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The Netherlands

river-cruises
With over 3,800 miles of rivers and canals crisscrossing gentle lowlands, the Netherlands is a country defined by its waterways. Beneath huge skies the iconic landscape is one of centuries-old windmills, soaring church spires, picture-postcard pastures dotted with black and white cows, and springtime floral rainbows of glorious colour. There is no better way to enjoy all this, and more, than by a relaxing river cruise.
 
Over centuries the Dutch waterways represented crucial transport routes and the towns and cities that grew up along the water’s edge showcase this rich maritime history. Follow the flow of the IJssel where the unique facades of Holland’s Hansa towns represent an impressive period in medieval history. The grand architecture in Amsterdam, Rubens, Hoorn and Dordrecht is a legacy of this Golden Age. Painters like Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn and Vincent van Gogh were masters of the Golden Age and their works can be seen in some of the world’s finest museums. When it comes to architectural and artistic masterpieces, the Netherlands doesn’t disappoint. 
 
No holiday to the Netherlands would be complete without the traditional Dutch icons. Kinderdijk with its beautifully preserved windmills, Edam with its famous cheese, Zaanse Schans with its hand-crafted wooden clogs and the tulips of Keukenhof – quite simply a springtime showstopper!

 

Things to know

  • There are almost a thousand miles of bike lanes in the Netherlands and more bikes than people
  • There are over 1,000 windmills still standing from 1850
  • The Kinderdijk area is a UNESCO World Heritage site home to 19 traditional windmills
  • The Netherlands can be translated to the ‘low lands’ – almost a third of the country is below sea level and 60 percent of the population lives 5 metres below sea level
  • The position of the sails on Dutch windmills were used to convey messages such as a death in the family, a joyous occasion, or even a call to come to the mill as quickly as possible
 

Key Destinations

Keukenhof Gardens
Keukenhof Gardens

Once a year more than 7 million bulbs burst into life transforming Keukenhof Gardens into a kaleidoscope of colour. One of the largest flower gardens in the world, and often referred to as the ‘Garden of Europe’. The themed gardens and four pavilions showcase a fantastic collection of tulips, hyacinths, orchids, lilies and many other flowers whose colour and perfumes create an extraordinary feast for the senses.
Amsterdam
Amsterdam

Built on reclaimed land and a feat of ingenuity, Amsterdam is today a magnificent showcase of its 17th century Golden Age. Herengracht, the ‘Patrician’s Canal’, is where Amsterdam’s social elite built their grand gabled houses. Once the domain of the city’s working class, the tight streets and courtyards of the Jordaan District are now home to shops, galleries and snug cafes.  Eight hundred years of Dutch history are on show at the world-famous Rijksmuseum including renowned works from the Dutch Masters.
 
Willemstad
Willemstad

Named after the Father of the Netherlands, Willemstad is one of the country’s most beautiful fortified towns. A stately white windmill sits at the end of its small, quaint harbour, which is lined by a row of restaurants. City landmarks include the early 17th century Koepelkerk, the first church built in the Netherlands specifically for Protestant worship, and the 17th century Mauritshuis. The town’s cafes are the perfect place for the Dutch tradition of coffee and apple pie. 
 
 Hoorn
Hoorn

With its stately merchant houses and warehouses, picturesque harbour and charming old town, Hoorn has a special atmosphere. The small town on the shore of IJsselmeer Lake used to be the homeport of the Dutch East India Company and the Westfries Museum traces the amazing story of the area during the Golden Age. 
 
Dordrecht
Dordrecht

Situated at the busiest river crossroads of Europe - Dordrecht, the oldest city in the Netherlands. It is home to countless monuments and museums with grand mansions, warehouses, churches and water towers all part of the cityscape. The must-see building of Dordrecht is its stunning medieval Grote Kerk built in the Brabant Gothic style, which offers magnificent views of the city from its own leaning tower.
 

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