the City Hall, and the awe-inspiring Maison du Roi museum, a neo-Gothic marvel. Your exploration continues with a visit to the iconic Manneken Pis, a symbol of the city, located in the European Quarter. Here, you can explore the impressive St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, an 11th century architectural gem.

Brussels, Belgium.

In the European Quarter, you’ll see the striking Berlaymont building, the headquarters of the European Commission, symbolizing Brussels as the de facto capital of the European Union. The Atomium, a futuristic structure built for the 1958 World Expo, is also noteworthy and houses a museum dedicated to the renowned surrealist painter René, a favorite of modern art enthusiasts.

The Sablon district, with its antique shops, art galleries, and charming cafes, has a delightful atmosphere. You’ll discover the Comic Strip Route, featuring colorful wall paintings of beloved comic book characters that adorn the city’s buildings. To conclude your tour, visit the vibrant Sainte-Catherine Square, renowned for its seafood restaurants and lively ambiance – perfect spot to unwind and relish the diverse flavors of Brussels cuisine.

The city boasts several bustling markets, including the Grand Sablon Square, which hosts an antique market on weekends. In the Marolles district, the Flea Market is one of the oldest and most famous in Brussels. Here, among countless stalls, one can find vintage items, antiques, and eclectic pieces. The lively Place du Jeu de Balle Square is located nearby.

Near the Gare du Midi Central Station, one of the city’s largest markets is open on Sundays, offering a variety of goods, clothing, accessories, fresh produce, and international foods.

Spend the night in Brussels.

Day 7: From Antwerp to Breda

Head along Route 12A for approximately 31 miles to reach Antwerp. The walking tour begins at Grote Markt, the central square adorned with the impressive Brabo Fountain, surrounded by ornate guildhalls and the opulent City Hall. A short distance away lies the Antwerp Cathedral of Our Lady, rich with masterpieces, including three triptychs by the renowned Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens. Just a 10-minute walk down Wapper Street, you’ll have the opportunity to explore The Rubens House (Rubenshuis), the artist’s former residence and studio. Now transformed into a museum, it provides insights into the daily life of this artistic genius and features a vast collection of his works. A unique museum experience awaits at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (Koninklijk voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen), showcasing an impressive collection of Flemish art spanning centuries.

The Antwerp Zoo, established in 1843 and one of the world’s oldest zoos, offers a heartwarming experience. Navigate through diverse habitats showcasing around 7,000 animal species, from those facing extinction to interactive exhibitions allowing visitors to learn about animal behaviors. The beautifully designed gardens and informative tours contribute to a profound understanding of the vital role zoos play in wildlife conservation and environmental education.

After exploring the city, you’ll hit the road again, taking Route 19E for approximately 37 miles to reach the city of Breda to spend the night.

Day 8: From Breda to Utrecht to Amsterdam

Today’s journey begins on Route 27A and continues about 46 miles to reach the city of Utrecht. The Railway Museum, located in the city center, showcases a diverse collection of trains, carriages, and railway accessories. Continuing on Road 198A near the city, you’ll reach the charming Kasteel de Haar, a well-preserved medieval castle that allows visitors to immerse themselves in the ambiance of bygone eras. Originally constructed in the late 14th century, the castle underwent extensive renovations in the late 19th century under the guidance of the Rothschild family. Today, Kasteel de Haar is one of the country’s most magnificent castles, boasting fairy-tale turrets, lush gardens, and picturesque moats. The castle’s interior is equally impressive, featuring lavishly decorated rooms with wooden works, windows, terraces, and an extensive collection of art and antiques. Visitors can explore the halls, rooms, and library, gaining insights into aristocratic life. The meticulously maintained park and gardens surrounding the castle complement its grandeur, offering well-manicured lawns, enchanting flowerbeds, and a delightful rose garden.

Kasteel de Haar, Utrecht, Netherlands

After the castle visit, connect to Route 2A and drive approximately 25 miles back to Amsterdam.

Spend the night in Amsterdam.

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