Experience the great cities of The Netherlands and western Belgium on this classic barge and bike trip between Amsterdam and Bruges. En route visit Antwerp and Ghent whose historic centres will enchant you with their history and refined culture. Wind your way by bike along the Vecht river with its impressive mansions and country houses, visit a cheese farm and the 19 windmills in Kinderdijk. Via Dordrecht and the Kreekrak lock, the barge cruises through the ‘delta’ province of Zeeland to Belgium. Cycling with the group and guide or on your own with a set of maps and directions – the choice is yours. In the evenings, relax on board your comfortable barge or explore the towns on foot.
- Exploring Amsterdam and walking the cobble stoned streets of Bruges and Ghent
- Cycling along the river Schelde and seeing the famous windmills of Kinderdijk
- Sampling local specialties including Belgian waffles, beer and mussels
- Soaking up the hospitality on board the comfortable barge
Itinerary – 2023
Day 1 Join barge in Amsterdam
Make your own way to the boat in Amsterdam for embarkation and check-in at 2pm. Your crew for the week will be waiting to welcome you on board. After unpacking your luggage in your cabin, you’ll have plenty of time to explore this famous city, eg visit one of its many museums or simply do some shopping. An introduction to the tour will take place back on board at 5.30 pm, when you’ll meet the crew and dinner will be served. After dinner you can enjoy a canal tour through the centre of Amsterdam
Day 2 Cycle via Muiden and along the Vecht river to Breukelen (36 or 46km/23 or 28mi)
On our first day on the bike we will cycle out of Amsterdam to the historical town of Muiden, with its 14th century waterfront castle. Riding alongside the Vecht River, it’s an area famous for beautiful mansions, small castles, impressive houses and their gardens. Close to Vreeland we can visit a traditional cheese farm. After cycling through the charming villages of Loenen and Nieuwersluis we’ll arrive at Breukelen to rejoin the boat. Around 5pm the boat will depart for Vianen and dinner will be served while we’re cruising. We’ll spend the evening and night in Vianen, a small fortified town on the Lower Rhine river.
Day 3 Cycle to Schoonhoven and Kinderdijk, fast ferry to Dordrecht (32 or 56km/19 or 34mi)
Today we will cycle along a beautiful route to Schoonhoven, renowned for its talented silversmiths since the 17th century. Later in the day as we cycle through the Alblasserwaard region we will reach Kinderdijk, famous for its impressive row of 19 large windmills. All have a UNESCO cultural heritage listing and are a definite highlight. From nearby Alblasserdam we will take the “Waterbus” (fast ferry, 10 minutes) to Dordrecht, one of the oldest towns in Holland.
Day 4 Cycle Willemstad to Kreekraksluis and Tholen, cruise to Antwerp (36 or 44km/23 or 28mi)
During breakfast we will cruise to Willemstad, where we will start cycling. Willemstad is a beautiful old fortified town on the Haringvliet waterway. Our cycling destination is Tholen, once an island in the middle of the large Zeeland streams, where many people fished for their living. Nowadays Tholen is connected to the mainland in various ways, but it is still a picturesque village with many relics of an eventful past. In the afternoon we board the boat and cruise to the port city of Antwerp, situated on the river Schelde. Antwerp is famous for handling most of the world’s rough diamonds and is a city with a long list of attractions including the City Hall, one of several majestic buildings constructed during the Renaissance period, the historical City Square Grote Market, the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe Cathedral and the medieval Steen Castle. Dinner is not included* and will be in town at a restaurant of your choice (recommendations available on board). *At times dinner will be served on board here instead of in Bruges (Magnifiques only)
Day 5 Cycle to St Amands (34 or 49km/21 or 31mi)
This morning we will cycle out of Antwerp alongside a picturesque section of the Schelde River to St Amands, our base for the night. This stage is one of the natural highlights of the tour.
Day 6 Follow the river Schelde to Dendermonde and on to Ghent (52km/32mi)
Today we will cruise to Dendermonde then cycle, following the river Schelde to Ghent where the barge will moor for the night at a lock in the suburb of Merelbeke, approx 30min by bike from the centre. Ghent is a lively university city that boasts a rich history. Since Roman times its position at the junction of Leie and Schelde Rivers has ensured the town’s success as a trading port. In total the city features an Opera House, 18 museums, more than 100 churches and over 400 historical buildings. Major attractions are St Bavo Cathedral, where a number of masterpieces of medieval art including the world famous ‘Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ by Jan van Eyck are kept, and the 91m belfry of Ghent, one of three medieval towers that overlook the old city centre.
Day 7 Cycle the Flemish countryside to Bruges (22 or 45km/13 or 28mi)
Today we will cycle from Ghent through the beautiful Flemish countryside of western Flanders to Bruges, widely described as the ‘Venice of the North’ and arguably the most beautiful of all the Flemish cities. UNESCO World Heritage listed, it has a picturesque medieval town centre and a long list of historic attractions. An outstanding example of a medieval historic settlement, Bruges has managed to maintain its historic fabric as it has evolved over the centuries, with the result that today the original Gothic buildings form an integral part of the town’s identity. You can visit one of its many museums or simply take in the stunning beauty and culture from the comfort of a local café or bar.
Day 8 Trip concludes after breakfast
The trip concludes after breakfast in Bruges, with check out and disembarkation by 9:30 am.
- 7 breakfasts, 6 packed lunches, 6 dinners (does not include drinks). Continental breakfasts are served and will usually consist of breads, cheese, ham, tea, coffee & juices. At breakfast you will prepare your packed lunch for the day which will be sandwiches, fruit & juice. If you choose not to cycle on a particular day, the crew will serve lunch on board. Dinner will consist of three courses inclusive of either a pasta, vegetarian or meat dish.
- 7 nights in a twin share cabin with ensuite facilities on a Category A+ barge (cabins are configured with two lower beds – supplement applies for premium twin or upper deck suite on select departures, or single cabin). We do not match clients together so if you are travelling solo you will need to book a single cabin (limited and on a request basis).
- Bike rental with handbrake or backpedal brake – 7 speed (Princesse Royal, Magnifiques) or 21 speed (Zwaantje), waterproof pannier, helmet and water bottle (electric bike available on request – supplement applies)
- Information pack including route notes & maps (one set per cabin), GPS tracks available on request
- Welcome drink and briefing on the first evening
- Two multilingual tour guides for fully guided cycling tours (group size of 22 passengers or more, except Zwaantje which is only ever 1 tour guide), daily briefings
- Several city walks
- Linen and change of towels as required
- Daily cabin cleaning
- Entrance to Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp, Tasting of Belgian products, Canal trip through Ghent
- Fees for ferries
UTX – ABR
Images courtesy of UTracks