Bike and Barge Holland: Green Heart of Holland

MS Jelmar

During this eight day, seven night tour on board the charming barge MS Jelmar you can cycle individually and at your own pace as you discover for yourself the 'Green Heart' of Holland, a region steeped in history, natural attractions, world famous cities and beautiful scenery. Along the way you will visit historical cities such as Amsterdam, Haarlem, Rotterdam, Leiden and Gouda, will uncover many culturally historic attractions and, importantly, will be able to immerse yourself in the very fabric of this fascinating and very Dutch part of Holland. Also, if you are an art aficionado, you will revel in being able to visit Leiden, Haarlem and Delft where painters of the calibre of Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Vermeer lived and worked. But far from just being about big cities and Dutch history, this tour is also about the picturesque villages and beautiful scenery of the 'green lung' districts of central and South Holland. One thing is certain: by the end of the tour you will not only come away with a new-found appreciation for bike and barge cruising, but everything Dutch.

With a maximum capacity of just 20 passengers, the MS Jelmar offers guests an intimate and relaxed atmosphere during the Across the Green Heart of Holland tour. Allow yourself to be pampered with great service and delicious meals on your home away from home for the week. A bonus during this tour is the fact that the MS Jelmar docks in and around the city centre of the various cities and villages visited at the end of each day's cycling, giving you the opportunity to visit and explore at your leisure at night.

During this tour, you cycle individually and at your own pace. The itinerary leads you through the wetlands of the 'Green Heart' of Holland: experience many highlights in this beautiful area. Visit historical cities such as Amsterdam, Haarlem, Rotterdam, Leiden and Gouda and enjoy cultural-historical attractions in the province of Zuid-Holland. Famous painters like Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Vermeer lived and worked in cities like Leiden, Haarlem and Delft. Enjoy the picturesque and in the lake district of central Holland. Enjoy a variety of bike tours and lovely cruising.

Experience the relaxed and familiar surroundings on board of the small MS Jelmar passenger barge, which caters for 20 guests at most, and allow yourself to be pampered with great service and delicious meals. Visit the lovely urban centers after your daily bike tours: the boat docks at nearly all locations in and around the city center. The skipper provides a daily briefing as well as useful tips and directions with regard to the bike tours.

MS Jelmar:
The MS Jelmar is a small, intimate and comfortable passenger barge for 20-22 persons, which was fully renovated in 2007. The 10 cabins (approx. 8.2 m2) feature two single beds (80 x 200 cm), a small wardrobe, shelves above and storage space under the beds, a small bathroom with washbasin, shower and toilet and small windows with screens that can be opened. In two of the cabins a folding bed for children up to the age of 12 (weighing no more than 40 kg) are available upon request. The nostalgically furnished salon acts as both your restaurant and living room. There is a bar and Wi-Fi (mobile internet; additional info on board) is available. During the evenings or while cruising, you can enjoy the scenery of the surrounding countryside from the sundeck.

Tour Details Holland: Across the Green Heart of Holland | MS Jelmar

Day 1 (Sat): Embarkation: Amsterdam
Embarkation and check-in where the crew will welcome you on board is from 2 PM in the centre of Amsterdam (at the NEMO Museum, Oosterdok). After unpacking your luggage in your cabin you will still have plenty of time to explore this famous city. Treat yourself to a canal tour, visit one or more museums or simply do some shopping. An introduction to the tour will take place at 5.30 PM, during which the crew will be presented and your first dinner on board will be served; your rental bicycles will also be distributed at this time.

Day 2 (Sun): Amsterdam - Zaandam | Zaandam - Zaanse Schans - Haarlem (Approx. 35-55 km**/22-34 mi.**)
After a short cruise on board the MS Jelmar, you are finally off and cycling today after first visiting the lovely open-air museum 'Zaanse Schans' in Zaandam where an authentic 18th and 19th century Dutch village has been reconstructed. In the museum you will learn about iconic Dutch traditions such as windmills and cheese and clog making. You will then cycle to Haarlem where celebrated portraitist and genre painter Frans Hals lived and worked in the 16th century. In the evening you can stroll through the lovely city centre and the Grote Markt (market square). If preferred, today's bike tour can also be extended with a visit to the sea locks of IJmuiden and the Kennemer Dunes.

Day 3 (Mon): Haarlem - North Sea coast - Leiden (Approx. 55 km/34 mi.)
After enjoying breakfast with your newfound cycling friends, you will pedal today along the North Sea coast through seaside dunes via the resorts of Noordwijk and Katwijk aan Zee to the vibrant university city of Leiden, the birthplace of celebrated artist Rembrandt van Rijn. The city's picturesque old city centre is crisscrossed with canals lined by beautiful 17th-century buildings and is very definitely a must to see.

Day 4 (Tue): Leiden - Delft (Approx. 35 km/22 mi.)
From Leiden you will cycle to Delft, famous for its Blue porcelain and where you will have the opportunity to visit a porcelain studio. Another major attraction in the beautiful city centre of Delft is the royal crypt of the House of Orange. From Delft you will have the time to visit either The Hague by bicycle (or by train or tram), or, if preferred, the Binnenhof, the Peace Palace (Vredespaleis), the Scheveningen seaside resort or any one of many other attractions.

Day 5 (Wed): Delft - Rotterdam - Kinderdijk | Kinderdijk - Schoonhoven - Gouda (Approx. 30-45** km/19-28 mi.**)
This morning you will sail from Delft on the MS Jelmar through the remarkable international port of Rotterdam to Kinderdijk, a village famous for an impressive row of 19 large windmills. All 19 windmills have a UNESCO cultural heritage listing and are a definite highlight - you will have the opportunity to visit one so don't forget to bring your camera! From Kinderdijk you will cycle directly to the cheese city of Gouda, or if you prefer, on a longer tour via the silver city of Schoonhoven to Gouda, your destination for the day.

Day 6 (Thu): Gouda - Kudelstaart (Approx. 55 km/34 mi.)
The highlight of today's cycle tour is the naturally idyllic beauty of the South Holland landscape. Your destination for the day is the village of Kudelstaart where the MS Jelmar will be waiting for you. Along the way you will cycle along numerous small canals and past picture-perfect farms and small villages. At the mooring place on the banks of the Westeinder Plassen ('West End' Lakes) there is a beautiful view to savour while enjoying a wine during or after dinner.

Day 7 (Fri): Kudelstaart - Aalsmeer - Amsterdam (Approx. 15-40 km**/10-25 mi.**) | or Kudelstaart - Amsterdam
If you are keen for an early start to the day you can visit the largest trade centre for plants and flowers in the world at Aalsmeer (optional extra, not included). The market is a hive of activity; it is guaranteed that you will never have seen so many flowers in the one place. After breakfast you can either stay on board the MS Jelmar as it cruises through the City of Amsterdam to its mooring place or you can cycle into the city through the city park Amsterdamse Bos or along the Amstel River. Once you reach Amsterdam take the opportunity during the afternoon and evening to go for a canal cruise, discover Anne Frank's home, the Rembrandt House Museum, the Royal Palace of Amsterdam and Dam Square, the very centre and heart of the city.

Day 8 (Sat): Disembarkation: Amsterdam
Disembarkation and bid the crew farewell after breakfast until 9 AM: End of your trip.

** Both possibilities are being offered - the guest can choose.

All distances are 'approximations' of the recommended cycling routes.
If you decide not to cycle for a day, you can simply remain on board and enjoy the cruise.
Program & information are subject to change in the interim, due to technical, meteorological and/or nautical reasons.
On the day of arrival you can bring your luggage on board from 9:30 AM.

The bicycles on board are mostly unisex touring bikes with lightweight frames and normal mount (ladies model), with 7 gears, hand brake & hub brake and pannier bag. The prices of other bikes such as E-Bikes (or electrical bikes) of the Swiss brand "Flyer" (limited stock - pending availability) , children's bikes, "slip streamers", tandem bicycles, child trailers etc. and child's saddles (rear) are available on request. Guests are also allowed to bring their own bicycles (at no additional fee). However, the crew or tour operator is in no way responsible for any damage, loss or theft of the guests own bicycles. In the Netherlands, cyclists are not obligated by law to wear a bike helmet. Bike helmets are not available on board.

Throughout the Netherlands there is a network of interconnecting cycle routes, with a total length of more than 4,500 km, called the 'Cycle junction network' (Dutch: fietsknooppunten netwerk). A cycle junction is a numbered intersection that is part of a regional cycle route network. Each junction is provided with a number and an information panel. The distance to the next junction is displayed on this panel. The routes between two junctions are signposted in two directions with white and green signs (see picture). On the information panel you can orientate where you are and decide to extend or shorten the route to your destination. We use the cycle junction network in the description of the daily bike tours in the Netherlands and Flanders. The junctions are marked on the maps our guests use for the daily bike tours. The tour guide on board will explain to our guests how this easy system works. He/she will tell you the daily highlights and the detours which are worthwhile as well. On our website we show in a short video how this cycle junction network works.

The General Conditions (travel conditions) of Boat Bike Tours apply to cycling cruises, as well as the confirmation and cancellation of such tours. Children are very welcome on board. However, before booking, we advise you consider whether your child is able to manage a daily cycle trip of 30-55 km. Children's bikes, tandems, parent-and-child tandems, slip streamers etc. or child's saddles are available on request. Of course you may stay one or more days longer on board (children under the age of 18 years must be under supervision). The interior of the ship is a no-smoking area: smoking is only allowed on the (outside) sun deck. As a safety measure, a statutory smoking ban applies in all cabins; this means that all cabins and rooms on board are non-smoking rooms


from 12 up to 22
Amsterdam, Gouda, Harlem, Lake Yssel, Meuse, North Holland, North Sea, Rhine, Rotterdam, South Holland


  • Tour and accommodation on board 8 days/7 nights (Saturday-Saturday) from/to Amsterdam, cabin in the booked category
  • Full board (7x breakfast, 6x self-made picnic lunch for bike tours, 7x three course dinner)
  • Use of bed linen and towels (change of towels daily possible)
  • daily short cleaning of the cabin
  • Welcoming drink and -speech on the first evening
  • Daily briefings of the bike tours by the captain/crew member
  • Printed instructions and detailed maps for cycling tours, 1 set per cabin
  • Use of Wi-Fi in the lounge of the ship (if available: mobile internet
  • instructions on board)
  • Daily complimentary coffee and tea till 4 PM
Start date: on request
End date:
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On request

Additional costs:

  • All other costs: on request (bikehire, cabin categories, additional nights, transfers and so on)


  • triple (1 bunk bed) 3 pers.: high season EUR 709, low-season EUR 659 (on request, upper bunk bed is smaller (70x180 cm) and only suitable for child until max. 40 kg)


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