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The Europe Tours

Heart of Belgium, Holland & Luxembourg

Places Covered: Belgium, Holland , Luxembourg
Duration: 10 Nights / 11 Days
Tour Cost: See Below

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 01

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 02

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 03

Visit the Mardasson Memorial — an impressive monument built to honor the American soldiers killed in battle — and listen as your guide describes the soldiers’ valiant efforts. Stroll through Place Général McAuliffe (General McAuliffe Square) and gain insight into the heroic deeds for which this decorated US Army officer is famous.

Continue your tour with an hour’s ride to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, a landlocked country which dates back to the Roman Era. Follow your guide on a sightseeing tour through the city and admire top attractions such as the 17th-century Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Royal Palace of the Grand Duke and the bustling Place d’Armes (Armes Square), where you can watch the hustle and bustle of daily life unfold as it has done for thousands of years.

Head to the modern side of the city — which forms part of the European Union — and the plateau of Kirchberg, where important government buildings such as the European Court of Justice and the Secretariat of the European Parliament can be found. After lunch (own expense), continue on to the historic Old Town and enjoy a little free time to explore at your own leisure.

At the end of your 2-country day trip, journey back through the picturesque rolling hills of the Ardennes to reach central Brussels by mid-evening.

DAY 04

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 05

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 06

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 07

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 08

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 09

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 10

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 11

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 12

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 expertswho will make the fascinating history, 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 Belgium tour
  • Tour of Flanders Fields WWI sites
  • Bruges walking tourBruges Memling Museum tour
  • Chocolatier tour and tastingBruges Museum Pass
  • Belgian brewery tour and tastingNetherlands Museum Card, allowing free admission to hundreds of museums throughout the country
  • Deltaworks and tour of Maeslant sea barrier
  • Delft walking tourDelft New Church
  • Aalsmeer Flower Auction
  • Historic Dutch town visit
  • Red Light District tour
  • Rijksmuseum tour
  • Historic Amsterdam walking tour
  • Anne Frank House...and more
  • Luxembourg Day Trip from Brussels

Inclusions

  • Professional guide
  • Hotel pickup
  • Transport by air-conditioned coach
  • All group transportationfrom Ghent to Amsterdam
  • 10 nights accommodationsin memorable, centrally-located hotels
  • All breakfasts and half your dinners
  • All tipsfor guides and driver
  • Free stuffincluding 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 travelers for an additional 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.

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