Join us on our bike&barge trip to our harbor in Amsterdam. But first: have a go at a Rails to Trail!
Chapter 1: 4 Days: A cyclists dream for 127 kilometers on a little-known route called the Vennway through the forest. We ride on perfectly paved bike paths in Holland, peddling south into Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany again. The landscape is dotted with ancient abbeys, tidy villages with their whitewashed brick and half-timbered homes. With its lush forests and clean rivers, this region oozes abundance. The route meanders through high moor and grassland terrain, famous the world over for its local cheeses, cured meats and grains that flavor rich Belgian ales. Trailside cafés serve warm waffles with sweet toppings. Of course, sampling local specialties is what we do best.
This is a destination you won’t find on your own. It’s tucked away, straddling borders you’d never know were there…a place mostly forgotten in the mists of time, a hidden gem in the heart of old Europe.
Chapter 2: 8 Days: We join the IRIS barge now! The Moselle and the Rhine await us. We sail through the vineyards and visit the most well kept medieval castle of Germany, burg Eltz. We enjoy Koblenz where the gentle streaming Moselle floats into the mighty Rhine River. We are in the heart of Germany!
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… 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. We are leaving Germany behind after a few days and find our way along meadows, and charming villages and dikes into Arnheim known for its WW II history, you probably heared of A Bridge Too Far. Or Operation Airborne. The Germans could not be defeated here in 1944, so the War lasted for another year to be finally over. Arnheim is now a vibrant city again, rebuild after severe destruction. Our last stop is in a little gem of a walled village, with windmill and all!
But maybe charming villages, windmills, vineyards and castles don’t float your boat. Or beer and brats and cheese don’t sizzle your steak…If mile-high cakes don’t make your heart beat faster or if noble wines or all sorts of beer 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.Read more
Tuesday: Arrival at Hotel ons Krijtland in Epen
Welcome in Limburg !
In the hills of Limburg, in a old village close to the Belgium and German borders, we will welcome you in a little hotel. This will be your home for the first night and from here we will start biking and discovering. But not today, let’s settle down first, have a nice drink and enjoy the scenery and the local hospitality. We will meet up and have a great dinner here.
Wednesday : Aachen - Monschau
Today we start the 127km Fen-Railway bike path. This 1882 industrial line was built to transport iron ore and coal to the steel works in Aachen. A hundred years later, it was converted to a rails-to-trails. Crossing viaducts and tunnels, we cycle alongside various rail signal installations and huge water pumps that once filled thirsty steam locomotives. What a thrill for historic train enthusiasts. We climb at a 2% grade through a forest you can imagine Hansel and Gretel would have played—and gotten lost. The air is piney fresh along the German-Belgian border through towns like Roentgen—first to be liberated by American troops at the end of WWII. We descend into a narrow forested valley to Monschau, arriving at our historic hotel, a half-timbered beauty brimming with flower boxes. Thanks to the river that flows through the center, mills generated cloth fabric in the 1700s and the town grew rich. This pretty German village looks too “Disney” to be real, but it is. Imagine meandering cobblestone streets, craggy cliffs, a 12th century castle and outdoor terraces overlooking the river. It’s like finding a treasure when you least expect it.
Thursday: Monschau - St. Vith
Today we ride through the high fen (moor) straddling the Belgian-German border heading south. It is a mystical landscape, a place for poets, daydreamers, and cyclists… Due to a unique variety of grasses, heathers and birdlife, this watery world of springs is not only a National Park but also a massive watershed for two major rivers including the Maas and the Rhine. We pedal through the peaceful Belgian countryside into sleepy villages with steaming waffles tempting you to stop. Smell the roses, they’re blooming! The views sweep across rolling green pastures as far as the eye can see with horse farms and grazing cattle. This is farm country at its best. If you happen to catch a whiff of bacon, it’s because the finest smoked meats are cured in the former railway station in Montenau along our route. St. Vith is our home for the night. After centuries as a market town and then important railway junction, you’ll notice the town appears new, and it is. On Christmas 1944, St Vith was obliterated, the fate of so many border towns throughout the ages. It’s the tiny part of eastern Belgium that speaks German. Enjoy the gourmet dinner at our hotel here. You earned it!
Friday: St. Vith - Troisvierges - Trier or Clervaux
The morning ride promises a good chance of wild animal sightings…herons, field rabbits, falcons, red stags and wild boar. Before you know it after a few more clicks in Belgium, we’re already in Luxembourg, the world’s only Grand Duchy. A country half the size of Rhode Island. The language is a mélange of her two powerful neighbors French and Germany, resulting in a unique language called Luxembourgish. We go to Trier by bus, visiting this ancient Roman City and enjoying our last night in the heart of the Moselle region.
Two options from here:
A. We do the excursion to the Bastogne World War 2 museum and end in Clervaux at hotel like described in the original program. Next day SATURDAY: transfer to Cochem in the morning at around 9.00, arriving there at around 1 pm hours to check in at barge and do local sightseeing.
B. We have a transfer (train or bus) to Trier, ancient Roman city at the banks of the Moselle, arrive there at around 16.00 and do some sightseeing there, hotel near old city centre. Next morning SATURDAY we take our time and travel to Cochem at around 12 am, arriving there at around 1 pm
Saturday Trier or Clervaux - Cochem or Arrival at Cochem for Bike/Barge
Today it’s Saturday and we will embark on the IRIS. We take the train to Cochem and arrive at the barge just in time to go for a little exploration of this Moselle tourist village packed with timberframed houses and a Burg; a Castle on top of a hill. We meet up with the guests that “just” are going to join the Bike&Barge part of this trip to Amsterdam! Settle in to your cabin and be at your home away from home for the rest of our tour!
Sunday: Cochem - Koblenz
We sail from Cochem early in the morning, to drop you off for your bike tour to Burg Eltz. This Castle is different from any other castle. It remained unscathed by wars. It has been owned and cared for by the same family from when it was built until today. Its architecture has no comparison and many of the original furnishings of the past eight centuries still remain in place. There is a Treasury and Armoury boasting world-class artworks in gold and silver. It towers high on a large rock, but is still in a valley. So you understand: we have to go there! We will have a guided tour once we have walked up to it. After we return to our bikes we will follow the path along the river and meet up with the ship to continue to sail to Koblenz, where we will have a guided walk through the city.
Monday: Koblenz - Bonn
We will sail in the morning and probably drop you off in Andernach, biking to Bonn, former capital of West Germany.
We pass little villages with old churches and medieval harbor crane, we cruise past the Siebengebirge (seven hills) and officially leave the legendary middle Rhine valley with its dramatic cliffs and curves, romantic castles, sloping vineyards and sleepy half-timbered villages. We 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 passes 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..
We arrive in Bonn, West Germany’s former Capitol 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. Even after he’d lost his hearing in his ‘20s, Beethoven continued to write classics like Moonlight Sonata. It’s a tune that puts you in the Bonn mood. This is also where gummy bears are born every day. You can visit the world-famous Haribo factory with all the gummy sweets and gadgets—imagine Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Sure Bonn has its “museum mile,” but Bonn’s parks and gardens are the cat’s meow when it’s sunny. 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 stinky Sumatran Corpse Flower that takes 7 years to blossom for one day…fairytale flowers! Stroll Bonn’s endless river promenade and the nearby Rheinaue Leisure Park. So many sights right near our dock. For the best views of legendary Siebengebirge hills, join 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 and another BikePlanet favorite.
Tuesday Bonn - Cologne - Duesseldorf
Today’s ride stretches from one rival city to the other. Be it beer suds or soccer clubs, ne’re the two agree. In Düsseldorf you will drink Altbier, but we stop in Cologne first: here in Köln, Kölsch is king. It’s the largest city on our Rhine cruise and #4 after Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. 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. And you thought Sauerbraten was a German dish? Once again, we can thank clever Romans for setting the trend of wine-soaked meats. During transport to troops stationed along the Rhine, the meats were marinating and not going bad…the result: tender and delicious. Cologne Cathedral is next. This giant Gothic beauty reaches God’s ears. It’s 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, glaziers and roofers. You’ll never forget the toll of her famous bells either.What a colossal city. We will have short time to visit, because we will start cycling to Duesseldorf! Yes, to have that Altbier! Duesseldorf has a wide range of beer, beer and beer restaurants, cafes and bars. Nice to walk through…or sit down and enjoy one!
Wednesday: Duesseldorf - Rees - Arnheim
The great Ruhr region was once Germany’s blast furnace during the Industrial Revolution, until recently. Pedaling peacefully along the Rhine, you’ll see historic factory stacks, now mostly quiet and converted into other uses and venues—a reminder of when coal was king. This area is also where Neanderthal Man was found in 1856. And, it’s home to the mega supermarket chain Aldi. Part of the day we cruise through world’s biggest inland harbors and drop you of to cycle a part of today’s nautical miles. Do a pick up and sail into the Netherlands enjoying a sailing diner on board. Arnheim here we come!
Thursday: Arnheim - Wijk bij Duurstede
Our Dutch landscape now turns into a rural, quiet floating river where no cargo ship goes. We are now on the Neder Rijn….no big ships here anymore. Maybe we take a tour to the National Park de Hoge Veluwe, or we follow the river and enjoy the meadows and little towns. Our tour ends at Wijk bij Duurstede. This fortified town still is very well preserved. It has alleys, walls, a castle ruin and lovely restaurants and boutique-style shops. Ladies: we love to shop here, for some reason they have just the right type of clothing for us modern elderly but young-at-heart women ;-). And gentlemen: there are enough nice cafes to just wait and see.
By the way: yes: it has a windmill too!
Friday: the IRIS almost home: Wijk bij Duurstede to Amsterdam
Crossing a big lock while you are on board will definitely separate us from the Rhine. On the Rhine there isn’t one lock, but in our country of watermanagement we have plenty of those locks on our canals. We now enter the Canal that was very wisely named the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal, so no doubt about the destination here. The Canal itself will be more busy again with big inland ships carrying all kinds of goods. We will drop you of at Brooklyn, the Dutch village of Breukelen. Our last ride will show you the wealth of Dutch tradesman and the great cheeses that are produced here.
We will pick you up to sail into Amsterdam. See it’s skyline, which is not that high for Amsterdam’s inner city has survived throughout the centuries and has no skyscrapers of any importance. Your adventure ends in Amsterdam. What more should we say? Bikes. Canals. Tall, beautiful people who speak fluent English. Those hazy cafés. Cozy 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.
We will definitely have a great last night on board!
Saturday: Amsterdam: discovery or bye-bye
Our Bike&Barge ends at 9.00 AM. It’s time to say goodbye, or to “check in” as our Bed&Breakfast guest! For you can keep your room and enjoy Amsterdam as long as you like!
The IRIS opens for guests Sunday night, yes, we are always hosting guests, but we stay at our spot in the heart of Amsterdam. From here it’s a 15 minute walk to the Central Station. City centre and trams, it’s all pretty close by.
Hotel Ons Krijtland
The local hotel has a great view over the valley, just the place to have a great start of this tour!
in the centre of beautiful Monschau
This hotel is a little historic gem, so we have to accept some stairs to get to our rooms. It’s on the nicest spot of the village, and if you like you can enjoy your breakfast on the terrace next to the river that runs through Monschau.
In the heart of St. Vith
This little town has a lot of shops and in the centre we will find our cosy, well renovated and just right-for- us town-hotel. We will have a nice diner here. Enjoy the inside swimming pool and sauna first!
Clervaux or Trier....
Still have to decide here!
IRIS, your home away from home
One of the best: our premium 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.
Your tour has been prepared into the finest of details, check “about our SERVICES” for general information
Chapter 1: 4 Days on the Rails to Trail
Costs: € 890,–
Our rates are based on one person, double occupancy of rooms.
Single supplement = € 230,–
- 4 nights in hotels in Limburg (area), Monschau, St. Vith, Clervaux or Trier.
- welcome reception and dinner
- 1 x dinner in St. Vith
- 1 x diner in Trier or Clervaux
- guided tour on Saturday and entrances
- all transfers during the tour by train or coach
What is not included on this tour:
- Bike rental: Our nice Gudereith Trekking Bike is available for 30 euro’s for 3 days
- E-bike rental: on availability: 90 euro’s for 3 days
- Excursions, Exhibitions, Dinners/Lunches not mentioned in the day to day program
- Traveling to your tourstart
Extra night(s)* in the Netherlands can be arranged on demand
Considering hiring an E-bike?
Even though this tour is considered easy, the 2% grade uphill for part of the ride does require some leg and lung effort. If you do not like the word “hill”, please look at our other easy biketours OR: hire an E-bike!
E-bikes are a great way to do this tour without worrying about the effort it might take. E-bikes are trendy in Europe! They make biking as easy as you like it to be, still giving you the exercise and experience you are looking for. The type of e-bikes we use are supporting you a bit, or more, or a lot. You choose and you still pedaling! It stops when you stop! Save and easy.
Costs depends on the number of participants. If fully booked (24 guests) the price will be around 1000 euro’s a person, sharing a double room.
What’s Included on the Bike&Barge tour:
- 7 nights on board
- Bed linen and towels
- 6 x dinner on board
- 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 in case we go there
What’s Not included:
- Bike rental € 80,- per bike
- E-bike on availability, € 160,-
- Entrance fees for museums, monuments, etc.
- Travel and cancellation insurance
- Miscellaneous beverages and expenses on excursions.
- Gratuaties for Staff and Guides
E-bikes on request & availability € 160,- per bike