Bike along Amsterdam’s classic canals. Pedal past Kinderdijk’s row of 19 historic windmills. Treasure the ‘Silver City’of Schoonhaven, the ‘Diamond Capital’, Antwerp and emerald green Ablasserwaard polders, all en route to those Flanders jewels of the Golden Age – Ghent and Bruges. With the comfortable Dutch barge, MS Gandalf, as your floating home, this is simply one local gem of a Holland and Flanders tour - a must-do mix of superb scenic cycling and gloriously gentle times cruising down the lowland waterways and a wonderfully Dutch way to make a wide range of discoveries from the masterpieces of medieval merchants to the legacies of enterprising engineering minds.
2019 prices now available.
is on board the barge, MS Gandalf , in an outside-facing 2 bed cabin with private facilities and a porthole which can be opened. The Dutch barge can accommodate up to 22 passengers and has 10 cabins. Full details about the barge including layout plans are available here.We are pleased to discuss details on request.
This linear cycling holiday with accommodation on board the touring Dutch barge, MS Gandalf, is packed full of classic city and countryside sights to treasure including Amsterdam, Antwerp, historic Dordrecht, Dendermonde, Ghent and Bruges. When it comes to exploring the Dutch lowlands and Flanders, a bike and boat tour is surely not just the most appropriate combo, but the one with the most local flavour too. Whether you’re in the saddle on the tow path or sitting back and relaxing on board your comfortable floating home, you’ll soon see Holland and Belgium from a different perspective.
Due to navigation conditions, the exact details of itineraries / embarkation points may be modified at the discretion of the boat’s Captain. All overnights are on board your floating accommodation, the MS GandalfI. Details of the transits to the next destination are outlined in the itinerary below but may be subject to change.
Day One – All aboard in Amsterdam!
Join the MS Gandalf moored in central Amsterdam and settle in to your floating accommodation on board this classic Dutch barge, before it sets off along the narrow canals of Amsterdam towards the River Vecht. At Nigtevecht, it’s time to disembark and enjoy a brief encounter with your bike, pedalling along winding riverside paths to Breukelen in the province of Utrecht, an area renowned for fine country mansions along the river built by wealthy 17th century merchant families from Amsterdam. Meeting back up with MS Gandalf, the afternoon finishes with a cruise down to Vianan, an attractive small town on the River Lek with fortifications and a 15th century brick gateway.
Overnight mooring – Vianen.
Miles 3-9 Kms 5-15
Day Two – So much more than just double Dutch
Start the day with a satisfying stretch of cycling down to Schoonhaven with its majestic medieval town hall, city walls and rows of narrow gabled houses lining the waterside. A super-wealthy place to be in the 17th century, home to skilled silversmiths and clockmakers, it’s still known locally as ‘Silver City’ today. Don’t miss the impressive town clock or the glittering prizes in the museum dedicated to the Dutch silvertrade. Only a short cycle across the Alblasserwaard polder from Schoonhaven, the famous Unesco World Heritage Site, the Kinderdijk, comes into view. The row of nineteen mighty working drainage windmills make an amazing site, but be sure to visit one to experience these impressive wooden structures along with all their creaks and cranks up close.
Finally, a ten minute whizz from Ablasserdam on the ‘Waterbus’ fast ferry with your bike by your side will deliver you down to historic Dordrecht, the ‘Island on the Dort’ with its fine ‘Grote Kerk’ and bordered by no less than five rivers. Here your classic Dutch barge awaits for your stay in this typically Dutch port for the night.
Overnight mooring – Dordrecht
Miles 30 Kms 50
Day Three – Across the borderlands to Belgium & Antwerp
Disembark at Tholen after a short breakfast cruise and bike it via the woodlands of the ‘Wouwse Plantage’ to Bergen Op Zoom. Its names suggests a hill or two (Bergen) where the sand pushed against the mainland clays, but everything around here is relative! The city boasts an historic marketplace, gateways and the fine 15th / 16th century Markiezenhofpalace, now a museum and cultural centre. A relaxed pedal push later, the mighty Kreekraksluis lock complex comes into sight, with the MS Gandalf docked at the end of the dam to deliver you down the tidal River Schelde into Belgium in style, all the way to the very historic heart of Antwerp. The city of diamonds, the world of Rubens, the capital of the province of Flanders – there’s so much to see, but the paintings by the local Grand Master in the gothic ‘Onze Lieve Vrouwekathedraal’ built in 1351 has to be a must. After supper, there’s a tour of the old city with a bit of local insight courtesy of your on board guide.
Overnight mooring – Antwerp
Miles 21 Kms 35
Day Four – Along the Schelde to Dendermonde
Disembark with your bike at Zeeschelde for a day of mainly riverside cycling through the beautiful natural landscapes around the tidal River Schelde as it ebbs and flows its way to meet the River Dende at Dendermonde. Your destination will be either St Amands or the historic town of Dendermonde with its ‘Vleeshuis’ on the marketplace and impressive city hall and belfry.
Overnight mooring – St Amands or Dendermonde
Miles 25 or 34 Kms 42 or 56
Day Five – Through East Flanders to glorious Ghent
From a mooring at St Amands, either set off by bike or stay aboard the MS Gandalf to cruise to historic Dendermonde. From Dendermonde, enjoy more scenic cycling as you push your pedals along the pathways of the River Schelde and glide towards where it meets with the River Leie at the vibrant university city of Ghent. Although more modest than Antwerp or Bruges, Ghent combines wonderful flourishes of medieval architecture with refreshing contemporary culture and even has Roman roots. ‘Gravensteen’, its 12th century ‘Castle of the Count’ built by Phillip of Alsace, has round towers and battlements which seem to rise out of the river and are a must-climb moment just for the city views. Before you meet back up for dinner with the MS Gandalf at Merelbeke lock in the city suburbs, the historic ‘Graslei’ area has to be on the menu, as well as St Bavo’s Cathedral for a healthy helping of fine art by Van Eyck.
Overnight mooring – Ghent (Merelbeke)
Miles 24 (optional) & 32 Kms 40 & 53
Day Six – Westward ho! En route to beautiful Bruges.
A gentle cycle through the charming West Flanders countryside, never straying too far away from the river, leads to the canal lands of Bruges - a place which wears a coat of very many colours and a good number of different hats too! The largest city in West Flanders, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Venice of the North, the most beautiful of all Flemish cities … it’s hard to know quite whether to start, but climbing the 366 steps up the ‘Belfort’ is likely to give you the bearings you need as well as some perspective over the intact medieval city centre. Graze the fine art offerings at the Groenigemuseum, shop for lace, fine chocolate or check out perhaps the city’s most whacky offering – the ‘Frietmuseum’ (yes, a whole museum dedicated to chips!). That should give you an appetite for supper tonight!
Overnight mooring – Bruges.
Miles 28 Kms 45
Day Seven – An encounter with the coast
Time to leave the hustle and bustle of Bruges for a quieter canal or two. The coast is closer than you think and with massive sandy stretches and wonderful nature reserves just a gentle cycle away, who can resist? Pedal along poplar-lined pathways across the West Flander polders dotted with farmsteads to meet the North Sea around ‘Het Zwin’ with its famous dune landscape. Kick-back and relax at a café or plan a little paddle perhaps before leaving the refreshing North Sea breezes behind you for the busy life of Bruges once again.
Overnight mooring – Bruges
Miles 30 Kms 50
Day Eight - Depart after breakfast
Following your final breakfast on board your floating home, you might choose to stay a while longer in Bruges, return to Amsterdam by train or plan a different route for your onward journey.
Extra nights in hotel accommodation can be booked to allow more time to explore Bruges at your leisure.
Programme of activities included in the price:
• Welcome drink and briefing on the first evening
• Daily briefings regarding the bike tours from the multi-lingual tour lead who will be cycling the daily tour route and contactable by phone.
• Short guided city walks with the tour leader as specified
• Tea and coffee on board daily between 3pm and 4pm
Once you have decided on the ideal Cycle Break in England or Europe, please fill out your details on our booking formProceed to Book
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