Tulips, Cheese, Windmills…it’s our countries image worldwide. Come and see it and enjoy our bikepaths to get to all these highlights.
Then: sail with us into Belgium and get to know the lively modern and old architecture dating back to the 13th century. Places oosing history, with guides telling you the tales of the town. The River Schelde will throw us back in time, as we cycle along through rural country roads. Beers await us, you will love the Duvels and Westmalles.
For sure this tour will bring you everything you expect it to be. It’s a combination of the two most popular tours in the bike&barge world: seeing the tulips & doing Amsterdam to Bruges.
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Amsterdam to Haarlem
Sailing right away we will leave the capital of the Netherlands, and head for the North Sea. No No don’t worry, we are not going that far, we will drop you of for your first bike ride through the dunes and forest to Haarlem. In this charming buzzling little town the IRIS will be waiting for you. After dinner we might go for a beer at the Joppen Church, after a city walk.
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 - Gouda - Kinderdijk - Dordrecht
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 if not selling the famous Gouda Stroopwafel ! You will be blow away by the Town Hall at the market square. Right back to the 17th century, Gothic! Is there time to have a quick visit of the St. Johns Church to see the famous glass-stained windows? Off we go again to cycle along the windmills of Kinderdijk! Sailing to Dordrecht we can try to recuperate from all the impressions of this day.
Dordrecht to Tholen
During breakfast we cruise to Willemstad, an old fortified town on the Haringvliet.
From there we bike along the impressive complex of locks ‘de Volkerak’ to Tholen. Tholen was an island in the middle of the large Zeeland streams, otherwise known as the Rhein Delta on the North Sea where many people fished for their living. Today Tholen is connected to the mainland, but it retains its picturesque charm and boasts many fishing and boating relics of its colorful past.
Tholen to Antwerp, entering Belgium
There aren’t many forests in Holland, but you will have the unique thrill of biking through the Wouwse Plantation, an otherworldly landscape of sand dunes (remnents from when the sea was much further inland) mixed oak and conifer forests alternating with fields of heather and moorlands. From here, we cruise to Antwerp’s impressive port and city center. Antwerp is the Diamond City, as well as the home of Flemish Baroque painter, Peter Paul Rubens. In the Cathedral Of Our Lady we admire three of his masterpieces. Antwerp’s golden age in the 1500s is tightly linked to the “Age of Exploration.” Antwerp was the sugar capital of Europe, as well as lead importer of pepper and cinnamon. Hundreds of ships would pass in a day with 2,000 carts entering the city each week. Antwerp was foreign-controlled by aristocratic bankers creating a cosmopolitan city with merchants and traders from Venice, Ragusa, Spain and Portugal. Antwerp was tolerant and attracted a large Orthodox Jewish community. From the 19th century until recently, Antwerp was the world center for diamond refining and trade.
Antwerp to Dendermonde
After breakfast we lock out of the port to the Zeeschelde. We follow this capricious tidal river upstream to Dendermonde. There is a beautiful bike path along the river and the landscape around the Schelde is magnificent. We can join the IRIS halfway in Temse or continue all the way to Dendermonde, a friendly little town along the river. In Dendermonde we will visit the 14th c. “Clothmaker’s Hall,” formerly a center of wool trade. After WWI, only the stone walls of the building survived. Here we enjoy local ales in a private beer tasting on board of the IRIS. As they say, When in Rome drink beer in Belgium!
Dendermonde to Antwerp
We bike to Ghent, a lively port and university city on the confluence of the Schelde und Leie rivers. In the afternoon you have the opportunity to discover this historic city that has its origins in Roman Times as they traded and fortified their outposts on the Rhine. In 800, the town grew when Charlemagne’s court biographer founded St. Bavo (Baafs) Abbey. By the 13th century, Ghent became one of the richest cities in northern Europe and biggest city north of the Alps (after Paris)—surpassing Cologne and Moscow! Textile trade and production (mainly wool from Scotland and England) created great wealth. You can still see the well-preserved patrician homes along the Quai aux Herbes dating from the 12c-17c. In St. Bavo (Baafs) Cathedral, admire a number of medieval masterpieces including ‘Adoration of the Lamb’ by Jan van Eyck. Art lovers will discover great classics in the Ghent’s famous art museum.
Antwerp to Bruges
Today our final destination is Bruges, dubbed the darling of Flanders and Venice of the North with its criss-cross of canals and medieval alleys. Its center is historically intact and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Steep yourself in the Belgian culture. Grab a seat in a cafe at the market square and order mussels and fries (frites & moules); or Belgian stew with crusty bread and a dark ale. Top it off with a visit to Choco Story museum, a fascinating place to learn about how chocolate stormed this nation in the 18th c. Sample a praline or two. If you’re looking for something light to bring home, consider an investment in fine lace. Bruges was the epicenter of exquisite lace for generations. In the 16th c., lace was itemized on aristocratic property lists. It was considered so valuable that those found guilty of smuggling or stealing patterns were harshly punished. An ancient and venerated site is the Basilica of the Holy Blood, stained with Christ’s blood. It is the sacred relic of Bruges an 1134 chapel by the Count of Flanders. After his 2nd Crusade, he returned to his home city with the Holy Blood, a cloth.
Departure day in Bruges
This morning your guided tour ends after breakfast. You can leave your luggage untill 12.00 and spend some more time in Bruges. Taxis can be arranged by the ship. Enjoy some more time in Bruges! Additional hotels can be found using www.booking.com.
Premium barge IRIS
One of the best: our premium barge IRIS, sailing since 2005, under our management since 2011. 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 private cabin
Your air-conditioned cabin has two comfortable beds and lots of storage (for such a small cabin!). Ensuite your private bathroom.
If you do not feel like cycling you are welcome to stay on board and have a private cruise!
breakfast and dining area
Every morning the smell of fresh rolls will welcome you to breakfast! Enjoy our breakfast buffet and pack your lunch, get ready to go!
After the cycling enjoy our 3 course dinner here.
- 8 nights on board !!
- Bed linen and towels
- 6 x dinner on board ( 2 x on your own)
- 7 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 Keukenhof and Kinderdijk
- Visit of Cheesefarm
- Bike rental € 85,- per bike (2019)
- E-bike on availability, € 170,- (2019)
- 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)