Boats in Harderwijk in Gelderland, the Netherlands. Photo via Flickr:Frank Meijn

Tulip fields abound in April and May before harvest. Photo via Flickr:IMBiblio
4.5/5 (6 ratings)

Authentic Holland

Netherlands Bike + Barge Tours

Cycle Central and Northern Holland!

  • This wonderful bike and boat tour showcases authentic Holland and takes you through the central and Hanseatic region of the Netherlands. It cuts through the Rhine valley and its very beautiful tributary the IJssel, and across the so-called "border lakes." The east central mainland province, south of Overijssel, the province of Gelderland is the least populated and the largest of the Dutch regions.

    Gelderland has several large national parks. The IJssel forks from the Rhine near Arnhem. Of great scenic beauty, the 125 km winding river valley offers the cyclist a fantastic area in which to take trips without the inconvenience of any difficult climbs.

    This Dutch bike tour visits various Hanseatic towns that flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries. You then go on to visit the so-called border lakes of the IJssel lake which lie between the “old” land of many beautiful harbor towns and new Flevoland (once the bottom of the Ijssel lake) which was reclaimed in 1932. In this area you visit some picturesque fishing harbors.

    During the whole tour you travel through wood and moorland sections of the Achterhoek, Veluwe and Gooi nature reserves; this area is very suitable for bike tours and also loved by the Dutch cyclists!

    Want to see more bike and barge tours in the Netherlands?

  • 2017

    Regular twin or split bed cabin: £ 923 $ 1,454 969 NOK 9690 kr 8945 $ 1,163 Single cabin: on request


    May 6, May 13,
    & Sept. 23 

    All other departures

    Twin cabin below deck £ 875 $ 1,379 919 NOK 9190 kr 8483 $ 1,103 £ 923 $ 1,454 969 NOK 9690 kr 8945 $ 1,163
    Single cabin below deck £ 1066 $ 1,679 1119 NOK 11190 kr 10329 $ 1,343 £ 1113 $ 1,754 1169 NOK 11690 kr 10791 $ 1,403
    *Triple cabin below deck £ 818 $ 1,289 859 NOK 8590 kr 7929 $ 1,031 £ 875 $ 1,379 919 NOK 9190 kr 8483 $ 1,103

    *2 triple cabins available per sailing.

    Lena Maria
    Twin cabin: £ 928 $ 1,461 974 NOK 9740 kr 8991 $ 1,169 Twin cabin, single use: £ 1118 $ 1,761 1174 NOK 11740 kr 10837 $ 1,409

    September 16 departure: £ 875 $ 1,379 919 NOK 9190 kr 8483 $ 1,103 Single cabin: £ 1066 $ 1,679 1119 NOK 11190 kr 10329 $ 1,343 All other departures: £ 923 $ 1,454 969 NOK 9690 kr 8945 $ 1,163 Single cabin: £ 1113 $ 1,754 1169 NOK 11690 kr 10791 $ 1,403


    Merlijn:  £ 1233 $ 1,943 1295 NOK 12950 kr 11954 $ 1,554 Single supplement on request


    May 5 & May 12, &
    Sept 22,

    All other departures
    Twin cabin below deck £ 894 $ 1,409 939 NOK 9390 kr 8668 $ 1,127 £ 942 $ 1,484 989 NOK 9890 kr 9129 $ 1,187
    Single cabin below deck £ 1085 $ 1,709 1139 NOK 11390 kr 10514 $ 1,367 £ 1132 $ 1,784 1189 NOK 11890 kr 10975 $ 1,427
    *Triple cabin below deck £ 837 $ 1,319 879 NOK 8790 kr 8114 $ 1,055 £ 894 $ 1,409 939 NOK 9390 kr 8668 $ 1,127
    SarahAll departures
    Twin cabin below deck £ 942 $ 1,484 989 NOK 9890 kr 9129 $ 1,187
    Single cabin below deck £ 1132 $ 1,784 1189 NOK 11890 kr 10975 $ 1,427
    *Triple cabin below deck £ 894 $ 1,409 939 NOK 9390 kr 8668 $ 1,127

    *2 triple cabins available per sailing.

    Lena Maria

    September 22

    All other departures
    Twin cabin below deck £ 894 $ 1,409 939 NOK 9390 kr 8668 $ 1,127 £ 942 $ 1,484 989 NOK 9890 kr 9129 $ 1,187
    Single cabin below deck £ 1085 $ 1,709 1139 NOK 11390 kr 10514 $ 1,367 £ 1132 $ 1,784 1189 NOK 11890 kr 10975 $ 1,427

    extra options

    2017 and 2018:
    Aboard the Sarah, Gandalf, and Lena Maria

    Electric bicycle rental (limited number, please book well in advance):  £ 90 $ 143 95 NOK 950 kr 877 $ 114 Canal tour in Amsterdam: £ 12 $ 19 13 NOK 125 kr 115 $ 15 Helmets aboard Gandalf: available on request
    Aboard the Merlijn
    Electric bicycle rental (price is per day): £ 24 $ 38 25 NOK 250 kr 231 $ 30

    please note

    Rates are based on double occupancy.

    Information to read before you book.

    We recommend purchasing bike trip insurance.

    Please see our FAQ.

Tour Dates

2017 Dates
Comfort boats:

Gandalf: September 23, 2017
Sarah: August 26, September 2, September 9, and September 16, 2017

2018 Dates
Comfort Plus boat:

Merlijn: May 19, 2018
Comfort boats:
Sarah: May 26,  June  16, July 7, July 14, August 18, and August 25, 2018
Lena Maria: June 2, June 9, June 16, June 23, June 30, July 7, August 18, August 25, September 1, September 8, September 15, and September 22, 2018 
Gandalf: May 5, May 12, May 19, May 26, June 2, June 9, June 16, June 23, June 30, and July 7, 2018

Where You’ll Stay

Aboard the comfort vessels, the Gandalf or the Sarah or the comfort plus vessel, the Merlijn

What’s Included

  • Aboard the Gandalf, Lena Maria, or Sarah
  • Accommodations for 7 nights on board
  • 7 x breakfasts, 6 x packed lunches, and 7 x three course dinners
  • Coffee and tea during breakfast and also between 3 pm and 4 pm
  • Tour guide
  • Route information and maps (one set per cabin)
  • 7 speed hybrid bicycle equipped with pannier bag
  • 1 x cleaning of cabin
  • Aboard the Merlijn
  • Accommodation for 6 nights on board in a double room, with private bathroom, climate control, safe, hairdryer
  • Breakfasts, packed lunches, and 4 x dinner
  • Daily room cleaning
  • Supply of bedding, towels, facial tissues, soap
  • Unlimited coffee, tea and hot chocolate during the trip on board and potable ice water throughout the meals
  • Harbor fees
  • 24-speed bicycle, incl. use of helmet, towel, bike bag, and a personal water bottle
  • Tour guide

What’s Not Included

Length7–8 days
From919 Rates
Client Reviews

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Skill Level

This is an easy guided bike and boat tour on flat terrain along the network of cycling routes (fietsroutenetwerken) that makes Holland a cycling paradise!

Tour Boats

Day-To-Day Itinerary

Authentic Holland Map

Aboard the Gandalf, Lena Maria, and Sarah
Day 1:
Arrival and embarkation in Amsterdam; cruise Wijk bij Duurstede
Day 2: Wijk bij Duurstede - Wageningen/Rhenen. Cycling to Arnhem, 18 or 30 mi. (30 or 50 km)
Day 3:  Arnhem - Doesburg. Cycling to Zuthpen, 21 or 27 mi. (35 or 45 km) During dinner sailing to Deventer.
Day 4:  Deventer - Hattem, 30 or 36 mi. (50 or 60 km). Evening cruise to Kampen
Day 5:  Kampen - Elburg- Harderwijk, 24 or 36 mi. (40 or  60 km)
Day 6:  Harderwijk - Spakenburg, 18 or 33 mi. (30 or 55 km)
Day 7: Spakenburg - Huizen | Huizen - Naarden - Muiden - Amsterdam, 21 or 33 mi. (35 or 50 km)
Day 8:  Amsterdam, debarkation before 10 AM near Central Station.

*All distances are approximate and subject to change due to weather conditions or mooring requirements.

Day 1: Arrival and embarkation in Amsterdam; cruising to Wijk bij Duurstede.
Embarkation begins at  2 pm  in Amsterdam. You can bring your luggage on board at 11 am. You will find the barge docked in the Oosterdok (Nautisch Kwartier). At approximately 3 PM the boat motors from Amsterdam over the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal to Wijk bij Duurstede on the Rhine.

Day 2:  Wijk bij Duurstede - Wageningen/Rhenen. Cycling to Arnhem, 18 or 30 mi. (30 or 50 km)
While you are enjoying breakfast, the barge will sail to Wageningen where, following the distribution of bicycles, you are finally off and cycling through the picturesque river valley of the Rhine. Along the way you will visit the woods and moorlands of Veluwe National Park. The 5400 hectare park is home to many plant and animal species and, importantly, the Kröller-Müller Museum, the largest private Van Gogh collection in the world (the museum is not included in the bike tour; you can visit the museum individually, bike tour then ca. 60 km/36 mi.). Late in the day you pedal through the suburbs and past lovely parks such as Sonsbeek and Zijpendaal to Arnhem, where you spend the night close to the city center.

Day 3: Arnhem - Doesburg | Cycling to Zuthpen, 21 or 27 mi. (35 or 45 km) During dinner sailing to Deventer.
In the morning, the barge cruises to the small Hanseatic town of Doesburg. Then, via the Hanseatic Town Route, you cycle along the IJssel to the beautiful small town of Bronkhorst. A shorter variation is possible as well along the riverbank to Zutphen. The longer tour leads via Vorden, passing country houses, castles, and rural estates. During dinner, the ship sails to Deventer for an optional short guided walking tour in the evening.

Day 4:  Deventer - Hattem, 30 or 36 mi. (50 or 60 km). Evening cruise to Kampen
Enjoy a short cycling trip along the IJssel riverbank and then you board the ferry at Wijhe to cross to Hattem; a longer bicycle ride follows through east Veluwe. During dinner, the ship sails to Kampen where you have the option to participate in a guided walking tour. Spend the night in the largest Hanseatic town in the Netherlands.

Day 5: Kampen - Elburg- Harderwijk, 24 or 36 mi. (40 or  60 km)
In the morning the barge will sail to the IJssel estuary and across the so-calledborder lakes of the IJssel to the fishing harbour of Harderwijk. In the 1500s, Harderwijk boasted the largest fish market in the Zuiderzee region and is still a fascinating old city to explore. From Harderwijk you will cycle along Veluwe lake where swimming, boating, surfing and fishing are favourite summertime activities. The longest cycle trip on the tour also takes in the woods and moorland at Elspeet. The night will be spent in Harderwijk’s lovely old fishing harbour.

Day 6: Harderwijk - Bunschoten - Spakenburg, 18 or 33 mi. (30 or 55 km)
Today you have the option between a short Dutch cycle tour along the coast or a longer one through the woodlands. The night is spent in Spakenburg. Here, the women still go about their daily lives in traditional clothes. There are other aspects of life in Spakenburg which are still  traditional as well such as strict observance of Sunday as the day of the Lord. The people of Spakenburg go to church twice and on special religious holidays, even three times. All establishments are closed on Sundays, even the ice cream bar or cafes. 

Day 7:  Spakenburg - Huizen | Huizen - Naarden - Muiden - Amsterdam, 21 or 33 mi. (35 or 50 km)
After breakfast, you can choose to stay on the boat and cruise to Huizen or cycle to today's destination. The bike tour leads to the beautiful fortress town of Naarden and the Muiderslot, the famous castle in Muiden and then along quiet roads to Amsterdam. The afternoon and evening are spent in Amsterdam.

Day 8: Departure from Amsterdam

*Italicized portions are undertaken by boat.
** Where two distances are given, two options are provided for your cycling day.

Aboard the Merlijn

Day 1: Amsterdam - Wijk bij Duurstede
Day 2: Wijk bij Duurstede - Amerongen - Arnhem
Day 3: Arnhem - Deventer
Day 4: Deventer - Hattem - Kampen
Day 5: Kampen - Roggebotsluis - Harderwijk - Spakenburg
Day 6: Spakenburg - Amsterdam
Day 7: Departure from Amsterdam

Day 1: Amsterdam - Wijk bij Duurstede
Check in aboard the Merlijn begins at 4 PM. The boat will be docked at the Veemkade in Amsterdam which is approximately a 25 minute walk from the Central Station. Public transportation stops nearby. At 5 PM the barge starts cruising to Wijk bij Duurstede and arrives at approximately 8 PM. During the cruise, a welcome drink is offered while you receive information about the ship and the tour. Dinner is also served. After docking you can stroll through the very charming city of Wijk bij Duurstede (Neighbourhood of Duurstede translated). Duurstede is the name of the nearby castle/ruin, where the bishop of Utrecht used to live. Wijk bij Duurstede is located at the place where Dorestad used to be, an important trade settlement that was pillaged around 850 by the Vikings. This city has the only drive-through windmill in the world. 

Day 2: Wijk bij Duurstede - Amerongen - Arnhem
Enjoy a sailing breakfast while the boat takes you to Amerongen, where the bike-fitting and your first bike tour will start. You will bike through the Betuwe, situated between the Waal and Rhine/Lek rivers, surrounding the Linge stream, and famous for its fruit production. The tour ends in Arnhem, the capital of the province Gelderland. Tonight you will enjoy your dinner at your own expense in one of the many restaurants in Arnhem and before or after dinner you will have time to stroll a little more through the city center. Your tour guide will show you around the city and recommend restaurants for dinner.

Day 3: Arnhem - Deventer
While you enjoy your breakfast the boat cruises the beautiful river IJssel downstream to take you to Doesburg. This is one of the seven Hanseatic cities on the river IJssel. Here your bike tour starts along the sparkling river, described by many as the most beautiful river of the Netherlands. This week you will visit the medieval cities of Kampen, Hattem, Deventer, Zutphen and Doesburg, all of which are beautiful gems. The river landscape is beautiful and from the dikes you will have a marvelous view. Overnight is in Deventer. After dinner you will visit this medieval city on a city walk with your guide.

Day 4: Deventer - Hattem - Kampen
After breakfast your bike tour starts and the ride will be from Deventer to Hattem. Another very charming Hanseatic city. After your visit you will board the Merlijn and together we sail to the city of Kampen, where we will stay overnight. A city stroll will be offered through this ancient city, and afterwards you will have dinner at your own expense in one of the many restaurants in Kampen.

Day 5: Kampen - Roggebotsluis - Harderwijk - Spakenburg
Enjoy breakfast while the barge cruises to Roggebotsluis, where your bike tour starts. Across the water you will see the eastern part of Flevoland, one of the new Dutch provinces. Your bike tour takes you to the Veluwe, and you will visit Elburg, a charming fishermen’s village. The Veluwe features many different landscapes including woodland, heath, some small lakes, and Europe's largest sand drifts. Your tour ends in Harderwijk, another charming medieval city, on the Veluwemeer (Veluwe lake). Here you will board the Merlijn while it takes you to Spakenburg, situated south on the IJsselmeer. It is one of the few places left in the Netherlands where some women still wear local traditional clothes.

Day 6: Spakenburg - Amsterdam
Your last biking day begins in Spakenburg following breakfast. You will bike along the Gooimeer (Gooi lake) and through the beautiful Gooi, with its impressive houses. The Merlijn awaits you in Amsterdam. After dinner your guide will take you on a walking tour through Amsterdam.

Day 7: Departure from Amsterdam
Disembarkation at 9 am, after breakfast.

Looking for more? View all of our featured bike and boat tours, or our full list of bicycle tours.

Email or Call 800-951-4384 +1 570-965-2064

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Customer Feedback

  • John H. 1 month ago

    Having been on several of these bike/barge tours, this was a different area culturally than trips south of Amsterdam. Interesting history of the area. Our guide was excellent and made the trip.

    Boat: Gandalf

  • G. Dunsmuir 1 year ago

    I would recommend this trip but only if a group of friends were going or if there was some way to know the mix of language of fellow travellers. I was the only person who did not speak the German language. I felt very isolated. A number of German people did try to speak English but it was hard work for them and they were on holidays. One English sailor on board as staff was very kind and attentive. The cook made wonderful gluten free dishes for me!! The guide did an excellent job of switching back and forth from German to English. The cycling and countryside was very pleasant. Sometimes the stops were a bit long but perhaps that was because I couldn't chat around with other travellers.

    Boat: Gandalf

  • L. Fesyk 1 year ago

    It would have been nice to have a group photo at the end. It seemed a little confused at the end. Also, with other trips I have been on the guide circulates an email list and anyone who wants to join it can. That way it is easy to connect with other participants to exchange photos etc. Other than that it was a great trip. I'd definitely like to do another one! I think the Gandalf is the best boat in the fleet (or so I hear from others).

    Boat: Gandalf

  • L. Roussinos 1 year ago

    This is a great route and the cycling areas are excellent in so many ways. Scenic paths through forests, parks, graphic small towns and with well defined directions given daily by the guide. The barge cabins were quite adequate in size and even though the bathroom was small it served the purpose for the week long trip. Having porthole windows that we were able to open was great in order to bring in fresh air. The disappointment was that the barge was not very clean overall (dust and cobwebs), there was very little deck space to enjoy the views during cruising and having two large dogs on board did not help matters.
    The food quantity was good but hardly any quality in it. Four out of seven meals were rice oriented, little meat substance and overall not comparable to other similar meals on other barge and bike trips we have taken and the first time we have ever had "fish" lasagna!
    Breakfasts were by far the best meals and there was always plenty to go around and to prepare for your take away lunch. The crew were friendly and welcoming. I would most definitely recommend this trip if done on a better ship. The trip gets 5 out of 5 stars, the ship hardly 3 out of five.

    Boat: Gandalf

  • K. de Geest 1 year ago

    The trip was nothing short of Fantastic! The towns we went through on the Hanseatic Route were so charming. Captain Hans on the Gandalf was so generous to me...he knows what he did! ;-) I will specifically seek out trips on the Gandalf. Fred the guide was superb...ensuring everyone got the biking experience they wanted and just a lovely guy all around!! This was my first Bike & Barge but it won't be my last...I've got friends lined up wanting to join me on my next trip...they didn't know such trips exist, but they do now!!

    Boat: Gandalf

  • Kris 1 year ago

    This was such an amazing trip on the Gandalf with Captain Hans and Fred the guide. The description does not do this trip justice. You go through such varied terrain like forests, along the water and the towns were sooo charming! I've been to Holland many times and yet I saw such a beautiful side of Holland that blew me away!

    Boat: Gandalf

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Authentic Holland Boats + Barges

Gandalf Photo

Gandalf Netherlands, Belgium Comfort Class Boat The classic MS Gandalf is a comfort class passenger ship that can accommodate 20-22 guests. Almost everything on this barge is on one level, including the comfortable salon which has scenic panoramic windows.

Lena Maria Photo

Lena Maria Belgium, Netherlands Comfort Class Boat The barge the Lena Maria is a former freight ship rebuilt in 2004 into a luxury cruise barge. There is a lounge for relaxation with many windows to create an open atmosphere and allows for a nice view while motoring. There is an outside sundeck with chairs. Each cabin has two low single beds and can accomodate two people comfortably.

Merlijn Photo

Merlijn Germany, Netherlands Comfort Plus Class Boat The Merlijn has 12 luxurious cabins with two comfortable airbeds that can be pushed together or separated, a desk, a wardrobe closet, a hairdryer, and a safe. The lounge is comfortably furnished in a modern style with a restaurant area and lounge near the bar. You can enjoy fresh air, water, and nature in all weather on the sun deck. The entire ship is climate controlled and you can adjust the temperature in your own cabin.

Sarah Photo

Sarah Belgium, Netherlands Comfort Class Boat The Sarah is a very comfortable and spacious ship. After years of use as a cargo ship, the Sarah was transformed into a passenger boat in 2002. It is a very modern ship with tasteful accommodations, a spacious lounge, and large and inviting sun deck.