Okay travelers, let’s first calibrate our GPS and establish that Benelux is not the name of some beneficial fiber supplement. It is, in fact, the political and economic union of the three neighboring countries of Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.
And as such, there’s far too much ground to cover to do this Western European region justice, but since the international courts of the Hague are located here, we’ll do our very best to make our case for why Benelux is a must-see destination.
The Netherlands (BeNeLux)
We’ll start in the Netherlands, which appropriately means “lower countries” since 50% of the land is only 3-feet above sea level. For those who prefer a “higher” elevation, the first stop has to be Amsterdam, the capital city and the epicenter of “coffee” shops if you get our drift.
While Amsterdam is notorious for its more “colorful” activities, like rubber-necking tours of its legal Red Light district, you’d be crazy not to immerse yourself in its more “vanilla” offerings like boat tours of its charming canals, the Diamond District, the Rijksmuseum (aka the Dutch Louvre), or the Rembrandt and Van Gogh museums.
Our favorite place however is Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower garden, located in Lisse and featuring millions of tulips and daffodils set in an idyllic 75+ acre paradise. Open only between March and May each year, this really is a must visit if you come in spring!
Another Netherlands highlight is the aforementioned The Hague, a coastal city of around one million. Check out Madurodam and its 1:25 scale replica of the entire country. Visit the Peace Palace, home of the International Court of Justice, and enjoy some schadenfreude witnessing war criminals get prosecuted.
Say cheese! Cheese is big business in the Netherlands, so don’t go home without visiting one of Amsterdam’s many ‘kaas’ shops or markets and tasting some Gouda, Geitenkaas or Maasdammer.
You can read more on Amsterdam’s hidden spots here
Our next stop, Belgium (officially the Kingdom of Belgium), with more than 11 million people, perennially ranks near the top of the most peaceful and safest places to live in the world. There is no possible universe where one does not visit Bruges. If you do, expect to be convicted at The Hague. Often called the “Venice of the North”, Bruges is so unique and beautiful that we’re simply going to tell you go there. Or… we’re going to devote an entire guide to this magnificent city.
Brussels is Belgium’s capital and largest city with its epicenter being the Grand Place. This incredibly photogenic square is lined with lavish medieval guild houses and cafes serving famed Belgium beer (gueuze and kriek), waffles, frites (with 20+ dipping sauces), and countless to-die-for chocolates or as we call it “Europe’s junk food”. And yet, Belgium still outranks the US in longevity!
Atomium is a 335-foot structure built for the 1958 World’s Fair and represents an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. Just down the hill is Mini Europe, which like Madurodam, is a 1/25th scale model of about 80 European cities and 350 iconic buildings and a great place to plan your next trip!
Located in the Meuse Valley is the unique riverside city of Namur, a former military garrison dominated by the Citadel of Namur perched atop sheer cliffs. Built in Roman times, the citadel has been rebuilt numerous times. It’s an invigorating walk up and down so wear comfortable shoes. Visit the quaint shops of the Old Town and St. Aubin’s, the only Baroque cathedral in Benelux.
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying “Good things come in small packages.”? They were referring to Luxembourg, officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the tiny landlocked country of 600,000 east of Belgium. It might be diminutive but per capita, Luxembourg is one of the richest countries in the world and thus, not surprisingly, packed with an abundance of Michelin-starred restaurants.
Head to the Old Quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with its charming cobblestone streets and gardens. Explore the Walls of the Corniche for great views of the city. For sightseeing below ground try Casemates du Bock beneath the Montée de Clausen castle. Chiseled inch by inch by the Spanish in the 1700s, about 17 km of this vast tunnel system remain and is impressive enough to earn it a UNESCO World Heritage designation.
One of Luxembourg’s most picture postcard perfect towns is Vianden perched aside the Our River ad surrounded by an outer wall accented with protective guard towers. No wonder Victor Hugo, whose residence you can visit, chose Vianden for his exile. Well that, or the Our Valley’s scenic beauty and many excellent hiking trails.
All that walking deserves some rejuvenation and Luxembourg delivers with Mondorf-les-Bains, considered among the best thermal springs in Europe. Ache-relieving hot pools, massages and spa treatments will get you back on your feet in no time.
Benelux offers so much to do and see that we urge you to take your time and explore each in their own right! Check out our guides on Belgium and Bruges. And don’t forget to book your next holiday with ENTERTAINER getaways on your ENTERTAINER app! You’ll get to enjoy your vacation with up to 60% off your hotel stay!