9 cool things to see if you only have one day in Rotterdam

Our visit to Rotterdam as part of our 4 day European Sampler Cruise on board Crown Princess was one of the most enjoyable days of the cruise. The sun shone as we stood on deck and the ship glided through the canal that led to the port of Rotterdam, the second city of the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. On the skyline were rows of windmills – the modern white kind rather than the picturesque old ones you get on every postcard, and the canal was lined with industrial buildings. We only had one day in Rotterdam, arriving mid morning and departing late in the evening but we managed to pack in plenty of interesting things, all within easy walking distance of the cruise terminal. So if you only have one day in Rotterdam, here are some of the things that we enjoyed on our cruise day ashore.

Rotterdam harbour seen from the Spido Harbour tour Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Rotterdam harbour seen from the Spido Harbour tour

1. Spido Harbour Tour

From the cruise terminal we walked across the Erasmus bridge, known locally as the Swan for the sculptural effect of its supports, and from the jetty on the other side we took the Spido Harbour Tour, lasting 75 minutes. We were lucky to have bright and sunny weather, but the large boat would be suitable for all weathers with indoor and outdoor seating areas, and a café to buy coffee and snacks.

Rotterdam harbour seen from the Spido Harbour tour Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Rotterdam harbour seen from the Spido Harbour tour

We settled on the open, upper deck from where we got a great view of all the interesting buildings alongside the Maas River. The commentary in English and other languages informed us about the modern buildings, many by notable architects, as most of the older buildings of Rotterdam were destroyed by bombing during the Second World War. We toured up one side of the harbour, past the Euromast tower and around the working shipyards where cranes were loading goods and colourful containers were stacked along the quay. Returning along the other side of the harbour we made a detour to pass the old cruise liner SS Rotterdam, the Hotel New York and the Crown Princess moored on Wilhelmina Pier, before being dropped off beside the Erasmus bridge again. Need to know: Spido Harbour tour lasts 75 minutes and cost €10.75 per adult €6.60 for children. The tours run all year round and in the summer there are around 10 sailings a day, with less in winter.

Rotterdam harbour seen from the Spido Harbour tour Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Rotterdam harbour seen from the Spido Harbour tour

2. SS Rotterdam

We passed the SS Rotterdam on our harbour tour, but unfortunately we didn’t have time for a proper visit. This steam ship was the biggest passenger ship ever built in the Netherlands under the Holland America line and is now a hotel and museum. In her heyday she welcomed celebrities like Frank Sinatra and European Royalty like Crown Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands and Princess Margaret of England, but now anyone can eat in one of the restaurants and cafes or have a cocktail in the bar. You can take a 1 hour audio tour around the ship to see behind the scenes in the charts room, bridge and captain’s cabin. Need to know:  SS Rotterdam, Katendrecht. Audio tour costs €16 Adults, €9.50 children 10am-5pm, free entry for the restaurants and bars

SS Rotterdam seen from the Spido Harbour tour Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

SS Rotterdam seen from the Spido Harbour tour

3. Schmidt Zeevis

Once we completed the Spido Harbour tour, it was getting close to lunchtime so we asked a local shopkeeper for a recommendation of where we might find some pickled herring, my husband’s favourite. We were directed to Schmidt Zeevis, a fishmonger’s and deli which had apparently won awards for the best in the city and was just a 5 minute walk away from the Erasmus Bridge. The chilled counters were full of fresh seafood as well as ready-to-eat dishes to take out, but there were tables by the window where you could stand and eat your lunch selection. In the open kitchen we could see large pieces of fish being sliced with great precision and the sharpest of knives. Display counters doubled as table tops and groups of local businessmen were eating anything from Japanese raw fish with dipping sauces, to battered fish goujons, all washed down with a glass of chilled white wine. We joined the lunchtime diners standing at a counters and Guy ordered a selection of herring and roll-mops from the deli counter, while I had the lunchtime special, which cost us around €10 per person Need to know: Schmidt Zeevis, Vasteland 60 – 3011 BM Rotterdam

Schmidt Zeevis in Rotterdam Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Schmidt Zeevis in Rotterdam

4. HavenMuseum (Harbour Museum)

Strolling down the Leuvehaven area of the harbour full of old boats, we were invited on board one that was part of the Haven (Harbour) Museum. This Dutch barge named Geertuida or Gertrude, after the wife of the owner, was built in 1906 and was used to transport building materials like stone and gravel to Brussels travelling along the many canals. Even more fascinating, as the volunteer guide explained to us, was that the barge had housed a whole family who lived on board. The children continued to manage the boat until they were too old, when it was given to the musum.

By the Haven Museum in Rotterdam Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

By the Haven Museum in Rotterdam

We were taken into the boat to see the old-fashioned living room, bedroom and kitchen, with the childrens’ bunks down below. The rooms were small but cosy and well fitted, and in days when many people lived in poor housing conditions, would have been a very pleasant place to live. There were also many other boats that you could look at as part of the Havenmuseum, with walkways between them. Need to know:  Havenmuseum, Leuvehaven 50, 3011 EA Rotterdam. Entry is free although donations are welcome. Open Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday  11am to 5pm although you can look at the boats from the quayside at any time.

Dutch Barge in the Haven Museum, Rotterdam Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Dutch Barge in the Haven Museum, Rotterdam

5. Maritiem Museum

Walking further along Leuvehaven we reached the Maritime Museum where we found the Mainport Live spectacle on the ground floor, with a model of the port and a light and sound video presentation to give you the feel of the life and vibrancy of Rotterdam. Upstairs there was the Sea Palaces Exhibition with examples of cruise ship interiors since the 1920s. The exhibition showed how cruise ships had developed from luxury liners that only the very wealthy can afford, to the holiday playgrounds of today that everyone can enjoy. If you want to wallow in the nostalgia of towels folded into animals, dressing up for dinner at the Captain’s table and leather trunks full of finery, you will love this exhibition. Need to Know: Maritiem Museum Rotterdam is open every day except Monday, Adults €7.50, Children €4. Address: Leuvehaven 1, 3011 EA Rotterdam

In the Maritime Museum, Rotterdam Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

In the Maritime Museum, Rotterdam

6. Architecture walking tour

At the tourist information stand in the cruise terminal, we had picked up a leaflet for the Architecture Walking Tour. As Rotterdam was heavily bombed in the Second World War, much of the old centre was destroyed, but the city has more than made up for this with some striking modern architecture. We crossed the Erasmus Bridge with the 139m steel pylon which earn it the nickname of The Swan. The walk along the canal took us past the “Red Apple” residential tower which gets its name from the colour of the exterior and the apple market that once stood here. Further along was the Art Nouveau Witte Huis or White House, an attractive eleven story building which was considered the sky scraper of its day, and one of the few older buildings to survive the bombing. The walking tour continued through the city centre with over 30 buildings of architectural significance to see, although we ran out of time to see them all. Need to know: Pick up a leaflet for the Architecture walking tour or Rondje Rotterdam at the Rotterdam info tourism office or in the cruise terminal. There are also Black street signs marked Rondje Rotterdam to guide you. More information about Rotterdam architecture on Rotterdam.info 

White House in Rotterdam Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

White House in Rotterdam

7. The Cube houses

A little way beyond the White House were the famous Cube Houses designed by Piet Blom, looking like a forest of cubes, each on its own trunk, containing the staircase. The houses overlook a small harbour area with a couple of bars which were a pleasant place to have a drink on the quayside and obviously very popular. If you fancy staying in one of the houses there is a hostel in two of the cubes joined together run by StayOkay. As the residents apparently got fed up of curious tourists wanting to have a nose around, one of the houses is now open as the Kijk-Kubus museum and I took a look around. The concept of Piet Blom was to create an urban village that included living space at the top level and small shops, businesses and play areas on the ground level between the houses, with each cube house being one of the trees in the forest. Having looked around the small show house, I decided that the houses are better to look at than to live in, with very small rooms and slanting ceilings tucked into the cube shape, but certainly an interesting insight into modern architecture in Rotterdam. Need to Know: The Kijk-Kubus museum is open every day 11.00-17.00 Adults €2.50, Children €1.50

Cube houses in Rotterdam Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cube houses in Rotterdam

8. A Water Taxi back to the ship

By the afternoon, we were a little foot weary and so we took one of the yellow and black water-taxis from Leuvehaven, near the Havenmuseum to speed us back to Crown Princess. We’d spotted the water taxis from the deck of the cruise ship in the morning when we docked and thought they looked rather fun – you could imagine yourself in one of those James Bond moments, weaving through the harbour with the baddies in hot pursuit. There was a crowd of people waiting but we all managed to squeeze in and I got the front seat beside the boatman as we left the harbour under the bridge, and then he pulled back the throtttle across the open water. In no time we were passing Crown Princess and Hotel New York on the end of Wilhelmina piers to be dropped off by the little boathouse jetty nearby. Need to know: Water taxis run from Leuvehaven and Veerhaven on one side of the river, to Hotel New York and SS Rotterdam on the other. They are normally running around every 10 minutes from 9am to midnight and our trip from Leuvehaven to Hotel New York cost €3.80 per person one way.

In the water taxi in Rotterdam Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Taking the water taxi in Rotterdam

9. Hotel New York

Our water taxi from Leuvehaven dropped us at Hotel New York, at the end of Wilhelmina Pier, and before we made the short walk back to Crown Princess, we had to stop for coffee at this legendary hotel and cafe. The historic building was once the office of the Holland America cruise lines and the place where emigrants from the Netherlands left for New York to start a new life. Now the building is a buzzing hotel with bar, restaurant and outdoor terrace. Of course there’s plenty of seafood on the menu and a relaxed, brasserie atmosphere. We sat at the reading table, full of books and international magazines, under an enormous crystal chandelier, for a coffee an enormous slice of Dutch apple cake. The whole of Wilhelmina Pier is being redeveloped as a happening place with a photography museum and old warehouses being converted into residential apartments. The terrace café in front of the hotel was also busy and a great place to sit in the afternoon sunshine, with views of the harbour and boats going by. Need to know: Hotel New York, Koninginnenhoofd 1, 3072 AD, Rotterdam – On Wilhelmina pier, a short walk from the cruise terminal. Open from 7am to 1am

Hotel New York in Rotterdam Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

We stopped for coffee at Hotel New York in Rotterdam

There was far more of interest to see in Rotterdam than I had expected, and it was easy to walk to many of the sights from the cruise terminal. Other guests used the free shuttle bus to take them to the central shopping area and the station, and I heard that some just stayed on the bus and used it as a mini-sightseeing tour. Another option that was very popular was to take the free bus to the station and catch the train to Amsterdam which I gather was a quick and inexpensive journey. There were also many excursions available to see various things in Amsterdam if you prefer to have transport and activities arranged for you.

More about our European Sampler Cruise with Princess Cruises

How to enjoy your Princess Cruise without piling on the pounds
Taster Cruise diary series at the Online Travel Journal
I found plenty of useful Rotterdam Tips in this podcast from Tips for Travellers by Gary Bembridge

Princess cruises logoMy 4 night European Sampler Cruise with my husband was hosted by Princess Cruises who offer cruises to European and Worldwide cruises to allow you to explore fascinating destinations and escape completely on board their elegant and spacious ships. Our cruise took us from Southampton to Rotterdam to Guernsey before returning to Southampton. You can keep up with latest updates for Princess Cruises on their Twitter page @PrincessCruises and on the Princess Cruises Facebook Page.

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Subscribe to Heatheronhertravels Don’t miss out – subscribe to Heather on her travels

How to enjoy your Princess cruise without piling on the pounds (easier said than done)

Food, glorious food, is one of the pleasures of taking a cruise like the 4 day European Sampler cruise I enjoyed recently with Princess Cruises; the abundance of the 24 hour buffet; the ease of never having to cook while on board; the delights of delicious and beautifully presented 3 course meals. It’s hardly surprising that the average passenger can gain a pound a day on a 2 week cruise, according to a survey last year.

As a food lover, I have to watch out for the creeping pounds and inches that seem to appear from nowhere whenever I go on holiday. Of course we all want to enjoy ourselves when on holiday, but if you go too wild with the eating and drinking, those extra pounds are tough to shift when you get home.

Although my 4 day cruise from Southampton on Crown Princess was a relatively short one, I decided to try and eat sensibly, while still having a great time and enjoying all the food on board. Here are some of the strategies that I tried and  how they worked for me;

Enjoying dinner on board Crown Princess Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Enjoying dinner on board Crown Princess

Cut back before your cruise

I find that it’s easier to eat moderately when I’m at home and in a more settled routine. At home I have more time to plan what I eat, stock up on healthy food and stick to eating at set times. Before my short cruise on Crown Princess I did make an effort to go to the gym a couple of times and stick to low calorie options like salads for lunch and grilled fish or chicken in the evening. It was a bit boring, but easier to bear when you know that you’ll have so many exciting food choices to look forward to once you get on board your cruise.

Fruit in our Stateroom on Crown Princess Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Fruit in our Stateroom on Crown Princess

Keep healthy snacks in your stateroom

When we boarded the Crown Princess, it was a pleasure to find a bowl of fruit waiting for us in our stateroom which I used to snack on during our cruise. I’m not sure whether this was a complimentary service for all passengers, but in any case I noticed that fruit could be ordered for your room. In the Horizon Court buffet restaurant there was also a good selection of fresh fruit available, so you could take an apple or banana to eat as a snack on board or on the shore excursions. Of course you may be tempted with delicious but not-so-slimming snacks in your cabin, especially if you are a priority customer of your cruise line. In addition to the fruit bowl we found a treat of fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate awaiting us, and I’m ashamed to say that my resolve wavered and I ate all of my share. However, if you are trying to avoid fattening treats, you can always let your cabin steward know and they can ensure that nothing too tempting is left in your stateroom.

Gym on Crown Princess Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Gym on Crown Princess

Head for the gym

On boarding Crown Princess, we took a walk around the ship to familiarise ourselves and discovered the large gym at the front of the ship. There were plenty of running and cycle machines, weights machines and a mirrored area with mats where classes were held. Guy and I resolved to spend at least 30 minutes exercising on the machines each day we were on board and my run was actually quite enjoyable, as the ship sailed through the changing scenery of modern windmills and industrial buildings as we entered the canal to arrive in the port of Rotterdam.

On our sea day we booked a pilates class which cost around $14 and I felt a satisfying ache in my tummy muscles after the class. Although yoga and pilates don’t necessarily work up a sweat, they are great for toning, posture and strength, so ideal to combine with the weights or the running machine. All the exercise machines could show you how many calories you had burned, although I worked out that running or cycling for 10 minutes would work off a meagre 100 calories, which might enable you to enjoy an extra glass of champagne but wouldn’t mean you could go wild with the cream cakes. A quick calculation made me realise that you have to exercise for quite a while to compensate for a creamy desert or cocktail so while regular exercise helps, you also need to watch the quantities that you eat and save certain foods for a treat.

Dinner on board Crown Princess Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Dinner on board Crown Princess

Plan your meal times and enjoy every mouthful

On board Crown Princess there were a wide range of dining possibilities, with snacks and pastries at the International Cafe in the atrium area, Vines wine bar for sushi and tapas, pizza in the pool area and that was before you’d even tried out the main restaurants. The Botticelli restaurant was the place for Traditional Dining where you kept to the same meal time and dining companions each night, but we preferred the Anytime Dining in the Michaelangelo or Da Vinci restaurants, where you could have dinner whenever you were ready and sit with different companions each time. We found this was great as a couple, since we mixed with different guests each night and heard what they had been up to in the day and their tips and recommendations.

For informal dining, the Horizon Court buffet restaurant was open through the day and evening, and we did eat here some of the time for breakfast or lunch. The food on board was of a very high standard and I noticed that the same dishes from the restaurant menu were also served in the Horizon Court buffet restaurant, so it was more a question of what style you preferred than any difference in food quality.

In general I found that it was easier to control what I ate in the formal restaurants, and loved dressing up to make an occasion of my dinner. There were plenty of healthy menu options to choose from and the portions sizes served in the restaurant were just right for me, although I avoided any bread so that I could really enjoy what I ate and not add food to the meal that I didn’t need. I think that in the psychology of eating you feel satisfied if you’ve eaten in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere and had time to taste and savour every mouthful.

Dinner at Sabbatini's on Crown Princess Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Dinner at Sabbatini’s on Crown Princess

Splurge on a special meal

Although the food in the main restaurants was delicious, it’s sometimes nice to splurge on a special meal. To celebrate our recent wedding anniversary we decided to book for Sabatini’s, the Italian inspired restaurant on board that is a premium dining option (you pay a supplement of $25 per person). However, just because we were celebrating didn’t mean that we felt we had to over-eat;  it was more about the exclusive atmosphere and beautiful painted frescoes. It was such a lovely evening that we would have liked to eat there again on the following night, but sadly the restaurant was all booked up.

Lobster trip at Sabbatini's on Crown Princess Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Lobster trio at Sabbatini’s on Crown Princess

I chose the chef’s wild boar pasta followed by a lobster trio which was delicious and a citrus tart for desert, with a glass or two of prosecco. As we decided to try Sabattini’s on the formal dining night, the evening felt even more special for being all dressed up, with cocktail dress for me and black tie for Guy. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, I found that treating yourself to a special dining night while on board makes for a memorable cruise and doen’t have to mean you eat more than usual.

Fruit in Horizon Court on Crown Princess Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Fresh fruit in Horizon Court on Crown Princess

Cut out a meal

At dinner one evening we met a couple who had enjoyed a 3 week cruise for their honeymoon with Princess Cruises and as I’d earlier seen them on shore in Guernsey in running gear, I asked them how they managed to stay in shape on a longer cruise. One tip they gave us was to miss a meal each day or at least eat lightly. They said that some days they would miss breakfast or just have fruit and at other times they would have a late breakfast which meant they could miss lunch and keep going until dinner. If you use this strategy it means that you can really look forward to and enjoy the two meals that you have and perhaps just choose a light snack and drink from the Horizon Buffet restaurant in between.

Salads in Horizon Court on Crown Princess Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Salads in Horizon Court on Crown Princess

Treat the buffet with caution

I must admit that I love buffets because you can taste a little bit of everything and not be looking enviously at someone else’s plate and wishing that you had ordered that instead. The selection in the Horizon buffet had something for everyone, from salads to homely hot dishes, to the same elegant choices that were being served in the formal restaurants. However, there is always the temptation to overeat at a buffet so to avoid this I adopt certain strategies. Firstly I tend to walk around slowly, taking in all the choices that are available, letting my eyes feast on the many different possibilities, so that my eyes and brain feel full before even a mouthful has passed my lips.

Salads in Horizon Court on Crown Princess Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Salads in Horizon Court on Crown Princess

Then I will take the smallest plate available and take a spoonful of two or three things that look delicious and return to my table to eat it. When I’ve finished everything, I may return to take another small selection of something different, or perhaps a second helping of what I have enjoyed. By taking small portions rather than overloading my plate, I don’t feel guilty about leaving something that I don’t like, and give myself permission to go back for a second helping. My stomach has time to digest and my brain has time to register when I’m full. Like all the restaurants on Crown Princess, the Horizon Court buffet offered plenty of healthy options and a salad bar, I just had to close my eyes as I passed the cakes and deserts.

The Center Court on board Crown Princess Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Center Court on board Crown Princess

Stay active on board

Although we only had one sea day on our short cruise with Crown Princess, on longer cruises there are no shortage of ways to stay active around the ship. We had a good look at the sports facilities and discovered the Center Court on the top deck where you could play basketball, paddle tennis or have a kickabout game of football. I noticed that there were plenty of other active entertainments such as Ballroom dancing, Latin American Zumba dance-fitness, Merengue and Line Dancing which sounded great fun. There were also talks with a health or fitness theme that would be good to keep you focussed and take you away (at least for a short time) from the numerous eating and drinking opportunities. Another trick we used was to always take the stairs rather than the elevators which left me out of breath when I had to walk from the Atrium on Deck 5 up to Deck 11 where our Stateroom was situated.

Fermain Bay on Guernsey Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Fermain Bay on Guernsey

Keep active on the excursions

I love to go walking and cycling so it’s a pleasure to incorporate these into any cruise shore excursions where I can. In Rotterdam we decided not to take the free shuttle bus to the town centre, but instead took a walk from the ship over the striking Erasmus bridge (known as the Swan). After taking a Spido harbour tour we continued on a walking route of the architecture trail based on a leaflet we picked up from the tourism stall in the cruise terminal. Although we didn’t follow the tour slavishly, and took a detour when we spotted something interesting, we saw many of Rotterdam’s striking modern buildings on this route.

In Guernsey I noticed that one of the shore excursions was a cycling tour which would have been a great way to see this pretty island, but as we had visited Guernsey before we decided to do our own thing around St Peter Port. We found a place to hire bikes just behind the tourism office but on a Sunday there was no-one there, so instead we planned a walk to Fermain Bay which we had visited before, where there’s a lovely beach cafe with a grassy terrace overlooking the sea. The walk took us around an hour winding along the coastline through woodland with views of the sea and after a coffee we made our way back by the same route. Be sure to pack your trainers or comfortable shoes for the cruise so that you can stay active on shore excursions.

The verdict?

I’d be lying if I said I stuck to all these strategies, all of the time, but I did manage to use some of them, some of the time, and I reckon that’s good enough when you’re on holiday! We all want to enjoy ourselves on our cruise and that includes eating delicious meals and having a few drinks with your husband or friends. Considering I love my food I was pleased to find that I’d only gained 1.5 lbs after 4 days of enjoying myself at sea, which is a manageable amount to lose after the cruise.

The main lesson for me was to have fun and enjoy the delicious food but in moderate quantities so that you’ll arrive home feeling healthy and relaxed.

Read more about our European Sampler Cruise in my Taster Cruise diary series at the Online Travel Journal

Princess cruises logoMy 4 night European Sampler Cruise with my husband was hosted by Princess Cruises who offer cruises to European and Worldwide cruises to allow you to explore fascinating destinations and escape completely on board their elegant and spacious ships. Our cruise took us from Southampton to Rotterdam to Guernsey before returning to Southampton. You can keep up with latest updates for Princess Cruises on their Twitter page @PrincessCruises and on the Princess Cruises Facebook Page.

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Subscribe to Heatheronhertravels Don’t miss out – subscribe to Heather on her travels

Holland’s wonderful winter getaways

With its crisp skies, outdoor ice rinks, beautiful light displays and unusual ice festivals, Holland is a veritable winter wonderland. Plan a magical seasonal break that celebrates some of the best sights, smells and sounds Holland has to offer and chase those winter chills away.

Frozen canal of Amsterdam Photo: Carolina Georgatou of Flickr

Frozen canal of Amsterdam

Skating under the stars

When the temperature drops, the population of Holland tends to dust of its ice skates. From the picturesque beauty of The Hague’s De Uithof skating track to the amazing city canals in Amsterdam, which have been known to freeze over on occasion, there are some breath-taking spots to enjoy when the weather is right. But don’t worry if it’s not quite cold enough for ice to form naturally, Holland’s major cities all offer amazing artificial rinks too.

Show off your skills on outdoor rinks offering you beautiful city views when the sun goes down, such as the simple yet gorgeous Museumplein in Amsterdam. Stretching out alongside Rijks museum, it’s the largest temporary ice rink in the city and is wonderfully atmospheric. Another top rink to visit is Ice on Zuid in Rottterdam, which pops up during the December Winter Festival and features special treats for children and hot drinks for adults.

Hotel Lumen, Ice Hotel, Zwolle Photo: Hotel Lumen

Hotel Lumen, Ice Hotel, Zwolle

Winter wonderlands

For a glimpse into a real winter wonderland, pack some woollies and pay a visit to the amazing Ice Festival in Zwolle. Every year, ice sculptors from around the world gather to create a magical collection of figures and tableaux, all crafted from solid ice. The festival follows a new theme every year and guests can choose to immerse themselves completely in the experience, by staying at the temporary, yet lovely, ice hotel created for the event.

Another winter extravaganza well worth a visit is the city’s Christmas Canal Parade. Dozens of beautifully decorated boats take to the canals in a themed procession. The parade is accompanied by lovely light displays projected on to the building banking the canals and as the sound of lesser-known Christmas songs, sung by carollers stationed on the city’s bridges.

The Hague Mauritshuis and Hofvijver at night Photo: orcanus of Flickr

The Hague Mauritshuis and Hofvijver at night

Cosy cultural trips

Take advantage of the cheaper air fares to Amsterdam and smaller crowds to visit some of Holland’s greatest cultural attractions during the winter season. Stay cosy as you tour the work of the Dutch Masters at the Amsterdam Museum and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Mauritshuis in The Hague or the Vermeer Centre in Delft and you’ll leave with a new appreciation for these amazing artists of yester year.

For a family friendly fairy tale adventure, you could also book a stay at The Efteling, a charming theme park between Rotterdam and Utrecht that’s only becomes more beautiful when the weather is chilly. Winter is also a great time to soak up Rotterdam’s culture, thanks to the city’s Film and Art festivals, which take place in January and February respectively. Be sure to book your hotels in Rotterdam well in advance though, as these events have a huge national and international draw.

Holiday hints

If you’re booking a holiday in Holland this winter, be sure to pick up a Holland Pass. Offering free and discounted entrance to popular museums, attractions and public transport throughout Holland, it’s a great card to have in your pocket while you’re discovering this winter wonderland.

This article was brought to you by Skyscanner, the flight and hotel comparison site helping you to find the cheapest flights to anywhere!

More things to see in Northern Europe

Five Hidden Hot-Spots in Amsterdam
Enjoy the sights of Europe on a Rhine River Cruise
Bike + Train = adventure in Copenhagen

Photo credits: Frozen canal by Carolina Georgatou, Hague Mauritshuis and Hofvijver by orcanus and Hotel Lumen by Hotel Lumen.

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read more travel articles at Travel Blog Home

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Subscribe to Heatheronhertravels Don’t miss out – subscribe to Heather on her travels

Next Page »