Follow Father Rhine upstream

  • Easy biking
  • ~30 mi/day
  • max. 24
  • 240 mi

Your adventure starts in Amsterdam. What more should we say? Bikes. Canals. Tall, beautiful people who speak fluent English. Those hazy cafés. Cosy bars and superb Indonesian food. World-class art, museums and breweries. Great 2nd-hand shops and bookstores. And it’s prettier than a Dutch Master’s painting.

The biking is flat and easy along Father Rhine, the greatest waterway in the world. Much more than a shipping highway, the river is the pulsing economic vein of Germany and Europe. Around every bend, legends spring to life…the plunging Lorelei cliffs, deadly Bingen Reef, the fabled site where Rheingold is buried…to name a few ancient places that touch our souls and connect us with great literature, music and history. And what about those mighty Teutonic cities…Düsseldorf, Cologne, Bonn where the old blends into new. Medieval villages, rural farms and gardens tended to perfection all exist alongside sparkling modern cities. It’s diverse and exciting.

But maybe vineyards and castles don’t float your boat. Or beer and brats don’t sizzle your steak…If mile-high cakes don’t make your heart beat faster or if noble wines don’t tickle your fancy, then you won’t like it here. But if all this sounds better than Disney, we’ll see you soon.

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Day-to-day program

  1. Amsterdam: arrival

    Your adventure starts in one of the most historic places in Amsterdam. Where the Iris is docked used to be… Read more
  2. Amsterdam - Wijk bij Duurstede

    Onboard, as the boat navigates, you will get a taste of the beauty of Amsterdam seen from the water. Your… Read more
  3. Wijk bij Duurstede - Wageningen - Arnhem

    What a magical place! No visit to Holland is complete without a ride through Europe’s largest drifting sand dunes in… Read more
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Departures & pricing

G = Guaranteed departure

Check our Calendar for all tours and departure dates


  1. Amsterdam: arrival

    Your adventure starts in one of the most historic places in Amsterdam. Where the Iris is docked used to be the centre of the Dutch East Indian Trade Company, looking out on the warehouses and merchant residences, you can imagine the hustle and bustle that went on here. After getting settled on the ship and trying out our bike, you can go on a walking tour with our bike guide. He’ll show you some of the historical sights, like the old admiralty or the medieval city gate and most picturesque canals in the city.

  2. Amsterdam - Wijk bij Duurstede

    Onboard, as the boat navigates, you will get a taste of the beauty of Amsterdam seen from the water. Your cycling begins as a scenic ride past the prestigious houses along the Vecht, where Amsterdam’s sophisticated traders and aristocrats had their country homes. From there, we’ll make out way into the old delta of the Rhine where the Romans had their border and where remains of an old fortification can be found. Here they dug out an old part of the Rhine to restore it to its natural flow, and they found a still intact freight barge from around 300 AD. At the end of the afternoon, your biking ends in the outskirts of Utrecht. Here you will board the Iris to Wijk Bij Duurstede, one of the first cities in the Netherlands plundered by the Vikings and almost completely disappeared.

  3. Wijk bij Duurstede - Wageningen - Arnhem

    What a magical place! No visit to Holland is complete without a ride through Europe’s largest drifting sand dunes in the National Park Hoge Veluwe. Imagine an African safari with grassy plains and weathered pines, juicy bogs brimming with rare species and hardwood forests filled with birdsong. The geography is wild thanks to an Ice Age glacier that dumped its load of sand and gravel like a bulldozer. Awaiting us on the other side is world-famous Kröller-Müller art gallery and sculpture park with the largest private Van Gogh collection in the world. The one-eared master is not alone…works by Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondriaan round out the collection. From here we roll to Arnhem ‘Home of Eagles,’ given its name by Romans stationed on the Rhine. But we won’t make the mistake of going beyond the bridge! Perhaps you recall the 1977 classic A Bridge Too Far and the failed Allied-Forces attempt to break through German lines and take several bridges (including Arnhem) in Operation Market Garden? Renamed the John Frost Bridge, you may walk or ride across this beloved landmark into Arnhem center which is teeming with art, fashion and all things Lekker (Sweet, fun, cool).

  4. Arnhem - Pannerden - Rees (Germany)

    Of bridges, battlegrounds and castles…like the 13th century Doornenburg Castle. It’s an impressive brick behemoth where German commanders set up headquarters during the Battle of Arnhem. Naturally, it became a prime target for British bombers and you can imagine what happened next. After a tour, we pedal away and say tot ziens (see ya) to Holland, crossing the border into Germany. Around the bend is Emmerich, home of Germany’s longest suspension bridge. This engineering feat spans some 1,600 ft across the Rhine and you can bike across for super aerial photos. Some 500 ships pass underneath it every day. Before the Rhine was channelled in the 1800s, sturgeon, shad and salmon used to swim the river — not anymore. Now barges are the big fish. Emmerich is also home to a WWII Biber submarine and one-man U-Boat in the Rhine Museum. We finally whoa-up in Rees, famous for its medieval wall, towers and river promenade with art sculptures, restaurants and cafés…the perfect place to raise your Riesling glass or beer stein and watch the Rhine flow by.

  5. Rees - Wesel - Duisburg

    The great Ruhr region was once Germany’s blast furnaces during the Industrial Revolution, until recently. As the industry retreats train tracks and steel behemoths are left to rust. What better than to convert the train track into bike paths and the mines and furnaces into parks and recreational areas? Well, this is what the Germans did and it gives us a very nice alternative route for the day. Instead of timber frame farms and countryside, our bike path takes us straight trough a very densely populated area of the Ruhr area for the day. Don’t worry for traffic as the route has bridges and tunnels along most of it. The old train track leads us, past abandoned mine shafts, into the furnace park of Duisburg, now a beer garden! After we enjoy exploring the old furnaces and park, we head for the harbor where the Iris, but also the steam paddler “Oscar Huber” is docked. This historical Ship reminds us once more of the time when coal was king in this area.

  6. Duisburg - Duesseldorf

    Today we follow the Ruhr River a bit further away from the Rhine to Muhlheim. Here we’ll find the oldest still standing fortification north of the Alps: Castle “Broich”. This round fortification dates back to the 9th century and was built to withstand the Vikings sailing up the Rhine. Also, this a perfect place for coffee with a view of the castle. The path then takes us through the forest and past lakes back towards the Rhine. We wind with the river towards the sparkling city of Düsseldorf—Germany’s fashion and advertising capital. Here you drink Altbier which doesn’t mean the beer is old; it’s a top-down fermentation style that’s hoppy and bitter-crisp. The waiters won’t ask if you want a second beer, it will just appear in front of you. Explore the Altstadt along the river or check out Media Harbor, the rehabbed riverside warehouse district that will blow your mind. The city sparkles with international flair, übermodern architecture, and swanky folk. A casual feeling reigns in the evening when the “suits” loosen their ties at the 17th century Füchschen Brewery for roast pork shank (Haxen). You will need a couple of cold ones to wash down the Haxen. Bring it on Düsseldorf!

  7. Duesseldorf - Zons

    Today we start along the promenade of Düsseldorf, where they put the main road underground and made the entire area car-free. This, and the quirky modern architecture, makes this a perfect start to the day. We follow the river again, but today it doubles back, and we end up on the south side of Düsseldorf, where we take advantage of another area where they put a highway underground and created a large connected park. Here we’ll have coffee at a beer garden. The next stop is the Botanical gardens of the University of Düsseldorf, where we can admire a large collection of extraordinary plants. Then we head for our location: Castle “Benrath”. This 18th-century mansion is a museum for gardening, so we’ll take our time exploring the multiple gardens: the French garden, the kitchen garden, the English garden, and so on. Our final destination of the day is the small fortified town of Zons. This square town has a wall around, a fortified farm castle within its walls and windmills as towers. After a small tour, we’ll park our bikes on the square and have a beer at the castle café.

  8. Zons - Cologne

    Zons is in the middle between Düsseldorf and Cologne. These two towns have a rivalry going back hundreds of years.  In Düsseldorf, you drink Altbier, but you’ll forget that word exists when you arrive in Cologne. Here, Kölsch is king. Don’t mention Altbier in Cologne if you don’t like discussions! From Zons we’ll first ride into the countryside where we find a monastery and a lot of forest. A windy path takes us out of the forest and into the fields. We enter Cologne from the side and make our way to the river where the Iris is docked a stone throw away from the heart of the city.

  9. Cologne

    Today is a rest day, with that we mean that you can decide what you want to do, there is no biking today. Everything worth seeing is within walking distance from the barge. The city isn’t just big; it’s ancient. The Romans set up their northern military headquarters here in 50 AD. The blending of Roman and Germanic cultures is showcased in the Roman-Germanic Museum. The cathedral of Cologne towers above all. It is longer than a football field and holds 20,000 people! It takes an army of specialists to maintain the 750-yr old landmark, 80 stonemasons, glazers, and roofers. Once you hear the tolling of its bells, you will never forget it. There are many free concerts. The best place to take it all in is Café Reichard for a German trifecta, coffee, cake, and cathedral views. District for rambling The medieval Hay Market is a wonderful place to meander. Here you can fill your steins with good Kölsch beer and top it off with an order of Himmel un Ääd (heaven and earth). Apples and mashed potatoes are Cologne’s comfort food!

  10. Cologne - Bonn

    Today you will pedal to West Germany’s former Capital city. When the wall came down in 1990, most of the government moved back to Berlin. It’s the birthplace of musical genius Ludwig van Beethoven. You can visit the world-famous Haribo factory with all the gummy sweets and gadgets—imagine Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Bonn’s parks and gardens are splendid. The first-rate Botanical Gardens at Poppelsdorf Palace are among the oldest. Have you ever seen a water lily whose giant pads hold the weight of a 95-pound child!? And the world’s rarest flowering plant, titan arum, the Sumatran Corpse Flower, that takes 7 years to blossom for just one day! Stroll Bonn’s endless river promenade and the nearby Rheinaue Leisure Park. For the best views of the legendary Siebengebirge hills, join the locals under the great chestnut trees at the ‘Alter Zoll’ beer garden. It’s a former Rhine toll station and military fort along the river.

  11. Bonn - Koblenz

    On this final day of biking, we start with a cruise past the Siebengebirge (seven hills) and officially enter the legendary middle Rhine valley with its dramatic cliffs and curves, romantic castles, sloping vineyards, and sleepy half-timbered villages. You sail past the ancient volcano, Dragon’s Rock, where the hero Siegfried killed the dragon and bathed in its blood to become invincible. The Dragon’s Castle lies in ruins, a reminder of French revenge. Today’s biking starts in Remagen with a stop at Ludendorff Bridge. It was only one of two bridges still intact over the Rhine during Operation Lumberjack in the final days of WWII. In a stroke of good luck, U.S. Army got 25,000 troops, six Army divisions, tanks, artillery, and trucks across the river. You pass little villages with old churches and the medieval harbour crane. Arriving in Koblenz, you moor in the shadows of mighty Ehrenbreitenstein fortress. Here the noble Riesling grape is the Queen of Cups. Trocken means dry. Order one and prepare to become a convert for life. Prefer a beer in the Koblenz’ Biergarten? You will find that just steps away.

  12. Koblenz

    Unless you are continuing sailing to Metz, it’s time to say goodbye. You can enjoy another day in Koblenz, but you’re on your own after 9.00 AM.


  • Passenger Barge IRIS

    One of the best: our comfort plus barge IRIS, sailing since 2005. Fully air-conditioned, lovely front sundeck, lounge and dining-area and selfservice Bar. Delicious 3 course dinners and packed lunches. Lots of options at Breakfast.

  • Ready to cruise?

    If you do not feel like cycling you are welcome to stay on board and have a private cruise!

  • Cabins

    Your air-conditioned cabin has two comfortable beds and lots of storage (for such a small cabin!). Ensuite your private bathroom
    Our cabins and bathrooms are renewed in 2020. Now offering an option for a double bed as well, with USB outlets to load your devices and a very cool bathroom.

  • bathroom

    refit 2020

  • Lounge

    Perfect to enjoy a cold beer or glass of Pinot Gris from our self-service Bar.

What’s Included on the Bike&Barge tour:

    • 11 nights onboard
    • Bed linen and towels
    • Breakfast
    • 9 x dinner on board, 2 on your own
    • A glass of wine or beer at dinner
    • Packed lunches for bike trips
    • Coffee and tea on board
    • Tour guide (from 18 guests 2 guides)
    • Cabins cleaned daily
    • Climate-controlled cabins
    • Helmets, panniers and waterbottle
    • Entrance to the National Park Hoge Veluwe

What’s Not included:

  • Bike rental € 110,- per bike (2022)
  • E-bike on availability, € 300,- (2022)
  • Entrance fees for museums, monuments, etc.
  • Travel and cancellation insurance
  • Miscellaneous beverages and expenses on excursions.
  • Gratuities for Staff and Guides
Bike rental is NOT included: € 110,- per bike.

E-bikes on request & availability € 300,- per bike

The Bike & Barge tours do not use a Van. Guests can stay onboard instead of biking. Most days a pick-up or later drop off is possible. The guide will explain every day.

Departures & pricing

G = Guaranteed departure