Amsterdam and Leeuwarden – European Capital of Culture 2018 – by First Class rail

Prices from £825 per person

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As the capital of Friesland, Leeuwarden has plenty to recommend it to visitors. But as the European Capital of Culture for 2018, there is more reason than ever to discover its many charms for yourself.

Beautifully set within a network of attractive canals and lovely merchants’ houses, Amsterdam is another classic Dutch destination. This fascinating city boasts a vibrant atmosphere day and night, world-class museums, charming restaurants and cosy bars and cafés, all framed by delightful bridges and pretty canals. Despite its worldwide appeal the city still manages to feel quintessentially Dutch. The old crooked houses, the cobbled streets, the tree-lined canals and the generous parks all contribute to its relaxed atmosphere.

Visit poignant Anne Frank House and the pretty flower market or discover the quieter side of Amsterdam in interesting areas like the Jordaan or the Pijp, or feast on the cultural splendour of the Museum quarter. Prices are from £825 per person based on two people travelling together in July 2018.

 

Day 1 – London to Leeuwarden

Your holiday begins at London’s St Pancras International station. Let the holiday mood take over as you board the Eurostar service for the new high-speed direct journey to Amsterdam in less than 4 hours. Sit back and relax in your spacious Standard Premier Class seat and make the most of the light meal and drinks. On arrival in the Dutch capital, you change trains and continue northwards via Almere to the delightful city of Leeuwarden – the capital of Friesland. Here you spend two nights at the friendly Hampshire Hotel – Oranje Leeuwarden (4 star).

Day 2 – Exploring Leeuwarden

With its myriad of waterways and lively city centre, Leeuwarden is well worth a visit at any time of the year. But 2018 is a particularly good time, as this is Leeuwarden’s year as the European Capital of Culture. Be sure to make the most of its spectacular programme of events to mark the occasion. Take in the music, theatre, workshops, walking tours, films and exhibitions, all covering a broad spectrum of topics from the Romantic art movement to Frisian dance to Mata Hari (arguably Leeuwarden’s most famous daughter) – and even potatoes in art!

Whilst in Leeuwarden you will also want to visit its everyday highlights – such as its superb museums. These include the Fries (with art and portraits amongst its exhibits), the Princessehof which covers ceramics and the natural history museum. There are pretty pavement cafés and enough 17th century townhouses in the city centre to satisfy anyone’s appetite.

 

Day 3 – Leeuwarden to Amsterdam

Enjoy a relaxed morning to do some last-minute sightseeing in Leeuwarden, before you join the train via Almere back to Amsterdam. Here you make your way to your hotel for the next three nights, the stylish, highly-rated Hotel Estherea (4 star) located on one of Amsterdam’s attractive canals.

After time to settle in, perhaps take a stroll from your hotel and find yourself on pretty, tree-lined canals or in the midst of Amsterdam’s bustling centre. This evening choose from the wealth of excellent restaurants, a cosy café or a bistro for dinner.

Days 4 & 5 – Amsterdam

With two full days to explore, you will want to make the most of this beautiful city. You may decide to explore Amsterdam on foot and wend your way along the enchanting network of canals or take to the water on a Dutch barge (payable locally). Amsterdam has some colourful and lively markets, including the pretty flower market or you might like to stroll around the attractive Vondelpark. Perhaps visit the Anne Frank House (payable locally) or seek out some of Amsterdam’s lesser-known and interesting quarters such as the Jordaan or the Pijp. The Museum Quarter gives you an excellent choice of cultural highlights, including the fabulous Van Gogh museum. You might prefer to simply amble across the criss-cross of bridges and canals from bar to café and soak up Amsterdam’s truly relaxing atmosphere.

Day 6 – Amsterdam to London – Homeward bound

This morning after a leisurely breakfast you have some time for last-minute shopping or a pleasant stroll to a different area of this fascinating city. Then make your way to Centraal station and bid farewell to Amsterdam as you herald the start of your journey home. Here you join the direct Eurostar service back to London. Take time to reflect on the magnificent sights, sounds and tastes you have enjoyed on your Dutch short break, as you sit back and relax with a light meal and drinks before your arrival into St Pancras International.