Double Dutch – Bike & Boat North Holland’s Coast & Countryside – De Willemstad
Meet Noord-Holland - a marriage of coast, countryside and all things irresistibly Dutch. Setting out from Amsterdam, explore a world of windmills and waterways; historic harbourlands and time-honoured trades; gabled farmhouses and green polder landscapes; round golden cheeses and undulating dunescapes. And what better way to get up close and personal with these unique waterlands than touring by bike from your ‘itinerant’ accommodation on board a comfortable, classic Dutch barge. Visit the Zaan area, Alkmaar and Den Helder en route to the oh-so-beautiful-on-a-bike island of Texel, returning via the Ijselmeer ‘great’ harbours which found fame and fortune in the 17th century. 2023 prices now available. Read More
8 Days, 7 Nights
Mar - Oct
Grade 1 (Very Easy)
All aboard in Amsterdam for this wonderfully Dutch bike and boat tour of the province of Noord-Holland. Push your pedals along by the River Zaan, past wooden windmills and farmsteads to meet your floating accommodation at Alkmaar with its medieval buildings and famous cheese market, before hugging the North Sea coast en route to the picturesque island of Texel. Return cycling stretches edge along the Ijselmeer with some inland cycling route options, overnighting on board at historic harbours and fishing villages on the way to Amsterdam.
Due to navigation conditions, the exact details of itineraries/embarkation points may be modified at the discretion of the barge’s Captain. Some sailing is planned to take place during breakfast and/or the evening meals. All overnights are on board your floating accommodation, the De Holland or De Willemstad. Details of the transits to the next destination are outlined in the itinerary below but may be subject to change.
Day 1 All aboard in Amsterdam!
Moored right in the heart of Amsterdam, your floating accommodation – the barge De Holland or de Willemstad – is ready to welcome you in the afternoon. Spend time settling into your cabin and getting your on board bearings if you like, but there’s still plenty of time and opportunity to nip out and enjoy a sightseeing canal cruise of the city or take in a museum or two such as the Anne Frank House or impressive Van Gogh Museum.
Overnight mooring – Amsterdam
Day 2 Pedalling across the polders
A day to be out in the open on your bike . So best head out along the cycle paths from Amsterdam, through green Waterland and Twiske to none other than the ‘Zaanse Schans’ itself – Holland’s renowned open air museum, celebrating the rich heritage of the area around the Zaan River reclaimed since the 17th century. Visit the ‘specerijenmolen’ (spice mill) or one of the other five wooden windmills set on the river bank, or check out the many barns, gabled farmhouses and mini-museums showcasing traditional skills from a local cooper’s to a clog or cheese makers workshop and a from a pewter foundry to baker’s or distillery. Pedal on to explore the land of Leeghwater’s legacies. The 17th century scientist is attributed with inventing the system of ‘reclaiming’ land from the sea by pumping out the water, so be sure to expect plenty of canals and iconic scenery along the way as you cycle off to the former whalers’ village of De Rijp and past the windmills of Schermerhorn. Your ship will be waiting for you near the historic city centre of Alkmaar.
Overnight mooring – Alkmaar
Miles 27 Kms 44
Day 3 A day in the dunes
Time to explore the unique dune and forest landscapes on a circular day ride from Alkmaar. The Noord-Holland dune reserve is a massive 5,300 hectares and an area of natural beauty which has inspired artists for centuries. On a more practical level, it’s also the source of all Noord-Holland’s drinking water ! Visit the beach and continue on to the ‘artists’ village’ of Bergen, before returning towards Alkmaar perhaps for some delicious refreshments as the historic centre is renowned for its famous ‘Waagplein’ with its cheese market and National Beer Museum. In the afternoon, De Holland or De Willemstad will travel down the North Holland Canal to the naval port of Den Helder.
Overnight mooring – Den Helder
Miles 20-25 Kms 33-40
Day 4 At large on Holland’s biggest island
Another gentle journey, this time as you enjoy breakfast in your floating restaurant. De Holland will be crossing the ‘Marsdiep’ channel over to the island of Texel to moor at Oudeschild. With its beautiful beaches and nature reserves, Texel is the ideal place to let your bike wheels go gently round on a circular tour of a length to suit both your interests and your energy levels. Follow at leisure the Thijsse cycle route, named after the nature lover who worked on the Illustrated Flora of the Netherlands. Pass by the daffodil bulb fields and white towered church of Den Hoorn. Discover Den Burg with its monuments and medieval origins or head to ‘Ecomare’, the island’s fascinating seal sanctuary. Back at Oudeschild, you’ll want to make time to sample the local ales at the little brewery, before music on board your floating accommodation accompanies you on the cruise back to the mainland for an overnight moored at Den Oever.
(Please note: depending on weather conditions, the Captain may decide to make the crossing to Texel on the evening of day three. If however conditions are unfavourable for this crossing by barge, your floating accommodation will remain moored at Den Helder and the island can be reached by taking the ferry).
Overnight mooring – Den Oever
Miles 9-41 Kms 15-65
Day 5 A foray into Friesland
Start the day with a cruise across the great inland expanse of water now known as the IJsselmeer, formerly the ‘Zuidersee’, to the Province of Friesland and the harbour town of Stavoren. Look out for the town’s legendary medieval lady – her statue (complete with pointy hat!) stands looking out across the town in the main square; her tale is one warning against greed and lack of charity. But look forward to a day full of natural riches as you saddle up and explore the green pastures of Gaasterland. Friesian cows are all part of the scenery of course and the beautiful lakes of this delightfully rural corner of Holland are quite breath-taking.
Overnight mooring – Stavoren
Miles 27-34 Kms 43-55
Day 6 Edging along the Ijsselmeer
A cruise over breakfast delivers you to Medemblik, home to the Dutch Steam Engine Museum and there are steam tram rides between the ‘golden age’ towns of Medemblik, Enkhuisen and Hoorn. Take to two wheels though and choose to pedal close to the ‘coastline’ of the IJsselmeer all the way to the ‘herring city’ of Enkhuizen, or maybe take a longer cycling tour via the ‘Dutch Golden Age’ town of Hoorn – the former Dutch East India Company harbour which lent its name to Cape Horn.
Renowned for its pinnacle-topped, 16th century ‘Hoofdtoren’ clock tower on the quayside and lines of gabled houses – after Amsterdam and Maastricht, Hoorn has the largest number of them in Holland! – the town is a real historic treat. Either way, there are plenty of picturesque villages en route to charming Enkhuizen, a place equally steeped in maritime traditions, where you’ll not want to miss the Zuiderzee Museum to bring you up to speed on all the local history. Finally meet up with the De Holland or De Willemstad moored on the quayside, to relax before you enjoy an evening’s walking tour of the city (included in tour price).
Overnight mooring – Enkhuizen
Miles 19-31 Kms 30-50
Day 7 Water, land and lost islands
Another breakfast cruise – this time down to Volendam, a rather fishy sort of place famous for both smoked eels and salted herrings where you’ll want to explore the old fishing harbour. With hundreds of small lakes and kilometres of canals, there are no prizes for guessing why the area between Volendam and Amsterdam answers to the name of ‘Waterland’. Cycling here along the thin tracts of land between the regular pools and waterways makes for a unique landscape experience. Visit Monnickendam, another of the IJsselmeer harbour towns dating back to the Middle Ages which found fortune in the 1600s, or detour to see the wooden houses and lines of little boats at the one-time island of Marken, now connected to the mainland by a causeway. Enjoy the afternoon and evening in Amsterdam before your final night on board your floating hotel.
Overnight mooring – Amsterdam
Miles 22-31 Kms 35-50
Day 8 Depart after breakfast
Following your final breakfast on board, it’s time to put your feet firmly back on dry land, but if you’d like to stay on a little longer, extra nights in hotel accommodation can be booked to allow more time to explore the vibrant city culture of 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.
• Some guided city walks with the tour leader as specified
• Live music night on board
• Discounts on some attraction entrance fees and excursions. Details to be supplied at time of booking.
• Tea and coffee on board daily until 4pm
• Free wifi on board in lounge area (limited data package only – additional can be purchased online).
Dates & PricesDownload Prices
For tour start days/dates, seasons and all prices, please click on the PRICES button above
En suite individually air-conditioned twin cabin, shower/WC, digital TV, wardrobe, window mini-safe and 230V sockets. De Willemstad has a restaurant with separate lounge and dance floor, both have panoramic windows (wi-fi payable). All cabins have opening windows and there is a partially roofed sundeck. Twin cabins are 10sqm, suites are 15sqm. A limited number of single and triple occupancy cabins are available
Meals including breakfast, packed lunch and 3 course dinner
Coffee and tea onboard until 4pm
Hire of hybrid bicycle (unisex with 7 gears) hand brakes and single pannier bag
Instructions and route maps provided on arrival
Tour Guide who will be cycling the daily routes
Other services, items and local experiences:
- Welcome drinks and briefing on the first evening
- Live music on board
- Some short walking tours
- Discounts for the optional daily visits to museums etc.
- Discount for 1 hr Amsterdam canal cruise
- Ferry ticket to Texel.
The detailed itinerary may be affected by navigational issues such as unfavourable weather, floods or low tides. These will be decided by the boat’s captain
Please note that the price EXCLUDES
Excursions and any ferry rides during the tour
Onboard drinks (except tea and coffee)
Costs of getting to and from the tour area and transport to and from the dock in Amsterdam
On board the classic barge De Willemstad in an outside-facing 2 bed cabin with private facilities and air-conditioning on the main deck. We are pleased to discuss details on request.
The barge has 44 cabins and can accommodate up to 98 passengers.
- Upper deck cabin
- Upper deck suite
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