River Cruise to The Netherlands and Belgium

Last week, my husband Troy and I enjoyed an AmaWaterways river cruise.  For those of you who think river cruises are just for old people you are ‘missing the boat!’ The average age of river cruises continues to drop as younger people and families are discovering this great way to travel. Our cruise included passengers from 13 to 94 years old and included families and newly weds.  This trip certainly one for the books and we are excited to share a little bit of our experience and highlights with you!

Spring Flowers

We had a fabulous time seeing the bright springtime daffodils, hyacinths and tulips in the Netherlands and Belgium!  We particularly enjoyed the bike tours. Biking through the Netherlands and Belgium was easy as they are relatively flat countries and have loads of designated bike lanes.  

Spring tulips in The Netherlands - one of our favorite parts of the trip and a highlight of all visitors from across the world this time of year in The Netherlands and Belgium.

Hoorn, The Netherlands

Our trip left from Amsterdam and our first stop was Hoorn in the Netherlands. We took a very interesting tour of a commercial tulip farm. Their incredible greenhouse system produces over 23 million tulips a year which they sell at the flower auction.  Their tulips go from their fields to all corners of the world in less than 24 hours! 

Tulip farm in Hoorn

Bruinesse, The Netherlands

The next stop was Bruinisse where we took a lovely country bike ride over and around the dikes (dams) of Zeeland.  We enjoyed the quaint streets and tranquil landscape. It was a beautiful, sunny day made even brighter by the daffodils that grew wild in the grass.  

Ghent, Belgium

Our third stop was Ghent, Belgium, which is close to the magical city of Bruges.  We decided to spend all day in Bruges where we were able to see the quaint architecture of the stepped-gabled buildings and visit The Church of Our Lady.  In the church there is a statue of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus by Michelangelo.

In addition to the incredible scenery and artwork that we admired in Ghent, we also appreciated the tasty culinary experience, from cheeses to waffles to Belgium chocolates, we were never far from delicious treats that definitely added to the overall experience. 

Antwerp, Belgium

We next visited Antwerp, Belgium, Europe’s second largest port and the diamond capital of the world. It is a historically rich city with remarkably eclectic architecture. We enjoyed a city bike tour where we saw many of the city’s highlights. One not to miss is their beautiful train station, often voted as the most beautiful train station in the world.  

In the afternoon we were able to take a 30 minute ride to see Bornem Castle.  This castle dates back to the 9th century and we had the opportunity to see some of the castle (which is still lived in by the Duke) and see his impressive carriage museum.

Bike ride in Antwerp, Belgium, Europe’s second largest port and the diamond capital of the world.

Rotterdam, Belgium

The next day in Rotterdam we bumped into our first rain. We didn’t let it deter us and pedaled around the city. The city had some wild architecture. We particularly liked the crazy box type apartments and the huge indoor market building. 

In the afternoon we did another awesome bike tour in Kinderdijk, a Unesco site.  We were able to experience the charming village known for its iconic 18th-century windmills. Its water-management network features 19 mills and 3 pumping stations, plus dikes and reservoirs that control flooding. 

Waterways, footpaths and bike trails crisscross the area which was perfect for exploration by bike. We were able to go inside one windmill to see the inner workings and living spaces.  Windmillers still live and run the windmills today.

Off the boat and back in Amsterdam

Back in Amsterdam we couldn’t miss Keukenhof. Often referred to as the Garden of Europe, it is one of the world’s largest flower gardens. It is located in the city of Lisse (about 30 minutes from downtown Amsterdam). 

Keukenhof Park covers an area of 79 acres and has approximately 7 million flower bulbs planted in the gardens annually.  It was absolutely breathtaking and to me, because I love spring flowers so much, it is what I picture heaven to look like.  

Tulips in Keukenhof. Often referred to as the Garden of Europe, it is one of the world's largest flower gardens.

In the afternoon we took a canal tour of Amsterdam. It is an interesting way to see this interesting city.  You are able to see a lot more of the city in a short time than you can on foot. Of course, it’s just a sampling of all this city has to offer.