This is one of those all-encompassing holidays that deliver excitement and relaxation at the same time. You will enjoy a memorable week in which the best of Holland will file past every day: dunes and beach; historical town centres; calming countryside and windmills. Highlights include Amsterdam, Haarlem and Space Expo. We have planned your accommodation in pleasant Stay-okay hostels where you will want for nothing.
The hostel is on the northern outskirts of the city next to a small park called Schoterbos boasting beehives and community vegetable plots and flower gardens. Make your way down to the city centre to see historical Haarlem in its full glory. Museums such as the free archaeology museum for local finds and wonderful old Teijlers Museum for the sciences appeal to children. Don’t miss the guided tour of a great big museum windmill called De Adriaan overlooking the river and the city.
Today you can explore the lovely city of Haarlem before setting off for the coast. Everybody knows that this part of Holland is low-lying, even below sea level. So what stops the sea from flooding the land? Along most of the coastline it’s the dunes! Sandy dunes, preferably quite wide and hilly and covered in beach grass so the sand doesn’t blow away. So as soon as you spot the dunes, you know that the sea can’t be far off. Just wait till you see the big sandy beach! You can go hunting for pretty seashells, small crabs and tiny hermit crabs; jump waves; build sand castles etc.
Today you can expect a lovely mix of woods and dunes. Have a pit stop in Zandvoort, a seaside resort, also famous for its circuit park where racing cars compete. Then follow the coastline down to Noordwijk where your hostel stands on the edge of the woods and the dunes.
For children who want to know all about space, astronauts, satellites and rockets, this is the day you should visit Space Expo in Noordwijk. Alternatively, cycle in the green countryside around Noordwijk. In April or early May, you may get to see the tulipfields in bloom. In the afternoon, go for a swim or a walk at the beach.
Today's route passes just south of Schiphol airport and then through Amsterdamse Bos woods and along the banks of the river Amstel to Amsterdam. If you have very young children, you might prefer to cycle to Nieuw Vennep train station and then catch a train to Amsterdam Central Station. From there it’s only a short bike ride to the hostel. Your Stay-Okay hostel is in a quiet neighbourhood in the east of the city. It’s only a 15-minute bike ride to down-town Amsterdam. Take your time to explore this world-famous city which guarantees loads to do and see for all ages. Improve your mind at NEMO science centre. Go on a canal cruise. Meet the Dutch in the park. The possibilities are endless.
The centre of Amsterdam is beautiful. But other districts also offer a variety of architecture, culture and lovely parks. Go to Vondel Park, for example, and continue to Museumplein or P.C. Hooftstraat for the biggest fashion and luxury brands. For waterside chilling, check out Oosterdok with a view of (replica) 17th century sailing ship “The Amsterdam”. If you want to board the ship, go to the National Maritime Museum and you’ll be in for a very interesting afternoon.
Leave the city and plunge into peaceful, wide-open countryside. The picturesque village of Spaarndam was built around a dam across the River Spaarne where the river emptied into a saltwater bay (this was very long ago – nowadays there is no sea to be found!). The oldest houses are perched on top of the dam. Kolksluis lock, an opening where boats can pass through the dam, is said to be the oldest working shipping lock in Europe (1280). You may be interested to see the monument to the “Little Hero of Haarlem”. On Youtube you can find several versions of this folktale for children about a boy who plugged a hole in the dike with his fist and saved the town from flooding.
After filling up at the breakfast buffet, it’s time to pack your bags and make your way home.