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

Holland in Springtime Bike & Barge

Ebikes Available on this TourExperience springtime in Holland just once, and the saturated colors, fragrant flowers, and scenes out of an Old Master’s painting will be forever etched in your mind.

  • 11 Days
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Daily Mileage: 15 - 35 mi
  • Daily Biking: 2 - 4 hr
  • Small Groups: 24
  • 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 IN SPRINGTIME BIKE & BARGE

Experience springtime in Holland just once, and the saturated colors, fragrant flowers, and scenes out of an Old Master’s painting will be forever etched in your mind. The sensory intensity of Holland in spring is complemented by the ease of barge living with VBT. You’ll drift through this scenic, historic wonderland, stopping to cycle through windmill-dotted polder lands, Renaissance cities, and North Sea fishing communities. Experience gardens where flowering bulbs unfurl in dazzling displays of color and celebrate the best of Holland during its best-loved season.

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 world’s largest flower auction
  • Enjoy a glass of wine with dinner aboard our 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 waypoints for those who need assistance.

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

Climate Information

Average High/Low Temperature (°F) – Amsterdam
Mar 48°/37° Apr 53°/40°  May 61°/46°

Average Precipitation (in.) – Amsterdam
Mar 3.5 Apr 1.5  May 2

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

International Air Package

  • 7 nights aboard a canal barge
  • 17 meals – 9 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 5 dinners
    PLUS: 2 nights in an Amsterdam hotel
  • Roundtrip international airfare
  • All Transfers
  • Guided walking tour in Amsterdam
  • AND the option to add our Low-Cost Trip Extensions:
    Pre-trip Extension: Amsterdam  – 2 nights for only $445
    Post-trip Extension: Amsterdam – 2 nights for only $395

Both Vacation Options Include

Reading List

Click here to download our Holland in Springtime Suggested Reading List.

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Air Package Single Supplement: $1445 | Land Only Single Supplement: $1095

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 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 Service, who will be looking for you and carrying a VBT sign. You may be approached by other companies offering a transfer. Please use only Schiphol Taxi Service (STS 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 because of lost luggage or another reason, please go to the airport’s Red & White Meeting Point in the main arrival hall 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 Service (using the number above) on your behalf.

Hotel check-in time is 3:00 p.m., 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 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 27 is King’s 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 / Bicycle Vacation begins / 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 p.m. 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 p.m. 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 a.m., 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.

You will board the barge at 12:30 p.m. for a 1:00 p.m. departure. At the docks, meet the barge crew and your second VBT Trip Leader, who will welcome you aboard with refreshments. Then, cruise out of Amsterdam, sailing along the Noordhollands—the waterway connecting Amsterdam to the North Sea—passing the recently built movie museum EYE.

After this brief sail, the barge moors near Zaanse Schans, next to a working sawmill generated only by wind power. You will disembark the barge just before this location and ride along the canal on your warm-up ride, rejoining the barge at this mooring. 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.

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’s varied docking points, Internet access may not always be available. 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.

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

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

Today, your barge continues along the River Zaan and the Knollendammer Canal to the town of Alkmaar, famed for its cheese trade. After breakfast, cycle past lakes and water management systems to the beautiful town of De Rijp. Upon arrival, 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, 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.

Your next stop is the former windmill complex of the Schermer Polder. Here you can visit the Schermerhorn Windmill Museum. With complete access to the windmill from top to bottom, you can follow the fascinating mechanics of the mill in a unique setting. Enjoy a picnic lunch.

Continue cycling along these delightfully flat lands to Alkmaar. The town is known as a Dutch cheese city, but that tells only 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.

Barge: Barge Lena Maria
Alternate Barge: Barge Iris
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

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 you’ll discover during a guided tour.

After, you will ride a short distance to our lunch spot, a café right on the beach. Enjoy the sweeping views before continuing on bike paths through the sand dunes of the North Sea Coast to the town of Beverwijk. Here, embark a local ferry and cross the major shipping route of the North Sea Canal. Back on land, 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. After coasting into town, join your 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.

Barge: Barge Lena Maria
Alternate Barge: Barge Iris
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, you will ride through gorgeous blooming bulb fields to Keukenhof, famed for its magnificent flower gardens. The 80-acre park boasts more than 9 miles (14.4 km) 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.

Later, cycle 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 before joining your Trip Leaders for a short walk into Leiden. The barge is moored in Leiden overnight.

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

DAY 7: Cheese farm visit / Gouda

This morning, cruise out of Leiden and start today’s ride through verdant pasturelands and small farms famous for cheese production. Near Zoeterwoude, pause to 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, you will learn about the cheese-making process—and enjoy the opportunity to taste the results.

Continue through open polder landscapes to Hazerswoude-Dorp. From here, the bike path gets so intimate you actually cycle through people’s gardens. The route takes you all the way 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 you can 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 on your own.

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

DAY 8: Gouda / Alphen / Tolhuis Sluis

Leave Gouda this morning and pedal alongside peat lakes and onto the banks of the narrow River Rhine to Alphen aan de Rijn. Here you will rejoin the barge for lunch.

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 meet the barge at Tolhuis Sluis, then cruise along the River Amstel to the next overnight mooring point at Uithoorn.

Enjoy dinner aboard our barge this evening.

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

DAY 9: Aalsmeer flower auction / Amsterdam

Rise early today and, after a hot drink, shuttle to Aalsmeer, the world’s largest flower auction. The early start is worth the effort, as you’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, you’ll be at the very heart of international flower trade.

Return to the barge in Uithoorn around 9:00 a.m. for a late breakfast before heading out on a final day of cycling. Today’s cycling options trace the River Waver to its convergence with the Amstel River. Rejoin the barge at Zorgvliet and cruise into Amsterdam, sampling local Dutch delicacies along the way. Your 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.

Barge: Barge Lena Maria
Alternate Barge: Barge Iris
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 24 or 24.2 miles (38.6 or 38.9 km)

DAY 10: Depart Barge / Discover Amsterdam / VBT Bicycle Vacation ends

VBT Bicycle Vacation only guests: After breakfast, say goodbye to your barge crew and Trip Leaders as your tour comes to a close. It is important that you leave the barge no later than 9:00 a.m. 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 your Amsterdam hotel. After checking in, you have free time for independent exploration. Please note that your room may not be ready at this time, in which case the hotel will store your luggage. Enjoy dinner on your own tonight. VBT provides you with City Information that includes recommendations about what to see and do in Amsterdam.

Please note: April 27 is King’s 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

Holland in Springtime Bike & Barge Map

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Accommodations

Barge Lena Maria

The Lena Maria started her new life as a passenger barge in 2006. 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 private bathrooms with shower and toilet. Windows can be opened, and the cabins have central heating. Common areas include a dining area, a lounge with a bar and a sun deck at the bow. The barge moors each night. A/C is available. 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 on board 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 is not guaranteed. If Internet access is critical during your travel, we recommend purchasing your own bundle before traveling overseas. Please note: VBT has adopted a no-smoking policy on the ship, in the van during transfers 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

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, a lounge with a bar and a sun deck at the bow.. 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 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 on board 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 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.     .
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2 nights for only $395

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