Hanseatic Cities Tour

The Hanseatic League was a confederation of merchant guilds and cities located from the Baltic to the North Sea during medieval times. It dominated maritime trade along the coast of Northern Europe. The “Hanseatic” Tour takes you through the central region of the Netherlands, which was originally shaped by rivers. It cuts through the Rhine valley and its very beautiful tributary the IJssel, and across the so-called border lakes. The IJssel forks from the Rhine near Arnhem. Of great scenic beauty, the 125 km winding river valley offers the cyclist a fantastic area in which to take trips without the inconvenience of any noteworthy differences in elevation. You visit various Hanseatic towns that flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries, due to the fact that the IJssel was then one of the most important trade routes in Europe. You then go on to visit the so-called border lakes of the IJssel lake which lie between the “old” land of many beautiful harbour towns and new Flevoland (once the bottom of the Ijssel lake) which was reclaimed in 1932. In this area you visit some picturesque fishing harbours. During the whole tour you travel through wood and moorland sections of the Achterhoek, Gooi and Veluwe nature reserves.

Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Amsterdam – Wijk bij Duurstede
In the afternoon, between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. we ask that you arrive on board at your barge in Amsterdam, located near Central Station. At 3:00 p.m. we start with a short cruise to the quiant city of Wijk bij Duurstede on the Rhine. At dinnertime, the program for the next day and the routine for the rest of the week will be explained.

Day 2:
Wijk bij Duurstede – Arnhem – 21-30 miles (35-50 km)
During breakfast, the ship sails to Wageningen. Once there, the first bicycle trip is taken, first through the flat river valley of the Rhine, then along the protected nature reserve “De Blauwe Kamer” (the Blue Chamber), followed by the wood and moorlands of the Veluwe nature reserve. You ride through suburbs with lovely parks such as Sonsbeek and Zijpendaal to Arnhem, where you spend the night close to the center.

Day 3: Arnhem – Doesburg – Deventer – 21-33 miles (35-55 km)
In the morning, we sail to the small Hanseatic town of Doesburg. Then, via the Hanseatic Town Route we cycle along the IJssel to the beautiful small town of Bronkhorst. Then there is the option of a shorter tour along the riverbank to Zutphen or a longer bicycle trip via Vorden, passing country houses, castles and rural estates. While we are dining the ship sails to Deventer for an optional short guided walking tour in the evening.

Day 4: Deventer – Zwolle – Kampen – 24-33 miles (40-55 km)
To start the day, we take a short bicycle trip along the IJssel riverbank. A little late, we board the ferry at Wijhe to cross to Hattem where there is the option of a longer bicycle trip through east Veluwe. While dining the ship sails to Kampen where we will have an optional guided walking tour and spend the night in the largest Hanseatic town in the Netherlands.

Day 5: Kampen – Elburg – Elspeet – Harderwijk – 24 – 36 miles (40 or 60 km)
In the morning we sail to the IJssel estuary and across the so-called border lakes of the IJssel lake to the fishing harbor of Harderwijk. The cycle trip takes us along some of the banks of the Veluwe lake. There is the option of a longer cycle trip that takes you to the wood and moorland of Elspeet. We spend the night in the lovely old fishing harbor of Harderwijk.

Day 6: Harderwijk – Bunschoten – Spakenburg – 15, 24 or 33 miles (25, 40 or 55 km)
Today you have the option of two beautiful rides. You could take the short bicycle trip along the coast or the longer trip through the woodlands. The night is spent in Spakenburg, which is well-known for its traditional costumes.

Day 7: Spakenburg – Huizen – Amsterdam – 21 or 33 miles (35 or 50 km)
This morning after breakfast you can choose to stay on board, or go by bike to Huizen. From Huizen the bike tour will take us to the beautiful fortress town of Naarden and the Muider stronghold in Muiden. In the afternoon we will bike along quiet roads to Amsterdam. The afternoon and evening are spent in Amsterdam, where you will have a little time to explore the exciting city on your own.

Day 8: Tour concludes after breakfast. Departure by 9:30 a.m.

Getting There

In the afternoon, between 2 and 3 p.m. we ask that you arrive on board the barge. You will find your barge at the Oosterdok (next to science center “Nemo”), near Central Station in Amsterdam. The barge will start sailing promptly at 3:00 PM. If you want to bring your luggage in advance, you can do so from noon onwards. A map, detailed instructions, and the name of your boat will be provided after your final payment is received.

Daily Bike Ride

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.

Prices and Dates

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

Tour Length

8 days/ 7 nights

      – 7 nights on board the ship (sheets, blankets and two towels)
      – 7 breakfasts, 6 packed lunches and 7 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. Bike helmets are NOT available. You need to bring your own helmet. 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 ($120 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.


– Airfare
– Drinks (other than coffee or tea)
– Canal tour in Amsterdam (€ 12, optional)
– Ferry fees (about (€ 8)
– Admission fees to the various museums or places of interest
– 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 € 50 per tour which must be paid in cash on board.


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.

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