What to expect
Experience one of the largest cycle networks in Europe as you pedal and cruise through the Lower Rhine region. History abounds, with the UNESCO windmills of Kinderdijk and Holland’s oldest city of Dordrecht among the highlights. Throughout the week, you’ll be cycling past riverside landscapes, pristine nature reserves and protected landscapes like De Biesbosch National Park – one of the world’s few tidal freshwater zones.
Staying on the MS Arkona you’ll set off on gentle daily cycle rides, re-joining the boat each afternoon for coffee on deck. The cycle routes are well-established and ideal for all levels. Most stretches are flat, with paved or tarmacked surfaces. Along the way, you’ll call into quaint towns and ancient cities with Roman ruins, medieval walls and Hanseatic history. When you arrive in Cologne’s historic streets, you can toast your trip with a glass of Kölsch (a locally brewed Cologne beer).
At a glance
- UNESCO windmills and the oldest city in Holland
- Riverine nature and the De Biesbosch National Park
- Medieval, Roman and Hanseatic history
- Relaxed cycling on surfaced bike routes
Day 1 (Sat):
Arrive in Rotterdam
Board the MS Arkona between 3pm and 5pm. Spend a relaxing evening on board, or take a stroll through the city of Rotterdam, with its innovative architecture and excellent museums – the striking Cube Houses, horseshoe-shaped market hall, and Kunsthal art museum are some of the top sights.
Day 2 (Sun):
Rotterdam - Dordrecht
25 miles (40 km)
Pedal beside the Maas River to the 19 impressive UNESCO windmills at Kinderdijk, which date back to the 18th century and demonstrate how the Dutch historically pumped the land to live below sea level. Continue cycling to the island settlement of Dordrecht – Holland’s oldest city with historic buildings and a reliably good atmosphere.
Day 3 (Mon):
Dordrecht - Gorinchem
23 miles (37 km)
Cycle out of Dordrecht and ride through De Biesbosch National Park. With a maze of rivers and islands, this is one of few tidal freshwater zones in the world. Continue to the fortified city of Gorinchem.
Day 4 (Tue):
Gorinchem - Wijk bij Duurstede - Rhenen
31 miles (50 km)
Leave Gorinchem and follow the River Linge, a tributary of the Rhine, through beautiful riverside scenery. Arrive in the city of Wijk bij Duurstede on the edge of Utrecht Hill Ridge – a tree-covered ridge of sand that was created in the last glacial period. Enjoy an evening cruise to Rhenen.
Day 5 (Wed):
Rhenen - Wijk bij Duurstede - Arnhem
17miles (30 km)
Pedal beside the Lower Rhine, passing the foreshore of the dike. Cycle through Betuwe, one of the Netherland’s largest fruit-growing regions, where fertile islands in the river delta have been created by the Rhine. Pedal to Arnhem through an area which played host to the WWII Battle of Arnhem in 1944. Explore the city centre with its narrow lanes and picturesque buildings, then cruise overnight across the German-Dutch border to Emmerich.
Day 6 (Thu):
Arnhem - Emmerich - Xanten
19 miles (31 km)
From Emmerich, cycle past the Reeser Schanz nature reserve and the Roman city of Xanten. Learn how the Romans lived 2000 years ago with an optional visit to Xanten Archeological Park. Cruise overnight to Düsseldorf.
Day 7 (Fri):
Düsseldorf - Cologne
34 miles (55 km)
Wake up in Düsseldorf and set off along the Rhine Cycle Path, passing historic towns, idyllic nature and industrial heritage. Take an optional detour to one of the riverside towns to see their medieval walls and towers. Arrive in Cologne and experience some of the city’s 2,000 years of history – its twin-spired Gothic cathedral, Roman remains and dozens of museums are just some of the highlights.
Day 8 (Sat):
Depart from Cologne
Disembark after breakfast by 9am.
Rotterdam to Cologne - 2019 departures
The MS Arkona was completely refurbished for 2018 departures. Both the upper and main deck cabins are comfortable and modern (approx.11m2). The main deck has 34 twin cabins with windows that do not open. The upper deck has 12 twin cabins with sliding glass doors and French balcony, plus two cabins with French bed (140cm) and panoramic windows that open. All cabins are en-suite with shower and toilet, individually regulated air conditioning, hairdryer, small safe and satellite TV.
On the upper deck there is a saloon with a bar and a bright restaurant. The partly shaded large sun deck has deck chairs from which you can enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Rotterdam to Cologne - 2020 departures
The superior class MS Olympia was refurbished in 2016 and has 49 cabins with a maximum of 96 passengers. There are 21 main deck twin cabins (approx. 11m²) and 22 upper deck twin cabins (approx. 11m²). Four larger upper deck twin cabins located at the stern where engine noise is possible. All cabins are en-suite with shower and toilet, individually regulated air conditioning, fridge, hair dryer, small safe, TV and large panoramic windows (that open on the upper deck cabins).
On the upper deck there is a panoramic saloon with a bar and the restaurant is on the main deck. The partly shaded large sun deck has deck chairs from which you can enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Cologne to Rotterdam - 2019 departures
This is the reverse route from Rotterdam to Cologne on the MS Arkona.
Cologne to Rotterdam - 2020 departures
This is the reverse route from Rotterdam to Cologne on the MS Olympia.
Dates & Prices
Please click on a departure date for price options at a glance - 2020 dates on sale
- 7 nights accommodation: MS Arkona for 2019 departures and MS Olympia for 2020 departures
- Board basis: Full board including breakfast, packed lunch for cyclists or light lunch on board (non-cyclists) and dinner
- English speaking on-board guide with daily briefings of the bike tours
- Maps and route information (GPS tracks available on request)
- Welcome meeting with drink
- Local contact number for assistance
- Daily cabin cleaning
- Mooring fees
- Coffee in the afternoon
- Flights and transfers
- Cycle helmets
- Bike hire
- Entrance fees and excursions
- Drinks on board
- Transfers to/from the docking place
- Ferry fees & tips
Save £100pp on 15 June 2019 & 10 August 2019 departures on Ms Arkona.
Bike Hire & Extras
Bikes come with a pannier and a handlebar bag, small repair kit with spare inner tube, pump and lock are given per cabin and are included at no extra cost when you hire a bike.
Hybrid bike with 7 gears
Hybrid bike with 7 gears
News, Reviews & FAQs
Simply click on a question to reveal the answers
Will the itinerary ever change?
For Boat & Bike tours the boat will generally keep to the advertised itinerary, however the captain may have to adapt the itinerary due to the river or sea conditions.
How much space will I have in my cabin?
There is limited space in the cabins, so pack light and take a soft suitcase.
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.
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.
Will I be cycling with other people?
Although there is no organised group, self-guided guests regularly find they come across their fellow passengers along the route during the day and may even get together to form their own cycling groups.
Can I book by myself?
Absolutely! Boat & Bike tours are very sociable and a good choice for single travellers wishing to mix with other guests and share your common interest of cycling.
What does my on-board Tour Leader do?
Your on-board Tour Leader provides daily briefings ahead of the next day's ride. These are always beneficial, including information on the local area, main sights, and tips on good places to stop en route.