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Holland and Belgium Bike & Barge: Bruges

Ebikes Available on this TourExplore the UNESCO-listed windmills of Kinderdijk, quiet farmlands and fishing villages, medieval Bruges and Ghent, cosmopolitan Amsterdam, and beyond.

  • 11 Days
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Daily Mileage: 10 - 38 mi
  • Daily Biking: 2 - 4 hr
  • Small Groups: 22
  • Biking Activity
  • Perfect for those trying a bike vacation for the first time.
  • Airfare Packages Available

NEW for 2018!

Ebikes Available on this Tour

E-Bikes Available

Limited quantities —
first come, first serve.

Why You'll Love This Tour

Overview

Holland and Belgium Bike & Barge: Bruges

The spirit of the Old World reveals itself as you gently cycle and cruise the timeless canals and rivers of the Low Countries. While your comfort will be constant, the surrounding scenes continually change as you explore the UNESCO-listed windmills of Kinderdijk, quiet farmlands and fishing villages, medieval Bruges and Ghent, cosmopolitan Amsterdam, and beyond. We have local families ready to welcome you into their homes, Belgian beer on tap, a delicious canal-side picnic ready to be savored, comfortable barge accommodations, and many surprises. All that’s missing is you!

Cultural Highlights

  • Unpack once and cruise 7 nights by private barge
  • View Dutch and Belgian beauty up close by cycle
  • Witness daily life as you visit a local family
  • See how Holland keeps the sea at bay
  • Master essential phrases during a language lesson
  • Admire Holland’s iconic, 19th-century windmills
  • Picnic alongside historic locks
  • Take a boat excursion to the center of Ghent
  • Sip authentic Belgian beer
  • Enjoy attentive service aboard our private barge

What to Expect

This tour offers easy terrain on bike paths and roads through both urban and rural areas. You will encounter traffic, especially in urban areas. Some of the bike paths are unpaved and the terrain can lack shelter from the wind. Our VBT support shuttle is available every day at designated points for those who need assistance.

Average Daily Mileage: 10 – 38 miles
Average Daily Cycling Time: 2 – 4 hours

Climate Information

Average High/Low Temperature (°F) – Brussels
May 63°/47°  Jun 67°/52°  Jul 72°/56°  Aug 72°/55°  Sep 66°/52°  Oct 58°/46°

Average Precipitation (in.) – Brussels
May 2.9  Jun 2.9  Jul 2.3  Aug 1.7  Sep 2.4  Oct 2.7

 

What’s Included:

Ebikes Available on this Tour

E-Bikes Available on this tour.

Limited quantities — first come, first serve. Learn more.

Bicycle Vacation Only – without Air

  • 7 nights aboard a private canal barge
  • 15 meals – 7 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 5 dinners

International Air Package

  • Roundtrip international airfare
  • Most transfers
  • 7 nights aboard a private canal barge
    PLUS: 1 extra night in a Bruges hotel, and 1 extra night in an Amsterdam hotel
  • 17 meals – 9 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 5 dinners
  • AND the option to add our Low-Cost Trip Extensions:
    Pre-trip: Bruges • 1 night for only $145
    Post-trip: Amsterdam • 2 nights from only $395-495*

Both Vacation Options Include

Reading List

Click here to download our Holland & Belgium Suggested Reading List.

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Air Package Plus Single Supplement: $995 | Land Only Single Supplement: $795

Please note: Web Special savings cannot be combined with any other offer. Standard Terms & Conditions apply when purchasing this trip. Prices include all airline surcharges and Government taxes and fees. Ask our Tour Consultants for details. Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. Prices are based on preferences selected above, including meals and sightseeing as specified in What’s Included. All prices are subject to change. Departure dates and prices shown may be updated several times daily, and apply to new bookings only.

Itinerary & Map
Or, Expand All Days
DAY 1: Depart from home / Fly overnight to Brussels

Depart from home for Belgium. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.

DAY 2: Arrive in Bruges

Upon arrival at the Brussels airport, claim your luggage and clear customs. If any portion of your luggage appears to be lost, fill in a PIR form before leaving the customs area — VBT representatives are not allowed into the customs area. (Please note: Also make certain that your VBT luggage tags are affixed to your bag so your VBT representative can identify you.)

After exiting customs, enter the arrival hall and look for your VBT representative, who will be holding a VBT sign. Please wait here while your representative helps make arrangements for your transfer via taxi or minibus to your Bruges hotel (transfer time is approximately 1 hour, depending on traffic). The transfer company’s name is Taxi Snel, telephone number +32 50 36 36 49.

Please note: Hotel check-in time is 3:00 pm. There will be a VBT group checking out of the hotel, so please do not plan for your room to be available earlier. VBT and the hotel appreciate your understanding and cooperation. You may leave your bags with reception while you explore Bruges. There is so much to see and do just around the corner. VBT provides you with City Information that includes recommendations.

Seek out a restaurant for dinner on your own tonight.

Hotel: Hotel Navarra

DAY 3: Embark barge / Bicycle Vacation begins / Warm-up ride and cruise to Ghent

VBT Bicycle Vacation Only guests: You are responsible for making your own way to meet the barge, between 1:00 and 1:45 pm. Please note that you cannot embark before this time as the barge is being prepared for you. If you are late, you must contact the barge as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements, as we will sail at 2:00 pm.

The barge will be moored next to bus parking Buiten Katelijnevest in central Bruges.

VBT Air Package and Pre-Trip Extension guests: After breakfast, spend more free time in Bruges. Make sure your luggage is packed and ready to be transported to the barge before 11:00 am. At 12:30 pm, join our VBT Trip Leader in the hotel lobby and walk together to our barge in time for a 2:00 pm departure. At the docks, meet the barge crew and our second VBT Trip Leader, who welcome you aboard with refreshments.

You will cruise out of Bruges on a charming canal. The barge stops before dinner so you can join your Trip Leaders for a warm-up ride into the heart of Flanders.

This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner on board and learn a bit of Flemish and Dutch during a brief language class. You will moor in Ghent, one of Belgium’s most beautiful cities.

Please note regarding Wi-Fi onboard the barge:  Each device (smartphone, laptop, etc.) receives 100 MB per day free, to be used on that day. Additional amounts can be purchased via credit card or Paypal. Ask your barge crew for details. However, due to the nature of the barge movements, internet access is not always available. As such, if stable internet access is critical to you, VBT recommends that you purchase your own bundle before traveling overseas.

Please note regarding RideWithGPS: Due to the limited Wi-Fi onboard, VBT also recommend that you download your VBT Maps & Routes Notes prior to leaving home if you wish to use Ride with GPS on your smartphones. This free service allows you to download VBT daily route notes in advance, prior to your departure from your home computer. During your vacation, you will be able to follow these route notes on your smartphone with turn-by-turn voice navigation as you ride. This option is in addition to VBT’s traditional printed maps and route notes available on tour.

Hotel: Barge Fiep
Meals: B (included for Air Package guests only), D
Daily Options: 12 miles (19.3 km)

DAY 4: Tour Ghent / Cycle to Dendermonde

After breakfast, embark a local boat excursion to the center of Ghent with a guide, then explore on your own. Located at the confluence of the Schelde and Leie rivers, this “City of 200 Bridges” was founded around 600 AD and boasts many beautiful buildings dating to medieval times, when the textile industry brought great wealth to Ghent’s merchants. Many old patrician houses have been preserved in the city center. One historic building is the Cloth Makers’ Hall, built in 1425, where textile merchants used to meet. The city’s major church is St. Baaf’s Cathedral, constructed and enhanced in various styles over many centuries. In the cathedral, admire a number of masterpieces of medieval painting, including Jan van Eyck’s famous Adoration of the Lamb. (On Sunday morning there is a service in the cathedral, and it is not possible to see this famous painting—only the replica.) Lunch is on your own in Ghent.

After lunch, enjoy a scenic ride out of the city. Your bike path parallels the Schelde River. You will cycle through small “polder” villages and past marshy grasslands, ponds and picturesque creeks. A Berlare-Appels ferry takes you to the south shore of the Schelde, where you will cross the Dender River locks system and rejoin your barge. Your destination today is Dendermonde, a centuries-old city with a Benedictine abbey and pretty market square at its center. This evening, enjoy a Belgian beer tasting and crew presentation.

Hotel: Barge Fiep
Meals:
B, D
Daily Options: 18 miles (28.9 km)

DAY 5: Cycle from Dendermonde / Continue ride to Antwerp

Cycle today from Dendermonde via Temse along the Sheldt River. You will ride through the village of Rupelmonde, pausing to admire its unique tidal watermill and statue of the mathematician Mercator. Arrive in Bazel for lunch on your own, with time to explore its picturesque church square and Wissekerke castle. After, continue cycling through farmland and tiny villages to Antwerp, Belgium’s second largest city. Meet the barge at one of Antwerp’s historic docks in the afternoon, then walk into town to dine on your own in one of the many restaurants and enjoy a free evening.

Hotel: Barge Fiep
Meals:
B
Daily Options:
15.5, 23 or 36 miles (24.9, 36.5 or 58.6 km)

DAY 6: Visit Antwerp / Cruise to Tholen

Today is a non-biking day. This morning, you will visit Antwerp, known as the “Diamond City” and the hometown of the painter Peter Paul Rubens. In the middle of the city, you’ll find the Cathedral of Our Lady and beautiful old townhouses around the Market Square. You’ll have plenty of time to explore all of the delights during free time this morning.

After enjoying lunch on your own in Antwerp rejoin the barge and relax while cruising through the impressive port and along the quieter canals to Tholen. After dinner onboard the barge, we’ve invited some local families to meet you at the barge and accompany you back to their homes for an evening of camaraderie and cultural exchange.

Hotel: Barge Fiep
Meals:
B, D
Daily Options: Non-biking day

DAY 7: Cycle from Tholen to Willemstad / Cruise to Dordrecht

This morning, cycle from Tholen to Willemstad through tranquil agricultural land on the western edge of Brabant province, passing through the small town of Oud-Vossemeer. Claes van’t Rosevelt, ancestor of the American presidential family, emigrated from this village in 1649 to look for a better life. Later, you will coast into Willemstad, an old fortified town on the Haringvliet. The massive walls were laid out in the shape of a seven pointed star, each rampart named for one the seven provinces of the Republic of United Netherlands.

Meet your barge here and set sail during lunch to Dordrecht. The barge moors in the city’s historic center, making for an easy and delightful afternoon of exploring. Dordrecht is one of Holland’s oldest towns and birthplace of the state of The Netherlands, founded by William of Orange. This evening, explore more of the town on your own and find a restaurant for dinner.

Hotel: Barge Fiep
Meals:
B, L
Daily Options: 28 miles (45 km)

DAY 8: Cruise to Kinderdijk / Cycle to Schoonhoven / Vianen

During breakfast, you will sail the River Noord to Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, 19 of Holland’s famous windmills — some more than 260 years old — adorn the horizon. After your visit, cycle through the beautiful water and meadow landscapes of Alblasserwaard to Schoonhoven, known as the “Silver City” for its long silversmithing tradition. Here re-board the barge and enjoy lunch. After lunch you have the option to cycle or cruise to Vianen.

If you choose our longer option, you will pass a landscape of wide polders separated by numerous canals. These patches of land reclaimed from the sea average an elevation of six feet below sea-level. An afternoon route leads through a series of villages and hamlets, where your trails skirt the backyards of locals. You will also ride along the Lek River dike and gain clear views of the different water levels.

Spend the night in Vianen, a small city on the River Lek.

Hotel: Barge Fiep
Meals:
B, L, D
Daily Options: 17 or 33 miles (27.3 or 53.1 km)

DAY 9: Arrive in Amsterdam

During breakfast this morning, you will cruise to Breukelen, a charming little town after which Brooklyn in New York is named. Begin cycling across a white drawbridge, the original “Brooklyn” Bridge, toward Amsterdam. Follow the beautiful rivers Vecht and Amstel, which lead right into the city. Along the river Vecht, pass magnificent 17th-century mansions and country estates built by prosperous Amsterdam merchants. You will stop for a picnic lunch along the way. Tonight, enjoy our last dinner on board.

Hotel: Barge Fiep
Meals:
B, L, D
Daily Options: 15, 20 or 27 miles (23.3, 32.2 or 44.1 km)

DAY 10: Depart barge / Explore Amsterdam / Bicycle Vacation ends

VBT Bicycle Vacation only guests: After breakfast, your tour ends. It is important that you leave the barge no later than 9:00 am so the crew can prepare for their next guests.

VBT Air Package guests and Post-Trip Extension guests: After breakfast, say goodbye to your barge crew and VBT Trip Leader, then join your other Trip Leader for an orientation walk through Amsterdam’s canal-lined streets to your hotel. Please note that check-in time is 3:00 pm, but the staff will do their best to get you to your rooms as soon as possible. After checking in, explore Amsterdam and enjoy dinner on your own. VBT provides you with City Information that includes recommendations on what to see and do in the city.

Hotel: Hotel Vondel
Meals: B

DAY 11: Depart for home

After breakfast*, meet in the hotel lobby to transfer to the Amsterdam airport and your departing flight back home.** Be sure you are waiting at the designated time and transfer location.

*Please note: For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify the times that breakfast is served.

**VBT recommends that you check your transfer time in your “Transfer Reminder.” The transfer is prearranged by VBT and is prepaid. VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.

Meals: B

Holland and Belgium Bike & Barge: Bruges Map

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Accommodations

Hotel Navarra

Ideally located in the historic center of Bruges, near the Market Square with its famous Belfry Tower, the Hotel Navarra offers an intimate and welcoming atmosphere, complemented by excellent service. The elegant, 17th-century mansion occupied by the hotel is listed as a historic monument, yet you’ll enjoy modern amenities that include free Wi-Fi, a spa, an indoor swimming pool, a sauna, a gym and a small garden with sun terrace. A/C is available.
Free WiFi Included

Barge Fiep

A cozy and spacious, two-deck, 22-passenger barge with a homelike atmosphere, the Fiep has 12 comfortable cabins—10 twin and 2 single—with private bathrooms and private showers, and the barge has climate control throughout. Common areas include a dining area and lounge with a bar, and a sun deck at the bow. Smoking is permitted only outside on the sun deck. The barge moors each night. Drinks of all types are available for purchase at the bar on board the Fiep. It is not customary for guests to bring their own wine and liquor onboard. Your understanding is appreciated. Onboard meal menus are set, though the chef is happy to accommodate vegetarians and those on restricted diets for health reasons. Please note regarding Wi-Fi onboard the barge: Each device (smartphone, laptop, etc.) receives 100 MB per day free, to be used on that day. Additional amounts can be purchased via credit card or Paypal. If travelers plan to utilize data in a normal fashion (i.e. email and basic web browsing) and avoid streaming videos and loading hi-res images, the 100 MB allotments should suffice. Please be advised that the Wi-Fi connection varies and it is not guaranteed. If internet access is critical during your travel, we recommend purchasing your own bundle before traveling overseas. Please note: We have adopted a no-smoking policy in the van during transfers, on the barge and at meals.

Hotel Vondel

A wonderful boutique hotel set amid charming 19th-century townhouses in the vibrant heart of Amsterdam, the Hotel Vondel offers easy access to the museum quarter, the bustling Leidseplein, tree-lined Vondelpark, and fine dining, shopping and entertainment. Enjoy the unique, artistic character of the hotel, as well as its cozy bar, attractive garden, and brightly decorated breakfast restaurant. Wi-Fi is free and available throughout the hotel.
Free WiFi Included
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Bruges

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2 nights from only $395-595*

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