Experience Holland in the best possible way: a gorgeous spring excursion with the theme of flowers. This 5-day mini-cruise takes you through the most beautiful season of the year and to gorgeous areas in the province of South Holland. On this active tour, you will bike every day, and at night you will enjoy meals on board and the company of your fellow travelers and the charming crew and guide. You will 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, traditional and beautiful Leiden, 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-22 miles (35 km)
At noon the crew of your barge welcomes you on board in Amsterdam. During lunch you will meet your fellow travellers and your tour guide. In the afternoon you bike trough the charming Dutch landscape to the open-air museum village of Zaanse Schans. There you will find beautiful windmills, an authentic traditional Dutch village, a cheese factory and clog maker. After your visit you will make a short bike ride to your barge in 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. At dinnertime, the program for the next day and the routine for the rest of the week will be explained.
Day 2: Zaandam – Spaarndam – Haarlem – 15 miles (25 km)
After breakfast La Belle Fleur sets sail to Spaarndam. After the locks of Spaarndam, your cycle trip of the day starts. The journey takes you along the North sea beaches. There you will have time to enjoy a beach walk and afterwards you will bike to the city of Haarlem. This old city is famous for its courtyards. You can visit many of these, and by doing this you will get a view of the typical Dutch way of life. 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. Your barge will be berthed in the center of Haarlem for the night, so you will have plenty of time to enjoy a short city walk in the afternoon or in the evening.
Day 3: Haarlem – Keukenhof – Leiden – 28 miles (45 km)
Today your bike trip starts in the direction of Lisse, where you will visit the most famous garden of Holland. The Keukenhof, arguably the most famous flower park in the world, is the former queen’s herb garden. Nowadays in the park, you can admire hundreds of thousands of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and many other flowers in 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 and head to Leiden. On the way, we will stop by one of the many tulip fields and take a photo in front of it. After dinner you can visit the old city with the guide. Leiden is a city that is so beautiful that it received the UNESCO protection title for the complete old city. Leiden is home to the oldest university of Holland, and also the birthplace of many of the Dutch masters like Rembrandt, Lucas van Leyden and Jan Steen.
Day 4: Leiden – Kudelstaart – 22 miles (35 km)
Today you will get to experience another aspect of “typical dutch” culture. Cheese! The ride today takes us along the beautiful countryside and farms of South Holland where you will see windmills, canals, sheep, and cows galore. During the day, we will stop at a cheese farm, where you will learn everything about the process of cheese making and life on the farm. We spend the night in Kudelstaart, a small village near Aalsmeer.
Day 5: Kudelstaart – Aalsmeer Flower Auction – Amsterdam – 14 miles (22 km)
Today we have an early start. We start the day with a visit to the Aalsmeer flower auction. This auction is the biggest flower auction in the world. Early in the morning millions of flowers are auctioned off here and instantly sent out to all corners of the world. Afterwards you return to the barge, where you sail on to Amsterdam. As we cruise into the city, you can enjoy the old West part of Amsterdam from the sun deck. 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. Once the ship is moored the guide takes you for a walk around Amsterdam, where you can admire the beautiful old canal houses or “grachtenpanden” and also the small streets of the old city center. After coffee the crew and guide says goodbye and wishes you a save journey home.
At 12:00 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. On this tour it is not possible to bike self-guided. There is one guide on board biking with the passengers. The guide has the tough job of keeping the group moving, while also not exhausting the slowest riders. 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 lamb. The guide generally will keep you moving so that you are back to the barge around 4-5pm, 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
5 days/ 4 nights
- – 4 nights on board the ship (sheets, blankets and two towels)
- – 4 breakfasts, 5 packed lunches and 4 dinners
- – Coffee and tea on board
- – 8-speed bicycle, including pannier bags, lock, and water bottle and HELMET
- – Entrance to the Keukenhof, Aalsmeer Flower Auction, and cheese farm
- – Tour guidance (multilingual)
- – Reservation costs
After arrival on board you will be allocated a bike suitable to your height. This bike is at your disposal during your trip until Friday at 3 PM. Your hybrid bike has 8 speeds, hand brakes, pannier bags and a lock. Helmets are available. Before you make your first tour, the guide will give you instructions about the bike and traffic safety. We draw your attention to the fact that you will be held responsible for damage to or theft of the bike, as long as the bike is not on board. (it’s a bike with a value of more than € 800). Never leave it unattended. Always lock it and fasten it to a fixed object. There are a few e-bikes available for rent for $120 for the trip. You will have to book these ahead of time.
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 extra museums in the Zaanse Schans and other place of interest.
– Drinks (other than coffee or tea)
– Ferry fees (about (€ 10)
– 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. For vegetarian diets, there is no surcharge. For most other diets, there is a $40 per tour surcharge so that we can provide you with the correct alternative meals.
WiFi is available on a very limited basis on board. You can purchase 100 MB for € 3.00 to use during your trip. Even so, 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.