EXPLORE HOLLAND AND BELGIUM ON CRUISES OF THE RIVERS IJSSEL, WAAL AND SCHELDE:
Not surprisingly, the most popular Holland-Belgium river cruises are in the springtime, which in the Netherlands and Belgium is truly magical with flowers in full bloom; especially, of course, tulips.
Cruising through the scenic Dutch and Belgian rivers and canals is really the best way to discover this region. I’m using “Holland” here because it’s a familiar name to many people and is frequently used by the tour operators, but the country is actually called “The Netherlands” – “Holland” is just the name of a county or province within it.
Rivers Ijssel, Waal and Schelde
The Rivers Ijssel, Waal and Schelde are little known, but river cruises in Holland offer Amsterdam, windmills, tulips and pretty harbour villages. In Belgium, the River Schelde cruises past character-full medieval towns and Brussels promises great beer and cosmopolitan elegance. That’s rather an unfair summary, but it’s roughly true. Although I did omit great art: Rembrandt, Van Gogh and the rest of the Dutch and Flemish masters. Amsterdam has more museums per square metre than any other European capital and you can view major exhibitions of these master painters at the Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandt House and Rijksmuseum.
Zaanse Schans may be touristy, but it does have magnificent windmills; the Keukenhof in spring is astonishingly beautiful and ablaze with the myriad colours of more than seven million tulips; and at stops such as Edam, Gouda, Alkmaar and Delft it’s fascinating to learn how Dutch cheese and Delft pottery are made.
And everywhere it’s green, green, green, with lush countryside and peaceful, bucolic landscapes along the literally centuries-old inland waterways.
Cities Visited on a Holland-Belgium Cruise
Amsterdam, Edam, Hoorn, Schoonhoven (for Kinderdijk Windmills), Gouda, Delft, The Hague, Middelburg, Bruges, Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent – depending on the cruise – all these may be in your itinerary, and more.
OUR ADVICE: The mainstream river cruise companies such as Uniworld, Viking, Avalon, Scenic and Tauck all offer Holland-Belgium river cruises and when you choose any of these companies, you will be cruising in the comfort of their luxury boats. If you’re choosing a cruise with a tour aggregator, concentrate on the route you want to travel and the ship used for the particular cruise (of course, there’s also price!). Be sure to check out our “Things to watch for“ page too!