Day 1: Arrival
Meet and greet with your English-speaking driver at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport from where you will be taken for 30-minute drive (depending on traffic) by luxurious private car to your hotel in Amsterdam. 12.30pm Meet and greet with your professional English-speaking guide in the hotel lobby, from where you will be taken on an interesting walking tour through the historical city center. Amsterdam, the city that was named after the Amstel river, is world-famous for its canals, locks, bridges and well-preserved centuries-old buildings. Most of which can be seen in the ‘canal district’. This unique area was laid out in the early 1600s and would obtain its final shape by the 1660s. Amsterdam, by then, was Europe’s third most populated city and admired for being so well organized, tolerant in religious matters and for the system of aid for the poor it had developed to deal with the needs of the urban poor and sick. An international and accommodating city that forms the splendid embodiment of what has been named ‘The Golden Age’. The architecture of the elegant town homes that were built in the residential sections of the ‘New Town’, continues to impress up to today.
Van Loon Mansion
The Van Loon Mansion is housed within the former residence of the Van Loon family and together with its garden and carriage house, constitutes an ensemble that is typical of the ‘Golden Age Grand Town Home’. Today, it is the only remaining architectural ensemble in town. The rooms inside all reflect on fashions associated with wealth and refinement. The walls are graced with family portraits that are grouped so as to showcase the unions between Van Loon and other powerful families.
Since Amsterdam is an excellent walking city, strolling down the paved streets, your guide will point out famous landmarks such as the Royal Palace on Dam Square, the former civic orphanage on Kalverstraat and the neighboring Begijnhof (scenic courtyard complex of centuries-old homes still in use by a community of women, formerly addressed as “begijnen” – a lay catholic sisterhood established in 1389), the Sephardic synagogue in the former Jewish district and the former home of Rembrandt van Rijn. All are within walking distance of most hotels. De Jordaan or de Pijp neighborhoods are lovely areas than can easily be incorporated in your tour, should you so desire. Both are home to famous street markets and offer plentiful opportunities for a lunch or coffee break. The Nine Street district with its local stores and boutiques is also interesting to walk through.
Anne Frank House
4pm The walk will end at the famous Anne Frank House, which we will visit next.
The former hiding place, where Anne Frank wrote her diary, is a well-known museum and one of the top sights in Amsterdam. The museum tells the history of the eight people in hiding and those who helped them during the war. Anne Frank’s diary is among the original objects on display. Because active guiding inside is not allowed, your guide will give you a detailed explanation outside. Going through the rooms and hiding place, you have to make use of the provided audio guide. Where possible, your guide will give you some additional information or will point out interesting facts. www.annefrankhuis.org 5.30pm From here, you will be taken back to your hotel, where you have the remainder of the day for your own leisure.
Day 2: Historical Delft and The Hague
8.45am Meet and greet with your English-speaking guide / driver in the hotel lobby, from where you will be taken for a short hour drive by luxurious private vehicle to medieval Delft. Before we make a visit to the historical city center, there will be a stop at one of the two original remaining Delftware manufacturers in the world, Heinen Delfts Blauw ‘The Factory’.
Did you know that more than 95% of all produced Delftware in the world is imitation? There will be an interesting tour through the small family company where you will see the process of making Delftware and of course the painters’ room. It is a small but most fascinating place! www.heinendelftsblauw.com
10.15am We continue with a short scenic drive to the medieval city center. Stroll along the canals and discover the most beautiful spots of historic Delft. The city is also known as miniature Amsterdam, because of its canals and the grand monumental merchants’ mansions in the old city center. The city center of Delft is one of the best-preserved examples of a medieval Dutch town. It is a city with rich historic and cultural heritage. Delft is also the city of the painter Johannes Vermeer. Think of his masterpiece “Gezicht op Delft” (View on Delft) and the Girl with the Pearl Earring.
Delft is the burial ground of members of the Royal family. Their crypt is located in the New Church. Besides the Royal family, several other famous people have also been buried in Delft. In the Old Church, the graves are located of the famous painter Johannes Vermeer and great ocean commanders such as Piet Hein and Maarten Tromp. Here, you will also find some spectacular stained-glass windows by the famous artist Joep Nicolas. Your guide will take you to both churches. www.nieuwekerk-delft.nl
Noon From here, it is only a 20-minute drive to the ‘Royal City’ The Hague, where you will be taken on a guided walk of the historical city center. The Hague is a historical city from the 13th Century, but it is also the city where King Willem Alexander lives and where you will find many world-famous museums. Most consider The Hague more upscale and local than Amsterdam. A surprising city! Upon arrival in The Hague there is leisure time for lunch. On the main square, you will find many local restaurants for a nice lunch. 1.30pm Fully refreshed, will start our walk in the oldest part of The Hague, the medieval parliament buildings ‘Inner court’ with the Knights Hall from the 13th century.
Here, you will be taken for a guided tour of the famous Mauritshuis Museum, one of the most prominent and oldest museums in the Netherlands or even in the world! Their collection is in the top 3 world-wide. The Mauritshuis Museum is home to the very best Dutch Golden Age paintings. The compact, yet world-renowned collection is housed in a 17th century building. Masterpieces such as Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp by Rembrandt, The Goldfinch by Fabritius and The Bull by Potter are on permanent display in the intimate rooms. More than two hundred top works from Dutch and Flemish masters are on display in the historic yet intimate interior, with its silken wall covering, sparkling chandeliers and monumental painted ceilings. Genre paintings by Jan Steen, landscapes by Jacob van Ruisdael, still lives by Adrian Coorte and portraits by Rubens offer a rich and varied representation of the best 17th century Dutch and Flemish painting. www.mauritshuis.nl
3pm We continue the walk towards the spectacular Panorama Mesdag Museum, for a guided tour. Along the way, we will walk through the Passage (1884) and there will be a stop at the Palace Noordeinde, the working Palace of King Willem Alexander.
3.45pm The Panorama is a cylindrical painting, more than 14 meters high and 120 meters in circumference. The vista of the sea, the dunes and Scheveningen village where painted by Hendrik Willem Mesdag in 1881. His wife Sientje Mesdag and several other painters of The Hague School also worked on this amazing painting. It is the oldest 19th century panorama in the world in its original site. Amazing and for sure a must-see in The Hague and for many the highlight of their stay in the Netherlands! www.mesdag.nl 4.15pm After this exciting tour, there will be a walk through the Lange Voorhout, back in the direction of the vehicle. The Lange Voorhout is one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. Here you find the Escher Museum, which was the former winter Palace of Queen Emma, the luxurious Des Indes Hotel and the smallest house in The Hague. Did you know that this area stood sample for the Champs Elysees in Paris and Unter den Linden in Berlin? 5pm From here, you will be taken back to your hotel in Amsterdam, where you have the remainder of the day for your own leisure. You will arrive back around 6pm.
Day 3: Amsterdam
8.30am After breakfast, your English-speaking guide is ready to take you for a scenic walk to, and guided tour of the famous Rijksmuseum.
The Rijksmuseum is the national museum of Dutch art and history and houses in a late 19th century building built on the edge of the famous Amsterdam Canal District. The Rijksmuseum is a masterpiece in itself, both inside and out. Over 800 years of Dutch art and history are on display in 80 recently renovated rooms. Your guide will introduce you to a time period known as the Dutch Golden Age, a time of great wealth and prosperity but also of unbridled cultural and artistic growth. In the so-called Eregallerij (Gallery of Honor) you will find a large selection of paintings dedicated to this time period. Here you will find renowned Dutch artists such as Vermeer (The Milkmaid), Rembrandt, Hals, Steen, but also Ruisdael, Heda and others. The Gallery of Honor extends to a room that was specifically created to display Rembrandt’s most famous painting, The Night Watch. Apart from this must-see section, there are different areas to acquaint oneself with other art forms, which are just like the paintings, such as furniture, tapestries, Delftware, silver, glass, uniquely late 17th century Dolls houses and much more. They will fill you with delight! Depending on your interests and / or if there are any must see exhibits, we will take you to the “Philips (temporary exhibitions) Wing”. www.rijksmuseum.nl
Van Gogh Museum
11.15am We continue the tour with a short scenic walk to, and guided tour of the Van Gogh Museum where you will step into Van Gogh’s world. You enter the Van Gogh Museum through the glass entrance building, located on Museum Square that beautifully complements the exhibition wing created in 1999 by Kisho Kurokawa Architect and Associates. Discover what Vincent wanted to express in the redesigned exhibit of Van Gogh Museum’s collection.
In the layout, you step directly into Van Gogh’s world. You obviously see his masterpieces like the Potato Eaters and the Bedroom, but also his drawings and letters. You discover the ideas and ambitions behind his art. Van Gogh experienced life and the world intensely and wanted his art to portray the great themes of life, such as anxiety, suffering, love and hope. You follow the on-going search of an artist who was constantly trying to improve himself. In this way, you get a new view of an artist you thought you knew. www.vangoghmuseum.nl
From here you will be taken back to your hotel, to collect your luggage. From your hotel, your English-speaking driver will take you for a short drive by luxurious private car to your (River) Cruise Ship.