Tulips = Spingtime. Definitely! Holland in it’s full glory, showing off at the Keukenhof, treasuring it’s tulip history in the Hortus Bulborum. Flaunting with fields full of tulips as far as you can see. And in between we pass little villages and charming cities like Alkmaar, Haarlem, Leiden en Gouda. Yes, Gouda! Yes, say Cheeeeeese!
Days are packed with great bike rides, loads of windmills, tulips, cheese, sand dunes, beach, sea, waterways, and lovely bike paths. FLAT, of course, we are in Holland. And all this beauty can be topped of by joining the barge IRIS in the afternoon, having a local beer and enjoying the gourmet dinners at night. So don’t hold your horses: there will not be a better way of visiting this beauty.
On our last day at the barge, you will join the barge and sail on the Amstel river, one of the oldest waterways originally the reason for settlers to live in AMSTERdam where the river flowed in to the IJsselmeer, then still the Southern See (Zuider Zee). You can skip the canal cruises after this way of sailing home to our docking spot in the harbor.
As we start and finish in Amsterdam you can take some extra nights there, in a hotel, and visit the world famous museums like the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum (with Rembrandts’ Night watch), the Anne Frank House, and enjoy the abundance of terraces and boutique style cafe’s. Flea Market, Flower Market, Noorder Markt, Albert Kuip Markt. Have your pick! Oh yes, let’s mention the “grachten” (the canals). Many canal-tours to choose from, one taking you from museum to museum.Read more
Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans
The IRIS is welcoming you at around 2.30 pm. You meet your fellow travelers, guides and crew while we start sailing through the harbor of Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans. After passing through a lock we dock to let you go cycling on a short test ride to the Zaanse Schans. What you see today on the Zaanse Schans is how a living and working community in the Zaan district looked back in the mid 19th century at the start of the industrial revolution: farmsteads, paths, wooden houses, warehouses and windmills, ditches and fields. Stroll past the bakery museum and enjoy the smell of fresh bread, or take a look at the warehouse where clogs are made. You should be sure not to miss the cheese factory, pewter foundry and the various windmills. The Zaanse Schans is a unique part of the Netherlands, full of wooden houses, mills, barns and workshops.
Zaanse Schans to Alkmaar
We will visit the Zaanse Schans a bit more after breakfast while the (other) tourists are still asleep. Our bike path takes us through lovely villages like De Rijp. We will stop to visit the Windmill Museum. Following little canals and fields of flowers we bike into the cheese city Alkmaar. The old heart of this city offers canals, bridges, terraces and of shops. Our barge will be docked at walking distance.
Alkmaar to Haarlem
Oh what a gem today: the private gardens Hortus Bulborum. A historical garden preservating the old varieties of tulips. Take a tour with the local volunteers who are, and they should be, very proud of their unique work. Have a cup of tea at their local shop and enjoy this hidden garden. Our day just started and we will bike along the coastal area to the beach. Time for lunch there. Or a swim for our top-atletes? We have done that! Then we continue and a little local ferry takes us to the other side of the canal between Amsterdam and the North Sea. On we go to Haarlem. Yes…. like Harlem in NYC. Well..that was named after our Haarlem of course. Very old and intact inner city with a big market square, terraces and a dominating church. Great shopping too! Or a visit to a museum…You will definitely run out of time here
Haarlem - Keukenhof - Leiden
Needs no further introduction: today it’s the Keukenhof visit.
How about 7 million flowering tulips in a traditional and modern landscape. Enjoy the tulips, hyacinths, narcissus…
These gardens are visited by millions of guests every year. So be prepared to hear every foreign language you can imagine.
After this highlight the old town of Leiden, where we are docked in the city canal, surrounding the old part of Leiden, once a defense against the Spanish soldiers. On walking distance of the city center again
Leiden to Gouda
After an early sail out of Leiden our first stop will be at a cheese farm. Have a taste of its great cheeses and see how they are made. Take some with you, it’s a great snack on a bike trip. Ever heard of Gouda? I guess yes: the cheese. One of the most popular and exported cheeses of the Netherlands. So the city center has quite a few cheese shops. You will be blow away by the Town Hall at the market square. Right back to the 17th century, Gothic! Better look around to find a nice restaurant for tonight, this is the dinner-on-your-own night! Plenty of options out here.
Gouda -St John's Cathedral - Uithoorn
Visit the St. John’s Church this morning, it’s a large brick church, built in the Gothic style during the 15th and 16th centuries, is notable not only for its beautiful windows but also because it is the longest church in the Netherlands. The church has been placed on the UNESCO list of Dutch monuments specifically for its stunning stained-glass windows.
While we have lunch, the IRIS will take us to a drop off point so we can cycle along the canals and rivers passing the smallest lock just big enough to let our barge pass through. At Uithoorn we can go on board again. Better catch some sleep, it’s an early rise tomorrow!
Uithoorn - the Amstel River - Amsterdam
Early rise and have a snack before we bike to the Flower Auction at Aalsmeer. Although the internet has brought a new era of trading, it is still a place where a lot of logistics are handled. Loads of flowers are auctioned and brought to their destinations all over the world, with Schiphol next by as the airport to fly our Dutch flowers anywhere. It’s a busy place that you can watch from above.
After a late breakfast at our barge, our last stretch takes us to the outskirts of Amsterdam where we will join the barge for a unique sail on the Amstel River. Once the reason people settled here an started Amstelerdam as it was called in the 12th century. Along of the impressive historic buildings, passing by the Artis Zoo and the Carre Theatre we arrive at our docking spot in the Oosterdok.
Amsterdam: end of our tour
After breakfast it is time to say:
“Tot ziens!” ” Goodbye”
Comfort Plus Barge IRIS is sailing as a passenger barge since 2006. On the waterways of Holland, Belgium, Germany and France. The best way to do a multi day bike tour. Unpacking only once!
Our IRIS is well known to serve great dinners. Our breakfast offers a lot of choices and you can pack your daily lunch.
We offer a crew of 4, 2 guides if more than 18 guests and we take max 24 guests.
Our cabins are small but you will find a lot of space to unpack. Beds are separated (80×200 cm). You have your own private facilities (sink, toilet, shower). Your window will give you a different view every day. The rooms are climate-controlled by you. The bathroom has a towel dryer which can serve as a room heater as well. We provide a hairdryer, shower gel and shampoo. Towels are changed on demand.
some more pics to show the IRIS
going through a small lock
- 7 nights on board
- Bed linen and towels
- 6 x dinner on board
- 1 x lunch on board
- 5 x 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 of Hortus Bulborum, Keukenhof and Flower Auction
- Bike rental € 85,- per bike (2019) € 90,– per bike (2020)
- E-bike on availability, € 170,- (2019) € 180,– (2020)
- 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 € 170,- per bike (2019) € 180,– per bike (2020)