Why not kiss a welcome goodbye to the winter months by doing something fresh and different? Whether it’s cleaning the entire house or buying some new spring fashion essentials, we all find ourselves inspired to shake things up as the weather changes.
If you have the potential to take a short holiday, one of the best ways to celebrate the arrival of spring is with a European cruise. And what could be more beautiful than taking a tour of Holland and Belgium just in time for tulip season? With a range of lowland river cruises available from travel companies such as Saga Tours, I decided to put together five must-see destinations to inspire your imagination.
Amsterdam is one of my absolute favourite places and with its fascinating history, stunning waterways, world-famous nightlife, and lively bar and café culture, Holland’s capital makes the perfect jump-off point for your cruise. Take advantage of the balmy spring weather by biking around the city, and don’t leave without a historical tour of the Tulip Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Anne Frank House. I do recommend booking in advance for the Anne Frank House, however, as it does get incredibly busy.
No spring holiday to the Netherlands would be complete without a trip to Keukenhof Gardens, a park located in the town of Lisse and famous all over the world for its stunning tulip displays. Easily accessible from Amsterdam, the gardens stretch over an area 32 hectares in size, and this spring will be hosting 800 varieties of tulip and more than seven million bulbs! Visitors can freely wander the gardens and enjoy the unique artworks and cultural events on display. The gardens are only in bloom for a few short weeks of the year, so Spring is THE time to visit. I still haven’t managed to see them myself yet, but the pictures look stunning.
Make some time for a visit to Kinderdijk for a taste of truly authentic Dutch history. This small village outside of Rotterdam is unique for the fact that it is home to 19 windmills dating back to the 16th-century. You will learn the fascinating history of the Dutch windmill and get to tour the inside of one. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-see if you are on a Dutch river cruise that takes you down the Lek or Noord.
Brussels may be Belgium’s official capital, but many keen travellers believe that Antwerp is the city that really has it all. Located on the River Scheldt and dating back to the Middle Ages, Antwerp has long been known for its trendy cultural scene and lively nightlife, not to mention its history of diamond trading. As such, any trip to Antwerp should always include a mix of the historical and the cultural. Take a walk along the banks of the Scheldt, and visit the Gothic cathedral and riverside castle. However, make sure to set some time aside to indulge in a glass of De Koninck beer and some traditional Flemish food at one of the city’s many excellent restaurants.
The numerous waterways of Belgium and the Netherlands offer you countless cruise opportunities and I can honestly say that Amsterdam and Belgium are both destinations truly worthy of your visit. I am hoping to visit Amsterdam again two or maybe even three times this year – I really have fallen for the city! Another quick tip, if you are exploring in Amsterdam and feel a bit peckish, then grab a bag of fries! Chipsy King are the best and the curry mayonnaise is delicious! 😉
If a river cruise is not quite what you are looking for, then why not consider one of Saga’s ocean cruises? I have had the pleasure of sailing aboard Saga Sapphire twice now and they were both wonderful experiences! I will also be joining her in November for her Mystery Cruise. It should be fun!! Let me know if you are also joining.