Old masters, mud-walking and wild-goose chases

12 best Dutch holidays


1 Maastricht gourmetsSandwiched between Germany and Belgium, Maastricht has developed a distinct cuisine. The Preuvenemint festival, 24-27 August, celebrates Maastricht's Burgundian culinary culture with a weekend where more than 40 restaurateurs will gather in the town square to offer regional dishes such as
zuur vlees (sour meat stew) and locally produced wine. Amsterdam Travel Service (tel: 01992 456066) is offering two-night packages to Maastricht for the weekend for around £231 per person, based on two sharing, including return travel by air or on Eurostar and b&b accommodation.

1 Maastricht gourmetsSandwiched between Germany and Belgium, Maastricht has developed a distinct cuisine. The Preuvenemint festival, 24-27 August, celebrates Maastricht's Burgundian culinary culture with a weekend where more than 40 restaurateurs will gather in the town square to offer regional dishes such as zuur vlees (sour meat stew) and locally produced wine. Amsterdam Travel Service (tel: 01992 456066) is offering two-night packages to Maastricht for the weekend for around £231 per person, based on two sharing, including return travel by air or on Eurostar and b&b accommodation.

2 Countryside cyclingThe Netherlands is the ultimate destination for fair-weather cyclists who perspire at the thought of having to change gear to pedal uphill. Anglo-Dutch Sports (tel: 020 8289 2808) organises a range of self-guided cycling tours of the rural Netherlands. The "Saxon Farm" tour - six days of easy cycling through pleasant countryside and along excellent cycleways in the Overijssel province - costs £332 per person, based on two sharing. Ferry crossings for a car and two adults, half-board accommodation, bikes, daily luggage transfers and route maps are included.

3 Mud-walking Wadlopen, or mud-walking, is a strange pastime peculiar to the Dutch of the Friesland region. From May to September, the Wadden Sea is a mixture of mud plains and islands - the ideal time for wadlopers to lead tourists out across the mudflats, possibly squelching over to the Frisian Islands of Ameland and Schiermonnikoog. These walks can be quite arduous, lasting up to four hours or more, and require a guide. Perhaps the most well-known mud-walking tours are run by Stichting Wadloopcentrum Pieterburen (tel: 00 31 595 528300), contactable for reservations - in English - from 6pm-8pm. Prices for walks range from £5-£15.

4 Gran Dorado Gran Dorado is a network of holiday villages offering all-weather entertainment and exercise throughout the Netherlands. Zandvoort's Gran Dorado is not only close to the beach, but also just 30 minutes by train from Amsterdam. Seven nights in a self-catering chalet sleeping four, from 4 August, costs £868, including crossings with Eurotunnel for a car and four passengers. Book with Eurotunnel Motoring Holidays (tel: 0870 3332001).

5 Amsterdam Mardi Gras Never a city to be considered inhibited, Amsterdam hosts one of Europe's largest and liveliest street parties - the Gay Pride Mardi Gras. Unique to this Mardi Gras, the main processions take place on canals, as barges are transformed into colourful tableaux. Kirker Holidays (tel: 020-7231 3333) offers return city breaks to the Dutch capital to coincide with the carnival weekend, from 4-6 August. A two-night break costs £252 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights, transfers, b&b hotel, and a cruise and tram pass.

6 Rotterdam revisitedMore than just the world's largest port, Rotterdam is beginning to rival Amsterdam as a centre for nightlife and designer shopping. The city's sparkling new architecture is complemented by an old harbour area and canal network. Shipping buffs will be attracted to the World Harbour Day festival, 1-3 September, when many ships and shipping companies open to the public. Stena Line Holidays (tel: 08705 747474) can book rail-ferry weekend breaks in September for £133 per person, based on two sharing. The price includes return rail and ferry crossings (three hours and 40 minutes from Harwich) and two nights' b&b accommodation.

7 Dutch masters Amsterdam's famous Rijksmuseum is currently showing an important exhibition entitled "Glory of the Golden Age" which pays homage to Dutch works of art from the 17th century. Amsterdam Travel Service (tel: 01992 456066) can arrange two-night packages, including a ticket to the exhibition, from £177 per person, based on two sharing and including return flights, rail transfers and b&b accommodation. The exhibition closes on 17 September.

8 Tulip tripsWeir Associates UK (tel: 01225 443844) will be running cruises next spring to see the Netherland's renowned bulbfields, which will have turned into colourful, fragrant swaths of hyacinths, daffodils and tulips. A visit to the gardens of Keukenhof is highly recommended, where around 6 million bulbs are planted every year. The three-night cruise sets off from Amsterdam and costs from £159 per person, based on two sharing a cabin. The price includes return coach travel and ferry crossings, with full-board accommodation in a cabin. Entrance to the Keukenhof gardens costs extra.

9 War tours Operation Market Garden, in September 1944, began with a huge airborne invasion in occupied Holland in an attempt to hasten the end the Second World War. Arnhem is the setting for Leger Holidays' (tel: 01709 839839) four-day tour to examine key locations of the battles, not least Arnhem Bridge, scene of the heroics of the 1st British Airborne Division. The Dutch Resistance Museum at Overloon and the war cemetery at Oosterbeek will also feature on the tour. This coach-based trip costs £169 per person, based on two sharing, including all travel, b&b accommodation in a hotel in Eindhoven and a guide. The next departure is on 11 August.

10 Zeeland wild-goose chase Limosa Holidays (tel: 01263 578143) promises to lead keen naturalists on a real wild-goose chase, departing on 30 November. The Dutch coast around Zeeland and Flevoland is a rich winter feeding-ground for prodigious flocks of geese, especially the barnacle, bean and white-fronted varieties. Guided by a Dutch expert, this five-day trip costs £745 per person, based on two sharing. The holiday includes return flights, transfers, full-board hotel accommodation, entrance fees and a guide.

11 Canal cruises The extensive Dutch canal system is ideal for exploring the country by boat. With a centre at Loosdrecht, south of Amsterdam, French Country Cruises (tel: 01572 821330) offers week-long boating holidays through the very rural landscapes that inspired artists such as Vermeer. In one week, it is possible to cruise a 160km loop via Amsterdam and the historic town of Leiden. A compact self-catering cruiser, suitable for two people, starts from £462 in total if you travel in early April or mid-October. Transport to Loosdrecht costs extra, but can be booked through French Country Cruises.

12 Christmas marketsClose to Maastricht, Valkenburg Christmas Market is a magical place for picking up unusual festive presents and decorations. Part of the traditional market is located in candlelit caves, where shoppers can purchase hand-crafted Christmas decorations among the icicles, and delicious locally made biscuits. Travelscope Promotions (tel: 01453 821210) offers four-day breaks to visit the markets during December from £89 per person, based on two sharing. Coach travel and ferry crossings, three nights' b&b accommodation and shopping excursions are all included.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: MI Developer

    £35 - 45k: Guru Careers: An MI Developer is needed to join the leading provide...

    Recruitment Genius: Fitness Manager

    £20000 - £22500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leisure organisation manag...

    Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Manager

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Delivering an inspiring, engagi...

    Recruitment Genius: Learning Team Administrator

    £17500 - £20500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a great te...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions