Deluxe Springtime Tour

This wonderful bike and barge trip starts and ends in Amsterdam, taking you through the provinces of South and North Holland while spring flowers are in bloom. You will spend time in the historical cities of Haarlem, Leiden, Gouda and Alkmaar, and learn about the water management of these lowlands at the North Sea. You will also visit the famous Keukenhof gardens, known for the hundreds of thousands of blooming tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and other bulb flowers. The world-famous Aalsmeer flower auction is also on the program, where an astonishing volume of beautiful flowers are being traded daily and exported all over the world. Also you will get to see the open-air museum ‘the Zaanse Schans’ with its windmills, cheese farm and picturesque wooden houses. You will be surprised and pleased by the beautiful, varied scenery and the wonderful bikeways this tour of Holland has to offer.

Daily Itinerary

Saturday: Amsterdam – Haarlem – 9 miles (15 km)
When you arrive on board the ship at 1:30 pm, you can put your luggage away in your cabin and then enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while becoming acquainted with the guide, crew, and of course your fellow passengers. You will leave Amsterdam cruising on the river Amstel to Spaarndam. From Spaarndam you will cycle your first kilometers to Haarlem. At dinnertime, the program for the next day and the routine for the rest of the week will be explained. After dinner, you will take a walk through the charming and quaint city of Haarlem.

Sunday: Haarlem – Keukenhof – Leiden – 31 miles (50 km)
Today’s trip leads you through the oldest tulip fields of Holland to the world-famous Keukenhof gardens. This is thought of as the most beautiful flower bulb park in the world. The Keukenhof is the place where the spring comes to life. You will see an overwhelming blaze of colors; seven million flowering tulips on a magnificent 80-acres’ background of traditional and modern gardening architecture. You also can admire the various hyacinths, daffodils and many other colorful flowers. After your visit to the garden, in the afternoon you will bike to the city of Leiden where your lovely barge awaits. Again tonight there is a town walk through the historical city of Leiden, know as the birthplace of Rembrandt and for the oldest university in the country.

Monday: Leiden – Gouda – 25 miles (40 km)
In the morning, as you enjoy your breakfast, the barge will sail out of Leiden. Your bike tour starts not long outside of Leiden and leads through the ‘green heart’ of Holland. Near Zoeterwoude, you will visit a cheese farm where you will learn about the cheese-making process and you will have the opportunity to taste the results! In the afternoon you reach Gouda, famous for the Gouda cheese. Gouda has an attractive compact center with a pretty market square and Gothic town hall. The main church of Gouda, devoted to Saint John, is world famous for its stained glass windows. Today there is no dinner on board. You can select one of the local restaurants of Gouda.

Tuesday: Gouda – Kudelstaart – 22 miles (35 km)
In the morning we stay in Gouda, where you’ll have time to admire the stained glass windows in the St. John’s Church or to enjoy one of the sidewalk cafés in Gouda’s famous main square. In the market square you’ll find the beautiful Town Hall, one of the few remaining examples of Gothic architecture in Holland. Every hour you’ll hear the city hall’s chimes and can watch the puppet show depicting the moment “city rights” were given to Gouda back in 1272 by Earl Floris V. We leave by barge around noon and have a light lunch on board. From Alphen aan de Rijn you have a beautiful bike ride through the ‘green heart’ of South Holland via river Drecht and Amstel-Drecht channel to Kudelstaart.

Wednesday: Kudelstaart – Amsterdam – Zaanse Schans – 28 miles (45 km)
Early this morning (7 a.m.!) we have a coffee, and then begin biking to the flower auction of Aalsmeer, the largest of Europe. Here huge quantities of flowers are trucked in and sold every day, after which they are distributed all over Europe. After your visit you return on board for a late breakfast. The bike tour then continues through the ‘Amsterdamse Bos’, west of Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans, a unique hamlet where people live and work, with original houses and windmills from the river Zaan area. The hamlet is dominated by operating windmills (the oldest built in 1673), which grind mustard, spices, paint and oil, and also for sawing wood into planks. As you walk through the village you will see a clock museum, an old-fashioned grocery store, a house with period furniture, a clog maker and a cheese farm.

Thursday: Zaanse Schans – Alkmaar – 25 miles (40 km)
After breakfast your bike tour leads you to the beautiful town of De Rijp. Centuries of history are still evident here in De Rijp’s wooden facades, beautiful church, lock, and town hall. From here, your ride continues across the Beemster Polder, an almost untouched open polder landscape. Your next stop is at the former windmill complex of the Schermer Polder. Here we visit the Schermerhorn Windmill Museum. After that you bike to Alkmaar, the town known as cheese city. As you wander through the streets, the beauty of Alkmaar’s Old Town with its well-preserved 17th century buildings and narrow, winding canals will amaze you. After dinner we take a walk of the town together.

Friday: Alkmaar – Amsterdam – 28 miles (45 km)
This morning you bike to the Hortus Bulborum, a unique garden museum dedicated to the preservation of rare and historic bulbs. More than 4,000 tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other flowers are planted here. After that visit, your bike tour leads you through the unique area of “Waterland,” back to Amsterdam. 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.

Saturday: Tour concludes after breakfast. Departure around 9:00 a.m.

Getting There

The barge embarks from the Oosterdok (next to the science center “Nemo”), near the Central Railway Station in Amsterdam. Departure time on Saturday is at 1:30 pm. If you want you can bring your luggage in advance, from 10 a.m. onwards. A map, detailed instructions, and the name of your boat will be provided after your final payment is received.

Meals

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 $60 per week. If you want to drink a bottle of wine that you did not purchase from the ships bar, the barge will charge a corkage fee of 5 euro per bottle.

Prices and Dates

Check out our Tour Calendar under “Bike and Barge Tours”

Tour Length

8 days/ 7 nights

Included
      – 7 nights on board the ship (sheets, blankets and two towels)
      – 7 breakfasts, 6 packed lunches and 6 dinners one dinner on your own)
      – Coffee and tea on board
      – 7-speed bicycle with pannier, HELMET, water bottle, and bike insurance
      – Tour guide (multilingual)
      – Welcome Drink
      – Route information and road book
    – Reservation costs
Bicycles

A well maintained, comfortable 7-speed hybrid bicycle is available free of charge for each participant. Men and women’s models are available in sizes appropriate to your height. The bikes come with helmets, grip shifters, hand brakes, carrier bag, water bottle, and bike insurance! If you prefer to bring your own bike you are welcome to do so at a discount of $80 per person. Electric bikes can be rented for this tour ($95.00 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.

Level of Difficulty

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.

Excluded

– Airfare
– Drinks (other than coffee or tea)
– Transfer between airport and barge in Amsterdam
– One Dinner
– Admission fees to the various museums or places of interest, Keukenhof garden
(about € 60 total if you visit all of them)
– Gratuity for the guide
– Trip cancellation insurance

Wifi

WiFi is available on a limited basis on board, only in the lounge and on deck. Up to 50 MB is free, for more than 50 MB there’s a surcharge.

Weather

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. From June-September, temperatures range from 55-70. Rainfall is about 10 days per month.

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