When people think of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is often the first place that comes to mind. However, there is more to the Netherlands than this popular city. Avalon Waterways can open your horizons to quaint fishing villages and intriguing cities, all the while with the best views in river cruising from your Panorama Suite. The Netherlands: more than just Amsterdam!
Zaandam paints a perfect picture of a quintessential Dutch town, especially since Claude Monet painted the windmills found here. Found just north of Amsterdam, travellers flock to Zaandam with the historic village of Zaanse Schans at the top of their list. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to experience what life would have been like here in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There are 13 windmills dotted around here in hues of green and orange. 6 of the 13 still operate today as a mix of mustard, saw, oil and dye mills, while the others have turned into shops or have decks you can climb up to. You can also visit the Zaanse Schans Clog Workshop, taste local cheeses and shop for souvenirs.
Haarlem is a trendy place to be. Renowned for having ample places to wine and dine, peaceful courtyards (known as Hofjes, a hidden, leafy oasis) and having the best shopping in all the Netherlands – so much so that its shopping district is named ‘de Gouden Straatjes’, the streets of gold. If it is included on your Avalon river cruise, there is the option to cycle alongside picturesque sand dunes to the beach with your Adventure Host; another wonderful way to discover Haarlem.
Full of architectural gems, Rotterdam is a dynamic part of the Netherlands. The city was completely destroyed in WWII bombings so rebuilt itself with a variety of modern buildings. Don’t miss the famous Cube Houses (sunshine-yellow houses built on a 45° angle to mimic a tree) the Erasmus Bridge, fondly known as ‘The Swan’ due to its graceful shape, and the Centraal Station that has a mix of new and old touches.
Discover Middelburg with Avalon, a city with a fascinating history as an important player in the spice trade and Dutch East India trading. You may like to explore the city’s winding streets and canals by bike with your Adventure Host, or on foot with your Local Guide. With a smaller population than some of its bigger Netherlands neighbours, Middelburg has a more relaxed vibe to it.
First built more than 2,000 years ago by the Romans, Nijmegen is the oldest town in the Netherlands and well worth a visit. Despite being damaged in WWII, there are still some archaeological ruins to visit that date back to the Roman era. Nijmegen has a buzzing atmosphere thanks to being a student city and having the highest density of outdoor cafés in the Netherlands.
The birthplace of the Euro, Maastricht has come a long way from a Roman settlement to a medieval river trading city to a thriving hub in the Netherlands. Its prime location near water meant it was well sought after by many in Europe. Today, Maastricht has over 1,600 national heritage buildings which is the second highest number in the country, with beautifully curved streets winding their way throughout the city. From underground tunnels to fascinating museums, and charming buildings to lush green spaces, this medieval city is a thrill to explore. Belgium is also just three kilometres away so you can easily cross borders if you wish.
We hope that at least one of these Dutch cities have made their way onto your bucket list now! Visit one (or more!) of them on an Avalon Waterways river cruise through the Netherlands – certainly more than just Amsterdam!