The Belgian and Dutch waterways are a maze of rivers and canals that run through the Low Countries like veins through the human body. Although not the most popular route for European river cruises, these waterways are widely enjoyed at this time of year, either as part of an extended Rhine river cruise or as itineraries in their own right.
So what can you expect on a river cruise of this kind? Here are four things you’re likely to come across.
The main reason why Belgian and Dutch waterways cruises are so popular in the spring is because of the beautiful tulip fields. At this time of year, they explode with hues of red, orange, blue, yellow and purple to create a carpet of colour along the river banks. It is difficult to time your trip perfectly to see the full effect of this showpiece, though. Too early and the bulbs could be yet to bloom but too late and you may only be able to witness a field of drooping deadheads.
As well as the tulips in the fields, there are many glorious flowers to enjoy at the Keukenhof Gardens, situated just outside of Amsterdam. A lot of river cruises in this part of the world offer the chance to visit the gardens on an excursion and it is well worth taking advantage of if you get the chance.
Tulips and windmills may seem like cliché things to find on a Belgian and Dutch waterways cruise but there’s no escaping either of them. Many windmills will glide past your stateroom window, standing proudly amongst picture-postcard scenery that is just begging to be photographed.
One of the best places to see and learn about these whimsical structures is Kinderdijk, just outside of Rotterdam. During your stop here you may get the chance to tour some of the windmills, learn how important they were to the local industry and even understand how the sails can be used to convey messages. The tallest classical windmill in the world can also be seen in Schiedam, just downriver from Kinderdijk.
The Netherlands may not be the most famous producers of cheese in the world but there are still many popular varieties made within the country. Cheese towns such as Edam, Gouda and Alkmaar all have regular markets where you can sample a range of different styles and even take some home to enjoy.
When exploring places such as Edam and Hoorn, you may also get to see the warehouses that would have been stacked full of delicious cheese in the golden age of production.
Along with the picturesque scenery and charming towns that you will sail through, there will also be the chance to explore some of the larger cities in the area. Places such as Amsterdam, Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent are teeming with history and beckon you to take a peek into the past.
Whether you choose to visit Anne Frank’s house, admire the Gothic beauty of Brussels Town Hall or discover Antwerp’s oldest building (a medieval castle known as Het Steen), there will be many ways to get your fix of history and culture.
If you would like to see what the Belgian and Dutch waterways have to offer, browse our online itineraries or call our helpful team today.