Netherlands Bike + Barge Tours
A Dutch cycle tour through Northern Holland
The peninsula making up the province of North Holland is the focus of this bike and boat tour which begins in Amsterdam with its abundant attractions. Amsterdam's prosperity really grew during the 1600's when it established itself as Europe's foremost trading center. Its vast history and culture continue to exude in the rich architecture and museums, such as the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum.
Leaving the bustling city center for the countryside, you will ride via Marken, where some of the old houses are built on poles, to the old fishing village of Volendam, where traditional Dutch costumes are still worn. Enkhuizen is a quiet little town with a picturesque harbor and scenic fishermen cottages. It has an interesting Outdoor Museum that offers a unique insight into the town’s rich past as a trading center.
The island of Texel is a vacationer's dream with 80 km of foot- and bike-paths and white sandy beaches. It is Holland’s oldest island and often called the Pearl of the Wadden Islands due to its unspoiled landscape that includes rich foliage, thousands of birds and countless sheep. The largest village on the island is Den Burg, where a 15th-century church dominates.
Next, you'll follow your appetite to the famous cheese town of Alkmaar, where cheese is still regularly weighed and sold in the Waag. Also of interest is the St. Lawrence Church of late-Gothic style that holds Holland's oldest church organ. From here, you will continue on to the Zaanse Schans in Zaandam. This large Open Air Museum authentically depicts Dutch life during the 17th and 18th centuries and includes windmills, a cheese mill, a paint mill and traditional timbered buildings, just to name a few. After a leisure visit, you’ll finish the tour back in Holland’s cosmopolitan capital of Amsterdam. (During Holland’s famous tulip months of April and May, you will cycle alongside endless acres of colorful bulb fields).
Be sure to check out all of our bike and boat tours in Holland.
On the Comfort Plus boat:
Super saver season: April 8, April 15 and April 22, 2017
Middle season: April 29, May 13, May 20, May 27, and September 9, 2017
Main season: June 3, June 17, June 24, July 1, July 15, July 22, July 29, August 12, August 19, and August 26, 2017
Late season: September 16, 2017
On the Comfort boats:
July 1, 2017
Wending: May 13, May 20, May 27, June 3, July 22, August 5, August 19, and September 2, 2017
Zwaan: July 8, July 22, and July 29, 2017
On the Standard Plus boat, the Anna Antal: June 17, July 15, and August 12, 2017
Easy, self-guided or guided tour with average daily distances of ± 30 miles on flat terrain and well-maintained asphalt roads with little traffic. On the Angela Esmee, the on board tour guide will give extensive descriptions of the day’s cycling route. Guests will bike using provided route descriptions & maps. The guide will also cycle the route but does not guide a group. The main role of the tour guide is to provide assistance if needed during the cycling itinerary. This is a somewhat lighter and easier rural tour than the other Bike & Boat Holland tours, thus more appropriate for children. On all other boats, tours are fully guided with an option to purchase maps for self-guided.
Where You’ll Stay
Different class boats are available for this tour. See dates and pricing. Click here for detailed barge information.
- Accommodations for 7 nights on board ship
- Breakfast buffets, packed lunches, 3-course dinners
- Coffee and tea on board some vessels. Restrictions apply! Please ask.
- Guide support aboard the Angela Esmee (see note below)*
- Cycling tour guide (Liza Marleen, Wending, and Zwaan)
- 7 to 24-speed hybrid bicycle
- Route information
- Ferry fares en route (Anna Antal, Liza Marleen, Wending, and Zwaan)
- Road book (1 per cabin) aboard the Angela Esmee
- Canal tour tickets (only valid for departures before July 1)
- *Please note: these tours are not fully guided bike tours but rather supported by a guide who ensures the safety of riders and takes care of mechanical issues. The guide is cycling the route and can be reached by cell phone for quick assistance
What’s Not Included
- Helmet rental
- Museum entrance fees (approximately €15 per tour)
- Beverages (incl. alcohol), available on board.
- Aboard the Anna Antal, Liza Marleen, Wending, and the Zwaan: Maps for self-guided option (please see pricing)
- Helmets aboard Angela Esmee - available on request, reserve at time of booking
- Entrance fees and excursions
- Bicycle protection
- Trip insurance
Ask us for details if you desire to book an extra night in Amsterdam.
On the Anna Antal, Liza Marleen, Wending, and Zwaan
*Aboard these boats, it is possible to do the tour as self-guided with route descriptions. Please specify at the time of booking if you wish to do this. Maps are available for a small, additional fee. Ask us for details.
- Boarding in Amsterdam at 4 pm; optional cycling, 12 mi. (20 km)
- Amsterdam - Volendam, 28 mi. (45 km)
- Volendam - Enkhuizen 36 mi. (58 km), or disembark in Hoorn 15 mi. (25 km)
- Enkhuizen - Medemblik, sailing to Texel, 22 mi. (35 km)
- Texel, roundtrip, 25/31/41 mi. (40/50/66 km)
- Texel - sail to Den Helder/ Zand/St. Maartensvlotbrug and cyle to Alkmaar, 23/26/38/44 mi. (37/41/60/70 km)
- Alkmaar - Amsterdam 28 mi. (45 km), or disembark in Zaandam, 16 mi. (25 km)
- Individual departure by 10 am.
*All distances are approximate. The above-planned itinerary is subject to change due to changing wind and weather conditions and other unforeseen circumstances having to do with mooring requirements, etc.
Day 1: Boarding in Amsterdam at 4 pm; optional cycling, 12 mi. (20 km)
Boarding begins at 4 PM. When you arrive on board the boat, you can put your baggage away in your cabin and then enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. It is also a good moment to become acquainted with the guide, skipper, crew, and of course your fellow passengers. The bicycles are distributed and straight from the moorings of the boat you can have a short bike trip through quiet parts of town. If time permits, you can also bike outside the city.
Amsterdam first saw the light of day as a simple village at the mouth of the Amstel River but expanded rapidly with its famous rings of canals in the Golden Age (18th century). The palace on the Dam Square is sometimes called the 8th wonder of the world because it is built on 13,659 piles. Amsterdam, as we know it today, is famous for being able to cater to all tastes, including lovers of diamonds. In the evening, you dine on board. During the meal, the plans for the rest of the week are discussed.
Day 2: Amsterdam - Volendam, 26 mi. (42 km)
Leaving Amsterdam, a ferry brings you to a peaceful part of the city in the north, and quite soon you are cycling through the rural ‘Waterland’ region (in the province of Holland), after which you visit the former island of Marken. Marken was a real island until 1957, which left it with its own special character. As the island flooded several times during the Zuiderzee period, the old houses were built on poles above the ground, putting them about 2.5 meters above street level.
Marken is strictly for pedestrian visitors as cars are prohibited on the island except for those belonging to the population itself. You cycle to Monnickendam, which enjoyed a flourishing wealthy period in the past, as you can see from the many old gables, plaques, churches and towers.
You continue on biking over the dike of the Gouwzee to Volendam, today’s destination. Volendam was originally a small fishing village and was founded by the survivors of a capsized Spanish fleet.
Day 3: Volendam - Enkhuizen 36 mi. (58 km), or disembark in Hoorn 15 mi. (25 km)
If you choose to ride the entire route, you first visit Edam, well-known for its cheese. Here you can taste the atmosphere of a well-preserved authentic Dutch town, although the hustle and bustle of the old times is missing. After Edam, the tour passes through vast grasslands; the stop in Hoorn is a little longer. Those travelers who preferred to sail on the boat to Hoorn start cycling here. For all tour members, this is the opportunity to gain an impression of this beautiful town with its rich history.
Hoorn was a major trading town in the 17th century. From here ships sailed for the Dutch East Indies, (now Indonesia), America, Scandinavia, and the Mediterranean. The most beautiful gable is in the former town hall; the Statenpoort which houses an interesting museum with paintings and exhibits concerning the V.O.C. The V.O.C. (United East Indies Dutch Trading Company) was a very powerful almost monopolistic trading company in the 17th century.
You cross the dike, with its beautiful view over the Markermeer on one side and West Frisian villages on the other. Today the route finishes in Enkhuizen. This town grew together from two closely neighboring villages. Enkhuizen has a number of interesting museums; depending on your time of arrival and their opening hours, you can visit them.
Day 4: Enkhuizen - Medemblik, 22 mi. (35 km)
If you haven't visited the Zuiderzeemuseum yesterday you'll have some time for a visit this morning.This museum, which consists of an indoor and outdoor part, shows you the history of everyday life around the Zuiderzee until the middle of the 20th century. The cycling route begins over the dike of the IJsselmeer, but we leave it to ride through a nature reserve and then some of the characteristic villages of West Friesland. Medemblik comes into view, one of the old Zuiderzee harbors with an illustrious past and a castle dating from the 13th century. You take a break here, and if you wish, you can board the boat.
After Medemblik, the route goes through a polder, Wieringermeer, which was created at the same time as the famous Afsluitdijk in 1932. This created new land out of the old Zuiderzee and turned the inland sea (IJsselmeer) into the largest sweet water basin of The Netherlands.
The food crisis resulting from the 1st World War created a need for more agricultural land so in 1927, work on the Wieringermeer commenced. The dikes and pumping stations were built in the open sea. The polder itself was reclaimed during a period of mass unemployment and most of the work for preparing the land for agricultural use was done by hand and horse power.
Halfway over the polder you can step on board again or otherwise ride through a forest to the fishing town of Den Oever. Sail by boat over the Wadden Sea to the harbor of the island of Texel.
Day 5: Texel, roundtrip, 25/31/41 mi. (40/50/66 km)
Today you could if you would like, you can visit the beach or take a bike ride on the island of Texel. There are numerous bicycle paths here. In the north you have the nature reserve ‘de Slufter’, with an open connection to the sea.
The largest village on the island is Den Burg, which could easily be the prototype of the typical Dutch town with its circle of canals around an old church. You will find most of the shops on the island in this village. The local museum is a good representation of island life and is housed in a building dating from 1599. De Koog is the principal bathing resort and is only a stone's throw away from the widest beach on the island. As well as a nature center, which has a lot of information about the flora and fauna to be found on Texel, De Koog has a rescue center for seals.
Cocksdorp is entered through a tunnel of interlocking tree branches, which give it a unique character. If you cycle to the most extreme northerly tip of the island you may be able to see Vlieland, the next island making up the chain of Wadden islands. This part of the island is called the Slufter, a nature reserve open to the sea and the rhythm of the tides.
The villages of Den Doorn, Oosterend, and de Waal have escaped modern architectural influences and are now officially protected. In Den Hoorn, some of the old 'Commandeurs' dwellings have been preserved. These were the houses belonging to the captains of the whaling ships that sailed from Texel. The oldest church is situated in Oosterend. In clear weather, you can see the neighboring island Vlieland. Oudeschild, where the boat is moored, was the entrance port of the island until 1962.
Day 6: Texel - sail to Den Helder/ Zand/St. Maartensvlotbrug and cycle to Alkmaar, 23/26/38/44 mi. (37/41/60/70 km)
The ship takes you back to the mainland, where you disembark in the city of Den Helder, the Dutch naval port, situated at the mouth of the Noord-Hollandskanaal or further south at the canal.
Today you ride through the dunes (the dunes between Schoorl and Bergen have the highest dunes in The Netherlands) and over the Hondsbossche Zeewering (seawall) with its spectacular view over the North Sea. On your left, you will see the dunes, and on your right, the sweep of a 5 km long dike keeping the sea at bay. On your right where the dike is, were once dunes. However, in 1421, in what is known as the St Elizabeth's floods, they were swept away along with the village of Hondsbossche.The dike replacing the dunes is called the Hondsbossche Sea Dike. If the weather allows you to cross to the island of Texel, you will head straight for Den Helder. Otherwise, you will take a leisurely tour around the land bounded by the dikes. This part of the country, known as the Kop van Noord Holland (head of North Holland), is well known for bulb growing with the town of Anna Paulowna at its center. The bulbs bloom in April and May.
The stage ends in Alkmaar, which boasts almost four hundred buildings on the monument list, and typical Old-Dutch canals and harbor. Alkmaar is often called the cheese town as the weighing and selling of cheese in the 'Waag' (weighing house) was a popular activity in the past.
Day 7: Alkmaar – Amsterdam 28 mi (45 km), or disembark in Zaandam, 15 mi. (25 km)
Today you can cycle the whole route from Alkmaar to Amsterdam or stay on board until reaching Zaandam. Alkmaar's famous Friday cheese market starts at 10:00 am. After leaving Alkmaar the stage takes you through the 'droogmakerij' land with the 17th-century towns of Schermerhorn, Graft and De Rijp. The last stretch of the trip takes you through ’t Twiske (the Twiske) Leisure Park. The peat region around the Zaan had been used for cattle grazing. In the peatland ditches were dug to help drain the land. The dried peat was used as fuel. Once you are back at the barge in Amsterdam you will hand over your bikes. In the afternoon, there is still some time to go into town and after dinner, you may want to finish off your trip by going on a city walk or taking a trip on one of Amsterdam's canal boats.
Day 8: Amsterdam - Day of departure
Breakfast as usual, and departure around 10 AM.
On the Angela Esmee 2017:
Day 1: Embarkation: Amsterdam
Day 2: Amsterdam – Zaanse Schans – Zaandam, 19-28 miles (30-45 km)**
Day 3: Zaandam – Alkmaar, 31 miles (50 km) | Alkmaar – Den Helder
Day 4: Den Helder – Oudeschild | North Sea island of Texel: round trip from/to Oudeschild (your choice 9-41 miles/15-65 km)** | Texel – Den Oever
Day 5: Den Oever – Stavoren | Stavoren South-west Friesland round trip, 19-31 miles (30-50 km)**
Day 6: Stavoren – Medemblik | Medemblik – Hoorn – Enkhuizen, 19-31 miles (30-50 km)**
Day 7: Enkhuizen – Volendam | Volendam – Waterland – Amsterdam, 22-31 miles (35-50 km)**
Day 8: Disembarkation: Amsterdam
**Both possibilities are offered, guests are free to choose
All distances are approximate. The above-planned itineraries are subject to change due to changing wind and weather conditions and other unforeseen circumstances having to do with mooring requirements, etc.
For a detailed, day to day itinerary for the Angela Esmee, please contact us!
Northern Tour Boats + Barges
Angela Esmee Netherlands Comfort Plus Class Boat The Angela Esmee can accommodate approximately 80 guests. On board this beautiful vessel are 41 cabins total with an en-suite bathroom which includes shower and toilet. In the salon, there is a separate bar and restaurant area. Also, in the front of the ship is a brand new lounge area featuring glass panoramic windows from floor to ceiling.
Anna Antal Netherlands Standard Plus Class Boat The Anna Antal is a former shuttle barge converted into a motor passenger ship in the winter of 1994-95. In 2012, the salon and cabins were renovated.The sailing area of the Anna Antal includes all Dutch, German and Belgian waterways in so far as a ship of this size can sail. She also sails on the Waddenzee, IJsselmeer and Zeeland. The Anna Antal is built according to the rules of Maritime laws and holds a valid certificate for the Rhine.
Liza Marleen Comfort Class Boat The Liza Marleen is a luxury motor passenger barge that was completely refurbished in 1998. This robust barge is ideally suited for trips on the wider waterways. It has a beautiful salon area and spacious deck.
Wending Netherlands Comfort Class Boat The Wending is a former freight barge that was converted into a luxury passenger motor barge in the early nineties and completely redecorated in 2002. The barge has a spacious salon equipped with a television and music installation. It is a great place to relax after a strenuous day of cycling.
Zwaan Belgium, Netherlands Comfort Class Boat Once a cargo boat, the Zwaan (Swan) was completely renovated and converted into a comfortable passenger barge. On board you will find seven comfortable cabins allowing a total capacity of 16 passengers.