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Northern Holland 8-day Bike & Barge Tour (PO)
During this fascinating cycling cruise on board the ship you will discover the best of what the beautiful Provinces of North-Holland and Friesland offer. Explore flat “polder” landscapes – a polder is a low-lying tract of land enclosed by embankments – the North Sea coast, towering sand dunes, long sandy beaches, historic windmills, the island of Texel and the many picturesque harbor towns along the coast of IJsselmeer Lake. It is without doubt a tour not to be missed!
Nowhere else in the world will you find an area as fascinating as the Dutch Provinces of North Holland and Friesland, two areas rich in tradition. Over the course of your week, you will be able to discover typical Dutch culture and cycle through a flat “polder land”, extensively reclaimed over the centuries from the North Sea and the former Southern Sea (now IJsselmeer). What you will soon realize is the truth behind the proverb “God created the earth but the Dutch made Holland”, such has been the extent of land reclamation in the region you will be cycling through. Since the 17th century in an effort to save disappearing land from encroaching water, protective dikes have been built, low lying land has been pumped dry and tidal dams have been created in creeks to prevent flooding, with the result that today’s green flat polder landscape is full of agricultural enterprise. Given the Dutch love for cycling, the region is crisscrossed with many quiet cycle tracks that stretch from one end of the region to the other. You will be amazed by the beauty of the North Sea beaches, the towering sand dunes – who said there were no hills in Holland! – the extremely bicycle friendly island of Texel, the beautiful flat landscapes, small dreamlike farm villages and romantic picturesque harbor villages. During the second part of the tour you will cross the large lake IJsselmeer to Stavoren in the Province of Friesland. Other highlights during your week tour include the open air museum “Zaanse Schans”, the historic city center of Alkmaar and the old harbor cities of Medemblik, Enkhuizen, Hoorn and Volendam, the islands of Texel and Marken and – of course – Amsterdam with its beautiful canals.
In this short tour, you’ll travel by barge and bike through stunning North Holland landscapes. Pedaling flat bicycle paths across polders (reclaimed land), dikes, canals, and the dunes of the coast, past nature areas and farmland, you’ll be able to see how the Dutch have shaped the landscape, preventing flooding while respecting nature and allowing space for agriculture. The changing landscape will charm you.
When you think of Holland, you probably imagine windmills, dikes, cheese, and clogs. That history comes alive at Zaanse Schans, an open-air museum where you can explore a range of historical windmills, traditional Dutch houses and shops, and you can observe how cheese and clogs are made. And speaking of cheese, you’ll also visit Alkmaar, home to a traditional cheese market.
Another highlight of this tour is Marken, once an island of fishermen and still picture-perfect with its small wooden houses and boat harbor. Haarlem’s medieval center and cobbled streets evoke old Holland. Amsterdam, the start and end point of the tour, offers endless opportunities for exploring museums and shops, or just admiring the graceful elegance of the canal houses in the UNESCO-listed canal zone.
When you’re not pedaling through the countryside or exploring Holland’s historical towns, you’ll enjoy the facilities on the ship. On-board chefs prepare a varied and delicious dinner menu fresh daily. Raise a toast at the bar with other guests, watch the scenery from a deck chair outside or from the salon inside, or have a soak in the on-board whirlpool. You’ll get a good night’s rest in one of our well-appointed cabins, all with en-suite bathrooms.
In between cycling excursions, you cruise along with the ship, which travels to a new destination every day. You dine, sleep and eat breakfast on board. You’ll receive a packed lunch every day, and you can usually choose between a longer or shorter bike ride. It’s also possible to spend a day on board if you like. There are rental bikes on board, but you can also bring your own if you mention it when booking.
A knowledgeable and multi-lingual tour leader accompanies each day’s bike ride. Our leaders can answer almost any questions you have about Dutch history or culture. On each day’s tour, you can stick with them or set out on your own, so there’s no need to feel constrained if you want to explore independently.
If you would like to rent a bike (85 EUR), e-bike (185 EUR) or helmet (10 EUR), please contact our office when booking: [email protected]
Slow Tours offers other Bike & Barge Tours in Europe
Embarkation and check-in from 2-4.30pm in Amsterdam. Take the opportunity to go shopping, to explore downtown Amsterdam, to make a canal cruise or to visit a museum. At 5pm a welcome drink, dinner and first briefing on board. First night on board in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam – Zaandam | Zaandam – Zaanse Schans – Alkmaar 44km
The first cycling trip of this tour takes you via small villages through the beautiful flat and green polder landscape. The first stop is at the Zaanse Schans open-air museum (free entry) with its traditional Old Dutch wooden houses, windmills and the cheese- and clog factory. After this visit you will cycle through the “Land of Leeghwater”, a green polder area between Amsterdam, Alkmaar and Hoorn. Stroll through the former whaler’s village De Rijp and pass by the windmills of Schermerhorn. Your ship will be waiting for you near the historical city centre of Alkmaar.
Dune tour: Alkmaar – Den Helder 33km or 40km
Today you can discover the beautiful North-Holland Dune reserve. This is a 5,300-hectare large forest and dune area with its unique landscapes. In these dunes, the drinking water for almost the whole province of North-Holland is gained. After a visit to the beach and artists village Bergen you will return to Alkmaar where you can visit ou can visit the wonder the wonderful city centre. In the afternoon the ship will sail over the North-Holland Canal to the navy harbour of Den Helder.
Ferry to North Sea island of Texel: cycling round trips from 'T Hornje | Den Helder - Den Oever (several options from 15km to 65km
After breakfast, you’ll take a 20-minute ferry ride (ticket included) from Den Helder to the isle of Texel, where cycling is beautiful on the largest of the Dutch North Sea Isles. Ride through meadows, nature parks and dunes to small villages and have the opportunity for a stop and some bathing at the sandy North Sea beach, or visit the “E beach, or visit the “Ecomare” seal sanctuary. In the late afternoon, you will return by ferry to Den Helder. During dinner your ship will sail to Den Oever.
Den Oever – Stavoren | Southwest Friesland: round trip from/to Stavoren 43km or 55km
The vessel will cross the large inland lake IJsselmeer to sail to Stavoren in the Province of Friesland. You can opt for a shorter or longer cycling tour: discover the nature area of Gaasterland or explore a part of the wide lake district, that Friesland is well-known for. You can also combine both options. Night in the small harbour of Stavoren, one of the famous traditional 11 cities of Friesland.
Stavoren – Medemblik | Medemblik – Hoorn – Enkhuizen 30km or 50km
The ship will cross the IJsselmeer again during breakfast. Take the short cycling trip from Medemblik along the IJsselmeer coast directly to Enkhuizen, where you can spend the afternoon. Enkhuizen is an old city with many centuries of maritime tradition. The “herring city” boasts a beautiful old harbour, a historical old town centre and the very interesting Zuiderzeemuseum. If you prefer a longer cycling tour, ride from Medemblik to the former Dutch East India Company town of Hoorn, in the 17th century one of the world’s leading harbours. Enjoy your lunch break and make a short stroll in the old city centre. Continue by bicycle to Enkhuizen via some picturesque rural villages. In the evening you can join a short city walk.
Enkhuizen – Volendam | Volendam – Waterland – Amsterdam 35km or 50km
During breakfast, the ship will sail to Volendam. Your final day of cycling will lead you through the beautiful area of Waterland, with its hundreds of small lakes and tiny canals. Near Volendam you will have the opportunity to visit a cheese farm. Recommended (extra cycling miles) is a tour to the former island of Marken, to continue through the water shaped region of Waterland back to the Dutch capital city of Amsterdam. The afternoon and evening are yours to enjoy everything Amsterdam has to offer. If you didn’t go for a canal cruise on the first day, you can do so today.
End of your tour: Disembarkation after breakfast until 9.30 a.m.
The tour details are barring changes, a.o. as a result of nautical, technical or meteorological reasons.
If you would like to drive yourself before or after your tour, ask us for a quote on any brand new Renault, Peugeot or Citroen vehicle for driving in Europe.
Pick up your vehicle from most capital cities in Europe and return it to your drop off destination. Top insurance cover. Email [email protected] for a competitive quote