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Heart of Belgium & Holland


Duration:10 Nights / 11 Days

Itinerary


Daily Activity Key

Light = 2-4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
Moderate = 2-6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
Strenuous = 2-8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs and uneven terrain.

Day 1

Welcome to Belgium
Our adventure begins in medieval Ghent. We'll gather at our hotel at 3:30 p.m. for an introduction meeting. We'll start things off with an informative and fun canal cruise followed by a walking tour, getting an intimate introduction of the historic center of Ghent. Our evening ends with a traditional Belgian dinner together. Sleep in Ghent (2 nights). Boat: 1 hour. No bus. Walking: light.

Day 2

Historic Brussels
This morning we'll hop on a train and head to Belgium's capital city. We'll begin with a guided tour of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts, home to dazzling Flemish and Belgian masterpieces and then explore Brussels' medieval city center including the Grand Place (considered the grandest square in Europe) with its splendid medieval guild halls, freshly-fragrant waffles and the quirky Mannekin-Pis statue nearby. You'll have the afternoon and evening free to spend more time in Brussels or train back to Ghent for dinner on your own. Train: 1 hour. No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 3

Flanders Fields and Beautiful Bruges
Today we'll meet our driver and board our bus for the short drive to the WWI battlefields around Ypres. Half a million soldiers were killed here, making it one of the deadliest - and today the most hallowed - stretch of land along the Western Front. With the aid of a local expert, we'll tour the monuments, visit a thought-provoking museum, and see "the fields where poppies grow." After lunch together, we're off to Bruges and our lovely canal-laced and ivy-draped hotel. After check in and some time to relax, we'll regroup for an orientation walk and dinner together. Sleep in Bruges (3 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 4

Gothic Bruges
We'll meet our savvy local guide who will introduce us to the pedestrian-friendly streets and alleyways of Gothic Bruges, including a tour of the Memling Museum - showcasing several of Hans Memling's masterpieces all housed within one of Europe's oldest medieval hospitals. Our afternoon continues with a visit to one of Bruges' oldest chocolatiers, where we'll learn about the artistry and traditions of Belgium's most mouth-watering export. After a free afternoon, we'll regroup for a tour of Bruges' oldest brewery to learn about what makes Belgian beer famous around the globe and enjoy a taste ourselves. The remainder of the evening is free to find the perfect Belgian dinner. No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 5

Free Day in Bruges
Today is yours to explore Bruges. Armed with your Bruges Museum Pass, you'll have free entry to any four museums - including the masterpiece packed Groeninge Museum. You may decide to go on a culinary scavenger hunt tasting your way through a myriad of Belgian specialties. Or you can hop on a bike and take a wonderful hour-long ride along a tree-lined canal to the nearby small town of Damme. The choices today are endless. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

Day 6

Challenging the Sea
Today we'll discover how a country stays dry when nearly half of its land is below sea level. Over centuries, the Dutch created an immense system of dams, barriers and dikes for protection from the North Sea - the Deltaworks. We'll explore these feats of modern engineering culminating with a tour of one of earth's largest moving structures - the Maeslant storm surge barrier - and gain a better appreciation of the fragility of the Low Countries. We'll continue on to the traditional Dutch town of Delft for an orientation walk and dinner together. Sleep in Delft (2 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 7

Delectable Delft
This morning an in-depth walking tour with a local will give us a personal introduction to Vermeer's hometown including the massive Gothic New Church, where generations of the ruling House of Orange are buried and revered. We'll also visit a workshop to discover the qualities that make Delftware so dear. The rest of your day is free to explore the many other charms of Delft or take a short tram ride to The Hague, where you can get up close and personal with paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Mauritshuis, or travel back to an 1880 seaside at the Panorama Mesdag. No bus. Walking: light.

Day 8

Tulips, Countryside and Amsterdam's Red Lights
We'll begin our day in Europe's biggest building - filled with acres of flowers - learning about the worldwide distribution of beauty that begins each day at the Aalsmeer Flower Auction. Then we'll stop for lunch and exploration in an historic Dutch town on our way into Amsterdam. Upon arrival, we'll take an orientation walk through the city and window-shop the Red Light District, learning about how the Netherlands regulates the world's oldest profession. We will end our day with a traditional rijsttafel dinner together. Sleep in Amsterdam (3 nights). Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: strenuous.

Day 9

Vibrant and Historic Amsterdam
This morning get chummy with this great city's gabled houses, bridges and canals learning why the Golden Age glimmered so brightly here. We'll take an historic walk through the heart of the city stopping to visit the Anne Frank House for a thought-provoking look at the hideaway of Anne and her family during the Nazi Occupation of the Netherlands. We'll continue our lessons on Dutch tolerance stopping at a local "coffee shop" to learn about this nation's creative, pragmatic approach to drug policy. This afternoon, armed with your Netherlands Museum Card, you'll have the rest of the day free to tackle any number of Amsterdam's wonderful museums. No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 10

Amsterdam's Art
We'll start the day with a thrill: getting up-close and personal with Rembrandt and Vermeer on our tour of Amsterdam's remarkable Rijksmuseum. You can continue your encounter with artistic genius at the nearby Van Gogh Museum, home to 200 of Vincent's works, with your included museum pass. This evening we'll enjoy our farewell dinner, where we'll share memories and toast new friends. Proost! No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 11

Tour Over After Breakfast
Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport is an easy bus ride away. Your guide will help you with any post-tour planning, leaving you well prepared for the road ahead. Tot ziens!
Itinerary specifics subject to change.

Activity Level

  • Our tours are physically active! It's an essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Heart of Belgium & Holland in 11 Days tour - among other things - you'll need to happily...
  • Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (several blocks possible), on and off public transportation and up stairways to reach your hotel.
  • Sleep comfortably in historic canal houses with several flights of steep, narrow staircases to reach your room, with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
  • Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
  • After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.
  • A small, friendly group of 24-28 people- half the size of most tour groups
  • Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinatihistory, art and culture of Belgium and Holland come alive for you
  • All tours and admissions - at no extra cost - covering at least 20 group sightseeing events . Ghent walking tour . Ghent canal boat tour . Brussels walking tour . Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgiumtour . Tour of Flanders Fields WWI sites . Bruges walking tour . Bruges Memling Museum tour . Chocolatier tour and tasting . Bruges Museum Pass . Belgian brewery tour and tasting . Netherlands Museum Card, allowing free admission to hundreds of museums throughout the country . Deltaworks and tour of Maeslant sea barrier . Delft walking tour . Delft New Church . Aalsmeer Flower Auction . Historic Dutch town visit . Red Light District tour . Rijksmuseum tour . Historic Amsterdam walking tour . Anne Frank House...and more
  • All group transportation from Ghent to Amsterdam
  • 10 nights accommodations in memorable, centrally-located hotels
  • All breakfasts and half your dinners
  • All tips for guides and driver
  • Free stuff including Rick Steves Amsterdam, Bruges & Brussels guidebook, map, money belt and earplugs
  • Guaranteed tour price locked in the moment you make your deposit
  • Optional single supplements this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelersadditional fee

NOTES:
Prices are not valid for during Events, Bank holidays or any other special occasion.
All above Rates, hotels and other services are subject to availability on the actual time of booking.

Meals other than those indicated above, drinks, tips, laundry, telephone calls & expenses of personal nature.

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