Highlights of our Amsterdam river cruise with Titan Travel – through Holland and Belgium

Highlights of our Amsterdam River Cruise with Titan Travel

A river cruise must be the ultimate way to soak up the history and culture of Europe, waking up every day to a new city, each with its stories to tell. Our seven days with Titan River Cruises on board MS Serenade 1 began in Amsterdam, where we wandered the canals, spotted street art and hung out with the locals in trendy warehouse cafes.

The week’s cruise continued through the low countries of Netherlands and Belgium, making memories of vintage shops in Dordrecht, chocolates in Brussels, cycling in Antwerp, canals in Ghent and modern architecture in Rotterdam. Of course that’s not all that we saw and it’s difficult to cover all the highlights of this river cruise in just one article, but I’m going to try as I want to you get the feel of the richness and variety of our Amsterdam River Cruise.

You may also enjoy reading 10 things we enjoyed on our Titan River cruise with MS Serenade 1

Highlights of our Amsterdam river cruise - canals in Amsterdam

Day 1 – Our River Cruise from Amsterdam

Taking the early flight from Bristol to Amsterdam to join our Titan River Cruise, we were able to leave our cases in the safekeeping of the welcoming team on board MS Serenade 1 and spend the afternoon exploring Amsterdam. On arrival day the guests were flying in or coming by coach for the start of the cruise and the ship would not be leaving until the next morning, allowing us a bit of extra time for sightseeing.

Our river cruise ship MS Serenade 1 was docked conveniently close to the Central Station and from here we decided to explore Amsterdam Noord, the area on the opposite side of the harbour, which is accessible by the free ferry that constantly plies back and forth from the Central Station.

Highlights of our afternoon in Amsterdam Noord

Anne Frank Mural in Amsterdam

Anne Frank Mural in Amsterdam

NDSM – Werf in Amsterdam Noord

The free ferry took us to NDSM Wharf in 15 minutes and we spent an hour or two exploring this former industrial area and shipyard, which has now been reinvented as a cultural and creative quarter. The old warehouses are being transformed into new apartments and offices and there’s lots of street art as you wander around. One of the stand-out pieces is the “Let me be myself” mural of Anne Frank by Kobra, which covers the side of one building. The whole neighbourhood is full of semi-industrial spaces that are used for galleries, performance spaces, music venues and festivals making it a super-cool place to explore.

North Amsterdam on Titan river cruise Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

North Amsterdam on Titan river cruise

Pllek for lunch in NDSM Werf

We’d been recommended Pllek by my niece who worked in Amsterdam for a few months which was as trendy as they come (just like us haha!). It’s a cafe set in an old warehouse overlooking the river, with tables on the decking outside and a beach area where you can hang out with a view of the water. We sat at a table inside the old shipping containers and enjoyed the laid back atmosphere. The menu is heavy on the veggie and vegan and I ordered the falafel with salads and dips (€13.50) which was delicious.

Amsterdam Pliek Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Amsterdam Pliek

Eye Film Museum in Amsterdam Noord

After lunch we took the free ferry back to the Central Station and stopped at the Eye Film Museum, a modern angular building that we could see across the river from where MS Serenade 1 was moored. The building is free to enter, with a central auditorium with bar/ cafe and stepped seating facing the giant windows overlooking the river. You can watch an art-film here, look around the displays of film posters, or visit the exhibition areas downstairs for which there is a charge. The museum shop has lots of cool gifts and postcards from old films.

As you walk back you’ll pass the A’DAM Lookout which has a viewing platform at the top of the building with a swing that takes you over the edge of the building with a scary view of the 100 metre drop and 360 degree views over Amsterdam harbour. It would be far too scary for me, but the daredevils among you may enjoy it! Tickets start from €12.50 or you can book a premium ticket package including two drinks. Find out more about all the things to do in Amsterdam on the iAmsterdam Tourism website and Holland Tourism website.

You may also enjoy reading 10 things we enjoyed on our Titan River cruise with MS Serenade 1

Amsterdam north shore Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Day 2 – A morning visiting the Kinderdijk Windmills

The next morning we sailed from Amsterdam with a morning stop at the Kinderdijk windmills, one of the best known places to see windmills around Amsterdam. The MS Serenade 1 had special permission to moor on the bank of the canal, so that we could walk the short distance to the Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage Site. As one of the included cruise excursions, a boat awaited us to give us a tour with commentary along the canals and past the old windmills, dropping us at the Nederwaard Museum Mill.

Find out how to book a similar cruise – Dutch Waterways with Bruges – in April 2019 with Titan Travel

Kinderdijk windmills Holland Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Kinderdijk windmills Holland

While you may think of windmills as being used to grind flour, in the Netherlands they played a different role in pumping water from the land, since a third of the country lies below sea level. Windmills were used in the past to drain the marshy polder, by pumping water into the canals so that the land could be used for farming. The water could then be channelled away through a network of canals to be discharged into the rivers.

Over time the windmills were replaced with more efficient electric pumps but the windmills at Kinderdijk have been preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so that we can understand their important role in the water management of the Netherlands.

Kinderdijk windmills Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Kinderdijk windmills

We enjoyed looking around the Nederwaard Museum Mill (tickets €8) which showed us how the miller and his family would have lived, with cute built in bunks at different levels through the windmill. In the past a way of communicating between the windmills developed, with the position of the sails sending a message to indicate births, deaths or even “The soldiers are coming” in the Second World War.

The name Kinderdijk means “Child’s Dyke” and there is a charming story of the baby bobbing in a cradle, that was saved by the cat during the Saint Elizabeth’s Day flood of 1421. Perhaps this was what gave the area its name, although the storm surge and flood of that year caused thousands of people to drown, illustrating the importance of maintaining the dykes to protect the polder from being overcome by water.

Find out how to book a similar cruise – Beauty of the Dutch Waterways with Bruges – in August 2019 with Titan Travel

Royal Delft at Kinderdijk Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Royal Delft at Kinderdijk

From the museum we walked along the canal back to the small gift shop and cafe, stopping in the main visitor centre, where a short film told us about the history of the Kinderdijk windmills. If you are visiting independently, it is free to walk or cycle along the footpaths around the windmills, and you can book a 30 minute boat tour from the visitor centre (tickets from €5.50) as well as visit the two museum windmills (tickets from €8) – with discount if you book online. Our cruise visit took a couple of hours and if visiting independently I would allow 2-4 hours to see the Kinderdijk windmill museums and landscape. More info on Kinderdijk and where to see windmills in Holland: Kinderdijk Windmills website and you an also book tours that include the Kinderdijk Windmills.

You may also enjoy: Holland’s wonderful winter getaways

Day 2 – Our afternoon in Dordrecht with MS Serenade

After our windmill visit, MS Serenade arrived in Dordrecht by lunchtime, and the ship was moored facing the river, close to De Grote Kerk. We had an afternoon to look around Dordrecht, which grew wealthy in the Middle Ages due to its strategic position in Southern Holland as a city trading in wine, wood and grain.

Dordrecht Netherlands on our Titan River Cruise Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Dordrecht Netherlands on our Titan River Cruise

Things to do in Dordrecht if visiting on a cruise

From the MS Serenade 1 we walked to the pretty Niewe Haven harbour, a semi-enclosed harbour full of smart leisure boats and crossed the bridge to explore some of the alleyways, filled with cute vintage and design shops.

Wijnstraat in Dordrecht, Netherlands Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Wijnstraat in Dordrecht, Netherlands

A Walk along Wijnstraat

We wandered the length of Wijnstraat, one of the prettiest streets though the old part of Dordrecht. The street is bordered on both sides by tall old houses, closely packed together built with different styles of gables and often looking a little wonky. The charms of Dordrecht were not at all showy but emerged in the muted shades of brown in the warm bricks and the intricate decoration and patterned stonework around the windows and doors.

On Wijnstraat, skinny 16th century houses mix with art nouveau facades, with tall, elegant windows and a range of architectural styles. We spotted lots of interesting small independent shops and cafes to stop, like Visser’s in a gorgeous old building, which specialises in a puffy Dutch pancake called Poffertjes.

Find out how to book a similar cruise – Dutch Waterways with Bruges – in April 2019 with Titan Travel

Canals in Dordrecht, Netherlands Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Canals in Dordrecht, Netherlands

Groothoofdspoort – the old City Gate from the port

Walking right to the end of Wijnstraat, we arrived at the old city gate, Groothoofdspoort, which was once the main entrance into the city. Because of its location at the confluence of three rivers, the city of Dordrecht grew rich in the Middle Ages by levying taxes on all the passing merchant ship and this was the gateway into the city from the port. The gatehouse has a small room open just inside the arch and as you pass through the gate, you get a fine view over the waterfront. There are lots of cafes with outdoor terraces that look out over the water, such as Der Poort Van Dort Brasserie, so it’s a nice place to stop for a drink or for lunch. If you are visiting independently, you may be interested in this Dordrecht walking tour.

Vintage shops in Dordrecht, Netherlands Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Vintage shops in Dordrecht, Netherlands

Vintage shops in Dordrecht

As we continued our walk through the old town of Dordrecht, we noticed plenty of vintage shops along Voorstraat which runs parallel to Wijnstraat on the other side of the canal, with tantalising viewpoints where you can get to the water and see the backs of old houses.

Other streets in this part of town have interesting vintage and antique shops so you may like to hunt for an unusual Dutch souvenir to take home. We also passed by the Dordrechts Museum, which houses six centuries of Dutch paintings, with sculptures and a cafe in the entrance courtyard.

Dordrechts Museum in Dordrecht, Netherlands

Dordrechts Museum in Dordrecht, Netherlands

Museum Huis van Gijn in Dordrecht

Our final stop as we headed back to the ship was at the Museum Huis van Gijn, a substantial townhouse facing the harbour at Neuwe Haven. This was the home of the wealthy businessman and collector Simon van Gijn who lived here from 1864 until his death in 1922, when his wish was that his house and collections should be opened to the public. The rooms are full of beautiful antiques and paintings which show how the prosperous family lived in the 19th century, managing to be opulent and richly coloured, yet somehow homely and cosy at the same time.

Find out how to book a similar cruise – Beauty of the Dutch Waterways with Bruges – in August 2019 with Titan Travel

Huis Van Gijn in Dordrecht Netherlands

Huis Van Gijn in Dordrecht Netherlands

The extensive attic space shows a glimpse behind the scenes on the domestic arrangements such as the laundry and also includes a museum of dolls and antique toys. We also enjoyed coffee and cake at the end of our visit in the pretty conservatory cafe at the back of the house that leads out onto the gardens. More info: Museum Huis van Gijn website. Tickets Adults €10

Huis Van Gijn in Dordrecht, Netherlands Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Huis Van Gijn in Dordrecht, Netherlands

Grote Kerk in Dordrecht

The Grote Kerke or Big Church is another major landmark of Dordrecht. Built in the 11th century it is free to visit and you can also climb the tower, although unfortunately we arrived too late in the day to look inside.

If visiting independently, you can find more information on things to do in Dordrecht, Netherlands on the Dordrecht tourism website

You may also enjoy reading 10 things we enjoyed on our Titan River cruise with MS Serenade 1

Day 3 – Visiting Brussels on our Titan Travel river cruise

We spent the morning on board MS Serenade 1 as our river cruise continued and by lunchtime arrived in Brussels. Our afternoon cruise excursion took us by coach from the ship, into the centre of Brussels for a walking tour which included a couple of tastings at the famous Belgian chocolate shops. The coach dropped us close to the Brussels cathedral of St Michael and St Gudula, giving us a chance for a brief look inside at the medieval cathedral with its baroque wooden pulpit with carved figures of Adam and Eve.

Cathedral in Brussels

Cathedral in Brussels

The Flower Carpet in Grand Place of Brussels

From the cathedral, we walked down the hill, through the swanky Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert (more of that in a moment) and along the narrow lanes that open out to the magnificent Grand Place. This open square is surrounded on all sides by Renaissance buildings including the Town Hall and Guildhalls and was once the site of the main city market, although now it’s more of a tourist hub with plenty of gift shops, cafes and chocolate shops. If visiting independently check out this Brussels City Tour similar to the one we did.

We were in for a treat, as by chance we were visiting on the weekend of the Tapis de Fleurs, when the square is covered by a carpet of flowers laid out in colourful swirling designs. The Flower Carpet takes place only one weekend every two years and on our visit the designs were inspired by the Mexican region of Guanajuanto, created with a million begonia blooms by a team of volunteers.

Find out how to book a similar cruise – Dutch Waterways with Bruges – in April 2019 with Titan Travel

Flower carpet in Brussels Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Flower carpet in Brussels

Chocolate tasting in Brussels

Another enjoyable part of our walking tour was a stop for a tasting at a couple of different chocolatiers. Belgium is world famous for its chocolate and you can barely turn in any direction without seeing a chocolatier around Grand Place. In the square we stopped for a chocolate tasting at Corné Port-Royal, established in the 1930s, with shops throughout Brussels sporting the cheerful yellow packaging.

In Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, we also tasted some chocolates by Pierre Marcolini who offer luxurious and minimalist chocolate creations which are the chocolate equivalent of haute couture, so it was no surprise to learn that the chocolatier works with fashion houses like Victoria Beckham. If you are visiting Brussels independently, you can always make your own chocolate tasting, since most of the chocolatiers will sell you a single chocolate to try or check out this Brussels Chocolate Tasting tour.  Look out for the pralines that are the signature chocolate of Brussels.

Chocolate in Brussels Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Chocolate in Brussels

Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert

We loved looking around the glass roofed shopping arcades of Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, built in the mid 19th century as a home for luxurious designer brands. This is definitely the place to window shop and admire all the beautiful displays, or sit in one of the elegant cafes which spill out into the arcade. There’s a strong showing of chocolate and confectionary stores to make your mouth water in the Arcade, such as Pierre Marcolini where we had our tasting.

Find out how to book a similar cruise – Beauty of the Dutch Waterways with Bruges – in August 2019 with Titan Travel

Tintin in Brussels

If you enjoy the adventures of Tintin, the famous Belgian reporter and his terrier Snowy, be sure to pop into Le Boutique Tintin, a shop and mini-museum which is just off Grand Place at 13 Rue de la Colline. The comic book stories were created by Hergé (the pen name for Belgian illustrator Georges Prosper Remi) in the 1920s and have delighted generations of readers with the comic book stories that take Tintin to exotic corners of the world, solving mysteries, getting into danger, and always outwitting the baddies! Find out about all the things to do in Brussels on the Visit Brussels Tourism website.

Day 4 – Things to do in Antwerp on a river cruise

The following day MS Serenade 1 arrived at breakfast time in the Port of Antwerp, where we were located in the Kattendijkdok, one of the inner port areas that lead from the River Scheldt that connects the city to the North Sea. Antwerp owes its prosperity to being the second largest port in Europe, having controlled the route along the River Scheldt over the centuries, growing rich on the taxes and international trade.

Museum aan der Stroom or MAS in Antwerp

Today we were free to explore all the things to do in Antwerp and decided to walk to the centre, passing the striking Museum aan der Stroom or MAS, which is a landmark building in the harbour area. The museum features changing exhibitions on each floor with stories from all over the world, showing how Antwerp has been the meeting point of ideas and goods through the ages (Tickets €10).

The building, with glass sided walls is an attraction in itself and it’s free to walk through and ascend the escalators to the top floor roof terrace, which we did. From here you can get 360 degree views of the port and city, so it’s a great photographic spot – look out for the convenient circular holes at different spots around the glass balustrade that enable you to get a good photos of the port. If visiting Antwerp independently, you may be interested in this Antwerp Private Walking tour.

Find out how to book a similar cruise – Dutch Waterways with Bruges – in April 2019 with Titan Travel

Museum aan der Stroom in Antwerp

Museum aan der Stroom in Antwerp

View from Museum aan der Stroom in Antwerp Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

View from Museum aan der Stroom in Antwerp

A Cycle tour of Antwerp

We continued our walk into the centre of Antwerp and decided to hire a bike for the day, so that we could see as much as possible during our one day in Antwerp. Although it’s a very walkable city, some of the attractions are quite spread out, so we hired bikes from Antwerp by Bike, who have a depot tucked away under the Zuiderterras elevated walkway near the Flandria information desk. You can hire a bike for €12 per day and they also run a variety of guided bike tours of Antwerp.

Cycle tour of Antwerp

Cycle tour of Antwerp

Visiting the Reubens House in Antwerp

Our self guided bike tour took us through the central square past the Brabo Fountain where (if you listen in on any of the guided tours) you’ll learn the story of the giant who cut off the hand of anyone refusing to pay the toll to enter Antwerp. According to legend the act of throwing the hands into the river gave the city its name based on the Dutch for Hand (hant) and Throw (werpen).

Find out how to book a similar cruise – Beauty of the Dutch Waterways with Bruges – in August 2019 with Titan Travel

Reubens House in Antwerp Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Reubens House in Antwerp

Our next stop was the Reubens House where the painter Peter Paul Reubens lived and worked until his death in 1640, enlarging the house in Renaissance style to give it the air of an Italian palazzo. The house is one of the top things to do in Antwerp, and we enjoyed the succession of beautiful rooms, displaying a collection of paintings by Reubens and other contemporaries. During his lifetime Reubens became wealthy and successful, employing numerous assistants in his studio to meet the orders that were flooding in. The pretty enclosed garden has been recreated based on paintings of the time, an oasis from the city beyond its walls where Reubens could relax with family and friends and a delightful place to sit among the flowers at the end of your visit.

Central station in Antwerp

Central station in Antwerp

The Central Station and Diamond District in Antwerp

With our bikes we were able to make a few more stops, whizzing through the streets of the old town through the Antwerp Diamond District where you’ll see streets lined with jewellery shops and onto the Central Station. If you’re in the area it’s worth a photographic stop to see the grand 19th century design and opulent decoration of the entrance hall and views from the upper floor of the different levels in the glass roofed train hall.

Botanic Garden in Antwerp

Botanic Garden in Antwerp

Botanic Garden in Antwerp

We cycled back through the streets of Antwerp and made a chance find of the Botanic garden, where we stopped for a quick walk around, enjoying the paths that curve through beds of cactus and exotic plants. The botanic garden was originally created to supply medicinal plants to the hospital next door and it’s a lovely green space to stop and relax for a while.

Find out how to book a similar cruise – Dutch Waterways with Bruges – in April 2019 with Titan Travel

Strawberry waffles in Antwerp

Strawberry waffles in Antwerp

Belgian Waffles in Antwerp

After our busy morning of sightseeing, we were ready for lunch and cycled back into the old town to the busy square around the cathedral of Our Lady of Antwerp. Since Belgium is famous for its waffles, I couldn’t resist trying one smothered with strawberries and cream at Creme de la Creme, while Guy who prefers savoury to sweet settled into Fish a’ gogo for a beer and some seafood snacks next door.

You may also enjoy: Belgian Food and Beer, the Trappist experience

Paniek bar in Antwerp Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Paniek bar in Antwerp

Paniek – The riverside summer bar in Antwerp

Dropping off our bikes, we walked back towards the port and spent an hour enjoying the sunshine at Paniek Bar on the edge of the port and right opposite the quayside where MS Serenade 1 was moored. It was one of the cool places that we’d identified on the map that Antwerp by Bike had provided where they listed their favourite local spots around the city. There seems to be a trend for these summer bars to open as pop-ups in old warehouses by the water, and this one also housed vintage furniture and bric a brac, with most of the seating being outside on the cobbled waterfront.

The Port House in Antwerp Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

The Port House in Antwerp

The Port House in Antwerp

My final stop of the day was at the Port House at the far end of the basin where the MS Serenade was moored, which I had spotted from the ship. It was quite a long walk down the quayside and I really wished I’d had the bike to get there more quickly, but it was worth the detour to get a close up view. Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, the building has an Alice in Wonderland air of unreality, as if a giant blacksmith had dropped his anvil on top of a toy house that was once the port’s fire station. The building is actually the head office of the Port Authority, an office that houses 500 employees, and you can take a tour of the building on a few days of the month. Find out more things to do in Antwerp on the Visit Flanders website and Visit Antwerp website.

Find out how to book a similar cruise – Beauty of the Dutch Waterways with Bruges – in August 2019 with Titan Travel

Day 5 – A day in Ghent with MS Serenade

Overnight, the MS Serenade took us on to Ghent, where we had an included walking tour around the historic centre in the morning. As the ship was some distance, Titan provided a coach to bring us into the centre, which picked us up later in the afternoon to allow some free time to walk around. The city of Ghent has plenty of beautiful medieval architecture and riverside buildings that were built during the flourishing wool trade in the 12th and 13th century, when Ghent was the largest city of Europe after Paris. If you are visiting independently, you may like to book a guided walking tour of Ghent like the one we did.

Graffiti Alley in Ghent

One of the unexpected parts of our walking tour was when we entered a narrow gateway into Graffiti Alley, a well known alley way that is an ever changing canvas for all the graffiti and street-artists. Since most of central Ghent is full of historic buildings, it seems this is a solution to allow a creative outlet for the street-art in the city and a contrast to the old buildings nearby. If you are interested in street-art, you can take a self-guided street-art tour of Ghent using the downloadable street-art map of Ghent.

Graffiti Alley in Ghent Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Graffiti Alley in Ghent

Korenlei and Graslei in Ghent

Our walking tour took us through one of the best known spots of the old city, the quayside known as the Graslei (grass quay) and Korenlei (corn quay) which was the old medieval harbour of Ghent set on the River Leie. In medieval times the harbour would have been bustling with ships unloading their cargo of wool and grain, in a trade that was tightly controlled by the guilds who build impressive houses along the harbour front. Now the boats along here are mainly those taking visitors on a boat tour of the canals and riverways of Ghent.

Graslei and Korenlei in Ghent Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Graslei and Korenlei in Ghent

A boat tour in Ghent

Although we had covered much of the old city in our walking tour, we decided to take a Ghent boat tour, which gave us a fun perspective on the city from the water. The main place to take a boat tour is from the Graslei which lasts around 40 minutes and costs €7.50. Although we heard many of the same stories on the boat tour, we really enjoyed looking at the beautiful buildings from the water and spotting interesting looking cafes that had a waterfront outlook. The tour took us past another landmark of Ghent, the moated Gravensteen Castle or “Castle of the Counts” which was given its fortress like appearance in the 12th century by Phillip of Alsace, to make it clear to the increasingly powerful city merchants who was really in charge.

Boat trip in Ghent Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Boat trip in Ghent

Canals in Ghent Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Canals in Ghent

Kayaks on the canal in Ghent Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Kayaks on the canal in Ghent

Climbing the bell tower in Ghent

At the end of our boat trip, we wandered some more around the canals and climbed the Belfry Tower which gives some great views of the city from the top. The stone stairways are quite narrow but on each of the floors you can pause to see the bells and read about their history. There is also a lift but it often required quite a long wait and some steps are still required, so don’t attempt it unless you are prepared for the climb! Tickets €8

Find out how to book a similar cruise – Dutch Waterways with Bruges – in April 2019 with Titan Travel

View from the bell tower in Ghent

View from the bell tower in Ghent Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Places to eat in Ghent

We enjoyed stops in couple of cafes in Ghent that I’d like to recommend;

Alice Ghent (Onderbergen 6)- we had lunch in this pretty restaurant and cafe, set in an old townhouse with a courtyard garden at the back. It has an old world charm, with pastel painted panelling and sparkling chandeliers, serving light lunches, snacks and coffee.

Le Bal Infernal (Kammerstraat 6) – we stopped for coffee in this vintage book shop and cafe, which has a relaxed atmosphere and served excellent hot chocolate, made properly with dark chocolate grains in hot milk.

For more idea on things to do in Ghent check out: Complete Guide to Visiting Ghent, Belgium from Kavey Eats

Flanders beef and hot chocolate Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Flanders beef and hot chocolate

A sweet speciality of Ghent: Cuberdons

As you walk around the historic centre of Ghent, keep an eye for the Neuzekes or “little noses” also known as Cuberdons, which are a sweet specialty. We bought them from a street vendor near the Graslei bridge and they are berry flavoured with a sugary exterior crust and syrupy liquid centre. Because the liquid inside begins to crystallise after a few weeks you find them at their best in Ghent, so buy here as a unique treat to take home.

Find our more things to do in Ghent on the Visit Flanders website and Visit Ghent website.

Cuberons in Ghent Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Cuberdons in Ghent

Day 6 – A day in Rotterdam on our Titan River Cruise

The next day of our Titan River cruise brought us to Rotterdam, the world’s largest port which has heavily bombed in the war, but has rebuilt itself with cutting edge modern architecture and maritime heritage. We had visited Rotterdam on a previous cruise so had already visited quite a few of the main sights – read about my 9 cool things to see in Rotterdam here.

Find out how to book a similar cruise – Beauty of the Dutch Waterways with Bruges – in August 2019 with Titan Travel

The Maritime Museum in Rotterdam

Our ship MS Serenade was moored close to the Leuvehaven, where many traditional old boats are on display in the Haven Museum (Harbour Museum) as an extension of the Rotterdam Maritime Museum. It was fun to see the cranes, lighthouses and old barges that can be viewed as you walk along the quayside.

Maritime museum in Rotterdam Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Maritime museum in Rotterdam

The cube houses in Rotterdam

From here we walked through the harbour to Oudehaven (Old Harbour) where a visit to the Cube Houses is one of the fun things to do in Rotterdam. The yellow cube houses were designed by architect Piet Blom in the 1970s, his idea to create a community in the sky like a forest of trees. One of the cube houses is open to visit as a Kijk-Kubus (Show Cube Museum Cost €3) and another can be stayed in as a hostel – we’d visited the museum on a previous visit and it’s fun to imagine what they would be like to live in although I found the living space rather cramped. If visiting Rotterdam independently, you may be interested in this Rotterdam Highlights walking tour that includes the cube houses.

For more ideas take a look at my article on 9 cool things to see in Rotterdam.

Cube houses in Rotterdam Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Cube houses in Rotterdam

Cube houses in Rotterdam2 Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Cube houses in Rotterdam

The Market Hall in Rotterdam

A short walk from the Cube Houses is the Market Hall of Rotterdam, which is a must-visit spot for foodies (Blaak station is right outside). The food hall is set in the centre of the arched building, while the walls of the arch house apartments and office space. The light floods in from the glass at either end, although the hall is completely enclosed, making it a great option to visit when the weather is not so good. There are over 100 different market stands, some selling fresh produce but others restaurants and cafes serving every imaginable kind of food, from typical Dutch fish dishes to world cuisine.

Check out The Rotterdam City Guide from The Travel Hack for more ideas on Things to do in Rotterdam

We decided to have lunch at one of the seafood stalls and after placing our order we sat and ate it on the upper level giving us a great view over the whole market. We also enjoyed a couple of other food halls in Rotterdam – the Foodhallen Rotterdam which is just behind the main cruise terminal and had only opened that week and the Fenix Food Factory which was close to SS Rotterdam, both of which had a more local feel with lots of different food stands under one roof.

Find out how to book a similar cruise – Dutch Waterways with Bruges – in April 2019 with Titan Travel

Market Hall in Rotterdam Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Market Hall in Rotterdam

SS Rotterdam in Rotterdam

Our walk took us on to visit SS Rotterdam, which was a slightly surreal experience, since you get a taste of the cruise ship experience without actually going anywhere. The ship was the luxury liner that took guests across the Atlantic to New York from 1959 to 2000, when she was decommissioned and made into a hotel. You can go on board and wander around, with some small exhibitions and a video experience, as well as a paid guided tour or audio tour if you’d like to discover more of the ship’s stories. We enjoyed a coffee and cake on the Lido terrace, sitting around the swimming pool as if we were just about to set off on our cruise voyage.

Find our more things do in Rotterdam on the Visit Rotterdam website and Holland Tourism website.

SS Rotterdam Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

SS Rotterdam

Day 7 & 8 – Back to Amsterdam

The following morning we were back in Amsterdam, for a full day of sightseeing before our departure on the following day. In the morning, we had an included coach and canal boat tour (book a similar Amsterdam canal tour here) which took us around some of the elegant residential areas of Amsterdam, with a photo stop at the picturesque Riekermolen windmill, one of the few remaining windmills in Amsterdam.

Riekermolen Windmill near Amsterdam

Riekermolen Windmill near Amsterdam

The boat tour took us with commentary through all the picturesque canals of Amsterdam, so that we could admire the tall merchant’s houses that these days can only be afforded by millionaires. For the rest of the afternoon, we explored on our own, wandering around the Jordaan District, where some of the prettiest houses and canal views can be found. We returned there in the evening after dinner for a beer, sitting on the benches outside a pub, watching the world go by and soaking up the atmosphere.

Amsterdam boat trip Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Amsterdam Canals Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Amsterdam canals at dusk

The Rembrandt House Museum – Rembrandthuis in Amsterdam

On our final day, we still had some time to explore before our afternoon flight and visited the Rembrandt House (tickets €14), which has been restored as a museum (you can also pre-book a ticket). This is where the artist lived and worked from 1639 to 1658 and it has been refurbished to show life in the 17th century and how he ran his workshops. My favourite part of the visit was the artist’s studio on the upper floors where the raw paint powders were laid out and we could find out how all the pigments were made, each from a different stone, clay or natural material and mixed freshly in batches for the artist to use.

Find out how to book a similar cruise – Beauty of the Dutch Waterways with Bruges – in August 2019 with Titan Travel

Rembrandt House in Amsterdam

Rembrandt House in Amsterdam

The Botanic Garden in Amsterdam

Our final stop before we returned to the ship was the botanic garden, where we enjoyed walking through the different glasshouse, from steamy tropical house to the cooler palm house. We had lunch on the terrace of the elegant orangery cafe and walked past the lily pond and herb beds before we had to return through the Central Station to pick up our luggage from MS Serenade 1 and fly home.

Botanic Garden in Amsterdam Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

Botanic Garden in Amsterdam

How to book your Titan River Cruise on MS Serenade 1

The cruise that we enjoyed in August 2018 was an 7 night cruise – Delights of the Low Countries that started and finished in Amsterdam. The MS Serenade 1 follows a varied programme of cruises on the rivers of Europe throughout the cruise season from May to October, so you may not find the exact same cruise as we did. However, you can take a look at the MS Serenade 1 cruise programme here to see all the possible cruises and get an idea of prices. The ones that are closest to the cruise of the Netherlands and Belgium that we took are;

Dutch Waterways with Bruges – an 8 day cruise from £1,149 per person (April 2019)

Beauty of the Dutch Waterways with Bruges – a 10 day cruise from £1,699 per person (August 2019)

Amsterdam River Cruise flickr

You may also enjoy reading 10 things we enjoyed on our Titan River cruise with MS Serenade 1

Amsterdam canals Titan River cruise

Amsterdam canals Titan River cruise

To Book your Titan River Cruise

For river cruises on MS Serenade 1 and other cruise lines as well as other Titan Travel holidays visit the Titan Travel website and social channels Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Pin It

Thanks to Titan Travel who hosted Heather and Guy on the 7 night Delights of the Low Countries river cruise

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

Click to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, news and reader offers

Subscribe to Heather on her travels newsletter

You Might Also Like

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Europe tour Packages
    January 4, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    Thanks for sharing this tips, i am just going to have a trip to amsterdam and i am really very motivated by this post. I will share it my friends which are going with me.

  • Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.