Bike and Barge Holland — Tulips and Famous Towns!

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Enjoy the enchanting landscapes of Holland — where cycling is a way of life. We'll skirt along winding rivers, bicycle through small fishing villages dotted with windmills, along vast polder landscapes and dune reserves and pass majestic castles.

Trip Itinerary

Haarlem (15 warm-up miles)

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.

Brederode Castle Holland Bike and Barge

Beautiful Brederode Castle near Haarlem

We exit our ship at the village of Spaarndam and pedal toward the beautiful Holland Dunes. Just a few miles into our journey we stop for a visit to the Molen De Zaandhaas where we'll see a true working windmill in action.

A little more pedaling and we reach the 14th century ruins of the fascinating 1282 Brederode castle. We'll take time to learn the interesting history and walk through the relics of this well-preserved artifact.

Time permitting, we'll pedal to the North Sea in the lovely Kennermerland National Park through rolling dunes, small forests, past Highland cows and Shetland ponies. Otherwise, we head for the lovely town and woods of nearby Bloemendaal.

We arrive in Haarlem- known for one of the most beautiful Market Squares and famous Hofjes (courtyards) in Holland. We hope to get to town so we still have time for Saturday sightseeing!

Visit to the Tulips and evening in Leiden (30ish miles)

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.

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.

Tulip Fields

Tulip Fields

We plan on several hours to browse the Keukenhof's magnificent acreage and enjoy a picnic lunch on the grounds.

Passing the old town of Sassenheim and Warmond and fields bursting forth in colors of reds, yellows, pinks and purples - we reach the city of Leiden.

Leiden is an unusually beautiful city, famous for being not only the birthplace of Rembrandt but Clusius brought the first Dutch tulips into flower.

I can't believe how many things we were able to see in one short week! The Keukenhof was breathtaking ! We definitely will be back for another trip!!

~ Bill and Mary Scott, Illinois

Then there are 12 museums, whose priceless and unique collections have gained international fame.

Of significant importance is that Leiden is the home of the first university in Holland (1575), which has developed into a world-famous centre of science.

Delft-visit to working farm & Royal Delft! (20-25 miles)

We leave Leiden heading south for a visit to a 10-generation small family run organic dairy and cheesmaker. Here we'll take a tour and participate hands-on with a working farm and learn about the important dairy industry in the Netherlands.

Beautiful Oostport in Delft

Beautiful Oostport in Delft

We continue south through green nature areas and horse farms and following narrow canals until we reach the city of 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.

Cyclists 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.

Rotterdam- Market Day and side trip (25-30 miles)

A trip to the south of Netherlands is not complete without a visit to the city of Rotterdam! The port, known to be the largest in the world, is exciting to see in action.

And, since it's devastation in WWII Rotterdam has become a center for modern architecture and showcase of city urban development.

Of course there is also the impressive Old Harbor and Delfshaven- oasis of history and culture within the modern city and the point from which the Pilgrim Fathers left for America in 1620. And, being Tuesday, we can also partake of the city's exciting open-air market!

Today's cycling takes us along some beautiful long canals, through green areas of bike paths and into Rotterdam along the port views of the Maas River with an optional visit to the Jenever factory-where a popular Dutch liquor is made.

Gouda and Green Heart of Holland (30 miles)

Our ship sails early today and carries us across the beautiful waters of the Maas River to Kinderdijk. Built in 1740 and preserved to this day, 19 sturdy mills were built in Kinderdijk — a concentration of this number found nowhere else in the world.

We'll take time for an exciting visit to one of these preserved working windmills of this World Heritage Treasure.

Groene Hart

The Green Heart of Holland.

We cross the Lek by small ferry and reach Schoonhoven- founded in 1280 and called Silvertown because of its famous past in Silversmithing. We will take time to enjoy lunch in the beautiful town square and to sightsee the town's little canals, intimate streets, beautiful walls and patrician houses.

Heading north we'll travel through the Krimpenerwaard, a vast area of Holland's Green Heart polderlands separated by hundreds of canals and dotted with charming old villages. We cross the "Dutch Ijssel" by bridge to enter Gouda.

With over 300 preserved buildings, Gouda boasts a vibrant historic center including the 123-metre long St. Janskerk (St. Johns Church) with its world-famous stained-glass windows, the fabulous Gothic Town Hall, the Waag (Weigh House), and many wonderful museums such as the pipe and earthenware museum and the Verzetsmuseum Zuid-Holland (Resistance Museum).

We'll make a special visit to see, and of course enjoy, traditional Stroop Waffles made and sample chocolates from an original Gouda candy store.

Gouda to Kudelstaart (30 miles)

We take leave of Gouda into the Goudse Hout- 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.

Cycling through the tulip fields

Cycling through the tulip fields

We'll pedal into the famous Floraculture area of Boskoop, famous for its more than 700 woody plant and perennial nurseries which sweep along stretches of land, divided by lovely narrow canals.

Hopping from one beautiful bikepath to another, we're pedaling off the beaten path stopping for lunch in the small village of Hazerswoude- where we can enjoy coffee in a favorite family cafe we love.

As we enjoy more "photo ops" passing Dutch farmhouses and large lake areas we rest a bit in the quaint town of Rijpwetering- home of Joop Zoetemelk- 1980 Tour de France Winner. Just a few more miles and we arrive in Kudelstaart resting on the banks of a gorgeous lake- the Westeinder Plassen.

Visit to the Flower Auction and Panekoek Breakfast on the lake! (20 miles)

We enjoy an early breakfast and cycle a few miles so we can 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.

We'll head for the beautiful 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 the wonderful Pannekoeken House, Meer Zicht ( Lake View), where Suzie and Roger will treat the group to a traditional Dutch pancake treat- not to miss!.

Meandering through the outskirts of the city center we pedal the bike paths of busy Amsterdam to our boat.

We celebrate our final evening together with a special Farewell Dinner!

Good Bye to the Netherlands

Saturday morning we will have a farewell breakfast feast, say our goodbyes to cycling friends and the wonderful hospitality of our our captain and crew. We disembark at 9 a.m. for home.

Trip Difficulty

The Netherlands terrain is mostly flat, but we can experience wind and rain which are weather factors that impact cycling experience and ability.

So, we recommend this trip for an athletic/active person or experienced cyclist who can complete the daily miles under some adverse weather - if it should be present- and likes to average 10-12 mph on easy/flat terrain while enjoying a leisurely trip.

We will average 30 miles on most days with Suzie as ride leader and Roger as route "sweep" and mechanic. We advocate a "stop and smell the roses" philosophy to cycling and our group cycles together as a shared experience. Of course, you can always take a break from cycling and enjoy sailing from the sundeck of our barge — quite a delightful experience!

We do not use the assistance of a support vehicle on our Bike and Barge tours.


Amsterdam is serviced by Schiphol Airport, located just a few miles from the city center where our boats are located. 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.

Additional Information

Our boat provides a comfortable base from which to explore.

The Sarah provides a comfy base from which to explore.

WELKOM onboard the Sarah! It's fun to host tours on this lovely vessel with roomy bedrooms featuring two lower beds and a private bath.

Our boat also features a spacious & comfortable dining area and salon for relaxing amd mingling. There is also a wonderful sundeck where we can enjoy afternoon snacks, socializing or quiet time while sailing.

More information including what to pack, pre-trip lodging in Amsterdam, traveling abroad, tips on airfare, and other important pre-trip details will be provided in our detailed WELCOME LETTER sent to you when we receive your registration for the trip.

Please visit the Trip Information page for more general trip information and registration. Also feel free to e-mail Suzie and Roger with any questions.

Francien, Suzie and Roger

Suzie, Roger and our Dutch friend, Francien

A comfortable bedroom on the Sarah

The Sarah features comfortable bedrooms

Some bedrooms have bunkbeds

All beds on floor level-2 triple rooms available.

A well-appointed bathroom on the Sarah

A well-appointed bathroom on the Sarah

Take a peek at one of our cyclists- Shari Bernhard's photos of her trip