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This classic southern route combines the classic Dutch landscape with time near the coast, a varied trip that guarantees a striking introduction to the heart of the Netherlands at a gentle pace, suitable for those looking for a relaxed trip.

Type of Holiday: Cycling Holidays

£720 - £865 (twin share basis)

Duration: 8 days
Departures: 2013 : April to September
Start point:
End point: Amsterdam

Greentraveller Travel Advice: Consider taking the ferry option to travel to Holland:
"Young, well informed professionals, trendy city dwellers and city adventurers are increasingly choosing to travel to the continent by rail and sail, according to Stenaline, the North Sea ferry operator."
>> Read the full article: Rail Sail attracts the young and adventurous

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Fancy reaching Amsterdam in just over 4 hours instead? High speed rail makes it all possible. Anouk van den Eijinde considers the overland trip from London St Pancras to the Dutch city to be one of the Top 5 European rail journeys. 

Detailed Itinerary for this Cycling Holiday in Holland

This classic southern route combines the classic Dutch landscape with time near the coast, a varied trip that guarantees a striking introduction to the heart of the Netherlands.

Similar in design to our Green Heart tour, Green Heart Gentle is an easier paced tour, during which you won’t be cycling more than around 25 miles a day, allowing plenty of time to visit museums, enjoy a spot of café culture, relax by a lake or enjoy a wander around the historic towns you’ll be cycling through. This is a great trip for families or for those looking to take it easy.

Beginning in Amsterdam, you’ll soon be following the river Amstel and passing through the city before reaching Vianen, the charming town which boasts some of the most beautiful architecture in the Netherlands.

Next day we cycle along the River Lek from Vianen to Schoonhoven, ending the day in Gouda, also known as the "city of cheese" renowned for its traditional Dutch food and culture. We hop on our bikes once again as we head via Kinderdijk to Delft. Kinderdijk has the largest group of windmills in the Netherlands and it’s well worth taking a break from your ride here.

From Delft we cycle in the direction of The Hague, through the Haagse Bosch to Wassenaarse Slag. Further through the dunes, to the old fishing village of Katwijk aan Zee, and following the course of the Oude Rijn (Old Rhine).

Mid-week and we are now in the lake district, with your ride now taking you beside windmills, meadows, farms and picturesque villages. Next stop is Haarlem, a lively city with numerous interesting 17th-century sights. Of particular interest are the hofjes (almshouses), Grote Markt (Market Square) and St Bavo's Church. Your final day’s cycling takes you from Spaarndam to the delightful hamlet of Zaanse Schans, characterised by its traditional weatherboard houses, warehouses and windmills, before we return to Amsterdam.

Your accommodation for the week is on a specially designed boat, where you will be able to share experiences of the day with the other cyclists over dinner. During the day route descriptions are provided and you are free to explore at your own pace.

>> See our video of what it's like to Rail and Sail to Holland:


Day 1: The tour starts in Amsterdam which is easily accessible from the UK by boat or plane. At 16.00 (4.00pm) you embark onto the boat - your home for the coming week. You will be met on board by the captain, crew and guide and after stowing your luggage you can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and meet the other guests. You will set sail to Vianen at around 17.00. Along the way you will pass the typical features of Amsterdam such as the floating flower market and the hundreds of houseboats lining the canals. After dinner on board the guide will explain the programme for the next day and the coming week.

Day 2: We start the day with a beautiful trip full of characteristic river views as we sail over the Lek to Schoonhoven. A visit to Schoonhoven means getting to know the rich past of the centuries-old traditional silversmith craft. After visiting Schoohoven, you cycle along the river "de Vllist" to Gouda.

The River "Vlist" is a small river which flows from Schoohoven to Haastrecht where it ends in the Hollandsche IJssel. Lined with picturesque windmills, it is around 10km long, and is an area popular with cyclists and hikers.

You will end the day's ride in Gouda, often referred to as "cheese city". It is renowned for its traditional Dutch food and culture, and boasts many fantastic monuments such as its outstanding Gothic Town Hall and St John's Church, with its world famous stained glass windows.

Day 3: Today the cycling takes you from Gouda to Kinderjik, passing pretty polders along the way. Kinderdijk has the largest group of windmills in the Netherlands. The windmills at Kinderdijk were still actively used until 1950 and are well worth a visit.

In Kinderdijk, you will hop back on board your boat, which will take you to the picturesque town of Delft.

Delft, the town famous for its pottery, the " Delft blue" and for William of Orange, who lies buried in the Niewe Kerk in the town, is well worth a visit. Places worth visiting include the Botanical Gardens, the Prince's Redisence and the Tobacco Historical Museum. The Botanical Gardens are an oasis of tranquility, peace, fragrance and relaxation, with various walking routes meandering through the grounds showcasing the various plant life the garden has to offer.

Day 4: From Delft we cycle in the direction of The Hague, through the Haagse Bosch, a large park, and past the Royal Huis ten Bosch Palace. A tranquil cycle path through the dunes leads you to Wassenaarse Slag. Here some remains of the Atlantikwall can still be seen. Five bunkers are connected by nearly 3,000 feet of brick tunnels. Now the underground network serves as a bat reserve. The Atlantikwall was a 1,700 miles defence line, running from Norway via Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France to the border with Spain. This defence line, which was never completed, consisted of bunkers, cannons and minefields. Further through the dunes, to Katwijk aan Zee, an old fishing village, where the older inhabitants still speak the Kattuks dialect and following the course of the Oude Rijn (Old Rhine) river we cycle to Leiden. Originating around 800AD as a market place at the confluence of the Old and New Rhine rivers, it was for a long period the second city after Amsterdam and centre of the textile industry in Medieval times.

Leiden boasts 14 museums, including the Rijksmuseum for Anthropology with many priceless foreign objects, the Municipal Museum which includes works by Dou, Steen, Rembrandt and Van Goyen, the Rijksmuseum of Antiquities with Egyptian antiquities. The Botanical Garden, a 400-year-old garden with innumerable exotic plants and trees, is certainly worth seeing too. In the town centre you may also wish to enjoy a spot of café culture on one of the outdoor terraces at the water’s edge. The ship is moored near the Zijlpoort, a gate that once formed part of the city walls.

Day 5: The Dutch lakes have not always existed, but resulted by the dying down of a virgin forest fenland and the subsequent digging out of peat to create open water. The direct connection between these waters and the open sea, via the Haarlemmer Lake and the IJ, caused a continual erosion of the lake borders. Lower-lying parts submerged and eventually a large surface of water was the result. In the 17th century there was a lot of activity around the lakes, such as agriculture, cattle-breeding and peat-cutting and shipbuilding.

Your cycling tour takes you alongside windmills, meadows, farms, picturesque villages with small ferries taking you across to the next village or island. With several ‘beaches’ along the way you may wish to bring along your swimwear! For nature lovers, too, there is a lot to be enjoyed. The Kagerplassen (Kager Lakes), Braassem and Wijde Aa are part of the Holland-Utrecht peat and meadowland and in springtime the marigolds colour the meadows a vibrant yellow. This is also the breeding area of the lapwing, the godwit, redshank and many types of duck. Marsh harrier also breed in the reed borders of the islands.

Day 6: The Haarlemmermeer (Haarlemmer Lake) is a former lake, but nowadays a polder. Schiphol Airport (Schiphol = Ships' Hell!) is situated here, some 13 feet below sea level, which makes it necessary to constantly pump water out to keep a dry soil. The water from the polder is pumped into a circular canal around the polder. From here the water is transported to the sea. You may want to visit the 'Cruquiusgemaal', Cruquius Pumping Station, one of the three steam-powered pumping stations that drained the Haarlemmermeer between 1849 and 1852. Today it is a museum, giving a clear idea of the Dutch 'battle against the sea'.

Once in the city of Haarlem we recommend you make a short tour through the city to see some typical ‘hofjes’ (almshouses), situated around a central courtyard. Haarlem, which rendered its name to Harlem, New York, is a lively city with good shopping possibilities. At the same time there are many interesting 17th century sights here. In particular the Grote Markt (Market Square) with St Bavo's Church (1390-1520) well known. Mozart was amongst the many St. Bavo's organ players. Other famous attractions are the Frans Hals Museum (with many 17th century paintings), the Town Hall, the Weigh House and the Vleeshal (Meat Hall). On the River Spaarne the oldest museum of the Netherlands can be found: Teyler's Museum, which includes drawings by Rembrandt, Michelangelo and Raphael amongst its displays. With the barge berthed in the city centre in view of St Bavo's Church and with easy access to the Grote Markt with its many outdoor cafés, you couldn’t be better placed.

Day 7: From Haarlem you’ll sail to Spaarndam, a picturesque village on the edge of Haarlem, in the direction of Amsterdam. Spaarndam’s name comes from the dam built in the river Spaarne to limit the danger of flooding from the sea. Here you can find the statue of Hansje Brinker on the IJdijk. Hansje is the famous character from the novel ‘Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates’ by American author Mary Elizabeth Mapes Dodge about a boy who saved the country from flooding by putting his finger in a dike.

After Haarlem, the Buitenhuizen ferry takes you across the North Sea canal and from there you’ll cycle to Zaanse Schans. Zaanse Schans, with its traditional weatherboard houses, warehouses and windmills may give you the feeling of stepping back into the 17th or 18th century. Yet this is no open air museum, but a lively neighbourhood where people live and work. Among the things of interest are a cheese farm, a clog maker and an old bakery all of which can be visited.

Day 8: After our last breakfast, its time to disembark (by 10am) and say goodbye to your fellow passengers, your guide and the crew before starting your journey home.

We provide everything, including a bike, except personal equipment and clothing.

What the price doesn't include
A) Travel insurance (available if required, £28).
B) Entrance fees to museums and attractions.
C) Personal clothing and equipment.
D) Travel to Amsterdam and transfers to the boarding point.
C) Alcoholic drinks.
E)  Bar bills, telephone calls, souvenirs, etc.

What price includes

  • Daily route information
  • Tour guide
  • Breakfast, packed lunch, 3 course-dinner
  • 24 speed Gazelle Medeo (Pannier bags, lock, water bottle)
  • Twin or double occupancy 2 berth twin ensuite cabin
  • Refreshments on board the boat



Plan your journey by train

Meeting point:
Amsterdam docks

Nearest train station to meeting point:
Amsterdam Centraal

Transfer to meeting point:
Guests make their own way to meeting point
Short walk or taxi ride from the train station to the docks.

How to get there:
Train from London to Amsterdam

Plan your journey by train to Amsterdam

Plan your journey by train

Finish point:
Amsterdam docks

Nearest train station to finish point:
Amsterdam Centraal

Transfer to finish point:
Guests make their own way to station
Short walk or taxi ride from the docks to the train station

How to get back:
Train from Amsterdam to London

Plan your return train journey from Amsterdam