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Biking Vacation Holland and Belgium Bike & Barge Amsterdam ​

Activity Level: Easy  |  Daily Mileage: 15 – 35 mi  |  Daily Biking: 2 – 4 hr
Air package plus
12 days from only
Price includes roundtrip airfare.
Land only
8 days from only
Pre-trip Extension:
Amsterdam · 3 nights $395*

Post-trip Extension:
Brussels · 3 nights $495*
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Detailed Itinerary

Please note: For those traveling in 2015, your itinerary may vary slightly from what is presented below. 

Day 1 - Depart U.S. / Fly to Amsterdam

Depart the U.S. for the Netherlands. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.

Day 2 - Arrive in Amsterdam

Upon arrival at the Amsterdam airport, claim your luggage and clear customs. If your luggage is lost, fill in a PIR form before leaving the customs area—VBT representatives are not allowed into the customs area. (Please note: Also make certain your VBT luggage tags are affixed to your bag so your VBT representative can identify you.) After exiting customs, enter the arrival hall and look for your VBT representative, who will be holding a VBT sign and who will make arrangements for your transfer via taxi or minibus to your Amsterdam hotel (transfer time is approximately 20 minutes depending on traffic).

Important: Transfers are provided by Schiphol Taxi, who will be looking for you and carrying a VBT signboard. You may be approached by other companies offering a transfer. Please use only Schiphol Taxi, telephone +31 654 354 601 or +31 681 299 101. Transfers provided by any other company will be at your own expense.

Please note: If you cannot find the VBT representative, or have been delayed in customs or because of lost luggage, please go to the Red & White Meeting Point and wait there. You can also go to one of the yellow information desks in the main hall and ask if they will call Schiphol Taxi (using the number above) on your behalf. This service is free of charge.

Please note that the hotel check-in time is 3:00 pm but they will do their best to get you to your rooms as soon as possible. After checking in, you have free time to explore Amsterdam. VBT provides you with City Information in your Final Travel Booklet that includes recommendations on what to see and do in Amsterdam.

This evening, meet one of our VBT Trip Leaders at 6:00 pm in the lobby of the hotel for an introductory meeting. Later, try one of Amsterdam's wonderful restaurants for dinner on your own.

Day 3 - Embark barge / Warm-up ride / Cruise to Vianen

VBT No-Air Package guests: You are responsible for making your own way to meet our barge, the Iris, and to arrive between 1:00 and 1:45 pm. Please note that you cannot arrive before this time as the barge is being prepared for you. If you are late, you must contact the barge as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements, as we will sail shortly after this time. The barge will be moored in Oosterdok, near the entrance of the NEMO museum behind the Amsterdam Centraal train station. Contact telephone number is 0620 245 095 from within The Netherlands or +31 620 245 095 from abroad. Please refer to the information listed in the tour handbook.

VBT Air Package and Pre-Trip Extension guests: After breakfast, make sure your luggage is packed and ready to be transported to the barge. At 9:30 am, meet one of our VBT Trip Leaders in the hotel lobby for a guided walking tour of Amsterdam, visiting many of the city's highlights. We board the barge at 1:45 pm and depart at 2:00 pm. At the docks, meet the barge crew and your second VBT Trip Leader, who will welcome you aboard with refreshments. Cruise out of Amsterdam on the IJ waterway, catching glimpses of houseboats and floating houses. 

The barge stops before dinner for your warm-up ride, which follows the river Vecht. This evening, gather with the group for a welcome dinner onboard. After dinner there is a crew presentation. We moor in Vianen, a small city on the river Lek.

Day 4 - Cycle to Kinderdijk / Cruise to Dordrecht

After breakfast we cycle along the small canals of the rural region of Krimpenerwaard. We trace the route of the river Lek through Schoonhoven, known as the “Silver City” for its long silversmithing tradition. Continue on to Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where 19 of Holland's famous windmills—some more than 260 years old—decorate the horizon. During a tour, we learn how these gems were used well into the 20th century. Then we cycle (or cruise, if you prefer) to Dordrecht, one of Holland's oldest towns and birthplace of the state of the Netherlands, fathered by William of Orange. We stroll through the city's historic center to get a glimpse of its rich past. This evening, your Trip Leaders will give you insight into the region's water management systems. We moor tonight in Dordrecht.

Day 5 - Cruise to Willemstad / Cycle to Tholen

This morning, enjoy a short language lesson while we sail to Willemstad, an old fortified town on the Haringvliet. There'll be time here to explore. Then we cycle to Tholen, once an island in the middle of the large Zeeland streams where many people fished for their living. Today, it is connected to the mainland, but it remains a picturesque village with relics of an eventful past. We pedal through its quiet farmlands and pause for a picnic lunch at its historic locks. We meet our barge later and tonight we'll have a home hosted visit in Tholen.

Day 6 - Cycle and cruise to Antwerp

This morning we cycle through the Wouwse Plantage, a wooded area adjacent to Tholen. We'll cross the Oesterdam in the Oesterschelde; our barge waits on the other side. From there, cruise to the impressive port of Antwerp. After lunch on board you have the rest of the afternoon to explore. Antwerp is not only known as the “Diamond City,” but also as the native city of the painter Rubens. You may wish to visit the Cathedral of Our Lady and the Market Square, which is surrounded by beautiful historic townhouses. Tonight, enjoy dinner on your own in a local restaurant.

Day 7 - Cycle to Dendermonde

After we cruise out of Antwerp, we board our bikes for a ride to Temse, Basel Castle, and along the old Schelde River. On the way, lunch is on your own near Basel Castle. Our afternoon route continues past magnificent river views to Dendermonde, the centuries-old city with a Benedictine abbey at its center. Before dinner onboard tonight, you can learn more about Belgium's beer during our onboard beer tasting.

Day 8 - Tour Ghent

After breakfast, we cycle from Dendermonde to Ghent. Located at the confluence of the Schelde and Leie rivers, this “City of 200 Bridges” was founded around 600 AD and boasts many beautiful buildings dating back to medieval times, when the textile industry brought great wealth to Ghent's merchants. Enjoy a leisurely lunch on board the barge before a guided boat excursion to the center of Ghent. Then explore this attractive medieval canal city on your own. Many old patrician houses have been preserved in the city center. One historic building is the Cloth Makers' Hall, built in 1425, where textile merchants used to meet. The city's major church is St. Baaf's Cathedral, constructed and enhanced in various styles over many centuries. In the cathedral, admire a number of masterpieces of medieval painting, including Jan van Eyck's famous “Adoration of the Lamb.” Try one of the local restaurants for dinner.

Day 9 - Arrive in Bruges

During breakfast this morning, our barge cruises out of the city. Cyclists who have chosen the longer ride option can begin cycling toward Bruges. Others remain on board until Aalter Bridge, where the shorter cycling route to Bruges begins. The barge rejoins the main canal and meets us all in Bruges in the late afternoon.

Regarded by many as Europe's best-preserved medieval city, Bruges is laced by a network of canals lined by beautiful houses built by wealthy textile merchants. A 350-foot, 13th-century belfry tower, which houses Europe's most famous carillon, presides over the city's Market Square. You have ample time to marvel at the medieval ambiance of this lovely city and to walk its winding streets. Dine on the barge one last time this evening.

Day 10 - Depart barge / Discover Bruges / VBT No-Air Package ends

VBT No-Air Package guests: After breakfast, your tour ends. It is important that you leave the barge no later than 9:00 am so the crew can prepare for our next guests. Please refer to the information listed in the tour handbook.

VBT Air Package guests and Post-Trip Extension guests: After breakfast, say goodbye to your barge crew and one Trip Leader, then walk through Bruges's winding streets to the hotel with your second Trip Leader. During the walk, you will get an orientation of the historic city center. Please note that the hotel check in time is 3:00 pm but the staff will do their best to get you to your rooms as soon as possible. After checking in, you have free time for independent exploration. VBT provides you with City Information in your Final Travel Booklet that includes recommendations on what to see and do in Bruges.

Bruges was northern Europe's leading trade center between the 13th and 15th centuries, driven largely on its thriving wool and textile industries. The city has been famous for its fine lace for 500 years; you may wish to visit one of the small cottage industries revolving around lace-making. Enjoy dinner on your own in town tonight.

Day 11 - Free day in Bruges

Today is free for you to independently explore Bruges or one of the nearby villages. Dinner is on your own in town tonight.

Day 12 - Depart for U.S.

After breakfast* meet in the hotel lobby for your transfer to the Brussels airport and your flight back to the U.S. Please be sure that you are waiting at the designated time and transfer location.

Important: The transfer is prearranged by VBT and is prepaid. VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.

*For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify the times that breakfast is served.
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