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Home   Tours   Lake IJssel & Friesland

Lake IJssel & Friesland

picturesque villages, historic towns and frisian lakes

Schiphol Airport

  • Start
  • Finish

Schiphol Airport

The IJsselmeer (formerly the Zuiderzee ‘Southern Sea’) is inextricably connected with the period of prosperity in the 17th century, the Golden Age, when Holland was one of the most powerful seafaring trading countries. After crossing the Ijsselmeer you arrive in the province of Friesland. The peace and nature have made Friesland extremely popular with skaters, but certainly also with cyclists. The route leads you through towns and villages, with the green watery countryside in between, where farming usually determines the horizon. Other important parts of the scenery consist of the numerous little bridges, that ‘leap’ the ditches and the sailing boats that cross the vast lakes like white swans. The last part of the tour you cycle along the Ijsselmeer back to Amsterdam again.
One of the highlights on this tour is a visit to the Zuiderzee museum in Enkhuizen, which you can visit on Thursday. Here you will revive that rich past. Crafts typical of the time are practised in this open-air museum, and houses, boats and costumes can be admired.

  • Type of tour Guided
  • Level 1
  • Duration 8 days
  • Distance 40
  • Pumping station in Lemmer (World Heritage)
  • Gaasterland (Frisian nature reserve)
  • Wieringen, former island (until 1930)
  • Zuiderzeemuseum in Enkhuizen (open air museum)

Daily Program

1 km = 0,62 miles
Day 1

Saturday: Amsterdam, embarkation the latest at 2 pm, sailing to Lelystad


A simple settlement at the mouth of the river Amstel, with open connection to the sea: this was Amsterdam in the 12th century. In those days fishermen and craftsmen built a dam in the Amstel (now the site of the National Monument) and Amstel-re-damme was born. At 2.15 pm the barge leaves to sail to Lelystad. In Lelystad you make a short round tour to get used to your bike. Back on board, after the bike ride, the programme for the next day and the rest of the week will be explained to you at dinner time.

Day 2

Sunday: Lelystad - sailing to Urk - cycling to Lemmer


Since the draining of the Noordoost polders, several former Zuiderzee islands are now part of the mainland. The harbour town of Urk is the first former Zuiderzee island we visit. At Urk you go off board to cycle to Lemmer. We will go by bike to the second former island of Schokland which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995.

Day 3

Monday: Lemmer - Sloten - Gaasterland - Sneek


You ride via the Van Coehoornbosch (Van Coehoorn Forest) to Balk, central village of the Gaasterland region. Gaasterland has everything that you normally do not bump into in Friesland: wide forests, patches of heath, pools and even undulating scenery with ‘gaasten’ (higher-lying parts) making you feel your calves. The day ends in Sneek with its famous Waterpoort (Water gate), built around 1492.

Day 4

Tuesday: Sneek - sailing to Heeg - cycling to Stavoren


The barge takes you to Heeg. In Heeg you go off board and continue by bike. The route leads you through the meadows to Workum, a town that flourished around 1300 when other towns lost their connection to the open sea. At that time it was mainly Workum’s large fleet that determined the herring trade in London. You ride further to Hindeloopen. In earlier times Hindeloopen did not have its own harbour, but only anchorage. The fleet was in Amsterdam while the captains spent the winters in their ‘commandeurswoning’ (captain’s residences) in Hindeloopen.  The final stage of today ends in Stavoren. The historical Stavoren was granted city rights between 1060 and 1067, making it the oldest city in Friesland. Stavoren began to decline in the late Middle Ages after a sandbank formed outside the harbour, blocking ships from entering and exiting. The appearance of the sandbank is the topic of the Dutch Renaissance folk-tale of the Lady of Stavoren In 1657, the entire town was submerged in a great flood.

Day 5

Wednesday: Stavoren - sailing to Den Oever - round trip Wieringen


In the morning you sail to Den Oever crossing the IJssel lake. In Den Oever (at the beginning of the famous Afsluitdijk (Enclosure Dam)) you go off board. This dike, connecting North-Holland with Friesland, is about 30 kilometres in length and was the first large civil engineering enterprise against the sea. The dike was completed in 1932 and the Zuiderzee (Southern Sea) changed into the IJsselmeer (IJssel Lake), the largest fresh water lake in the Netherlands.
You make a round tour through the Wieringermeer, the oldest of the IJsselmeer polders. The food crisis resulting from the First World War created an urgent need for more agricultural land, so in 1927 work on the reclamation of the Wieringermeer commenced. Most of the work of bringing it into cultivation was done by hand and horse power. Farms became the predominant feature, as can still be seen today.

Day 6

Thursday: Den Oever - sailing to Enkhuizen - visit Zuiderzeemuseum - cycling to Hoorn


The first part of the route you stay on board and sail Enkhuizen. In the Golden Age Enkhuizen had grown so much that its harbour was well-known internationally and the beautiful gables, town hall and richly decorated churches all date from these flourishing times. Before you start cycling you visit the Zuiderzeemuseum. This museum, which consists of an indoor and outdoor part, shows you the history of everyday life around the Zuiderzee until the middle of the 20th century. You spend the night in Hoorn.
In addition to Amsterdam and Enkhuizen, Hoorn was a major harbour in the 17th century. From here ships sailed for the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), America, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean. The most impressive gable is the one on the former town hall, Statenpoort, which now houses an interesting museum with paintings and exhibits concerning the V.O.C. (United East Indian Company). The V.O.C. was a very powerful, almost monopolistic trading company in the 17th century.

Day 7

Friday: Hoorn - sailing to Volendam - cycling to Amsterdam


In the morning you sail to Volendam. Originally Volendam was a small fishing community. Practically all its inhabitants used to wear their distinctive and picturesque traditional costumes. Volendam started as a settlement when a shorter waterway was dug to the Zuiderzee in the 14th century. The old harbour became superfluous, a new dike was built and soon farmers and fishermen settled down. You cycle back to Amsterdam but not until you have visited the former isle of Marken. It was not until 1957 that this island was connected to the mainland by a dike and it has retained its own particular character. The houses here were built on man-made little mounds, called ‘werven’, to escape the regular inundations. When there was no more room on these mounds people started building houses on piles, which made them stand 2.5 m. above street level. The inhabitants are the only ones allowed to use their cars, so Marken can only be visited on foot or on bike.
Once you are back at the barge in Amsterdam it is time to take leave of your bikes. In the afternoon there is still some time to go into town and after dinner you may want to finish off your trip by going on a city walk or taking a trip on one of Amsterdam’s canal boats.

Day 8

Saturday, Amsterdam, end of tour after breakfast, before 10 am.

Travel Dates

Tour prices

Accommodation Room Price Children 0-2 years Children 3-11 years
This tour will not be offered in 2018

Rent a bike

Image Name Type Price per week
Hybrid, 24-gears Hybrid, 24-gears Batavus Boulevard €80
Electric bike Electric bike Batavus Mont Blanc €160
Child’s bike, 21 gears Child’s bike, 21 gears Incl. bike helmet €55
Child seat Child seat Incl. bike helmet €15
Trailer bike, 3 gears Trailer bike, 3 gears For children between 5-9 years, incl. bike helmet €50
Cycletours bicycle insurance Cycletours bicycle insurance No own-risk €15
Cycletours bicycle insurance E-bike Cycletours bicycle insurance E-bike No own-risk €40
Set of 3 bike maps Set of 3 bike maps Falk, scale 1:50,000 (1 inch = 0.8 miles) €28.50
Bike helmet Bike helmet included for children €10
Image Name Type Price per week
Child’s bike, 21 gears Child’s bike, 21 gears Incl. bike helmet €55
Child seat Child seat Incl. bike helmet €15
Trailer bike, 3 gears Trailer bike, 3 gears For children between 5-9 years, incl. bike helmet €50
Cycletours bicycle insurance Cycletours bicycle insurance No own-risk €15
Cycletours bicycle insurance E-bike Cycletours bicycle insurance E-bike No own-risk €40
Set of 3 bike maps Set of 3 bike maps Falk, scale 1:50,000 (1 inch = 0.8 miles) €30


  • All nights on board (Sat.-Sat. 8 days / 7 nights),  cabin in the booked category;
  • Full board (7 x breakfast, 6 x self-made picnic lunch for bike tours, 7 x three course dinner)
  • Use of bed linen and 2 towels (change of towels possible)
  • Coffee and tea on board
  • Tour guide
  • Min. 3 city walks with the tourguide
  • Free WiFi is limited availabe in lounge and on deck, for more than 100 MB there is a surcharge.
  • Road book, 1x per cabin
  • Ferry fares on the route

Not Included

  • Reservation costs € 20,- per party
  • Bicycle rent
  • Bicycle insurance (optional) € 15,- per bicycle
  • Bicycle insurance electric bike (optional) € 40,- per bicycle
  • Entrance fees to museums; approx. € 15 per tour
  • Personal insurance

Special details

Please take good notice of our booking conditions.

If you have special meal requirements (vegetarian meals, or if you are on a diet), we ask you to mention this when booking.
In case of Glutenfree diet there is an additional charge of € 50, – per week.

Cycletours Holidays reserves the right to cancel tours with fewer than 12 participants up to 21 days prior to the date of departure.

The program is subject to change without notice.

Arrival info

You are expected on our barge on Saturday at the latest 2 PM.
You can recognise the barge by the banner with Cycletours written on it. The name of your barge is printed on the voucher, which you will receive separately.
After arrival there’s coffee and tea on board. Other drinks are also available on cash payment. If you want you can bring your luggage in advance: from noon onwards.

The mooring place of the barge in Amsterdam is Oosterdok Zip-code 1011 VX (near the Science Center: ‘Nemo’, Oosterdok 2).

amsterdam map


The nearest airport to the embarkation point of the barge is Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS).
There is a direct train that leaves 6 times per hour from the airport to Amsterdam Central Station. It takes about 16 minutes. The price for a train ticket Schiphol-Amsterdam Central is € 4,20 per person for a single journey. Walking distance to the barge is about 10 to 15 minutes.
A taxi from the airport to the barge in Amsterdam takes about 30 minutes. It costs about € 45,-.


The nearest train station to the embarkation point of the barge is Amsterdam Central Station. Walking distance to the barge is about 10 to 15 minutes.
A taxi from the station to the barge takes about 5 minutes: Costs about € 10,-.


If you arrive by car, we recommend you to arrive earlier to unload your luggage. You can find more information about parking possibilities at
The nearest parking is Parking Oosterdok, (about € 80,- per week, it is not necessary to reserve in advance; 500m walking distance to the barge).

End of the tour

The tour ends one week later on Saturday morning after breakfast before 10 AM. You will spend the night from Friday to Saturday on board in Amsterdam.
After the tour ends in you can take the train back to Schiphol Amsterdam Airport. Should you have an early flight, no problem.  You may leave as early as you need to.

Our ship, your hotel

Imagine a floating hotel sailing to the next stage, while you are calmly pedalling along. No lugging of luggage: that is exactly what Bike & Barge is all about! In the pleasant atmosphere on board you can have a chat, go through the day with the others, and enjoy the meals prepared specially for cyclists. In the evenings you can enjoy a drink in the salon or admire the setting sun on deck.

Do not expect a cruise ship with its passive luxury. The Bike & Barge Holidays are for people who really enjoy the physical activity of cycling and who value sociability more than wholesale luxury.

What are the cabins like?

Most cabins are 2-person cabins, but some barges also have cabins for 3 persons (2 low beds+upper bed). There are four categories: Standard Plus (cabins with private shower/toilet; bunk beds), Comfort (cabins as StandardPlus but with twin beds), ComfortPlus (cabins as Comfort, small ship) and Comfort DeLuxe (a very comfortable and tastefully furnished 5-star ship; cabins have twin beds and air-conditioning).

In all categories the cabins have central heating and a porthole or window; they are provided with running water (hot and cold), private shower/toilet and 22o voltage. There is limited storage space in the cabin. We recommend 1 suitcase per person. You can slide the suitcase under the bed.

The team, hospitality comes first

The captain/skipper, the chef and your tour guide all welcome you warmly. They are prepared specifically for these trips and will provide good and safe passage, good meals, and a friendly, pleasant atmosphere. They will, of course, also give you a great deal of interesting information during and after the cycling and sailing.
The skipper is responsible for the smooth running of things on board; the cook is in charge of the catering. A tour leader accompanies you during the bike ride and can assist in case of breakdowns. He/She will be your guide to point out the things of interest along the way and is multi-lingual (Dutch/English, some speak German and/or French).

The meals

Your chef is used to cook delicious meals for hungry cyclists. Besides an extensive breakfast, you will also be offered a packed lunch for on the road. It consists of different types of bread and sandwich fillings, juice, a snack and a piece of fruit. Lunch package needs to be prepared by yourself after breakfast. Dinner is different every day. There is a first course, main course and dessert The meals on board are included in the price, as are coffee and tea. Soft drinks and alcoholic drinks can be obtained at a reasonable charge. When you return on board after the day’s cycling, a cup of tea or coffee with a biscuit will be waiting for you.
If you have special meal requirements (vegetarian meals, or if you are on a diet), we ask you to mention this when booking.
In case of Glutenfree diet there is an additional charge of € 50, – per week.

You and the group,new friends from around the world!

One of the most attractive aspects of the Bike & Barge holidays is that you encounter an international company on board, including people from e.g. USA, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, and Spain. It’s a great opportunity for you to get to know various cultures at the same time! We have people of all ages, men and women, singles and couples and also families with children (during the school holidays). Most groups are made up of 12 to 30 people.

Cycling in Holland

Holland is a cycling country: 16 million inhabitants all with bikes. The number of cyclists necessitates a cycling infrastructure: cycle paths (30,000 km), cycle routes (long and short distance), cycle bridges, cycle tunnels, cycle ferries and special signposts for cyclists.
Cycling is part of normal life in the Netherlands; parents bring their children to school by bike, people go to work by bike, factory workers, doctors, even the prime minister!
Cyclists, of course, have to observe traffic rules and regulations.
The most important rule is to remember that you are not alone on your bike and that you are sharing the road with your group and other road users. Your guide on board will tell you all you need to know about the traffic rules and regulations.

The most beautiful cycling routes

Our carefully selected routes will lead you along the most beautiful spots of the country. The average daily distance is around 45 kilometers. Most participants prefer riding in a group with the cycling guide, but you can also ride individually. A road book is included (1x per cabin). Bike maps can be purchased when booking and will be handed over to you on board.

Book this tour

Frequently asked questions

  • Which countries do the participants come from?

    The main countries represented by our cycling guests are: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and France. However we regularly welcome South Africans and Japanese guests.

    The common language on board is English.

  • Can you rejoin the barge before the end of a stage?

    No, the ship doesn’t take the same route that the cyclists do. Sometimes the route may be altered because of weather conditions or repairs to bridges or locks and then the guests and the guide can arrange with the skipper to be met at a different place. Naturally you can always stay on board for one or more days.

  • How large is the group on board?

    The size of the group depends on the barge scheduled on the tour. The capacity of the barges varies between 12 and 26 participants.

  • How long are the daily cycling stages?

    The average daily distance on our Bike & Barge tours in Holland is 50 kilometers (32 miles). But don’t forget that Dutch countryside is very flat and the stages, taken at a leisurely pace, take seven to eight hours including a number of breaks and visits.
    The time spent on your bicycle is about 4 hours per day.

  • What packing list do you suggest?

    What you need to bring with you on the Bike & Barge tours starting and/or ending in the Netherlands and along the Mosel & Saar:

    Specialised cycle clothing may be handy but not strictly necessary. What you do need (among other things) is the following:
    •    shorts/ long trousers/ track suit/ legging
    •    shirts/ sweater/ rain clothing
    •    gloves (in case you booked a tour in April and October. It can be chilly in the morning)
    •    good shoes/ sneakers
    •    sunglasses/ cap/ swimming costume
    •    shower gel
    •    shampoo (available on the barge Sailing Home)
    •    insect repellent
    •    hairdryer (220V) (available on the barges Sailing Home and Zwaan)

    The final packing list we suggest for your tour will be included in your travel documents.

More questions

Price starting from € 775,- * * There are no extra's included in this price

Lake IJssel & Friesland


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