Bike and Barge Holland: Hanseatic Tour

Barge Gandalf and barge Sarah

During this fascinating bike and barge cruise on board the barge Gandalf or the barge Sarah you will be given the opportunity to immerse yourself in the medieval Hanseatic period of Dutch history. On a daily basis you will cycle through the central region of Holland and will have the opportunity to discover the region's fascinating history, beautiful river landscapes, diverse natural areas, numerous historical cities and picturesque harbour towns.

This area of modern-day Holland thrived during the Middle Ages under the auspices of the Hanseatic League, a commercial and defensive confederation created to protect the economic interests of cities and countries throughout the Baltic region. Explore this area - one of the most loved amongst Dutch cyclists - by bike and barge.

The Hanseatic Tour will take you through the central region of the Netherlands, a region shaped over millennia by the numerous rivers and streams that crisscross the area. You will cycle through the Rhine valley and its very beautiful tributary the IJssel River, cross the so-called border lakes region of Holland and will visit fascinating cities and villages such as Amsterdam, Doesburg, Deventer, Hardenwijk and Elburg, to name a few. Given the flat terrain along the 125 km IJssel valley, the tour is perfect for anyone who wants to leisurely cycle along the many winding trails in this diverse and fascinating area. The natural beauty of the region is sure to impress as will the Hanseatic towns of the region that flourished during the Middle Ages when the IJssel was one of the most important trade routes in Europe. Another attraction is the so-called border lakes of the IJssel, which lie between the "old" land of many beautiful harbour towns and the "new" land of the Flevoland, which was once the bottom of the IJssel lake before the land was reclaimed in 1932. In this area you will leisurely cycle through a number of picturesque fishing harbours where life seemingly moves at a much slower pace.

MS Gandalf:
The small and comfortably furnished and appointed passenger barge the MS Gandalf caters for a max. of 22 guests. The barge has 10 twin cabins (ca. 8 M²) all with en-suite shower and toilet, all with 2 low beds and central heating and cabin portholes that can be opened. The salon is a living room for common use and doubles as your restaurant area. The two sun decks of the approx. 45 metre-long ship have sitting areas with tables and chairs and storage room for the bikes. The barge is equipped with a double-roof of solar panels, with the electrical systems of the barge running for a greater part on green energy! This is not only environmentally-friendly, but also comfortable for guests. As the ship rarely needs to use a generator to produce electricity, the nights are still and quiet on board. The popular barge has been sailing in Holland and Belgium for many years. Skipper Hans Petrus and his experienced crew promise to offer you an exceptional vacation on board!

Barge Sarah:
The SARAH, with her length of 45 meters and width of 6.6 meters, is a comfortable and cozy passenger barge. During the conversion of the barge from cargo vessel to passenger barge, the owners of the SARAH decided to choose quality instead of quantity. The SARAH is spaciously built for a small group of passengers of max. 20-22 passengers and offers an attractive, "feels-like-to-be-at-home" atmosphere. The barge has 10 twin cabins (10 sq.meters / 108 sq.ft.), a light and cozy lounge and a large sun deck with seating and space to store bicycles. This makes the SARAH a perfect barge for cycling cruises.

Tour Details Holland: Hanseatic Tour | Barge Gandalf and barge Sarah

Day 1 (Sat): Embarkation: Amsterdam | Amsterdam - Wijk bij Duurstede
Embarkation and check-in where the crew will welcome you on board is between 2 PM and 3 PM in Amsterdam. At approximately 3 PM the barge will leave Amsterdam to sail over the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal to Wijk bij Duurstede on the Rhine where you will spend your first night.

Day 2 (Sun): Wijk bij Duurstede - Wageningen/Rhenen | Wageningen/Rhenen - Arnhem (Approx. 35-50 km/21-30 mi.**)
While you are enjoying breakfast, the barge will sail to Wageningen where, following the distribution of bicycles, you are finally off and cycling through the picturesque river valley of the Rhine. Along the way you will visit the protected nature reserve "De Blauwe Kamer" (the Blue Chamber), followed by the woods and moorlands of Veluwe National Park. The 5400 hectare park is home to many plant and animal species and, importantly, the Kröller-Müller Museum, the largest private Van Gogh collection in the world. Late in the day you pedal through the suburbs and past lovely parks such as Sonsbeek and Zijpendaal to Arnhem, where you spend the night close to the city centre.

Day 3 (Mon): Arnhem - Doesburg | Doesburg - Vorden - Zutphen (Approx. 35-55 km/21-33 mi.**) | Zutphen - Deventer
Today's cycle tour takes you along the Hanseatic Town Route to the small village of Doesburg and along the IJssel to Bronkhorst, which has the distinction of being recognised as the smallest town in Holland. Guests will have two choices today - a shorter tour along the riverbank to Zutphen; or a longer bicycle trip via Vorden passing country houses, castles and rural estates. During dinner the barge will sail to Deventer where you have the option of a short guided walking tour in the evening.

Day 4 (Tue): Deventer - Hattem - Zwolle (Approx. 40-55 km/24-33 mi.**) | Zwolle - Kampen
This morning you will enjoy a short bicycle ride along the IJssel riverbank before boarding a ferry at Wijhe to cross the river to Hattem. The 800-year-old town of Hattem has a rich history that is still clearly visible today. Guests have the opportunity, if they want, to stretch their legs with a longer bicycle trip through east Veluwe. During dinner the ship will sail to Kampen where you have the opportunity to go on an optional guided walking tour in the largest Hanseatic town in the Netherlands.

Day 5 (Wed): Kampen - Elburg - Elspeet - Harderwijk (Approx. 40 or 60 km/24-36 mi.**)
In the morning the barge will sail to the IJssel estuary and across the so-called border lakes of the IJssel to the fishing harbour of Harderwijk. In the 1500s Harderwijk boasted the largest fish market in the Zuiderzee region and is still a fascinating old city to explore. From Harderwijk you will cycle along Veluwe lake where swimming, boating, surfing and fishing are favourite summertime activities. The longest cycle trip on the tour also takes in the woods and moorland at Elspeet. The night will be spent in Harderwijk's lovely old fishing harbour.

Day 6 (Thu): Harderwijk - Bunschoten - Spakenburg (Approx. 25, 40 or 55 km/15, 24 or 33 mi.**)
Today guests have two cycling choices: a short pedal along the coast or a combination of the coast route and a longer alternative that also takes in adjacent woodlands. The night will be spent in Spakenburg, a village well-known for its traditional costumes.

Day 7 (Fri): Spakenburg - Huizen | Huizen - Naarden - Muiden - Amsterdam (Approx. 35 or 50 km/21 or 33 mi.**)
Once again guests have a choice to make this morning. After breakfast you can cycle to Huizen or, if you prefer to take things easier, you can enjoy the scenery from the comfort of the barge. From Huizen you will cycle to the beautiful fortress towns of Naarden and Muiden, famous for its historic castle. From Muiden you will cycle along quiet roads to your final destination, the world famous city of Amsterdam. The afternoon and evening are spent in Amsterdam. While you are there take the opportunity to visit Anne Frank's home, the Rembrandt House Museum, the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, Dam Square, the very centre and heart of the city or maybe you could go on a canal tour (not included).

Day 8 (Sat): Disembarkation: Amsterdam
After breakfast you go ashore and conclude the tour.

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

All distances are "approximate distances" of recommended bike tours.
When a guest does not want to cycle one day, he or she can skip the bike tour and relax on board while cruising to the next town.
Program and details barring changes, a.o. as a result of nautical, technical or meteorological reasons.
On the arrival day it is possible to load your luggage on board from 11am.

The bicycles on board are mostly unisex touring bicycles with normal mount (ladies model), 7 gears, hand brakes and a pannier bag. Other bikes (e.g. e-Bikes, children's bikes, "tag-a-longs", tandems, parent-and-child tandems etc.) and child's seats (front or rear) are available after prior request (at time of booking) and after confirmation. Bicycle rental is optional, but - due to the very limited space on deck - guests can bring their own bikes only in exceptional cases and only after they have been previously registered and confirmed. However, the crew or tour operators are in no way responsible for any damage, loss or theft of such bicycles. In the Netherlands bikers are not obligated by law to wear a bike helmet. Bike helmets are not available on board.

The General Conditions (travel conditions) of Boat Bike Tours B.V. apply to cycling cruises, as well as to confirmation and cancellation of such tours. In principle, children are very welcome on board. However, before booking, we advise you to consider whether your child is able to manage a 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.


up to 22
Amsterdam, Flevoland, Guelders, Lake Yssel, North Holland, Overijssel, Rhine, Utrecht, Veluwe


  • Tour and accommodation on board 8 days/7 nights (Saturday-Saturday) from/to Amsterdam, cabin in the booked category
  • Full board (7x breakfast, 6x picnic lunch during bike tours, 7x three course dinner)
  • Use of bed linen and towels (change of towels on request)
  • once a week cleaning of the cabin
  • Welcoming drink and -speech on the first evening
  • Tour leader (multilingual) with daily briefings of the bike tours
  • during the day the tour leader is cycling the daily bike tour and individual travellers can reach him/her on his/her cell phone
  • daily fully guided bike tours
  • Printed instructions and detailed maps for daily bike tours, 1 set per cabin
  • Daily coffee and tea during breakfast and between 3 PM and 4 PM
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