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Holland and Belgium Bike & Barge: Amsterdam

Flat cycling routes and wistful waterways guide us through these lands of medieval and natural splendor from two vantage points—by bike and by private canal barge— where rustic windmills dot a dreamy countryside punctuated by inviting villages such as Bruges and Ghent.

  • 12 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 & Belgium Bike & Barge: Amsterdam

The best way to experience life in the Low Countries is to follow their tranquil waterways — and that’s exactly what you’ll do on this delightful vacation. Traveling as the locals do, along easy bike paths, you'll explore Antwerp—the "Diamond City"—and the medieval cities of Bruges and Ghent...visit a family in their fishing-village home...behold an ancient castle and historic windmills...delve into centuries-old traditions...and watch everyday life go by from the comfort of your intimate barge. All along this leisurely itinerary, you'll set your own pace for discovery. And you'll only unpack once!

Cultural Highlights

  • Unpack just once, then cruise for seven nights by private canal barge
  • Experience the countryside up close, as only a barge-and-bike tour allows
  • Learn the art of silversmithing during a private demonstration
  • Immerse yourself in local life as you visit a family in their home
  • Admire Holland’s iconic, 19th-century windmills
  • Picnic alongside historic locks
  • Discover Bruges, one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe
  • Take a guided 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 through the trip. Our VBT support shuttle is available every day at designated waypoints for those who need assistance.

Average Daily Mileage: 15 – 35 miles
Average Daily Ride: 2 – 4 hours on bike paths and roads through both urban and rural areas

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

Air Package Plus

  • Roundtrip international airfare
  • Transfers
  • 7 nights aboard a private canal barge, 1 night in an Amsterdam hotel, 2 nights in a Bruges hotel
  • 18 meals  10 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 5 dinners
  • Guided walking tours in Amsterdam and Bruges
  • AND the option to add our Low-Cost Trip Extensions: Pre-trip: Amsterdam  3 nights for only $445 • Post-trip: Brussels  2 nights for only $395

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 during the cruise portion of your trip
  • 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: $1345 | 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. 2015 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 to Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Depart from home for 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 note: 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 your Amsterdam hotel (transfer time is approximately 20 minutes, depending on traffic).

Important: 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.

Please note: If you cannot find the VBT representative, or have been delayed in customs or because of lost luggage, please go to the 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.

Please note: The hotel check-in time is 3:00 pm, but they will do their best to get you to your rooms as soon as possible. After checking in, you have free time to explore Amsterdam. VBT provides you with City Information that includes recommendations on what to see and do in Amsterdam.

Try one of Amsterdam's wonderful restaurants for dinner on your own.

Hotel: Hotel Vondel

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

VBT No-Air Package guests: You are responsible for making your own way to meet our 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 in Oosterdok, near the entrance of the NEMO museum, behind the Amsterdam Centraal train station. Contact telephone number is 0620 245 095 from within The Netherlands or ++31 620 245 095 from abroad. Please refer to the information listed in the tour handbook.

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, including free time for lunch. We board the barge at 1:45 pm and depart at 2:00 pm. At the docks, meet the barge crew and your second VBT Trip Leader, who will welcome you aboard with refreshments. Cruise out of Amsterdam on the IJ waterway, catching glimpses of houseboats and floating houses.

The barge stops before dinner for your warm-up ride, which follows the river Vecht. This evening, gather with the group for a welcome dinner onboard. We moor in Vianen, a small city on the river Lek.

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: Barge Sailing Home
Alternate Hotel: Barge Iris or Barge Fiep
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 11 miles (17.5 km)

DAY 4: Cycle to Kinderdijk / Cruise to Dordrecht

After breakfast, we cycle along the small canals of the rural region of Krimpenerwaard. We trace the route of the river Lek through Schoonhoven, known as the “Silver City” for its long silversmithing tradition. Continue on to Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where 19 of Holland's famous windmills — some more than 260 years old — decorate the horizon.

Then we cycle (or cruise, if you prefer) to Dordrecht, one of Holland's oldest towns and birthplace of the state of The Netherlands, fathered by William of Orange. We stroll through the city's historic center to get a glimpse of its rich past. This evening, your barge captain will give a short talk and introduce the crew.

We moor tonight in Dordrecht and enjoy dinner on board.

Hotel: Barge Sailing Home
Alternate Hotel: Barge Iris or Fiep
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 14 or 30.5 miles (24 or 49 km)

DAY 5: Cruise to Willemstad / Cycle to Tholen

This morning, enjoy a short language lesson while we sail to Willemstad, an old fortified town on the Haringvliet. There'll be time here to explore. Then we cycle to Tholen, once an island in the middle of the large Zeeland streams where many people fished for their living. Today, it is connected to the mainland, but it remains a picturesque village with relics of an eventful past. We pedal through its quiet farmlands and pause for a picnic lunch at historic locks before arriving in Tholen. Here we meet the barge and enjoy dinner onboard. After dinner, various local families will arrive at the barge and take you back to their homes to host an evening with you.

Hotel: Barge Sailing Home
Alternate Hotel: Barge Iris or Fiep
Meals: B, L, D
Daily Options: 26 miles (42 km)

DAY 6: Cycle and cruise to Antwerp, Belgium

This morning, we cycle through the Wouwse Plantage, a wooded area adjacent to Tholen, and cross the Oesterdam in the Oesterschelde; our barge waits on the other side. From here, cruise to the impressive port of Antwerp. After lunch on board, you have the rest of the afternoon to explore. Antwerp is not only known as the “Diamond City,” but also as the native city of the painter Rubens. You may wish to visit the Cathedral of Our Lady and the Market Square, which is surrounded by beautiful historic townhouses. Tonight, enjoy dinner on your own in a local restaurant.

Hotel: Barge Sailing Home
Alternate Hotel: Barge Iris or Fiep
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 19 miles (29.9 km)

DAY 7: Cycle to Dendermonde

After we cruise out of Antwerp, we board our bikes for a ride to Temse, Basel Castle, and along the old Schelde River. On the way, lunch is on your own near Basel Castle. Our afternoon route continues past magnificent river views to Dendermonde, the centuries-old city with a Benedictine abbey at its center. Before dinner on board tonight, you can learn more about Belgian beer during our onboard beer tasting.

Hotel: Barge Sailing Home
Alternate Hotel: Barge Iris or Fiep
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 18.5 or 33 miles (30 or 53 km)

DAY 8: Tour Ghent

After breakfast, we cycle from Dendermonde to Ghent. 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. Enjoy a leisurely lunch on board the barge before a guided boat excursion to the center of Ghent. Then explore this attractive medieval canal city on your own. 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.” Try one of the local restaurants for dinner.

Hotel: Barge Sailing Home
Alternate Hotel: Barge Iris or Fiep
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 21 miles (33.5 km)

DAY 9: Arrive in Bruges

During breakfast this morning, our barge cruises out of the city. Cyclists who have chosen the longer ride option can begin cycling toward Bruges. Others remain on board until Aalter Bridge, where the shorter cycling route to Bruges begins. The barge rejoins the main canal and meets us all in Bruges in the late afternoon.

Regarded by many as Europe's best-preserved medieval city, Bruges is laced by a network of canals lined by beautiful houses built by wealthy textile merchants. A 350-foot, 13th-century belfry tower, which houses Europe's most famous carillon, presides over the city's Market Square. You have ample time to marvel at the medieval ambiance of this lovely city and to walk its winding streets. Dine on the barge one last time this evening.

Hotel: Barge Sailing Home
Alternate Hotel: Barge Iris or Fiep
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 15 or 28 miles (24 or 45 km)

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

VBT No-Air Package 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 our next guests. 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 one Trip Leader, then walk through Bruges's winding streets to the hotel with your second Trip Leader. During the walk, you will get an orientation of the historic city center. Please note that 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 on what to see and do.

Bruges was northern Europe's leading trade center between the 13th and 15th centuries, driven largely by its thriving wool and textile industries. The city has been famous for its fine lace for 500 years; you may wish to visit one of the small cottage industries revolving around lace-making. Enjoy dinner on your own in town tonight.

Hotel: Hotel Navarra
Meals: B

DAY 11: Free day in Bruges

Today is free for you to independently explore Bruges or one of the nearby villages. Dinner is on your own in town tonight.

Hotel: Hotel Navarra
Meals: B

DAY 12: Depart for home

After breakfast*, meet in the hotel lobby for your transfer to the Brussels airport and your flight back home** Please note: Be sure that 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

Hotel Navarrat

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, coupled with excellent service. The elegant, 17th-century mansion in which the hotel is housed is listed as a historic monument, yet you’ll enjoy modern amenities that include free WiFi, a spa, an indoor swimming pool, a sauna, a gym and a small garden with sun terrace.
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, 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 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 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 50 MB per day free, to be used on that day. Additional amounts can be purchased via credit card or Paypal.

Hotel Sandton Brussels Centre

The hotel is ideally located in the historic and commercial heart of Brussels. The hotel’s location is a short walk from museums, art galleries, fashionable shops and cozy restaurants and is perfect for independent exploration of the city.
Free WiFi Included

Barge Sailing Home

The Sailing Home is a comfortable, two-deck motor passenger ship featuring 12 twin-bedded cabins, each with private shower and toilet. In service since April 2001, the barge has climate control throughout. Inside, the salon and bar are decorated in a modern Victorian style and have a relaxed atmosphere. There is a sundeck available for guests at the bow. Smoking is only permitted outside on the sundeck. The barge moors each night. Drinks of all types are available for purchase at the bar on board the Sailing Home. It is not customary for guests to bring their own drinks or to use the bar facilities of the barge (including ice, glasses and crew services); 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.

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

3 nights for only $445

Post-Trip Extension - Brussels

2 nights for only $395

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