Bike and Barge Amsterdam-Bruges-Amsterdam
Amsterdam Bruges Amsterdam bike and barge tour. Two countries, Holland and Belgium, united in this 15 days cycling holiday. Combining the highlights of Holland’s Golden Age and the heydays of the Flemish trade cities in the Middle Ages. And last but not least, Holland’s own world wonder: the Delta Works.
Cycling two countries in two weeks
The Dutch 17th century Golden Age and the heyday of the Flemish trading cities of the Middle Ages are united in this route. Variety is the keyword. Notice the difference between the green polder landscape abounding in water, with its tranquil roads and villages and the old world of islands in Zeeland with its pastures, creeks, winding dikes and dams.
On top of that the picturesque Flemish countryside between the Belgian monumental cities of Ghent, Bruges and the rich history of the old city-center of Antwerp, city of painter Rubens. The great rivers are a prominent feature in this part of the Netherlands and Belgium. You will get to know our own, Dutch Wonder of the World: the famous Delta Works, evidence of the eternal battle against the waters of the sea.
Day 1 Saturday: Amsterdam, boarding between 1 PM and 2 PM; sailing to Oude Wetering, round trip 15KM
You are expected to arrive on our barge on Saturday the latest at 2 PM. The barge needs to leave the mooring place in Amsterdam at 2.15 PM. It is very important you are on time. The barge can’t wait due the opening hours of bridges and/or locks.
When you arrive on board the ship, you can put your luggage away in your cabin and then enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. It is also a good moment to become acquainted with the guide, skipper and crew and of course your fellow passengers.
Day 2 Sunday: Oude Wetering - Gouda 45KM
From Oude Wetering you will continue your tour over country roads along river banks and channels through the Green Heart to the city known for its cheese: Gouda. Who thinks of Gouda, not only thinks of cheese, pipes, ‘stroopwafels’ (treacle-waffle) and pottery, but also of stained-glass windows, a fairy-like town hall and atmospheric canals. Gouda is a beautiful Old-Dutch city with a mostly intact city centre. As on most days, after dinner you can take a walk through the city.
Day 3 Monday: Gouda - Alblasserdam and ferry to Dordrecht 39KM
Today you will cycle along the Dutch IJssel, through the deepest lying polder of the Netherlands Krimpenerwaard and over narrow cycling paths to the river ‘Lek’. Here you will cross the river by ferry to Kinderdijk, a unique and renowned monument where Holland’s largest number of historical windmills is found. From the embankments of the river Lek, you will witness an amazing view of the 19 windmills, which are now listed as a UNESCO’s World Heritage site. This is where you will take a break and visit the interior of a windmill. After a beautiful tour through the Alblasserwaardpolder you will arrive at the banks of the river ‘Beneden-Merwede’.
Day 4 Tuesday: Dordrecht, sailing to Willemstad, cycling to Zierikzee 54KM
From Dordrecht we will sail to the Delta area of the Dutch greater rivers during breakfast. Years ago, an open connection existed with the sea due to the many tributaries in this area. After the disastrous flooding in 1953, the Deltaplan was developed and most tidal outlets were closed from the sea by dams. Most parts of Zeeland were, and still are, under sea level and in 1953 the embankments were too weak and too low, causing this area to be at risk for flooding’s once in every 80 years. Now, because of the flood barriers, that chance is reduced to less than once every 4000 years.
Just before reaching our destination of today (Zierikzee, on the island of Schouwen-Duivenland) we will visit the ‘Watersnoodmuseum’. This museum tells the tragic events of 1953 and is built in recently renewed caissons, once used for the last closure gap. This was done in November 1953, ten months after the storm surge which broke through more than 300 embankments. Zierikzee is a beautiful town and the centre of the ‘mussel culture’. The ‘Zeeuwse mosselen’ (blue mussels) are a renowned delicacy.
Day 5 Wednesday: Zierikzee - Middelburg 51KM
This morning you cycle along the Oosterschelde towards the North Sea, to cross the Oosterscheldedam. The enormous locks are built in this embankment and can be closed during storms and high tides protecting the south-west of the Netherlands against the sea. This embankment was one of the last in a series of barriers against the sea. When cycling along the embankment, one will realize why this has been one of the most difficult and costly challenges to protect the country now and in the future and to let seawater into the widespread Delta area. It is precisely why the Deltaworks are referred to as the one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
After this dam you will paddle to Middelburg, but not without visiting the picturesque port town of Veere. Middelburg is the lively principal town of Zeeland with many old houses, churches, the beautiful town hall and a pleasant shopping. Also to be found in Middelburg is the Roosevelt Academy, a liberal arts college, located in the former late-gothic town hall on the market of Middelburg.
Day 6 Thursday: Middelburg - Sas van Gent and sailing to Ghent 45KM
Today you have to cross the ‘Westerschelde’, the only estuary which isn’t closed by a dam cause it’s the gateway to the port of Antwerp. A short ferry trip brings you from Vlissingen to Breskens in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen (Dutch-Flanders)! We are getting close to Belgium. On your daily cycle route you will cross the Dutch – Belgium border back and forth before you definitely cross the Dutch – Belgium border by boat to sail to Ghent.
Day 7 Friday: Ghent - Bruges 45KM
This morning you will cycle through Ghent to the scenic countryside of Oost-Vlaanderen (East-Flanders). Characteristic for this area are the woods, fields, small villages and castles. From the Aalterbrug (also for the shorter route) the last part of this route takes us over the former tow path along the canal of Oostende-Gent, the oldest canal of Belgium, to Bruges. The impressive city of Bruges is the end destination of this bike and barge trip. This evening you can enjoy the medieval city of Bruges and many of you are likely to stay another day in this beautiful city.
Day 8 Saturday: Bruges, cycling to Aalterbrug and sailing to Ghent 21KM
At 2 p.m. you will start off the city walls of Bruges for a trip to Ghent. The barge will mostly be following the canal between Bruges and Ghent to Aalterbrug, which offers a beautiful, peaceful cycle route with an unexpected variety of experiences.
After dinner you will have some time to discover the old and characteristic city centre. The city of Ghent is proud of its rich past, the many well-preserved guild’s and patricians’ houses as well as old warehouses, Gravensteen (a mediaeval castle), St Nicholas Church (with 13th century foundations), St Baaf’s Cathedral and the ‘Belfort’ (Belfry;14th century). But Ghent is much more than just a museum town. This lively city with its numerous squares and cosy pubs is an excellent mixture of mediaeval edifices, stylish shopping streets, splendid mansions, working-class quarters from the beginning of the 20th century which now often house students and busy little squares where people eat out till the wee hours on a sultry summer night.
Day 9 Sunday: Ghent - cycling to Dendermonde and sailing to St. Amands 47KM
Early Sunday morning you will cycle through the old centre of Ghent. After coffee you will leave for a nice day along one of the most beautiful rivers of Europe: the Scheldt. After approximately 20 km you’ll reach Wetteren, a nice flemish city which is well known for it’s rose nurseries. But also a good place to learn what the Belgium word ‘staminee’ means. Berlare is the last place before Dendermonde so it’s a perfect place to taste some Belgian beer before you board the ship again. Your boarding place for today is Dendermonde, a city which is known for the legend of the Beiaart. From Dendermonde you’ll sail to quiet village of St. Amand were you will spend the night.
Day 10 Monday: St. Amands - Antwerp 40KM
From St. Amands the cycleroute leads you along the river and past nature reserves like the mudflats of Durme and Schausselbroek. Especially the mudflats of Durme is worth mentioning cause it’s one of the last fresh water marshes along this tidal part of the river and therefore has a unique flora and fauna. You continue your tour through Bazel, one of the most beautiful villages of Belgium. For an escalator the wooden moving stairs in the St. Anna tunnel under the Scheldt is a unique experience before entering the city centre of Antwerp. The historical centre of Antwerp is worth a visit, here you’ll find: the Onze Lieve Vrouwenkerk and the Rubenshuis. In the Willemsdok, near the Museum for Modern Art (Museum Aan de Stroom, closed on Mondays) you will find the barge.
Day 11 Tuesday: Antwerp, sailing to the Kreekraksluizen and cycling to Willemstad 56KM
This morning you’ll sail through the big harbour of Antwerp, a big difference with the nature reserves and quite villages of yesterday. But due to the big sea going vessels and large harbour cranes it’s a fascinating journey which brings you to Holland where you start your biketour at the Kreekrak locks. By bike you will make a beautiful tour over the ‘Brabantse wal’ a sand wall dating back from the times when Mammoths roam the area. Today you won’t find any big elephants but the area seemed to be perfect for strawberry and asparagus fields. So be here at harvest time (depending on the weather: around June). From the woodlands around Bergen op Zoom you continue through a polderlandscape to the old fortified town of Willemstad, near the Volkeraksluizen (locks) at the Haringvliet, the busiest locks of Europe.
Day 12 Wednesday: Willemstad, sailing to Werkendam and cycling to Gorinchem 45KM
From Willemstad you’ll sail this morning to Werkendam where you go ashore to continue your tour by bike through the land of Heusden and Altena. Along the Bergse Maas, the south border of the land of Heusden and Altena, you continue your tour along the fortified town of Heusden. From here another river, the ‘Afgedamde Maas’ leads you back to the river Waal where you started your tour this morning. Here you’ll find another beautifull fortified town, Woudrichem. A ferry brings you to the other side of the river where you’ll board the ship.
Day 13 Thursday: Gorinchem, cycling to Vianen and sailing to Utrecht 50 KM
From Gorinchem you will follow the meandering river Linge through the Betuwe. This area is known for the large amount of orchards and therefore will be covered with blossoms in the months april and may. Along the city of Leerdam, famous for its glass, you continue your tour in northern direction towards Utrecht. On your way toward Utrecht you’ll pass the so called ‘Wiel van Bassa’ the biggest dike burst hole in the Netherlands and another relic of the everlasting battle against the water. From Vianen you sail to Utrecht. After dinner you can take a public bus to the old centre of Utrecht.
Day 14 Friday: Utrecht, sailing to 'Brooklyn' and cycling to Amsterdam 40 KM
During breakfast you will sail to Breukelen from where you will cycle to Amsterdam along the two most beautiful rivers of Holland, the Vecht and the Amstel. Along the route you will find the magnificent country houses and mansions from the 18th century with their splendid, well-kept gardens. After dinner you have the option to take a canal cruise through the canals of Amsterdam.
Day 15 Saturday: Amsterdam, end of the trip after breakfast before 10 AM