Two countries, the Netherlands and Belgium – next door neighbours and connected through a close cultural relationship – offer an eclectic mix of picturesque landscapes and renaissance architecture respectively.
Recognised for its winding canal system and miles of flatland embellished with technicolour tulips and traditional windmills, there’s nowhere quite like Holland in the spring.
While Belgium’s fascinating blend of old and new sees medieval belfries and hip cafÃ©s exist together harmoniously.
Well-equipped to satisfy the wanderlust of adventurers curious to delve deeper into what these countries have to offer, luxury river cruise operator Scenic allows you to do just that from the comfort of some of the most luxurious and spacious ships on Europe’s waterways.
These aptly named Space-Ships are an innovative way to immerse yourself in local culture, giving you an alternative view of sleepy riverside towns and vibrant cosmopolitan cities, while included excursions offer guests the opportunity to visit World Heritage-listed monuments and enjoy exclusive once-in-a-lifetime events.
During this insightful trip, those tulip fields, traditional windmills and the ancient architecture is, almost literally, on your doorstep.
The Rhine scoops up six countries on its path, and its history is as rich as it is long. Stretching an impressive 1,230km from the Swiss Alps to the North Sea, it is a main waterway used for goods transportation and a pathway through Holland and Belgium.
A palpable sense of optimism encompasses the Netherlands, perhaps it’s the row upon row of multi-coloured houses that formulaically line the canal path, or maybe it’s the camaraderie you feel oozing from the locals. Either way, it leaves you wanting more.
Amsterdam has always been deeply intriguing. With its laid-back lifestyle and exquisite canal-lined cobbled streets, you would be forgiven for thinking you had travelled back to a simpler time, where bicycles were the transport of choice and the stresses of modern life were yet to come to fruition.
The Delta Works is a wonderful introduction to the country’s incredible feats of modern engineering, and a change of pace to the capital. Visit the famous Storm Surge Barrier, built to protect the Delta Plain from flooding, while stopping off at the 15th-century town of Veere. The impressive Town Hall and harbour make for a picturesque cycle route.
Dynamic and international Rotterdam, the architectural capital, boldly boasts highlights like the Erasmus Bridge connecting the north and south of the city.
Wander the Westersingel Sculpture Route, appreciating artwork from local artists as you go, or a short trip to Delft gives the chance for enthusiasts to visit a pottery factory that’s famous for Delftware hand-painted blue and white pottery.
Travel east to Arnhem, where history buffs can visit the Airborne Museum to learn about the Battle of Arnhem, or wander around the Open Air Museum, which portrays an impression of the daily life of the average Dutchman over the past few centuries through miniature antique models.
If cycling is your forte, journey to Hoge Veluwe National Park, one of the largest nature reserves in Holland, and pick up one of their famed white bicycles. It really is the best way to see it.
The Dutch town of Volendam, known for its colourful wooden houses, old fishing boats and seafood vendors, lies not far from Edam, famed for its round cheese. Pay it a visit and fall in love with the village with its beautiful squares and old-fashioned bridges. Alternatively, discover Hoorn, immersing yourself in culture through cheese and fish tastings and gentle bike rides through the village.
Belgium offers an abundance of contrasting beauty. Visit World Heritage-listed Bruges, a hive of picturesque canals and cobblestone streets, with its fairy tale-like medieval influences.
Or the ‘diamond capital of the world’, Antwerp, located on the river Shedlt. Its centuries-old diamond district and renaissance architecture is typified by the Grote Markt, translated as ‘The Great Market’, tempting creatives and night owls alike, with its welcoming bohemian allure.
SET SAIL IN STYLE:
Redefining river cruising, a Scenic Space-Ship is attentively designed to set the standard in luxury travel.
Comfort and elegance combine in the form of some of the most spacious suites on Europe’s waterways, ranging from 15mÂ² to an impressive 47mÂ², all of which come complete with indulgent L’Occitane toiletries, fluffy bath robes, a queen-sized bed, Apple TVs and a mini bar, which is restocked daily.
If you’re looking for a room with a view, most are completed with a Sun Lounge, transforming your balcony into an all-weather conservatory-style space, and your own private butler will ensure you’ve got everything you need – whether that’s a laundry concierge service or a light lunch brought to your suite.
A range of six onboard fine-dining restaurants make eating a sheer joy every day, as expert chefs source local ingredients to create authentic dishes inspired by the route on which you’re travelling, all included, of course. The hospitality is made even better with complimentary drinks all day every day, whether wine, beer or top-shelf spirits.
FEEL FREE TO EXPLORE:
With something exciting around every corner, every stop on a Scenic adventure offers passengers the opportunity to explore a little further and at a pace that suits them.
Scenic’s Freechoice excursions mean you have the flexibility to choose your preferred sightseeing activities from the wide selection provided daily.
Tasting sessions tell you more about 16th-century Edam, while Keukenhof Gardens is the perfect retreat for nature lovers. The 32 hectares of land, blanketed by millions of tulips, delights visitors.
EXPERIENCES NEVER TO FORGET:
Enrich events are once-in-a-lifetime experiences exclusive to Scenic guests, with each itinerary including at least one.
While in the Dutch town of Hoorn, you’ll be invited to mingle with the locals over an authentic dinner, telling tales and getting to know each other to the accompaniment of some traditional entertainment.
IT’S ALL INCLUDED:
Everything that you would expect to pay extra for is included in the price.
From flights and transfers to onboard drinks and fine dining, this standard of accommodation is something you would expect from a world-class hotel. Why not step aboard and see for yourself?