Known in the tourism industry as Benelux, the triumvirate that is Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg would have to be one of the most underrated yet visually stunning parts of Western Europe. Size doesn't matter and these petite provinces can still pack a punch when it comes to delivering a plethora of tourism attractions, culinary indulgences and the stunning landscapes that inspired the Masters to paint their best work.
No country is more synonymous with the natural beauty of spring and the explosion of floral color than The Netherlands. The tulips of Holland have been written about, sung about and painted for generations and a trip to the Netherlands in spring to enjoy them in full bloom is a must for any admirer of the beautiful bulbs.
Gate-1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) features a "Six-Day Tulip Time in Amsterdam" package priced from $659 per person based on double occupancy. The combo includes round-trip airfare from New York to Amsterdam, airline fuel surcharges, four-nights' accommodation at the Ibis Stopera Hotel, daily breakfast and admission and transportation to Keukenhof Park, to view the most varied display of tulips, daffodils, irises, hyacinths and other spring flowers in the world. This price is for a March 22, 2006 departure only. Add $40 for the March 29, 2006 departure or add $200 for Wednesday departures throughout April and on May 3 and 10, 2006.
The "Nine-Day Holland Spring Tulip River Cruise" takes you from Amsterdam to Volendam, Edam, Enkhuizen, Arnhem, Antwerp, Ghent, Zierikzee, Dordrecht and Utrecht and is priced from $1,789 per person. This guided package tour of both Holland and northern Belgium includes round-trip flights from New York to Amsterdam, airline fuel surcharges, seven-nights Deluxe river cruise on Amadeus Waterway's MS Amadagio in an outside cabin, all transfers, 20 meals (seven breakfasts, six lunches and seven dinners with wine), sightseeing in an air-conditioned motor coach and entrance fees per itinerary. One of the trip's highlights is a visit to the famed Keukenhof Gardens. This trip departs on March 25, 2006 with additional April and May departure dates available from prices in the range of $2,099 to $2,569. These prices represent a savings of $150 per person and must be booked by February 28 to qualify. Please enter promotional code RCW150 when booking.
Chocolate addicts beware -- Belgium is a cocoa lover's nirvana and once you taste the rich creamy flavors of Belgium's most famous export (well, maybe a close second to its beer), you may never want to eat anything else.
Gate-1 Travel's "Eight-Day Bruges and Brussels by Rail" independent package is the perfect introduction to two of Belgium's most treasured cities. Priced from $899 per person for Monday departures from New York from April 3 to May 22, 2006, the package includes round-trip airfare to Brussels, fuel surcharges, rail transport between the two cities, three-nights' accommodation each at Ibis Brugge Centruim and Ibis Grand Place in Brussels and daily breakfast. Add $30 for Monday departures from September 11 to October 16, 2006 and up to $300 more for departures between late May and late August.
Go-Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) has an "Amsterdam and Brussels Special" for spring season travel between March 26 and May 26, 2006. The six-night trip splits time between the two cities and includes round-trip airfare, three-nights' accommodation each at the Vendome Hotel in Brussels and the Vendome Hotel in Amsterdam, rail tickets from Brussels to Amsterdam, daily breakfast and hotel service charges and taxes starts at $779 per person based on double occupancy. Airfare is from New York, but for an additional $20 you can leave from Boston or Philadelphia, $30 from Washington, D.C., $90 from Chicago or $110 from Detroit. Other departure cities available for additional cost.
If you can't wait until spring, there are even greater savings on offer for winter trips from Go-Today. The "Brussels Escape" package which includes round-trip air from New York (JFK), four nights hotel accommodation, continental breakfast daily, hotel taxes and service charges is priced from $349 for travel dates between now and March 30, 2006. Purchase deadline is January 30, 2006. The "Brussels and Bruges Special" starts at $449 and includes round-trip air from New York (JFK), three nights in both Bruges and Brussels, round-trip second-class train tickets between cities, continental breakfast daily, hotel taxes and service charges, for travel between now and March 24, 2006. Purchase deadline is February 16, 2006. Add $140 from Boston, Philadelphia or Washington, D.C. and $190 from Atlanta, Chicago or Miami.
For low airfares to Amsterdam, Brussels and Luxembourg City this spring, try 1800FlyEurope (tel. 800/359-3876; www.1800flyeurope.com).
Sample Amsterdam fares for travel between April 1 and May 31, 2006 (with some blackout dates) include:
- From New York: $355
- From Boston : $366
- From Washington, D.C.: $378
- From Chicago: $455
- From Dallas or Houston: $470
- From Los Angeles/San Francisco: $552
Sample Brussels fares for travel between April 3 and May 28, 2006 (with some blackout dates) include:
- From New York: $331
- From Boston : $348
- From Washington, D.C.: $350
- From Chicago: $397
Sample Luxembourg City fares for travel between April 3 and May 28, 2006 (with some blackout dates) include:
- From New York: $355
- From Boston : $366
- From Miami: $448
- From Los Angeles: $553