Bicycling and Walking Vacations Since 1971 Call a VBT Tour Consultant: (800) 245-3868

Holland in Springtime Bike & Barge

Holland is awash in a riot of color every Spring. Witness its annual fragrant display up close as you cycle and cruise into this breathtaking, blossoming world.

  • 11 Days
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Daily Mileage: 15 - 35 mi
  • Daily Biking: 2 -4 hr
  • Small Groups: 24
  • Biking
  • Easy
  • Plane

Why You'll Love This Tour

Overview

HOLLAND IN SPRINGTIME BIKE & BARGE

Holland is awash in a riot of color every Spring. Witness its annual fragrant display up close as you cycle and cruise into this breathtaking, blossoming world. We explore the Dutch countryside in the most leisurely manner – by intimate, slow-moving barge – drifting through a polder-lined landscape dotted with fairytale windmills and vibrant fields. Intimate bike paths and sleepy canals lead us along flat terrain to inviting villages, North Sea beaches and charming cities of gabled houses. And you’ll celebrate Spring’s beauty at a unique flower museum, tulip-filled Keukenhof and the bustling Aalsmeer flower auction. Space fills quickly, so reserve today!

Cultural Highlights

  • Cycle the scenic polders of the Dutch countryside
  • Marvel at the ingenious mechanics of windmills
  • View rare and historic bulbs at a garden museum
  • Ferry across the North Sea Canal
  • Tour the cobbled streets and canals of Haarlem
  • Explore Keukenhof, a magnificent flower park
  • Sample delicious cheeses at a family-owned farm
  • Witness the the world's largest flower auction
  • Enjoy a glass of wine with dinner aboard our barge

What To Expect

This tour offers easy terrain throughout the trip on bike paths and roads through both urban and rural areas. Our VBT support shuttle is available every day at designated waypoints for those who need assistance.

Average Daily Mileage: 15 – 35 miles
Average Daily Cycling Time: 2 – 4 hours

Climate Information

Average Daily Temperature (°F) – Amsterdam
Apr 53°  May 61°  Jun 66°  Jul 69°  Aug 70°

Average Rainfall (in.) – Amsterdam
Apr 1.5  May 2  Jun 2.4  Jul 2.9  Aug 2.4

What’s Included:

Bicycle Tour Only – without Air

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

Air Package Plus

  • 7 nights aboard a canal barge and 2 nights in an Amsterdam hotel
  • 17 meals – 9 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 5 dinners
  • Roundtrip international airfare
  • Transfers
  • Guided walking tour in Amsterdam
  • AND the option to add our Low-Cost Trip Extensions: Pre or Post-trip Extension: Amsterdam – 2 nights for only $345

Both Vacation Options Include

  • 1 glass of wine with all dinners aboard the barge
  • FREE use of our custom VBT bicycle and helmet
  • Service of two bilingual VBT Trip Leaders
  • 6 days of cycling with FULL VAN SUPPORT (where possible due to bike paths) during the cruise portion of your trip
  • Daily route directions and maps
  • Welcome reception
  • Sightseeing and cultural activities
  • 5% Frequent Traveler Credit to use on your next VBT vacation
  • Special Good Buy Discount 
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Air Package Plus Single Supplement: $1245 | Land Only Single Supplement: $1045

Please note: Web Special savings cannot be combined with any other offer. Standard Terms & Conditions apply when purchasing this trip. 2016 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 Amsterdam

Depart from home for Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.

DAY 2: Arrive in Amsterdam

Upon arrival at the Amsterdam airport, claim your luggage and clear customs. If your luggage is lost, fill in a PIR form before leaving the customs area; VBT representatives are not allowed into the customs area. Please make certain 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 and who will make arrangements for your transfer, via taxi or minibus, to our Amsterdam hotel (transfer time is approximately 20 minutes, depending on traffic).

Transfers are provided by Schiphol Taxi, who will be looking for you and carrying a VBT signboard. You may be approached by other companies offering a transfer. Please use only Schiphol Taxi (telephone: +31 654 354 601 or +31 681 299 101). Transfers provided by any other company will be at your own expense.

If you cannot find the VBT representative, or have been delayed in customs or because of lost luggage, please go to the airport’s Red & White Meeting Point and wait there. You can also go to one of the yellow information desks in the main hall and ask if they will telephone Schiphol Taxi (using the number above) on your behalf. This service is free of charge.

Hotel check-in time is 3:00 pm, but the staff will do their best to get you to your room as soon as possible. After checking in, you have the rest of the day to relax or to begin your exploration of the city. VBT provides you with City Information in your Final Travel Booklet that includes recommendations about what to see and do in Amsterdam.

Later try one of Amsterdam’s wonderful restaurants for dinner on your own.

Please note: April 27th is Kings Day, a public holiday and celebration to honor the Dutch King Willem-Alexander, so Amsterdam will be busier than usual on this day and on the evening before.

Hotel: Hotel Vondel

DAY 3: Embark barge / Warm-up ride / Cruise to Zaandam

VBT No-Air Package guests: You are responsible for making your own way to our barge, arriving between 12:30 and 12:50 pm. Please note that you cannot embark before this time, as the barge is being prepared for your arrival. If you are late, you must contact the barge as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements, as we set sail at 1:00 pm. The barge will be moored in Oosterdok, near the entrance to the NEMO museum, which is located behind Amsterdam’s Centraal Station. Please refer to the information listed in the tour handbook for your barge contact number.

VBT Air Package and Pre-Trip Extension guests: After breakfast, make sure your luggage is packed and ready to be transported to the barge. At 9:30 am, meet one of our VBT Trip Leaders in the hotel lobby for a guided walking tour of Amsterdam, visiting many of the city’s highlights.

We board the barge at 12:30 pm for a 1:00 pm departure. At the docks, meet the barge crew and our second VBT Trip Leader, who will welcome us aboard with refreshments. We cruise out of Amsterdam, sailing along the Noordhollands – the waterway connecting Amsterdam to the North Sea – alongside the recently built movie museum EYE. The barge moors near Zaanse Schans next to a working sawmill generated only by wind power. From here, enjoy your warm-up ride through Holland’s characteristic polder landscape. Cycling past traditional green painted houses, warehouses and windmills, you’re sure to feel as if you are pedaling into the 17th or 18th century.

This evening, gather on board with the group for a welcome dinner.

Hotel: Barge Iris
Alternate Hotel: Barge Lena Maria
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 5.6 miles (9 km)

DAY 4: Cycle to De Rijp / Visit Schermerhorn Windmill Museum / Alkmaar

Today our barge continues along the River Zaan and the Noordhollands Kanaal to the town of Alkmaar, famed for its cheese trade. After breakfast, start cycling past

Today our barge continues along the River Zaan and the Knollendammer Canal to the town of Alkmaar, famed for its cheese trade. After breakfast, we cycle past lakes and water management systems to the beautiful town of De Rijp. As we arrive, you’ll appreciate why the famous water engineer Jan Adriaanszoon Leeghwater referred to it as “the finest village in Holland.” Centuries of history are still evident here in De Rijp’s wooden facades, beautiful church, lock and town hall.

From here, we continue across the Beemster Polder, an almost untouched open polder landscape. In 1612, Dutch engineers, using a system of dikes and windmills, drained marshes and bogs and converted the land into pastures. Today, the Beemster Polder is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nourished by sea water, the clay soil left behind is nutrient- and mineral-rich, with a distinctive slate blue color. Grass grown in this soil is especially fertile and makes the milk produced by cows that graze here unusually sweet and creamy; Beemster cheeses thus are celebrated for their exceptional flavor.

Our next stop is the former windmill complex of the Schermer Polder. Here we visit the Schermerhorn Windmill Museum. We have complete access to the windmill from top to bottom, so you can follow the fascinating mechanics of the mill amidst this unique polder windmill setting. We enjoy a picnic lunch here.

We continue our ride along these delightfully flat lands to Alkmaar. The town is known as a Dutch cheese city, but that only tells part of its story. As you explore the streets this evening, you’ll be amazed by the beauty of Alkmaar’s Old Town, with its well-preserved 17th-century buildings and narrow, winding canals.

Dinner will be served on our barge this evening.

Hotel: Barge Iris
Alternate Hotel: Barge Lena Maria
Meals: B, L, D
Daily Options: 14 or 25 miles (22 or 40 km)

DAY 5: Guided tour of Hortus Bulborum / Cycle to the North Sea Coast and Haarlem

We rise to an early breakfast this morning, then cycle 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 adorn the museum’s five-plus acres of flowerbeds. Each spring, they burst forth in a profusion of fragrances and colors, as we’ll discover during a guided tour.

After our visit, we ride a short distance to our lunch spot, a café right on the beach. Enjoy the sweeping views before we continue on bike paths through the sand dunes of the North Sea Coast to the town of Beverwijk. Here, we embark a local ferry and cross the major shipping route of the North Sea Canal. As we disembark, you can choose to shuttle or cycle to Haarlem.

Haarlem is a pretty city of cobblestone streets, historic buildings, canals, grand churches, cozy bars, top-class restaurants and antique shops. We join our Trip Leaders on a short walking tour through the historic city center. Afterward, stay in town to enjoy dinner on your own. The barge is moored in Haarlem overnight.

Hotel: Barge Iris
Alternate Hotel: Barge Lena Maria
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 17, 28 or 39 miles (28, 45 or 62 km)

DAY 6: Keukenhof flower park / Leiden

Breakfast is slightly earlier again today. Then, we ride through gorgeous blooming bulb fields to Keukenhof, famed for its magnificent flower gardens. The 80-acre park boasts more than 9 miles of footpaths winding among more than 7 million tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and other flowers, all designed to excite the senses in a most wonderful setting.

After our time at Keukenhof, we ride through blossoming bulb fields en route to Leiden, a vibrant town patterned with canals and attractive guild houses. The birthplace of Dutch master painter Rembrandt, Leiden is home to The Netherlands’ oldest university. It also has a surprising connection to American history. In the early 17th century, Protestants fleeing persecution elsewhere in the Low Countries, France and England arrived in Leiden to a somewhat warmer welcome. Most notable among these Protestants was a group led by John Robinson, who would later sail to America aboard the Mayflower.

This evening, enjoy dinner on board our barge before joining your Trip Leaders for a short walk into Leiden. The barge is moored in Leiden overnight.

Hotel: Barge Iris
Alternate Hotel: Barge Lena Maria
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 14, 24 or 34 miles (23, 39 or 55 km)

DAY 7: Cheese farm visit / Gouda

This morning, we cruise out of Leiden and start today’s ride through the nearby verdant pasturelands and small farms famous for cheese production. Near Zoeterwoude, we visit one such farm and meet the owners, Karin and Sjaak van Veen, and their animals. The farm has been in their family for more than 100 years. Here, we learn about the cheese-making process – and we’ll have the opportunity to taste the results.

We continue through open polder landscapes to Hazerswoude-Dorp. From here, our bike path gets so intimate you actually cycle through people’s gardens. Meet the VBT van en route for a typical, simple mid-morning snack of boterham met kaas (bread with cheese), before continuing to Gouda.

Gouda’s namesake cheese is among The Netherlands’ best-known exports. The town’s compact center is entirely ringed by canals, and this evening we’ll have the chance to stroll its spacious market square and see the grand Gothic town hall. The main church of Gouda, devoted to Saint John, is world famous for its stained-glass windows. Your early afternoon arrival gives you plenty of time to explore and find a local restaurant for dinner.

Hotel: Barge Iris
Alternate Hotel: Barge Lena Maria
Meals: B
Daily Options: 14, 22 or 27 miles (23, 35 or 44 km)

DAY 8: Gouda / Alphen / Tolhuis Sluis

We leave Gouda this morning and pedal alongside peat lakes and onto the banks of the narrow River Rhine to Alphen aan de Rijn. Here we meet the barge for an included lunch on board.

Afterward, you have the option to either cycle or cruise through a pretty stretch known as the “Groene Hart” (Green Heart) – a rural region of lush meadows, tranquil peat lakes and abundant birdlife. If you are cycling, you will rejoin the barge at Tolhuis Sluis, from which we cruise along the River Amstel to our mooring point for the night at Uithoorn.

We’ll enjoy dinner aboard our barge this evening.

Hotel: Barge Iris
Alternate Hotel: Barge Lena Maria
Meals: B, L, D
Daily Options: 16.8 or 31.7 miles (27 or 51 km)

DAY 9: Aalsmeer flower auction / Amsterdam

Today we rise early and, after a hot drink, shuttle to Aalsmeer, the world’s largest flower auction. Our early start is worth the effort as we’ll experience the frenetic energy within the auction warehouse as crates of flowers are transported to the auction floor, where traders bid against the clock. Marvel at the astonishing volume of beautiful flowers being traded daily from more than ten countries for export throughout the world. Watching the entire auction from a special gallery, we’ll be at the very heart of international flower trade.

We meet the barge in Uithoorn around 9:00 am for a late breakfast before heading out on our final day of cycling. Our options take us along the River Waver to its convergence with the Amstel River. We meet our barge at Zorgvliet and cruise into Amsterdam, sampling local Dutch delicacies along the way. Our barge’s mooring couldn’t be more convenient: it’s right in the center of city.

Dine on the barge one last time this evening.

Hotel: Barge Iris
Alternate Hotel: Barge Lena Maria
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 24 or 24.2 miles (39 km)

DAY 10: Depart barge / Discover Amsterdam / VBT No-Air Package ends

VBT No-Air Package guests: After breakfast, say goodbye to your barge crew and Trip Leaders as our tour comes to a close. It is important that you leave the barge no later than 9:00 am. Please refer to the information listed in the tour handbook.

VBT Air Package guests and Post-Trip Extension guests: After breakfast, say goodbye to your barge crew and Trip Leaders, then take a short transfer to our Amsterdam hotel. After checking in, you have free time for independent exploration. Please note your room may not be ready at this time, in which case the hotel will store your luggage. Enjoy dinner on your own in town tonight. VBT provides you with City Information in your Final Travel Booklet that includes recommendations about what to see and do in Amsterdam.

Please note: April 27th is Kings Day, a public holiday and celebration to honor the Dutch King Willem-Alexander, so Amsterdam will be busier than usual on this day and on the evening before.

Hotel: Hotel Vondel
Meals: B

DAY 11: Depart for home

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight 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

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Accommodations

Barge Lena Maria

The Lena Maria started her new life as a passenger ship in 2006. This ship was built by Hans de Lange, who had previously built and operated similar vessels. The ship offers plenty of room for up to 24 passengers. All 12 cabins on the Lena Maria offer 2 lower beds and a shower and toilet. Windows can be opened, and the cabins have central heating and private bathrooms with private showers. Common areas include a dining area, a lounge with a bar and a sun deck at the bow. Smoking is permitted outside on the sun deck only. The barge moors each night. Drinks of all types are available for purchase at the bar on board the Lena Maria. It is not customary for guests to bring their own wine and liquor on board; 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 50 MB per day free, to be used on that day. Additional amounts can be purchased via credit card or Paypal.

Hotel Vondel

A wonderful First-Class hotel located in the heart of vibrant, historic Amsterdam, the Hotel Vondel is extremely well suited for every traveler, thanks in large part to its distinctive, artful atmosphere and individual character. The Vondel is close to Amsterdam’s museum quarter, the lively Leidseplein, tree-lined Vondelpark dining, shopping and entertainment venues. Its cozy bar, attractive garden, and brightly decorated breakfast restaurant make us feel right at home.
Free WiFi Included

Barge Iris

A luxurious and spacious two-deck, 24-passenger barge with a homelike atmosphere, the Iris was put into service in April 2005. Its 12 comfortable cabins have private bathrooms with 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 outside on the sun deck only. The barge moors each night. Drinks of all types are available for purchase at the bar on board the Iris. 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 50 MB per day free, to be used on that day. Additional amounts can be purchased via credit card or Paypal.
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Enjoy Your Vacation Longer With LOw-Cost Trip Extensions

Pre-Trip Extension - Amsterdam

2 nights for only $345

Post-Trip Extension - Amsterdam

2 nights for only $345

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Heart of Europe Bike & Barge: Cochem to Metz

From only $4,595

Our private barge navigates past the vineyard-lined banks of the Moselle at the most leisurely pace, and our bicycle routes reveal the most intimate side of this cherished sliver of Europe touching Germany, Luxembourg and France.

12 Days
Take Me There
Xanterra

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VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, 614 Monkton Rd., Bristol, Vermont 05443-0711
Talk to a VBT Tour Consultant: (800) 245-3868