Early April is glorious in Holland — A perfect bicycle tour to see the flower fields of the renowned Keukenhof, and acres of blossoming trees adorning Holland's "Green Heart". We'll harbor in the famous cities of Haarlem, Leiden, beautiful Delft, bustling Rotterdam and cheese town of Gouda. Along the way we'll enjoy Keukenhof, an organic cheese farm, castles, Delft Pottery, a working windmill, and more- all included in your trip price!
Our trip starts Saturday right before noon when we board our barge/hotel, settle into our cabins, and get our bikes fitted and ready to go. Soon thereafter we head off sailing out of Amsterdam by way of the North Sea Canal.
We exit our ship at the village of Spaarndam- famous for the story of Hans Brinker. Just a few miles away we visit the Molen De Zaandhaas to see a true working windmill in action. A little more pedaling and we reach the 14th century ruins of the fascinating 1282 Brederode castle.
A tour guide walks us through the relics of this well-preserved artifact. Entering Haarlem we skirt the Kennermerland National Park through rolling dunes, small forests, past Highland cows and Shetland ponies. After a special Welcome Dinner, we'll spend the evening sightseeing Haarlem's beautiful Market Square and famous Hofjes (courtyards).
We depart our boat quickly after breakfast as today is a full day of sightseeing and cycling for us. Our destination in the morning is the famous Keukenhof - the world's largest flower garden. On our way there we enjoy fields of blooms.
We start by meandering the lovely forested bike paths of Bennebroek town then only a turn later we are struck by fields of color and fragrance until we reach the town of Lisse. We plan on several hours to browse the Keukenhof's magnificent acreage and enjoy a picnic lunch on the grounds.
A lovely cycle with a stop at medieval castle Teylingen and we reach the city of Leiden. Leiden is an unusually beautiful university city, famous for being not only the birthplace of Rembrandt but Clusius, who brought the first Dutch tulips into flower.
We leave Leiden heading south to Lidia and Teo's Farm- The Vierhuizen. The Van Leuwens run a nine generation milk farm- now prized for their organic Gouda cheese. We'll take a tour, learn how cheese is made and buy things to take home from their lovely shop.
Beautiful green nature areas take us to Delft. Dating back to 1075, Delft is known as the birthplace of Golden Age artist Johannes Vermeer and the fine hand-crafting of Delftware porcelains. We will visit the Royal Blue Delft Factory to see firsthand the artwork and production of fine porcelain in the world-famous Delft tradition.
After dinner, we will also enjoy a town walk of the picturesque city center with its romantic tree-lined canals and countless historic monuments.
A trip to the south of Netherlands is not complete without a visit to the largest port in the world. Since its devastation in WWII, Rotterdam has become a center for modern architecture and showcase of city urban development.
Then there is the impressive Old Harbor and Delfshaven- oasis of history and culture within the modern city- and point from which the Pilgrim Fathers left for America in 1620. Being Tuesday, we can also partake of the city's exciting open-air market!
Today is a short cycling day allowing lots of sightseeing time! Our city guide, Nico, will entertain us with a most interesting walk of Rotterdam!
By waterbus we leave Rotterdam early to arrive to Kinderdijk before the tourists. Honored as a World Heritage Treasure by UNESCO in 1997, 19 sturdy mills were built in 1740 and preserved to this day- a concentration of this number found nowhere else in the world.
We'll be cycling through the Alblassarwaard- a pastoral landscape dotted by small towns and windmills. Time permitting we hope to see Schoonhoven - founded in 1280 and called Silvertown because of its famous past in Silversmithing. From here it's only a few miles along a quiet river into Gouda.
We'll head for the historic center and a tour of 123-metre long imposing St. Janskerk (St. John’s Church) with its world-famous stained-glass windows.
We will linger a bit this morning for the Thursday morning GOUDA CHEESE MARKET -a spectacular and historic scene with lively cheese trading and a market square full of assorted vendors showing their foods and trades.
We take leave of Gouda into the Goudse Hout (woods)- a recreational area surrounded by a huge lake that we cycle across like we're floating on the water while gazing upon a beautifully preserved grassland landscape.
We leave our boat very early and cycle a few miles to get first peak at the workings of the famous Flower Auction of Aalsmeer - largest in the world. We will witness the exciting process in which millions of flowers and plants are bought and sold to be shipped to countries all over the world.
Heading to Amsterdam, we enjoy it's Amsterdamse Bos (forest) at the southern edge of the city. Created in 1937 from unused wetlands, the Bos is now a favorite place for cycling and watersports. We'll stop at Meer Zicht where Suzie and Roger love to treat the group to popular Dutch pancakes- Pannekoeken.
Tonight we celebrate our final evening together with a special Farewell Dinner!
Saturday morning we will have breakfast, say our goodbyes to cycling friends and the wonderful hospitality of our captain and crew. We disembark at 9 a.m. for home.
The Netherlands terrain is mostly flat and we can experience some wind and rain which are factors that impact cycling. We recommend this trip for an active person and recreational cyclist who can enjoy a leisurely 25-30 mile/day tour averaging 10-m.p.h. on easy/flat terrain.
Leisurely for us means we are never rushing and like to "smell the roses" enjoying the sites along the way. We take advantage of the Netherlands excellent bicycle infrastructure and enjoy cycling, whenever possible, on dedicated cycle paths and separate on-road bike lanes.
We do not use the assistance of a support vehicle on our tours. We find our guiding system with Suzie as leader and Roger as group sweep has proven effective for enjoyment and safety. You are always welcome to take a break from cycling and enjoy time onboard sailing to the next destination— quite a delightful experience!
Please note that daily mileages indicated on the Itinerary page are averaged as closely as possible. Due to unforeseen circumstances such as docking changes, weather, road and nautical factors, we reserve the right to change routes in view of your safety.
Your trip starts in Amsterdam which is serviced by Schiphol Airport, located just a few miles from the city center where our boat is docked. There is both excellent public transportation and reasonably priced shuttle service available from the airport to the city.
As with all European trips, we advise our cyclists to arrive a few days early to acclimate to the time change, get acquainted with the new culture and sightsee beautiful Amsterdam.
We confirm your booking via email with a detailed Welcome Letter for your tour. In this letter you will find lots of pre-trip planning information like how to get to the trip start, pre-trip lodging in Amsterdam, weather, cycling in Holland, how and what to pack, international travel hints, tips on booking airfare, etc.
We are delighted to host our tour on the Hotel Boat Flora. The ship features comfy cabins with private bath, a lovely eating salon and lounging area, and outside deck to enjoy a drink and views of the water.
Please E-mail Suzie to inquire about openings and with any questions about this tour. We love to hear from you!