Enjoy your first day in Amsterdam at your leisure to familiarize yourself with your surroundings or just relax. Walk along the legendary canals, lined with stately houses and gable facades. These gables are more than ornamental as the hooks provide the way to move large pieces of furniture in and out of these extremely narrow houses. Dinner will be on your own this evening.
After breakfast, begin your adventure by using your 24 Hour Canal Bus Day Pass to get an overview of the city from the canals - one of the best ways to explore this intriguing city. Your pass is good on four different routes of the Canal Bus, which allows you to hop-on/hop-off at any of 19 stops located close to museums, attractions, and shopping venues. Valid for 24 hours, you can hop on and hop off as often as you like. On board there is a commentary providing interesting information about Amsterdam. We suggest you begin your day's activities with a visit to the Rijksmuseum, the national museum of the Netherlands, which is included on your combination canal bus pass. The completely renovated Rijksmuseum tells the story of the Netherlands from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, including works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Franz Hals, and more! Your entrance ticket will allow you to skip the line saving you time to continue to explore the city with your canal pass after your visit.
Please note: you may redeem your pass on any day, but the museum ticket and canal bus pass provided must be used on the same day as each other.
(Breakfast & Accommodations, Amsterdam)
This morning is open for you to explore Amsterdam at your own pace. You'll see why Amsterdam remains one of the most popular destinations in Europe. Visit one of the other art museums not to be missed, the Rembrandt House or the Van Gogh Museum. Or consider beginning your day with a visit to the City of Amsterdam Museum, located in the city center at 92 Kalverstraat. Fascinating displays tell the story of the city from its founding to its Golden Age in the 1600s. Nearby is the Begijnhof, a charming courtyard which housed a semi-monastic community of women from the Middle Ages until the 1970s. The courtyard also contains the English Church, built around 1392, where the Pilgrims later worshipped before sailing to America.
In the evening, meet your guide at the designated meeting point for your Amsterdam-as-a-Local Walking Tour. This Tour is conducted in English and is only offered to Avanti Destinations clients. Experience Amsterdam's traditional pub culture with a local! Beyond the breweries and coffeeshops that Amsterdam is known for there are many charming pubs tucked in the corners of the historic city center. These pubs are frequented mostly by the locals and not by tourists giving you an authentic experience. Spend two hours walking around a city center neighborhood and learn not only about the history of Amsterdam and the daily life of the Dutch, but also the history of Dutch beer brands and their local spirit Jenever (also known as Dutch gin). You will visit one or two local pubs and have one drink there (local beer, wine, soft drink or a local spirit). After the walking tour your guide will escort you to the restaurant Grand Café 1884 where you will enjoy a 3-course dinner with choices for a starter, main dish, and dessert. The restaurant is located a few blocks opposite the Centraal Rail station for easy access to the trams to get back to your hotel, or if it's a lovely evening you can enjoy a stroll along the various canals on your way back.
(Breakfast, Dinner & Accommodations, Amsterdam)
After breakfast, head for the Centraal Train station and catch your first-class train to start your journey to Bruges. With its numerous canals and cobblestone streets, Bruges (Brugge to the Belgians) is widely considered a medieval outdoor museum. This perfectly preserved medieval jewel of a city is perfect for walking, it is very pleasant to just stroll around taking in the beauty of it all. The entire picturesque city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If the weather is nice, take a boat trip through the canals. You'll see some of the city's most popular sites from a completely different view. Boats depart from jetties around the city throughout the day and evening. If you're feeling energetic, climb to the top of the Belfry, a medieval bell tower and one of the most prominent symbols of the city, for a panoramic view of the town; the 365 steps are worth it. (You will see this tower on your tour tomorrow from outside, but with not enough time to climb it.)
Dinner is on your own this evening. There are a wealth of dining options with a good mix of Belgian and European fare.
(Breakfast, Amsterdam; Accommodations, Bruges)
After breakfast, your local guide will meet you at your hotel for a relaxed private two hour walking tour of this charming town. Along the way, your guide will acquaint you with the history of Bruges, as well as share stories and interesting facts that only locals know. Just a few of the highlights include the Belfry, Burg Square, with its diverse display of architecture, and the Basilica of the Holy Blood. Originally constructed in the 12th century, the Roman Catholic Basilica houses a relic said to contain some of Jesus' blood brought back from the Holy Land by one of the Counts of Flanders. Every day it is placed on a pillow to be worshipped. Also on the agenda is Gruuthuse Palace and Museum. This impressive palace now houses a huge collection of typical arts and crafts including tapestries and silverware, as well as an authentic guillotine from the 18th century. You'll cross the Dijver Canal and stop at the Church of Our Lady, famous for Michelangelo's famous Madonna and Child painting. And since this is a private tour, if there is a particular square or site you would like to include, your guide will try to accommodate your request. After your tour, the remainder of your day is on your own. Still searching for souvenirs for the folks back home? Chocolate has to be one of Belgium's most famous exports and Chocolatier Dumon is one of Belgium's best-known brands. This charming shop is located in a historic building just off the Markt.
(Breakfast & Accommodations, Bruges)