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Bike+Barge Tour of the Netherlands  May 7-14, 2010 (seven days/seven night). Pedal the polders, with a barge for a bed! Visit historical cultural centers, bike past picturesque pastures and waterways, and cycle through fields of flowers with a kaleidoscope of hues.A field of tulips with windmill and bicycle

A unique vacation —
bicycling is the best way to discover the Netherlands!

Tour is now over, so registration is closed. See our tour photos to get a taste of what the tour was like!

Bike by day through the countryside and picturesque towns, guided by an experienced English-speaking tour guide. Get a close-up view of the scenery – while getting some exercise! Visit sights you’d never see on a “regular” tour. Sleep on a river barge at night. The boat is your hotel and restaurant; it follows you during the tour – so no need to pack suitcases and change rooms each day.

The biking pace is moderate/casual – just 25-30 miles per day over flat terrain, with plenty of breaks and sightseeing stops. You’ll tour the country on Dutch-made bicycles, which are supplied to you for use on the trip.

The Netherlands is the most bike-friendly country in the world with dedicated bike paths everywhere, even inside cities. Biking is enjoyable and safe. On this trip, you’ll see how bicycling is integrated into everyday life and culture in Holland.

We created a custom program designed to give you a good look at Baltimore’s sister city, Rotterdam, and learn about the country and culture that it is situated in. The tour includes a mix of tourist highlights and less well-known stops. The route starts in Amsterdam, goes south to Rotterdam, then ends back in Amsterdam.

Tour itinerary


Fri May 6

Fly overnight to Amsterdam.

Amsterdam houses along a canal

Sat May 7

Tour starts in Amsterdam in the afternoon with a warm-up bike ride. This is a bustling world city with distinctive gabled 17th century “Dutch Golden Age” houses and canals. Overnight in Amsterdam.

Zaanse Schans

Sun May 8

Visit the Zaanse Schans, an open-air museum with windmills that shows how people lived and worked in the 17th century. The museum features cheese-making, clog-making, and Delft porcelain demos. From Zaanse Schans we bike to Spaarndam, then to Haarlem, a medieval town with gothic basilica, beautiful courtyards, monuments, and Frans Hals museum. Overnight in Haarlem.

Field of flowers

Mon May 9

In the morning, we continue exploring Haarlem and then the Haarlemmermeer Polder. Cycle through vast colorful fields of tulips in the famous Keukenhof gardens, filled with more than 7 million flowers. Then visit Leiden, the birthplace of Rembrandt, with its narrow streets and canals. Visit museums and botanical garden. Overnight in Leiden.

The Hague's Ridderzaal building

Tues May 10

Bike from Leiden to the Scheveningen at the beach, then onto The Hague, the seat of the Dutch government. Attractions include the Mauritshuis with paintings from Dutch Masters, parliament buildings, and modern art. Bike along the water to Delft, a historic 16th century city, famous for Delft blue porcelain and the painter Vermeer. Overnight in Delft.

Erasmus bridge in Rotterdam

Wed May 11

Spend the day in Rotterdam, Baltimore’s sister city, a modern city with eye-catching experimental architecture, an emerging contemporary art scene and a huge harbor. After a tour of Rotterdam’s architectural highlights, visit Holland America Line’s 1908 boat, the Euromast, and world-class modern art museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. More about Rotterdam.

Kinderdijk windmill

Thurs May 12

Visit Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with 18 windmills from 1750 near Rotterdam. Bike to Schoonhoven with an optional detour to lovely Gouda. Overnight in Nieuwpoort, a small old fortified town.

Amsterdam canal at night with bicycle

Fri May 13

Take the barge from Vianen to Breukelen near Amsterdam. During the 17th century, wealthy Amsterdammers built elegant mansions in this area. Bike the last part to Amsterdam through picturesque towns. We’ll visit the Anne Frank House in the afternoon. In the evening, enjoy a sightseeing tour of the city by canal boat. Overnight in Amsterdam.

Historic canal house in Amsterdam


Sat May 14

Tour ends after breakfast. If your flight leaves late and you have free time, sightsee Amsterdam – stroll along the shops and canals lined with houseboats, or visit museums. Options include the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, new architectural developments, and the historic Jewish Waterlooplein area.

Fly back to USA; arrive in evening.

May is an ideal time for traveling in the Netherlands. Flowers are in bloom, it stays light until late, and average temperature is 60-65 degrees.

Air transportation is not included in the tour price. You could consider arriving in Europe earlier or staying later. Extend your trip and visit other places in Netherlands — or visit Belgium, Paris, London, or Cologne in Germany, for example. Train is a convenient and comfortable way to get around.


Where is the Netherlands?

Map of Europe showing the location of Netherlands

The Netherlands is located in between Belgium and Germany. It is also called Holland and the language is called Dutch. It borders the North Sea and the land has literally been carved from the ocean over the centuries using feats of water engineering. It is cosmopolitan and most people can speak English. It is well known for Rembrandt & Van Gogh, windmills, canals, and wooden shoes, but as you will discover on this tour, the country has much more to offer!

Map of the tour stops

View tour stops in a larger map

Tour registration

$1650/person based on double occupancy.

Tour price includes lodging and meals. Air transportation is not included.

About the trip organizers

Trip is offered by Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister City Committee (BRSCC), affiliated with the Baltimore’s Mayor’s Office. We are a volunteer-run, non-commercial organization. Proceeds cover the cost of the trip and help support our activities to promote the ongoing relationship between the two cities.

Although we are based in Baltimore, you do not need to be a Baltimore-area resident to go on this trip.