“Bike & Barge through the Tulips - II”

AFS Cycle & Barge Cruise, Holland

April 21 – 29, 2017

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Immerse yourself in the land of windmills and tulips in the Netherlands where everyone pedals. Imagine meandering scenic country roads with 20 AFSers into medieval village squares. We fill our water bottles from a fountain, graze on Dutch delicacies and explore the local scene. Back to our boat each night, we only unpack once. Traveling by bus is just watching a beautiful movie pass by but by bicycle, you are in the movie. The new craze is called “Slow Travel” to really experience the culture, landscapes and people. It’s so easy on marked paths flat as pancakes and peak season of April is the best time to go with fields of flowers bursting in rainbow colors.


There’s a dozen bike companies, but you’ll discover our adventure is nearly half the cost of all. All logistics are covered for you and a van follows us in case you may need assistance. You don’t need to be a hard core biker. Our guide will allow you to ride at a leisurely pace, averaging 20 miles each day. Every half hour, we stop to rest and refresh. Breakfasts and dinners are included onboard as we sail through the canals. By day, enjoy your lunch (Dutch pancakes, grilled sausage, apple strudels, fresh cheeses, caramel waffles and fine local beers) along with sightseeing in each town.

You’ll love our perfect route along the sea coast and dunes through the medieval towns of Purmerend, Alkmaar, Haarlem, Gouda and finally Amsterdam with it’s countless wonders. Limited to only 22 active participants, this delightful trip will fill fast.

Why not add a pre or post trip stopover anywhere in Europe by train or car.  Don’t miss this chance to immerse yourself in storybook villages and silent canals. All you have to do is pedal through the petals.

Please Note: this is a very active trip. You must be able to complete a 5K in less than 40 minutes without difficulty. We don't want to leave you on the barge as their are no services during the day.

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Our Glorious Itinerary

April 21 - Depart USA

Fly USA round-trip to Amsterdam. Air details later in Trip Tips.

April 22 - Arrive Amsterdam

Biking Distance: no biking

Welcome to Holland!

Approx 10 AM, you will be taken by coach outside the city to the incredible museum-village de Zaanse Schans. Colorful 18th-century frame houses are built of timber because the ground is too soft to support stone. A klompenmaker (maker of wooden shoes) still plies his trade nearby, and in his shop you can buy some beautiful painted wooden shoes. Stroll the grounds to photograph the iconic windmills. Our lunch here will introduce you to fluffy Dutch pancakes. Then we coach back to Amsterdam to board our barge.

On board and settled in, you will spend the afternoon sailing to Purmerend in the province of Noord Holland.  Meanwhile, your guide will provide a full briefing and fit each bicycle to its individual rider. Before our welcome dinner, the captain will discuss onboard safety measures.

The good ship Fiep is exactly that. A cargo ship built in 1912, its generous spaces have been converted to passenger travel in the 21st century and now consist of two sundecks with awnings, tables and chairs, a sitting lounge and a dining area, plus 11 comfortably furnished twin-bedded cabins. It’s so great to have a nice place to come back to each night, only unpacking once for the entire trip.

April 23 - Alkmaar

Biking Distance: 20 miles

After breakfast and a briefing then we’re off on quiet bicycle paths to Alkmaar, our destination for the night. We are traveling on polder, land reclaimed from the sea, and will make a stop at Schermerhorn to see a house so small it is famous.  Following dinner, our guide will take us on a walk through the medieval section of Alkmaar, where the street layout has barely changed through the centuries and old merchant houses line the canals.

Although Alkmaar is known as a Dutch cheese city, the title covers only part of what is has to offer. There’s a cheese museum, beer museum and other quaint venues. It’s also one of the best shopping cities in the Netherlands. As you wander through the streets with their impressive monuments you will be amazed at the beauty of the old town. It’s just fifteen minutes from the beach.

April 24 - Haarlem

Biking Distance: 24 miles

Buildings aren’t the only old things in Holland. A grand selection of very old tulips will be in bloom at the private garden we visit this morning, in Limmen. We may bicycle past fields of tulips on the way, as we go through an area close to the dunes that is ideal for bulb growing. A fortuitously placed pancake house will provide lunch before we enter the dunes where we’ll find marvelous biking on beautiful bicycle trails, with no cars and only a few Dutch bikers and walkers. After leaving the dunes we stop in Wijk-aan-Zee for coffee and a stroll on the North Sea beach, after which we bicycle to Beverwijk where our barge is waiting. Relax on deck with a drink as we barge to Haarlem.

After dinner there’ll be time to look around Haarlem. The historic city is the tulip capital of the world. The charming, medieval city offers tourists a lively culture scene, oodles of atmosphere, excellent shopping and nightlife. See St. Bavo’s Church, the statue of Koster, the huge Grote Market, the little red light district which is a warm up for the brazen one in Amsterdam and much more.

April 25 – Leiden

Biking Distance: 22 miles

Home to the Netherlands’ oldest university and the birthplace of Rembrandt, Leiden also served as a several-year stop-off between England and the New World for America’s Pilgrims in the 17th century. Today, lovely Leiden boasts the second-largest Dutch city center after Amsterdam. The National Museum has an impressive collection of Egyptian artifacts. The Hortus Botanicus, established in 1590, was the site of the planting of Holland’s first tulip bulbs in 1593. It’s a great place to explore on foot.

Fields of flowers stretch in all directions as we cycle south to Leiden. Today’s ride takes us through the center of what seems to be the world’s heart of flowers. Everyone’s camera is out and put to good use. Even the piles of discarded floral stalks, blooms drooping, have a luxurious scented air, indicating these fields are dedicated to bulb cultivation. Flowers for decoration are protected in greenhouses.

Late morning we stop at the spectacular public garden, Keukenhof, a showcase for bulb growers that reaches dazzling heights every spring. Its 74 acres, planted with seven million bulbs, offer a plethora hard to imagine but extraordinary to see. In the Keukenhof bulb shop you can order bulbs for shipment home. Our barge will reach Leiden before we do and have dinner ready for us.

April 26 - Gouda

Biking Distance: 20 miles

A pleasant morning ride takes you past bucolic fields with cows and sheep grazing as farmers tend their crops. Arrive in Gouda, a small town famous for its cheese and beautifully designed gothic town hall. After lunch in the market square, we’ll visit St. John’s Church to learn about the 400-year-old stained glass windows depicting biblical scenes or the Goudse Waag that houses the Cheese and Crafts Museum. For those interested, we’ll take you to a small cheese shop where, after sampling different cheeses, the owner will shrink-wrap your choice for your trip home.

Gouda is a historic unique town with more than 70,000 inhabitants. Situated centrally between the urban centers of The Hague, Utrecht and Rotterdam.  The old town of Gouda radiates a vitality that blends remarkably with its century-long history. Gouda is world famous for its cheese, caramel waffles, pipes and pottery.

April 27 - Amsterdam

Biking Distance: 20 miles

Back on the bicycle again, we ride along the Old Rhine River and through a region of greenhouses cultivating plants and flowers. We will visit one of the growers, and learn something about what he grows and where he sends his products. The afternoon allows us full enjoyment of the area’s bicycle trails, through fields and along canals, until we meet up with the barge to motor into Amsterdam.

April 28 - Amsterdam

Biking Distance: no biking

You have the morning and afternoon free to explore the exciting city of Amsterdam. There’s museums, the Anne Frank House, Van Gough and Rembrandt museums, Coster Diamond factory, Delft porcelain, the Heineken Brewery, bustling outdoor cafes and the infamous red light district are some of the city’s highlights.

Tonight will be our farewell dinner.

April 29 - Departure

Group transfer by coach to the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

Activity Level:

2. I have no trouble walking and if necessary, can walk for 3+ miles. Uneven surfaces are not a problem. I do not need a cane or walking device.


A $500 deposit will secure your reservation.  Limited to ONLY 22 participants.

Detailed Trip Tips later. 

Air: You can arrange your own air. We will present group air later.

Land Cost:  $2495

Included: 7 nights, daily breakfast and dinner, group airport transfer, English-speaking guide, AFS GTL and bicycle rental.



This 'option' is a required additional charge for this trip.

It is protocol to tip your drivers, porters and local guides - we have the absolute best. $10 pp per day should suffice as minimum and will be added to your final bill. We will give this to your GTL to disperse accordingly throughout. It’s easier this way. Tips are for local guides, drivers, group meals (except breakfast) and hotel porters that bring bags from bus to lobby. (Due to the unique nature of this itinerary, this is a guesstimate. More information to follow in Trip Tips.)
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Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS. Group air - Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and are ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until we either group air is set or we advise - dates can change! Itineraries are prepared often a year in advance. Though not likely, AFS and our suppliers reserve the right to change or modify such to meet local conditions. Although rare, hotels can change – all hotel rooms are run of the house. Our prices are based on current taxation structures. In case any revision in taxes, sudden fluctuation in currency levels, change in Visa fees or increase in fuel charges, we will amend our prices and inform you accordingly. Land price is based on minimum number of trip participants.