The Koning of Spring

Discover why the Netherlands is the king of springtime in this 1-week itinerary

Canals and world-famous art in Amsterdam, picturesque windmills in Zaanse Schans, castles in Utrecht, and authentic Dutch gezelligheid in Maastricht!


With the first rays of sunshine, the Dutch come out of their hibernation. Events and festivals pop up all over the country, so make sure you include some of our suggestions below in your trip.

Itinerary highlights

Cities visited in this trip:

Days 1 & 2: Amsterdam

Day 3: Zaanse Schans

Day 4: Groningen

Day 5: Utrecht

Day 6: Rotterdam

Day 7: Maastricht

Day 1: Amsterdam

From Amsterdam Central Station, walk straight ahead to Dam Square and the Royal Palace. Circle round to find yourself on Amsterdam's 400-year old Canal Ring. It'll be hard not to fall in love with the crooked buildings.


Visit the Anne Frank House on the Prinsengracht, and hop on a canal cruise to explore the city from a different view. At night, have a bite to eat on the lively Zeedijk street and venture out into Amsterdam's Red Light District.

How to get there:

Flying into Amsterdam Schiphol Airport? Central Station is less than 20 minutes away by train.

Traditional old buildings and and boats in Amsterdam

Preparing for orange success at the European Championships 2020

2020 tip: Join the orange madness

From June 12, 2020, football will be taking over Europe. The Dutch squad, the Oranje, has qualified for the European Championships and will play their group matches in the Amsterdam Arena.

Give your visit to the Netherlands a boost and cheer along with the orange crowds everywhere!


Dates to remember

Group matches: June 14, 18, and 22

Day 2: Amsterdam

Start your day at the Rijksmuseum, and let its beautiful collection guide you through Dutch history. Next door is the Van Gogh Museum, housing the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world.


Nearby you'll find the trendy De Pijp neighborhood. Wind up your day in the buzzing cafés and restaurants, and take a walk through the Albert Cuyp Market. If you like your beers, check out the Heineken Experience!

Tips:

Amsterdam is easily explored by foot or by tram. If you want to blend in with the Dutchies, rent a bicycle!

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

Kings day crowds in Amsterdam

2020 tip: King's Day

One of the things to do on King's Day, or Koningsdag, is to spot the king and queen in one of the cities of the Netherlands. Each year the royal family visits a different region, where they talk to locals, play silly Dutch games and tour around specific places of importance.


If that's not your cup of tea, go shopping on one of the many flea markets or visit a music festival - make sure to dress in orange!


Dates to remember

King's Day: April 27

Day 3: Zaanse Schans

You can't get more Dutch than the Zaanse Schans! With beautiful old windmills from the 18th and 19th century, as well as picture-perfect wooden houses, it makes for a fantastic day trip from Amsterdam.


You can sample local cheese and chocolate, and see how clogs are made in various shops and museums. Treat yourself to a plate of traditional Dutch pancakes, or the sweet bread known as Duivekater.

How to get there:

From Amsterdam Central, take a train to station Koog-Zaandijk. It's only a 16-minute journey!

Zaanse Schans Village in the Netherlands

Day 4: Groningen

Located in the far north of the Netherlands, Groningen is an old trade city with a large student population. Climb the Martini tower for the best views, and have a drink or two at the Grote Markt below.


Spend your afternoon at the dynamic Wadden Sea, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can walk the mud flats (wadden) during low tide, and take a boat to the Frisian Islands to spot seals and a wide variety of birds.

How to get there:

The train will take you from Amsterdam to Groningen in only 2 hours. You'll have to switch trains in Almere.

The Wadden Sea in the Netherlands

Day 5: Utrecht

Traditional houses on the Oudegracht (Old Canal) in the center of Utrecht

De Haar Castle in Utrecht

Utrecht is a lively student town, with the majestic Dom Tower at its center. Climb to the top for a spectacular view of the Old Canal, lined with bars and restaurants right at water level. Go to TivoliVredenburg for a fun night out!


The area around Utrecht is perfect for cycling. You'll find the recreational lakes Loosdrechtse plassen to the north and the woods of the Utrecht Hill Ridge to the east. Don't forget to check out the magnificent De Haar Castle!

How to get there:

Take a direct train from Groningen to Utrecht. The journey will take you less than 2 hours.

2020 tip: Liberation Day

Liberation Day, or Bevrijdingsdag, is the day on which the Dutch celebrate freedom after being liberated from the Nazis on May 5, 1945. It will be the 75th anniversary in 2020. They celebrate each year by having music festivals all over the country, with performances by Dutch and international artists. The best of all: you can enter these festivals for free!


Dates to remember

Liberation Day: May 5

Crowds at a Liberation Day festival

Day 6: Rotterdam

Skyscrapers welcome you as you arrive at Rotterdam's sleek Central Station, giving the city a modern and 'un-Dutch' appearance. The Markthal and the Cube Houses are some examples of the city's remarkable architecture.


Rotterdam is hip and happening these days, with many cool bars and music venues. Walk through Delfshaven to see what the city used to look like - it's one of the few areas that survived the bombings of World War II.

How to get there:

The train will get you from Utrecht to Rotterdam in only 38 minutes. Stop halfway in Gouda for some cheese!

The Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Crowds at a concert

2020 tip: The Eurovision Song Contest

Rotterdam will be the place to be during the Eurovision Song Contest (12 - 16 May). The city will be alive and hosting people from all over Europe, hoping to see their country win this year's Song Contest. Whether you're a fan or not, Rotterdam is where the party is.


Dates to remember

First semi-final: May 12

Second semi-final: May 14

Final: May 16

Day 7: Maastricht

The city of Maastricht dates back to Roman times and offers history around every corner. Check out the country's oldest church, the Basilica of Saint Servatius, and the so-called Hell's Gate (Helpoort) in the medieval city walls.


Charming Maastricht is a great place for shopping, eating and drinking. Have a beer on the Vrijthof square, stroll along the Meuse river, and visit bookstore Dominicanen, located beautifully in a 700-year old church.

How to get there:

Travel by train to Maastricht in 2 hours and 16 minutes. You'll have to switch trains in Eindhoven.

Saint Servatius Bridge in Maastricht

2020 tip: Carnaval

The end of February shows an interesting division between the northern and southern provinces. While it's just business as usual in the north, there's an all-out street party happening in the south that lasts for 3 days.

Colorful Maastricht is one of the best places to join in the festivities, but you can have a wonderful time in any place 'below the rivers'.


Dates to remember

February 23-24-25

Carnival in the Netherlands