What to expect
Spend a week discovering Holland’s coastal lakes, villages and nature reserves on this exciting boat and bike tour that’s tailor-made with children aged 7 to 11 in mind. Skirt the shores of IJssel Lake, a former inland sea, stopping off at popular holiday spots and authentic villages for ice-creams and cold drinks. Expect diverse days where you can pick activities to suit your mood, whether it’s a day on the beach, a morning watching dolphin shows or an afternoon of shopping.
The capital city of Amsterdam is an exciting place to start and finish and the open-air museum on day two provides a good opportunity to learn more about Holland’s traditional way of life. With a perfect balance of historic sites and natural landscapes, you’ll be riding through forests and moorlands, passing fields of flowers and grazing cattle. A canoe trip to experience the streams and marshland of Weerribben nature reserve is something to get excited about and, in Giethoorn, you can go punting along the interconnected canals.
At a glance
- Flexible activities, including a theme park, beaches and a dolphinarium
- Canoe trips and punting, shopping, swimming and sightseeing
- Traditional villages and riverside towns, ideal for ice-cream stops
- Short daily cycle tours, tailored to 7–11 year olds
Day 1 (Sat):
Arrive in Amsterdam
6 miles (10 km)
Set sail from Amsterdam at around 1.30pm, passing through locks to IJssel Lake and arriving in the town of Hoorn approximately four hours later. Stretch your legs and try out your bike with an evening cycle around Hoorn.
Day 2 (Sun):
Hoorn - Urk
12 miles (20 km)
Ride along the shore of IJssel Lake to reach the colourful city of Enkhuizen. See exhibits of local Zuiderzee fishermen and famous Dutch hydraulic engineers at Zuiderzee museum - there’s plenty to keep children entertained here. Cruise across IJssel Lake to the town of Urk in Flevoland province.
Day 3 (Mon):
Urk - Blokzijl
14 miles (22 km)
Cruise to the beautiful village of Blokzijl and cycle to the tourist village of Ossenzijl for an adventurous canoe trip through the reed-lands of Weerribben nature reserve. Cycle back to Blokzijl for the evening.
Day 4 (Tue):
Blokzijl - Zwartsluis
15 miles (25 km)
Ride past the lakes, reeds and meadows of Kop van Overijssel. Pass through Dwarsgracht and other picturesque villages on route to Giethoorn, a town which favours bikes and boats over car transport. Hire an electric motorboat here and steer your family through the canals, before continuing on to Zwartsluis for the night.
Day 5 (Wed):
Zwartsluis - Harderwijk
19 miles (30 km)
Sail across lakes and canals to the old fortified port town of Elburg. Cycle through the woodlands of the Veluwe to reach the lively Hanseatic town of Harderwijk.
Day 6 (Thu):
Take your pick of family-friendly activities for the day. The Walibi World theme park, dolphin shows at the Dolfinarium or a day at the Lake Veluwemeer beach are all good options, or you could spend a morning at the swimming pool, followed by an afternoon of shopping in down-town Harderwijk.
Day 7 (Fri):
Harderwijk - Amsterdam
16 miles (25 km)
Cruise to the attractive new town of Almere-Haven and cycle through shoreside towns and villages, including Muiden, to arrive back in Amsterdam. Take an evening walk with your tour guide around the city or enjoy a round trip of the canals.
Day 8 (Sat):
Depart from Amsterdam
Check out after breakfast and make your way home or continue your holiday in Amsterdam.
Please note: The captain reserves the right to alter the itinerary due to changes in weather and other conditions.
All daily distances are approximate and the guide may adjust the route to reflect the ability and age of the group.
Basic Class Barge
Several barges are used for this tour, the name of the barge used will be advised at the time of booking. The barges offer similar standards and facilities, please see below an example of a basic class barge.
The "Amsterdam" is one of the barges used during this specially designed family holiday tour. The barge offers 16 cabins with 2 bunk beds and 1 cabin with 4 bunk beds. There are shared shower and toilet facilities. On the upper deck there is a spacious saloon where meals are served and a separate room with an "honesty" bar. You help yourself to wine, beer or soft drinks and record what you have taken so that you can pay at the end of the week.
Dates & Prices
Please click on a departure date for price options at a glance - 2019 dates
- 7 nights accommodation on board a basic class barge with bunk beds
- Board basis: Full board including breakfast, packed lunch and two-course dinner
- English speaking tour guide on board and on bike
- Hybrid bike with 7 gears and pannier
- Maps and route information
- Welcome meeting on arrival
- Visit to the open air museum at Zuiderzee
- Canoe trip National Park Weerribben
- City walk
- Flights and transfers
- Cycle helmets
- Drinks aboard the barge
- Special diets - except vegetarian, diabetic & low-sodium
Child prices applicable up to 11 years - please enquire for family prices with children 12 or over
Hybrid bike with 7 gears and pannier included. Child bikes, child tag-alongs and child bike seats also included.
Tandems and child trailers available at a supplement on request - please enquire
How to Get There
Fly to Amsterdam Aiport Schiphol
Take the train (NS) to Amsterdam Central Station and then a taxi to your barge.
Alternatively, take the Eurostar to Amsterdam or ferry from Harwich, UK to Hook of Holland.
Take the train (NS) from Amsterdam Central Station to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
Fly from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Alternatively, take the Eurostar from Amsterdam or ferry from Hook of Holland to Harwich, UK.
News, Reviews & FAQs
Simply click on a question to reveal the answers
Do most places take credit & debit cards?
No, in Holland many places do not not accept foreign credit or debit cards, make sure you have enough cash.
How much space will I have in my cabin?
There is limited space in the cabins, so pack light and take a soft suitcase.
Are shops open on Sunday?
Make sure you have snacks and drinks for Sunday as the majority of the shops are closed.
What should we bring for the evenings?
Bring cards, favourite board games and books to keep the whole family entertained in the evenings.
What is the average temperature on this tour?
Can I stay on the boat during the day and not cycle?
Yes, you can relax on the boat or explore when you arrive at each destination instead of cycling.
Can the boat cater for special dietary requirements?
Please advise us of any special requirements at time of booking and we will notify the boat operator in advance. Understandably, kitchen galley space is limited and it may not be possible to provide specialist products (eg. Gluten free). We suggest you bring a few items with you and, in some cases, these can be provided at a supplement.
What other customers have said
Been on this tour? Add your review!
Wonderful scenery, beautiful islands and woods. The local partner (Carmen) was very helpful and efficient. All in all, a magical trip.Jens Tholstrup, UK, August 2018
We did the IJssel Lake family special in the Netherlands, staying on the Amiticia boat. We had a fabulous time.... Myself and kids aged 6 (on slip streamer/tag-a-long), 9 and 12 years. The distance of around 30km a day were about the right length. Felt you'd earned the tasty dinner! We visited the Dolphinarium on our day off, which was really special. The only hiccups we had were the trial cycle on the first evening around Hoorn. The back half of the group lost the front half, and the leader guide didn't have his phone with him so we couldn't find the others. Then, it was getting dark and we got caught in a huge downpour of rain, without coats with us, and also a girl crash cycled into a boy in the group, and when finally getting back to boat location we discovered it had moved mooring. All in all, everything after that went much better!! Personally I think the 2 guides should have a Walkie talkie each to more easily communicate between front and back of the group whilst cycling. The 2nd hiccup was when the boat got stuck in shallow water in IJssel lake, and we had to wait about 2 hours and be rescued by 3 rescue boats! But we still managed the correct cycling route for that day, just with less stops. I thought it was a brilliantly organised holiday for kids and parent, that kept everyone healthily active. We want to do others!Nicola Beck, UK, September 2017