Northern Route

This tour begins and ends in Amsterdam but takes you north to the distinctly rural Island of Texel after visits to the architectural jewels of Edam, Hoorn, Enkhuizen and Alkmaar as well as the fascinating outdoor museum, Zaanse Schans. In the 17th century this extensive area was recovered from the sea with the use of hundreds of windmills – many still in working order today. One gets a strong feeling for 17th century Dutch prosperity in Enkhuizen, Hoorn and Volendam.
Later you’ll sail to Texel, an island with thousands of sheep and a magnificent nature preserve that is a bird lover’s paradise. Back on the main land the route takes you over small dikes and quiet country roads through vast polders and along beautiful sand dunes stretching from Schoorl to Bergen. Alkmaar is the capital of cheese making and has its own cheese market and historic Waag (weigh house). In the tulip months of April and May you’ll cycle through colorful fields stretching for miles.

Daily Itinerary

Saturday: Amsterdam – 9-12 miles (15-20 km)
On Saturday afternoon you’re expected by 4:00 PM on your boat located close to the Amsterdam Central Station. After meeting your cycling companions, guide, captain and crew and storing your luggage in your cabin, you may join an optional bike ride around the northern part of Amsterdam. Dinner on the boat will be followed by a preview of the cycling itinerary for the upcoming week.

Sunday: Amsterdam – Volendam – 28 miles (45 km)
You now leave Amsterdam, which is still very quiet at this hour. A ferry takes you to the Amsterdam Noord quarter and soon you will be cycling through the rural area of Waterland. In this soggy peat land the houses and villages are hardly above the level of the water. The former isle of Marken is visited. It was not until 1957 that this island was connected to the mainland by a dike and it has retained its own particular character. The inhabitants are the only ones allowed to use their cars, so Marken can only be visited on foot or on bike. The route continues to the historic village of Monnickendam, which received its municipal charter in 1355. Now you continue your way along the Gouwzee dike to Volendam, today’s destination. Originally Volendam was a small fishing community. Practically all its inhabitants used to wear their distinctive and picturesque traditional costumes. Volendam started as a settlement when Edam (to be visited tomorrow) dug its new, shorter waterway to the Zuiderzee in the 14th century. The old harbour became superfluous, a new dike was built and soon farmers and fishermen settled down. In the second half of the 15th century a new village came into being: Volendam.

Monday: Volendam – Enkhuizen – 19 miles (30 km)
If you have decided to cycle today’s entire itinerary your first stop will be Edam. Famous for its little ‘Edamers’, the round cheese balls (coated with red wax for export). Together with the Gouda equivalent they are probably the best-known types of cheese in the world. Here you can sample the atmosphere of a well-maintained old-Dutch town, though now lacking its former activity. After Edam the tour continues through broad meadows. You cycle alongside the Beemsterringvaart. Water from the polder on your left is pumped into this canal. The route further takes you along the dike in a northerly direction towards the city of Hoorn, where a longer break can be had. For those who have enjoyed the morning’s trip on the barge the cycling is taken up here. You will have the opportunity to get a good impression of this beautiful city with its rich past. You continue on the dike with a wonderful view over the Markermeer on your right and West-Frisian villages on your left-hand side. The recently built dike from Enkhuizen to Lelystad (in the Noordoostpolder) appears on the horizon. This was meant to be a polder dike for a huge new polder: the Markerwaard. However, the plans were never executed: with time perception changed. The environment and fresh water supply became more important. So today the dike is there, but no polder…
The trip for today ends in Enkhuizen, a town which came into existence when two adjoining villages amalgamated. In Enkhuizen you can visit the Zuiderzeemuseum. This museum, which consists of an indoor and outdoor part, shows you the history of everyday life around the Zuiderzee until the middle of the 20th century.

Tuesday: Enkhuizen – Medemblik – Oude Zeug – 22 miles (35 km)
The cycling tour starts on the IJsselmeer dike and is then left behind to go through a nature reserve and some typical West-Frisian villages. Then Medemblik comes in sight, the oldest city of West-Friesland (1289), with an illustrious past and with Radboud castle, dating from the 13th century. After Medemblik the trip continues through the Wieringermeer, the oldest of the IJsselmeer polders. At Oude Zeug you get on board and sail to the isle of Texel.

Wednesday: Roundtrip Texel – 25, 31 or 41 miles (40/50/66 km)
The isle of Texel, which is one municipality, is the largest of the Dutch Waddeneilanden (Wadden islands). The average length of Texel is 20 km and the average width 8 km. Texel is highly appreciated by bird-watchers. In springtime about 80 different types of birds breed her, mainly in the dune areas, but all in all about 300 different species have been perceived on Texel. A tour around this island with its numerous cycle tracks is well worth the effort.

Thursday: Texel – Alkmaar – 36 miles (58 km)
The ship takes you back to the mainland, where you disembark in the city of Den Helder, the Dutch naval port, situated at the mouth of the Noord-Hollandskanaal. Today’s route takes you through the dunes. In the months of April and May you will first cycle through the flower bulb fields around Anna Paulowna, the centre of the North Holland flower cultivation. You pass by the unique nature reserve Het Zwanenwater (The Swans’ Water), with its lakes and boggy hollows in the dunes. A little further you cycle on the Hondsbossche Zeewering (Hondsbossche Sea Dike), with a spectacular view of the North Sea. You enter the area of the Schoorlse Duinen (Schoorl Dunes), where you will find the highest dunes in the country. During the last century many pine trees were planted here so now it is a rather woody region. Bergen is an artists’ village which attracts many painters, writers and architects.
Your destination for today is Alkmaar, also called the City of Cheese. Its weigh-house was the first in the country (for weighing and trading of cheese).

Friday: Alkmaar – Zaanse Schans – Amsterdam – 34 miles (55 km)
You now have the choice of cycling the whole way or staying on board till Zaandam. Alkmaar’s famous Friday cheese market starts at 10.00 am. After leaving Alkmaar the stage takes you through the ‘droogmakerij’ land with the 17th century towns of Schermerhorn, Graft and De Rijp. The last stretch of the trip takes you through ’t Twiske (the Twiske) Leisure Park. Since the beginning of the Christian era the peat region around the Zaan had been used for cattle grazing. In the peat land ditches were dug to help draining the land. The dried peat was used as fuel. Once you are back at the barge in Amsterdam it is time to take leave of your bikes. In the afternoon there is still some time to go into town and after dinner you may want to finish off your trip by going on a city walk or taking a trip on one of Amsterdam’s canal boats.

Saturday: Tour concludes after breakfast. Departure before 10:00 AM

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 4:00 PM. If you want you can bring your luggage in advance, from 12 Noon 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 diet there is an additional charge of $60 per week.

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 7 dinners
      – Coffee and tea on board
      – 24-speed bicycle, incl. HELMET, pannier bags, lock, water bottle, and bike insurance
      – Tour guide (multilingual)
      – Route information and road book
      – Ferry fares on the route
    – Reservation costs
Bicycles

A well maintained, comfortable 24-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, lock, repair kit, water bottle holders, water bottle, and bike insurance! If you prefer to bring your own bike you are welcome to do so at a discount of $85 per person. Electric bikes can be rented for this tour ($115.00 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 from bar on board or when cycling
– Admission fees to the various museums or places of interest (about €15)
– 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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