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
4.6/5 (5 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. Its capital, Arnhem, is known for the WWII battle with the Nazi Germany. An interesting modern art museum - The Kröller-Müller Museum, built in the forest near Oterloo, draws thousands of cycling visitors every year. 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, due to the fact that the IJssel was then one of the most important trade routes in Europe. 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.

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Where You’ll Stay

Aboard the comfort vessel, the Gandalf

What’s Included

  • Accommodations for 7 nights on board
  • 7 x breakfasts, 6 x packed lunches, and 7 x three course dinners
  • Daily coffee and tea on board until 4 pm
  • Tour guide
  • Route information and maps (one set per cabin)
  • Ferry fares on the route
  • 7 speed hybrid bicycle equipped with pannier bag

What’s Not Included

Length8 days
From919 Rates
Client Reviews

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Tour Dates

Gandalf: May 6, May 13, May 20, May 27, June 3, June 17, June 24, July 1, July 8, and September 23, 2017

Sarah: July 8, July 15, August 26, September 2, September 9, and September 16, 2017

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

Day 1: Arrival and embarkation in Amsterdam; cruise Wijk bij Duurstede
Day 2: Wijk bij Duurstede - Wageningen/Rhenen. Cycling to Arnhem, 21 to 33 mi. (35 to 55 km)
Day 3:  Arnhem - Doesburg. Cycling to Zuthpen, 24 - 33 mi. (40 - 55 km) During dinner sailing to Deventer.
Day 4:  Deventer - Zwolle, 24 - 34 mi. (40 - 55 km). Evening cruise to Kampen
Day 5:  Kampen - Harderwijk, 24 - 36 mi. (40 - 60 km)
Day 6:  Harderwijk - Spakenburg, 15, 24, or 33 mi. (25, 40, 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 at 2 pm  in Amsterdam. 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, 21 or 30 mi. (35 or 50 km)
During breakfast, the barge motors to Wageningen. Once there, the first bicycle trip is scheduled. Cycle first through the flat river valley of the Rhine, then along the protected nature reserve “De Blauwe Kamer” (the Blue Chamber), followed by the wood and moorlands of the Veluwe nature reserve. You ride through suburbs with lovely parks such as Sonsbeek and Zijpendaal to Arnhem, where you spend the night close to the city's center.

Day 3: Arnhem - Doesburg. Cycling to Zuthpen, via Vorden,  21 or 31 mi. (35 or 55 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 – Zwolle, 24 or 33 mi. (40 or 55 km) | Zwolle – 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 – Elspeet – Harderwijk, 24 or 36 mi. (40 or 60 km)
On board, you will motor to the IJssel estuary and across the so-called border lakes of the IJssel lake to the fishing harbour of Harderwijk. The cycle portion leads takes us along the banks of the Veluwe lake. The longer option also takes in the wood and moorland at Elspeet. The night is spent in the lovely old fishing harbor of Harderwijk.

Day 6: Harderwijk – Bunschoten – Spakenburg, 15, 24, or 33 mi. (25, 40, 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.

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

  • G. Dunsmuir 6 months 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 6 months 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 6 months 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 6 months 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 7 months 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 beautiful 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 gorgeous panoramic windows.

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.