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 near the North Sea. You will also visit the famous Keukenhof gardens, known for their 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 traded daily and exported all over the world. You will visit the open-air museum of the Zaanse Schans with its windmills, cheese farm, and picturesque wooden houses. The beautiful, varied scenery and wonderful bikeways of this tour of Holland will surprise and delight you.
- Strolling through rows of tulips and bulbs in a unique flower musuem
- Watching the lights of Leiden reflecting on the water at night
- Discovering traditional Dutch ways of life in the Zaanse Schans
- Drinking a cup of coffee surrounded by the beautiful wooden facades of traditional buildings
When you arrive on board the ship at 1.30 p.m., 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. We will then leave Amsterdam, cruising on the river Amstel to Spaarndam. From Spaarndam we will cycle our 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, we will take a walk through the charming and quaint city of Haarlem.
Today’s trip will take us through the oldest tulip fields of Holland to the world-famous Keukenhof gardens. This is considered the most beautiful flower bulb park in the world. The Keukenhof is the place where the spring comes to life. We will see an overwhelming blaze of colors: seven million flowering tulips on a magnificent background of 80 acres of traditional and modern gardening architecture. You’ll be able to admire hyacinths, daffodils and many other colorful flowers. After our visit to the garden, in the afternoon we will bike to the city of Leiden where our lovely barge awaits. Tonight there’s a town walk through the historical city of Leiden, the oldest university in the country, and also the birthplace of Rembrandt.
In the morning, as we enjoy breakfast, the barge will leave Leiden. Our bike tour will start not far outside of Leiden and leads us through the “green heart” of Holland. Near Zoeterwoude, we will visit a cheese farm where we will learn about the cheese-making process and have the opportunity to taste the results! In the afternoon we reach Gouda, famous for Gouda cheese. This town 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 you’ll enjoy dinner alone at your choice of the many excellent local restaurants.
In the morning we will 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 the city hall’s chimes sing out, and you’ll have the option to watch a puppet show depicting the moment city rights were given to Gouda back in 1272 by Earl Floris V. We will leave by barge around noon and have a light lunch on board. From Alphen aan de Rijn we will have a beautiful bike ride through the green heart of South Holland via the river Drecht and the Amstel-Drecht channel to Kudelstaart.
Early this morning (7 a.m.) we will 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’re distributed all over Europe. After our visit we will return to our ship for a late breakfast. Our bike tour then continues through the Amsterdamse Bos, west of Amsterdam, to Zaanse Schans, a unique hamlet with original houses and windmills from the river Zaan area and where people live and work. The hamlet is dominated by operating windmills (the oldest built in 1673) which grind mustard, spices, paint, and oil, and also saw wood into planks. As we walk through the village we will see a clock museum, an old-fashioned grocery store, a house with period furniture, a clog maker, and a cheese farm.
After breakfast our bike tour leads us 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. Our ride continues across the Beemster Polder, an almost untouched open polder landscape. Our next stop will be at the former windmill complex of the Schermer Polder. Here we will visit the Schermerhorn Windmill Museum. After that we will bike to Alkmaar, the town known as “Cheese City.” As we 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. Today there will be no dinner on board, and you can select one of the local restaurants of Alkmaar.
This morning we will 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. Next, we will cycle 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’s built on 13,659 wooden piles. Amsterdam today is a cosmopolitan city with 40 museums, close to one million inhabitants, and a thriving economy.
Our tour concludes after breakfast, with departure around 9 a.m.
Dates & Prices
Color Key :
|2018 Tour Dates|
|Mar 31–Apr 7||Fleur|
|Apr 28–May 5||Fleur|
|Apr 28–May 5||Iris|
|Apr 28–May 5||Sarah|
We thought the trip was very good value for the cost and we enjoyed the warm welcome and support we received. I really appreciated the care that was taken to ensure I could follow a gluten free diet with no difficulty. We loved the quality of the bikes and now we want new bikes! I was thrilled to see the Netherlands, especially in spring and to learn about the flower industry; I hope that something like the Aaslmeer auction can continue as part of the tour when the facility moves. I appreciated all the opportunities we had to learn more about traditional land reclamation in the Netherlands. Our guides were informative and we appreciated being offered several options for stops and tours. Our “detour” rides through the port outside Amsterdam and the “City of the Sun” were very, very interesting and I feel happy to have learned more about both traditional and modern Netherlands and the Dutch people.
Gysbert (main leader) was wonderful as were Bert and Franco (captain and chef). Group had some people who were not capable of riding and had to be asked to stay on board – that was sad for them and difficult for crew.
The barges listed below are examples of those usually used on the tour. Depending on availability, you may be booked in a different barge of equal quality.
20 people – The Fleur started cruising in 2002. This tasteful passenger barge with its sleek lines was built to fit the smaller locks and canals in France and has been sailing the French waters ever since. There are 10 comfortable guest cabins on the Fleur, and each comes equipped with a private bathroom. The barge comes equipped with central heating and air conditioning. The barge also features a lounge, a roomy sitting area, a cozy bar, and a sun deck.
24 people – The Iris took to sea in April 2005. This barge is a refitted cargo ship that accommodates 24 overnight passengers. Since 2011 Lenny Versteeg is the proud owner and hostess of the Iris. You will definitely recognize her ‘feminine touch’ by the tasteful interior as well as by the many details that make the Iris such a pleasant place to stay. The Iris can navigate on most rivers and canals in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.
The Iris has two decks. On the top deck there is the lounge, a roomy sitting area with wide screen TV, a cozy bar and a sun deck where you can enjoy the scenery on a nice evening. In the lounge the Iris offers free WiFi. The whole barge has central heating and air-conditioning. Below deck, the Iris has 12 spacious and comfortable guest cabins. Each cabin has a private shower, toilet and sink, central heating and air-conditioning. In each cabin you will find a small safe and hair dryer.
20 people – The Sarah, is a comfortable and cozy passenger barge. During the conversion of the barge from cargo vessel to passenger ship, the owners of the Sarah decided to choose quality instead of quantity. The Sarah is spaciously built for a small group of passengers of max. 20-22 passengers and offers an attractive, “feels-like-home” atmosphere. The Sarah has a cozy lounge and restaurant with Wifi (with unlimited data use). The barge also has a beautiful large deck, where the meals are served – weather permitting, of course! There are 8 twin cabins and 2 cabins with double bed with private bathrooms. Windows can be opened and the cabins have central heating. The corridor is air-conditioned. In each cabin you will find a hair dryer.
- 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
- Entrance to the Keukenhof garden
- 11–speed bicycle, incl. helmet, pannier bag, water bottle, & bike insurance
- Two multilingual tour guides (when over 18 participants)
- Welcome drink
- Route information and road book
- Reservation costs
A well maintained, comfortable 7 or 11-speed hybrid bicycle is available free of charge for each participant. These are well-suited for the flat Dutch terrain. Unisex models are available in sizes appropriate to your height (For the very large bikes they are men’s style). 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’re welcome to do so at a discount of $85 per person. Electric bikes can be rented for this tour ($100 per person). We advise you only to rent an electric bike if you have first tried one at home. They’re heavier than regular bikes and therefore can be difficult to maneuver.
The cook prepares all meals: a substantial breakfast and a three-course dinner of very high quality. A packed lunch may be prepared after breakfast. Tea and coffee will be ready when you arrive on board in the afternoon. There’s a bar on board with reasonably-priced beer, wine, and soft drinks. 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’s an additional charge of €50 per week. You’ll need to pay this in cash on board. If you want to drink a bottle of wine that you didn’t purchase from the ship’s bar, the barge will charge a corkage fee of €5 per bottle.
- Drinks from bar on board or when cycling
- One dinner
- Admission fees to the various museums or places of interest
- Trip cancellation insurance
The barge embarks from the Oosterdok (next to the science center Nemo) near the Central Railway Station in Amsterdam. You’re expected on board at 1.30 p.m.. 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.