Bike rest in the Zaanse Schans, Zaandam, North Holland, the Netherlands. Photo via Flickr:Anne Dirkse

Klompen for sale at the Zaanse Schans on the River Zaan, North Holland, the Netherlands. Photo via Flickr:Zicario van Aalderen
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Heart of Holland

Netherlands Bike + Barge Tours

Biking and boating historical cities in Holland through the green heart of Central and Southern Holland

  • On this bike and boat tour in Holland, you will discover the "Groene Hart" or Green Heart of the country, a sparsely populated rural area surrounded by cities such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam. This area was never developed for urban use, as it is marshy lowlands, and is now protected. It is the heart of the Holland of old: peat meadows, grazing cattle, windmills, typical villages, and lots of water. It is the stuff of the Dutch masters who captured this polder landscape bathed in that infamous other wordly Dutch light in many works of art.

    You will enjoy quiet cycle paths as you pedal through Holland's beautiful green countryside. In 2018, the Jelmar, a comfort vessel, will offer a self guided itinerary that begins and ends in Amsterdam and includes the must see destinations such as Gouda, the Kinderdijk, Rotterdam, and Leiden, as well as cycling the North Sea Coast.

    In 2019, with only one departure, the Merlijn will offer a slightly different itinerary so please take a look at the itinerary and start planning!

    Contrast the old and the new on this lovely bike and boat tour in Holland!

    Looking for something different? Here is a complete list of bike and barge tours in the Netherlands.

  • 2018

    Jelmar: 

    Cabin typeHigh seasonLow season
    Twin bed £ 859 $ 1,369 909 NOK 9014 kr 8321 $ 1,082 £ 792 $ 1,264 839 NOK 8320 kr 7680 $ 998
    *Twin for single use £ 1151 $ 1,836 1219 NOK 12088 kr 11159 $ 1,451 £ 1076 $ 1,716 1139 NOK 11295 kr 10426 $ 1,355
    **Triple £ 774 $ 1,234 819 NOK 8122 kr 7497 $ 975 £ 707 $ 1,128 749 NOK 7428 kr 6856 $ 891

    *One single per departure
    **Third bed in triple cabin is a bunk bed (70 x 180 cm) and only suitable for a child
    High Season:
    May 12, May 19, May 26, June 9, June 16, June 30, July 7, August 18, August 25, and September 15, 2018
    Low Season:
    September 22, September 29, and October 6, 2018

    2019

    Merlijn:
    Twin/double: £ 1398 $ 2,229 1480 NOK 14677 kr 13548 $ 1,761 Single cabin: only on request and cannot be guaranteed

    extra options

    Jelmar:
    Electric bicycle rental: £ 90 $ 143 95 NOK 942 kr 870 $ 113 Bike helmet rental, MUST be reserved in advance: £ 9 $ 15 10 NOK 99 kr 92 $ 12 Canal tour, Amsterdam: £ 12 $ 19 13 NOK 124 kr 114 $ 15 Merlijn:
    Electric bicycle rental, per day: £ 24 $ 38 25 NOK 248 kr 229 $ 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.

  • Travel

    Fly to Amsterdam International Airport also known Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

    Local Travel

    Jelmar:Train from airport to Amsterdam Central Train Station. The Jelmar will be moored close by, within walking distance! Merlijn:Train from airport to ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch). Travel time is anywhere from just over an hour to an hour and a half with 0 or 1 transfers depending on departure time and type of train. Exact mooring location pending.

    Climate

    Please check local conditions before arrival. A good website to use for average high/low temperatures and average rainfall is weatherbase.com.


Tour Dates

2018 Dates: 
Jelmar
High Season:
May 12, May 19, May 26, June 9, June 16, June 30, July 7, August 18, August 25, and September 15, 2018
Low Season:
September 22, September 29, and October 6, 2018
2019 Dates:
Merlijn:
May 11, 2019
Jelmar:
Pending

Where You’ll Stay

Accommodations aboard the comfort class boat, the Jelmar and the comfort plus vessel, the Merlijn

What’s Included

  • Jelmar:
  • Accommodations for 7 nights on board
  • Full board (7 x breakfast, 6 x packed lunch, 7 x three course dinner)
  • 7 speed hybrid bicycle with pannier bag
  • 1 x weekly cabin cleaning
  • Change of towels daily if requested
  • Welcome drink
  • Daily tour briefings
  • Detailed maps and route descriptions, one set per cabin
  • Wifi in the lounge
  • Coffee and tea until 4 p.m.
  • Merlijn:
  • Accommodations for 7 nights on board
  • 7 x breakfasts, 6 x packed lunch, 6 x three course dinner
  • Welcome drink
  • Coffee, tea, hot chocolate & water on board
  • 27 speed hybrid bicycle with towel, pannier, helmet, lock, and water bottle
  • Daily cabin cleaning
  • Route information
  • Tour Guide
  • Boat tour in Den Bosch
  • Entrance and audio tour to St. Jans Church in Gouda
  • Entrance to Zaanse Schans
  • WiFi on board

What’s Not Included

  • Jelmar:
  • Individual arrival and departure from the boat
  • Entrance fees and excursions
  • Fees for ferries/water bus
  • Drinks on board
  • Gratuities
  • Bike protection
  • Trip insurance
  • Merlijn:
  • Individual arrival and departure from the boat
  • Drinks on board other than those included
  • One dinner in Haarlem
  • Gratuities
  • Bike protection
  • Trip insurance
TourBike+Boat
TypeBoth
SkillEasy
Length8 days
From839 Rates
Client Reviews

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Skill Level

This is an easy, self guided (on the Jelmar) or guided (on the Merlijn) bike and boat tour with average daily distances between 10 and 34 miles (15 and 55 km).

Tour Boats

Day-To-Day Itinerary

Heart of Holland Map

Please excuse our mess! We are updating!

2018 
Jelmar:
Day 1:
Arrival and embarkation in Amsterdam
Day 2: Amsterdam – Zaandam | Zaanse Schans – Haarlem, 24 or 34 mi. (40 or 55 km)
Day 3: Haarlem – North Sea coast – Leiden, 25 or 34 mi. (42 or 55 km)
Day 4: Leiden – Delft, 22 or 34 mi. (37 or 42 km)
Day 5: Delft – Rotterdam – Kinderdijk | Kinderdijk (Schoonhoven) – Gouda, 19 or 28 miles (30 or 45 km)
Day 6: Gouda - Kudelstaart, 34 miles (55 km)
Day 7: Kudelstaart – Aalsmeer – Amsterdam or Kudelstaart to Amsterdam, 10 or 25 miles (approx. 15 or 40 km)
Day 8: End of the tour; disembarkation in Amsterdam

All distances are approximate. Changes in itinerary due to mooring regulations, bridge or lock repair may occur without advance notification.

Day 1: Arrival and embarkation in Amsterdam
Embarkation begins at 2 p.m. in the center of Amsterdam at NEMO museum, Oosterdok. You can then set out to explore the city center, which is located within walking distance, and make a round trip through the canals. This is a great opportunity to go on a canal cruise. An introduction takes place at 5:30, during which the crew is presented, and the first dinner on board is served; the rental bicycles are also handed out at this time.

Day 2: Amsterdam – Zaandam | Zaanse Schans – Haarlem, 24 - 34 mi. (40 - 55 km)
You visit the lovely open-air museum ‘Zaanse Schans’ after a short cruise to Zaandam. An old 18th and 19th century Dutch village was reconstructed in the museum, where you can visit windmills, a cheese-maker, and a clog maker. You then cycle to Haarlem, where you are able to stroll through the lovely city center and the Grote Markt (market square) in the evening. If preferred, today’s bike tour can also be extended with a visit of the sea locks of IJmuiden and the Kennemer Dunes.

Day 3: Haarlem – North Sea coast – Leiden, 25 or 34 mi. (42 or 55 km)
You cycle along the North Sea Coast and through the dunes, via the seaside resorts Noordwijk and Katwijk aan Zee. The day ends in Leiden, on of the the oldest university cities. Here you can follow in the footsteps of the famous painter, Rembrandt, through the beautiful old city center.

Day 4: Leiden – Delft, 22 or 34 mi. (37 - 42 km)
From Leiden you cycle to Delft, where a Delft Blue porcelain studio can be viewed and visited. The royal crypts of the House of Orange are also located in the beautiful center of Delft. From Delft you can also visit The Hague. If you prefer not to cycle here, you can also take the or per train or tram. Highlights of today's route include the Binnenhof, the Peace Palace (Vredespaleis), and the Scheveningen seaside resort. 

Day 5: Delft – Rotterdam – Kinderdijk | Kinderdijk (Schoonhoven) – Gouda, 19 or 28 miles (30 or 45 km)
You travel per boat through the remarkable international port of Rotterdam, from Delft to Kinderdijk. The Kinderdijk offers an impressive view of 19 windmills in a row. From here, you cycle a shorter distance directly to Gouda, known for its famous cheese. You can also choose to take the longer route via Schoonhoven, also known as the silver city.

Day 6: Gouda - Kudelstaart, 34 miles (55 km)
You cycle to the small town of Kudelstaart, straight through the idyllic South Holland landscape with numerous little canals. At the mooring place on the banks of the Westeinder Plassen (“West End” Lakes), you can enjoy the beautiful view.

Day 7: Kudelstaart – Aalsmeer - Amsterdam, 10 or 25 miles (approx. 15 or 40 km)| or Kudelstaart - Amsterdam
Early in the morning you can visit the large flower auction at Aalsmeer (entrance fee not included). After breakfast you can choose to cruise through the City of Amsterdam to the mooring place or cycle into the city through the city park Amsterdamse Bos or along the Amstel river. Take some time to enjoy the attractions in the city center during the afternoon and evening.

Day 8: End of the tour; disembarkation in Amsterdam
Bid the crew farewell and disembark after breakfast at 9:00 a.m.

2019
Merlijn:

Day 1: Den Bosch
Day 2: Den Bosch - Woudrichem
Day 3: Woudrichem - Dordrecht
Day 4: Dordrecht to Alsblasserdam | Alblasserdam - Kinderdijk - Gouda
Day 5: Gouda - Leiden
Day 6: Leiden - Haarlem
Day 7: Haarlem - Zaanse Schans - Amsterdam
Day 8: Amsterdam

Day 1: Den Bosch
Check in on board the Merlijn at 4 pm. Den Bosch, also know as 's-Hertogenbosch, is a wonderful city full of historic buildings and medieval architecture, great shops and welcoming cafés and restaurants. In the evening, after dinner on board, you will enjoy a boat tour of the centuries-old canal system.

Day 2: Den Bosch - Woudrichem
Woudrichem is a charming medieval city surrounded by water and green

Day 3: Woudrichem - Dordrecht
Today your cycling itinerary includes cycling through Biesbosch National Park,  one of the largest national parks of the Netherlands and one of the last extensive areas of freshwater tidal wetlands in Northwestern Europe.  Dinner on board and overnight in Dordrecht, the oldest city in Holland, actually situated on an island, bordered by five different rivers. Today it remains a very important seaport and is known for its shipbuilding.

Day 4: Dordrecht to Alsblasserdam | Alblasserdam - Kinderdijk - Gouda
During breakfast, enjoy a morning sailing to Alblasserdam, followed by a bike tour to Kinderdijk and Gouda. Kinderdijk is a must see with its 19 windmills, designated a Unesco World Heritage site. Most of the current mills were built in 1738 and 1740, and form two stairways of 8 mills each to pump water to a higher level every time it reaches the next mill in line, a testament to the Dutch's ingenuity in battling the sea. Gouda, of course, is famous for its cheese! Dinner on board and overnight in Gouda.

Day 5: Gouda - Leiden
After your visit to the city of Gouda, you will cycle to Leiden deep into the Groene Hart, the Green Heart of Holland. Crisscrossed with canals and lovely 17th century architecture, and a town center rivaled by none, Leiden is known for  its university, the oldest in the country, and for being the birthplace of Rembrandt.  Did you know it was here that the pilgrims raised the money to lease the Mayflower! Dinner on board and overnight her.

Day 6: Leiden  - Haarlem
Enjoy the view from your bicycle - the scenery from Leiden to Haarlem is picturesque, authentic Holland.  You will overnight in Haarlem, a lovely contrast to your rural cycling. Haarlem is cobbled streets and winding canals. It is the Grote Markt and the Grote Kerk.

Day 7: Haarlem - Zaanse Schans - Amsterdam
From Haarlem, the route leads to the Zaanse Schans, an open air "living museum". An  18th and 19th century Dutch village was reconstructed, displaying the traditional architecture of the area (green wooden houses) and has several functioning windmills and craftsman's workshops, which are open to visitors. The day's final destination is Amsterdam.

Day 8: Amsterdam
End of tour

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Customer Feedback

  • Bruce N. 1 month ago

    Most Memorable Part: Biking the rural/countryside of Holland

    Boat: Jelmar

  • Shirley 6 months ago

    We just completed this trip (may 13 - 20), and loved the experience. The rural scenery was so lovely - however if you are looking for more than peaceful pastures and canals for 6 days, then this might not be the trip for you. The first day of biking was into a strong wind for 55 km which made it very challenging. I would recommend an e-bike! The bikes were very heavy, the gears changed easily, the saddlebags and bike locks worked very well. Although we had maps, 2 GPS, a discussion of the route by the captain....we still got lost every time we went through a city. There were several times that the map showed a road number however that number was not found on the road signs. The food was served family style and was plentiful. The boat was small but suitable for the 19 passengers, the bathrooms were tiny but there was plenty of hot water for showers.
    Negatives - no ice for our water bottles; no fans or air conditioning for the couple of days that were extremely hot; our rooms were never cleaned; the captain tended to be curt; the maps were not always accurate.

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Heart of Holland Boats + Barges

Jelmar Photo

Jelmar Netherlands Comfort Class Boat The Jelmar, recently renovated during the winter of 2006/2007, has 10 twin cabins with level beds, washbasin and shower/toilet, and 1 twin cabin with a bunk bed. The well upgraded ship is ready to receive new guests while sailing in the Netherlands.

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.

PWPC