Gilded wonders, emerald polders, cities sparkling with diamonds and silver - this is one jolly jewel of a tour. From Belgium’s ‘Venice of the North’ to Holland’s cosmopolitan capital make the comfortable Dutch barge, MS Gandalf, your floating home and enjoy a gentle journey with plenty of golden cycling opportunities en route. Push your pedals around Ghent and along the Schelde to priceless Antwerp; then on past Kinderdijk’s nineteen historic windmills to the silversmiths’ city of Schoonhaven and the glittering lights of Amsterdam. With just as much superb scenic cycling as you please, plus plenty of time to watch the world go by from the waterways of Flanders and Holland, it’s a great little voyage of Dutch discovery.
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.
Packed full of classic city and countryside sights to treasure including Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, historic Dordrecht, Dendermonde and Amsterdam, this linear cycling holiday with accommodation on board the touring Dutch barge, MS Gandalf, is simply an absolute classic. When it comes to exploring the Flanders and the Dutch lowlands, a bike and boat tour is a fitting combo that’s brimful of local flavour too. Whether you’re in the saddle on the riverside path or sitting back and relaxing on board your comfortable floating home, you’ll soon see the highlights of Belgium and Holland 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 Gandalf. 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 Bruges!
Join the MS Gandalf moored in central Bruges and settle in to your floating accommodation on board this classic Dutch barge in the early afternoon, before heading out to explore the extensive sights of beautiful Bruges, the ‘Pearl of Flanders’, the ‘Venice of the North’ and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Graze the fine art offerings at the Groenigemuseum or climb the 83m tower of the famous belfry, the ‘Belfort’, to drink in the views. There’s time to shop for lace, fine chocolate or even take in the ‘Choco Story’ museum or ‘Frietmuseum’ (yes, a whole museum dedicated to chips!). To help you get the most out of your afternoon and evening in this enchanting city, there is a guided visit included in the tour price. You are free to take supper at your leisure in Bruges.
Overnight mooring – Bruges
Day Two – Eastward ho! En route to glorious Ghent
Your floating accommodation heads out early along the canals of Bruges to stop off outside the city. Here’s where you saddle up and your first gentle cycling adventure begins, as you pedal away across the flat West Flanders terrain towards the historic university city of Ghent. Although more modest than Bruges, is a vibrant place which combines wonderful flourishes of medieval architecture with refreshing contemporary culture and even has Roman roots. Climb up the ‘Gravensteen’ - the 12th century ‘Castle of the Count’ built by Phillip of Alsace - for great city and River Leie from its round towers and battlements. There’s plenty of time to explore the wonders of city centre including the impressive façades of the ‘Graslei’ area and the fine works by Van Eyck in St Bavo’s Cathedral before you meet back up for dinner with the MS Gandalf at Merelbeke lock in the city suburbs about 15 minutes by bike from the city centre.
Overnight mooring – Ghent (Merelbeke)
Miles 24 Kms 40
Day Three – Going with the flow to Dendermonde
The tidal River Schelde sets the pace today, with the barge’s progress governed by the river’s ebb and flow, so you may cycle off to meet MS Gandalf in your main destination of the day – historic town of Dendermonde – or need to pedal just a few extra kilometres to catch up with the vessel in St Amands. The stretch of the Schelde downstream from Ghent makes for some super scenic cycling, so it’s a pleasure to just go with the flow and where it meets the River Dender, there are more beautiful treasures in store. Fill your panniers from the little shops here or just relax in a market place café and enjoy history’s patchwork of gabled architecture from the town hall to the belfry and the famous ‘Vleeshuis’.
Overnight mooring – St Amands.
Miles 24 (optional) & 32 Kms 40 (optional) & 53
Day Four – Onwards to Antwerp
More scenic cycling along the Schelde today as you head out via the old shipbuilding town of Temse to the impressive harbours and historic heartlands of the ‘City of Diamonds’ itself, Antwerp. Meet back up with MS Gandalf in the centre and enjoy an afternoon and evening exploring the city with supper in town at your leisure. The capital of the province of Flanders is Rubens’ birthplace, so don’t miss the paintings by this local Grand Master in the gothic ‘Onze Lieve Vrouwekathedraal’ built in 1351. There are more works by Rubens as well as Van Dyck and Brueghel the Younger at the Rockoxhuis, and the Platin-Moretus Museum is a must too, featuring the world’s oldest printing press. On top of all this, there are the medieval guildhouses around the marketplace, the charming cobbled streets and glittering prizes of the Diamond Quarter to discover too.
Overnight mooring – Antwerp.
Miles 28 Kms 45
Day Five – More secrets to unlock
Another day to go with the flow, with the Skipper of the MS Gandalf deciding on the cycling stretches of the day, according to the dictates of the waterways for today it is time to wonder at the amazing engineering behind the canals and flatlands of Flanders and Holland. For starters, the MS Gandalf cruises along the Schelde-Rhine Canal to negotiate the mighty Kreekrak lock complex en route to the former fishing village of Tholen in the province of Zeeland. From here, there’s a cycling stretch along the impressive Volkerak locks to Willemstad in North Brabant, a fascinating town enclosed in a star-shaped layout of Napoleonic-style fortifications. Look out for the Mauritshuis, once the hunting lodge of Maurits of Orange; the ‘d’Orangemolen’ a charming windmill by the marina and the round Koepelkerk, as well as the old arsenal and gunpowder stores. Dordrecht is the final destination of the day – to be reached perhaps by bike or by barge from Willemstad. One of the oldest cities in the Netherlands and known as the ‘Island on the Dort’, it is bordered by no less than five rivers and is a great place for the night’s mooring.
Overnight mooring – Dordrecht
Miles 15-28 Kms 25-45
Day Six – Well, blow me down!
After breakfast a fast ferry takes you to Alblasserdam before the cycling begins. It wouldn’t do to think that if you’ve seen one windmill, you’ve seen them all… nothing can prepare you for Kinderdijk, the designated UNESCO World Heritage Site where there are nineteen of them in a row! MS Gandalf will deliver you right into this amazing windmill country, so you can disembark and visit one of these mighty mills which have been pumping out the water from the low Ablasserwaaard polder since the 18th century. Saddle up next and pedal off 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 before pedalling on to Vianen, an attractive small town on the River Lek with fortifications and a 15th century brick gateway.
Overnight mooring – Vianen
Miles 16-32 Kms 25-50
Day Seven – From country mansions to the canals of Amsterdam
From Vianen, the day starts with a cruise to Breukelen in the province of Utrecht, where you pedal off along the little River Vecht through an area renowned for fine country mansions and castles with extensive gardens and parkland, built by wealthy 17th century merchant families from Amsterdam. Get a taste for the small villages, like Nieuwersluis, Loenen and Vreeland or the local cheese museum perhaps at Nigtevecht. Your final cycling stretch into Amsterdam to meet MS Gandalf in the harbour, takes in the charming towns of Abcoude and Ouderkerk on the River Amstel. Finally enjoy some time in the lively city of Amsterdam itself, choosing from galleries and museum, great shopping opportunities, time taking in the atmosphere along the canals and cobbled streets.
Overnight mooring – Amsterdam.
Miles 21 Kms 35
Day Eight - Depart after breakfast
Following your final breakfast on board your floating home, you might choose to stay a while longer in Amsterdam, return to Bruges 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 Amsterdam 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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