The Netherlands is a tiny country filled with beautiful architecture, lovely people and delicious food. Just rent a car and go on a self driving tour, it’s fun and easy to do!
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Day 1: Arrive in Eindhoven, Visit Kasteel Da Haar and Stay in Giethoorn
We arrived our first morning in Eindhoven. Living in Europe allowed for easy access of cheap airlines so we took advantage of this inexpensive, early morning flight from Italy to the Netherlands. Once we arrived we located our rental car and off we went. Our first stop was to the Kasteel Da Haar, located in Utrecht.
There is a €4 charge for parking just outside the entrance, where you will pay in cash as you exit. The weather was slightly unpleasant so we took a few moments to have some tea before wandering the grounds.
At the Kasteel Da Haar we walked around the gardens and admired the stunning gothic architecture of the largest castle in the Netherlands. There are two different admission fees depending on if you’d like to visit the castle and gardens or just the gardens. After our visit to the Kasteel Da Haar we set off to reach our destination for the evening: Giethoorn.
Giethoorn is the perfect place to unwind and relax. There are no cars allowed in this teeny town, only small motorized boats can pass through the canals.
We arrived and parked our car in the designated parking area and walked over a few small bridges to reach our airbnb. We wandered around the quaint town until the sun set and we settled into our room for the night.
Day 2: Explore Giethoorn by Boat and Arrive in Amsterdam
We awoke to our spacious room along one of Giethoorn’s peaceful canals. We explored a bit on foot before deciding to rent a small motorboat to cruise around the canals. The motorboat cost €12 for one hour. The owner gave us a map of the canals and a very brief instruction on how to operate the boat and we were off.
While there are optional boat tours you can take around Giethoorn, it was really fun to rent our own boat and go along as we pleased. We made the complete loop through the lake and back around in about 45 minutes.
After we returned the boat we packed up and drove onward to our next destination: Amsterdam!
I’d been to Amsterdam before but I love it there so much and I was really looking forward to returning and exploring more.
In order to avoid driving and parking inside the city ring, we parked at the RAI Park and Ride just outside the city. We parked and purchased our return ride metro ticket (€2,50 each) and took the Tram 4 line into town. We ended up finding a really unique houseboat on AirBnB so we took the tram to the Frederiksplein stop and walked the rest of the way to reach the boat. The houseboat was very clean and spacious, complete with its own small kitchen. After taking a few moments to settle in we set off to explore.
We had a few hours of daylight left so we stopped at the famous IAMSTERDAM sign before walking to Foodhallen.
This indoor food market is one of my favorites in Europe and I am always impressed by their variety of international options.
Day 3: A Full Day Wandering the Streets of Amsterdam
In the morning we woke up and started our day at the Anne Frank Museum. Since this visit, the museum has changed its ticket policy. They now have reserved tickets for the morning, up until about 3pm, and then the afternoon is open for anyone. I highly recommend booking your tickets in advance as the line can get pretty long. You can find more information about the Anne Frank Museum and other museums in Amsterdam here.
Spend the rest of your day wandering the streets, shopping and eating. You can find all the best places to shop in Amsterdam, as well as my favorite cozy cafes and I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Day 4: Leave Amsterdam, See the Cheese Market in Alkmaar, Visit the Windmills at Zaanse Schans and End Up in Haarlem
This morning we woke up early in Amsterdam to pack our things and continue onwards. Our first stop of the day was to the Dutch city of cheese: Alkmaar.
Every Friday, from April until September, visitors can join in on the famous cheese spectacle. Since the 1600’s or so, Alkmaar has been the host of the cheese markets where they weigh the wheels to sell and then carry them around on large cheese carriers.
These days, visitors flock from all over the world to the Waagplein Square from 10am to 1pm to join in on the fun. Surrounding the Waagplein are many vendor booths selling dutch snacks (including my favorite the poffertjes), handmade clogs, crafts and more cheese!
The town of Alkmaar is also absolutely adorable so make sure to save some time to explore here.
After departing from Alkmaar we drove to the Zaanse Schans windmill museum. Entrance to the museum is free but there is a €9 parking charge. The windmill park is very large and there are paths that you can follow to lead you to each of the windmills.
At the end of the path there is a small boat that costs €1 per person to take you to the other side where you can wander through the old town. To return back to the windmill side you can walk across the bridge which will take you near the entrance of the park.
After our visit to Zaanse Schans we drove on until we reached Haarlem. We stayed at the Hello I’m Local Boutique Hostel in Haarlem. The spacious and adorably decorated room includes its own shower and sink but has a shared toilet in the hallway.
After checking in, we walked around Haarlem where we discovered a local brewery that is located in an old church. Jopen is the place to hang out especially on a day with perfect weather.
The interior of the former church still houses the original stained glass windows and intricate wood carved details. Jopen’s friendly atmosphere and wide selection of delicious brews is what keeps people coming back for more.
Day 5: Breakfast in Haarlem, Drive Along the Flower Route, Spend the Day at Keukenhof Gardens and Arrive in Delft
We woke up at the Hello! I’m Local Hostel in Haarlem and grabbed breakfast before continuing along our route in the Netherlands. Our next part of the trip would take us through the tulip fields until we reached the famously known Keukenhof Gardens. From Haarlem we drove south on the N208 towards Lisse and the Keukenhof Gardens. It was disappointing to not see as many tulip fields as we imagined we would. Maybe they had been cut down already or just hadn’t fully bloomed yet.
We arrived at the entrance of the Keukenhof Gardens where we paid €6 for parking and an entrance fee of €16 per person. We spent quite a few hours walking around the park admiring all the beautiful types of tulips and other spring flowers.
The Gardens is a must see for visitors who are in the Netherlands during the spring. The Keukenhof is normally open for visitors from the end of March until the middle of May every year.
The Keukenhof Gardens is spread out over 32 hectares and includes multiple themed displays showing off over 7 million bulbs and 800 different types of tulips.
They also have indoor exhibitions and vendors selling bulbs that you can take home and plant in your own garden. Be sure to find the windmill in the back where you can climb to the top and get some stellar views of the rows of tulip fields.
After exploring the gardens we continued on our road trip to Delft.
This is the town in the Netherlands that is famous for their blue and white pottery that you can find all over the country. Our lovely AirBnB was a short walk from the city center.
We spent the evening wandering around and getting lost amongst the cobblestone streets lined with local shops and delicious restaurants.
It was difficult to choose a dinner spot but we finally settled on ‘t Walletje for dinner and it was very delicious!
Day 6: Visit a Local Pottery Shop in Delft and Wander the Streets of The Hague
We woke up at our beautiful AirBnB where we enjoyed a nutritious breakfast to nourish us for our day of exploring. Our first stop was to the Delft Pottery De Delfse Pauw, a local pottery shop where they make and hand paint all of their own pottery.
They are open year round and even offer free guided tours every 10 minutes. We took the tour learned all about the process of Delftware pottery from start to finish. They have a large showroom where you can purchase a souvenir to take home with you as a reminder of your visit.
Following our visit to the Delft Pottery shop, we walked over to the local tram station to catch a ride to The Hague.
The tram tickets can be purchased at the stop for €6,50 per person with unlimited use for the entire day. We arrived in The Hague only 25 minutes later and began exploring the quaint town.
The main town center has a huge selection of boutique shops and healthy food options. There was also a Sunday market with local vendors selling fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as, homemade cakes and snacks.
We spent the entire afternoon there exploring and stopping for coffee and treats. In the evening we took the tram back to Delft and walked into town for dinner.
Day 7: Depart Delft, Make a Quick Stop in Rotterdam, Sightsee in Kinderdjik and Fly Home From Eindhoven
Waking up in Delft, we packed up our stuff and ate breakfast before driving onwards to Rotterdam. We parked under the Markthal and walked up to street level. Right near the Markthal is the recognizable cubic houses.
These yellow squared homes are seriously interested and the architectural design is quite impressive. One of the homes is open as a museum where, for €3, you can get a glimpse into what it would be like to inhabit one of these unique spaces.
Before departing Rotterdam, we did a quick walk through of Markthal. The hall is smaller than I had expected but we purchased a few items to take with us for the drive onwards to Kinderdjik.
Kinderdjik is another windmill park with a free entrance. Once you enter there is a well paved footpath that leads you to all of the windmills that are all existing in their original locations. They offer bicycle rentals and 30 minute boat tours, as well.
This park is quieter and not nearly as crowded as the Zaanse Schans. We really enjoyed walking around here and it was a great way to end our trip.
After meandering through Kinderdjik, we drove back to the Eindhoven airport. Soon after, we departed and headed home after our wonderful week of exploring the Netherlands.
The Netherlands is truly a spectacular country and one that you should visit if you plan to go to Europe. Have you been to the Netherlands?
Other Netherlands Travel Guides:
- Complete Amsterdam City Guide: 22 Things to Do in Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Where to Go Shopping in Amsterdam: The Best Amsterdam Shops to Visit
- Staying on a Houseboat Along Amsterdam’s Amstel River Canal
- A 7 Day Road Trip Through the Netherlands
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WHAT CAMERA GEAR DO I USE?
- Main Camera: Sony A7III
- Wide angle lens: Sony G Master 16-35mm f/2.8
- Zoom lens: Sony 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3
- Prime lens: Sony 85mm f/1.8
- Secondary Camera: Canon 6D Mark II
- Canon wide angle lens: Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
- Canon lens: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L
- Underwater camera: Leica X-U
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- Camera Bag: Polar Pro Drone Trekker
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