Best of Benelux

Two kingdoms and one duchy: Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are more than just three small states between the North Sea, Germany and France. They share a common culture and look back on a Golden Age together. Between 1550 and 1700, magnificent town houses, canals, windmills, pictures and palaces were created. Some landscapes and cities still look like Rembrandt painted them almost 400 years ago.

This tour can also be done by train. If you have more time, London and/or Paris are easy add/ons.

This trip will be customized according to your wishes.

From Amsterdam to Antwerpen

Rental car pick-up

Rental car pick-up

Rental car pick-up
Broker: Sunny Cars GmbH
Company: Enterprise
Vehicle: Seat Leon or similar (CDMR)
Loca­tion: Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (Desk at Airport)

From Amsterdam to Antw­erpen

193 km | 2:30 h

De Haar Castle

From a simple castle to a fairy tale castle
Formerly a simple castle dating back to 1391, the castle near Utrecht is today one of the most beau­tiful castles overall and also the largest moated castle in the Nether­lands. Over the centuries, it was rebuilt and expanded several times until it finally acquired its final appear­ance, to which certainly fits the name fairy-tale castle. Towards the end of the 19th century, the castle was in a neglected state until Baron van Zuylen decided to have it exten­sively restored. The planning hand was the renowned archi­tect Pierre Cuypers, who had it designed in the neo-Gothic style, so that it could shine again in its former glory. But it is not only the castle itself that is worth a visit, but also the exten­sive park, in the design of which around 7,000 mature trees from the region were implanted.


Picturesque univer­sity town in the heart of the country
Utrecht is centrally located in the inte­rior of the country. With only about 350,000 inhab­i­tants and an area of about 100 square kilome­ters, the city is signif­icantly smaller than Amsterdam, Rotterdam or The Hague – but not a bit less worth seeing. On the contrary, its small size is part of its unique charm. The city was built around the cathedral, whose tower is not only the landmark of Utrecht today, but also an ever-reliable point of orienta­tion if you want to explore the medieval city center on your own. Colorful facades, cobbled streets and lots of greenery char­ac­terize the cityscape. So does the Oudegracht, which runs through the entire city center. The canal was built on two levels. In addi­tion to a prom­enade at street level, there is also a lower level, which is at the level of the water. Here, once upon a time, the berths of the merchant ships were directly connected to the cellars of the merchant houses, so that the goods could be quickly and efficiently trans­ported to the ware­house. Nowa­days, the vaulted cellars of the canal houses are home to cafés, bars and bistros that invite you to linger right on the waterfront.


Pearl of Flemish architecture

The harbour town on the Schelde has a history dating back to the early Middle Ages. Antwerp is a pearl of archi­tec­ture.

Thou­sands of diamond traders, cutters and polishers have settled in the centrally located, centuries-old diamond quarter. The best example of typical Antwerp archi­tec­ture in the Flemish Renais­sance style is the Grote Markt in the centre of the old town. In the 17th century Rubens House you can visit histor­ically furnished rooms with works of art by the Flemish baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens.

Accommodation: A B&B in Antwerp

2 Nights | 1x Double Occupancy | Bed & Breakfast

The well-kept B&B of Linda and Daniel is situ­ated in a quiet suburb of Antwerp, about three kilome­tres from the centre.

The four rooms of the house are indi­vid­u­ally furnished in a tasteful, homely style, which repre­sents a successful mixture of old furni­ture and modern comfort. The owners, who speak German and English, put their heart and soul into running the busi­ness and spoil their guests endlessly – starting with a rich Breakfast with many fresh and homemade prod­ucts, rounded off by an atten­tive service. The common lounge is also inviting, where you can make your­self comfort­able after a stren­uous day. The centre can be reached in a few minutes by public trans­port, with a stop nearby.

Grote Market

Guild houses at the central square of Antwerp
The central square in the old town of Antwerp is one of the most beau­tiful in Europe. It got its shape in the 16th and 17th centuries, when magnif­i­cent guild houses were built all around. In front of the Town Hall, deco­rated with columns, figures and coats of arms, the Brabob fountain splashes with the figure of Centurio Brabo, who is about to throw the giant's cut off hand.

From Antw­erpen to Bruges

97 km | 2:00 h


Flemish merchant town from the picture book

The Flemish metropolis is one of the most beau­tiful cities in Europe. It owes its importance to a storm surge that tore a naviga­tion channel right through to the North Sea.

In addi­tion to the hanseatic dealers from Genoa, Venice and Florence, as well as from southern Germany in the 13th Century, Castile, Portugal and Scot­land belonged to the regular visitors of the city. A stock exchange building (possibly the first in the world) opened in the house of a merchant family Van der Beurse; the term “stock market” (Börse) is believed to orig­inate from this surname. After pros­pering in the high Middle Ages, the city came under Spanish rule and became impov­er­ished, hence the histor­ical build­ings were preserved. Only towards the end of the 19th century Romantics discov­ered the unique charm of the city, with its canals and channels. Around the city are medieval ramparts, on which windmills stand.

Accommodation: A guesthouse in Bruges

2 Nights | 1x Double Occupancy | Bed & Breakfast

Already in the Middle Ages the house accommo­d­ated pilgrims and other poor trav­ellers in a quiet side street near the market place.

After its thor­ough rede­sign, it only has three guest rooms now, which are all the more comfort­able. The whole building, over­looking the old roofs of Bruges, is a mixture of old and new, full of char­acter. In the morning Julie serves her guests a hearty Breakfast in the living and dining room; in summer you can also enjoy it in the court­yard. Numerous sights of the city are within walking distance, as well as cafés and restau­rants.


Beau­tiful view of Bruges
The most important tower of Bruges is 83 metres high and houses, among other things, a carillon with 47 bells. In the entrance hall visitors have the opportu­nity to learn a lot about the history and mission of the Bruges Belfrieds, which is protected as a world cultural heritage site. Those who are not afraid to climb the 366 steps of the tower can stop at the treasure chamber, where important city docu­ments, the city seal and the city treasury were kept in the Middle Ages, at the impres­sive clockwork or the carillon. At the top, your efforts will be rewarded with a beau­tiful pano­ramic view of Bruges and the surrounding area.

Holy Blood Basilica

Oldest building of Bruges
The oldest preserved building in Bruges, the Basilica of the Holy Blood, stands on the Castleplein. The late Gothic chapel was built above the Roma­nesque St. Baselius chapel from 1139, in which the relic of the Holy Blood is kept. The crusader Diet­rich of Alsace brought them back from his crusade to Jersualem in 1168.


Town Hall of Bruges
Fili­gree tracery, turrets and statues of the Flemish counts adorn the beau­tiful façade of the Stadhuis from 1376, one of the oldest town halls in Belgium. The city has been admin­is­tered from here for over 600 years. The Gothic Hall impresses with its sculptur-deco­rated, gold-painted wooden vaulted ceiling and artistic mural painting with scenes from the history of Bruges. The Civiele Griffie with the figures of Justitia, Moses and Aaron on the gables next door served as a peace court.

From Bruges to Luxem­bourg

324 km | 4:00 h


Rough mountain plateau in the south of Belgium
The name comes from the Celtic word for “high­land”: Arduenna. In fact, the Ardennes are a rough and wooded mountain plateau in the south of Belgium. To the east they merge with the Eifel without a natural border. To the north they flatten out towards Liège. The highest point is the Hohe Venn, an upland moor near the German border, at almost 700 metres above sea level. The fact that the Ardennes are only sparsely popu­lated is only partly due to the harsh climate. The wars between France and the Habsburg Nether­lands also contributed to the depop­u­la­tion. In the 20th century, the German army advanced twice against France. Both times the Ardennes were the deploy­ment area. Testi­monies of the fights can still be found today.


Student flair in medieval Manhattan
Only very few places have that much Euro­pean history and culture per square kilometre. Today Ghent is the second largest city in Flan­ders after Antwerp. In the Middle Ages it was the second largest north of the Alps. Only Paris was bigger with Cologne and London taking third and fourth place. No wonder, then, that there are almost 10,000 cultu­r­ally and histor­ically valu­able build­ings in the town. In addi­tion, Ghent is the largest student city in Belgium, which is always a reliable indicator for a lively scene and afford­able prices.

St. Bavo's Cathedral

Flemish master­pieces in an impe­rial church
When Emperor Charles was baptized here in 1500, the transforma­tion from a closed Roma­nesque church to a spacious Gothic church was in full swing. The sacred building has 22 altars made of marble and oak. Most visitors want to see the one done by Jan van Eyck in 1432. The altar­piece around the Adora­tion of God's Lamb is one of the most important works of art in Ghent – and has an adventurous history behind it. This unique master­piece survived the icon­oclasm, fell into French hands under Napoleon and was claimed as prop­erty by National Socialist Germany during the Second World War. Cinema-goers should know it very well from the Clooney movie “The Monu­ments Men”.


Grand Duchy at the centre of Europe

The Grand Duchy is the last of its kind of once twelve in Europe. Today Luxem­bourg (from “Lützelburg” = “small castle”) is an inde­pen­dent state, although with only 2,500 square kilome­tres and just over 500,000 inhab­i­tants it is one of the smallest in the world.

This played an important role in the Euro­pean unifica­tion process. Luxem­bourg is the admin­is­tra­tive centre of the Euro­pean Union, the seat of the Euro­pean Court of Justice (ECJ) and other institu­tions. The mother tongue of the Luxem­bourgers is Luxem­bour­gish (“Lëtzebuergesch”), a Mosel-Franco­nian idiom that was regarded as a purely High German dialect until the 20th century. It was not until 1984 that it became the inde­pen­dent national language and co-offi­cial language of the country (along­side French and German).

Accommodation: A hotel in Luxembourg

2 Nights | 1x Double Occupancy | Bed & Breakfast

This charming hotel is located in a quiet but central loca­tion near the Parc des Trois Glands in Luxem­bourg. The tasteful rooms have wooden floors and are indi­vid­u­ally furnished in an elegant colo­nial style.

A lovingly prepared Breakfast with fresh baked goods, muesli, fruit, egg dishes and other ingre­di­ents is served in the small Breakfast room with a cosy ambi­ence at the table. When the weather is fine, the well-kept garden area with terrace invites you to linger. The Museum of Modern Art and the Musée Dräi Eechelen are located in the park; the city centre can be reached in a few minutes.

Luxem­bourg Switz­er­land

Mossy canyons, bizzare rocks
The region in the north­east of the Grand Duchy owes its name to the sand­stone cliffs formed by erosion. It is partic­u­larly popular with climbers and hikers and is part of the German-Luxem­bourg Nature Park. Centrally located is the Müllerthal, a deeply cut brook landscape with several loops, through which runs the 110 km long Mullerthal Trail. There are also short circular hiking trails. Our hiking sugges­tion leads to one of the most impres­sive rocks, the Predigtstuhl, to the castle Beaufort and to the rock labyrinth Raiber­hiel. The way back leads through a mossy Roitzbach gorge. (round trip: 20.4 kilome­ters, 6:30 hours, up and down: 460 meters)

Saar loop

Treetop path at spectac­ular river bend
The large Saar loop near Mett­lach is one of the most famous sights in Saar­land. The most beau­tiful view is from Cloef, a 180-metre-high vantage point in the Orscholz district of Mett­lach. The shore is lined by rock faces, screes and small gorges. On the wooded ridge within the Saar loop are the church of St. Gangolf with a former monastery and the castle ruins of Montclair. The only village directly on the Saar loop is the village of Dreisbach, which can be reached by ferry. Above the vantage point, a treetop path leads to even more views. Our hiking sugges­tion leads from the Cloef down to the shore and back via a serpen­tine path. (round trip: 8.2 kilome­ters, 3 hours, up and down: 272 meters)

From Luxem­bourg to Cologne

230 km | 3:00 h


Romance and wine in an ancient cultural landscape
The longest trib­utary of the Rhine rises in the Vosges, forms the border between Luxem­bourg and Germany for a while, and then mean­ders leisurely in a deeply cut valley through the wooded low mountain ranges of the Eifel and Hunsrück. The section between Bernkastel and Cochem is consid­ered to be the most beau­tiful, because here one still finds what can only be sensed in the indus­trial­ized Rhine Valley: the romance of an ancient cultural landscape. Villages and towns, where time seems to have stood still, lie in the shadow of myste­r­ious castle ruins and are surrounded by vine­yards that gener­a­tions of winegrowers have wrested from the steep slopes of the valley. Along the Moselle there are wonderful hiking trails (marked by an “M”), some­times at alti­tude through forests or medieval villages, some­times through vine­yards or quiet side valleys. In some places the path follows the Via Ausonia, a Roman trade route.


Resi­dence of Cologne's Electo­rate and Beethoven's birthplace
This city on the Rhine can look back, as can Cologne located 30 kilome­ters to the north, on a 2,000-year history. In its heyday, between 1597 and 1794, the Roman Castra Bonnensia was the resi­dence of the Electo­rate of Cologne. By the end of this period (1770) Ludwig van Beethoven was born here. After the Second World War, the Parlia­mentary Council met in Bonn and drew up the constitu­tional law – of which one of the prereq­ui­sites was that Germany renounces Nazism in the post war period. From 1949 to 1991 Bonn was the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany. On the market square lies the Old Rococo Hall, built in1737 and one of the landmarks of the city. Located directly next to the Hall is the “Kurkölnische” (Electo­rate of Cologne) Castle, now the main building of the Univer­sity of Bonn.


Castles, wine and half-timbered houses
From its source at St. Gotthard in Switz­er­land up to its mouth of branched river arms in the Nether­lands the Rhine covers 1320 km. For thou­sands of years it has been one of the most important trade routes in Europe. Between Bingen and Koblenz it squeezes through a deep valley which is one of the most beau­tiful landscapes in Germany and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Castles and ruins alternate with vine­yards and picturesque half-timbered towns. Many myths and legends surround the valley; the best known is about the Loreley, who sat on a cliff, combing her beau­tiful long golden hair and enchanting the boatmen with her enticing singing voice, so that many men drowned in the quickening waters of the Rhine. The best way to expe­r­i­ence the valley is from the boat on a trip from St. Goar to Kaub.


Rhenish zest for life in the shadow of the cathedral

Founded by the Romans over 2,000 years ago, Cologne is Germany's second oldest city. The city marked the northern boundary of the Roman Empire and was therefore of great strategic and military importance to the Romans.

For many centuries now it has been a leading trading and trans­porta­tion hub due to its loca­tion along the Rhine River. Cologne became one of the focal points of Western culture during the Middle Ages when, under the rule of Friedrich II, the relics of the Three Wise Men were brought to Cologne in 1164 after being captured from Milan. Cologne Cathedral, one of the most magnif­i­cent struc­tures north of the Alps, was built to house these relics, although construc­tion wasn't completed until 600 years later. Today the landmark is the emblem of Cologne and is also a World Heritage Site of UNESCO. The old town facing the Rhine together with the city boasting 12 Roma­nesque churches among its numerous other histor­ical sites creates a unique ensemble and Cologne is also known as the center of the German Mardi Gras cele­bra­tions that peak during the carnival period.

Accommodation: An Old Town Hotel in Cologne

2 Nights | 1x Double Occupancy | Bed & Breakfast | 1x Culture Tax

In the heart of Cologne's Old Town, just minutes from the Cathedral, the Rhine River and the main shopping streets and as part of one of Cologne's oldest family brew­eries, this hotel is a very special address.

The 37 rooms are modern and well designed – some with Cathedral views and their own beer on tap. The brewery has lots of char­acter with the Köbesse (tradi­tion­ally rude waiting staff) serving authentic Cologne cuisine and amazing views of the Dom and the City. One of Cologne's best known bands – Die Höhner – shows off memora­bilia of 40 years of band history over two floors.

Old town

Medieval alleys and brew­eries in the shadow of the cathedral
The old town south of the cathedral has quite a high Kölsch brewery density, medieval alleys and the historic Cologne town hall. Nearby is the fragrance museum in the Farina House, which is inexorably linked to the famous perfume “Eau de Cologne”. The Italian perfumer Johann Maria Farina created the scent that reminded him of oranges, lemons, grapefruit and berg­amot, cedrat, the flowers and herbs of his home­land. The reopened “Dufthaus 4711” awaits you in Glockengasse, with a fountain from which Kölnisch Wasser bubbles.


Gastronomy and culture in the former harbour
The former port of Cologne is today a modern city district with apart­ments, gastronomy and culture. Next to the old build­ings such as the harbor office, the crane houses were built, which tower over the harbor like over­sized cranes. There are also two extraor­d­inary museums: the Sports and Olympic Museum displays exhibits from 3000 years of sports history. Right next door is the Choco­late Museum. During their tour, visitors follow the path of cocoa from the planta­tion to the choco­late factory. The three meter high choco­late fountain may whet the appetite for more.

Museums at the Cathedral

Roman times and modern art
The Roman-Germanic Museum shows archae­o­log­ical finds from the times of the ancient Rome. Among the most important exhibits are the Dyon­isos mosaic from the dining room of a Roman villa and the tomb of veteran Lucius Poblicius. Both can be seen from the square in front of the cathedral through a glass pane. The Ludwig Munic­ipal Museum contains the Ludwig couple's collec­tion, which has attracted worldwide atten­tion. Art objects of the 20th century are on display – from Picasso to Roy Licht­enstein and Gerhard Richter.

From Köln to Amsterdam

Rental car drop-off

From Cologne to Amsterdam

270 km | 3:30 h

The route leads through the heavily popu­lated Rhine-Ruhr region north of Cologne, Gemany's indus­trial heart­land during the 19th and 20th centuries.

The landscape increas­ingly flat­tens out as you follow the course of the Rhine River to the border just south of Arnhem, then cross the Dutch lowlands to Amsterdam. Heavy traffic is likely to be encountered between Cologne and Duisburg in Germany, and between Utrecht and Amsterdam during the latter part of the trip.

Rental car drop-off

Rental car drop-off
Loca­tion: Amsterdam (Railway Station)

From the rental car station to the hotel

3 km | 10 minutes


The North Sea metropolis is extremely liberal even for Euro­pean standards, and curious tourists flock to its (in)famous red light district, its erotic thea­tres and its euphemis­tically named “coffee shops.” Indeed, the number of visitors entering the red light district merely to look and not conduct busi­ness has resulted in a severe decline in brothels in recent years.

The city's liberal roots lie in its loca­tion at the gates to Europe, which has always made it home to count­less foreigners from all over the world, and in the importance of foreign trade to the local economy. Amsterdam was born when a dam was built in the River Amstel (“Amstel Dam”) around the 11th century. The Dam remains the heart of the Old Town today, which fans out from the Central Train Station in a series of concentric canals designed in the 17th century. The city's main sights besides those referred to above include the Anne Frank Museum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmu­seum (national museum).

Accommodation: A 16th century canal house

2 Nights | 1x Double Occupancy | Bed & Breakfast

The small luxury hotel was built in 1618 during what is aptly known as the “Golden Age” in Amsterdam. The patri­cian town­house was built by a trader of spices from the Far East and, judging by its opulant furnish­ings, busi­ness was good. The histor­ical prop­erty served as the home of the Dutch Prime Minister in the 1880s, then became part of a univer­sity before being acquired by its current owners in 1968 and converted into an exclu­sive hotel in 1983. A recent renno­va­tion was overseen by Wim van de Oude­wee­t­ering, one of Holland's premier inte­rior designers.

In 2008 the facility was designated a “Hidden Treasure,” a presti­gious award bestowed by the Amsterdam Tourism & Conven­tion Board. The hotel “known only to the happy few” was praised by the Board for the unique design of each of its 38 bedrooms, its “incomparable ambi­ence with strikingly beau­tiful details,” and its “top-level hospitality.” Add to this the loca­tion in the very centre of Old Amsterdam, just a few minutes' walk from the Dam Square, and it's easy to see why this hotel is consid­ered a “Hidden Treasure.”


Shopping in the city of tulips
With its bridges, alleys and hofjes Haarlem is one of the most beau­tiful cities of the NIed­er­lande. Haarlem owes its wealth to the flower bulb. In the 15th century, the first tulip bulb came from what is now Turkey via Austria to “Haru­lahem”, that is, the resi­dence on a sand channel. In the 16th century tulips, hyanzinths and even crocuses were luxury flowers for which merchants paid outra­geous prices. In the 17th century, the wealth attracted numerous painters, including Frans Hals, to whom a museum is dedicated. Central is the Grote Markt with Stadhuis and Grote Kerk.


Cheese town on the Ijsselmeer
Edam cheese is certainly one of the country's best-known export prod­ucts. For centuries, it has been deliv­ered from the small town on the Ijsselmeer to the whole world. Today, you can visit the cheese ware­houses from the 18th century and in the summer, a new edition of the historic cheese market takes place every Wednesday morning. The marketplace was the center of town in the Middle Ages, where farmers brought their cheese to be weighed and sold. However, Edam was once also one of the most important trading towns in the Nether­lands, along with Amsterdam, Hoorn and Enkhuizen. As early as the 12th century, farmers and fish­ermen settled on the small river IJ, from which the town later devel­oped. Shipbuilding and trade brought pros­perity to the city. A stroll through the small shopping streets is just as worthwhile as a walk along the water, where you can make your­self comfort­able in a café in between.


National park on the coast
The national park on the North Sea coast west of Harlem preserves a nearly 40-square-kilometer natural dune landscape from urban sprawl. The backcountry of oak wood­lands and dune lakes is home to many species of birds, reptiles and rare plants, including several species of orchids. To maintain the dune vegeta­tion in its condi­tion, Konik horses, Shet­land ponies, and Scottish High­land cattle are used for grazing. A visitor center (closed Mondays!) provides informa­tion about the park and rents bicycles.



17 km | 23 minutes
11 days
from € 1,649.00
per person based on two people sharing a double room
  • Accommodation in a double room
  • Meals (as listed above)
  • Sunny Cars Permit for Luxembourg (payable on site)
  • Sunny Cars Permit for Belgium (payable on site)
  • Sunny Cars Permit for Germany (payable on site)

You can start this tour on any date.
Best Travel Time: April–October

The prices can vary depending on the season.
Your Consultant
Alina Frielingsdorf

Ph.: +49 (0)2268 92298-25

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