Experience Holland in the best possible way: a gorgeous spring excursion with the theme of flowers. This 5-day mini-cruise plows through the most beautiful season of the year and will take you to gorgeous areas in the province of South Holland. Enjoy a few unforgettable days on board of a premium passenger barge with excellent service and a diverse itinerary.
Visit the famous flower market in the center of the capital and discover the Zaanse Schans with its’ windmills, a traditional cheese maker, a clog maker and an authentic traditional Dutch village. Other highlights of this trip are the historic city of Haarlem, the world famous flower park “Keukenhof” near Lisse and the spectacular Aalsmeer flower auction, largest flower auction in the world. Bring your camera and be ready for some of the most memorable photos in your collection!
Day 1: Amsterdam – Zaandam
In the afternoon, between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. we ask that you arrive on board at your barge in Amsterdam, located near Central Station. By 5:00 p.m. we start with a short dinner cruise to the charming city of Zaandam. In the Golden Age, Zaandam served as a large milling center, making it one of the oldest industrial centers in the Netherlands. Thousands of windmills powered saws that were processing Scandinavian wood for the shipbuilding and paper industries. Nowadays, Zaandam is historically and architecturally interesting with a combination of traditional houses and windmills and modern buildings. The barge moors in the center of the city, and in the evening there is a short walk through the center of Zaandam. At dinnertime, the program for the next day and the routine for the rest of the week will be explained.
Day 2: Zaandam – Zaanse Schans – Haarlem – 6 or 20 miles (10 or 32 km)
A short bicycle ride takes us to the open-air museum Zaanse Schans that features beautiful windmills, an authentic traditional Dutch village, a cheese factory and clog maker. We then return by bicycle to the ship. In the afternoon you can choose between a boat trip of approximately 2.5 hours, or a bicycle trip (about 14 miles) to the beautiful city of Haarlem. In Haarlem’s center you’ll find the famous St. Bavo Church, home to the organ Mozart played. You could also visit the Grote Markt, the Teylers museum, and the French Hals-museum. In the in the afternoon or evening there will be a short city walk.
Day 3: Haarlem – Keukenhof – Kudelstaart – 25 miles (40 km)
After breakfast you will ride your bicycle to to the Keukenhof garden, arguably the most famous flower park in the world, where you can admire hundreds of thousands of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and many other flowers in full bloom. In the Keukenhof, various gardens and gardening styles can be found: the English Landscape Garden, the Historical Garden, the Natural Garden, the Japanese Natural Garden, the Formal Garden and three special colors gardens. Spread throughout the entire park there are approximately eighty sculptures from well-known Dutch artists. There are also several other art objects, such as the collection ‘Surprising Tulips’. After taking your time for a visit, you will get back on your bicycle at noon and head to Kudelstaart where the barge will be waiting for you on the shores of the Westeinder Lakes.
Day 4: Kudelstaart – Aalsmeer – Amsterdam – 22 miles (35 km)
After a quick and humble breakfast you will cycle your way to the flower auction in Aalsmeer. Early in the morning millions of flowers are auctioned off here and instantly sent out to all corners of the world. By 10:00am you will return aboard in Aalsmeer where an elaborate brunch will be awaiting you. Afterwards, you will make your way to Amsterdam, either on board the barge or you can finish this last stage to Amsterdam by bike. During the afternoon and evening you will have time to visit the city. Amsterdam began as a simple village at the mouth of the River Amstel but expanded rapidly with its famous rings of canals during its Golden Age. The palace on the Dam Square is sometimes called the 8th wonder of the world because it is built on 13,659 wooden piles. Amsterdam as we know it today is a cosmopolitan city with 40 museums, close to one million inhabitants and a thriving economy.
Day 5: Tour concludes after breakfast. You will need to leave your cabin by 09:30 a.m., but it is possible, upon consultation with the crew, to leave your luggage on board until approx. 3:30 p.m. so you can still go out and visit the city once more.
In the afternoon, between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. we ask that you arrive on board the barge, which embarks from the Veemkade, about a 25-30 minute walk from the Central Railway Station in Amsterdam. If you want you can bring your luggage in advance, from 9:30 a.m. onwards. A map, detailed instructions, and the name of your boat will be provided after your final payment is received.
The skipper and his mate are responsible for the smooth running of the barge. An experienced, multilingual guide indicates points of interest along the way, accompanies the bikers and can assist in case of flat tires or breakdowns. Route instructions are available if you prefer to ride on your own, but please let us know this ahead of time. There is only one guide on board biking with all of the passengers. The guide has the tough job of keeping the group moving, while also not exhausting the slowest riders. If riding in a big group doesn’t sound appealing to you, you could take the route directions and bike on your own. Also note that this tour covers a lot of great sites! While this means that you get to see a lot, it also means that during the daily bike ride, you won’t have lots of extra time to shop in the towns or stop to take a picture of every sheep. The guide generally will keep you moving so that you are back to the barge around 5pm, giving you some time before dinner to relax or walk around the town where the barge is moored. Note that in the Netherlands and Belgium, many shops close at 5 or 6 pm.
Check out our Tour Calendar under “Bike and Barge Tours”
5 days/ 4 nights
- – 4 nights on board the ship (sheets, blankets and two towels)
- – 4 breakfasts, 3 packed lunches and 4 dinners
- – Coffee and tea on board
- – 7-speed bicycle, including pannier bags, lock, and water bottle
- – Admittance to the Zaanse Schans Museum
- – Tour guidance (multilingual)
- – Route directions and detailed maps (one per cabin)
- – Reservation costs
A well maintained, comfortable 7-speed unisex hybrid bicycle is available free of charge for each participant. These German models are available in sizes appropriate to your height. The bikes come with grip shifters, hand brakes or pedal brakes, carrier bag, and water bottle. There are some bike helmets available on board for free. There are usually enough helmets for those who want them, but there is a chance that the barge could run out of helmets. If you prefer to bring your own bike you are welcome to do so, but there is no discount. Electric bikes can be rented for this tour ($60 p.p.). We advise you only to rent an electric bike if you have first tried one at home. They are heavier than regular bikes and therefore can be difficult to maneuver.
This tour is rated “easy” for its flat terrain and low mileage. All distances are approximate. The above planned itinerary is subject to change due to changing wind and weather conditions and other unforeseen circumstances having to do with mooring requirements, etc.
– Entrance to the Keukenhof garden (about € 25) and Aalsmeer Flower Auction (€ 5)
– Drinks (other than coffee or tea)
– Ferry fees (about (€ 7)
– Transfer between airport and barge in Amsterdam
– Gratuity for the guide
– Trip cancellation insurance
The cook prepares all meals: a substantial breakfast and a three-course dinner of very good quality. A packed lunch may be prepared after breakfast. Tea and coffee will be ready when you arrive on board in the afternoon. There is a bar on the boat with beer, wine and soft drinks at reasonable prices. If you have special meal requirements, we ask you to mention this when booking. In the case of a gluten-free or lactose-free diet there is an additional charge of $40 per tour.
WiFi is available on a limited basis on board. Do not expect to have a perfect internet connection for the entire trip. Usually during the busiest hours when many people are online, the speed gets slower, and some people may have trouble connecting.
Holland is close to the North Sea and has a moderate sea climate. Average daytime temperatures in April range from 55-65F, in May it starts to get a little warmer. Rainfall is about 10 days per month.