6-star travel experience!

Highlights of Holland

Day 1


A town known for their gin, historic canals and tallest windmills in the world

We will bring from either your hotel or the airport to our first night’s mooring spot – in the quaint and fascinating town of Schiedam, situated on the outskirts of Rotterdam.

This little town has some amazing sights including six of the world’s largest working traditional windmills, a glass museum, a chocolate art factory, historic boat harbor plus it is also famous for it’s Jenever (Dutch gin) distilleries – the most famous being the Nolet distillery (we are moored right under their mill). So for the connoiseurs a visit to the gin museum and tasting room combined with a leisurely walk around the old town is a must! OR visit the Euromast and the most iconic sights in Rotterdam.

  • aurora barge cruises schiedam
  • schiedam city from above
  • schiedam windmill view
  • schiedam water canals

Day 2

Rotterdam to Delft

Known for the Delft Blue Pottery

While enjoying your first gourmet breakfast aboard Aurora, we begin our cruise while admiring the skyline of Rotterdam and take a turn right under Euromast – the highest viewpoint of Holland .We pass through the “Parksluis” lock and arrive on the quiet small river Schie, which leads us to 16th century town of Delft with its world famous Delft Blue.

We visit a Delft tableware factory, just minutes walk from our hotel barge tonight’s mooring to learn first-hand from the artisans how this world-famous porcelain is made. You will also have free time during the afternoon to explore Delft further – so you can individually visit the Nieuwe Kerk (with the tomb of William of Orange and other royals as they rest in peace), Oude Kerk, Vermeer centre (for the admirers of the famous painter), the Town hall and the eastern Gate.

OR optional visit, trip to the Hague – visit the Mauritshuis (with works by Rembrandt or Vermeer), Binnenhof (the Parliament and government buildings) or the Peace palace.

  • delft big market
  • delft city center
  • the hague city streets
  • the hague monument

Day 3

Delft to Leiden

A city known for their rich history, the courtyards, the oldest university of the country and vibrant city center.

The Dutch barge continues cruising onto our tonight’s mooring destination in the town of Leiden – home to one of the oldest universities in the country and the birthplace of the famous Rembrandt Van Rijn. Leiden is an ancient and impressive historical city (city rights since 1266) full of charm and character. Perfect for those who like to cycle, or simply stroll the banks of the pretty tree lined canals. It is here in Leiden (St Peter’s church) where the pilgrims departed for America. In the evening you can take a stroll through the historic centre with many churches, historic city gates and courts, almshouses and mills and many museums (Stedelijk-municipal, Boerhaave-science and medicine, Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde- ethnological, Naturalis-national natural).

After lunch we will be visiting Keukenhof Tulip Gardens. This afternoon marks a cruise highlight if flowers are your passion, with a walk through the world famous Keukenhof Gardens. Known as the garden of Europe, this largest display of flowers in the world, with more than 100 acres filled with over 7 million flowering bulbs, varieties of tulips and hyacinths. We stroll through 32 hectares of gloriously breathtaking waves of colour and immerse in the heady scents during this unforgettable excursion.

After the spring Tulip cruise season (for Highlights of Holland cruises) instead of The Keukenhof Tulip Gardens we shall visit: Leiden city centre – a walking tour with a museum visit and a canal boat ride to get a glimpse of what the town has to offer OR optional visit to Gouda – a quaint town on the river Ijjsel, a Mecca of cheese. The large 123m tall fascinating Gothic church of Sint Janskerk in Gouda is known especially for its magnificent stained glass windows, for which it has been placed on the UNESCO list of Dutch monuments – so don’t forget to admire it! There will be time to explore Gouda’s beauty, the picture-perfect town hall and square plus the Waag where the famous Gouda cheese has been weighed since 1668. Take a peek inside one of the cheese shops!

  • gouda canals
  • gouda windmill
  • keukenhof tulip garden bike flower
  • keukenhof tulip garden
  • leiden canals night
  • leiden city center

Day 4

Leiden to Haarlem

A city known of famous museums, culinary restaurants and the Golden Streets

Upon leaving the university town of Leiden we cruise on past some beautiful lakes and colourful flower fields towards the historical cosmopolitan and truly picturesque city of Haarlem, dating back to the 13th Century. Haarlem is home to the oldest museum in Holland – Teylers museum as well as Frans Hals Museum founded in 1862 with its vast collection of Old Masters. Other highlights include many great buildings such as late Gothic masterpiece St. Bavo’s Cathedral on the main square, graced by the fact that both Handel and Mozart played the magnificent Muller organ there.

Come face to face with the 13th century town hall, the magnificent Butchers’ hall (Vleeshal) built by Lieven de Key and the Fish auction hall (Vishal) and dream back in time. Or experience the atmosphere of the many historic courts. You will have some free time visiting a fine selection of boutique shops. Complete this day with an evening walk along the quiet canals to the market square with its café terraces or take a canal boat tour through picturesque arched bridges. Or visit Frans Hals portrait gallery, a fine collection of Dutch Old Masters works from 16th and 17th century.

  • haarlem canal houses
  • haarlem spaarne bridge canal
  • haarlem spaarne canals
  • haarlem windmill adriaan

Day 5

Haarlem to Zaanse Schans

A town known of the cheese dairy, various windmills and the colorful wooden houses

Our morning cruise takes us north up the Spaarne river and North Sea Canal to the region of Zaandam with its traditional Dutch green ‘dollhouse’ architecture. In the afternoon we tour Zaanse Schans, an open-air conservation area and museum, giving you a vivid impression of the Dutch way of life in the 17th and 18th centuries.

This historical area consists of authentic houses and windmills, an historic shipyard, pewter factory, a cheese and dairy farm and an age-old grocery store dating back to the 1900‘s. In Zaanse Schans you can visit 6 working windmills, a clog maker and a cheese maker and mustard mill – everything that the Dutch are famous for can be encountered here in this tiny village. A real treat and an absolute must for anyone traveling to Holland. Zaanse Schans is one of Holland’s top tourist. We shall continue our authentic Dutch barge trip with a short drive to Volendam – and visit this old world-famous traditional fishing village, where one can admire the original atmosphere retaining its wooden houses and soak up the past traditional folk costumes casually worn by the locals in the maze of narrow streets, wooden houses and little canals. A blast from the past!

  • volendam houses
  • volemdam village streets
  • zaandam city center
  • zaandam schaanse schans skyline

Day 6

Zaanse Schans to Alkmaar

A city known for their cheese market and the beautiful old city with many canals

In the morning we leave the windmills behind and sail through a picturesque rural area on the Zaan river all the way to our destination for today – Alkmaar, also called the City of Cheese. Its weigh house was the first in the country and it is here that the weighing and trading of cheese used to take place. Near the weigh house many outdoor cafés can be found.

Like Amsterdam Alkmaar houses a great many ‘hofjes’ or almshouses: typical 17th century enclosed courtyards with little houses inhabited by single women and usually supported by the church. A little less than 400 heritage sites, canals and the harbour dominate the townscape. The historic centre, surrounded by moats and canals, still maintains its Old World character with many fine buildings from 15th through the 18th centuries remaining in use today. Alkmaar played a pivotal role in the Dutch struggle for independence when the town defeated the Spaniards in 1573 by opening the locks and flooding the surrounding area. This marked the beginning of the end of Spanish domination in the Low Countries.

Today’s afternoon excursion will be completed with a short drive to a nearby historic port of Hoorn – a town and a former Dutch East India Company base in the Dutch province of North Holland. It lies on the IJsselmeer, a lake north of Amsterdam. Shops and cafes dot its 17th-century town center, which is anchored by the Roode Steen, the main square surrounded by a collection of monuments. The train ethusiasts can enjoy the historic steam train journey.The harbor features the Hoofdtoren, a 16th-century tower built for defensive purposes. Museums include the Westfries Museum, displaying the richness and paintings of the Westfrisian Golden Age.

  • alkmaar cheese market
  • alkmaar city center
  • hoorn building city center
  • hoorn city center

Day 7


Unfortunately, your experience has come to an end

Today we will be sadly saying our farewell and after your last wonderful breakfast on our luxury Dutch barge. you will then be driven to the designated drop off point (airport or the hotel of your choice).

* This route runs every other week in reverse order (starting from Alkmaar and ending in Schiedam)

“Thank you for those people who make us happy for they are the gardeners of our souls! Thank you so very much for creating the ambience and barging our family through one of the most amazing weeks. We loved the food and the wine, the wonderful attention you gave us!”

- Lawrence Rockefeller, Rockefeller Centre, New York, USA -

“There is no water on the Moon! Canals on Mars are a hoax! Nothing can compare with a barge trip – a great relaxing trip with neat friends from Los Angeles. Thanks ever so much!”

- Buzz Aldrin, APOLLO XI

“Beautiful ship… Great to meet you! Sorry you were unable to come to the set!”

- Robert de Niro, USA -
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